Friday, December 28, 2018

Did You Hear That?

When I was about 11 years old there was a very popular song named "Teen Angel". It was about a teenage boy whose girlfriend was killed in an oh so tragic car accident. Everyone was singing it.

One day my mother came home from grocery shopping chuckling. She had seen a little girl sitting on the curb in front of the post office. And singing at the top her lungs. "Clean Angel, can you hear me? Clean Angel, can you see me?" You can find the song on YouTube. It was sung by Mark Dinning.

Sometimes we hear the words to songs wrong. It is a common thing. There are even web sites dedicated to hearing the words to songs wrong. Some of them are quite funny. Just do a search for wrong words to songs and be entertained.

The Singing Nun was a real nun who had recorded a song named "Dominique". It was a huge hit. A beautiful song sung by a nun with the voice of an angel. My aunt who was a know-it-all teenager at the time insisted that it was performed by The Singing Num. After all a real nun would never make a record.

This song is probably the most notorious song of all time. "Louie, Louie" by The Kingsmen was banned in many cities of the United States. Those in charge of banning things were concerned because they could not understand the lyrics. That meant it must have something "dirty" in it. The more cities that refused to allow it to be played, the more we wanted to listen to it.

I was fairly newly married. My husband and I headed to the laundromat to wash some clothes. As we walked in with our dirty clothes there was a song I had not heard before playing quite loudly.

Imagine my shock when the chorus began "Where were you when the ship hit the sand?" I of course heard something else. I thought they were singing about something distasteful hitting the fan. If you are interested the song sung by Little Jimmy Dickens is on YouTube and titled "When the Ship Hit the Sand". It is still difficult to write the correct words.

I cannot begin to tell you of the number of times while the television is on that my head will whip up at something I imagined that I heard. Usually it is something that I will not repeat. Usually my unclean little mind picks up sounds and scrambles them into something else. Does it happen to you\?

Friday, December 21, 2018

A Family Christmas Eve

When we were little Christmas was an expectant time. We went to bed early so that Santa Claus could come and leave us presents. We had written letters to him assuring him that we had been good. We let him know what gifts we wanted.

It was so hard to go to sleep. We would try and the harder we tried, the harder it was to relax enought to finally drop off. But eventually it happened.

Christmas morning was glorious. We would get up and file to the living room. That is where the Christmas tree was with all the presents beneath it. There was an order to opening gifts that has been followed from then on. I will tell you more later.

Some Christmases we went to spend the day with my mother's family on the farm. It was fun getting so many people together. But most years it was just our family and that was special.

One Christmas when I was 5 or 6 I awoke to hear the sounds of nuts cracking. That was Daddy. I cannot pass the nuts in the store at Christmas without thinking of him. He loved them so and Christmas was the only time they were available.

There were voices. Had Santa been there?

I got out of bed and went quietly to the door. There were Mom and Daddy wrapping gifts and putting them under the tree. Most people would say that was proof there is no Santa Claus. Of course I know better. He is real.

Every year Santa left a giant Hershey bar for each of my brothers and sisters. Mom and I got big boxes of chocolate covered cherries. They are still my very favorite.

Another year my brother and I woke up early. It was about 2:00 in the morning. We went to the living room and there was the tree with all the presents under it. We were much too excited to go back to bed so we decided to wait quietly until everyone else was awake.

We spent the time guessing what was in each package. The round one had to be a basketball. It was fun. The problem was that even our whispering got louder and louder. Mom got up and shooed us back to bed.

Then there was the year my brother and I decided to play sick and stay home from school before Christmas. We knew where Mom was stashing the gifts and we were going to take a peak. Mom was working at the time so she took our youngest sister to Grandma's. We were alone. Yay.

We went into the closet and went through everything. I found two dresses that I assumed were for my sister and me. Mom sewed most of our clothes. She had outdone herself with these and they were gorgeous. I even tried mine on. Perfect fit.

That was a terrible Christmas for me. I discovered that a major part of the fun is the expectation and surprise in the packages.

When I was about 15 I went to my boyfriend's house on Christmas Eve. I had a wonderful time with his family. He was to take me home so I would be home by 11:00.

There was a terrible blizzard that night. I lived at what amounts to be the top of a steep hill. He drove home the way we usually went. His car could not get to the top of the hill. He tried another way. No luck. We went around and tried to get up the hill past the cemetery. It was steeper than the rest.

Then we decided that perhaps he could go part way up and then turn into a subdivision. By winding through streets that only went up for a block we were finally ably to come out on my street and I made it home. He had no trouble going to his house because it was all downhill.

Because it was so late I went to explain to Mom why I did not make curfew. She understood. She was wrapping gifts for my brothers and sisters and told me I could help so that she could get a little sleep. I was happy to do it.

Then the next morning we opened our gifts from Santa. I was miserable because I knew everything the other kids were getting. I do like surprises.

As we got older the kids started buying gifts for our parents and each other. In order to make room under the tree we opened those gifts on Christmas Eve.

When I was a teenager I realized how much my parents loved Christmas and what they did to make sure that our Christmas was a good one. We did not get gifts for birthdays and other occasions. There were special things we did but money was hard to come by.

At Christmas my parents went all out. They would go into debt or sell something that was precious to them just to make sure that our Christmas was a good one. And they never ever let on. I knew but I never mentioned it to them. That was my gift to them.

One year I got my first wrist watch for Christmas. I was being recognized as the soon to be adult that I felt I was. It was before we had digital battery operated watches. It had to be wound by the little stem to keep it running every day. No problem.

The problem was that it felt hot. I told my parents but they just chuckled and told me that I would get used to the feeling of wearing it soon. I kept complaining and they kept being amused.

Then one day I showed them the blister on my arm where the watch had burned it. They took it back to the store. It seems that the watchmaker had not put in that teeny tiny drop of lubricant that keeps the gears from creating the friction that eventually caused my burn.

As we got older and began having families of our own we still tended to go to Mom and Dad's for Christmas Day. Mom always told us she was cooking and we were all welcome. Just don't get between her and the television during the football game.

Daddy never understood why any of us moved into our own homes, much less why we would want to spend Christmas Day at home. As my family got older I wanted my children to develop happy memories of our Christmases like the ones I had. So we began to spend Christmas Day at our house. Daddy did not understand.

Now Mom understood about Christmas Day. However she had a strict rule about Christmas Eve. Everyone in the family was required to be there, no matter what.

We had baked goods, candy, cakes, and pies. One year she even decided to make every fruit cake from the recipes she had been collecting for decades. I always took some of the things I had made. There were cold cuts and chips, pickles and relishes, vegetable trays... all easy to eat and no work at the time.

We all sat and talked and laughed. The kids played and told the adults what had been happening in their little lives. Daddy just sat in his chair and reveled in having his family around him. Mom even was able to enjoy herself because all the work was done for a time and she could join in without interruption.

We are a large family. We were not blessed with those soft genteel voices. As we talked the noise level would rise. So we talked louder. The noise level would keep rising and we would keep talking louder. To new members of the family it was disconcerting but they would learn to adjust.

Then came time to open the gifts. We all took our gifts to each other to Christmas Eve. Christmas morning was reserved for Santa Claus.

Daddy played Santa. He did not dress up or anything. He was the person who passed out the gifts. The first gift always went to the youngest member of the family. We would all watch as the gift was opened then ooh and aah at the gift. Then the next in line would receive the next gift and the same oohs and aahs were issued.

After each person in the family had received a gift in the order of their age and the appropriate responses were given, the gifts were not necessarily given in order. But each gift received the same presentation... we watched as it was opened and then appreciated the wonderfulness of it.

As I said we are a large family and there were a lot of gifts. Gift opening took a long, long time. We loved every second.

I miss those huge Christmas Eves. Mom and Daddy are gone. Some of the children are no longer with us. There have been divorces and marriages that have changed who is a present member of the family. Two of my brothers have died. But the spirit of Christmas lives.

I tried to keep the big Christmas Eve celebration going. But people would move too far away so they could not come. Soon it was just my children and grandchildren. There were still enough of us to have a raucous, noisy party.

Now I have moved away. I came back to the part of the country where I was raised and away from the big city that I hated. My children and grandchildren had to stay where their jobs are. My Christmases are quiet now. But I have all those happy memories and they are more than enough.

By the way, for any who doubt, Santa Claus is real. He still leaves presents for me under my tree.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Wanna Cookie?

My mother always baked at Christmas time. As soon as we were old enough all of us kids helped. We had cookies, pies, cakes. And we made candy too. And popcorn. Our house smelled so good from all the smells.

Once I had my own house I continued to make goodies for Christmas. Peanut butter cookies were my husband's favorite. He liked apple pie. When we would go to my parents house we packed a lot of baked things for everyone to enjoy.

I never learned to make "a little bit" because of coming from a large family. It was a good way to share and a good way to not waste the things I had made way too much of.

When I started having my own children I had them help me make the goodies. It was a tradition that I wanted to keep. We had so much fun and made a big mess. I should also tell you that I make a mess when I cook. I do not know how it happens but there it is. I hate the clean-up but it is worth it when all is said and done.

My children did what all children seem to have to do. They grew up. They moved to their own houses. I like my children as well as love them so I missed having them around all the time. And they began having families of their own.

Baking for Christmas is done over a period of time. You just cannot make all those things in one day. I would spend several days baking.

Then I realized that my grandchildren were not making cookies. We could not tolerate that. I invited them to my house to make cookies for the day. Each child would choose a favorite cookie to make. That would be their contribution to our Christmas celebration.

All cookies are made from scratch. There are no mixes or frozen cookies for us. We would spend a fun day making and sampling all the cookies. The children not baking at the moment would play games or watch television. It was so much fun.

My family kept getting larger. Cookie day turned into Cookie weekend. After making cookies for a day, we would go for a drive looking at all the lights and decorations. Then the next day we would make cookies with the children who had not made cookies the day before.

Still we kept growing. Now cousins were coming too. It became difficult to oversee the baking and manage all those children who were not busy. I had to institute a new routine. Girls one weekend and boys another.

The main problem there was that the boys still wanted to come on the girls weekend and the girls wanted to come on the boys weekend. I will never tell any grandchild that they cannot come to Grandma's house so I am not sure I gained anything by having two weekends. But it did allow for baking time to be separated and that was helpful.

I miss cookie day. I moved back to the prairies where I belong. After I retired I realized that it would be much cheaper to live here than in the city. On a fixed income that is a good thing. Unfortunately my children's jobs and families keep them where they were raised. There are no grandchildren here for cookie day.

My youngest son and his daughter continue to make cookies. I am happy that they do because they are both very busy people. I can also see how close they feel when they are working together and that is what it is really about, isn't it?

Friday, December 14, 2018

Remember The Reindeer And The Elves

We all know enough to leave a snack for Santa on Christmas Eve. He works hard all night to deliver gifts to good girls and boys. Cookies and milk are what we always leave out for Santa.

Did you ever consider that the reindeer are working hard too? They are able to eat snow so they need nothing to drink but I have a recipe for Magic Reindeer Food that the children can spread outside before going to bed. It makes the reindeer so happy.


In a small zipper food storage bag or empty shaker container, mix:
1/2 cup uncooked oatmeal
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup red or green sugar crystals (as used for cake decorating)

Package Magic Reindeer food in small food storage bags or holiday gift bags.

Now that you have made the magic reindeer food, the rest is easy. Before the children go to bed and have visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads, let them run outside and sprinkle the magic reindeer food around the yard. Away from the house might be good. Santa's reindeer like a little space.

After gifts have been opened in the morning, everyone can take a look to see if the food was eaten.

Are we done? Nope. We still have to thank the elves who help Santa all year. Let's make some Elf Donuts.

You will need a box of Cheerios, some small tubes of frosting (the more colors the better), sprinkles, and perhaps cinnamon sugar mixture. Perhaps you like chocolate, powdered sugar, peanut butter, or Nutella. Anything you might use to decorate normal sized donuts.

Squeeze a bit of frosting onto a Cheerio. If you wish then you can dip it into a bit of the sprinkles or maybe colored sugar. Or you can leave it plain.

Place the Elf Donuts on a saucer or in plastic sandwich bags. The sandwich bags might make them easier for Santa to take to the North Pole.

Now we have a happy Santa, reindeer, and elves. And these are projects that require little supervision for the children to stay busy on that last day before Christmas.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Christmas Movies

I love watching Christmas movies. There are so many good ones that I insist on watching every year.

I mentioned White Christmas in my last post. It tops the list

There are also all the Christmas cartoons like How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Santa Claus, and Frosty.

Holiday Inn. A song and dance man retires to a farm to relax. He decides to open to tourists for only holidays with Christmas being the final holiday.

The Santa Clause I, II. and III. A divorced father accidentally makes Santa fall from his roofand disappear. He has to take Santa's place. All are good fun.

Mrs.Miracle and Call Me Mrs. Miracle. An oldeer woman helps people through Christmas difficulties.

It's A Wonderful Life. A banker in a small town learns what would have happened if he had never been born.

Call Me Claus. A woman who no longer believes in Santa or Christmas is scheduled to be the next Santa.

Fred Claus. Santa's older brother hates everything about Christmas. When he gets into trouble and Santa is injured he has to help out.

Christmas With The Kranks. Their daughter is away working for the peace corps so they decide to not celebrate Christmas and take an exotic trip instead. When they find their daughter is coming home for Christmas they have to scramble to make a nice Chistmas. Neighbors they angered join in to help.

Deck The Halls. A man has a tight scedule for making Christmas he wants. A new family moves in across the street creating chaos and ruining his schedule.

It's Christmas, Carol. A take-off on A Christmas Carol. A young business woman is shown what life would be if she does not change her ways.

Elf. An orphan baby manages to get into Santa's bag and is raised at the North Pole. When he finds out that he is an adopted elf he sets off to find his father.

I watch many more movies at Christmas but this is my must not miss list.

Friday, December 7, 2018

At The Movies

I love movies. I have favorites that I can watch over and over and over again. My children do not really understand how I can see the same movie so many times and still enjoy it. I put it down to the fact that I must have a child-like mind.

I like either funny movies or musicals the most. Most of the time when I watch a movie I simply want to be entertained. I am not searching for a deeper meaning to life or the secret to anything. Mindless joy is perhaps a good way to put it. There are a few dramas that I like. Fewer still westerns. I prefer the old cowboy programs from television. I very seldom watch war movies or action thrillers... too much violence for me. Old scary movies are fun but the newer movies are too much blood and gore. I do not watch icky movies.

I will share a few of my favorites with you.

Grease. This is a fun movie. It deals with teenage angst. The music is great. The time it is set in is so familiar to me.

The Sound Of Music. Outstanding music. Beautiful scenes of the Austrian countryside. Even though the movie is not factual it is based on a true family which makes it more enjoyable.

Jungle Book. I love children's cartoon musicals. Jungle Book is my favorite of all of them. The songs are fun, the characters are memorable, and it has a good story. The newer version with human actors surprised me by being just as good.

Star Wars. All eight movies and I am anxiously awaiting the ninth. Star Wars are like cowboy movies with the shoot-em ups and the clear definition between bad guys and good guys. The science fiction of the future releases all limits to the types of worlds and characters available. I did not want to go see a science fiction movie but my mother gave me tickets for myself and my children for Christmas and forced me to go. Thanks, Mom.

Indiana Jones. While I am at it these are adventure stories that are well written. They deal with historical politics and religious theories without being offensive. Not easy to do. And they are full of humor that most adventure movies do not have.

Jackie Chan movies. Jackie Chan is a martial arts expert. His movies are written to highlight his prowess. But the humor makes the violence bearable.

Phenomenon. On his birthday a man sees a flash of light in the sky and is knocked down by some force. After that he gains amazing abilities to learn and experiment. He no longer sleeps. The government wants to know why and tries to experiment on him. I like this movie because the star, John Travolta, underplays the character making him just an ordinary person which makes him so much more than that. He does not understand why he was chosen to have these abilities because he was not of more than average intelligence before.

Pirates Of The Caribbean. Old fashioned pirates and their adventures. There are plenty of exciting situations. The humor is laced all the way throughout. When I watched the first of the series of movies I kept saying, "I know that guy!" about Jack Sparrow. The way he moved and the way he talked was somebody I recognized but could not figure out who it was. Later I read that Johnny Depp interpreted the character's personality as being like Kieth Richards of the Rolling Stones. "That's it." It was clear to me.

The Egg And I. When they marry a man decides to surprise his wife with a farm. He has always wanted to be a farmer. Neither of them knows anything about farming. Their mishaps and misunderstandings make for great fun. It is the first movie that Ma and Pa Kettle appear in.

Arsenic And Old Lace. Cary Grant is a comedy genius. In this movie he comes from a strange family. One brother is in prison for cruel murders, an uncle thinks he is Teddy Roosevelt and charges San Juan Hill every time he goes up the stairs. Then there are the lovable old aunts who lovingly raised him. Turns out they are putting lonely old men out of their misery.

First Wives Club. Three women who attended college together become re-acquainted at the funeral of their fourth friend who committed suicide when her wealthy husband left her for a younger woman. They discover that each of them is in similar circumstances. While extracting revenge they realize that they have the opportunity to turn something bad into something worthwhile.

Beaches. Two little girls meet on the beach in Atlantic City. They continue a long distance friendship through letters. When they are grown the poor little rich girl runs from home to stay with her aspiring actress friend. They see each other through trials, tribulations, and even have a serious estrangement for a time. This is a good movie to watch to release all those things that you need to cry about.

Pollyanna. A little girl who is recently orphaned moves in with her wealthy aunt. The aunt is cold and seems to be totally devoid of feeling. She rules the whole town with her iron fist. Little Pollyanna in her innocence goes about melting the coldest of hearts. One of many movies starring Hayley Mills who I adore.

Auntie Mame. Rosalind Russell was at her eccentric best playing Mame. Her young nephew is sent to live with her because she is his only living relative. She falls in love and vows to educate him in every way possible. Her "Bohemian" ways do not always sit well with the staid banker in charge of the estate of the boy. Then there is the running story of Agnes Gooch (played by Peggy Cass) running through the whole movie. All the strange characters that have been "adopted" by Auntie Mame add to the chaos of a little boy's life in which he feels very loved by all of them as he grows to be a man.

West Side Story. An adaptation of Romeo and Juliet set in New York City in the 1950's or very early 60's. The Jets were the gang of white boys who disliked the Puerto Rican gang of the Sharks. Each gang wanted to rule the streets. As expected violence erupts and deaths occur. Natalie Wood plays Maria (Juliet) and Tony (Romeo) is played by Richard Beymer. My favorite song of many favorites from the movie is "Dear Officer Krupke".

The Parent Trap. Hayley Mills plays two young girls who meet at summer camp. Everyone comments on how much they look like each other but they take an instant dislike to one another. Of course they are forced to spend time alone together and they come to the realization that they are twin sisters. They immediately set about plotting to re-unite their divorced parents. Lindsay Lohan also made a slightly more modern version with the same name of the movie and it is also excellent.

Alice. Because I love so many children's feature length cartoons I am not listing most of them. It just goes unsaid. Naturally I was excited when Johnny Depp starred as the Mad Hatter in a new version of Alice In Wonderland. As a confused young woman Alice falls again chasing the White Rabbit and finds herself in Underland. she is the only champion who can save Underland from the evil Red Queen and her Jabberwock. Alice Through The Looking Glass is a continuation of Alice.

Batman. I am referring to the trilogy starring Christian Bale. I felt they explained the origins and mindset of Batman better than any of the others. I also felt that it was more than possible that his gadgets might work. As a side note the company I worked for made shocks that made Batman's cape look like it could really stiffen and soar.

Darby O'Gill And The Little People. A cute little movie that at least mentions most of the strange creatures that are commonly referred to as Irish. Darby has captured a leprechaun and no one believes him. Darby is a good-hearted man but some think he stretches the truth a wee bit. In the end the Leprechaun helps Darby spare the life of his beloved daughter from the Banshee. Sean Connery (James Bond himself) sang a song ("Pretty Irish Girl") that I sing to all my little girls.

The Wizard Of Oz. Dorothy is being raised by her aunt and uncle in Kansas. She gets caught up in a tornado and she and her dog Toto plump down in Oz, a magically colorful land with a lot of weird happenings. Yet all she wants to do is go home to Kansas.

Miss Congeniality. Both I and II. An FBI agent is a reluctant entrant in the Miss United States contest to investigate a bomb threat. She has never been particularly feminine so it takes a major make-over to make her presentable and try to keep her that way. Some false leads and humorous situations later she gets her bomber. In the sequel she has become too famous to work in the field so she becomes "The Face Of The FBI". But the winner of the Miss United States contest is kidnapped and she partners with an antagonistic FBI partner to try to rescue her.

The Blind Side. The true story of a southern family who adopt a homeless young man who goes on to become a football player for the NFL. It is a very moving story.

Seven Brides For Seven Brothers. Taken from the ancient Roman legend of the Rape Of The Sabine Women. The oldest of seven brothers goes to town to get a wife to take care of household duties for himself and his brothers. When he finds a willing woman and brings her home the brothers decide to go to town and kidnap brides for themselves. A lot of singing and dancing are in order while the girls wait to be rescued.

Hamlet. Starring Mel Gibson. Who knew he could do that? The classic Shakespeare Hamlet and it is wonderful.

Singin' In The Rain.This musical attempts to show us what it was like when silent movies became talkies. The story itself is a little lame but the actors bring their characters to life in such a way that you forget it's a silly story. Some great musical numbers that are classics.

Mermaids. A fluffy little movie about a confused teenager who has to deal with her mother who moves a lot to shelter herself from infidelities. In the process she has a fling of her own and almost causes her little sister's death.

Mamma Mia. This movie is an excuse to listen ABBA's music. A 20 year old woman being raised by her single mother is planning her wedding. She comes across her mother's old diary and discovers that she may be the the daughter of one of three men. She invites them all to the wedding thinking that she will know which one is her father. But she does not tell her mother they are coming. The sequel is a little busy but it is good too.

Rio Bravo. Dean Martin, John Wayne, and RICKY NELSON all in one movie. Oh yes Angie Dickenson was there too. It is a western with all that westerns have. One of my favorite songs is from this movie. My Rifle, My Pony, and Me

McClintock. John Wayne plays the owner of the biggest ranch in the area. His daughter is coming home from school "back East". His estranged wife comes too because she wants the daughter to live with her. It is the movie where John Wayne utters his quote "But I won't, I won't The hell I won't" before he slugs a man who falls into the muddy sluice.

Fort Apache and She Wore A Yellow Ribbon. Two more John Wayne Movies. In the first Henry Fonda is the star playing a rigid commanding officer type who cannot allow himself to bend at all. His daughter is played by Shirley Temple all grown up who falls in love with the son of a lowly Sergeant. In the second movie John Wayne's character is ready to retire when the Indians stage an uprisiing.

Mr Roberts. Here is Henry Fonda again. He plays the Morale Officer of a supply ship toward the end of World War II. He longs to be on a battleship where he feels he will be more of a contributor to the war effort. In the meantime the dictatorial captain of the ship seems to have no feelings for anything except discipline and a palm tree he is growing on deck. The sequel Ensign Pulver deserves honorable mention.

White Christmas. Two war buddies follow two sisters they have taken a liking to up to a New England hotel for Christmas vacation. They are surprised to find no snow and their former commanding officer running the place. They decide to help him out. Romance and misunderstandings are mixed in with the musical numbers.

Some Like It Hot. Musicians witness a massacre at a meeting of mobsters. They manage to escape but the mob is hunting them. They go into hiding by masquerading as female musicians in an all-girl band.

Father Of The Bride. I like the original starring Spencer Tracy. The remake is just not as good. Spencer Tracy plays the father of the beautiful Elizabeth Taylor who is being married. He does not want to lose his little girl to anyone. Then he gets lost in all the chaos of planning the wedding. In the sequel appropriately called Father's Little Dividend the young couple make him a grandfather.

Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. Written by Tennessee Williams it is the story of a most dysfunctional southern family. The failed football hero is married to Maggie "the Cat" who is a beautiful but unfulfilled wife. The domineering father is dying and family members are combating to see who will inherit his estate. This is a powerful movie.

Gypsy. Based on the life story of Stripper Gypsy Rose Lee. Her mother is a pushy stage mother trying to live through her daughter June who has some talent. But June runs off to get married and she is left with other daughter Louise who has less talent and less interest in becoming a "star". As a last resort to make money Louise agrees to do a strip act and becomes Gypsy Rose Lee.

How The West Was Won. An epic tale of a family beginning with the homesteading days through the Civil War and on until everyone has sort of settled down. Just the list of famous movie stars who appear is enough to make you want to watch but it is a compelling story too.

The Silence Of The Lambs. I read this book when it first came out. It is one of my favorites because there is not a wasted word in the whole book. I knew they could not do justice to the story if they made a movie of it but they proved me wrong. The movie follows the book perfectly. A young FBI agent is sent to interview a notorious killer about solving a string of murders to see if he has insight into who they might look for.

Willy Wonka and Charlie And The Chocolate Factory. Both are based on the same story. Willy Wonka is a musical made to draw in a children's audience. There are weird spots but most are merely humorous. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is darker but I think children still like it. The owner of a candy factory that has been closed to the public decides to issue 5 tickets to choose a person to take over when he can no longer run the factory.

Born Yesterday. There are two versions and they are almost identical. A young woman endures all sorts of indignities from her boyfriend who has illegally become wealthy. He is exerting pressure on his politicians to make sure that his wealth could expand. While they are in Washington DC the boyfriend hires a newspaperman to educate her enough that she would not embarrass him at meetings. Guess what happens then.

No Time For Sergeants. A naive backwoods boy is drafted into the army. He has been so isolated that he does not realize that he is being belittled. He takes all his punishments as chores he must do to the best of his ability. My mother loved the scene where the toilet seats are rigged to salute when the general inspects.

The Music Man. A con man rolls into River City to sell musical instruments, uniforms, and instruction to the boys of the town. There is a lot of great music. And a love story. And the ending of the movie where the drab looking uniforms and a few children trying to play their instruments turns into a huge marching band with 76 trombones and so forth.

Guarding Tess. A former first lady of the Untied States is guarded by a loyal contingent of Secret Servicemen. The leader of the group had also been one of the president's security team when the president died in office. She is a demanding person who consistently irritates everyone. Then she is kidnapped and the whole nation is searching for her.

Nanny McPhee And Nanny McPhee Returns. Nanny McPhee appears as an ugly woman to people who need help with unruly children. She simply appears at the door and tells them she is there to teach five lessons (different in each movie). As each lesson is accomplished she loses an ugly part until she becomes a lovely young woman when the lessons are complete. In the meantime a lot of magical things happen.

The Mating Game.A big rambunctious rural family lives a carefree life. Their neighbor is a wealthy man who wants more, more, more. Because the rambunctious family lives for today the wealthy neighbor decodes to call the IRS to have their taxes audited. The representative who arrives is attracted to the oldest daughter  and away we go with hilarity.

The Quiet Man. A man returns to Ireland where he was born. His mother had taken him to the United States after his father was sent to a penal colony. When his mother died he decided to go back to where he came from. He falls instantly in love with a beautiful woman from the village whose brother does not want her to marry him. It is a small glimpse of the old Irish way of life.

The Philadelphia Story. This is not the story starring Tom Hanks about AIDS. That is an extremely good movie too. This Philadelphia story is a comedy. A young woman is getting married but her first husband shows up. Sparks fly and laughs are plentiful.

It Happened One Night. An heiress runs away from home. There is a national manhunt for her and a huge reward is offered. A newspaperman stumbles upon her and decides to not only collect the reward but get an exclusive story while he's at it. He doesn't count on falling in love with her.

It Could Happen To You. A policeman is good, and honest, and true. He and his partner stop at a diner for lunch when they get an emergency call and have to leave quickly. As he goes to pay for the lunch he discovers that he has no money for a tip. He tells the waitress that he has a lottery ticket and he will give her the choice; either she can split the lottery ticket with him or he will return the next day with the tip. She chooses the ticket feeling that she will never see him again either way. The ticket is worth millions and the waitress is shocked when he returns to tell her she is also a millionaire as is his wife. His wife becomes more and more greedy. He and the waitress set out having fun by doing good deeds. The marriage falls apart and the cop and the waitress are in love. The ending is one of justice.

Peggy Sue Got Married. Peggy Sue of the famous Buddy Holly song has not only gotten married but she is now divorced. At a high school reunion she loses consciousness and travels back to her high school days. This is where she tries to change her life so the bad things will not happen.

Cheaper by the Dozen. Written by two of the 12 children of the Gilbreth family. The parents were efficiency experts who taught and lectured about the most efficient ways to do almost everything. They decided to have 12 children because most things were cheaper if you purchased a dozen. The father is a strict disciplinarian but his children know how much he loves them. There are a lot of funny moments in this cumbersome family.

Calamity Jane. Calamity Jane is a heroine of the old west. She was a real person who rode and performed with the Wild Bill Hickok Wild West Show. In this movie Calamity Jane is a wild woman who is considered more male than female. Until a lovely dancehall singer arrives and all the men in town drool after her, including Sheriff Wild Bill. Calmity realizes that she loves him. This is the movie that featured the song "Secret Love."

Pillow Talk. Doris Day and Rock Hudson at their best. Doris Day is an uptight interior decorator. Rock Hudson is a freewheeling musician/playboy. The problem is that they share a party line. You will have to watch the movie to find out the rest. Any movie with these two is worth seeing.

Cat Ballou. After going to finishing school "back east" a young woman travels home to her father and his ranch. There she finds that a big mining company wants the ranch and will stop at nothing to get it. She hires a famous gunman but he turns out to be a hopeless drunk. Her father is killed and she and her gang work to gain revenge. Lee Marvin won an academy award for this one.

Fargo. I have not seen the full length movie...yet. I have been watching a mini-series on television. It is the creepiest thing I have ever seen. A lot of murder and mayhem are in order. Just remember it's creepy.

This has turned into something very long.  I apologize. You would not believe how many movies I deleted and how many did not quite make the list. There were a lot. But I highly recommend each of these if you want a good movie.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Shall We Play A Game?

I have mentioned many times that my family had little money when I was a child. We never went hungry but often we did not have money for some of the "extras" that a lot of people take for granted. New clothes were extremely rare. And most of them were made by my mother. Extras like movies or concerts were rare. Usually if we were able to go it was because we had earned the money ourselves.

I am not complaining though. There was a lot of love and laughter in our family. We enjoyed each other. We knew how to entertain ourselves.

Alone time was often spent reading or working puzzles of some sort. Puzzle magazines could be found in every room of the house.

Often we watched television together in the evening. If someone felt like making popcorn and fudge it made a happening.

We played a lot of games. Besides being fun it kept our minds sharp. My parents did not "let" us win. If we came out ahead we knew we deserved it.

At Christmas we got board games as gifts. We saved them even after the boards were worn and the pieces were missing. We used pieces of paper instead of game pieces. If the dice were missing we wrote numbers on pieces of paper and drew them randomly out of a bowl.

Almost any board game there was we owned. Monopoly, Scrabble, Parcheesi, Chinese Checkers, Checkers, and Chess are a few that I can think of.

Lay Four Out was the first card game I played. It is an easy game for small children. Each player is dealt four cards and then four cards are placed face up in the center of the table. Each player in turn tries to match one of the cards in the center. With a match the pair is placed in that player's pile of cards. When the deck has been depleted the player with the most pairs wins.

We moved on up to games like Old Maid and Concentration. Eventually we learned to play pitch (or whist), Uno, Pinochle, various poker games for matchsticks, Hearts, Spades, Rummy, and Canasta were favorites.

Of course there are many different kinds of solitaire games. They are fun card games to use when no one else wants to play. I have about a dozen that I play regularly. Some are very easy and some are next to impossible to win.

Games using paper and pencil are wonderful if you have little money. Categories is a game where one person chooses five letters of the alphabet. Another has already chosen five categories. The players try to list one thing that applies to a category that begins with each letter. For instance under the category fruits using the letter K you might list Kiwi. Our categories could get quite outrageous.

Making as many words as you can out of a larger word is fun. Tic, Tac, Toh is fun too but so hard to get a winner if you have been playing since you were very small. Connect the dots or as we called it penning the pig takes some time. You have to make the dots by putting rows of dots acroos and an equal number of rows rows of dots going down. Each person takes a turn and connects two dots with a line either across or up and down. Once a box is completely formed the person's initial is written inside. When all the boxes are formed the player with the most initials in boxes is the winner.

Mom found a fun game in a magazine.Each player would make two grids of ten boxes across and ten boxes down making one hundred boxes in all. Across the top each row would be labeled from one through ten. Down the lines each box was labeled A through J.

Into one grid the player would place two destroyers composed of three connecting boxes, one cruiser made of four consecutive boxes, and one battleship of five consecutive boxes. The other grid was left blank until the game began.

The first player would take three guesses of for instance A1, H4, and G7. The first player would place an X in the corresponding box of his blank grid. The other player placed an X on the grid with the ships. The player then had to tell the first player if he had hit any of the ships and which ships they were. If a ship was hit on all its boxes it was sunk and the other player was informed. The winner was the player who sank all of the other player's ships.

Most people have now heard of this game. It is popular and goes by the name of Battleship.

I  like word games a lot. The only things you need are a brain, a mouth, and someone else to play.

They are usually simple games used to fill time. Most people know the game of someone saying a word and the next person has to say a new word using the last letter of the previous word as the beginning letter of their word.

We might take one word and see how many synonyms or antonyms of that word we could find. Word games are only limited by the limits of your imagination.

So besides having fun and and enjoying the company of loved one we learned some valuable lessons. You do not need a lot of money to have fun. You can learn just by playing a game.

The most important lesson is sportsmanship. We all played to win. That is the object of a game. If we won we learned to do so gracefully. If we lost we did that gracefully too. That was a good life lesson.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Christmas Music

I have been listening to Christmas music. I have favorites just as I am sure you do. I like traditional carols. Jingle Bells and Silent Night are my favorites from school days. Not terribly imaginative I agree but there you are. O Holy Night as sung by the Vienna Boys Choir is about as pretty a song as you will ever hear. The Little Drummer Boy by Bob Seger is another classic.

The thing is I have an affinity for silly songs. Some are not necessarily meant to be silly but if they make me so much as chuckle they qualify. Sometimes they have to be sung by a particular artist to be a favorite. Others seem to pale by comparison.

So I am going to make a list for you. It might be boring to you but at least take a glance. You can always go to YouTube and see if you find them as entertaining as I do. If I mention the singer then try to get that one. It does make a difference.

Santa Baby and Santa Baby (This Year) by Eartha Kitt. Who else has that deliciously suggestive voice? Others sing this song but it belongs to her.

All of the (Someone) Got Runned Over By A (Something) songs:
                  Grandma                                          Reindeer
                  Grandpa                                           Beer Truck
                  Grandpa                                           John Deere
There are others but you get the idea.

Santa's Coming In A Whirlybird by Gene Autry. I have loved this since I was a child. There are other ways he will come too. Of course Rudolph (Gene Autry also sang the original of Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer) leads the sleigh reindeer. But Santa has a pick-up truck and a semi truck. There is a stagecoach too. They are all in songs.

Yogi Yorgesson was actually a comedian named Harry Stewart. Yogi had some especially funny Christmas songs. My favorites are The Hat I Got For Christmas Is Too Big, I Yust Go Nuts At Christmas, Yingle Bells, I Was Santa At The Schoolhouse, and The Christmas Party.

I Am Santa Clause by Bob Rivers is a parody of Iron Man by Black Sabbath. Nuff said.

Run, Run Rudolph by Chuck Berry is just fun old rock and roll for Christmas.

The Irish Rovers sing Merry Bloody Xmas (too funny) and Rock Along Christmas is another rock and roller. My favorite by The Irish Rovers is Mrs Fogarty's Christmas Cake.

The Chimney Song by Bob Rivers tells of something that has been stuck in the chimney since Christmas.

I Feel Like Christmas from Santa Clause 2. It is the movie in which Santa must get married or not be Santa anymore. It is a take-off of Shania Twain's Man! I Feel Like A Woman!

Gayla Peavy sings I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas and Angel In The Christmas Play.

I Farted On Santa's Lap by The Little Stinkers is just one of the many views of Christmas through a child's eyes.

The Man With All The Toys and Little St Nick are surfer Christmas songs by the Beach Boys.

I'm Gettin Nuttin For Christmas by Spike Jones and Bad Little Boy by Ray Stevens are about mischievous little boys who can expect Santa to leave them nothing. All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth again by Spike Jones tells about a poor child who just wants his teeth to grow in again so he can express himself.

Santa Bring Me A Dinosaur by Bob Brown is another child's Christmas wish.

Feliz Navidad by Jose Feliciano just makes me feel good.

The Marvelous Toy tells of a mysterious toy that brings joy. It is sung wonderfully by the Irish Rovers but I like it better by the Chad Mitchell Trio.

Blue Christmas is Porky Pig's version of the Elvis classic.

Snoopy's Christmas by The Royal Guardsmen is based on a true story from World War I when soldiers from both sides put aside their weapons and celebrated Christmas together before they resumed killing each other.

Santa Claus Is Watching You by Bruce Springsteen is fun just because he is having so much fun.

And Alice Cooper reminds us that Santa Claws Is Coming To Town. It's gruesome.

Rockin Around The Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee Is just a song reminding us to have a good time.

Santa Claus Is Watching You by Ray Stevens is a warning. Santa; He's everywhere, He's everywhere!

Yellin' At The Christmas Tree by Billy Idol tells of a rather disfunctional time at Christmas.

Santa Got Lost In Texas by Michael Landon makes me think of my younger days.

The Hula Hoop Song is also known as The Chipmunk Song. It is sung by Alvin and the Chipmunks who were the alter-egos of Ross Bagdasarian.

Any of the Christmas songs sung with animal sounds. A lot of people do not like them but I love them. I play them for the dog at Christmas. She likes them too.

I know I have forgotten so many but these are the ones that came to mind. I am always listening for new ones too.

To finish Christmas songs I need to hear War Is Over by John Lennon (okay, yes, Yoko too). There is nothing funny about this song but it means a lot.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Need A Break

It may be after-Thanksgiving-letdown. It may be that I have not taken any time off in a while. I feel a bit lethargic right now.

I have several Christmas posts already written. I will fill in with some older posts so I can take break. I will come back after the new year has begun.

I will still be reading your posts. However I may not leave a comment every time. I hope you understand and will continue to read Leaves On My Tree until I return to my writing.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving

I have told you about our rides in the country on Sunday afternoons. Most cars had bench seats at that time. Room for the driver, his wife who would hold the baby, and whichever child was lucky enough to sit in the middle. The rest of us crowded into the back seat. If we had our friends with us as we usually did there were children all over. We sat on top of the convertible top which had been lowered into the recessed area. We stood on the floor. We sat on the sides of the car and the back. No one ever fell out or was injured in any way.

Cars had no seat belts or air bags. Only race cars had safety features like that. Often just to have a bit of room we rode standing on the floor. We only had one casualty that I can remember.

We were on our way to my grandparent's farm for Thanksgiving. There were going to be a lot of people there because it is a big family. Mom said she would bring the pies.

She made pumpkin of course and mince meat pies. I do not remember if there were any fruit pies. But there were a lot of them.

The pies were placed on the shelf of the back window which was large but could not hold them all. So the rest were put on the back seat.

Of course there was no room for us to sit but that did not matter because we liked to stand up and see things anyway.

We were a little over a mile from the farm. Suddenly Daddy slammed on the brakes to keep from hitting something in the road. We flew forward into the back of the front seat.

I was the one who then bounced off the front seat and sat down onto the back seat. Not too bad, you say?

That seat was covered with pumpkin pies. I sat directly into one and my hands managed to find a couple more. What a mess.

So there was a dead pie and a couple of pies that needed surgery before we could eat them. My fingers tasted pretty good for a couple of minutes though.

Friday, November 16, 2018

The Runaway Wagon

In my family stories sometimes my mother comes off as a bit of a flake. She was actually the most intelligent person I have ever known. By the same token my mother-in-law was the wisest.

As with many extremely intelligent people my mother did not always exercise her wisdom. Now my mother-in-law was also very intelligent but she had been pretty much on her own since she was a small child. She learned to rely on her wits and she was good at it.

She could size up a person immediately upon meeting them. She was always dead-on accurate in her assessments. This story is about my mother-in-law.

Mom knew exactly the right way to handle a situation. Instinctively she did what needed to be done with no muss, no fuss. I admire that so much.

Mom did not have an easy life. Her parents died when she was too small to really understand what death meant. Add to that the fact that nobody ever told her that they had died and she was a hurt little girl.

But she learned to not only fend for herself she took care of her older brothers and sisters as well. She and my mother were both remarkable women.

But she did have moments of flakiness just like the rest of us.

Mom's older children were going to school before most people had cars. They usually walked to school or someone would hook up a team of horses and drive them or pick them up. When that happened they took or picked up every child and delivered them to where they were going.

After Mom died we discovered a lot of history books. The family is actually mentioned in at least two of the books that recorded local history.

One day Mom had been running errands and decided to pick the kids up after school. It was a nice crisp fall day.

After dropping off all the children who were not hers at their homes she headed for her home with my oldest brother-in-law riding with her.

Somehow the horse got away from her. She and my brother-in-law were in a runaway wagon!

I have a picture in my mind of the ordeal. Mom would have been ordering my brother-in-law to lie flat on the bed of the wagon as she frantically tried to figure out how to stop the horse.

The horse was running as fast as it could finally leaving the road. It ran on and on as runaway horses will do.

Mom finally laid down flat too. The horse was running straight toward the trees. The wagon could hit one and she and her son could be seriously injured if not killed.

There was a huge jerk as the wagon came to a sudden stop.

The horse had run between two trees. They were not far enough apart for the wagon to go between them.

It did go part way. Then the wagon was stuck tight, really tight. But it did stop.

Both my mother-in-law and my brother-in-law escaped with no serious injuries. They were mightily shaken though.

And they now have their names in history books.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

My Granddaughter's Job

My second granddaughter is in her second year of college. She also just started a new job.

The place she is working is the first of a chain of restaurants. These places honor veterans and first responders.

The first week they were open they had theme days. One day they gave free meals to firefighters. Another gave free meals to the police. Active armed forces are always welcome.

There is a box for donations for people who wish to do so. The money will go to veterans groups.

One day my granddaughter was helpful to a young family. They were so grateful that they sought out the manager. They handed him $20 and told him it was for my granddaughter. They explained how cheerful and helpful she had been. She took the money and put it in the collection box.

Management held a meeting for all employees. They explained that they planned on placing pictures of actual service members on the walls.

My granddaughter began to tell them of some of the members of her family who had served our country. Management told her if she could provide pictures they would dedicate one booth to her family. The service members would be on the wall by the booth.

My granddaughter is proud of her family who have served.  I am proud of my granddaughter.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018


Of course I am talking about Bohemian Rhapsody. It is the newly released movie about Queen. Actually it seems to be more about Freddie Mercury than the entire band.

I will say that I found the movie to be incomplete. However time constraints would be the reason. Two hours does not allow for delving into things in depth.

A lot of events were shown out of sequence. That also happens in a lot of movies.

Bohemian Rhapsody is about Freddie's personal life and how it affected the whole of Queen. The group comes together and begins to make that wonderful music they are known for. We even see the inspiration for some of the songs.

There are quarrels and camaraderie. Queen separates and comes back together. As they say several times they are a family.

The love story of Freddie and Mary Austin is one of the great love stories. A lot of time is spent on that. Mary was the one person Freddie trusted totally. She received the bulk of his estate when he died. He instructed her before his death to spread his ashes in a secret place and to tell no one where it was.

 The final concert they showed was Live Aid at Wembley Stadium. The movie implied that it was the last performance for Queen with all members but it was not. The movie made it seem as if Freddie died soon aftere which was also not the case.

I would have liked for them to touch on his friendship with the opera singer Montserrat Caballe who recently died. They made beautiful music together. Again we are dealing with the constraints of time.

I really enjoyed Bohemian Rhapsody. Just to hear that marvelous music made it worth the price of admission. Even if sequences were not correct watching them compose and perfect their music was an education.

The actors who played the members of Queen were so good. Some of the resemblances are uncanny. The young man who played Brian May could have been a younger Brian May. Each of them had his character's mannerisms perfected.

There were several places in the movie that made me cry. But then I cried when Darth Vader died so I am not a good measure of that sort of thing.

Bohemian Rhapsody is a movie definitely worth seeing for any fan of Queen and their music.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Work, Work, Work

I have had a huge variety of jobs over the years. I wish I would have planned better for my old age but I am rather childlike in that my interests change and I move on. When I am doing something I become obsessive about it. Then my interest wanes and I move on. It is a character flaw.

I began as a child. I had lemonade stands. I do not remember selling any but it tasted good. I weeded gardens, both flower and vegetable. I shoveled snow. I even sold imprinted greeting cards.

The first job that I paid income tax and had social security taxes withheld was as a pinsetter in the bowling alley. I was 11 years old. We actually had four whole lanes in the bowling alley. However we did not have automatic pinsetters that are common now. But we were semi-automatic.

The pinsetter would sit on a perch between the alleys and up out of the pit where the pins and ball would fall after the bowler let loose. Then we would pull a rope to put the barrier down so no one would accidentally bowl and hit us as we did our work.

We jumped into the pit and gathered the pins and replaced them in the rack that would eventually deposit them in that triangular formation when we told them to. We picked up the ball and sent it rolling on the track back to the bowler.

On league night we were really busy. I always managed to get the lane where the chiropractor's wife was bowling. She was a "pleasingly plump" little ball herself. She wore heavy make-up and a tight corset. Her eyebrows were obviously applied using a stencil and solidly colored in. Yikes.

Because of her corset she could not move easily. Bending to release her ball was impossible. She would waddle up to the line then set the ball on the lane. Only the slope of the lane made it move towards the pins. I cannot tell you how many times it did not have the velocity to knock the pins over. It would just stop when the pins blocked its path.

Then I would have to crawl out through the gutter, ease the ball so it would not knock any pins over, and get back to the pit to send the ball back to her.

That woman ordered herself a personal bowling ball. I do not know what it was made of but it stunk so bad. We all hated to handle that thing.

Occasionally one or more of the pins would be slightly off center and it would jam the rack. The rack would not go back up until it had gone all the way down. So we had to find the faulty pin and dislodge it.

It was dirty and greasy back there. In the summer it was so hot. Sometimes we were allowed to prop the back door open to move a little air through. We made one penny per line. A line is one game per person. So if ten people each bowled two lines we made twenty cents. It was decent money.

Two of my brothers and I delivered newspapers. Practically everyone in town got the paper because that was our major news source then. We were kept busy.

On Sundays the papers were not dropped off in town. We had to drive about fifteen miles to the next town to get them. On the way back we delivered to subscribers who normally got them in the mail. With no Sunday mail we left them in the mail box.

We then went through our town to the next little town where we left a stack of papers for people to buy there. Then back to our town to fold the papers and deliver them.

Christmas mornings were like Sundays. We did all the Sunday things. Then we could go home and open our presents.

As I got older I baby sat. Twenty-five cents per hour was the going rate. I had regular customers who would leave right before supper and return early the next morning. For 12 hours I would make $4.00. It was good money then.

I also did some volunteer work. I worked as a candy striper in a nursing home. One day while I was walking to the nursing home I got caught in a downpour. I was totally saoked from the top of my head to the insides of my shoes. After clucking fo a while about how wet I was the nurses just put me to work answering phones.

I did some volunteer work at the local museum. It was in a small house and everything was piled on top of other things and dusty. We were trying to organize and catalog the historical items. The museum has moved to larger quarters twice since then. I still recognize some of the things from the first museum.

When I was in high school I worked at Christmas time ringing bells for the Salvation Army. I was one of those people you see on street corners ringing a bell and standing in front of the pots where you can drop in money to help the less fortunate. It was really good money. Minimum wage was seventy five cents an hour. That is what they paid us.

One night I was at my assigned corner. It was bitterly cold and the wind was blowing hard. Luckily I had on my winter apparel plus the cape the Salvation Army supplies. Those capes are super warm.

I was standing on a flattened cardboard box to help keep my feet warm by not touching the cement of the sidewalk. A big gust of wind came and caught the little sign on the stand that the pot hung from. It fell right over. No money fell out but I took the sign off so it would not happen again. Soon they came and collected me, my pot of money, and my lovely warm cape.

Fresh out of high school I had a job in the dietary department of the hospital. We made the food for all the patients according to dietary needs. It was all made from scratch. We also supplied the cafeteria so hospital employess and visitors could eat.

I worked the early morning shift. There were two older women who had been there since the hospital opened and each of them thought they owned the place. And they were so jealous of each other and expected people to take sides. I am not good at taking sides but I am good at agreeing to whatever they said then doing things the way I intended to do them from the beginning. I actually got along well with both of them.

I was assigned to serve pediatrics on the first floor and then go up to obstetrics on the fourth floor. We had heavy steam carts to keep the food warm and we pushed those to the floors we served. The individual trays had been sent ahead with name cards on each one so we knew what type of diet to serve.

For breakfast I went first to pediatrics to serve the children. There were toasters in each little kitchen on the floor. So I made toast and served the food onto plates. The nurses and aids took the food to the rooms. Then I would go to obstetrics and repeat. I made $240 per month. It was good money.

I have been a waitress both in restaurants and bars where I also tended bar. I managed a band. I was the assistant manager of a body shop where we repaired cars that needed body work. I did telemarketing (I know I hate them too) selling long lasting light bulbs.

I was a cashier in a major department store chain in the state. I was promoted to cashier in charge meaning that I was in charge of the other cashiers during that shift. Then I made it to the cash office where we counted down all of the cashiers' drawers to make sure they balanced and kept all of the financial records for the store.

I was secretary/bookkeeper for a man who conducted liquidation sales for stores that were going out of business. I worked in a fast food restaurant. I absolutely hated that job. It was the people I worked with not the job but it left a real bad taste in my mouth.

I worked in a factory making industrial shocks. We made shocks for rides in amusement parks like Disney World. We made the shocks that made Batman's cape turn into wings in the Batman movies. Eventually I was assigned to laser print the company logo and part number onto the shocks. Because of the laser I was in a little room that n o one could enter unless I let them in. I loved that job.

I ran junkyards. We took junk cars and scrapped them. That is another story altogether.

And I drove a truck. What kind? Any truck. If a vehicle has a steering wheel and gas pedal I can drive it. Eighteen wheelers, delivery trucks, cars, hi-los, construction equipment... I can drive them all. Again this is another story.

Now I am retired. I worked most of my life. I paid taxes for more than 50 years. I think no one should be expected to work that long.

Like I said I did not plan well for my old age but I am doing better than just getting by so I guess things worked out okay. I do however get really angry at those politicians who begrudge me my government payment every month. They call it an entitlement. Entitlement my Aunt Fanny. I paid into that for more than 50 years. The money is mine, mine, mine. I earned it.

Other than that life is good.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Stingy Jack

Stingy Jack was well known around his part of Ireland. He liked his drink and was thought to take liberties with other people's property. He cheated, deceived, and misused anyone he could. Stingy Jack did not particularly care what others thought of him. All that mattered to Stingy Jack was Stingy Jack and his comforts.

Now the devil had been keeping tabs on him. Stingy Jack was a prime candidate for the devil's domain.

One night after a night of heavy drinking, Stingy Jack was stumbling home. He came upon a body lying in the road so he stopped to see if there was anything of value in the pockets.

Suddenly the body moved and jumped up. Stingy Jack realized that it was the devil and Jack's earthly time was to end. But he was not ready to go.

Stingy Jack asked for a last wish. The devil saw no harm in granting a final drink to Stingy Jack. Off they went to the pub. Stingy Jack was a frequent patron and knew the bartender well. As the duo walked through the door the bartender smiled. When Stingy Jack got the best of somebody, the bartender got a nice part of the take.

Stingy Jack proceeded to have a sample or more of every type of drink in the pub. When he finished he told the devil to turn himself into a silver coin to pay the tab. He promised that he would get the coin back so the devil could change back into himself.

The devil turned himself into a coin of silver. Stingy Jack grinned at the bartender who grinned right back. Stingy Jack dropped the coin into his pocket which just happened to also contain a crucifix. The crucifix took away all of the powers the devil had. He begged and begged to be set free.

Stingy Jack, being the kind-hearted soul he was, said he would set the devil free IF the devil would promise not to take his soul for 10 years. Of course the devil agreed.

Ten years passed with Stingy Jack continuing in his evil ways. The devil appeared as he said he would. Stingy Jack knew his time was up. The devil had Stingy Jack by the arm ready to take him to Hell. Stingy Jack asked if the devil would climb the apple tree they were standing next to and pick an apple for him to eat on the way. The devil heaved a heavy sigh and climbed the tree.

While the devil was picking a nice apple Stingy Jack hurriedly surrounded the tree trunk with crucifixes. The devil was stuck in the tree.

Once again the devil found himself pleading for his freedom. Finally Stingy Jack made the devil promise to never take his soul. The devil begrudgingly promised. Stingy Jack took the crosses and happily went home knowing that he had outsmarted the devil.

Stingy Jack continued his evil ways but eventually he died as everyone does. He sat and waited patiently for his turn to enter Heaven. When he approached the gates he was turned away. He was told that he was far too evil to be in Heaven.

With resignation Stingy Jack went to Hell. He knocked on the gates and the devil met him there. The devil reminded Stingy Jack of their agreement and told him that since he could not have the soul there was no place for him in Hell. He was doomed to wander in nothingness for eternity.

It was Stingy Jack's turn to plead. Eventually the devil agreed to give him an ember to light his way through the darkness. Jack placed it in a hollowed turnip or rutabaga to keep from burning his fingers.

Stingy Jack came to be called Jack Of The Lantern or Jack-O'-Lantern. At certain times of the year, such as Halloween, when the world of the dead is close to the world of the living Jack-O'-Lantern is seen wandering.

In Ireland during Halloween the living tried to make sure the dead cannot cross back. They began leaving meals on their doorsteps to keep mischief away. If they had to be out in the night they would wear masks and costumes to fool the spirits so that they would not be molested.

Carved pumpkins called Jack-O'-Lanterns are placed on the doorstep to remind spirits of Jack-O'-Lantern and his plight. They do not want to be caught in between the worlds of the afterlife so they avoid any house that is protected by the Jack-O'-Lantern.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Love Hurts

Freddy Kruger was the bad guy in the Nightmare On Elm Street movies. Oh boy was he bad. He killed kids in their sleep.

Freddy had a glove on one hand. Out of the glove came these long blades that he used to mangle the teenagers to death. My children loved those movies.

My oldest son worked in a machine shop. He took pieces of scrap metal and fashioned them into blades like those of Freddy Kruger. He fastened them to a work glove. The main purpose was to terrify the smaller children in the family.

One weekend there were several of the smaller children at my house. My daughter was not working that day. She decided to don the glove and wave it around. As she was waving her gloved hand wildly she accidentally brushed the sharp blades against her thigh.

My daughter did not need stitches in her leg but she did bleed a bit and was in pain for a couple of days. She still has scars from Freddy Kruger.

It was common for young boys to own BB guns when I was a child. My brothers must have been about 7 and 8 when they each received a BB gun from Santa for Christmas. They had to wait for warmer weather before they could take them out and shoot them.

The boys had been warned not to kill any animals especially the chickens or any other animals we were raising. Those animals were food and money making livestock.

One day in the summer Mom sent me out to check on the kids who were outside playing. I was shocked to find that the boys had stood my sister against the corrugated metal fence and were being a firing squad putting a prisoner to death.

My sister was wearing one of those little sunsuits that were so popular for little girls during the fifties. That meant there was a lot of exposed skin. I ran and grabbed her and took her into the house so Mom could take care of her.

Mom spent a major portion of the afternoon picking BB's out of my sister's back. The boys lost their BB guns.

I was working in the cash office. It was before Christmas so we were extremely busy and there were three of us working in there.

I have no idea who started shooting rubber bands. I wanted no part of it. It hurts to be hit by those things and I did not want to hurt or be hurt. So I was left alone thank goodness.

The shooting went on for several weeks. If the night store manager came in they would shoot him and he would shoot back. Even security personnel who would come in took part. I stayed out of it.

Then came the night when the night manager came into the office. I think he had a bit of a crush on one of the women working in there. He took a rubber band and shot it at her just as she turned to face him.

The rubber band hit her in the eye. She had no idea it was coming and her eye was open when it was hit.

The manager was devastated by what happened. The woman that was hit was in a lot of pain but thankfully not seriously injured. The best thing to come of that was that was the last rubber band that was used as a weapon.

My husband no longer lived at home. He would come over periodically when he and his new companion were arguing and he would decide that we should get back together. It was not going to happen. But the children loved seeing their father.

Once when he was leaving after an attempt to come home my daughter was on her roller skates. She decided to race his car to the corner of the block. He had no idea she was doing it.

Just as she reached the corner on the sidewalk she hit a rock and fell. She landed on her chin and split it open. It took three stitches to close.

My best friend and I were visiting her married sister's house. Her sister was at work and we often went there to hang out after school where no one could bother us.

My friend was going through her sister's closet and came out wearing a nice silk blouse. She felt very grown up I am sure. She decided we would walk through town so people could see her in the height of fashion. It was a tiny town so we would be back in plenty of time for her to change and her sister would never know the difference.

For some reason we ended taking a bicycle. First I rode the handlebars while she pedaled the bike. Then she decided she would be noticed more if she was on the handlebars. So I pedaled.

As we needed a bit more speed for some reason, I stood up to pedal. As I stood I bumped against my friend who promptly fell off the handlebars.

I could not stop quickly enough and pretty much just ran over her. Her sister's blouse was shredded..

Needless to say her sister was not happy with either of us. We were no longer allowed to hang out at her house when no one else was there.

We were living in a small town in Tennessee. My husband was a truck driver and we only saw him on weekends. So I was alone with my four children.

We had a lot of fun. We would go to the state park often. The children could wade in a shallow part of the river. Actually it was more like a brook there. We would cook out there too. And we went other places just to keep active.

The vehicle we traveled in was an old pickup truck. I had a routine to get the kids in the truck. The two older boys went first. My oldest son sat by the door and my second son sat in the middle. Then my second son held my third son on his lap and my oldest son held my daughter on his lap. I guess I should mention that the two little ones were babies.

That old truck had seen better days. There were little tricks I had to use to start it sometimes. The doors did not always close properly.

So I was turning the corner to go to our house. Suddenly my daughter came flying into my sons in the middle as the door flew open and my oldest son fell out. He had tossed his sister to try to keep her safe as he was falling.

My son landed on his face as was up and running by the time I got the truck stopped. Luckily he had scraped his face just under his nose but there were no other injuries. He insisted on wearing a band-aid under his nose for several days until it healed.

My children were a little older. We still had the old pickup. For some reason my second son was sitting next to the door that day. My daughter was on his lap. She was about 2 or 3 then. He slammed the door shut.

My daughter screamed. I saw that her hand was shut in the door. I very calmly looked at my son who had a confused look on his face. I quietly said, "Open the door." He looked at me for several seconds before it dawned on him that her hand was in the door.

I did take her in to have her hand x-rayed. No broken bones.

My sister is 4 years younger than I am. She had not yet learned how to swing herself so I was pushing her so she could swing.

I would give her a couple of pushes and then wait while she happily went back and forth. Then I would push her again.

My sister decided she wanted to go higher. Higher. Higher. I did know enough to push the chains instead of my sister's back. I pushed and pushed until she was going very high. She wanted higher.

I gave a mighty push. My sister flew from the swing and landed on the ground. She had the breath knocked out of her but was otherwise not hurt. Shortly after she learned to make herself go.

No matter how careful we are sometimes people we care about are hurt. Sometimes we are the cause.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Free Show

One of the towns we lived in was almost idyllic. School was wonderful and I had the best teacher I ever had.

It was a small town and we knew everyone. In the summer it was safe for children to wander all over. If we had a problem any adult would help us out.

Once our chores were done in the morning we played wherever our fancied took us. There was a large park at the top of the hill. We often played at the school grounds because it was closer. And there was a small lake outside of town.

The lake was surrounded by trees and we loved going there. It was off limits though. None of us could swim so we never went into the water. Adults knew accidents happen and told us to stay away. So we snuck off and went there sometimes anyway. Luckily none of those accidents happened and we all survived.

At the end of summer was watermelon day. The farmers would bring in some of their freshly harvested goods. A cow and a pig were donated and cooked for more than a day in a pit deep in the ground. Families in town made salads and desserts of all kinds.

All the food was free. The whole town and all the farmers gathered together to eat and socialize. It was my favorite celebration of the whole year.

Afterward we went to the free show.

The free show was held every Saturday night during the spring and summer ... as long as it did not rain.

There was a huge screen much like the screens at a drive-in theater. In front of the screen there were rows of benches for us to sit on.

Saturday was the night the farmers came to shop and visit. The men would gsther at the fire station to play cards and the women gathered to talk and make quilts.

The free show gave the children something to do. We sometimes watched older movies and sometimes new ones. There were a lot of waesterns because that was what ws popular in the 50's.

Saturday was the day I got my allowance. 25 cents was what I received. 5 cents was put aside for the collection at Sunday school. The rest was mine to use in any way I wished.

Before the free show I would stop at the little grocery store where I would buy a bottle of pop for 5 cents. I would buy either a candy bar for 5 cents or 5 cents worth of penny candy. That way I had a snack while I watched the free show.

I understand that times change. I sure do miss the free show and watermelon day though

Friday, October 19, 2018


When my son came to Iowa it was to take care of his father. My ex-husband was dying of cancer.

There were hospice nurses who came a couple of times a week and he was paying his wife to be there during the day and to take him to medical appointments. He needed someone to be here all the time like when he had to use the bathroom at night.

My husband's family had lived not far from here and I grew up in this area. My son loved it here.

After his father died my son decided to stay. I had always intended to come home when I retired. But I was not quite ready at that time.

My son was all alone. He knew no one except for one aunt and one neighbor.

We have always had a dog. My son loves dogs so he went to the veterinary office in the next town to see if anyone had a dog that needed a home. He got lucky because there was only one dog looking for a home.

She was a female and he wanted a female. She was on the large side of medium and that was the size he wanted. Her name was Isabella.

Isabella was almost 2 years old. She had been rescued as a small puppy. She was found in a empty house with no food and no water. She had been abandoned to die.

Isabella had also been physically hurt. It was apparent that a man or men had hurt her. She really did not like men. At all.

It took a long time for her to warm up to my son. She was smart enough to know that he was the one taking care of her.

Eventually they became good companions. She even learned to know when his blood sugar was not right. Very smart.

Isabella began having problems walking a few years ago. The vet said arthritis and prescribed Glucosamine to help her joints.

Here lately it began to get harder and harder for her to outside to take care of those natural functions. She was listless.

Saturday night she went out with a great deal of difficulty. Then she came in and went straight to her bed.

She did not get up at all on Sunday. She slept in my son's room so he took water to her. When it had been so long since she ate he took her some doggy ice cream that we kept as a treat for her.

Monday we took her to the vet.

Isabella had bone cancer. The vet said he could prescribe pain killers which would make her more comfortable until the end. Or he could give her shot and euthanize her.

My son decided to end her misery. We were both with her until her life ended.

It has been a hard week. I work so hard at not getting attached to the pets but it happens anyway..My son feels like a part of him is missing.

I am sure he will get another dog someday. He has wisely decided to wait until he is over his grief.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

A White World

When I woke up this morning I felt so comfy in my flannel nightgown in my nice warm bed. The nights have been quite cold this past week. At or below freezing several nights.

When I went to bed last night I heard the comforting sound of rain on the roof. It soothed me to sleep.

When I looked out the window the leaves on the trees looked like they were covered with large cotton balls. The weatherman tried to tell me the night before that we would get snow. I thought maybe a few flurries would come before I awoke.

It turns out that we have had our first snowfall of the year. Between 1 and 2 inches of snow covers everything.  The plants are all covered with mounds of white.

And a glorious snow it is. It is suitably heavy and wet. Good for snowmen and snowballs.

Unfortunately it is melting quickly. With each breeze more snow falls from the trees. At times it looks like a heavy snow is falling. Still it clings to the leaves. It will take some time for the trees to be rid of all the snow. They have only just begun to turn from green into beautiful fall colors. 

I have read that the almanac predicts a hard winter. I hope it is wrong.

It certainly is pretty though.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Let's All Go To The Lobby

There was a time when almost every town of any size had a drive-in movie theater. We simply called them drive-ins.

Drive-ins showed all the movies that the walk-in theaters showed. They had concession stands so you could buy snacks and drinks just like a regular theater. But you could also take your own snacks so you could save some money.

Some drive-ins charged by the car to gain admission. Some charged by the person in the car.

The ones that charged per person are the ones who spawned the tradition of sneaking people in under blankets on the floor of the back seat or in the trunk. You see it often in the movies.

When you entered into the drive-in lot you found your favorite place to park your car. There were slopes to park on so that the front of your car was slightly elevated. That way you could slouch comfortably in you seat and see the movie perfectly.

Mounted on a post was a speaker that you hung from the window of the car so you could hear as well as see the movie. If you were really lucky no car parked on the other side of the pole and you could use that speaker too. Stereo.

This was a great way for a family to see the movie. The children could dress in their pajamas and fall asleep if they wanted to. Bags of popcorn and soft drinks of choice were already in the car.

You could take blankets along. Often they were spread on the roof or hood of the car. The children would stretch out to watch the movie.

At the front of the parking lot below the giant movie screen was a small playground. While waiting for it to get dark enough to begin the movies the children could play. It allowed them to get rid of some of the energy built from the excitement of being at the drive-in. They could also run up there during intermission.

Speaking of intermission those cartoons they show of the hot dogs and buns singing "Let's All Go To The Lobby" have been around as long as I can remember. There are a series of commercials to entice you to visit the lobby located in a cement block building in the center of the parking lot. There you could buy popcorn, soft drinks, and candy. They sold hot dogs and there was a condiment bar with ketchup, mustard, and relish. All were overpriced which made them taste better.

Fridays and Saturdays were date nights. The drive-in made for a good date. There are many reasons. It does not cost a lot of money. If it is a double date the costs can be shared. Probably the most appealing is that there is plenty of opportunity for snuggling.

Often we would have a group of "steadies" (those who were in exclusive dating relationships). We would arrive at the drive-in at about the same time and park our cars all around each other. It kept "outsiders" away. It was like having a movie party.

The best part of the drive-in was on the screen. The action began with a couple of previews for upcoming movies. There weren't as many as you see today because they only advertised the movies coming to the drive-in.

We got to see twice as many previews. The reason is that our drive-in, The Gordon Twin Drive-In, had two, count 'em, two movie screens. They showed different movies so we had a choice.

After the previews we usually saw at least one news reel and maybe three cartoons. That was settling-in-time to get ready for the first movie. You might even get lucky and they would have a short movie .

Did I say first movie? That is because there were three movies. The first was a new movie. Hopefully it would be a good one. The second was an older movie perhaps considered to be a classic even if it was not more than a B western or a sappy comedy. Often the last was a horror movie.

They saved the scary ones for last because the small children were asleep. For the daters it was a good excuse to huddle together for comfort.

It is sad that the drive-in theater is a thing of the past. There are very few left in the whole country. They were such a staple of life in the fifties and sixties.

If you have not been to the drive-in and get the opportunity please go. If nothing else you will be able to say you did it.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Made From Scratch

I am not young. Of course neither am I old. But as all older folks delight in saying, things certainly have changed since I was a child. Some changes have made life much easier. And as I may have mentioned in passing I really like indoor plumbing... no more outhouses for me. But I digress.

Fast food was a thing of the future then. Cake mixes were not used. We started with flour and all the other necessary ingredients and made our cakes from scratch. The frosting for the cake was also made from scratch using a bit of butter, confectioner's sugar, vanilla, and water or milk.

Ready-made cereal was too expensive for a large family like ours. Oatmeal, cream of wheat, cream of rice, and cornmeal mush were the norm. I usually got up before the rest of the kids because I went to a different school (I was older) so I made breakfast enough for all of us. Then Mom could get a few minutes of extra sleep. She had babies to take care of during the night.

For cooked cereals it is just as easy to make a lot as it is to make a little. I certainly did not mind doing it and I had a good hot breakfast to start my day.

There were no tubes of cookie dough to slice and bake. We mixed the ingredients and spooned them onto cookie sheets for snacks. Yum. We could make whatever kind of cookies we wanted to. Every home had plenty of eggs, butter, flour, and sugar. They were what was used in every day cooking.

I always liked to make homemade bread but that was a fun luxury for us. Store bread was inexpensive and a large family tends to use a lot of bread.

One of our favorite snacks was what we called bread-and-sugar. We just took a slice of bread and dipped it into sugar. If we had fresh cream we would spread the bread with that first. It was our favorite treat and so easy to make.

In the evening when we watched TV it was good to have a snack. One of our favorites was fudge and popcorn. We said it as one word because we felt they went together so well.

Of course fudge was a process. You had to mix the cocoa, sugar, butter, and vanilla with water. Then you had to cook it to just the right consistency. When you dropped one drop of fudge into cold water and it made a soft but definite ball it was done cooking. Then you had to stir it continuously until it hardened. Then pour it into a cake pan and it was ready to cut into pieces to eat.

This was also before microwave popcorn. It was even before Jiffy Pop. To make popcorn we heated a bit of lard in a pan until it was very hot. Then we put the popcorn kernels in the pan, placed a lid on top of the pan. Holding the lid in place and shaking the pan over the heat until the corn was done popping could be tiring for your arms but it was worth it. A little salt and Voila there was popcorn to go with the fudge.

One year Daddy decided we could save a lot of money and have some good family fun by shelling our own popcorn. He bought a couple of bushels of popcorn on the cob. We made a night of it. We all had containers to hold the kernels of popcorn that we removed from the cobs. All we had to do was hold the cob and use our thumbs to push the kernels off into the container. I had a blister at the end of the night that I remember as being almost as big as my thumb. Maybe a bit of an exaggeration but it did hurt and it was big.

Mom cooked all sorts of things and taught us all (boys included of course) to make all these marvelous things from scratch. Cookies, candies, cakes, pies, breads... you name it we probably made it.

Then she found a recipe in a woman's magazine for some cookie bars. They were delicious and quickly became a family favorite.

She kept playing with the recipe until she had the best cookie bars ever. We all wanted to learn how to make them. She always said she had too much to do right then but next time she would show us. Next tiem there was another excuse.

My sister was helping Mom make Christmas cookies once and Mom was making her specialty. She had a recipe written. My sister sort of glanced over Mom's shoulder and Mom quickly closed her cookbook.

My mother died without ever sharing her recipe. And the recipe has never been found. We have all tried to make those cookie bars but they are never quite right. And somewhere my generous, giving, unselfish mother has a sly grin on her face.

Another fun family event was making taffy. It is another candy that needs to be cooked until the ball is the right consistency. Then we would put butter on our clean hands and as soon as the candy was cool enough to handle we would pull it.

We would take an amount of the candy and stretch it and fold it over until it hardened. It was such fun.

My granddaughter wanted to make rock candy. I remembered those science classes where we used strings to collect crystals of candy and make strings of candy. I was not looking forward to it. Then I found a recipe online that solved the problem.

We make the mixture of sugar, light corn syrup, and water. It is cooked until it reaches the hard rock stage. I use a candy thermometer now because it is so much easier than testing for the right consistency.

When it is ready we add whatever flavoring and colors we want and stir them in quickly. Then we pour it into a cookie sheet sprinkled with powdered sugar. It takes no time at all before it is ready to break into small pieces. It is the best hard candy ever.

When I was pregnant with my first baby my husband was working as an assistant candymaker. He enjoyed that job and was anxious to show off his new talents. He was going to make peanut brittle.

I was thrilled. I like peanut brittle and my husband had never cooked anything before. I sat back and let him go to it.

He cooked the candy and then he poured it out onto the kitchen table. Big mistake.

At work they had a huge marble slab to pour hot candy onto. Marble is not porous. My formica table was.

Armed with wet towels, spatulas, trowels, chisels, and several friends it took us hours to remove the peanut brittle from the table.

If I make a cake which is seldom these days I use a cake mix. It is easier and to be quite honest it is cheaper. But they do not have quite the same taste as the ones from scratch.