Tuesday, March 31, 2009

April Fools Happy Birthday, Joan!!!!

When I was a little girl my best friend was Joan. When I was in kindergarten and through junior high and high school we were still best friends. The friendship started when my grandmother and her grandmother were friends. That in turn, helped Joan’s mother and my mother be friends, so it was just natural that we would know each other. It did help that we liked each other. We both lived in the country when we were little and when we were older, our families moved to town.
When Joan and I were growing up we took piano lessons, tap dance lessons and ballet. Those of you that know me are shaking your head in disbelief, especially my family. Yes, ballet. I did like the piano lessons though and took them for many years. I don’t remember that Joan did, but I think she took tap dance lessons longer than I did.
When we were teenagers, I was always upset because her birthday was almost two months sooner than mine. That especially was a concern when she turned sixteen before I did. She could drive before I could!
Joan’s dad let her drive his car, however he did check the speedometer and limited the mileage. Since Joan had the car, her friends had to pay for gasoline which was only fair. No one ever had any money. When that happened all of our friends always said, “Lu Anne, dump out your purse, you know you have money in the bottom.” I always had at least a dollar’s worth of change in the bottom of my purse. In the days of our teenage years a dollar’s worth of change bought four or five gallons of gas depending on if there was a gas war going on. We used to go to Kintigh’s Skelly station, which was full service. We would ask him to wash the windshield, check the oil and everything else we could think of for a dollar’s worth of gas. He never looked real excited to see us.
Joan and I lived about a mile away from each other when we were in high school. She always wanted me to walk her home and then when I complained she would offer to walk me half way home. She never “got” that I wasn’t buying it. Joan was in a lot of sports, I was in musicals and played piano for the chorus. We had another special friend, Pam. The three of us, and Sharon all palled around together.
We spent a lot of birthdays together fifty years ago and sixty years ago. When I say that, it makes me think of really “old” people that used to say, “I remember fifty years ago…..” now here I am doing it. I guess I am very fortunate that I still can. The picture of Joan was taken in her sophomore year of high school, thanks to Pam for saving it. Some of my pictures were destroyed a few years ago. Even if we can’t celebrate our birthdays together anymore, always remember that I think of you, but…I am not jealous that you are two months older than I am. What I am jealous of is how good you looked in your bathing suit.

My Grandmother's Aprons

My grandmother’s aprons embarrassed my mother to tears. There was an expression in the days that I was growing up, it was called, “going through the depression.” That was used whenever a child wanted something, or if you saw some things that were weird like I did. For instance if you wanted a piece of candy at the store, “they” would say, “if you ever went through the depression” you would know not to ask for things. These mind sets generally lasted a whole life time for these folks.
My grandmother had a chubby tummy. She, like most ladies in those days always wore an apron so their dress would not get “mussed”. Another word you don’t hear anymore.
Before I really get into the apron thing, you have to understand that most ladies had three different kinds of dresses. The first, being, a Sunday dress. The second kind of dress was a “good” dress. Most ladies had two of these. They were used for going into town to shop, or to go visiting. Then there was the “housedress”. This dress was worn every day of the week. Most were made from feed and flour sacks, scraps of materials, etc. They really would have taken a beating if it had not been for the apron. The apron had three different styles. The cobbler apron which wrapped completely around the ladies and was held together by a sash. The second was the most common apron. It was a full length apron that hooked over the head of the lady and also had a sash to keep it together. Most aprons had pockets to put hankies in and a multitude of things I saw come out of mother’s apron pockets.
The third kind of apron was a half apron, which was generally worn, if the lady was expecting company and might get caught in the kitchen while finishing up the meal for her guests. The half aprons were generally pretty, many with embroidery and finished with biased tape to match the material.
Half aprons when I was a pre-teen were used as gifts for waitresses at weddings. The waitresses wore these as they were serving the guests their cake and drinks. These aprons were lovely. They were most always organdy which was see through. The bride had them match the colors she had chosen for her wedding. If she used white organdy they were decorated with matching satin embroidery flowers and lace.
Okay, getting back to my grandma, she, of course, had gone through the depression. I had a feeling, however, she was extremely frugal anyway. She made her own aprons as most ladies did, but she leaned against the counters when she cooked and baked and wore out the “tummy” of her apron repeatedly. There was a fix for this. She patched the apron with an unmatched piece of material. She did this several times with several different colors, whatever she had scraps of. My mother would chide my grandma about her aprons all the time. She still had patched aprons when she died.
When I was ten years old I made my first apron. It was cotton and easy to work with. I thought I was doing a good job, but my work did not please my mother. She said and I quote because I can hear her say this many many times, “If a job is worth doing, it worth doing well.” I didn’t agree with her then, and I still don’t agree with her. I think that she was passing on to me what she had been taught when she made her first apron many many years ago.

Monday, March 30, 2009

My Little House And My Best Friend

My little house is in southwest Missouri. I picked it out about six years ago. Something in side of me said that I must have a house bought and paid for before I retired. I did just that. I bought it, and paid for it and now it’s mine and no one can take it away from me unless I don’t pay the taxes on it.
It is in a little town of about nine hundred folks about fifty miles north of Springfield, Missouri. The people that live there for the most part are friendly and not wealthy by any means. They like to visit, sometimes gossip because there is little else to do. There is no movie theatre, no fast food places, however you can get a pizza at the Jump Stop gas station/convenience store.
I liked the location of my little house because it was close to the grocery story, the doctor’s office and I could walk one block to the beauty shop and most of main street, is called Ohio Street.
Years ago, I used to work at one of the nursing homes there, or I would never have known where this little town was. I was transferred with my company from South Dakota to this nursing home; it was there that I met my new best friend; Carole. We have been friends for seventeen years. We laugh together, cry together, fix things together, say really bad words when we shouldn’t, but things like that happen when one is frustrated. I have a picture of me after Carole and I canned one hundred ten quarts of tomatoes. These were not ordinary tomatoes, these had been starved for moisture, so the middle was solid core. This meant that our hands ended up like hamburger from stabbing and poking the core out of the meat of the tomato. We will never do that again.
We have had yard sales together although we swear that we will never do it again, we have made wine, brandy, meals for hungry people and an assortment of things that are for the most part memorable.
Last July I married a wonderful man, and moved to his home and rented my house. I cannot sell my little house. I guess it is a symbol of love and friendship that I felt and always will feel about this town.
During my darkest hours, Carole was always there for me. She sometimes made me see the funny side of despair. When I lost my sight she said we would get a seeing eye dog and we could go anywhere we wanted to, no one could say a word. That made me laugh. Sometimes I feel that the laughter that always seemed to erupt in me, healed me. I also feel that Carole was God’s helper. I am not a public speaker, nor a minister by any means, but I used to say that God played chess with my life. If that analogy is true, God used Carole with a move He made about seventeen years ago and said, “Checkmate,” but I did not lose, I won the game just like He planned.

Sunday Afternoons

On Sunday afternoons, we often went to my Grandparents’ house for lunch. In Iowa, we called it Sunday dinner. My grandmother would have at least four desserts. She would serve two different kinds of pies, cake, cookies, and of course, what she called “sauce” which consisted of either peaches or pears. She made the biggest cookies I have either seen. They were soft sugar cookies which she sifted powdered sugar on. They were approximately 5 inches across. Oh, I loved those cookies. I would give the world if I could have the recipe for those cookies.
After we got through eating, the grownups would “visit”. If it was in the winter, the children would be sent to the parlor. There was no television, games or toys at my grandparents’ house. But there was an interesting thing called a stereoscope and several boxes of strange pictures. Each cardboard picture had two identical images on them. The person using this device would slide them into a sort of rack then look through the part that fit close to your face and imagine you were in another world. Most of these pictures were of strange people I didn’t know, but some were of animals and places I had never seen before. The image that was sent to my brain was a feeling that the people and animals were moving. Now days they have something similar for children called view masters. These usually have cartoons in the disks that children enjoy.
If the day was warm the children would be sent outside to sit either on a porch swing or a tall stump that my grandfather sat on. He had a stiff hip and walked with a cane, the stump was the right height for him to sit on so he could visit with his squirrels. He always carried nuts for them in his pocket. When a squirrel saw him they would wait until he clicked his tongue and made a chirping noise. Then they would slowly go to him to get their nuts. It was great fun to watch. However, if it was Sunday, he would stay in the house and visit if there was more company than just my family. Those days made me sad because I loved to watch my Grandfather and the squirrels.
My Uncle Leslie lived with us. He also loved squirrels, but he put them in a cage and I was warned not to get to close to them. I always felt that that was wrong especially sitting here at the computer, I can see them running and jumping from limb to limb in the trees and having a grand time.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


I am sitting at my big computer this afternoon. I always seem to think better when I sit here overlooking the front yard. Sometimes I close my eyes, sometimes I just let my mind wander for about fifty years down life’s highway. It’s amazing the things that I see. Some things I don’t like, but can’t change. The things I do like are the people that are ambling down that road. For the most part, they all wave at me and smile. One of those people is Pam. I haven’t seen Pam in years and years, but we used to be really good friends. Of course, appearance is once thing that always comes to mind. She had beautiful long red hair and she was tall. All my friends were tall, I was kind of the shortie and I wasn’t short by any means.
If I remember right, Pam had a sister and two brothers. I can remember Denise and both brothers. They were pills and loved to tease. I especially remember Pam’s mother. She did not have red hair. When I knew her she had salt and pepper hair and always had a quiet smile for me. Pam’s family belonged to a different church than I did. My mother was very happy to let me attend church with Pam’s family. A person would think that was odd as invested as Mother was in our church, but she said it was very important that we know about other churches so that we knew for certain that the church we were members of, was the right church for us.
I liked staying overnight with Pam, they could not eat meat for the most part according to the laws of their church. Instead of hamburgers they had vegetable burgers that were absolutely delicious. I can remember telling my mother about them and she said that our church believed the same way, but we did not follow the laws as well as Pam’s family.
Pam, Joan, and I were a threesome. We really didn’t get into too much trouble as a group, but Pam and Joan picked on me something fierce. Here’s a story they may have forgotten.
When I was about fourteen or fifteen, I started having what I called memory lapses. These only lasted a few seconds at the most. My friends noticed these from time to time. When these happened, I couldn’t hear them or react to their yelling at me etc. One day they were visiting and one of these “spells” happened; they hit me over the head with a frying pan. I did not react. They didn’t hit me hard so don’t think they hurt me, but it did get my attention when they told me what they had done. I told my mother and she took me to the doctor. I have a seizure disorder to this day that started when I was a teenager. I’m really glad they didn’t decide to use a two by four. I am also glad that they did decide to test me to see if I was telling them the truth. If they had not, my condition may have gone undiagnosed and could have ended up seriously injuring me or other people.
The picture that you see of Pam is in our driveway in Cherokee, Iowa. I think Pam was about sixteen years old here. You need to remember this driveway because several stories will relate to this drive.


Last night my daughter, Melanie, and I were “talking” on Yahoo Messenger. All of a sudden my webcam came on and there she was. I haven’t seen her since December, so it was really fun. I did think she looked a little too thin, be that as it may, I did not mention that to her. I got to talk to all six of her children. They are getting so big. I think it’s amazing how fast children grow. Or, is it how time goes whizzing by so fast for us over sixties folks that the children seem to grow three inches a month.
Elaina, the only girl, showed me her loose tooth. She was just grinning from ear to ear, because she was getting so big. Nick, the youngest performed his “funny face” for grandma and the big boys were all very sweet and dutifully said, “Hello” and went about their business.
Elaina and Nick told me about going on an Easter Egg Hunt yesterday. It was fun looking over Melanie’s shoulder past the kids and looking at her laundry on the floor. See, this is exactly as I predicted it years and years ago, when “they” said that someday we would be able to see and talk to people at the same time. I said, “I don’t want anybody to be able to see me with a messy house and my hair not combed.” Last night, Melanie caught me with my pj’s on, one button not buttoned and my hair, definitely not combed. If the camera could have craned it’s little neck, she would have seen that my laundry was not done either. In fact, it is washing away right now while I am writing this.
The one thing I did think of last night when I went to bed though, is my mother. How she would have loved to talk to her grandchildren and see them at the same time. She always lived a long ways away from them. Grandchildren do not know their grandparents then and by the time they warm up to them on visits, it’s time to go home. Now with the built in cameras on computers, at least some grandparents will be able to watch their grandchildren grow up and hear fun stories and funny faces that will get them through ‘til the next time.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Bengay by the Gallon?

I wonder if I knew how sore I would be today if I would have gone to the gym yesterday. The answer is yes. My husband and I went to our new gym yesterday with high hopes of spending an hour and getting rid of a year’s worth of gravity’s pull on our bellies. Well it didn’t happen. What did happen, though, is we actually had fun. We had so much fun we went twice yesterday.
My husband, Fran, and I have been so sedentary this last fall and winter that it will take more than a session or two to fix the damage that has been done.
True to form, though the male syndrome of showing off to the female species shined brightly with Fran doubling or tripling what I was pressing or lifting. He would give me this little smirk and tell the trainer he was perfectly capable of doing more. She warned him that he would probably feel it today. What she didn’t tell him or me was that we would feel it within a half hour of leaving the gym.
After we finished exercising in the morning, we went directly to Bolivar which is about a twenty five minute ride. We needed to go to Wal Mart and do some grocery shopping. When we parked in the parking lot, I asked Fran which one of us was going to help the other one get out of the car. He laughed and said, “You’re on your own.” He was rubbing his arms, I was moaning and groaning. We both were laughing. I asked him if he had a clue how bad off we were and he said no, and wondered if they sold Bengay by the gallon.
Typing this up this morning is killing me. Yes, typing. In the middle of the night when I would turn over, it woke me up. I kid you not, the palms of my hands hurt from hanging on to the treadmill, the bikes, and the other machines.
We go back tomorrow morning to do some more at the gym, however, Fran was being real cute this morning. On the way to the bedroom, he was moving his arms in a “power walk” position and was grinning from ear to ear.
We will see just how long that touch of arrogance lasts.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


I love to laugh. There is a particular part of my brain that sends me mental images when people tell me a story. At times this makes me laugh because I can actually see what had happened in their story, other times, it catches me off guard, the laughter comes when I am eating or drinking, and the spewing starts.
The spewing is an automatic reaction to humor that I have no control over. The dictionary says that spewing is to “gush forth”. I have gushed forth many times in my life.
One day my kids’ dad and I were driving home from work. It was about a half hour drive. We decided to stop at a country gas station to get a soda. Wally got the sodas, handed me mine, and we continued on our way. As was the usual case, I talked, he drove, and I looked at the countryside on the way home. I had said something to him that I thought he should have answered and he didn’t. I waited a while and said it again. Again he didn’t answer me. I looked at him, and he had his glasses in one hand while he was driving. He lifted them to his mouth and was licking them. They and his face were covered with my orange soda.
Evidently, when I opened my soda, I had pointed it in his direction. It had exploded and flew clear across the car and covered him with it’s sticky orange liquid. I spewed!!!
The funny part of this whole situation was, that he never said a word, just licked off the soda. That day has been relived in my mind for over thirty years. I am still laughing as I write this.
I have had the opportunity to marry two very quiet men that were very much alike. They say little, but absorb much that goes on around them.
The other day Fran got himself a glass of milk and brought it into the living room. That night we had decided to eat our supper in the living room and watch the news. I had not gotten myself anything to drink. As most couples do, we often share what we eat and drink. I just quietly reached for his milk and took a drink. Out of the corner of my eye I saw him reach for his milk while he was watching television. He groped for it without looking, over and over. It struck me so funny, I spewed with a big mouthful of milk; all over my stir fry, the plate, and the little trash can by our chairs. Fran quietly said, “ I would have given you some if you would have asked.”
Life goes on, I will probably continue to spew. I could tell more stories, but they are mostly preempted with alcohol related tales. Of course, nothing like that happens anymore.

Confession Is Good For the Soul

I don’t know who said that, I don’t even care. I have always thought my soul was my business and if it was a little hard around the edges, so be it. Then a friend of mine started reading my blog. She has started chipping away at my soul; possibly my conscience. What you all have to understand is that I am not alone in this confession, I had a co-conspirator, and I had an excuse.
I had a birthday party. The party was my first one and I was so excited. My very best friends were coming. I had a new dress, the lilacs were blooming, what else could a little girl want? Well, I’ll tell you what, a party without her little brother, that’s what. He was so naughty that day, he wouldn’t even let me have a picture taken with my friends. Well, some of the girls stayed the night, the next day they all went home but my best friend Joan. Keith was still at it, I don’t know if it’s a guy thing to pick on little girls, or if he was starved for kids to play with too. His behavior was absolutely awful. He would do the “repeat” thing. If we said something, he would repeat it until I thought I would lose my mind. Well, I have put an email in this that she wrote to me last night so that you can see how we handled the situation. "I'm going to watch for Keith driving the car that we talked him into and see what you remember that I don't!!! I mostly remember feeling really bad when he had to go to bed without supper and if I remember right -- we never admitted anything!!!! We were so sweet!!!!!
Keith did get the car out of park and it rolled down an embankment. It could have been a really serious accident. Joan and I did nothing except to tell Mom that Keith did it, a fence at the bottom of the hill kept the car from going any further.
The bad part about this post is that I had to email Keith to see how to paste Joan's email into my blog. He had no idea it was about him. Now I feel so guilty, I can't hardly stand it. My soul is only a little bruised, but now that I have admitted this horrible deed, my conscience is clear, or almost. When I was in second grade I stole a pencil that was only two inches long because I thought it was something I needed; it had an eraser on it. There all my sins are aired to the public from grade school days. I'm really glad my brother loves me.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My Grandmother's Family

In the days when I was just a very little girl, we had company sometimes on Sunday afternoons. Some of the company was very stern looking old men. They were very thin, very tall and all had mustaches. The mustaches were white as well as their hair. They wore black suits with stiff white collars. I think that’s what made them seem so tall and stern, they couldn’t bend. I did not like them and they did not like me. I was a lively little girl full of life and they were old and probably their bones hurt.
Sometimes they brought their wives and they weren’t friendly either. Everybody wore black. Not pretty colors like I did. Once again when they visited, little girls had to disappear so the grownups could visit.
When I was a little girl I can remember going to all of their funerals. I couldn’t be sad because I didn’t like them. But, much to my mother’s relief, I didn’t fidget.
As I grew older, I asked my mother about those people, who they were and why they would come to our house. She told me they were my grandmother’s half brothers. She named them all, Uncle this Uncle that. I didn’t care even when I was grown. She told me that her mother’s father Nathan Hayes had married a woman named Catherine who was a widow woman with six children all boys. The two of them had only one child, her mother. Her name was Lulu whom I am named after. Well that was kind of interesting.
Mother told me that her grandfather spoiled my grandmother to the point that my great grandfather’s wife became jealous of the relationship between father and daughter and would beat my grandmother when he wasn’t around. I couldn’t imagine that. I had had only one spanking in my life and I didn’t want another. Another reason I couldn’t believe it was because my grandmother was the most gentle sweetest person I had ever known. She loved me so much and I her. I couldn’t imagine her ever doing anything that would cause her mother to beat her.
Mother told me that one day he took my grandmother to town when she was sixteen. They of course, took a team of horses and a buggy. They went to the jewelry store and he bought her a locket watch which was engraved with her name on it. Her mother was enraged. Another day he bought her an upright piano. That piano stayed in the family for years and years. You may be able to piece together from these little stories that my great grandfather was wealthy. I think that my great grandmother wanted to keep all the money for her children and herself.
I know little else of my grandmother’s family except they were from Ohio. The ancestry has been traced to the Revolutionary war. There was a man that died in the 1700’s that was my ancestor. You will need to look in the Hayes family Bible to find that information.
The picture above, is a picture of my great grandfather, Nathan Hayes. My mother adored him. He is dressed as Santa Claus in the picture. If you notice the wrinkles around his eyes, my mother and her brother’s all had smile wrinkles around their eyes like their grandfather.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Keepsakes or Junk

The other day the sun was shining and I was full of energy and had thoughts of spring. The day had arrived for me to clean the front porch which is now MY room. It is there that I scrapbook, sew, and do all kinds of little “Lu” things. It over looks the front yard which is generally pretty except when the boats are parked out there and my son’s old pickup etc. I love to watch Alex, Fran’s Sheltie, chase squirrels and the neighbor ladies walk their dogs. It is a pretty room with family pictures on the walls, antique furniture etc. One new thing is a cupboard in the corner that Fran bought me when I moved in to hold what he called, “your junk.”
I attacked the cupboard and found things I thought I had lost, but had not looked for. That is classified as good junk. Unlike my daughter, the organizational guru, I just like to be able to put my arm in a cupboard and not have something sharp and heavy fall on it .I just hate to say words that I shouldn’t.
That day I was so proud of myself, I straightened everything so that I could actually see all of my photo albums and picture frames, yard goods and containers of buttons, zippers, and spools of thread. In the back of the cupboard was a box that had loose photos in it and a photo frame that held a conglomeration of photos from a summer long ago. I sat and looked at it with some sadness as well as silent smiles. I took the box out to the living room because I could tell that there were things underneath that frame that I needed to look at. I took things out, looked at things and then I found it; a treasure that I had kept for thirty seven years. I decided that it would be something that you would all like to look at too.
My daughter started getting awards at the tender age of four. Now, all moms should keep treasures like this, don’t you think? I am sure you all have such treasures as this. It is now back in it’s box where it will be forever and ever. It is definitely not junk, it is a keepsake.

My Volunteer Fireman

My husband and I lived in a small town in South Dakota. He was a volunteer fireman and would respond to the Whistle when it rang with other volunteers to keep our community safe.
One night, the whistle blew when we were sleeping. Our bedroom was upstairs and he quickly put on his clothes and shoes and flew down the stairs.
I was slower to respond and was just nearing the head of the stairs when I heard the most awful noise. I looked down to the bottom of the stairs and my husband’s rubber soled shoes had stuck on one of the stairs and propelled him to the hardwood dining room floor. After he reached the floor he slid on a freshly polished floor and ended up under my sewing machine. It was the most comical thing I had ever seen. I started laughing and said, “ Are you hurt?” and continued to laugh. I will never forget the look on his face and the contortions he had to go through to get untangled from the sewing machine.
The Volunteer Fire Department was not a thing to laugh at, but it just seemed that something funny was always happening. One summer day Melanie, who was about three was outside on our front porch playing. I heard the Fire Whistle and went to the porch to see if I could see where the trucks were heading. When I saw Wally driving the fire truck I started to laugh uncontrollably. Even Melanie said, “Mama, what Daddy do?” Wally had an inexperienced fireman on his crew that day. They had been called out several times for grass fires. The rookie had not replaced the fire hose correctly. As Wally drove the truck as fast as he could down the streets the fire hose uncurled from the reel. It got longer and longer and started to sway from one side of the street to the other. When they got to the railroad tracks, the nozzle got caught. The hose completely uncurled, then it was the nozzle’s turn to stretch. It got longer and longer and finally snapped. It flew high into the air and over the cab of the truck and back again. The used car dealership was furious because the hose knocked out all the headlights and windshields of cars that were parked close to the street. Needless to say the grass fire out in the field had to be fought by another fire department.
Wally saw no humor in this story. The reason; it could have been a family’s house that was on fire.
This last June my son, Mike and I went to visit Wally’s brother and his wife that live in Tennessee. We started talking about the good ol’ days and of course, that fateful day came up about the fire hose. Wally’s brother was also a volunteer fireman and was on the truck that day. Wally’s brother just laughed and shook his head. Memories are wonderful things that keep our loved ones alive in our minds.
A Note of Interest: Wally was a very talented artist; he painted the sign in this picture

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Goal Seven Points, Reality Five

Mike, my youngest son is a bachelor. He may not be married, but he is “Uncle Mike” to four kids that just adore him. He is so involved in their school work and their extra curricular activities, a person would think that he was, in fact their parent.
Mike stayed with us this winter for economic reasons. We live just five miles from his job site, so it certainly made sense. I think however, we probably drove him nuts. He went back home as fast as he could. Any way this winter he went to all the activities that were scheduled for these four kids. Basketball was always on his list.
One night he came home and threw a new T-Shirt at me and told me he had won it at the ball game. His name had been drawn for the opportunity of trying to hit three different stages of basketball points; a free throw, half court, and a three point basket. If he made all three baskets, he would win two hundred fifty dollars.
First Mike made the free throw, then Mike made the three pointer, then the audience got quiet, in the kids’ eyes Mike is an old man he surely couldn’t make the next basket from half a court away. They were right, but he did hit the rim. It’s always said that close doesn’t count except in horseshoes, but I think close in Mom’s eyes is good enough.
Even the press was impressed, they took several pictures of Mike attempting to beat reality.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Chicken And Dumplings

My sister would laugh if she saw this post because she would know what I was going to say. Chicken and dumplings was what she fixed every time my brother came home to visit. He ate until he about exploded. Her dumplings were extra special. They were light and fluffy and had just the right amount of chicken broth to make the dumplings soft on the outside and yet the inside was fluffy.
There was seldom any competition between Rosie and I because of the age difference, but I considered myself a good cook and would like to make chicken and dumplings that were as good as hers. I used Bisquick and followed the directions on the box. They were good, but not fantastic. One day when I was visiting Rosie, the subject of Keith and his love for her chicken and dumplings came up. I said, “Well, I would like to have your recipe for them.” She just shrugged and said, “It’s easy, just an egg for every cup of flour.” What is that? That’s no recipe, but that’s as far as it went.
As the years went by, I experimented on chicken and dumpling recipes. The dumplings came out hard as rocks, hard on the inside and hard on the outside. When this happened, I called them German dumplings. Hey, whatever works, right? Or they came out so soft they made a gravy and the dumplings could not be seen. One day I got a cookbook from the Amish. The secret my friends, is not to lift the lid until the recipe tells you to. Well, what I want to know is how can you tell if the dumplings are done if you can’t see them. The saga continued until I bought a Dutch oven with a glass lid. I now can keep an eye on my dumplings without removing the lid. They do not taste like my sister’s however. And you know what, that’s ok.

Could I Have Your Autograph?

Autographs were something I used to collect. Young people, especially girls, always had an autograph book in their desk so that they could quickly whip it out for the “famous” person to sign, hopefully with a rhyme or verse to accompany their signature. It seems that the “book” was mostly popular in the lower grades, possibly through junior high. I know that the year book was used in high school for just that reason.
While digging though Mom’s Memory Box, I found two autograph books. One book was started in February 3,1927. The first entry was a Bible verse. I have a feeling she got this particular book for her birthday, which was February 2nd. My mother graduated from high school when she was sixteen. The picture above was her high school graduation picture.
A must for an autograph book was a collection of teachers’ autographs. I think my mother was liked by her teachers, albeit for personality or for her good grades. It would be nice to know that it was both. I do know this, that the majority of her student friends were not happy that she was going to be a teacher. I think it is especially interesting that teachers were extremely underpaid then as well as in modern times. This economic problem was mentioned in her autograph book.
This is a short verse that one teacher entered October 3, 1927:
“Here’s to that future day, when I may proudly say, she was one of my students. May Dame Fortune always smile on you, but not her daughter, Miss Fortune.” Signed Joel Shepherd
In high school, Mom was called Gladys very seldom, mostly Gladie and Zo, and Zoie. Mother’s middle name was Zoe.
The last page of this particular autograph book made me chuckle and shake my head. Mother had typical kids just like the rest of us. The picture shows that Rosie, my sister, practiced her handwriting on the back two pages of the book. What a keepsake.
The other autograph book has very few entries in it. It has a gold emblem on the front that looks like the old Wilson School. The entries all referred to Mom in Speech Class and what a good arguer she was.
I always wondered where Melanie got the strange ability to argue and win and get the last word in. If Mom was here I would say, “Thanks a lot, Mom.” And of course, Mom would say, “You’re welcome.” and smirk at me, just daring me to argue with her. She, also, liked to get the last word in.

The Bully

When I was five or six years old, my family didn’t have much money. In those days there was no free lunch so to speak. You had a hot lunch ticket or brought your lunch. If you didn’t have food to pack a lunch with, you either did without or went to a relative’s house during the lunch break. I went to my Grandmother’s house sometimes but I don’t think it was because we didn’t have food. We never ever went hungry.
I was a chubby little girl so the walk didn’t hurt me. It was about five blocks from the school to Grandma’s house. She would have hot lunch waiting for me .
Anyway, one day a bad, mean boy started yelling at me while I was walking to Grandma’s. I knew his name and no one liked him. He was a modern day bully. He said that he was going to cross the street and beat me up. He also said that if I told anybody he would kill me. I started running as fast as my chubby little legs could carry me. When I started to run so did he. I was crying so hard I could hardly breathe when I got to Grandma‘s. She was really upset, but my Grandpa didn’t say a word. I thought if he loved me he would do something or at least say something. He couldn’t do anything. He had a stiff hip and could hardly walk, but that thought did not occur to me.
The next day I was scared to death to go to Grandma’s. Sure enough there was that bad boy taunting me again and pretending like he was going to cross the street and beat me up. Again, I arrived crying and shaking. I ate and went back to school, but he wasn’t there on the way back. I never found out what happened to that boy, but he never bothered me again. My grandfather could not walk far, but he could drive.
Now that I’m grown, I have a feeling he was out and about watching for that boy or he called my mom and dad. They didn’t say anything to me and I didn’t tell them. There had to be an important reason that I ate with Grandma and Grandpa. It will never be known, and the identity of the bully will never be known either.
I have been very interested in the “bully” issue lately. It seems to have escalated even to the internet. I did some research on bullying and according to the experts my parents and I did everything wrong. No one talked about it or warned me about it. I have a feeling I was a lucky little girl. I thought it would be fun to see what the computer said if I asked it what a bully looked like. I was amazed on how many sites had this question. Unlike “what does a criminal look like” the bully pictures always depicted a frown and a show of teeth.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


My sister died too young. I knew her because we grew up together, but never really got to know the real Rosie. We just didn’t have enough time. Of course, my idea of too young may be different than a lot people’s. Rosie was in her early sixties, but she looked and acted like she was in her forties. She had a round face, freckles, and a ready laugh.
My sister was a nurse. She was compassionate to her patients and kind. I always told her she had “nurse” hands. Her hands were like my dad’s. His hands were small and gentle like my sister’s. When either one of them patted you with concern, you knew that they meant it.
I think, sometimes that when people die, the ones they leave behind tend to characterize them as being absolutely perfect. My sister was not perfect. She had a sharp tongue once in awhile. She had a sense of justice that gave her stares in the grocery store if someone cut in on her in the checkout. But something like that gave me stories to tell about her.
I will never forget one day she and I went to the gas station to get gasoline. It was a full service station so Rosie told the man to check her oil and the fluids etc. Rosie’s car was old and beat up looking and had some interesting sounds that originated from under the hood. The old man did as he was instructed and came out grinning and said, “Lady, you got a heck of a whistle in there!” For some reason that really made Rosie angry and proceeded to tell him how she felt about the whole situation. I thought it was hilarious and told Rosie so. She grinned and said that she thought so too, but that old man should have minded his own business.
Another time Rosie, Mom, and me went out to breakfast in downtown Sioux City. We did that only occasionally so we always enjoyed it. We ordered our food and after Rosie ordered her food, the waitress gave Rosie a little kidding about how much food she ordered. Ooh, I don’t think that waitress ever did that again. Rosie let her have it. That time Rosie was right and the waitress was absolutely wrong.
My most fun time I had with Rosie was on our annual shopping trip for Christmas presents. We had Mom with us and had just come out of the Dime Store. All of a sudden
Rosie looked up towards the sky. Then she pointed up to the sky and didn’t say a word. Of course, Mother looked up and continued to stand just shy of the busy store’s doorway. I saw immediately what kind of trick Rosie was pulling on Mom. It was so funny I had trouble not laughing out loud. Finally after several minutes and actually continuing to look up at the sky as we were walking down the sidewalk, Mom finally got a clue that there was nothing to look at and that Rosie had pulled a really good joke on her. Rosie pulled a good joke on half the people that came out of the dime store too. Most of the people were looking up at the sky to see what Rosie “saw.”
Rosie and I were so far apart in age, that she and I didn’t live together for too many years. There are lots of “Rosie” stories that I will tell along the way.

Friday, March 20, 2009

What's Behind That Green Door?

My first dance was at the new Cherokee Youth Center. I was fifteen years old. Oh, it was so exciting. There were pool tables, jukebox, tables and chairs, and a soda bar, where you could order sodas, but we called it pop.
There was also a dance floor Someone put a nickel in the jukebox and the song, “Green Door” started to play. Oh, how I loved that song. I just now looked it up on LimeWire, not expecting it to still be available, but much to my surprise it is. I was sitting here at my desk, chair dancing to it. I still love it.
In the fifties as it is now, it was perfectly admissible for two girls to dance together. That was in the era of American Band Stand. I watched that occasionally when my parents weren’t watching something else. But, I had never danced before. So, it was to the tune of Green Door, I tried out my dance steps for the first time with my best friend, Joan Montgomery. I was thinking just how graceful I was when I started dancing. In my mind’s eye my foot was thoroughly arched to the toes, then down to the ball of my foot and twisted like I was killing a bug, then slammed down on my heel; that completed one step then off to the next foot.
Over time, other songs became my favorites, but I will never forget how much fun dancing to that song was. By the way, I became a much better dancer, or so I am told.

What Have You Done With My Mother?

Last year I started seeing a new neurologist. He was well known for his expertise, plus he was close to home. He told me I could no longer have my rum and cokes that I like on Friday nights. He said that the liquor and my medicine was a bad combo for my liver. I told him sometimes I just had one, he said he didn’t care it could be lethal. Well, I am determined to keep a careful eye out for my children and grandchildren, but especially my new husband, for a long time, so I decided to have a soft drink instead of my rum and coke.
My new doctor also said that he thought I should quit smoking. That was something that was not negotiable. I had smoked for years and that was that. The day that I started to smoke I promised myself that if I got a smoker’s hack, I would quit. I developed a hack. So I quit smoking. It has not been easy. I have a seizure disorder that gets worse without nicotine, so it has been a struggle, but as of this morning, I feel great with no little seizures. Unlike most people that quit smoking I wanted nothing to do with food. Most people tell me that they gain weight because they snack in the place of having a cigarette. After about a week without a cigarette the munchies hit and they hit with a vengeance. I gained about seven pounds. Something had to be done. My youngest son brought home some paperwork that was connected with a gym and his work. He said, “I’m sure you won’t be interested.” I told him that he was wrong, I was very interested.
I emailed my daughter and told her that I thought I would join a gym. She called that evening and wanted to know what I had done with her mother! Yesterday I went to the gym and discovered that it will be fun to be involved with the gym, but that I was so out of shape that I could only walk on the treadmill for five minutes and ride the bike for about three minutes. I am making a solemn promise that in three months I will be able to give you a good report on the walking and biking.
Oh, by the way, the hack is already gone and it has been not quite three weeks of being smoke free. And Melanie, your mother is still here a little bigger, but better than ever.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Romance in 1897

When I was about thirteen or fourteen I would visit my grandparents. They had a window with a window seat attached in the dining room. On each side of the window sat a rocking chair; one for my grandpa and one for my grandma. It overlooked a park and the highway and if you craned your neck a little you could almost see my house.
When I got close, which was seldom, the smell of geraniums burned my nose. Grandma always had at least four or five geranium plants on her window seat.
These private visits with my Grandma were very special to me. She treated me like an almost grown up and told me little secrets.
One day when I visited her, I asked her how she met my grandpa. As she talked I could just see how pretty she must have been and how handsome he was. This is how the story went.
My grandpa’s dad owned a grocery store and had a reasonable amount of money. My grandpa delivered groceries to my grandmother’s parents’ house. That is how they met. Simple? No, that “no dating- type courtship” lasted for over a year before he asked her to marry him. They got teased a little. Townspeople said that the delivery boy didn’t stay at their house nearly as long as he stayed at the Hayes’ house.
She told me that she had not even held his hand before they got married. On the day she married him, she sat on his lap for the very first time.
My mother kind of pieced in more information for my inquisitive mind. She said that my grandmother’s waist was so tiny that my grandfather could put his hands around her waist and touch his fingers together.
Her wedding dress was made in two pieces. The bodice was called a shirt waist. It was all hand made and the waist was the size of a man’s collar on a shirt. The front was full of tiny tucks and decorated with tiny seed pearls, all hand sewn on the bodice and the skirt. The sleeves had yards of hand sewn embroidery on them that tucked into the cap of the sleeve.
They were married at my grandma’s parents’ house and had about fifty people at the ceremony. There was a dinner served afterwards. The guests and the bride and groom played games after the dinner. At this point I am going to type in the newspaper article that was written about the wedding. The enthusiastic reporter should be commended and would be thrilled, I am sure that over a hundred years later, her social reporting is being reissued.
“Married, in this city at the home of the bride’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Nathan H. Hayes, on Thursday evening, Feb. 25, 1897, Mr. George Dwight Banister and Miss Lulu E. Hayes, Rev. C.J. Hunt officiating. Mr. Chas. A. Banister, brother of the groom was groomsman and Miss Etta L. Fox, bridesmaid. The bride was richly dressed in priestly goods. The spacious parlors were copiously decorated for the occasion. Mrs. John Hogan played the wedding march. About fifty relatives and friends witnessed the ceremony. After the sumptuous supper was served, the evening was spent in games and other amusements. The presents were numerous and valuable. The groom is a stirring, trusted, affable young man of whom Cherokee feels justly proud. He is a son of Mr. G. W. Banister, a leading merchant, of this city. The bride is a charming young woman, amiable, affectionate and accomplished. A host of friends join the DEMOCRAT in wishing this worthy couple a long and prosperous journey in life.”
My great grandfather gave them ten thousand dollars for a wedding present. My grandma’s parents gave them a farm and china and silverware. These days the price of those gifts would be several hundred thousand dollars.
My great grandfather lived in a huge house in Cherokee, Iowa. It had an open stairway that went up to the third floor to the maid’s quarters. The back stairway was used by the staff. He not only owned the grocery store, but he also was a judge.
The romance between my grandparents was never seen. In fact just the opposite. They actually appeared not to like each other. I saw my parents hold hands, kiss and hug. That never was seen at my grandparents’ home . They didn’t even laugh. For that matter I never saw them smile at each other. I saw my grandfather swing his cane at my grandmother one day when I was visiting them. I went home and told my mother about it. I was really angry. She was upset too, especially since my grandma was very unsteady on her feet.
Romance or no romance they were married for sixty seven years.
They lived with us when I was a teenager. We all gave up our bedrooms so they could be taken care of in our home. When my mother told my grandpa that my grandma had died, even though he was very confused, he looked at mom and said, “ she was a good lady.” Romance? Maybe so in their own way. Love definitely.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Hobby Turns Into A Business

Today was a beautiful spring day and I told Fran I would just love it if he would go to the shed and dodge the wasps and get out Mom’s Memory Box. We went through it together and much to my surprise, I think Fran was as fascinated as I was with it’s contents. Interestingly enough, when I moved here, I labeled the box, “Mom’s Memories.”
Well, inside the box was not only Mom’s Memories, but mine, my sister’s, my brother’s and my grandmother’s and anyone else that knew my family. Sadly enough my brother Keith, and my two cousins are the only ones left that would have their memories jolted by what I found in that box. I asked Fran, “do you realize how many stories are in this box? This will hold me in material for a long time for telling stories in my blog.”
Today I am going to tell you in detail about Mom’s baking hobby/business. The picture at the top of the page is my mother in the housedress that I bought her that Christmas I told you about with my allowance money. She is standing in our kitchen with her arm resting on the mixer that saved her arm from a really bad case of bursitis after a very long time of kneading her bread dough by hand.
The date of the newspaper is December 29, 1955. I was eleven years old and interestingly enough, my mother was almost through with her baking business; she was forty three years old. The article is very long, so I will paraphrase it for you.
The article was written by a lady that I knew very well. Her name was Ruby Peterson. As I read the article, I became aware that she was a terrible speller, or didn’t check her work, but be that as it may, she covered the story very well.
I did not realize it, but mother’s baking business was started by a phone call from a lady in town asking Mom to bake an angel food cake for her garden club meeting. She also asked mother to make some sweet rolls for a bake sale that her club was going to have. That’s all it took. From what the article insinuated, the phone rang off the hook. Mother was quite complimented and wondered if other people would be interested in buying her baked goods, so she stopped by the grocery store and asked the owner if he thought he could sell them. He was honest with her and told her he didn’t know. He made her a deal that he would buy them for fifty five cents a dozen, but only wanted twenty packages to see if they would sell. They all sold in twenty minutes. As time went on she would be selling over one hundred fifty packages of bread, rolls, pies, cakes, and cookies every weekend. She used over seventy five pounds of flour every week. One thing that I thought was interesting that I knew and have told my friends, was that my old electric roaster that my dad has repaired I don’t know how many times, was what she baked her angel food cakes in.
One thing the article said that I had to grin at was that Mother started this business because she was bored. They desperately needed the money. Let’s see at fifty five cents times one hundred fifty packages of baked goods would be about eighty two dollars a week, minus all of her flour and yeast and so on. She may have made forty dollars a week. However, look at all the material she got for free with the hundred pound sacks of flour that she bought. Those flour sacks would be my wardrobe someday.
As a footnote, my daughter, Melanie, still has Mom’s Kitchenaide mixer in her pantry. It is used frequently fifty five years later. That is a good advertisement for Kitchenaide, is it not? Mother would be so pleased.

Not Too Old....

Some of you know what I have been doing, others do not. I have been restoring my father’s cassettes into compact disks. This has been fun, it has been sad, and sometimes really funny. The other day I was playing a cassette that Dad had recorded in Norfolk at my brother’s house in 1973. Well, at Christmas their kids were little and noisy. I got such a kick out of Mother. She loved those babies to pieces, but they were a little noisy. I told my husband, the more noisy the kids got, the more often my mother cleared her throat. It was just a stitch.
I remember Mother telling me how upset she used to get with Dad when we were there because he washed the television screen when my little ones had gotten finger prints on it. I guess I didn’t even notice Dad doing that, but it sure embarrassed Mother.
What has been interesting is finding suitable pictures to scan to the computer so I can make fun labels for these cd’s. I have photo albums and loose pictures all over the house. I just found a picture of Keith, Linda, and their two kids in 1973 all dressed up. Instant label!! Does everybody save these pictures for thirty six years? I just don’t think so.
I just finished making a video for my best friend’s birthday and that mess isn’t put away, and now I have the new mess sitting on top of the old mess. It’s a good thing my husband is easy going. Well I have to start going through these pictures again. You just never can tell what I may find. There just might be an old picture of you!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The North Vs. The South

I was raised in Iowa, then I lived in South Dakota for over thirty years. Then in a flick of a horse tail moved to Missouri. Actually, it was not a flick, it was caused by a blizzard that laid down eighteen inches of snow in October. My husband, at that time called me from Miami and told me that it was eighty three degrees and beautiful. I told him we were going to visit when he got home.
I have lived in Missouri for over seventeen years. I still can’t get used to it. For instance, this morning I was having coffee with my husband listening to the news. The weather came on and the man said, “It will be partneared eighty degrees today.” Give me a break. “partneared?” When we moved to Missouri, my youngest son needed special education and that included special attention to his reading and spelling. I met with his teacher that talked with a drawl and pronounced potatoes ; “taters.” I immediately asked him how he expected my son to spell when he didn’t know how to talk. Well as you can imagine we didn’t always see eye to eye. I was soon to find out that Mike’s teacher was amazing. It is interesting how things change in our minds. Last night I went “blog hopping.” I had an absolute ball, however, it made me think about moving to Missouri, only I was the person that talked with a drawl and not a bit sophisticated. These ladies were so talented and creative. Their English was clipped and perfect. One lady was from London and the other was from Sydney, Australia. I sat in my recliner in my messy living room and my dusty furniture looking at pictures of their white sofas and perfectly “thrown” cushions and wondered what they would think if they moved to Missouri and heard me say we were having “taters” for supper, would you like to join us?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Farm Sales

In March there was usually more conversation between my mother and father. March was traditionally farm sale month. I often wondered why so I asked my mother. She told me that March was a month when not much was happening on the farm. It was too early for farmers to get in the field, and too early for the animals to have little ones. That was not always the case, but for the most part the animals had their little ones in April.
The farmers that were moving or going out of the farming business had the attention of the farmers that lived in the surrounding areas. A farm sale was kind of like people that observe a fatal car accident, they say, “oh how terrible,” but think “oh, I am sure glad that wasn’t me.”
Someone that was “selling out” had a lot of work to do. The first thing they had to do was to contact an honest auctioneer; plan the date of the sale, and decide on how to advertise it. The flyers were usually put on bulletin boards in restaurants and feed stores and other places where farmers frequented. The farmers needed to post their sales in the newspapers. The ads cost them money, but in the end it was worth it. The ads in the newspaper brought farmers from all over the area to the sale. The weather was a gamble. The farmer prayed for good weather so a lot of people would show up for the sale.
Auctions now days have lunch trailers, so the bidders can buy drinks and sandwiches. When I was growing up, the wife of the farmer fixed the food. Usually the women in the area always helped her. I can remember mom fixing great big blue porcelain pots of coffee. Yes, we had a farm sale.
I think my parents had mixed emotions about giving up the farm. It was not making any money, in fact, it was losing money, but the farm had been in my mother’s family for a great many years.
One of the interesting things that sell on a farm auction, is a bucket of junk. The farmers, go through their machine sheds, and garages and throw junk into a bucket and the auctioneer gets all kinds of bids on it. To me, just a kid, it looked like a bunch of rusty bolts and bits and pieces of things, but they really sold very well. People do that now and they still sell very well. I think it’s because the “bucket” holds a mystery. The unknown always entices people and they will readily spend a dollar or two just to find out what is in the bucket. Sometimes, the bucket is worth a dollar. I am almost sixty five years old, and eventually in the spring a conversation I am involved in turns to the subject of an auction someone has been to. Almost always, someone tells me about the great deal they got on a bucket of junk they bought for a dollar.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Peddlers On The Farm

I have often mentioned that I grew up on a farm in the forties and fifties. In those days, traveling salesmen were men who peddled their wares to the housewives. There were peddlers that sold Fuller Brush items, peddlers that sold Jewel Tea products and those that sold Watkins products.
There was also a man that stopped every once in a while called a tinker. He would fix my mom’s porcelain pots and pans.
My favorite peddler sold Watkins products. I didn’t know any better so I called him Mr. Watkins. My mother was very particular about showing grownups respect so I thought I was being respectful by addressing him that way. He was short and round and wore wire rimmed glasses, but most of all he had the cutest mustache that moved when he laughed. I just adored him.
One day he stopped to sell mother some spices and I called to Mother and told her that Mr. Watkins was here. She and the peddler both laughed. As usual, Mother was busy so she asked me to make the coffee. I got the teaspoons and the tablespoons mixed up. The coffee was extremely strong. Mother apologized to Mr. Fussel. He laughed and said he was a good German and loved his coffee strong and thanked me for making such good coffee. For some reason I still have some of his tins that his spices came in. I have them on display in my kitchen.
Mother purchased some things from Jewel Tea and had some dishes they gave as premiums. I don’t have any of her Jewel Tea dishes any more, but those dishes are often found in flea markets for extraordinarily high prices.
Mother only occasionally bought things from the Fuller Brush man. She told that peddler the brushes and cleaners lasted a long time, so she didn’t need to buy things very often.
She treated all the peddlers with the same hospitality she would for friends and relatives. They enjoyed stopping at our house not only for the sales, but for the friendliness and of course, the coffee and something homemade to go with it.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Angel On My Shoulder

I believe in angels. I always have. I remember when I was about eight years old and had just been baptized into the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It was the Sunday after my baptism. I was sitting waiting for church to start when I wondered what I was supposed to do now. I had learned my lessons, but I was too little to do anything for the people in my church.
Our church was very small. On the stage there was the baptismal fount, the small pulpit and on the wall there was a picture of Jesus. That was all. I started praying to Jesus to help me decide what I was going to do now. I was very nervous about this whole thing. My mom and dad were expecting me to be good, I knew that. I also knew that I was kind of willful. I knew that wasn’t good. I asked Jesus to take care of me and help me to be good. That was all. It was short and to the point. I looked up at the picture and he was smiling just at me. I knew from that moment I would never forget that smile and I would always try to do things that were right, and If I didn’t, Jesus would forgive me. Pretty simple, right? I have often wondered why the big churches make such a big deal out of mansions for churches, and have their congregation dig into their pockets for things that just aren’t necessary.
As I grew to be a teenager I continued to be willful. I wanted to be released from such a tight fisted church and parents that wouldn’t let me do anything but go to church three to four days a week.
I wasn’t bad, I didn’t drink, I didn’t smoke, but the one thing I did like was speed.
I had a boyfriend that had a 1960 Plymouth. It was powerful and he let me drive it in a drag race west of town. I was going one hundred twenty miles an hour and wanted to go faster.
I got married at sixteen just to show my parents that I could. That was a terrible mistake, but he was willful too. He let me drag race his fast car whenever I wanted to.
That marriage lasted just a minute in life’s hours.
I married a man who was quiet and quiet spoken. I told him that I wanted to be in the Powder Puff derby. He didn’t tell me no, but he did remind me that I had two babies.
Oh I wanted to race.
When I had three babies, twelve years later, my family and I were going on vacation. I had decided to leave my two year old home, so I could have more fun. On the way to the hotel, a young man who was high on marijuana and drunk flew over a hill and hit us head on. I was hurt, my oldest son, and my husband had some injuries. The paramedics had to use the jaw of life to get me out of the car. My baby who was at home would have been sitting on my lap.
When I got out of the hospital, I looked at our car. It was a miracle that anyone survived that had been in that car. I was reminded of the promise that Jesus had given me when he smiled at me. He has sent angels to keep me safe all of my life. Not only me, but the people who I put in danger because of being so willful and stupid.
I still am a bit willful, but I try to think before I act now, and I thank Him for my beautiful family and the full life that I have lived thanks to Him.

Grandmother Johnson

I have very little to say about my grandmother Johnson. However, she needs to be mentioned in my memoirs because she was my father’s mother as well as my Uncle Roy’s mother. She died when I was less than a year old. I have always had her picture on top of my china cupboard. I think the reason for this is because I feel that my cousin, Bonnie, looks a lot like her.
I think that she would have been pleased to know that one of her grandchildren looked so much like her. Now that I think of it, I think that my cousin, Jim takes after her also.
My father and his brother Roy were as different looking as could be. When they were young they were both skinny. My Uncle Roy remained slender. My dad had his tonsils out and his teeth pulled and proceeded to get nice and round. Of course, eating my mother’s cooking helped a little bit too.
I can remember watching Uncle Roy and my dad acting and talking like kids. It was so hard for me to imagine my dad being a kid. But I guess he was, Uncle Roy always called him “kid.”

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Miracle of Running Water

I can remember my mom walking down the hill countless numbers of times to get a pail of water. That is when I learned how to prime a pump. If the pump wouldn’t give you water you poured a little water down the neck of it and started pumping the handle and instantly water would pour out of the pump. This water she used for her chickens and outdoor use and sometimes to take to the house.
We had a little pump that was attached to our kitchen sink. It was a single sink about thirty inches long. The pump was red. She used this pump for dish water, laundry, bath water etc.
One day a man came to our house and he ran a cold water line from the pump down the hill to our house. My mother was so happy. She still had to heat water for everything, but she didn’t need to pump water for the chickens and all the other things she needed water for.
She put water into her copper boiler to heat on the cook stove to do her laundry. There were some things that needed to be stomped. The stomper was a wooden tool that was used instead of an agitator in a washing machine now days. The stomper was about four feet long with a flat wooden piece attached to it about a foot long. The stomper was worn smooth from the constant use that mother gave it. The clothes that were put in the boiler to be stomped were more delicate clothes like underwear and white shirts that my dad wore on Sundays. She also stomped the cloth diapers that my brother wore. She said stomping did a better job on them. We did have a washing machine that ran on kerosene, but it was a cranky old machine that sometimes, my mother said would “eat” the good clothes. It also leaked oil on the floor, I can remember my mother complaining about that.
Now that we had running water, she could use a faucet to fill pails of water to heat for our baths.
Baths happened on Saturday nights in a square tub in the kitchen. She would start the cook stove to heat the water and also heat the kitchen so we wouldn’t get cold. We all used the same water. I was happy when I was old enough to use the square tub. That meant that I wasn’t a baby any longer. I always had to use the kitchen sink for my bath until I was five. A blanket was put up on the kitchen doorway to provide privacy and to keep the heat in the kitchen. She would give us little slivers of homemade lye soap to “scrub” with. That’s what she always said, “Scrub good so you will be clean to go to church.” While we were bathing she laid out newspapers along the kitchen counter to polish our shoes. She was a firm believer in cleanliness is next to godliness.
Now days I don’t give running water a thought unless the pipes freeze, but I know in the days when we lived on the farm running water was a miracle

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Twelve? Blind Mice

When we lived on the farm we heated our house with coal and kerosene. The coal was used for the heater in the dining room and cobs for one cook stove in the kitchen and kerosene for another.
The coal shed was just a few feet away from the kitchen door. The coal was put in a coal bucket and brought in for burning. My brother had seen this done many times.
He was about three years old this particular day when he went visiting the coal shed.
I went outside too, but paid little attention to him. I certainly wasn’t going to go into that filthy place. As I remember it I think I had a friend over to play. We were on the back step when all the screaming started.
My little brother, Keith, was dressed In striped overalls just like my dad wore. He was screaming like he was having a fit. He was dancing, but he was crying. I didn’t know what the matter was so I went inside to get my mom.
She immediately undressed him. I guess she could tell there was something inside his overalls. There were a dozen little bitty blind mice crawling up and down his legs. He evidently had disturbed a nest of baby mice. I bet he remembers that even though he was so little. That had to be traumatic. If that had happened to me I think I would have had to have been institutionalized.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Daydream Believer

When I was little I was a daydreamer. Now that I am old, I am still a dreamer. My dreaming usually needs a little help like cumulous clouds, great big old elm trees, or a beautiful fire whether it be in a fireplace or a bonfire.
When I was young there was a singing group called the Monkees. They sang a song called Daydream Believer. It was written by John Stewart. The first verse always reminded me of myself when I was very young. It goes something like this : “Oh I could hide ‘neath the wings of the bluebird as she sings. The six o’clock alarm would never ring. But it rings and I rise, wipe the sleep out of my eyes….”
I never wanted to get up in the morning. When I did wake up, I would stare out of my bedroom window and try to see directly into the big old elm tree. I could imagine shapes, and make the arrangements of the branches and leaves into some wonderful art sculpture. It was my very own secret. I did not want to be laughed at.
I am a Gemini and I have always believed that the “Twins” describe me perfectly. When I was little I would bore very easily.
That still happens to me as old as I am. I would complain to my mother that I had nothing to do. She would pack me a lunch and give me a little pint jar and tell me to go exploring.
I would walk the outer pasture where the very tall prairie grass grew. It was almost as tall as I was. I would find a spot that was near a narrow creek. It was only about three inches deep, but there were tadpoles in it. I would lay on my tummy and watch them. They would go in crazy circles and have a good time. Sometimes I would scoop some of them up in my jar, put the lid on it and take it home. Sometimes I would just lay down in the prairie grass and stare at those great big huge clouds. It is amazing what marvelous things we can “make” out of the clouds in our imagination. Sometimes I would have a whole zoo in the pasture, or I would have an angry man or a polar bear, or an iceberg and a multitude of other imaginary friends I had in those great white puffy clouds.
My imagination was helped along by the warm sunshine and its effect on the insects in the prairie grass. The crickets chirped and others I could not identify buzzed. I watched the ants busily carry food to their hill and little grasshoppers chomping happily on the blades of the grass.
It’s too bad I wasn’t old enough to write stories then. Those stories would have been wonderful to read. I may have grown up with no one to play with, but I had nature and a vivid imagination to make up for it.
If I ever had the opportunity to give advice to young people, I would tell them to “like yourself. Enjoy you own company. Create your own kingdom, but most of all, be a daydream believer.

The Flea Market

Every Tuesday when the weather is half way decent, my husband and I go to the flea market that is held in a little town about eight miles away from our house.
This little town has a miniature bank, a gas station which also serves as a convenience store and a little restaurant. It does have a grocery store, some flea market stores which have antiques in them as well as junk. It has a pizza and sandwich shop which my husband and I checked out one day. The food was very good, however, one day we stopped there to eat there was a sign on the door that said, “Gone Fishing.” I talked about that for days, I couldn’t believe it.
Getting back to the flea market, I love to go there. I always tell my husband there just might be something there I can’t live without.
Last year I bought hooded sweatshirts for five dollars a piece. Now, you just can’t beat that. I paid three dollars for the ones without a hood. I must tell you that this was all new merchandise. There are vendors there that sell used articles of clothing too. I bought a wonderful light weight sweat suit that cost two dollars. I wear it all the time. Vendors come from Kansas City, and Arkansas when apples are in season. Many vendors are there every Tuesday. There is a hot dog stand for hungry shoppers.
The flea market has fruits and vegetables, frozen meats, personal hygiene items, clothing, gloves, movies, music, anything and everything you can imagine and then some. Often the Amish are there selling, baked goods, bedding plants, vegetables, eggs and a multitude of other goodies. Yesterday there were even puppies for sale.
I bought a dvd movie that I have wanted to see, and a sack of oranges for a dollar yesterday. I got my exercise and some things I wanted . What a happy day.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Cellar

It was dark and smelly. The cobwebs decorated this horrible place from top to bottom. The creatures that made the webs were all over the cellar. The cobwebs stuck to my hair and my clothes. I spent the majority of my time swatting them away from me.
The foundation was made of large old rocks, very little cement was left holding the rocks together. The floor was dirt, which the mice left their tracks in.
The cellar was a modern day “Spook House.” When my mother would ask me to go to the cellar to get a jar of vegetables or fruit, it would take all I had in courage to go down there. There was one little window that had never been washed. It let in only a little light. There was no electricity to the cellar. The steps going down there were steep and wobbly.
I think of that cellar especially the other day, when my daughter sent me pictures of her basement with new furniture and curtains and carpeting. What a difference in what her children will remember and what I remember.
In our cellar was shelf after shelf filled with hundreds of jars full of vegetables of fruit that my mother had canned. On the floor, yes the floor, were crocks of preserved meat. The fat had been rendered or cooked to get the lard to liquid. My mother would fry the pork chops and place row after row of chops in the crock. Each layer had lard poured over them to “preserve” them. They did not spoil. The cellar was cool all year long. The lard, however, did the preserving. When lard spoils it is called rancid.
When I got a little older, she canned the beef and pork in the pressure cooker. There was never anything better to eat than canned meat. The jars had chunks of beef and broth that made a wonderful stew and gravy. Those were the good old days; however, I do not miss the cellar.

Monday, March 9, 2009

My Mama's Purse

When I was a little girl, I was always amazed at what my mama had in her purse. It would now days be compared to let’s make a deal. She had everything I ever needed in her purse, plus some things that I didn’t want.
When we went to church she made sure I was squeaky clean. I was scrubbed to the point of pain. However, by the time we got to church my mother inevitably spotted some microscopic spot of dirt on my face. She would stoically open her purse quietly and get a hanky. Her purse always contained at least three handkerchiefs. One was always used for my face. She would discreetly lick it and then rub my face. I was always so embarrassed by this. I was sure no one else noticed my face, but mama sure did.
In her purse she carried her billfold, change purse, pencil, paper to write on, pictures of her children, and a multitude of things she didn’t use.
When the deacons would come with their collection plates, she would get in her change purse and give me a nickel to put in the plate. I was always so proud to do that. My father would put the money in for the family other than my nickel.
Mother also carried church programs in her purse and would refer to them from time to time. I always wondered why. I think now that I am older she would refer to the minister’s sermons.
On really good days, when the sermon was boring to a little girl, my mother, with a set face, would give me her pencil and a small piece of paper to write on. When we got home she would test me on the contents of the sermon. Most of the time I couldn’t give her answers to her questions. Then the paper and pencil was slow coming the next time I would fidget in church. I would have to pay attention.
When I became a grown-up I still depended on my mother’s purse to contain materials that I needed. Her purse still contained hankies to the day she died, but she also carried small packages of Kleenex. Progress had changed my mama’s purse.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Politics Growing Up

My daughter, Melanie, asked me the other day about politics when I was growing up. I kind of stuttered around and couldn’t really tell her that much.
I do remember voting though. That was a big deal. We lived in Cherokee County and Pilot Township. There was an old old country school that was the voting place.
I was and still am very inquisitive about how people vote. Oh, that was not a good thing. It was a secret. My mother said “you never tell anyone how you vote.”
When my mom and dad got home from voting, I always asked them how they voted and they would never tell me. I will bet you a bushel of apples they didn’t tell each other.
When I told Melanie about this she laughed, but I told her I think I know why this was the way.
World War 11 had been won in 1945, just one year after I was born. Then in the 50’s was the Korean Conflict. There was a man called Joseph McCarthy that was a senator. He had radical ideas and was very verbal about them. He and J. Edgar Hoover, the head of the F.B.I., had similar ideas about communism. It was so radical that even housewives that went to literary meetings, teachers, lawyers, movie stars and a multitude of other every day people were black listed and put in jail. Jail wouldn’t have been so bad because it was generally for six months to a year, but they were black listed as enemy agents and no one would hire them.
This whole idea got so ridiculous that he said that giving vaccinations to children was communist thinking.
After Melanie asked me about politics when I was growing up, I got a glimmer of a memory of a newspaper. It had a picture of Sen. McCarthy. He was in a wheelchair. I said something like, “oh he’s in a wheelchair and he doesn’t look old. “ All my mother said is, “ sometimes things aren’t as they appear.”
I did some research on my ancestors. They had no problem being vocal about being Republicans. They were applauded for the party they helped to support. Then yesterday I looked one of my ancestors up on the internet, he was a staunch Democrat. You just never know how a person thinks and feels about politics.
Now days people are very free about telling people how they voted and why. So I think we have run the gambit on how we do things. We are back to the days of my ancestors. We are free to do and say what we think as far as voting is concerned. My ancestors would think that is the way it should be.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Gardner's Helper

I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1994. As my disease progressed, my ability to function decreased. My physical and mental abilities would fluctuate to the point I did not always know what to expect from myself.
I loved to garden, but it was becoming more and more difficult to enjoy because of the pain it caused. I was only able to be in the garden for about ten or fifteen minutes at a time.
One year my best friends thought that they had solved the problem. For my birthday they bought me a gift that was called the Gardner’s Helper. At first glance I couldn’t figure out what it was. It looked like a three wheeler for children that was midget size. The idea was for the gardener to sit on it and do the weeding without having to stoop over.
One nice cool morning I went out to the garden to weed the tomatoes. At this particular time they were very tall, about four or five feet tall as a matter of fact. The first thing that happened was that I almost fell just sitting down on it. It was only about eight inches tall. I finally got myself situated on it and proceeded to weed the garden. It was going very well. I was full of good thoughts and thought this horrible disease can’t keep me out of MY garden. Then I rolled this “helper” further down the row when I hit a clod of dirt. It flipped me over into the tomato patch with the helper quite a ways down the row from me. I yelled for help but of course, no one was around to hear me. I finally grabbed the wire tomato guard and pulled me up and the tomato plant down and made it upright. The gardener’s helper since then has had a permanent place in my tool shed.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Golden Years

My best friend, Carole, and I are turning 65 in just a few months. We have often wondered why they refer to the Golden Years as Golden Years. We see nothing Golden about them. I don’t even have gold fillings. My teeth are acrylic. Everything is aching, falling apart, etc. etc. You have heard all of the complaining you want from older people, but today, I was reminded once again, that the Golden Years are whooie.
My daughter and son-in-law gave me half a laptop computer for my birthday and Mother’s Day present since I burned up my other one. It arrived today. The whole idea of me wanting a laptop is so that I can sit in the living room and write my stories and make cd’s and a multitude of things and not have to come out here to the dining room. Fran watches SciFi movies and junk and likes to have me in the living room with him. I need something to do because I won’t watch that stuff. So to make a long story much shorter, I needed to hook the router on my desktop computer to the laptop. It could have taken about 30 seconds if I could have remembered what I did with the password. Poor Melanie clear in St. Louis, after having over a dozen children at her house all day was trying to help me and we rebooted and all that good stuff. I finally told her I had to fix supper and would look for the password. I found it in approximately half a temper tantrum later and typed it in. Bingo, hooked up immediately.
Now I ask you is that Golden? Not!! Haven’t figured out the printer sharing yet. I have that half done, so maybe tomorrow? Thanks for listening to me vent.