Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Uncle Willis


We have yet another uncle I did not know well. He did not live to far from us but we did not visit back and forth.

My grandmother did not visit him either and he did not visit her. For some reason Grandma did not like his wife. She never had anything pleasant to say about her.

My uncle had three sons. They are all close to my father's age. I'm not sure I ever even saw one of them.

Uncle Willis was a fireman. It was his life's work. Because of his hard work and love of his job he eventually became the fire chief of his suburb of a large city in the area.

I remember reading about him in the paper once. He demonstrated that an oil fire could be extinguished with water if other methods were not available.

My grandmother had cancer. Uncle Willis and Aunt Irma were the ones who offered to take care of her while she recovered from surgery.

When the doctors went in to try to remove the cancer Grandma was so full of cancer there was nothing they could do for her. They simply closed the incision. When she was ready to leave the hospital she wen to stay with my aunt and uncle.

Both my aunt and uncle had back problems. It was not easy for them to take care of Grandma but they did.

Toward the end another aunt and uncle went to visit Grandma. Aunt Irma mentioned that Grandma would not eat.

My other uncle became furious. He screamed at her that she had to feed her no matter what. Force it down her throat if she had to.

The following day Aunt Irma called the doctor. She was worried that she was not taking proper care of Grandma.

The doctor told her that she was doing a good job. He said that very often terminal patients have no appetite, If she wanted something to eat by all means give her something. Otherwise let her alone. Ice chips and sips of fluid were the most important.

We went to visit. It was to see Grandma before she died. She really did not know we were there. Except for my youngest sister who was her favorite.

My sister was only 4 years old but she seemed to understand that Grandma needed her. She sat with her all day holding her hand.

Grandma died that night after we left.

My aunt and uncle were left to take care of all the necessary things one needs to do after a death.

All from the ones that Grandma had no time for. I respected them for that.

I learned that you never know who will be important in your life or why. It is best to treat everyone with kindness. You may someday need a kindness from them.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Family


I need to pause in telling you about aunts and uncles to remind you of a couple of things.

As i have told you before both of my parents came from large families. Eleven babies were born into each family. Two babies on each side died soon after they were born.

That leaves 18 babies. My parents are not included as aunts and uncles so the number drops to 16.

You will notice that I will write about fewer than that. The reason is that my father's family was quite a bit older that my mother's family. Some of my father's siblings I know little about.

I know he had a brother who had epilepsy. Rather than the family suffer the stigma of a "defective" child he was placed in a home. Back then there was little they could do to control seizures and children were often placed in institutions.

I did not know until I was grown and had children what really happened to him. Grandma always said he died in a Juvenile Delinquent Center.  It was preferable to having a son with epilepsy.

I know of a sister too. She married and had children. I have seen her grave not far from my grandparents' graves. Her husband is buried there and several children. I know nothing about them.

So that is why there are fewer than I should have to tell about.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Uncle Rolan


I did not know Uncle Rolan well. I only remember seeing him twice.

The first time I saw him was when my family moved to Washington. Uncle Rolan had lived there for years. He was showing us a few sights.

The only sight I remember is the Grand Coulee Dam. Everything was so new. It was a little too much for a 9 year old to take in.

The second time I saw him was when Grandma died. I am sure he loved her but she was not an easy person to spend time with. So my feeling is that it was sort of a duty thing.

Uncle Rolan and Daddy went to Grandma's house after the funeral to see if they could find the little bust I made of clay. I really wanted to have it. But they found nothing.

Uncle Rolan had a wife and three children. When I saw him in Washington my aunt was in the hospital. I do not know why. It was not discussed in front of me.

One of their sons died when he was a year old.

Their daughter I did not meet either. She was a teenager and certainly not interested in a bunch of little kid cousins.

The other son was with Uncle Rolan the day we went to the dam. He was also a teenager. He did not seem to mind us too much. My parents saw him playing in the Army/Navy football game one year.

It is really sad that I know nothing more about them. I have no way to learn either because all of them have died.

I discovered that while working on my family tree. I found no records of either of my cousins having families.

So this is the first uncle I introduce. Unfortunately I have little to tell.

Friday, April 14, 2017

In Your Easter Bonnet


Last year for Easter my grandson took pictures of him and his daughter making Easter eggs. The eggs were made of Play Doh. They were beautiful in the way that only homemade items can be. Beyond that he spent hours with his daughter creating something they could be proud of and that they enjoyed doing together.

It made me think of Easters past. Of course I love thinking of things from the past so I reveled in the memories.

My family did not have much in the way of material things when I was a child. For Easter we had plenty of eggs to color because we had chickens. The Easter bunny left baskets with candy. Mom made a fancy meal. Then we re-hid the eggs over and over all that day.

New clothes were not often bought for Easter. We just dressed in our Sunday clothes like most of the rest of the children where we lived.

I only had one Easter bonnet. Out house had burned and a collection was taken and placed with a neighboring department store for us to purchase new clothes. There was a little extra money and I was able to talk my parents into letting me have my only Easter bonnet.

However we used to make Easter bonnets at school. They are fun and fairly easy to make.

Some of the items we used were disposable aluminum pie pans, facial tissues, crepe paper, and ribbon. Paper plates could be substituted for the pie pans but they are not as sturdy. You will also need scissors, paste or glue, string or thread and something to punch small holes into the pie pan. Paint might be an addition but is optional.

First we made flowers with the tissues. We separated the plies so that each tissue was two. Then we used several layers. More layers make a fuller flower. After stacking the tissues we would pick up the stack in the center and bunch it. Then we tied the center with thread to hold it together.

We trimmed the corners from the tissues so they will not stick out past the rest of the tissue. Then comes the fluffing. Gently separating each tissue and arranging them so that it creates a full soft looking flower. If you cannot find colored tissue you can spray paint the flower for the desired color.

Use either crepe paper or ribbon or both you fasten a band around the hat. Paste or glue into place. Then punch a hole on each side of the pie plate. Pass the ribbon through each hole from the top. It should be long enough to be able to tie beneath the neck to hold the hat in place.

Punch more holes in the pie plate. When you have decided the placement of the flowers you will need to be able to secure it to the hat by putting the bottom end through a hole. A little bit of glue helps keep it in place.

Bows can be made as well as any other decorations you wish to include. After allowing time for the glue to dry completely You have an Easter bonnet fit for any princess.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Aunt Luella


My Aunt Luella was a couple of years younger than my mother. She had five children who were close in age to my younger siblings. My sister liked to go to their house a lot. She had other girls to play with.

I have said before that my grandfather raised horses. They were a necessary part of the farm besides the fact that he loved them. The horses were the method of transportation.

Luella seemed to have a love/hate relationship with horses. Jenny was her favorite. That was the horse she usually rode to school.

But there was a problem with Jenny. When she was close to home she made a bee-line to the barn. She liked being home I guess.

So one day Luella was on her way home. She was not paying much attention to Jenny. You can do that when you are riding a horse because they will keep moving. Suddenly Jenny took off. She was ready for the barn.

Luella tried to slow her down but Jenny wanted to be home. So Luella sort of allowed Jenny her head. Straight to the barn doors they went.

There was the problem. The barn doors were open... at the bottom. The top halves were closed. Jenny went right on through. Luella was not so lucky.

No she did not fall off. That might have been easier. Luella's upper half was smooshed into the upper doors of the barn. Her lower half was still on Jenny inside the barn.

Luella tried to make Jenny back up so she could dismount but Jenny was having none of that. She was home.

It took some time before someone realized what a predicament they were in and came to rescue Luella. I am not sure how they accomplished it but Luella and Jenny were both unharmed.

Bird was another horse on the farm. She was a good horse. Bird was the horse we all learned to ride. She seemed to understand that a small or inexperienced rider needed her to be more gentle.

But older experienced riders were fair game. One of her favorite tricks was to hold her breath and puff up her belly when her saddle was being put on. If the rider was paying attention they would wait for her to let her breath out and then tighten the cinch. Sometimes it would even take a poke to the stomach to make her breathe.

Luella was going out to bring in the cattle for milking one afternoon. Her mind must have been elsewhere when she was putting the tack on Bird. She climbed up in the saddle and off she went.

There was a dog-leg part of the trail out to the pasture. Right at one corner was a huge walnut tree. Bird decided to walk right under a low hanging branch. Luella leaned to one side to avoid it. The saddle kept moving and Luella ended up on the ground. I can almost hear Bird chuckling to herself.

Luella married a man who drilled water wells. He was partners with his brother. They made a good living because in that area there was always a need for good water.

They built a new house to her exact specifications. It was spacious with plenty of room for all their children. They lived on a small farm outside of a small town. They raised sheep and bees.

Luella was also a fashion plate. She wore the modern styles in clothing. She was the first person I saw wearing culottes.

My sister has many of Luella's facial expressions. My daughter has many of my sister's facial expressions. So I guess you could say my daughter got them from my aunt.

Years after my uncle died my aunt remarried. I lived a long way  from her so I never met the new uncle.

My aunt's sons bought the well drilling business. They drilled wells all over the world and conducted seminars about the business. Eventually they sold it for a hefty price. Neither has to work any more.

One of them makes periodic trips to Africa to help with water concerns there. For him it is an act of love.

The girl cousins married. The youngest was in the army for a long time. She became a welder. Because they needed women to fill quotas she could pretty much decide where, when , and how long she would go to any assignment.

My aunt died of cancer a few years before Mom died. She was able to see her children grown and settled and that is what most parents hope for.

Friday, April 7, 2017

It Is A Poem


I dearly loved school  In one very small town (as in most of them) all grades were in one building. Elementary school had three grades to a room. There were only three girls in my grade.

There were several programs for our parents each year. We performed plays, or sang, or danced, whatever the teacher decided we would do.

My grade was not the only one with a shortage of girls. Often the boys from another grade would need dance partners. Sometimes they would need additional girls for a play. So the girls were called upon to do many different things each time. It was fun

I was in second grade and my teacher recognized that I had a good memory. In addition to the other things I was doing for the program she would often assign a long poem for me to recite. I remember them fondly but of course I can no longer recite them completely.

I believe the first one was The Gingham Dog and The Calico Cat by Eugene Field. The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat side by side on the table sat... If you do not know the poem you can do a search for it. It is a cute little poem with a surprise ending.

Another was Little Orphant Annie by James Whitcomb Riley. It was originally titled The Elf Child then renamed to Little Orphant Allie. In a later printing there was a typo and it became Little Orphant Annie forever. It is meant to threaten children into good behavior with the admonition of An' the Gobble-uns 'll git you Ef you Don't Watch Out! 

I Have A Little Shadow by Robert Louis Stevenson is a description of a child's shadow. It is light-hearted and fun. I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me, and what can be the use of him is more than I can see.


A.A. Milne who wrote Winnie The Pooh also wrote a carefree poem about a child who likes to sit on a step at the middle of the stairs. He likes it there because it is not up and not down. It is a short poem that explains a certain logic.

Hiding by  Dorothy Keeley Aldis really captures the way a child thinks. I'm hiding I'm hiding but no one knows where for all they can see is my toes and my hair. Then the parents begin to search... Have you looked in the inkwell... but I was not there.  It is absolutely enchanting.

The Spider and the Fly by Mary Howitt. "Will you walk into my parlour ?" said the Spider to the fly. The cautious Fly is seduced by the crafty Spider. Can you guess how it ends?

The patriotic Paul Revere by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is probably still taught in most American schools. While not completely factual it is exciting and rouses pride in our country. Listen my children and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere. It is full of action from the beginning.

The Owl And The Pussycat by Edward Lear tells of an owl and a pussycat who are eloping. The Owl and The Pussycat went to sea in a beautiful pea-green boat... It is a beautiful love story.

The Raven by my favorite author Edgar Allen Poe made my mother happy. She loved the alliteration. For those who do not want to look it up alliteration is when the first sounds of several words help convey a setting. And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain givers the feeling of being able to hear the curtain swishing against each other. It is a melancholy tale of a lost love. Most people remember "Quoth the raven, Nevermore."

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow also wrote The Song Of Hiawatha. It has such a rhythmic primal beat and it was fun to recite. By the shores of Gitchie Gumie by the shining Big Sea Water tells of Hiawatha observing the morning.

There were others but I think you get the idea. I loved that teacher. All of her students did. She gave me an interest in poetry and taught me that it is more than a sing-song group of words. She also told my mother that I was too young at the time but to make sure I was exposed to Shakespeare when i was ready. She was sure I would enjoy it. She was right.

These are all good poems for children. If you like you can begin with shorter poems that they will not lose interest in because they do get wiggly if asked to sit too long. Look them up for yourself as well. They are all great fun.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Aunt Carol


 I am skipping an aunt. There is a reason.

Aunt Carol is only 5 years older than I am. She is more like an older sister who liked to boss me around when we were children. Carol has a twin brother who I will write about another time.

Carol is enough older than me that I was an annoyance to her much of the time. Imagine a lovable child like me being an annoyance. I must admit I did a good job of living up to her view of me.

She used to ride a horse into town on Sundays to attend church. Our church was only a block form the house. My parents had her tether the horse in a different spot each Sunday. We needed no lawn mower there.

My grandparents had an attic stuffed with treasures. Grandpa's musical instruments were there. He could no longer play due to the arthritis in his fingers. His stuffed bobcat stood near the top of the stairs. Walnuts from the walnut tree were kept in a big box in the attic.

The best things were the old clothes we used to play dress-up and the paper dolls my mother and other aunts had played with.

On rainy days or cold winter days we would go into the attic and dress up in those old clothes. My aunt would hold tea parties for elegant women or we would be men off to work in the fields. We might strum the guitar or banjo. We couldn't play the fiddle... no bow.

Paper dolls were the most fun for me. My mother and aunts made their own paper dolls using models in catalogs as the dolls and clothing in the catalogs as the dresses. Carol taught us how to match the clothing to the model so it would look like it was made for each one. There were cigar boxes full of them and we added to them.

When the Singing Nun was so popular with her song Dominique we all sang along. It was much like Let It Go from Frozen is for little ones today. One day I heard my aunt having a heated discussion with one of her friends. Her friend had mentioned the Singing Nun. My aunt insisted it was the Singing Num. After all nuns were not allowed to make records.

Like all the women in my family (ahem) my aunt was extremely intelligent. She and another student had identical grades in high school. When it came to choosing who would be valedictorian they chose the young man. At the very least they should have been co-valedictorians but it was the late 1950's and he would have a family to support so he also had the honor.

My aunt married. She was like many of us and made a bad choice. Luckily no children were involved and divorce was relatively painless.

She married another man who has been her husband for around 50 years now. She has a son and grandchildren. Until recently her life has been good.

Carol has been fighting leukemia for a few years. There have been ups and downs but she has been coming out on top.

A few days ago she let us know that she has an advanced case of lymphoma. She has begun some intensive chemotherapy. If it works we will rejoice. It if does not work we will have her for 3 to 6 more months.

All of us have families. It seems there is always something that is a little scary. We are hoping for a good outcome.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Aunt Florence


Aunt Florence was the other aunt older than my mother. She was curvaceous in the style of that time but never would you mistake her for being overweight. She had a lovely round face and the most beautiful evenly toned skin.

My mother and her sisters were all very close to each other. They lived on a farm and usually only left to go to school. They were all each other had. When horses were the only transportation you had for travel of any distance you were severely limited.

Aunt Florence married Uncle Harold. I could listen to him talk forever. His voice was hypnotic. Many Sunday afternoons I would sit on the porch just to hear the sound of his voice.

Florence and Harold dearly wanted children. For some reason it was not happening.

In the meantime I was born. Aunt Florence had me at her house quite often. I loved it there. She had a box of toys that I could play with as long as I wished. My favorite was a toy telephone. I have so many fond memories of being at her house. It was truly a second home for me.

Eventually Aunt Florence and Uncle Harold moved to Missouri. Of course I could not see her as often. We did go down there for a week one time.

They had a pretty front yard. No children to mess it up you know. Anyway the grass was so inviting. We had so much fun rolling around and doing somersaults in that lush green.

When we were getting ready for bed we were all in distress. We itched and had red bumps all ove. The lawn was full of chiggers. I had not had contact with those before.

Out came the Bactine. It stung and the itching did not seem to go away. It took a couple of days for the itching to stop.

Aunt Florence still desperately wanted a baby.

My grandfather dies when I was finishing my senior year in high school. My family went to the little town in Nebraska where my grandparents lived. Grandpa was a wonderful man and raiseda fine family.

When we first got there and walked into the house someone said, "Hi EmmaLine." No one had called me that since I had been a lot younger. I looked and there was a man with a bit of chin hair and a strange haircut. It was not just a bowl cut but a mixing bowl cut. He was soft looking and a bit overweight.

I muttered a quick, "Hello" and hurried into the kitchen to greet Grandma. I went to my mother and asked her who the funny looking man in the living room was.

Mom laughed at me and said, "That's Florence." I was shocked.

I went back to talk to my aunt. I loved her so much. She was sincerely happy to see me. She was.undergoing treatments to try to have that elusive baby.

I spent as much time as I could with her while we were there. I had missed her. It was sad When we had to say good-bye. As it turned out it was the last time I would ever see her. I married and moved far away.

But there is good news. The year I had my first baby my aunt had a baby girl. It was her only child and she was overjoyed to have her.

My Aunt Florence died after her daughter was an adult. Life may not have granted her a child easily but she had those years with her daughter that I know she cherished. After all I knew what a loving person she was.

The reason she looked so different to me was that she was very feminine when I had known her before. As soon as her fertility treatments stopped she once again looked like the aunt I knew and loved.


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

My Dad


What can I say about my father? He was the most important man in my life. I adored him. Like all little girls my first love was my daddy. That is the yardstick we use to measure all other men, especially in choosing a father for our children.

I was a teenager before I realized that my father was not perfect. I also realized that he was so close to being perfect that the imperfections did not matter.

Daddy was born into a family of 11 children. He and his slightly younger brother were what was called "change of life babies" because their mother was older when they were born. Most of the older siblings were already gone from home.

It was a dysfunctional family. My grandmother was a cold woman who found it hard to care for anyone. I do not know the reason why or if there was one. Daddy loved her though.

His father was a heavy drinker.... sort of the town drunk. He worked as a brakeman for the railroad. My father always had a fascination for trains and had them for the boys to play with all the time.

The older siblings were gone from home. They could not wait to get away from the turmoil. Most of them moved far away and seldom came back for a visit.

I know very little about Daddy's childhood. I know where he was born and some of the places he lived when he was growing up. I know that once there was a terrible flood that destroyed their home and everything in it. That is about it.

Apparently Grandpa's drinking was a problem for Daddy. One day my father came home and found his father drunk again. They had a terrible argument. Daddy told him that he was through getting in fights to defend his father. Then Daddy left the house and joined the Navy.

World War II was in full swing so it did not take long for him to be sent to the Pacific arena. We do have a picture that he had taken somewhere in California before he shipped out. On the back he wrote "To the best Mom in the world".

Daddy was a gunner's mate first class, whatever that is. He told us very little about his experiences in the war. I do know that his ship engaged the enemy more than once. One time they were on radio silence for days. That menat no communication at all with the outside world.

When the silence was finally lifted he was notified that his father had died. It was too late for him to go home for the funeral. His last interaction with his father had been an argument. I know it hurt him for the rest of his life.

Daddy got the required tattoo of a sailor. Apparently it was a naked lady on his upper arm. He could make her dance by flexing his muscles. When they married my mother told him he needed to cover that lady because they wanted children and her children were not going to look at a naked lady on their father's arm. He went back to the tattoo parlor and had clothes put on his lady.

When the war was over he went home, met my mother, they were married. they were happy to find out that they would be having a baby soon after. My parents turned out to be very fertile.

Daddy wanted a daughter. He had come back from the war with a kimono for his wife and one for his daughter. I was the daughter he wanted and I have always felt very special because of that. 

My father is proof that a person can rise above a bad childhood. He was a loving family man. He truly enjoyed his wife and children and we all knew that. He showed it in so many ways every day.

That is not to say that he did not make mistakes. I guess when I was a baby I was crawling around with no diaper on. It was believed that fresh air helped prevent diaper rash. Anyway I bumped the table where his glass of iced tea was sitting and spilled it. He had a terrible temper and swatted my bare behind before he realized what he was doing.

When he saw the red mark left by his hand he vowed to never hit any of his children again. There were a couple of times that he went back on his word but we usually deserved a lot more that the smack we received.

My father never seemed to find his "home" as far as where we lived. He was always looking for that place over the hill and far away. We moved a lot. I went to 10 different schools before I graduated from high school. And that is not counting the times we lived somewhere only during the summer.

Most of the places we lived were in Nebraska. We lived on farms and in small towns. If we stayed in a town for any length of time we moved to different houses. We kept looking for the place that was his.

One summer we moved to a dairy farm outside Spokane, Washington. I loved it there. We lived at the top of a mountain. The only employee of the farm who lived as high up as us was a man who lived in a small mobile home nearer to the barns.

Evergreen trees covered the mountain. We could run and play in the trees to our hearts' content. And we did. My brothers got caught smoking up there one day. They were made to smoke cigarettes until they got sick. It did not stop them from smoking when they got older. Pobably did not stop them then.

The Spokane River was at the bottom of the hills and across the highway. We used to go fishing almost every day.

Daddy got very sick while we lived there. He had the Asian flu. The doctor said to keep all of us away from him. Daddy was put into the boys room. Mom had to take all his meals to him even though he could hardly keep anything down. She had to take care of all his needs plus care for all of us. Poor thing.

It seemed like he was in that room forever. He was so sick. And we were not allowed in there at all. He had never been sick before. It was a little scary.

Finally he began to get better. Sometime after that we were allowed to visit him for a few minutes only. No touching and no getting too close. He looked so thin and weak. It was hard to see him like that. Eventually he recovered and was good as new.

It was a happy day when my grandparents arrived. They moved there with my youngest aunt and two uncles. Grandpa had a job at the dairy farm too. They lived about halfway down the hill from us. My aunt raised worms for us to use for fishing. What she did was keep the soil under a big rock loose. She put coffee grounds in it every once in a while. We had plenty of worms for fishing.

The owner and his wife lived in a big fancy house at the bottom of the hill. The wife had three big bulldogs. They were her babies and she spoiled them rotten. Everyone laughed at her because when she took them for a walk to "do their business" she carried clean white cloth hankies to wipe them afterward.

The owner died at the end of the summer. His wife sold the dairy farm. We packed up and moved back to Nebraska.

Daddy always found work. He often worked as a farm hand. One time he was on the back of the tractor while the farmer backed up to get near enough to a piece of machinery that Daddy could hook it up. Somehow Daddy got his foot between the hitch on the tractor and the tongue of the machinery. He broke his foot and the farmer had to replace him.

For  a few years he worked for a house mover. People would own a house and buy new land to put it on. It was the responsibility of the house movers to get it there safely. We sometimes got to go watch them if they were driving near enough to home. One time they were close and we drove out to watch.

Daddy and another man had long poles with a "V" at the ends. They had to hook the utility wires and lift them so the house could roll safely beneath them.

While they were holding the wires up Daddy was waving to us and maybe showing off a bit. They rolled that house right over his foot! Thank goodness for those old dusty dirt roads. His foot sank far enough into the dust that all he got was a bruised foot.

After a severe car accident and long recovery Daddy got some training. He was able to get a job as a foreman on the night shift in a factory.  He loved his job. But the factory was experiencing financial diffficulties and they shut down the night shift. They told him they wanted him to stay on as an hourly employee but he declined.

I had my first son before this. I wanted my father to see his grandson but we lived so far away then. I finally saved enough money so I could take the bus with my baby and visit my family. Of course Daddy was proud to be a grandfather.

When it was close to time for me to go home to my husband Daddy told me that he would drive me. He and my mother had decided to move again. They moved to the big city that I was living in.

Daddy found a job almost right away. He was a foreman at a chemical plant. He and my mother actually bought a house. He found his place. He was so happy there.

The plant manager who was also an owner decided to retire. My father was made plant manager. He was liked and respected by the men who worked there. He was a very likable man. Most people liked him immediately.

One Good Friday a friend and I went shopping for Easter. My husband insisted that I take his beeper so he could contact me. I took it but I turned it off. I do not like being so connected. When we were done shopping my friend dropped me off at home.

When I went inside no one was home. In a few minutes my friend called me and told me my husband and children were at her house. They wanted me to come on over. I decided to stay home. It was quiet for a change. She insisted and said she was on her way to pick me up.

When we got to her house my husband finally worked up the courage to tell me that my father had died of a massive heart attack. I wanted to see that my mother was alright so we went to their house.

There were arrangements to be made. Several of us kids went with her. When she was picking out his coffin she was having a hard time deciding between two. One was a nice hardwood  and the other was a metallic gray. Both were nice. Mom said she kept being drawn back to the metallic gray one and could not understand why. When I gently told her it was because it was the exact color of a suit she had given him for Christmas when I was a little girl she smiled and chose that one. She loved that suit because she said it went so well with his blue eyes.

Daddy put great stock in honoring the dead. Visits to the cemetery and keeping graves looking nice were a must. And attending funerals was a way to show respect.

The chemical company was a union plant. When someone died the union would send a delegation to show respect. That is what they did when Daddy's predecessor died.

When Daddy died all the workers in the plant demanded the day off to attend his funeral. The plant finally realized they would have to close for the day.

It was a beautiful spring day. Much too nice to be indoors. Every last one of the men from the plant came to Daddy's funeral. They could have gone boating or anywhere else and they came to the funeral. The funeral home was so full of people they had people outside waiting to come in. He would have been so proud and touched. I know I was.

Friday, March 24, 2017

My Sister


I thought it time to update about my sister. As you know she had a stroke a couple of years ago. She is paralyzed on one side and unable to care for herself.

Her speech is back so it is easier to have a conversation with her on the phone. She has breathing problems because she is bedridden but she is given treatment whenever she becomes uncomfortable.

My sister has resigned herself to being in the nursing home... pardon me... long term care facility. She hates being there but she is dealing with it.

Her husband was helping my nephew move into a new apartment. He stepped wrong on the edge of the sidewalk and broke his foot. Poor guy. But he still visits her every day.

Recently she was taken to the hospital a couple of times because her blood pressure dropped so drastically. They have determined that she has had at least three small strokes. There does not seem to be any permanent damage from them but they are certainly not a good thing.

I am afraid she is giving up. She does not say so but I get the feeling that she feels like she is nothing but a burden. She is tired of not being able to do things for herself. And she really misses being in her own home.

So that is where it stands now. I hope to have good news next time.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Aunt Frances


Aunt Frances is my oldest aunt on my mother's side of the family. She had married and moved away by the time I was born so I don't know her well.

Aunt Frances, like all my aunts, is very intelligent. The females in my family are prideful of their intelligence.

She is also the mother of the only cousins I have who are my age. In fact her oldest son is older than her youngest brother. Then came two girls one of whom is older than I am and the other is about 6 weeks younger than I. She had 9 children total.

The reason I did not know her well is because she married a young man who was in the service during World War II. He was from West Virginia. After he served his country they went home to that state.

My uncle worked in the coal mines. My aunt raised their children.

Aunt Frances looks the most like my grandmother.

My uncle worked hard in the mines. It ruined his lungs. Because of that he insisted that none of his sons did the same kind of work.

Aunt Frances is still alive and living in West Virginia. She has supplied me with a lot of information for our family tree.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Top O' The Morning!


La Fheile Padraig, or as we say in the United States... Saint Patrick's Day, celebrates the life of St. Patrick in Ireland. Now I do not promote any religion or lack of religion. However, after that disclaimer, I think the fellowship of St Patrick's Day is fun. On this one day of the year everybody can be Irish.

St Patrick was not Irish. He was born into a


wealthy family in Briton. At the age of 16 he was captured by Irish raiders and made a slave. As a slave he tended sheep in Ireland. That is where his appreciation of nature began. Being alone with nothing but sheep and the predators he had to save them from, he had a lot of time to learn about the world around him.

After 6 years, he managed to escape his captors and went back to England. He became a priest and eventually managed to convince his church to send him back to Ireland. There he used the things he found in nature to teach the people about his religion.

It has been said that St Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland. For those who take this statement literally, that is a falsehood. There is no evidence that there have ever been snakes on this island. But the pagans of the area were represented as snakes and that is what St Patrick tried to drive away.

St Patrick used the shamrock, a three-leafed clover which had previously been sacred to the Druids, to explain the aspects of his god. It was a visual aid that made sense to the people. When St Patrick died on March 17, the Irish people chose that day to celebrate his life. And in the Irish way, that means a party.

Now I have a few fun "facts" about St Patrick for you.

In Ireland, the potato crop was traditionally planted after St Patrick;s Day.

St Patrick's color was St Patrick blue but is now considered green in sympathy with Irish independence.

According to legend, St Patrick asked that on judgement day, he be allowed to judge whether the Irish are worthy of heaven.

Every year between 40 and 100 pounds of green dye are dumped into the Chicago River for St Patrick's Day.

In the custom known as "drowning the shamrock", the shamrock that has been worn on a lapel or hat is put in the last drink of the evening. If it stays floating while you drink your beer, you will have a prosperous year.

Many cities paint the middle line of their streets green to mark the St Patrick;s Day parade route.

Cities all over the world have parades to celebrate the day. One of the shortest St Patrick's Day parades is in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

An Irish toast: “St. Patrick was a gentleman, who thru strategy and stealth
Drove all the snakes from Ireland, Here's a toasting his health
But not too many lest you lose yourself and then
You forget the good St. Patrick and see those snakes again.”

On St Patrick's Day, people drink green beer and wear green clothes. Anyone not wearing green might get a pinch.

Now everybody grab a leprechaun, have a green beer, and dance an Irish jig. And always remember...

May those who love us love us.
And those that don't love us,
May God turn their hearts.
And if He doesn't turn their hearts,
May he turn their ankles,
So we'll know them by their limping.

Slainte!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Impulsive


I guess you could say I am child-like in many ways. I like children's music and children's movies as much as they do. Playing card games and board games are the joys of my life.

I am an impulsive person. Whatever catches my eye is where my interest will go. My mother said I was flighty.

I often told my children that I know it was a trial to have me as a mother because I tend to go off on a tangent at times. they assure me that they thought all mothers were like that.

Checkers and chess are fun games. My grandfather was a good checkers player. He and my mother showed us how to play. He explained that it was very important to keep the back line of checkers in place until you absolutely had to move them. I tried but it is difficult to keep them back when all my other checkers were being taken.

I really like chess. The planning and the different pieces moving different ways make it a game of logic. The problem with chess is that I will examine the board before making my next move. I will imagine a move and try to anticipate what my opponent's response will be and what eventual results will come from it. I look and study. I plan and observe.

Then out of the corner of my eye I see a move and grab the piece and move it. Usually it was a move I had already rejected. I made a stupid move and would end up losing the piece and eventually the game.

But there are times when I appreciate being impulsive. When my children were little and their father was on the road during the week we would often pack up and head for the park. There were trees to shelter us, a creek for wading, and plenty of room to run and play. We would cook on the grills placed strategically near picnic tables. Even though we lived at the edge of town and had a spacious yard the days at the park were fun for all of us.

I'm also well-known for driving along and suddenly spotting something I want to see. I stop and see it. I may have to take a detour and spend some extra time but it is usually worth it. I have found some interesting places to visit and fascinating things to see by doing this.

I encourage everyone to be impulsive once in a while. I do it too often but you might be amazed at the joys you will experience by doing something out of the ordinary once in a while.

As the song by Leroy Pullins says

I'm a Nut, I'm a Nut,
My life don't ever get in a rut
Well Hell, my shoulders are sore and loose
That I ain't got the sense God gave a goose
Now Lord I ain't crazy but, I'm a nut


And I like it!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Daylight Saving Time



This year Daylight Saving Time begins on March 12. While I remind you to change your clocks appropriately I thought it would be interesting to learn a bit about DST.

01. Where did the idea for Daylight Saving Time come from?

Benjamin Franklin is credited with the idea. It may have been in jest. He noticed that daylight always came at the same time as the sun rose. He noted in his journal that the French (he was living at the time in France) could make better use of daylight hours and not stay up so late during the darkness.

02. Is Daylight Saving Time used everywhere?

No. Few countries near the equator feel the need to utilize more daylight. Many countries do not change their clocks to accommodate more daylight. Even in the United States, Hawaii and Arizona do not observe DST although the Navajo Nation which extends over three states does. Their part of Arizona does observe DST.

03. When is Daylight Saving Time?

In the United States it begins at 2:00 AM on the second Sunday in March and ends at 2:00 AM on the first Sunday in November. Europe countries have different times. Winter is the opposite of ours in countries south of the equator so their DST is also opposite ours. Russia decided to institute a permanent DST. Many of the people there do not like it in the winter so there is some talk of adopting some other method.

04. How is Daylight Saving Time useful?

It is believed that the extra hour in the summer months gives farmers extra time in the fields. Some research shows that some crimes lessen during DST because of the extra daylight. Auto accidents seem to be fewer because fewer people are driving to and from work in the dark. It can also conserve energy because a smaller amount of electricity is used for lighting. "They" seem to think there is more time for exercise if people use the longer daylight hours.

05. Are there drawbacks to Daylight Saving Time?

During the first couple of weeks of DST more heart attacks are reported. Conversely when DST is over there are fewer heart attacks than normal. Perhaps the adjustment to a person's system is adverse. International travelers can become confused by the time changes and DST sometimes makes it worse.

06. Do strange things happen during Daylight Saving Time?

Twins were born in North Carolina. The first, a boy, was born at 1:32 AM. His younger sister was born 34 minutes later but because of DST the clocks had been changed at 2:00 AM. Her time of birth was recorded at 1:06 AM making it appear that she was born first.

In September, 1999, Israel had just switched back to Standard Time. The West Bank was still on DST. West Bank terrorists made time bombs and smuggled them into Israel so the terrorists there could plant them on two buses. Because of the time change the terrorists planted them one hour off from the time they were intended. Three terrorists were killed in the resulting explosion meant for the people who would have been on the buses if the times were the same.

A bomb threat was called in to a school in Pennsylvania. An honor student was arrested because the automated line recorded a call from him at the time of the threat. Actually he had called the school to get some information about his classes. The time changed. An hour later in real time someone else called in the bomb threat.

07. What other problems are associated with Daylight Saving Time?

Trains cannot leave the station before their scheduled times. During times when the clock changes the trains sit idle for one hour to accommodate the schedule. That can upset commuter times and family schedules.

08. What is the correct name for it?

It is called Daylight Saving Time with no "s" at the end of saving.

09. How will I know what time to turn the clock to?

The saying is "Spring, forward; Fall, behind". In the spring you turn your clock one hour ahead. At 2:00 AM you will change the time to 3:00 AM. In the fall you turn the clock back an hour. At 2:00 AM you will change the time to 1:00 AM.

10. Is there anything else I should know?

The changing of the clocks is a good time to check the batteries in your smoke detector. They need to be changed twice a year and DST will remind you to do it.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Back In Time



I have already talked about some of the things I have seen change in my lifetime. Today not everything will be a change but many were historic and some shocking.

Probably the most outstanding thing was the space program. There were comic books and radio and television programs about humans traveling in outer space. Pure science fiction. Or was it?

When Sputnik was launched the United States was frantic. We were experiencing the Cold War. We were not too far removed from World War II and the Korean War. There were air raid shelters and air raid captains who were supposed to guide us to safety in case of an enemy attack.

We had fire drills in school. We also had air raid drills. When the air raid siren sounded we were to "drop and cover". That meant dropping to the floor under your desk into a sort of fetal position but with your face and body toward the floor. Then you covered your head with hands and arms. You remained in that position until the "all clear" was sounded.

I have read how so many children were traumatized by "drop and cover" drills. I was a child. I thought it was great fun. Children cannot comprehend consequences of viotent acts. All parents can do is teach them what to do in case of a violent act and deal with the fallout later.

But back to the space race. The US and Russia both kept launching rockets and planning for manned space flights. It was an exciting time. Our schools did not have televisions so we could not watch the launches at school. School would close on launch days so we could watch from home. And we did watch. It was exciting.

Eventually there were too many launches to allow us to have the day off school so they were limited to only the more important ones. Animals were launched and finally came the time when there were manned flights.

Finally I got to see a man actually walk on the moon. It was like something from a movie.

I vaguely remember some of the McCarthy hearings from television. I was very young. McCarthy was a senator who  believed that Communism was not only a threat to our country but that we were infiltrated by Communists and Communist sympathizers. He chaired the Senate hearings on unAmerican  activities.

The McCarthy hearings rapidly turned into a witch hunt. People who testified at the hearings came from all walks of life. They may or may not have been guilty of any charges. A lot of people lost their jobs and were blackballed from being rehired elsewhere. It would be nice to have a reliable means of revisiting that time to find out what was true and what was not.

I watched the first televised debates between two presidential candidates when John F Kennedy and Richard M Nixon opposed each other. Kennedy had a charisma that showed on camera. Nixon did not seem as comfortable. Kennedy won the election.

There have been 13 presidents in my life. I remember all but Truman. I was just a little too young.

I am not Catholic but the process of choosing a pope fascinates me. There have been 7 popes since I was born.

When I was a child most homes had an automobile. We call them cars. We still walked most places. Everything in the little towns I lived in was too close to bother with driving.

Back then cars were built sturdy and to last a long time. They were very large. They had one long seat in the front and the same in the back. There were no seat belts or air bags. The steering wheel was huge. Tires were not as sturdy as they are now so there were a lot of flat tires.

Gas stations could fix those flats. They also did minor repairs. Most of those older cars could be repaired with a screwdriver, pliers, and a bit of wire.

Gas stations also offered full service. When you stopped for gasoline they washed the windows, checked under the hood for oil and water levels. They checked the air pressure in the tires and filled them if needed. All as part of the regular service and all FREE!

Gas was not free. But it was inexpensive. My father used to fill the 16 gallon tank and hand the attendant $2.00 and get change back.

Once a new gas station opened in town. It was right across the street from the existing station. There was a price war. For the longest time gasoline was 6¢ per gallon. Wouldn't that be nice now? And we still got full service.

Now cars do not necessarily need gasoline to operate. We have electric cars and hybrids that use both gas and electricity. They are working on cars that will hover above the ground instead of rolling along.

Penny candy was the joy of my life. For a penny there were many items you could purchase. KitKats came in a little 4 piece package. You could get a piece of bubble gum. There was a whip of licorice either red or black. Pixie sticks. Gumballs. Jawbreakers. Tootsie rolls. Suckers or lollipops. A child's handful of jelly beans or candy corn. You get the idea.

Soda pop was 5¢ and you got 1 penny back when you returned the bottle. It only came in bottle then.
Candy bars were 5¢ and my mother complained. She said they used to buy a big chocolate bar for a nickel and there would be enough for all of them to share.

There was a soda fountain at the drug store. One of my favorite treats was a phosphate. Phosphates are carbonated drinks made right at the soda fountain. You could choose any one of the delicious flavored syrups (also used to top sundaes) and that would be the flavor of the phosphate.

If you lived in town milk was delivered 6to the house. It came in milk bottles with little cardboard inserts at the mouth of the bottle to close it. When my children were small I had milk delivered but it came in cartons. I do not know if home delivery exists any more.

The saddest thing I have observed is the loss of freedom to be a child. We would be outside from the time we woke in the morning until it was time to be home for the night. It was safe to wander all over town or through the countryside. Nobody would bother us. Children now have to be wary of every person they encounter. Sad

I had an excellent education as a child. Now pay attention. There were three grades to a room. The teacher in the room taught all three grades. She taught all subjects, reading, writing, arithmetic, history, art, and recess. Often she was also our music teacher. She escorted us to lunch and made us mind. We learned at school. There was NO HOMEWORK.

I still do not believe in homework. And now teachers have specialized classes. Students with similar abilities are placed in the classroom. It seems to me that teachers could, oh I don't know, maybe teach. Then there would be time to play after school because that is a valuable part of their learning experience.

Music has changed so much. I came in at the end of the big band era. I really do not remember it but I listen to some of the big bands and love the music. Rock'a'billy and rock and roll were what I listened to when I was young. My parents liked country music and I do too. My family listened to classical music too. I have to be in the mood but it is called classical for a reason.

The English invasion changed the way we viewed music. They took rock and roll and the blues and turned our music world upside down. Then came disco music. Now hip hop but I am seeing a return of some of the older styles coming back.

Clothing styles. Oh my goodness. When I was little women were very modest in their clothing. Most women wore dresses all the time. The hem of the skirts fell below the knee. Little girls wore short skirts with lots of petticoats. When I was a teenager miniskirts were the rage. And little girls skirts became longer.

There were sack dresses with no shape, mini skirts, maxi skirts, the little black dress, muu muus, caftans, sleeveless, strapless, spaghetti straps. Permanent press fabrics made ironing easier and sometimes even unnecessary.

I have seen terrible things happen. The Viet Nam War, the Gulf wars, terrorism running rampant. I watched the endless reruns of President Kennedy being assassinated. The drum cadence from his funeral will be in my head forever.

I was actually watching television when they were transferring Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby jumped out of the crowd and killed him. There was nothing on TV for a week that did not deal directly with the assassination.

I saw the Challenger explode after take-off with seven crew members on board. I heard the astronauts when the capsule caught fire on the launch pad.

The World Trade Center suffered from an explosion in one of the underground parking lots of the World Trade Center in New York City. A truck with explosives made of fertilizer blew up at the front of a government building in Oklahoma City. I was just home from work and had dosed off on the couch when I woke up just in time to see the second airplane fly into the World Trade Center the day it collapsed and the whole world became fearful.

That was the day I called my sister. We worked together and rode to and from work together. I asked her if she was still awake and if she had her television on. She said yes and no respectively. Her question was a moderately disinterested why. I said, "Somebody just declared war on us!"

Children go to school with weapons and bombs intending to kill as many people as possible. People go to the movie theater with automatic weapons and open fire  People shoot stab, beat, and bomb at an alarming rate today. We live in an increasingly violent society.

When I was a teenager Charles Starkweather and his girlfriend Carol Ann Fugate went on a killing spree. They killed her whole family and then traveled across Nebraska and Wyoming. Charles Manson and his followers were found guilty of killing a total of seven people in California. The list goes on. It is just too sad.

My own children were raised in a large city. I always hated it there but a person goes where the work is. I told them of growing up in a part of the country where people are polite. If you walk down the street and encounter another person you both smile pleasantly and say, "Hello." People say please and thank you. If you need assistance you can get it. If someone else needs assistance you offer it.

I am not certain my children believed me. A few years ago one of my sons moved to this area. He loves it here and recently told me he cannot believe how friendly and nice people are.

I think there are more amazing changes in me. Stay tuned.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Landholder


Great-grandpa, father of my grandfather,  owned several farms and almost all of town. He wanted to have a farm to leave each of his sons. It turned out that he also left each of them a business in town.

You might think he was wealthy. Not so. My great-grandfather got his holdings in an unscrupulous way. He traded whiskey to the Native Americans for their land. It was not ethical but at that time it was legal.

My grandfather inherited a farm and I believe the assay office. He eventually sold the assay office because it was not his area of expertise. He lived on the farm and raised his family there until he decided the grass was greener in Oklahoma.

The only great-uncle that I knew still had his farm and house when i was a child. I would not know how to find the farm now but If the house is still there I'm sure that it now has indoor plumbing and electricity.

His house in town is still there and looks exactly the same as it did then. I saw it a couple of years ago.

Another great-uncle is listed on a monument in front of the City Hall. He died of illness during World War I and was listed with the war dead.

Great-grandpa did not feel the need to supply the same inheritance to his daughters. I guess he felt that when they married their husbands would provide for their needs.

None of the land or businesses are owned by family any more. I can only imagine what all that land would be worth today. I could be independently wealthy, for goodness sake.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

My Aunt


I did not know all my aunts. On my father's side there was only one sister still living that I knew.

Aunt Bernice was my father's sister. She was much older than he was so they were not particularly close.

She married and became Catholic because that was what her husband wanted. In that process she became a devout and somewhat rabid Catholic. She seemed to feel that her religion gave her the right to pass judgement on everyone else.

She was unable to have children for some reason. It turned out for the best because she divorced her husband. Because of her strict religious rules she never remarried although she had a long-term relationship with her ex-husband's brother.

My aunt was not a loving person. In that respect she was very much like my grandmother.

My aunt had a good job as a legal secretary. She eventually became the manager of her office. She was not rich but she was comfortable.

She bought half a block with a small house for my grandmother to live in rent free. It was her duty and she was big on duty.

She also made a duty visit every summer for two weeks to my grandmother. For those two weeks we were even more on tip-toe at Grandma's than usual.

For the Fourth of July one year my uncle and his married and dating children all came for the day. There was lots of food and there would be fireworks after dark.

My mother cooked most of the meal even though she was due to have a baby any time. After everyone ate they retired to the living room. As Mom was walking in my grandmother announced that Mom could take care of clean-up so "the family" could visit.

I did help with the dishes but I was only 10 years old. I was happy to be released to go play.

When we went home my mother called her doctor and told him she simply could not take any more. She was exhausted. He checked her into the hospital. He knew how my relatives could behave.

So the next day while Mom was resting in the hospital The doctor suggested that she try to have the baby while she was there. She thought it was a good idea so they induced labor.

While Mom was in the hospital my aunt came to our house to watch us. There were 5 of us. She decided the best way to handle us was to put us to work. All of us. My youngest brother was 4 years old.

We were assigned cleaning jobs. We mopped floors, washed windows, and even scrubbed the walls. The whole time my aunt berated us for taking advantage of our mother's condition and letting the house get into this slovenly condition.

Actually we were only told the week before that we were having a new baby in the family. I guess children did not notice that sort of thing then. I know we were oblivious.

In the midst of the cleaning flurry the phone rang. My aunt informed us that we had a new sister.

By the time Daddy came home from the hospital to get some rest all of us kids were exhausted too. It was an early night for all of us.

At the end of her two weeks Aunt Bernice went home. Her duty was done for that year.

Periodically we would hear from my aunt. She always informed us that she was updating her will. She needed names and eventually married names for each of us. She also needed addresses.

I felt a bit insulted every time she did that. It was the only time we heard from her and it seemed as if she was trying to bribe us into caring about her. She was not easy to care about but we did.

When Daddy died Aunt Beernice came to the funeral. She spent a lot of time trying to dig up dirt about our family. It would be fodder for her to take to any other distant family members to make her look better than us. She even cornered my brother's ex-wife and wanted to know what horrible things he had done to make their marriage fail.

My sister-in-law (bless her) told her that she and my brother still cared for each other very much. They just wanted different things from life. (She is still a member of the family by the way.)

Then she started on my husband. He was drinking beer. She was outraged. Of course she would not come right out and say so.

Instead she began to talk about her neighbors who liked to drink. Do you know that they actually had the nerve to drink beer after a funeral?

She was going on and on about it. My husband was not stupid. He knew what she was doing. He finally looked her square in the eye and said, "That's Pa's chair you're sitting in. Nobody sits in Pa's chair." Then he walked out of the room.

When Aunt Bernice died she really did leave us some money. I received an inheritance of $300. It benefited my family at a time we really needed it. It was truly a nice thing for her to do.

I cannot honestly say I miss my aunt. I only saw her a few times in my life so there was not a bonding between us. I regret that. But I do admire her business acumen.

And her middle name was the same as my real first name. I suppose that was how my parents knew that they could use a feminine form of my father's name for me. So I will always have something of her with me at all times.


Friday, February 24, 2017

Hendrix?


I love music... any kind of music. My children like music but they do not know how to enjoy it. At a concert they just sit and listen. Most of my nieces and nephews are the same as my children. No fun.

My youngest sister had a second son. From the beginning I could tell he would enjoy the music. He could not even sit up by himself but he could bop around in time to the music.

As he got older he spent a lot of time listening to music. He was not even in school yet when he began playing air guitar. Jimi Hendrix had nothing on my nephew.

He would play his air guitar down low, up high, and even behind his head. He danced all around the room as he did so.

Everybody would just leave the room when he got started. Everybody except me. We had some great jam sessions.

My nephew would hand me a couple of pencils so I could play air drums. We would turn the music up and have a time.

He liked Tie Your Mother Down, I Got My Mind Set On You, and Old Time Rock and Roll. We sang along using our marvelous singing voices. It was such fun.

Now he is grown with two little girls. I certainly hope he still plays air guitar with them.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

You Look Just Like...


I must have the world's most common face. All my life I have had people tell me that I look just like someone they know. It is amusing most of the time but sometimes I wish I had something unique to distinguish me from other people.

Usually it is nothing more than a waitress saying, "You look just like my cousin's best friend!" or someone might say, "You look just the the person who used to live next door to me!" After so many times of this happening I have learned to just smile and say, "Really? I guess I just have a common face."

My husband and I had a junk yard. We bought cars for scrap. We salvaged usable parts and sent the remains to larger scrap dealers. I was the one who dealt with the public. I also dealt with other companies, like the larger scrap companies. I went to the small factory that made the work gloves we used. I went to the company that supplied the propane we used to power the cutting torches. You get the idea.

Often I was mistaken for someone else. But this time she had a name. She was MetaCore Mary.

MetaCore was a company that rebuilt auto parts like carburetors and starters then resold them. Mary was the one who picked up the gloves and propane for her company.

I would walk into one of these companies and be greeted with, "Hi. Mary. We've got your order ready." When I would tell them I was not Mary I was always told, "You look just like MetaCore Mary."

After a couple of years of this I finally crossed paths with MetaCore Mary. I had gone to refill the propane tanks. I was waiting for my turn when I heard the man at the counter refer to the woman in front of me as MetaCore Mary. I had to get a look.

I said, "So you're MetaCore Mary." She turned around with a guarded expression. I guess she thought I was going to accuse her of something.

I could see a resemblance but it only looked like we might be related, not that we looked alike. I told her about how I had been mistaken for her for several years and I just wanted to see what she looked like. She started to laugh and had a hard time stopping.

I was puzzled at her reaction. When she was able she finally said, "I've been hearing about you too. I don't think we look that much alike, but you look exactly like my younger sister!"

Yep. I have a common face.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Great-Grandpa


My great-grandpa was a leprechaun. At least that is what I thought for years and years.

Great-grandpa was from Bohemia. He still had a bit of an accent even after all the years he had been in the United States. He had a fringe of hair around his head the way you might think a monk would look. And his voice was high pitched probably because of age.

Great-grandpa seemed small to me because he was slightly bent with age. But actually he was a big man. He had a barrel chest and from what I heard he was strong as could be.

Great-grandpa's parents died when he was young. His mother died from burns she received in a fire. Great-grandpa and his brother were brought to the United States by his uncle who raised them as his own. I cannot imagine what it must have been like for two young boys to make that trip across the ocean to a new land and a family they barely knew.

He grew up and held various jobs until he married. Then he became a farmer. Farming was a good living back then. You could raise most of your own food and hopefully enough extra to sell to supplement your income. That would pay for anything you could not grow.

I am not sure how many children there were. I know that there was at least one son, named after Great-grandpa. He died in a trucking accident after he was grown and had a family. I do know there were two daughters, my grandmother and her older sister.

My great-grandmother died when my grandma was very young. Great-grandpa had farmhands but he needed all the help he could get. So my great-aunt was chosen to help in the fields and to do other chores around the farm.

Grandma was too small to be any help so she stayed in and kept house. Even at that young age she was responsible for seeing to it that all the men and her sister were properly and completely fed. Needless to say she was not a fancy cook, but boy oh boy, what she did cook was the absolute best.

Grandma begged to be able to help with milking the cows but her hands were too small. By the time her hands were big enough she saw what being out in the sun and weather every day had done to her sister's skin. Grandma decided the kitchen was good enough for her.

Great-grandpa came to live with Grandma and Grandpa when he got older. I used to love to sit and listen to him talk with his accent. The strange thing is that I do not remember one thing he ever said. I listened to the grown-ups talking because that was how I learned a lot of the family stories.

As I said, I thought Great-grandpa was a leprechaun. One year for Mother's Day he gave Grandma a shamrock plant. That clinched it! He was a leprechaun! I am ashamed to admit I was a teenager before I discovered the truth.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Strange But True


I have told you before how my siblings and I seemed to attract strange people. It aggravated my mother because she really did not find them amusing or entertaining. At times she worried for our safety.

Then I married. Unfortunately I married a man who seemed to have the same knack for attracting strange people. I will tell you about a few.

There was a strange young man who wandered into our place of business one day. He seemed shy and when he talked he would drop his head and speak into his chest. Of course my husband hired him.

He was so strange that even I wanted nothing to do with him. My husband said maybe we should allow him to come home and stay with us. I stood my ground and refused. We had four small children. This guy was really weird.

There was the day my husband did bring him home. I did not want him there.

I finally said he could bathe and leave. It was quite late and I relented and said he could spend the night.

I told my three boys to push their dresser against their door when they went to bed. Their room was next to ours so we would hear before he could get at them. I took my daughter to bed with us.

Now I was not worried about him molesting the children. I simply was not sure about his mental state. I did not know who he talked to when he was seemingly talking to himself. I did not want him in my house. He was to leave in the morning and not come back.

In the course of our business we often took truckloads of merchandise across the bridge to another country. At the bridge customs inspected the truck, the merchandise, and the people in the truck.

One day this young man went along for the ride. At customs they asked him about his citizenship. He lowered his head and mumbled into his chest. After several tries the agents took him from the truck and put him into a holding area. They sent the truck driver on his way.

My husband went and managed to get him released. He decided to go home wherever that was. He was hitch-hiking late at night and jumped in front of a car to make it stop so he could get a ride. The driver did not see him until it was too late. He was killed instantly. Someone should have gotten treatment for him when he was much younger.

I am not sure where Crazy Jim came from. It seemed as if he had always been there.

He was one of those people who seem to be normal until you start to talk to him. His ideas were "off-the-wall" and odd. He seemed to be obsessed with the way people's (especially female people) bodies functioned. It was never a sexual thing. I think he just wanted to learn.

A few months after he began to hang out around my husband he met my husband's brother's family. He felt right at home (They were collectors too.)

He halfway moved into their home. My sister-in-law would complain to me that he was constantly going through the medicine cabinet and other storage places in the bathroom. He did not take anything; he was just snooping.

He was always hungry. My sister-in-law said she could not keep any food because he ate it all. He did not work so he was underfoot for her all day. When my brother-in-law came home from work Crazy Jim latched onto him.

My niece had no patience with him. She kept kicking him out. He would wait until his "buddy" came home from work so he could go back in the house.

My brother-in-law would tease my children the way any good uncle will do. One day my oldest son won a rubber hot dog at a carnival. He decided to get his uncle before his uncle could get him.

With a little help from his aunt who supplied a bun and some mustard my son served the hot dog to his uncle. His uncle saw what it was and did not want it. Crazy Jim almost  hurt himself grabbing the hot dog. He was disappointed when he bit into it. He did eat the bread and mustard though.

The Keyman was called that because he just knew he was going to get rich making keys. After his mother died he sold her house and lived in a camper. And made keys.

He was another who latched onto my brother-in-law after he was introduced. I might interject here that part of the reason was that I would not allow these people to stay with us. My sister-in-law was much nicer than I.

The Keyman also began to take his meals at my brother-in-law's house. But he ate regular meals and did not take everything thing else in the cupboard.

He did however hook up his camper to the house electricity so he would not have to pay for his own.

For a time The Keyman and Crazy Jim lived together. That was only until they could no longer tolerate each other and a fight broke out.

Both of them have also died. It ended their loneliness.

This partnership will be a bit confusing as I introduce them. Please bear with me. Bob was a nice young man with a family when we met him. He worked at the junkyard doing whatever was asked of him. He was a house painter by trade and belonged to the union. He would no longer paint for some reason.

Bob was a veteran of the Viet Nam War. As with many he was not quite right. He was deemed to be 100% disabled and received a whole $80 per month. His children received more than he did. He was always a nice guy.

Bob's wife left him for someone else. He never really grasped what that meant.

Red was a teenager when we met him. Again a nice guy. My sister dated him for a few months. Eventually they were no longer seeing each other. We took him over to my brother-in-law's house. It was there he met my sister-in-law's sister. In time they were married and had several children.

Their marriage did not last. Neither did mine. Red's ex-wife and my ex-husband married a few years later. Red was sure they had been seeing each other all along. I am just as sure that they were not.

So Red and Bob became friends. They came up with the idea that rather than work for their drug money they would become panhandlers.

In the big city panhandlers often stand at the exit from the expressway begging for money. These people often take in more money in a few hours than many of us do all week. But these two got greedy.

They discovered that if they jumped too close to a car or even in front of it and claimed to have been hit the motorist would be more likely to give them a large amount of money rather than wait for the police and have to file an insurance claim. It was a good scam for them. For a while.

One day Red jumped out in front of a loaded semi truck. Of course the driver could not stop. Red was hit and severely injured. He was in the hospital for more than a week before he died.

I lost track of Bob. I hope he was able to beat his addictions and is doing well.

Everybody called him Doc. I never knew his real name. He was a middle aged man who owned his own tow truck. He worked for us for a couple of years. Most of the time I think he lived in his truck.

Doc was diabetic. He kept his insulin in his truck which was not a good idea. The temperature in the truck was not good for storage of a medication that needs to be kept cool. It was also not hygienic. No one could convince him that his lifestyle was dangerous to his health.

Eventually his disease bested him. Another death.

There was an older man who worked in a junkyard near us. They did not pay him because he had a drinking problem. I think they meant well but giving a person a couple of meals each day does not compensate him for all the work he did.

When he began to work for us we made sure he had what he needed as well as his salary. If his drinking was monitored he was less likely to lose control of it.

He once told me that he did not know how old he was. He had a sister in one of the southern states. He knew her name and had an old address for her. Because he could not read or write I wrote to her for him. There was never a reply.

He became too old to do the manual labor he had done all his life. He was still alert. I needed someone to care for my children when they came home from school until I came home from work. The old man stayed with us and we cared for him in return for watching the children. They loved him so it was a good arrangement.

One night there was a fire across the street from us. Of course we climbed out of bed to have a look.

A couple of older women lived next door to us. They came over to discuss the fire. Then one of them leaned over to ask me about the man staying with us. I explained that he was there to help with the children,

She whispered, "But he's black." I whispered back, " I know. But it doesn't rub off." I always wished I had told her that he was the real father of the kids. Oh well.

He grew tired of staying indoors and moved on. They found him in a car at a used car lot. It was the middle of winter and he had climbed in to try to get warm. It was too late.

There was a man who worked for us in the junkyard. He was a decent worker and we got along with him. But he was not a good family man.

He had several children but this is about his oldest son. I cannot say he was a good kid. His father taught him to steal cars. The reasoning was that if he got caught he would only be sentenced to a juvenile facility rather than prison.

The man was cruel and apparently beat his wife and children when the mood hit him. Sometimes he would want to hit his wife but was either too drunk or too lazy. So he would make his son go beat his mother.

The kid would come over to visit at our house often. He was always polite. And believe it or not he never tried to take anything from us. If we allowed the kids to run across the street to get some candy he went along to make sure they were not cheated.

Even after my husband and I went our separate ways he stayed in touch with each of us.

He came to me one night and told me his mother was in the hospital. He had no way to go see her and it was in a neighboring city with a better hospital. I told him I would take him.

When we got to the hospital he said he would find some way home. I told him I would stay with him.

That was when I learned his mother was dying.

I stayed at the hospital with him all night. He slept on the floor when he could sleep.. His mother died the next morning. He was hurt but glad he had been there for her. She knew he had never wanted to hurt her.

He sort of latched onto my son in later years. He had a serious drinking and drug problem. My son would feed him and let him clean up at his house.

He had been gone a while. My son rented the house to someone else and moved to a new house. The kid went to the house looking for my son. Of course the people told him my son did not live there now. He did not believe them and threatened them. They called my son.

My son went there immediately. There was the kid breaking out windows in his anger.

When my son stopped his car the kid walked over to him ready to hit my son. Instead my son hit him.

He fell down, jerking convulsively. My son thought he had killed him and panicked. He jumped in his car a left.

The mother and grandmother of my son's oldest daughter called him demanding to know what happened. Apparently the kid (who I should point out is at least 10 years older than my son) revived. The two women took him into their house. It was not a fun time for them. He had soiled himself.

The next time my son saw him he said, "You're not going to hit me are you?"

There is a partially happy ending. The kid is a friend on Facebook now.

My sister had been divorced for a while. She began to see a young man and was anxious for me to meet him. I have to tell you that in the beginning every time he stood near my sister my fists were balled up ready to strike.

Then I warmed up to him a bit. That was when I found out that his best friend from childhood was the leader of the local Nazis. Needless to say I was furious.

My sister's boyfriend was having a birthday party and she asked if my husband and I would go. I said absolutely not. She begged. She pleaded. She said they had promised that no one would come in uniform. His parents (who also did not approve) were going to be there. I relented and my husband and I went.

You can guess what happened next. In walked the Nazis in full regalia. I was ready to leave.

I was sitting in a chair across the room from my husband trying to get his attention. One of those people came over and began whispering in my ear. He was trying to make time with me!

His mistake was bragging about him being a Nazi. As he was degrading Jews I turned to him ever so sweetly. I smiled my most adorable smile. In the most genteel voice I could muster I innocently said, "You know I'm Jewish don't you?"

My husband was roaring with laughter as the guy slid on his bottom across the floor with his hands up in a shielding position. He was horrified.

Once the Nazi group disbanded the leader became a loyal friend to my ex-husband. He had lost everything including his family. They moved on. He became very ill and died.

The reason I thought to write this now is that I received a Facebook friend request from another kid who is no longer a kid. He was an odd kid who was so anxious to please. Many people took advantage of him. A lot of them teased him. But he had a good heart.

I was surprised to hear from him. I had just been talking to my son about him and wondering what became of him.

He had been the best friend of the brother of one of my friends. He was devastated when his friend died of a drug overdose. To my knowledge he did not do drugs himself.

My friend and I were good to him and I think he felt like no one else was. She and I are his only Facebook friends from the people we know.

He came to my house one day to show off his "new" car. It was a clunker but it was his and he was so proud.

When we went out to look at it one of the tires was flat. I told him I had a can of Fix-A-Flat he could have. He happily went out to put it in his tire so he could drive to get a different tire.

In a few minutes he came in and said it did not work. I went out to check on it. I saw the foam from the Fix-A-Flat oozing from at least 20 little holes.

He is now living in another state. He has a family and seems to be doing well. That makes me feel good.

Friday, February 10, 2017

When The Phone Rings...


I am not much for talking on the telephone. I used to be but now I find the telephone to be a necessary inconvenience. I used to know phone numbers for everyone by heart. I even knew phone numbers that were no longer in service.

Then one day I realized that all those numbers were taking up a lot of space in my little brain. I decided to un-memorize them all. I was so successful that now I cannot remember numbers at all. Even my home number takes some work to recite. The only number I could not get rid of is the number we had for about four months that we lived in one little town. It was 246J.

I have a cell phone. I feel that they are a wonderful tool. It is good to have a way to communicate in case of an emergency. If you are away from home and have a flat tire for instance. Or if your home phone is not working you have a way to call and find out why. I do not know what the number for this cell phone is.

But I absolutely cringe whenever I see people walking around with their phones stuck to their heads like a security blanket. I do not want to be that connected to anyone.

My first experience with a phone was when I was 5 years old. My mother answered the phone. It was for me so she gave it to me and left the room. The caller was a girl I went to school with. She and her family were having a "carnival" and she was inviting me.

I had to have permission so I went to ask Mom. Before I left the room I replaced the phone in its cradle. When Mom came in of course there was nobody on the other end. No problem... Mom would just call back. Problem... I did not know the little girl's last name.

Somehow my resourceful mother found a way to get me to the carnival. They had little booths, refreshment stands, and even a side show. Each thing cost a penny. I had a grand time.

I lived in Nebraska growing up. The population is small. Party lines were used in most areas because they were cheaper for the phone company to set up. A party line is when at least 2 and up to 8 or 10 phones were on the same line. They had the same phone number. Sometimes they would have a letter or number modifier and sometimes the operator had to connect you to the right phone.

When any phone on the party line rang you would hear your phone ring. Each phone had a distinctive ring of its own. You might get two shorts and a long, or three longs, or a long a short and a long. You had to know your own ring and only answer that one. In one town we were on the same line as the drug store.

If you picked up your phone while another phone on the line was in use you could hear the conversation. It was considered bad etiquette to listen to any of those conversations. It was called rubbernecking or rubbering in. You also had to keep your conversations to a minimum so that tha line was available for others to use.

I went to high school in a fairly large city for the area I lived in. My high school had several offices, each of which had their own phones. However it was far too costly for each office to have its own line. So we had a switchboard. It needed an operator to connect the calls and that was also a huge expense. The solution was to have students (meaning female students because boys should not have to do that type of job) man the switchboard.

Every day instead of going to study hall I reported to the office and the switchboard. It looked just like the ones you see in old movies. There was a big upright board containing all these wires. The wires came in pairs and each pair was the same color. Beneath each wire was a light. There was a phone dial slightly to the right in case an outgoing call was being made. And of course there was my headset so I could hear and speak to the person calling.

When a call came in I took the wire above the lighted light, plugged it in, and answered the phone appropriately and asked how I could direct the call. As soon as I knew where the call needed to go I pulled the other wire of the colored set, plugged it in to the corresponding phone line, and pushed a button that would signal for that office to answer the phone. Then both lights were lit. As soon as the parties had finished their call and disconnected the lights would go out. Then I would unplug both wires and they would recoil into the board waiting for their next turn.

There were so many pairs of wires so that many calls could be in progress at once. It was the latest thing in technology.

Strange things happen to me on the phone. One time I called my mother and my sister answered. She said, "Heeeeeeellloooooo." in a slow lazy way. Playing along I said, "Heeeeelllooooo. " back at her. I said "Whatcha dooooiiinggg?" "Ooooh noooothing muuuuch." Suddenly I realized I was not talking to my sister! I had dialed the wrong number.

Once I called the information operator. As she was looking fo the number I needed she began to tell me what a bad day she was having. I was sympathetic. The call progressed to her telling me about the big fight she had with her boyfriend the night before. She had thrown out his clothes. I was on the phone with her for well over an hour and would you believe it? I did not get the number I needed.

I called to talk to my mother. My sister answered so I was chatting with her. Suddenly I asked her if she was eating Cheerios. She was surprised and said, "How did you know?" I told her I could smell them.

All of my friends would sit and make jokes about the obscene calls they had received. I never got one and I was feeling a bit slighted.

One evening while i was trying to cook supper the phone rang. I said; "Hello." I heard "mmmnedc gtortbnksnfwethn". "I'm sorry I did not catch that. What did you say?" "mdfwkjhgwu9fwpghs;has" "Could you please repeat that?" "sdoghprghsfbdo;ghudgnb;ad" "Please speak a little slower. I cannot understand you." "f,w'fhreu9thrguroguirg"

As it suddenly dawned on me that this was my obscene phone call the caller hung up in frustration. It was obviously his first time too.

It took me a long time to realize that the telephone is mine. If I choose not to answer it I can. With the innovation of voice mail anyone who has something important to say can leave a message if I am busy or just do not feel like talking. I will call back at my convenience. So call me... maybe.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Mom's Car


Mom wanted her own car. She had use of Daddy's car whenever it was available but she decided she wanted her own. The thing was that she was a homemaker and did not have an outside job. She wanted it to be all hers as in she made the money and paid for it.

Not having a job outside the home meant no money. She could not get a job because she would not have regular availability of the car. What to do? Daddy told her he would get her a car and she adamantly refused.

My inventive mother decided to collect refundable bottles and cans to see if she could raise the money on her own. She collected all the bottles that her children were too lazy to return to the store. She regularly visited our houses to pick them up. She also scouted along the streets of the city and picked up bottles and cans that people had littered the area with.

She would take them to the grocery store and cash them in. The money she received was placed in a bank account she had opened specifically as her auto account. It added up surprisingly fast. So as she still collected the bottles she began shopping for a car.

It took a while but she finally found one that fit her criteria. It was compact but had a roomy trunk. It was a used car but ran well. That was the only contribution Daddy was allowed to make. He checked out the car to make sure it was in good condition for her.

It was not a car I would have chosen. It looked like an old lady's car but it was what she wanted. The paint was an ugly color. I do not even remember what it looked like but I do remember it was ugly. But Mom was happy with it.

She had enough money from her pop bottles to pay cash for the car. She had enough left over for insurance and license plates AND a full tank of gas. She kept collecting bottles for a long time to pay for anything she needed for the car and maybe a little extra something personal for herself.

Mom and I were involved with a small company in which we taught people to paint on fabrics and metals. The hope was that the people would enjoy it so much they would purchase the paint and other supplies from us. We did moderately well.

I used the money I made to buy things for my family. Mom reinvested in product. She had paints to be used with brushes, thinner, remover, brushes, and spray paints. She bought things by the case and got really good deals.

The company that we were affiliated with went out of business. Oh well. But Mom had all these paints lying around.

As I said her car was an ugly color. Mom decided that since she had all this spray paint she would paint her car. She got the necessary items like masking tape to help cover windows and chrome and got the car ready to paint. Then she chose her color.

She had several cases of phosphorescent blue so she chose that. Being the capable and artistic person she was she did a good job with her painting. The car looked great.

My parents did not have a garage. No one in that neighborhood did. They all parked on the street in front of their houses. My parents' bedroom also happened to be in the front of the house.

The first night Mom parked her car in front of the house after her paint job they noticed a strange glow out front when they went to bed. It was an eerie bluish light. Aliens? UFO? Nope. Mom's fluorescent blue car. Daddy got a good chuckle out of that.

Being in the big city has definite drawbacks. One is the amount of crime. Often the people committing the crimes tried to elude police by hiding in residential areas where it was easier to conceal themselves from the authorities. If the crime was serious enough the police would call out the helicopter to help them search.

The helicopter has a strong searchlight that they play over the area. Often they can see things that are not visible from the ground. It also illuminates areas that the ground police might not be able to see well. It is a good tool and being in the big city we saw that helicopter quite often.

One night Mom and Daddy were asleep when the helicopter began to make so much noise that it woke them up. Daddy got up to see what was going on. After all you do not want criminals loose in your neighborhood. Almost immediately he told Mom to get dressed and come out front which she did.

Outside were several squad cars and the helicopter hovering very low above the street.  They had been chasing someone when the helicopter spotted this glowing blue object and reported it. Squad cars were immediately summoned to the area. There sat Mom's car.

After a discussion about why on earth the car was glowing in the dark and why on earth anyone would paint it to do that, everyone had a big laugh. The police and their helicopter went on their ways. Mom and Daddy went back to bed.

Mom had that car for several years. Because it was a used car when she got it problems eventually were troublesome. She kept it in repair as long as she could but she finally had to let go of it. She had other cars after that but never any that she loved as much.