Friday, July 31, 2009

Christmas Memories In July?

My sister loved to be a witch at Halloween time and often had an open house for her employees at the hospital. Then she got the idea to be a witch in December. I was a witch with her once or twice but I dulled in comparison to her. She just glowed she was having so much fun. Her face was always green, had a witch hat. In December I think she draped herself with holly.
My sister loved Christmas, with her family with her, the shopping, the food preparation, and most of all the laughing and visiting after our meal that she and mom had worked so hard making.
My sister and I had a ball shopping for a baby that soon would be hers and her husbands. We chose yellow dotted Swiss material for the curtains and soft yellow paint for the walls. We spent so much time shopping we spent all but two dollars that we had in our purses for the new baby. Well, when we gathered every thing up to go to the car there was a bright yellow envelope on the windshield. It is called a parking ticket. The charge was three dollars. We fished and dumped our purses trying to find enough money to pay the fine. While we were doing this we got the giggles, (refer to the spewing post) and giggles until we spit and drooled etc etc. We talked about that for years.
That year my sister had the best Christmas she had ever had in her whole entire life. Each and every Christmas was wonderful, but digging again I found this picture of my sister and her husband and her daughter. While visiting my niece’s website I saw a picture of her youngest daughter that looks just like her mother. So much so it is almost spooky.
I don’t know if you have this picture or not kiddo but just in case you don’t, I wanted to share with you!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

News In Cherokee In April 1960

Most people that know me think that I am funny, a bit eccentric, but I think most people like me because I am those things. Well I have been so ill for the last few weeks but now I am so much better that I wanted to write again. Well as you know if you are going to write about something you have to have ideas and perhaps something to prove that you know what you are talking about. So I started digging through the box that smells musty and looks disgusting. See that’s what makes me all excited because I have no clue what I am going to find, so it is like opening up a Christmas present.
I found this old old newspaper from 1960 in that box. Now wouldn’t you think that saving a paper for almost fifty years that there would be something significant in there? No, just a one liner that somebody I used to be married to got a ticket for throwing a beer can out the window. It is a really good thing I have not saved every paper that has such interesting news in it. However, I thought I would muse through the whole paper even though it almost fell apart in my hands and smelled awful.
I want you to take a look at the cartoon. I just couldn’t believe it. It refers to health care costs in 1960. I don’t remember a problem because I didn’t have health insurance then. See it took me a long time to be a grown up with grown up concerns, didn’t it, just like the young folks today.
The grocery ads one for Miracle Whip is forty five cents. Last week my grocery store had it on sale for three dollars and ninety seven cents, limit two.
Fresh fryers are fifty seven cents each That would be about three plus dollars a piece now, if you are lucky. I love chicken gizzards and livers, so when we stopped for gas I checked to see how much they wanted for them. For half a pound it was $8.99
And the last item I am going to show you is a free baking dish at Randalls with a ten dollar order. That dish or a similar dish is selling at flea markets for ten to fourteen dollars.
Well it’s only been fifty years folks, how interesting how different and how similar many things are. Nice talking to you again!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

My Rememberer Is Broke

I got a forward last night from my friend in South Dakota. I have known her for years and is about my age. She knows about my disease and with its wonderful side effects. It sometimes slams against me like a hurricane, except out of the blue with no warning. That was sarcasm folks!
Anyway this forward said what I have been thinking for about seventeen years. My rememberer is broke. My forgetter’s getting better though. That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but neither does Multiple Sclerosis.
Last night we were invited out to dinner at some folk’s home that Fran knew very well from days gone by. I knew them only slightly. They are very nice people, but I didn’t know how they would react to a full blown onset of M.S.
The first thing I did while walking with my cane was tell the lady who knew only that I couldn’t sing anymore, was that we would have to play charades because my word finding skills are about gone. She did very well. I like it when people laugh and tease me and get into the game with me. It makes me feel less self-conscious. We had baked potatoes and I asked for the ice cream. Now that one had her stumped. It took me a while to rerun that one in my mind to reveal why every one was looking at me funny. And besides that I never did get ice cream I got sour cream instead.
I have a very special friend that has always been there to interpret for me when I can’t say what I mean. Where were you last night, dear friend?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I Am Back

I have had a long bout of M. S symptoms that put me down. It is not ever very pleasant, but it eventually gets better. I am walking in the house without a cane. I am not spelling very well. I have to read and re-read before I will publish this. I am talking nonsense. Words that I don't mean like a stroke patient does. I cannot walk a straight line. I have had a change of medicine and the doctor thinks that it was too quick. He backed it off and hopefully I will be better. I miss the story telling. I cannot sing any more, in fact I can hardly talk any more. Hopefully they can find the cure for that too.
Hopefully I will talk to you all soon!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

My Son The Chef

One day last week my youngest son called me all excited. He had developed the most delicious pizza ever made. He kept saying over and over “delicious.” You just have to know him. The best it gets is, “This is pretty good.”
About a week ago he had spent his hard earned money at a grocery story that told of it’s special of ten pizza’s for ten dollars. My son is a bachelor so pizza is cool for after work or when he is watching tv or any time for that matter.
This one particular evening he opened his refrigerator freezer and saw that he had no variety, just pizza. He then looked outside and saw a barbeque grill. “Why not?” he said to himself. Well from I understand it was just delicious. He mixed briquettes and wood chips and smoked it for thirty minutes and that’s when the delicious once more got mixed up in his babbling of pizza de’ grill!!!
The next morning while I was having my ritual cup of coffee watching the National News they had a Chef on there that was teaching the audience how to make pizza on a grill! No way, so I got on the computer and guess what, you can smoke them, grill them, and least of all bake them in your oven. So off to the same grocery story I went. I also bought ten pizzas for ten dollars. I opened one up and you just wouldn’t believe how little they are. You also wouldn’t believe what tiny little bits of toppings were scattered on top. I just couldn’t have that, so I added pepperoni, mozzarella cheese, sprayed the bottom of the crust with olive oil and you will not believe this. It was delicious! I have a chef in the family!
If you look at the pizza carefully you will see that the pizza is actually sitting on its own box. My way of thinking I just don't think it was a bargain, oh well you can do the same thing with a big pizza!

Country And City Cousins

Fran’s brother lives in a really big city in Texas. He called one day and said he was going to be on vacation the next week and wanted to come and visit. Of course, Fran said, “Sure, we can go fishing!” What else would they do except swap old “war stories when they were kids!”
I immediately started to worry about Maggie our little puppy. So like Fran you never worry about things that have not happened yet. I guess you live longer when you have that attitude. The reason I was doing the worrying thing was his brother was going to bring his dog with him. I was afraid Maggie would eat her up. She had never been around other dogs since we had had her, but barked at them ferociously. She also hid behind Fran’s arm when she did that.
The first hour they were together they were exactly as I had feared and expected a week of terror on my part and Maggie’s. After that hour they weren’t exactly friends, but they had made a truce. Bandit tolerated Maggie’s puppy ways and Maggie pretty much let Bandit sleep when she wanted too. Bandit is much older than Maggie. Once in a while Maggie wanted to play with Bandit in her wild ways and Bandit would snap at her. Maggie would look hurt, but resumed her jumping and running and chasing her rope and toys, which Bandit completely ignored with her little nose in the air. These days were pretty much were routine with no problems even when the brothers left me alone with the two dogs.
One evening Fran broke the rule because his brother was going home the next morning. He gave each cousin a little ice cream in their each little bowl. As you can see, there was little room between the two, no growling, and Maggie was completely gracious to her guest side by side for dessert that last evening.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Redneck Grandma

Well I never thought I would hear myself say that about myself, but I think I have turned the page. This summer, as you know my daughter and her six children came to visit for a couple of days. I had so many things planned to do with them so they would get to know me. The oldest one turned thirteen this summer and the youngest will be four, so you see they need to know their Grandma Lu.
I have had an extraordinarily interesting life, and I thought that the oldest ones could interview me with fun questions about my life. Not!! My daughter had read some of my posts to them about me living on the farm and my mother dressing chickens and the response was, “Gross!”
The youngest ones still think that Grandma is cool, because I hand out a lot of hugs. I also like to tell stories about their mama. They giggle and laugh. I like to spoil them and give them chocolate milk. My daughter said “Thanks a lot mom.”
One of the days that they were here I showed them my “Hat Wall.” I love hats, cowboy hats, hats with flowers, sunbonnets whatever. Friends give me hats and I like to display them. When I look at them I think of the person that gave me that hat and what the occasion was.
When my grandchildren were here I had to convince some of the boys that Grandma was a Redneck and EVERYBODY was a Redneck that lived in this area. Well their whole expression and mood changed. They even modeled on the steps and had a good time picking out their hats. What a difference a title makes!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

4-H Club

I have written about my fourteenth year, but I left something out. I left out 4-H. I mentioned it briefly a few posts ago when I baked an angel food cake with a huge hole in it which the judges missed.
4-H provided girls to socialize with several age groups of girls, and we had group leaders that supervised us and kept us not only in line, but focused on our projects. My memory fades in and out on this subject but I still have my booklets for 1958 1959. I remember baking clover leaf rolls and like I said the angel food cake. I may have made an apron for the fair also.
Our group was called the Cherokee Cloverettes. It’s senior leaders were Mrs. Leo Cosgrove and Mrs. Glen Sangwin.
There were several different clubs that attended the rally. I thought at first that they were just county clubs, but some counties had several clubs.
We also sang songs, what is music without homemade songs? I looked these songs up on the computer and had no luck. Some of you may remember them. 4-H Field Song, Fare Thee Well, Come to the Fair, Litany Of 4-H Blessings, Sing Your Way Home, and Weggis Song were just a few of them that we sang with vigor!
We had lots of parties. Some parties we had just because it was a particular good thing to do or so we thought.
We had installation ceremonies of new members which impressed me with uniforms, candles on the table, flowers, etc. I enjoyed 4-H it gave me a sense of belonging other than to church related activities. Personally I think that we all need that sense of belonging, whether it be a social organization, a loving family or a place of worship.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

My How Things Have Changed

I’d like to know how many times I have said that in the last few years. I have written a few posts about words that were used a few years ago like “sauce” that are not used now unless you are talking about tomato sauce. My grandmother and mother served “sauce” as a dessert.
A mouse is something I am scared to death of and one I use every day for the computer.
My daughter and all new mothers use paper diapers. I used cloth diapers. My babies were potty trained early because I didn’t like to wash those diapers.
I lived in a state that didn’t have a low speed limit and we didn’t have safety seats for our babies . They were called infant seats. They sat on the floor or the counter wherever you wanted the baby. The frame was very flimsy wire, but lasted for my three babies. Oh, I forgot to tell you the wire went over the back of the front seat in the car, so you could feed the bottle with your right hand and drive with your left. Yes, things have changed!
When I was growing up we felt fortunate to have television and radios. Now we have to have one for each bedroom and one for the camper and don’t forget the basement! Now things don’t always change for the best.
While I was doing my wondering and pondering this evening I happened to think about this next question, so do you know or happen to think you know what used to be called a “wolf peach?” Now don’t look it up!! Good luck. Once again, Things Have Changed.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Reruns On Television

It’s a good thing my husband isn’t perfect, because I definitely am not, however he will watch the same television show over and over. I often just zone the show out of my head and “wonder.” Like I wonder what the world would be like if the grass was red instead of green. I decided a long time ago that the moon was not made of cheese because when the astronauts came back they didn’t have any free samples.
I think it is a good thing that the sky is blue. I get all nervous when the sky turns green and when the clouds make the sky turn black. My children used to ask me why that was and I am sure I told them to ask their father. He must have given them a good answer because I was never asked again. Unless they figured that neither one of us knew.
Reruns on television let me do some writing and reminiscing in my mind.
Remember I told you that I worked for Berke’s Studio for several years after school and on Saturday’s. One day during the week Mike Berke asked me if I would like to do some house cleaning for June, his wife. She wasn’t feeling well and needed some help. She was a very nice lady, so I said yes. They lived outside of town a ways. When I got there I was told I just had one job that day. It was to clean the upstairs bedroom floor. It was hard wood but that should be fine. I was to mop it and wax it. I smiled to myself. What a snap this was going to be. I was shown where everything was. I finished the mopping and then I asked where the wax was. June handed me this little can of wax. It was paste wax! Oh my gosh it took me all day long to wax that floor. I was exhausted. The money I earned that day was certainly not worth it. They were very happy with my work, but when they asked if I would like to clean for them again, I was always busy.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Opposites Attract

Carole and I have been friends for seventeen years. She is naughty and I am nice. She is nice and I am naughty. When we had our nails done for my birthday she told the lady that did them that I was too conservative. I told her that I would have my nails done the way I wanted them done or I would change them when I got home. Carole told her that I would do just that, so do my nails the way I wanted. You can see in the picture mine are polished and Carole’s has a butterfly on just one nail. Then she proceeded to tell her that all our lives that I had been that way and she was more adventurous than I was. I guess I was always afraid of the consequences of being too adventurous.
She wore two piece bathing suits, she went to tanning beds. She jet skied, she danced on the bar years ago and enjoys telling the story about it. I was so uncoordinated that I could never have gotten up on the bar! She loved to fish and I hated to fish.
We both had an issue with another woman trying to steal our men. Katy Bar The Door when that happened. No bathroom fights but bathroom discussions that ended up with other women apologizing to us. That was as it should be. Our men seemed to enjoy that kind of thing. I always wondered why. I had a feeling it was flattering to them.
I always wore my hair long when I was in my forties and I looked quite nice. When I got to be fifty I got it cut short and wore it curly. When I turned sixty five I decided to wear it spiked with just a tad of curl. When Carole turned sixty five she really had short hair so she could go out on the jet ski and not worry about it. I was the one that seemed to tell people the way it was, but Carole always said that she was the one that told people the way it was. She probably was right because she thinks that "Maxine" is the way to live her life. She has a standing order of a Maxine calendar for Christmas. Oh dear, if we both did that other people wouldn't have a chance would they? We used to laugh when people asked us if we were sisters. We did used to wear our hair similarly and we told those people that we were not sisters, but that our names were Thelma and Louise. I thought that was cute, but once again she argued with me and said, “There is no way I am going to ruin a perfectly good convertible and go over a cliff with you!” It sounds like fun to me!!!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

My Favorite Teacher

Today I think we will talk about our favorite teachers. We don’t have to do elementary, junior high or high school. We can do the favorite through out our school years.
I have talked about some of my not so favorite teachers and why, but not my favorite. My favorite was Miss Franciso. She seldom did not smile when she greeted you in the hall. If you needed help you got it. She taught an exceedingly tough subject for me to grasp; long division. When the light finally came on in my brain she expressed as much happiness for me as I did.
I can remember when my mom went to parent-teacher conference, she told mom how proud she was of me because I never gave up. I had been getting “C’s” and this particular report card I got an A. When mom came home from the conference she told me about her visit with Miss Francisco and told me that “we got an A” and laughed. Mom had spent many hours with me to help me grasp the concept of long division.
I only have one picture of Miss Francisco, but you may notice she has a very pleasant look on her face. It would be very interesting how many students she helped through the murky depths of long division in her many many years of teaching seventh grade long division.

Monday, July 6, 2009


This story is difficult to write because I never met my older sister, Juanita. She was five years old when she was killed in a sledding accident. I have the newspaper clippings that my mother had saved all these years.
In those days they cleared Bluff Street in Cherokee from cars just for the sole purpose of sledding fun for the children. It was a high hill and lots of fun. My oldest sister, Rosie and Juanita went sledding that fateful day and there at the bottom of the hill there was a car parked where it was not supposed to be. Rosie jumped off when she saw the danger, but Juanita did not and was gravely injured. She lived long enough to wake momentarily from a coma and said, “I love you Mama.” and then she died.
Mother talked of Juanita infrequently, but would tell stories of her life when asked. Her picture was always on the piano. She was a very pretty little girl with dark brown hair and olive colored skin and dark brown eyes. She took more after the Johnson side of the family.
Mother always said she liked to have a baby at home when one child started school. She loved babies and liked to play with them. I once complained because I didn’t have anyone to play with and she told me that it was her fault she liked the four and five year gaps between us.
Mother always told us how smart Juanita was and could not wait to start school. There was a problem though, she sucked her thumb. Mother was intelligent also, she told Juanita that she could not start school if she sucked her thumb. Juanita told Mother that she would try really hard. Mom said she did a good job during the day, but at night she could hear her sucking her thumb. She would say, “Juanie!” and the sucking noise would stop. She started school in September and died in December.
Mother, of course, had insurmountable grief over the loss of her little girl. She did not want to celebrate Christmas at all. Once again, my grandmother stepped in and reminded my mother that she had another child. She should not be deprived of Christmas because her mother could not control her grief. She brought scraps of material to my parents’ house and insisted that mother make my sister doll clothes for Christmas. Mom told me one day that if it had not been for Grandma doing that it would have taken her much longer to grieve and that it would have made my sister, Rosie, even sadder than she was already.
When I cleaned out my mother’s house, I got down on my hands and knees and found a box that had the newspaper clippings, a lunch box, mittens, little brown shoes and little brown socks that my sister Juanita had taken and worn to school. I took those things home and can not get rid of them. My children will have to do that when I am gone. There is a mystery, however, my brother, Keith, said to me one day. “I have never seen a picture of Juanita.” I looked and looked for that picture. It is no where to be found. I don’t remember it being in my mother’s house when I cleaned it either. My mother may finally grieve no more.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Recording Past And Present

As I have told you, I think, my memory goes in and out. My mother, my brother and my daughter have all wanted me to record my stories, but it was Reader’s Digest that got me started really thinking about it because my stories don’t have to be in chronological order. So in other words I can skip all over the place as I please, and I love doing that. So far I have told stories about my growing up in Iowa, I have told stories about my grandparents on each side, my mother, my father, my uncle and my sister. I have lots more stories to go. Sometimes I think I have completely run out of stories and then I smile and think, no way I have a long way to go.
What I especially love is reconnecting with high school classmates, relatives that I haven’t seen in years and posting stories about my mother-in-law’s life for her family. Her eyes just sparkle when she tells me she has found something else for me to write about.
I started doing birthday disks for my grandchildren. I talk to them, read them stories if they are small, and sing to them sometimes. For the older ones I play the kind of music that they like and tell them to keep their cd so that they can hear my voice when they are in their forties. I got started doing this because my mom and dad and I recorded our voices on cassettes in the sixties. You have no idea how wonderful it is to hear them laugh and play the electric organ, open Christmas presents etc. I put those cassettes on disks now so that they will last a lot longer.
I know that a lot of you have taken videos of your children and grandchildren but I didn’t have that opportunity, so this is what I am doing for my grandchildren. So far they like it now especially the little ones. The stories I tell on the blog will be archived for them forever I hope so that they will know where their Grandma Lu came from and how she lived. Oh I almost forgot, and that she had a lot of fun!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

My Thirteenth Year

I have a feeling it was pretty nondescript. I don't remember anything that was exciting or interesting exept almost drowning in the city pool. I took swimming lessons and never really got the hang ot it. To pass my test I had to swim in the "deep part" and come back to the teacher. I would not open my eyes because the chlorine hurt them so I kept swimming until the teacher became concerned and used a net to "drag" me in. Now that was embarrassing!! I remember that I was the treasurer of Student Council, I played piano and electric organ for church. I taught Bible School for the little ones in the summer.

My friends and I went roller skating on Friday nights. I never was able to "dance" on skates or go backwards. But I really enjoyed it. I remember that I had to rent skates because I didn't have my own pair. I think that they were twenty five cents or less. The music was organ music. I always wished that I could play good enough that I could record music for the roller rinks. I can still see the disco type lights that would be circling the rink. That was for "all skate." For "couple skate" that was altogether different. The lighting was romantic and music slow!I think on Saturday nights we went to movies and hung out with each other. I even enjoyed being home with my parents and watching Lawence Welk.

When I was thirteen my grandparents came to live with us. That was traumatic because we had to move out of our bedrooms for them to have a place to sleep. They were both frail especially my grandfather. He was very crabby and my grandmother very mild mannered and sweet.

At the end of that year was another milestone. That year my mother became a psychiatric aide at the Mental Health Institute and worked the afternoon shift. She was not home when we were home. What a difference that made. Dad was home and we were plenty old enough to stay by ourselves any way but we really missed her. Mom told me several times after that that she never wanted to live with us kids. She said it was not a good thing for a family. I can remember my dad sleeping in a chair with his feet propped up for a make shift bed. We nade it through though. My grandmother died when I was fifteen and then my mother had my grandfather sent to a nursing home. He was so much happier there. He was Santa Claus and actually smiled and had a good time. You just never know. Our family unit was a strong one and as much as I resisted the strong religious beliefs of our family I do think that was one of the big things that kept us together.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Fourth Of July

I suppose I was about ten years old and it was the Fourth of July and my family and I were going to have a picnic. That’s all. I wasn’t disappointed, that’s what we usually did on the Fourth. Dad took the day off from the fields and we had the brand new spring fryers that mom raised, and potato salad and lots of good things that she made.
On this particular Fourth of July mom started talking about the Fourth of July’s that she had spent when she was a child.
She had two older brothers, LaVerne, the oldest, Nathan, second oldest, then my mother, the last child was Leslie.
The oldest boys were big and strong, both over six feet tall. They were much older than she and had seen the country and sowed their wild oats, she called it and then came home to help Grandpa with the farm.
Completely out of character for a stern old man, my grandpa loved fireworks. Every 4th of July he would buy twenty five dollars worth of fireworks and let the boys light them while he and the rest of the family enjoyed them. You have to understand that in 1917 that twenty five dollars was a whole lot of money.
I had never seen fireworks at that time but mom described them to me.
When I grew older, I married and my husband and I bought an acreage outside of Canton, South Dakota. I invited my mom and dad to join us for the holiday and my husband’s brothers and their wives and children were there too. I fried chicken til I was blue in the face. We had the traditional potato salad my mom had taught me to prepare and real lemonade. When it started to get dusk, Wally and his brothers all got out their fireworks. Mother started telling us all about her dad and the money he would spend on fireworks. Then she started to sneeze. She sneezed and sneezed until she could hardly catch her breath. I had her go in the house until she was better. The gunpowder and smoke had made her sneeze. But she laughed and said she had really enjoyed the fireworks.
Fireworks played another part in my life, just last year. I had been to lots of fireworks displays in my life but nothing like last year’s. My husband Fran, and I got married on the 5th of July outside. Fran made a plan with Mike, my youngest son to have fireworks go off just when the minister pronounced us man and wife. Well it went according to plan and I screamed and the audience laughed, but I think the one that was the most startled was our minister. She choked and laughed and jumped back ; Fran had not let her in on the surprise! We have wonderful pictures of all the smoke that displayed itself on our wedding day. My mother would have loved it.