Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Friday, December 26, 2008

The day after Christmas

I remember as a child that the day after Christmas was one of just playing QUIETLY with our new toy -- we each received one new toy from our mom and dad. Once in a while we would get an additional toy from the town Santa (one of the volunteer firemen), but not very often. All the other gifts we received from either church members or family were some sort of clothing. My brothers hated getting socks and I wasn't particularly enamoured when I got a new scarf or a handkerchief, but these items were sorely needed by us and we really should have appreciated them more than we did. When I reached the teenage years, I was finally at a stage in my life when I appreciated the clothing items people gave me.

Well, today is another day after Christmas and we are preparing for our Christmas get together which is taking up our quiet time that has been a tradition for the "day after."

Since the children left home -- and I often felt bad for my mom and dad after all their children were gone -- we do very little to celebrate Christmas. I'm sure it was the same for my mother and father. And while I always called mom on Christmas, I knew that they probably hadn't even decorated their home.

My children have their own families now, and we have ourselves. But we try to get together with each of the famlies either singularly or as a group.

This year, while we met with one family alone, the other two families will be joining us for a big party. We're looking forward to it and the noise!


Christmas presents

My husband has always -- well almost always -- given me the most wonderful Christmas presents.

The first year he was back from Kenya, he bought out the store and gave me so many wonderful things -- a new coat, a sweater, several pieces of jewelry, and some gloves -- fur lined. He over-spent, and was a little short for second semester at Rutgers that year.

Then, a bad gift year, was the first Christmas after we were married. I, of course, was wanting something romantic. He got me a trash can with matching bread box and a vacuum cleaner. Now, we really needed these things, but I did not consider them good Christmas presents because they were needs not wants.

But after my sulk that Christmas, he got the message. After that year, most of my gifts were jewelry, because I love jewelry, especially sterling silver. And now, it's time for me to pass on those gifts so lovingly given to me to my children and grandchildren, which is a tradition I started several years ago.

Now Alan doesn't like Christmas. Except for what he has given me over the years, he's very much like Scrooge and has a real bah-humbug attitude about it

Well, this year he gave me The Complete Jane Austin -- hard bound with gold leaf printing and on the page edges. I have started the first one -- Sense and Sensibility -- but didn't get too far because frankly I had too much else to do today.

So, I wanted to let you know what my great present was this year. And believe me, I really, really wanted that set. I love Jane Austin.


Thursday, December 25, 2008

New Traditions II

First, because my sister, whom I dearly love and miss, especially at this time of year, asked me, I have posted a picture of Elle -- she was not in the picture posted in the last message.

Next, I need to mention another tradition that my daughter, Cyndi (whose child Ellie is) and her family have. They have 5 children and for the last three they have waited until Christmas morning to find out what the sex of the child will be.

Well, child number 6 is due in March and we found out this morning, because today is Christmas after all, that they will be having a BOY! They must have gotten up really early because my dear daughter, Cyndi, called me prior to 9 a.m. and I was actually awake.

I was not particularly waiting for the call, because frankly, I forgot that they were opening the envelope this morning, but I'm glad I was up.

One of my husband's and my tradition is to have roast duckling on Christmas day, and today's feast, prepared by me, was very, very tasty. I have already made duck soup with the left overs and we will enjoy that for the next couple of days. I might freeze some of it, but I don't know how duck soup freezes, as I have never frozen it before.

So, my last tasks are to finish wrapping presents in prep for our big family Christmas party. I'm really looking forward to it.

Last -- I watched for the first time ever The Christmas Story a story about a 8 or 9 year old boy who wants a rifle (bee-bee gun) for Christmas, and his mom doesn't want him to get it, and how he finagles his parents, well, his father, into getting it for him. Frankly, I found the story boring, but the "sets" were wonderful.

You see, the story is set in a small town, not unlike Runnemede. And it is set in the late 40s/early 50s -- the time when I was growing up. And it was very nostalgic. You see, the kitchen is not unlike the kitchen in which I spent so many hours growing up. Same refrigerator, same kitchen sink, same counter top. And the bathroom had the same sink, same medicine cabinet with mirror, same light over the medicine cabinet, etc. And the wainscoting in both the kitchen and the bathroom was just like what we had in our home, including the color of paint. I watched it twice, just to make sure I didn't miss any "scenery."

Well folks, Christmas Day 2008 is over, but it was a pleasant day, and Christmas Eve was as well. I'll discuss that next -- a little out of order, but I have to, because of my wonderful husband.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

New Christmas traditions

Growing up in Runnemede we had several traditions. One was the visiting of relatives, either they came to us, or we went to them. My mom was the one with the "relations". Daddy had only one cousin and she (Alberta) would always get down (from Philly) to see us sometime during the week between Christmas and New Year's Day. But visiting my mother's family, if they didn't come to us, really kept us busy traveling away from our town to South Philadelphia or Springfield (Delaware County).

I loved going to visit mom's sister and her brother and seeing their trees. Back then people didn't put much into outdoor decorations, the focus of the home decoration was the tree, and mostly the trees were live. The other choice was a mealy looking fake evergreen that looked awful, or a silver/aluminum tree with a rotating light. You could hang balls on both these type trees, but lights were not recommended because back then the lights could become an electrocution (being electrocuted) problem. So, while you could hang balls, you couldn't put lights on the artificial trees. Therefore, back in the 50s we had live trees.

Well, all this is to lead up to new traditions. I haven't really addressed my family (Alan's and mine) traditions and I will do that some other time. But after my children married, the third set of traditions started. And last night one of those traditions was experienced.

For the past few years, because of Alan's and my health, we have been visiting our children's families one at a time. And last night it was Cyndi's turn. She cooked a wonderful meal for us. And made a spectacular dessert. Her home was beautifully decorated (see the pictures?) and we had a really good time. The children were bored, I think, because we adults were talking and sort of ignoring them.

Ellie was hard to ignore because being not quite two years old, she's at that "cute" stage, and her antics made us laugh a lot. The change in the children's faces from last year to me was very noticable. See Toria? She is the spitting image of her mother. And that's a development of the last year.

So this newer tradition was such a treat for Alan and me and we thank our children for providing us these pleasures at this season each year.

NOTE: The top picture is the children horsing around, and that is Toria, not Cyndi. Then the other two pictures are pictures of Cyndi's family room tree and the fireplace.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Thank you, Rachel!

Who is Rachel? She's the daughter of the wonderful woman that God has provided to us to do a bi-weekly clean of the house, and then do my grocery shopping for me. This provision has saved me this month. And Rachel is her 18-year-old daughter who loves to decorate for Christmas, so she went into the attic and picked and chose the best of my decorations and spread them around the living room. I was insistent that ALL the snowmen be put out. However, there is still one box of snow-people -- a whole village, including a snowman doll house -- which I can't find, and is still buried somewhere in the attic.

Well, here are just a few pictures of what Rachel did to my home for Christmas.
The top picture shows what we did to the landing where the stair-way turns, and from where I fell down to the bottom of the stairs, hitting my head on the hard floor of the foyer. I saw stars, then felt no pain, and figured I was paralyzed. But I wasn't. All my padding protected me (actually it was God) from breaking anything. Anyway, this was my vision for the landing, and Rachel worked it so that it turned out exactly as I had seen it in my mind's eye.
The middle picture has the tall glass vase -- it's three feet high -- filled with tiny lights and glass Christmas balls, next to the wash-stand, partially hidden by my silver tea set which Rachel's mom, Tamara, so lovingly polished for me. This is the view from the love-seat.
The bottom photo is the view from the large sofa across the room. I love the look of the table with many of my snowmen on the floor in front of it.
So, you have a small idea of how just part of my home is decorated. The porch is well lit and I finally got the timer to work so that the lights go off after midnight. I still can't figure out the outdoor lights' timer, so for now they are on 24/7. It's only three strings, so our electric bill shouldn't shoot up too much.
When I lived in Runnemede our outdoor decorations were a wreath on the front door and a wreath on the back door. My mom made them fresh every year from cuttings she took from the YEW plants that grew wild in front of the house at that time. She later included holly. The holly tree she grew from a "start" from the holly tree we had at our first home in Cincinnati.
I remember her working on the kitchen table on those wreathes. She loved doing that, and the smell of the greens was wonderful. The only decoration on the wreathes she made was a big, red bow, which she tied herself. I've never been able to do ribbons or bows. When I tie a bow it looks like I tied a bow, now like a professional did it. Same with ribbon draping. I haven't gotten the hang of that either.
Indoors mom put greens around and interspersed them with angels and Christmas balls. And we had the tree, with lights -- those big things that when one went out the whole string went out. Poor daddy, he would work on those lights to make sure they all worked before he strung the tree, and then without fail, by Christmas day one of the lights would break and we'd have a lightless tree for the rest of the season.
So, for now, and until I find that missing box, that's it from our home in Northern Kentucky and a little remembrance from our home on Second Avenue in Runnemede, New Jersey.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Confession is good for....

getting you into trouble? Sometimes, I guess.

But I have another confession to make -- am I about to die or something with all these recent confessions about my most well-kept secrets? God knows.

The confession is this: I LOVE, ADORE, CAN'T WAIT TO SEE, FIND IRRESISTIBLE, and am MADLY PASSIONATE ABOUT Christmas movies. Most of them are not worth the time I take to watch them, but I don't care. I love them.

This year has been especially full of Christmas movies. They are on the Hallmark Channel, the Lifetime Channel, ABC Family Channel, Oxygen, and who knows what other channels. Anyway I had been overdosing on these movies.

The dilemma has been when there are two on that I haven't seen before. What do I watch? Well, I bounce back and forth and hope that the commercials are scheduled at different times so I can get the gist of what's going on in each movie. I'm hopeless. I'm just a couch potato who loves Christmas and those stories.

Do you know how many Scrooge movies there are that take the three ghost theme and are set in modern day? Some really mean and nasty person gets the visits from the "ghosts" and wakes up and all is well with the world. They haven't miss Christmas, and "God Bless us Everyone."

Well, so far I've counted 8, and I'm sure there are more that I haven't seen, and maybe have skipped because I don't want to see another "Scrooge" movie.

I have to say that I do enjoy the movies on the Hallmark Channel, and Lifetime has some pretty good ones, also.

So where is this leading. Well, at our community party the other night we played Christmas Trivia, which my table was very good at, mainly because I had seen so many of these Christmas movies -- and let's not forget the Children's cartoons -- I veg out on those too -- and was able to answer most of the questions asked of the audience. I miss the one about Rudolph having antlers, even though everyone said male reindeer have antlers, it depends on which cartoon you see with Rudolph the red-nose reindeer whether or not he had antlers, so our table, all having seen the same cartoon, apparently, decided to say "no antlers." That was wrong!

But we did very well on the other questions.

So, while I veg out and waste hours and hours of time (while I am not walking) on these movies and cartoons, something good came of it. Our table had the most answers correct overall. So there!


Confession time

I have to confess that I didn't really have much of a relationship with my mother-in-law. We were polite with each other, but we didn't really get close. Whether that was my fault or hers, it doesn't matter.

I was determined that when I had a daughter-in-law, I would try real hard to get close to her and treat her as a daughter. And I really think I have. I love my daughter-in-law -- and it's hard for me to write "daughter-in-law" because I really think of Amy as my daughter.

She and I get along very well. If there is a problem between us, I don't see it. I love her to bits and she is really a lot like me (poor thing).

First and foremost, we both love my son, Phil. And Phil found the best wife ever and she is perfect for him.

I made a comment at dinner tonight, and Phil was so pleased. I had made as part of the dinner, mashed potatoes, and they were lumpless, but I didn't think they tasted all that good. All I said was, "Amy you make such good mashed potatoes, I wish I could make them as well as you do." Phil beamed. But Amy does make the best mashed potatoes I've ever tasted. And she makes several other dishes much better than I -- ham for instance. I just don't make a good baked ham. It is always dried out, and tastes yucky.

I know Phil remarks about my cooking to Amy and I hope she doesn't harbor any inferior feelings about her own cooking. We all have our nitch. And men always think their moms were the best cooks ever. My own husband wishes I would bake like his mom. Not gonna happen, not in this lifetime. I hate to bake. I love to cook and experiment with sauces and gravies and reductions and vegetable dishes, but I don't like to bake.

So I learned to make the most awesome sandwiches in the world. And my husband likes -- no, he loves sandwiches. It's his favorite thing to eat. He could live on sandwiches. Now, he still loves the sweets, as the ladies in our community can attest to -- he always gravitates to the dessert table at community functions -- but he does love those sandwiches.

Anyway, here's to you Amy. I love you and am so glad you are in my family.

DTC - 13

Friday, December 12, 2008

I know I wrote about this last year, but can't find it

Another thing we always listened to, and this we listened to almost on a daily basis. That record was "Twas the night before Christmas" as performed by the Pennsylvanians. I have put a link in the title of this BLOG so you, too, can listen to this wonderful recording.

When I was teaching at Bible Baptist Christian School I had the children learn this version and I was able to get a background tape of just the music part, so they could sing the words and the instrumental part was just the same as the record.

Listen to it, I think you'll really like it. Catchy tune.

Another tradition we had was listening to "Why the chimes rang". It's a two-hanky story and you can find it at: Read it and weep with me.

Of course, there was "The Littlest Match Girl" which I tried to read to my own children every year, but never have gotten through it without shedding a few tears. And even reading it to my rambunctious grandchildren hasn't changed that, I still tear up when I read that story. Poor little thing. You can read that at:

So you don't miss any of my Christmas ramblings, I spent some time and went back and catalogued them under Christmas; holidays. That's only Christmas. The other holidays are not included. So, if you want to know what Runnemede was like back in the 40s, 50s, and 60s at Christmas time, and what our family the Drexlers did with the Sbaraglias read them. It won't take you long. And, please, fell free to comment.

DTC - 13

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Talk about pictures

It never ceases to amaze me the things we find when we open a box that has been in storage now for almost 8 years. Today we opened another box!!!! Only about 70 more to go. :)

In that box was a file and in that file were all kinds of things. It was labeled "family stuff" and it contained among other things thes two pictures of my sister, Debbie, that I've posted above. Doesn't she look absolutely beautiful. She was about 18 in both of these pictures.

Now, if you've checked out Lori's BLOG (All because two people fell in love -- or something like that -- it's listed as one of my favorites, check it out) you'll know that yesterday she posted a picture of herself from the past, and the biggest item in that picture was the hair. Well, notice my sister's hairstyle in the pictures. Just typical mid-60s flips. And what's amazing is that her hair is normally as curly as Lori's, but she was able for these pictures to get her hair to behave somewhat. Anyway, I think she looks just beautiful in those pictures. And if I put up a current picture, except for a little graying, you'd see that she still is as beautiful as she was when she was 20.

So? What else was in the box? I know you want to know.

Well, there were several items from Alan's work days, which I skipped through and left for him to dispose of. But there was a New Testament w/Psalms -- probably my first one -- it's dated 1952, and I would have been 9 when my father gave it to me. It's very small. Pocket size, has leather binding and gold leaf on the outside of the pages. I will pass that on to one of my grandchildren some day.

Also in that box, which I will put in one of my albums are two bills of sale. One is for my second car -- a 1965 Chevelle. Total cost? $2263.95 after trade-in of my 1950 Pontiac -- which I wish I hadn't traded in. I loved that car (my first car). But then doesn't everyone love their first car and wish they kept it?

Then there was also a bill of sale for our first car (Alan's and mine together after we were married). It was a 1968 Pontiac Lemans convertible -- RED. Total cost? $3835.00. He finally gave that car away to a charity for the tax deduction just before we moved here -- that would be 8 years ago.

Alan doesn't throw anything away. I mean nothing! If something gets pitched, I do the pitching. But I'm glad he kept some of these things and they will go in the family albums for my children and grandchildren to pitch.

14 DTC

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

"A Christmas Carol"

One of our traditions as a child was to listen to the recording of "A Christmas Carol" on which Lionel Barrymore played the part of Ebineezer Scrooge. We'd sit on the floor and watch the box where the sound came out of our "victrola" and were transported in our mind to another place, another time. I do have very fond memories of nagging my father to let me hear that recording day in and day out, and I think I "won" in my mind the battle at least four or five times during the month of December.

Well, I was watching the first sound movie of that Christmas classic and found out something very interesting.

Lionel Barrymore was slated to play the lead in the movie, but he had an accident which paralyzed him and so Reginald Owen played the part of Scrooge in the movie, but apparently since he didn't have to do any walking in order to make the recording (vinyl record set -- 4 records, 8 sides) he made the audio recording.

I thought that was an interesting bit of trivia. I always picture Lionel Barrymore as playing Scrooge, but never saw him in any of the many movies of the book. And now I know why.

I wonder, does my brother Mark have this record, too? I know he has "Hatchie Melatchie." :)

MC in 15

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Gone for a while

For my sister who will worry when I don't write anything for a few days, this is to let you all know that I'm taking a break to let my mind rejuvinate and hopefully come up with something new to write about.

I will be attending a few grandchidlren Christmas presentations in the next 24 hours and hopefully I'll get some decent pictures. But, I may still not write anything on the BLOGs.

I have just too much to do right now, and BLOGging is going to have to take a back seat to the other things that are pressing.

I'll be back in a few.


Snowy Saturday and Army/Navy Game

See? we had snow. I know this picture is dark, but I took it tonight, after the community lights were turned on. Not a very good glimpse of our various displays, I admit, but you can see those splotches in the picture -- that's snow, folks. And, I'm loving it.
Oh, I had to postpone plans to head west to visit my daughter today and spend the night. I'm not one to try to go anywhere if there is even one flake of snow, unless the temperature outside is 40 degrees or more and the flakes melt as soon as they hit the ground. But it's cold outside and so the snow is sticking, and it's suppose to get very cold again tonight, which means whatever is water is on the roads will freeze. So, I opted to stay home and be bored.
The reason for the Army/Navy game mention in the title is because today was the 79th (or something like that) consecutive Army/Navy game. And that, dear folks, relates to my time in Runnemede.
My dad wasn't a football fan, so to speak, but he did enjoy the Army/Navy game. And so, on the Saturday after the Saturday after Thanksgiving, no matter what, we watched the Army/Navy game. Dad always routed for the Navy. I rah/rah/sis-boom-bahed for the Army. And I would watch the whole game.
I think for me, it was more, a girl loving those cadets and midship men, more than really loving the game, although I did enjoy football back in my younger days.
And I recall that as a teenager on that first Saturday in December (usually) we would go into Philadelphia where the Army/Navy game has been played for those many years, and I, teenager that I was, with all those hormones raging, would love to walk the streets of the city and see all those men on leave.
So, while Alan and I were watching the A/N game (sort of, I lost interest pretty early in the game when Navy got a touchdown), I was thinking of those Saturdays when my father and I watched those games together.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Home work

Not house work. Home work.

Alan and I were watching the news this morning and the pundits were talking about how much homework children are given these days and that the time they have to spend on that odious task is not allowing them to be children in their "off hours" from school.

Home work for kindergartners is not something I understand or can comprehend. Why would a teacher require that a 5 or 6 years old do homework when they get home. Seems cruel to me. Are teachers afraid that the child will forget what they learned in the 16 hours they are out of their teacher's control? I don't think so. I mean that might be what teachers are afraid of, but I don't think they will "forget" what they learned that day in school. I didn't. My sister didn't. My brothers didn't. Well, maybe they did a little bit.

But my point is, give the kids some credit that they will retain what they have learned that day.

I was a teacher. And I know I've ragged on this before. But when I attended Runnemede Public Schools back in the 40s and 50s, I did NOT have homework. Not once! Never! It wasn't until I got to high school that I even knew what homework was, and then it seemed that each teacher I had was in a competition to see which one could give the most homework. And, if you didn't do your homework, you COULD fail the course. Stupid. The homework was never graded, but if you didn't do it, you got a black mark and were threatened with failure.

And when I was teaching, I always gave enough time in the classroom for a student to get his/her homework completed in class if they worked at it, plus they had the advantage of having me nearby if there was a problem with their homework. I remember doing math homework and not being able to do it because I didn't know how to work the problem, and then turning in an incomplete homework assignment, fearing that I would fair the course because I hadn't been able to work all the problems assigned. I'm feeling the angst I felt then as I write this.

So, I learned to read, write, and cipher without doing homework. There were enough hours in the day for the teachers to get into my brain, and my classmates' brains what we needed to know to go onto the next grade level. And, we had time for recess each day, and time for music, and time for art, although for music and art we weren't sent to another teacher. Art was part of our classroom experience, and music was a combined effort by one of the teachers with whom we combined classes to have a time of singing or play rehearsal.

Alan went to boarding school from the time he was 9 and he said that after 4 p.m. each day there was no more school work. That was the time for sports or reading or just being a kid and doing kid things.

So, I have to ask, when do children today get to do children-type things. If they have two to three hours of homework a night (which is what was reported on the TV, if you can believe that) when do they get to go outside and ride their bike. When do they get time to play a game of Monopoly? When do they get to play with their dolls? I mean if they are in school from 8 to 3:30, and get home at 4:00 p.m. Homework would go until at least 6:00 p.m. at which time it would be dinner time. Then, figuring dinner is over around 7:00 p.m. it's time for baths and then to bed.

I know that my younger grandchildren are in bed by 8:00 p.m. They have to be because they have to be up by 6:30 in order to get on the bus by 7:30 in order to get to school by 8:00.

And so the circle goes. Poor kids!


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Out back

Not "outback", but out back. In South Jersey, that means outside the back door, or in the back yard. The view from the back windows -- and this will be the last in the windows series -- logically would be entirely different from the front windows. The back windows faced south, and the front windows faced north.

For years I had the attic view for "out back". The window was at the top of the stairs and if I sat on the top step, I could look out the window and see far away -- no trees to obstruct my view. I could see our church, I could even see the church which was across the street from our church. I could see a ways up Johnson Avenue, and I could, of course, see several of the neighbors' homes -- the ones that lived on Clements Bridge Road. And, best of all I could see the rooves of the chicken coops that belonged to our neighbors. And, if the window was open I could hear what was under the rooves of those coops. Sorry, no pictures.

In the winter, because the back windows faced south, when it was a sunny day, it was a warm day. At Christmas time, dad set up a train platform on the porch. The back porch, being on the south side of the house, was lit up and warmed and that was our play room. The back porch was mostly windows.

Now, that view, being almost at ground level (there were six steps up from the outside ground) had an entirely different view than the attic view, but both were from a comfortable, cozy place.

In the summer, there would be a huge fan in the attic window so enjoying the view was not as easy as in the winter. From the porch you could, of course, see the church, and I posted that view in a previous rambling, I could see my favorite climbing tree, the garage, my mom's rose bushes -- of course all these things were visible from the attic window, but looking at the roof of the garage or the top of the tree is entirely different.

It's amazing that looking at the same place, from a different sea level abode, is so different.

How I wish I had some pictures of those views, other than the ones in my mind which is getting fuzzier the older I get.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Attic windows

In the attic where my sister and I were housed (after several years of my father using it for his study), there were two windows, one in the front, and one in the back. You can see the one in the front in the picture of our house. The "front" room was used for storage until I was 16, at which time I nagged and nagged my parents to let me have the room for my bedroom. I told them I would clean it out and since there was furniture in there, I decided I could use that furniture for my own, and not share a bureau and bed with my sister. Not a bad idea, eh?

The front room had no heat in it, so we took off the door that separated that room from the "back" room, where my sister and I had been housed, so the heat would flow into the "front" room (minimally). I think I had an electric heater in there for the really cold days in winter.

So, I had a different view out of the front of the house, than I had from downstairs, either through the door or the front window -- that would be the openings that faced Second Avenue.

From my perch I could see a lot more, and since I was even with the tree branches, I could enjoy the birds more closely than downstairs where I would have to look up to see them. I recall a family of cardinals that "lived" in one of the sycamore trees that was out front. The trees are still there, you can see them in the picture. The cardinal family lived in the tree on the left as you look at the picture.

I loved my roost. And it really was like being in a tree house. The window, although it doesn't look really large was 48x54, so it really was a good sized window, and the dormer in which it was set was like a little sitting room, although I did put my bed under the window in the summer time.

I have always been a furniture mover, and so every time I cleaned my room, I moved the furniture. Now that I can't move myself, my furniture moving days are over, and I think my husband is very thankful for that, because when I was younger, he would leave for work and the furniture would be arranged one way, and he would come home, hoping when he walked in that I hadn't moved the furniture to a place where he would trip over something. I tried to be sensitive to traffic patterns, at least.

So I arranged that little dormer-room as my "office" with the desk in front of the window and the chair set so I could see out the window. Or, as I mentioned, my bed would be placed in front of the window and I, like Beth in Little Women, had a great view of the street, the school, and far up the street, and trees and their inhabitants.

From my lofty position I could see not only Mrs. Mahorter's house, but the Britton's home, and almost up to the Strike's house.

I recall one day Tom Lodge -- our produce huckster -- was parked out front of our home, and I was spying on him. He looked up, and I'm sure he could see me on my side of the window, but maybe he couldn't. After all, when you look in a window in the daytime, you really can't see very far into the house -- not like at night-time when all the lights are lit and you can see whatever the curtains or blinds don't hide.

I wish I had a picture of that view, but I don't. You'll just have to imagine what it was like.

NOTE: The picture of mom and dad sitting is the side window in the living room, which is the first window about which I wrote. The one where they are standing is in front of the porch/front window in the living room.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Windows -- II

Well, yesterday I mentioned what it was like looking out one of the living room windows. When I counted the windows, I did not count the door windows, and I suppose I should talk about what I could see out the front door window. I also didn't count the two attic windows, but I shall talk about the views I had from those two windows at another time.

The closest thing to the front door was the front porch, then the steps leading down to the sidewalk, the street, and across the street, Downing School. The school I attended for 4 years. I recall waiting by the front door for the children to line up to go into the school, then I would head over to school arriving just in time for school to begin. I really didn't want to play on the playground in the morning before school started, but can't recall whether the reason was I was shy -- yes, believe it or not I am shy -- or whether it was because I didn't want to get dirty before school started.

The piano was just inside the front door -- there was just enough room to open the door without bumping into the piano. As I mentioned the rooms in the small house were, well, small. So, as I sat at the piano, which was a daily occurrence for me as I was religious about practicing right after school, I could see the comings and goings on the street -- of which there were few, children playing on the school ground -- there weren't many of them either -- and the porch, where, if the weather was nice, my brothers and sister would be playing.

In nice weather the door was left open, and the screen door provided the view, rather than the beveled glass door which was shut during cold weather. I seem to recall that the door was open on the first nice day, usually in March, and left open, pretty much the rest of the time, until late October. The only time the inside door was closed was at night, when we were in "lock down" mode.

My dad was a stickler about locked doors. Why, he wouldn't even give me a key when I was in college for fear I'd lose it and someone would find it and figure out where we lived and break in. So, I had to pray that someone was home at any time I was away from the house and coming back to the house. I don't think I had to sit on the front porch very often waiting for someone to come home to unlock the door for me.

Since my mom and dad both played the piano, I think they were determined that each child would learn to play. My dear sister tried, but didn't get very far. My brother, Mark, quickly switched to trumpet, and I don't recall that my brother Carl ever learned any instrument. If he did, it was done after I wasn't home very much any more.

So my view from the piano was such that I could see and hear the street and it's sounds, and the street could hear the sounds emitted from the piano, good and bad. But it was another view from the multitudinous views I had from various parts of that tiny home.


Monday, December 1, 2008

Window views

I was awake again today at 5:00 a.m. and was thinking about Runnemede and it came to me that every window in the house where we lived had a different view.

I recall watching Little Women (the one where June Allyson plays Jo) and how at the end of Beth's life they moved her to a place where she could look out of the window.

I am going to spend a few days recalling the many views that you could see from the house on Second Avenue -- the house where I grew up.

While the house was really quite small, probably 1800 feet including attic space, it was loaded with windows, and I'm not going to count basement windows, because really the only view from there was up someone's pant leg or the sky. But on the first floor -- not including the back porch which was one massive set of windows now known as a three-season room -- there were 12 rather large windows, each having it's own distinctive view of the neighborhood in which I lived, the view of which changed as the seasons changed and as my direction of looking from them changed.

I recall one Christmas Eve I desperately wanted to see Santa Claus. I was probably 4 or 5. And I changed my position in bed, so that I was sleeping at the foot of the bed and had a clear view of the two windows in the little back bedroom where my sister and I slept with my brother Mark(he was in a crib at the time). Mom and dad weren't too thrilled with me sleeping in that position, but they let me, knowing full well that I would wake up in the morning in bed, in the correct place (because they had moved me during the night) and that while I hoped to see Mr. C, I wouldn't see him, but looking out the windows would make me drowsy and sleepy. They even put the shades all the way up to the top so I would have a full view from those windows. Parents will do anything to get their children to sleep in Christmas eve!
What did I see that night? Nothing but reflections of the bedroom, and stars. Never did see Mr. C or his animals. But when I woke in the morning, I was sure I had heard the bells and the noise of hooves on the snow.
One of my favorite places to get a view from the Runnemede house was the side window in the living room. There was a love seat placed in front of that window, and I would sit for hours looking out that window, watching the traffic (maybe one car an hour would drive by, on a busy day), watching for my friends, looking at the garage next door -- yes, there was a great view of that garage, because it butted up against the church's property. Mom had planted roses and lilies there to try to hide the garage. She also had a forsythia bush that covered a portion of the building.
That particular building was black tar paper on the outside, and roofed with an ugly dark brown roofing single. It was not an attractive building, and as far as I ever knew, it was never used. Mr. Kline, our neighbor on whose property the garage resided, may have used it for storage, but I never saw anyone coming from or going into that garage. I think finally it fell down.
From that seat I could see the sky, the sunset (it faced west), smell the on-coming storms, watch them roll in, and enjoy the magnificence of the lightning and thunder on a summer day. From that seat I could watch the seasons change and with each change the view changed. In the summer the garage was well hidden by mom's bushes. In the winter, all the plants seemed to have died, they had lost their leaves, and so only a few "sticks" hid that garage.
I also liked to sit in that seat and on a cold day blow on the window creating a haze into which I would write words, or draw, and then get in trouble because I messed up my mother's clean window. My task then was to clean the window back to it's original cleanliness and pass mom's inspection. But that didn't stop me from huffing and blowing on the glass again and again and again.
The view at the top of this BLOG is the view from the back porch windows over to the church on a snowy day, many, many years ago. It had to be before the 1970s because the gray siding came off in the 70s and was restored to a white clapboard siding, to make the church look like it did originally.
much mtf

Saturday, November 29, 2008

My office -- my father

I'm looking around my office and I'm thinking -- my father. I have become my father.

My dad, in his later years, had so much stuff that it gradually piled up all over the house so that there was a path from the front door to the back door, and into the bathroom and bedroom. All other floor and furniture top space was covered with stuff. I've talked about his collections before.

Well, my office has become my father's house. It's the Christmas room, and it's piled high with presents that need to be wrapped, projects for the grandchildren at our Christmas get togethers. Not to mention the Creative Memories left overs. At least that pile (the CM pile) won't get any bigger. Since it is a small room, it fills up fast.

I'm looking at the bookcase I have in the office, the one, small bookcase. It was the bookcase that my father had next to his captain's chair in the living room. It's as jam packed with books now as it was when dad had it. Two levels deep on each shelf... The books are all hardbacks, most of them are antiques. Most of them, in fact, were given to my father in the early 1900s by his own father and mother and are inscribed as such gifts. That really makes them special.

Once in a while I'll pull one out and read a story or a few poems or even the whole book and try to think what it was like to be a boy reading such literature.

I'm hoping someone gives me a complete set of Jane Austin for Christmas -- leather bound, of course. That's a pretty expensive gift, so I'm not going to hold my breath, but it would be nice. I have not one single book written by Jane Austin, yet I love her stories. And, I would like to read them for myself, not watch them on PBS.

Ugh! The room is eating me up and I'm going to be gobbled up by the debris any minute now. I'd better get out of here before that happens.


Thursday, November 27, 2008

It's a beautiful day.

You know, I don't remember a Thanksgiving Day ever that wasn't a beautiful day. Crisp, clear, sunny, cold, even left-over snow, but always sunny. I'm certain that in my 65 years there has to have been a yucky weather day on Thanksgiving, but I just don't recall any.

And so, today, Thanksgiving 2008, dawned another beautiful, sunny-shiny, crisp, cold day here in Northern Kentucky. I don't know what the weather is like in Runnemede today, and I could look it up on, but in New York the weather was beautiful, which brings to mind another Thanksgiving Day tradition.

My family, as long as we have had a TV and as long as the Macy's parade has been televised, have always watched the parade. I haven't watched it for several years. Alan isn't interested, but today, I was up before him so I had control of the clicker and we watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. And, at 2:00 p.m. I'm going to watch the movie, Miracle on 34th Street, the original one.

I called my daughter Becky, because I know she always still watches the parade and we talked for a few minutes while she and I watched together in our own individual homes. I talked with one of the grandchildren, Annie, as she was watching the parade, and it almost made it feel like I was, once again, sitting on the sofa in the family room, with my three children sitting with me, watching the Thanksgiving Day parade, smelling the smells of the turkey roasting, probably a pie in the oven (and today it was an apple pie in the oven at the time of the parade) and waiting for the moment when the parade was over, and then a game or some other activity was entered into in order to keep the children occupied while I finished up preparing the Thanksgiving Day feast.

I've celebrated 65 Thanksgivings, about 61 of them I remember, sort of. And I hope you are all storing up good memories of this holiday. Be Thankful -- In everything give thanks for this is the will of God.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

I sent an e-mail to my cousin, Joanie, who lives in South Jersey. I had to let her know that I am thankful for her and other things. Here's what I wrote to her:

Things to be thankful for:

(1) Waking up;
(2) getting out of bed;
(3) knowing that my husband is still breathing when I get up;
(4) being able to walk occasionally;
(5) wonderful children and grandchildren;
(6) the best ever Italian family in America!

Oh, there are other things. And I shall miss the large family seated around the table, and each member of the family saying what they are thankful for. I think that was probably one of the best things about our Thanksgivings. Of course, that was AFTER dad prayed and after we had eaten, but before dessert.

When my children were growing up, a tradition we started was the annual football game. I only played that once, if that many times. I don't mind watching football, but all that running and falling, and getting pounced on, was not, and still isn't my cup of tea. However, the children and the other adults who attended our Thanksgiving feasts enjoyed that respite before the turkey nap syndrome sunk in.

I'm so glad to have found out about this BLOG site and have been able to give many of my family members a peak at what it was like growing up and living in the 40s, 50s, and 60s in a small town. But...that was then and this is now. Life goes on, and it goes faster and faster the older I get.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all. Write me and tell me how and what you all did on this special day.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I made my first "seasonal" pie yesterday -- pumpkin. I have to admit it tastes really good. My father didn't particularly like pumpkin pie. He liked french apple. But mom always made a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving and another one for Christmas. Mom made crust using the cold butter, flour, and cold water method. Too much trouble for me. But, I have to admit I recall that her pie crusts were light and flaky.

When the "packaged" pie crusts came out (Mrs. Smith's had a pie crust shell) she tried them, but dad still preferred her light and flaky crust rather than Mrs. Smith's thick and chewy crust. He didn't object, however, to the store prepared graham cracker pie crusts, but I think mom still always made her own.

Don't get the idea that mom baked a lot of pies. She didn't. Getting a piece of pie in our house was a real treat. And I think that's one reason why we liked the holidays so much -- we got pies. Aunt Annie always brought a pie with her when she came to visit on Thanksgiving and Christmas. And I recall that we always had a lemon meringue pie, but I don't recall who made it, that is, whether it was my mother or Aunt Annie.

So, it's time for me to start peeling apples for my annual apple pie (that's really a stretch, I usually make more than one apple pie a year, but not many more than 2). And this afternoon the smell of a freshly baked apple pie will permeate my habitat. Can't wait.


Monday, November 24, 2008

My favorite holiday

Once again it's time to opine about my favorite holiday -- Thanksgiving. But before I do, let me put into this BLOG, before I forget, the best ever, easiest recipe for pumpkin pie. It's online at: You must, if you can cook at all, use this recipe. And I recommend using Pillsbury ready-made pie crust -- so simple -- for the crust -- which is always flaky and perfect. You get the pie crust in the biscuit section of the grocery store, the same section where the "we make, you bake" cookies are.

So, I love Thanksgiving, even though this year will be very quiet for Alan and me. We've been invited to my daughter's (Becky's) in-law's for the day, but Alan is not up for the trip, nor am I, so we're going to stay home and I'm going to, hopefully, make a great dinner. We'll have cranberry sauce (already made, last week), pumpkin pie (in the oven right now), turkey (I have a turkey breast thawing in the fridge), stuffing (Stove-top with added nuts and applies), apple pie (yet to be made), corn, coleslaw, and rolls. What's missing?

Well, when I was growing up we always had pickled beets. I love them, but Alan doesn't, so I'll not waste the effort to make them. We always had a dish of pickles and olives and celery sticks. While I have all those ingredients in the fridge, I don't think I want to dirty another dish and I don't want to just stick the jars on the table. We can do without them. Ginger ale and cranberry juice -- may have these, but I'm not sure yet what we'll have to drink. Since we both prefer water to anything else, I'll probably just stick to ice in a glass topped with water. Mashed potatoes? Too much trouble for two people. Sweet potato casserole? That's a maybe. I'm not partial to sweet potatoes in a casserole, I prefer them baked, straight from the oven, slatthered with loads of butter. Alan loves all the sweetnes of the casserole, so I may, if I'm up for it include that in his dinner. He loves them as left-overs as well.

Mostly what we'll be missing is 30 people around the table, all talking at once, laughing hilariously at something someone said, and my father's 30 minute grace wherein he thanked God for everything He every made and gave in my dad's lifetime.

Monday, November 17, 2008

It snowed again!

Not enough to even stick your tongue out and try to collect a few flakes on, but I saw it -- it was definitely snowing for about 30 seconds.

Do I get excited over the dumbest things? Well, any time I see snow I get excited. Because, I love snow. I have a friend here in Northern Kentucky and I usually call her as soon as I see a flake -- she's also a snow lover -- and I sing to her over the phone --

Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but inside is just delightful, and since I've not place to go, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Then we talk for a few minutes. We seem to talk on the phone more in the winter than in the summer -- mainly, I suppose because it doesn't snow in the summer -- at least not here.

So, I just wanted you all to know that it snowed again today, albeit the 10 flakes didn't amount to much. I mean by the time I grabbed my camera to take a picture of the event, it had stopped!


Sunday, November 16, 2008

It snowed!

I woke up this morning and what to my wondering eyes should appear -- my faded vision that is -- but snow. Not a lot of it, mind you, but enough to say, "It snowed!" I would say we had what the prognosticators call a dusting, but to me it was snow. I knew it had snowed before the light of day because it was so very, very quiet throughout the early hours of the morning. At 3 a.m. there wasn't even the sound of an auto on Route 27. It was what writers like to call as "eerily quiet."

I love snow. I hate ice, but I love snow. I don't mind what it does to the roads, because I no longer HAVE TO drive any where.

My first remembrance of snow was when my father put me on THE SLED (this was an old wooden sled with the cross bar in the front for steering the two steel rudders) and hauled me down to the Post Office to get the mail. I was bundled up like you see those kids on TV with 16 layers and couldn't move if I wanted to. He put me on THE SLED and then he walked down the middle of Second Avenue to The Pike talking to me the whole time, about what, I don't remember. The he went over to the PO to pick up the day's mail and dragged me back home.. What fun that was for me! No roly-poly plastic thing that is now called a sled for us -- I don't even think plastic has been invented back then. Well, maybe it had, but I can't recall anything that came in a plastic bottle or jar. Shower curtains were made of material -- if a household even had a shower -- and the interior and exterior of appliances were made of metal or glass.

THE SLED also provided me, personally, with many hours of play. While I can only remember one snow storm when I was a child where the snow was so deep in which I had to trudge through snow up to my waist to get to school -- all uphill of course, we often had snow enough for sledding. And there were many hills -- small hills which we called "banks" and I would find my favorite "bank" and slide down there over and over until I wore myself out, then I'd head home. It seems to me that I was only allowed to sled in the afternoon. Whether that was because I had school in the morning and early afternoon, or whether it was a "house rule" I can't recall, but I do not remember ever sledding in the morning. Isn't that odd?

So, it snowed last night. Our first snow of this winter season and it isn't winter yet. I wonder if that forebodes a treacherous, blustery winter for this area. This section of the country really hasn't had a bad winter since 1977. We're about due, aren't we? Oh, yeah, and I won't be sledding this year. My sledding days are over. Now, it's time to watch others enjoy the sport.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Then and now

The last post was about my brother, sort of, and I posted pictures of him when he was a young lad (laddie as my dad would say). This is how he turned out -- he's 60-something.
When he was a boy/teenager he collected baseball cards -- RELIGIOUSLY.
Every week he would spend his minimal allowance on baseball cards, hoping to get a new one. He kept them in mint condition, and that "hobby" continued for years and years. I think he still gets a set of TOPS baseball cards every year, but I'm not sure about that. Two things I do recall -- one is we would argue about which bubble gum tasted the best -- the yucky,hard, dry, minimally sugared baseball card bubble gum, or the soft, chewey, sugarey double bubble gum. And, I do know that when he was in his 30s and 40s he bought and sold the bb-cards and while he could have made money selling them, he also bought cards that he thought would increase in value. I think he broke out even each year he was doing that.

Mark also was a statistician -- a baseball statistician. He started when he was around 12 and began figuring out how many hits a player had, how many swings, how many outs, how many singles, etc. And he kept all those chits in little notebooks -- he got a new book each year -- and committed to memory all those stats for years and years. He should have been a baseball sportscaster, but God had other plans because he went to Philadelphia College of the Bible (Now Philadelphia Bible University) and then went of to Grace Theological Seminary to get his Th.D.

Another sports related thing my brother did that really was a nuisance -- he was good at being a nuisance. If you look at the picture of our old house you will notice that there are steps leading up to the porch. Well, he would throw a tennis ball against those steps -- trying to hit a certain spot he had chalked into the steps (to practice his pitching) and would occasionally miss, causing my father to yell at him to "Play it right!" just like he yelled at me to play the piano correctly. Mark as never a pitcher on any baseball team -- at least I don't think he was. He was the catcher in our town little league/babe ruth league. He played for several years on the town teams.

Now he collects Beanie Babies -- yes Beanie Babies. He gives them away though. Any child that shows up at the church (the first time) or who comes to visit his home gets a Beanie Baby -- he loves giving them away. Although, I can just see that it tears him up to give up his little lion, or the cuddly bear, or the soft octopus. He does get attached to the little critters.

Is he nuts? No, he's just like his father. I think that says it all. And, I love him dearly.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Please compare these pictures

Noah doesn't look very happy, does he. He did a good job, though.

You'll notice that in the picture of Mark with the suspenders his hair is a little uneven. His brother (and mine), Carl, had given him a hair cut a few days prior to the taking of this picture.

I found pictures of my brother Mark from when he was a little tyke about the age of my great nephew, Noah (Lori's son). The old black and whites are my brother, the other one is Noah at Emily's wedding. And, if you look really close, you will see the resemblance to Lori's daughter, Maddie as well.

Veterans' Day

Yes, November 11 is the day designated by Congress to honor our war veterans. And while it is a "shopping" day with loads of sales, I recall Veterans' Day when I was a child.

First of all, it was definitely a day off from school. In fact, November of each year was a holiday month. We had election day off (every year), Veterans' Day (November 11), the State of New Jersey Teacher's conference (two days, Thursday and Friday early in the month), and then Thanksgiving and the day after. So, in November we had six days off.

I don't recall how much my mom and dad enjoyed having us all home from school, but I never got the idea that mom wanted us in school and was happy when we were home and happy when we were in school.

On Veterans' Day, in the morning, daddy and I would walk over to the VFW Hall and they had a ceremony there to honor the vets, which I ENDURED -- I had to stand still while the ceremony took place, which if I recall corrected was a bunch of boring speeches, and it ended with taps.

My husband is a vet. He was in the Army during the Viet Nam war era. We were blessed that the only action he saw was on the New York City subway and not in SE Asia, but we wonder sometimes whether what our vets and anyone who wore a uniform in the late 60s endured wasn't like being in a war zone.

I can't imagine what our men went through in SE Asia. I can't imagine the suffering of the POWs. I only know from experience what the uniformed men suffered at the hands of the men and women of this country who opposed a war in a far off country -- a war which was to keep communism at bay, a war which most of the country opposed, and in that opposition turned on our men in this country, when they were at HOME, and defiled them and abused them, both physically and with their mouths.

We need to thank God for the safety he has given our friends and family who have returned from our wars, and thank God for their willingness to keep us safe and preserve what we have fought so hard to have -- freedom as outlined in our Constitution.

Enough flag-waving for today, I suppose. But I feel strongly about this and could go on and on and on about it.


Yesterday's post and schooling

I wrote yesterday about my stint on the State Board of Education and little bit about the politics of it.

I just thought I'd clarify that I had really good credentials for that position. My children had attended public school, then went to a Christian school (private), and then were home-schooled. They were all accepted to various colleges after graduation from high school (home-schooled).

I was able, as a member of that board, to represent parents of all children, whether they were public school students, home-schooled, or attended any of many private/religious schools in my district, that district serving one million Ohioans. There were 11 districts at that time, 11 board members, and each one of us represented one million people. I served basically two counties in southwest Ohio, which included the city of Cincinnati.

I loved visiting the schools, no matter whether they were private or public. And I tried to keep a good rapport with the many superintendents in my district, which by and large, was a conservative (in the aspect of their desire for the type of education the children received) district. My superintendents often battled with the Ohio Department of Education (and the OSBE) over requirements that they include certain touchy-feely programs in their school day when they wanted to spend more time on academics.

So why am I writing more about this stint? Well, it certainly changed the way I looked at education for children, not only my own, but my grandchildren as well. I discovered things that were happening in the various school aspects that I liked, and some that I really didn't like, and could and would NEVER support. After getting off the board I was able to "lobby" for the programs I liked, named phonics and then going before the legislature with my (and my supporters) wishes regarding changes being made to the various required curricula for all students no matter what choice parents made -- what would be teaching requirements for all students.

So, I think I've written enough about this subject. I was a hard two years, but it was probably the best two years of my adult life from a "work" standpoint.

I have had many jobs in the past 65 years, being on the Ohio State Board of Education was by far my favorite.

Monday, November 10, 2008

State Board of Education

This has nothing to do with Runnemede, except that I was raised in Runnemede and attended the public schools in Runnemede, and then went to a state college.

In 1992 I was elected to the Ohio State Board of Education. It was a surprise. I ran because the group of republicans with which I was associated at that time -- the truly right-wing conservative wing which was not really part of the STATE republican, or LOCAL republican RINOs who were in control. We were trying to get more conservatives elected into all areas of government. So, when someone mentioned that the State Board of Education seat was coming up for election this year (term started on Jan 1, 1993) was anyone interested or even able to run, I looked around the small group and no one said yes. Being new to the group I didn't want to butt in, so to speak and just take over, which was my bend back in those years.

Well, no one said anything that night. I went home and I thought about it. I was working as a paralegal at that time and so the next day I looked in the Ohio State Code what the requirements were for a person running for the state board of education in Ohio, and how to do it. Then after talking with Alan, we decided I would run with the help on the ground of this group of Republicans in the Hamilton County, Ohio area.

After three months, after my petitions to get myself on the ballot had been certified (I needed 500 signatures of valid voters) I started with their help to get my campaign going. Alan and I had little to no money, so we weren't able to give me much support in that respect. I sort of ran "under the radar" against the local county Republican pick for the SBE and the NEA pick for the job. I won. And believe me, I was so surprised. I won by a landslide. And at that point I really believed that if a recount had been taken I would have lost, because the win was so big. The following election was just the opposite, I lost by a lot. In fact in my own precinct the certified list of votes in Hamilton County showed that I only receive one vote -- which is not correct, because I know that I had at least three votes -- me, Alan, and my son. But to get an official hand recount would have cost us $20,000, and that certainly was not in the budget for a job which I loved and spent 24/7 at for the years I was on the board, but for which there was little remuneration.

Why am I writing all this. I know I was on that board for the time I was on that board for a reason. And today I received a Google response to something I wrote back in 1999 about the Science Standards that were being written and argued about in Kansas. You can check it out at: .

I have often thought of running for another school board slot, and this year I should have run for city council, as there were six slots open and only six people signed up. My chances of getting on the council would have been good, I suppose. But, I'm at a point in my life, now, where while the mind wants to do much, the body isn't able to follow the mind's direction.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

More silly names

I wrote several days, or was it weeks, ago that my father had pet names for his children and grandchildren, not necessarily names that we liked. They were more to tease us.

Well, my niece Jennie remembered another one that he would call people, not necessarily family members, and usually not family members. So, I guess we can add this to either family sayings, or just idiosyncrasies of my father.

He would call people a potted palm. Now, Jennie, don't take this the wrong way. If he ever called you that, I'm sorry. Because a potted palm was a dimwit, a dummy, a numb skull, and politician with all of those adjectives in front of his name. So, no one ever wanted to be called a potted palm.

I don't know where that came from, probably some old movie, like Arsenic and Old Lace, but I really can't say where. If anyone out there knows the origin of that saying, let me know.


Another recollection

Growing up as a preacher's kid in Runnemede had, as I've often mentioned its good points and its bad points. The good were far more prevalent than the bad.

Anyway, I woke up this morning thinking, again, of the Sunday night song services, which were extended and daddy only had to give a 15 minute sermon, which usually lasted about 1 hour. But that's beside the point. The point is the song service, and the singing part was the long part, which we really enjoyed. I'm not saying that the "old" people didn't enjoy daddy's sermons, but until I was older -- in my late teens -- I really didn't appreciate his preaching. Back to the point.

I woke up this morning with a song on my mind -- Since Jesus Came Into My Heart. I recall this as being a favorite of the younger church attenders -- younger meaning under 14. SJCIMH was a favorite because of the chorus, which went like this:

Since Jesus came into my heart, since Jesus came into my heart, Flood of joy o'er my soul like the sea billows roll, since Jesus came into my heart.

The thing is that whomever was leading the songs that night, would stop us at the word "roll" and it was a contest to see who could hold that word the longest. In fact, Mr. Paul Turner was often the leader at the sings and he would even step away from the pulpit and count to 10 or 20 or whatever, all the time we were holding on to the word "roll" in the chorus.

Sometimes we sing it, "like the sea billows roll and roll and roll and roll". Some fun. Those were certainly different times, different church hymns/songs, and the church was packed on these Sunday nights. Of course there was no TV to distract people from church. No football. It was, after all the day of rest and church, a day set aside to honor God and his Word.

You can click on the link in the title above and hear the melody and read the words for yourself.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Grandparents' Day

Well, today was Grandparent's day at Rachel's, David's, and Rose's school. Since I can't be in three places at once it was decided that I would go to Rachel's room. Her other grandparents went to David's room, and then a family friend, Brett, went to Rose's room. I also sneaked into David's room because it was right next door to Rachel's room. I never found Rose's room, and by that time my knee was bothering me so much, I decided it was time to leave the building.
That's me with Rachel, and theother picture is when she was showing off an "O" she made with Play Dough. She also did some dot-to-dots with alphabet letters, instead of numbers.
Prior to the time set for the grandparents to arrive (10 a.m.) her teacher had a reading time with a big book. When it was time for the grandparents to see the class, it was time to go to their various team corners and work on those items. One is a painting corner, another was a puzzle corner, Rachel's group was making letters with Play Dough. Rachel made an "O", an "X", a "W", and an "A". The "O" was the easiest and her favorite letter to make.
Boy have times changed since I was in kindergarten. We had desks. Each student had his/her own desk. They have tables where five or six students sit. Mostly the children sat on the floor. We NEVER sat on the floor. What I saw today made me shudder -- the way they flopped on the floor banging their knees -- and me with such painful knees from gymnastics. I can't imagine what kind of knees they'll have by the time they're in their 20s. But I digress.
I don't recall that we ever had any grandparents' days, but I think we must have had parents' day. I recall having to clean out my desk at school -- at least for the three years I was at Downing school. After that I don't recall any "clean-up" times, but it may be because we were old enough to not have to be reminded to clean out our desks.
Anyway, we had to clean out our desks. The bulletin boards were decorated with our work -- I didn't see any of Rachel's work on any bulletin boards in her classroom -- or any children's work on the bulletin boards for that matter. I do recall that definitely our daily work was posted on the bulletin board -- but only the best got posted -- which made us work harder at being neat and tidy. It was a privilege and honor to be posted. The work was posted for one full week, then it was replaced with another paper, either by me or one of my classmates.
I have the most vivid memories of Downing School when I was in first grade. I don't' know why that is. I was in the second grade classroom, but I was a first grader. I did first and second grade work. I loved tallying long lists of sums , which was a second grade chore, but I butted in because I liked to do it. I loved doing cursive writing -- which started in second grade, not first.
I noticed that now they start the kids right in with cursive, they skip the printing, which I think is kind of nuts -- because whenever you have to fill out a form they ask you to "please print." But I understand that it skips a step. They do the cursive without the connection of the letters. In other words Rachel would sign her name, like R-a-c-h-e-l (without the dashes) and each letter would be in cursive (I couldn't find that font to show how it would actually look). Interesting.
Back to my parents' day. I know my mom showed up. My mom always came to anything that had to do with me when I was at Downing School. I don't think she came to much when I was shifted over to Bingham. We had no car, and it was quite a walk. I rode a bike to school most of the time. Dad never came. And I don't think she came to anything when I was in high school, except maybe one science fair.
So now we have grandparents' day at school which includes special friends of the family or other relatives they want to come. Neat!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Doggie magnets

Does anyone remember these little Scottie Dog Magnets? Dad had a set which he would permit us, under close supervision, to touch. He would show us how when the magnets were put together one way (both dogs in the same direction) they would actually push each other apart, but if you put them butt to head, they would attract and be melded together until with some force you were able to get the Scotties apart.
I was remembering those times when I would go into Mom's and Dad's bedroom, and he would be at his secretary desk (now at my brother Mark's home) and would call us in one at a time to see these marvelous dog magnets. And us leaving the room asking: How do they do that?
Of course there were times when we'd just burst in and he'd settle us down by showing us either the magnets or the disappearing red ball magic trick (which I have in my possession).

I had a dream...

I had a dream the other night. In it my sister and I were fixing up our rooms in the attic where we slept for most of our childhood and all of our teenage years. I had the front, unheated room, and she had the back, heated room. Neither room had a closet, so we used those roll-around clothing hanging things you see on the streets of New York City in the garment district for our clothing. If it didn't go in one of our two drawers, then it went on the garment hanger thingy.

This was really a dream I didn't want to wake up from. In this dream we had won some sort of prize and we each had $5,000 to spend in fixing up the rooms. The first thing we both did was build closets in the rooms, back to back on the dividing wall. We were actually doing the work ourselves, and our husbands were doing the drying walling. We would do the painting.

We had just spent a boatload of money on "accessories" and I was about to finish the room arrangement and decorating when BING my bladder went into "hurry up" mode and I woke up from one of the nicest dreams I've had in a long time. And it was in color.

Why was it such a nice dream? Well, believe it or not, while I now know that my bedroom was less than attractive to most people, and would be one of those "worst bedrooms in the world" that appears on TLC today, to me it was a cocoon of blessing and I loved my room. I loved the fact that I could move the furniture around and change it for the various seasons. I loved the fact that I had wonderful antique furniture and antique linens to use in my room, those linens stayed with me for a long time. In fact, one of the items was a satin, down-filled quilt which was my grandmother's, and I had that until one of our dogs decided she wanted to eat it.

I had to get rid of the quilt, and it was the last straw with that dog. We got rid of the dog as well.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Clean hands, pure heart?

My father, as I've mentioned before, had several idiosyncrasies. Mention was made of another one at THE WEDDING.

My father could not tolerate onions -- the smell, the taste, eating them -- he would get sick if he ate them, and the smell, I guess nauseated him, although he never really said that was the case.

Well, all my father's children loved hoagies. (a.k.a. subs) A Philadelphia area hoagie is completely different from any hoagie in any other part of the country. I know, because I've tried to get Jersey Mikes and/or Subway to make one that duplicates the taste of the hoagies we were able to get when I was growing up, and after I grew up and left Runnemede, the ones I purchased each time I returned home, but those two places have never come up to the standards of a Runemede hoagie.

My father had to know what was coming when I returned home each year, but probably prayed that this time things would be different, because the first thing I would do when I got home was run down to Vince's and get myself and Alan a hoagie. As my children got older, the girls, at least, enjoyed this South Jersey treat. I don't think my son every enjoyed them.

Ever since I was a teenager, I would spend some of my allowance money on a half a hoagie made by Vince (I've talked about that hoagie shop before). I would come home, and before I even got through the back door, dad would be standing there telling me to wash my hands. What? I hadn't even touched anything, yet.

You see, a good hoagie starts with a special kind of Italian roll -- it's like a baguette, but it is not as hard crusted as a baguette, but not as flimsy at the rolls you get at Subway or Jersey Mikes. If you haven't had a hoagie roll, correctly made by a Philadelphia artisan, there's just no way to tell you what they are truly like.

Anyway, you start with the bun, then you put on it provolone cheese, Genoa salami, prosciutto, cappacola, boiled ham, and probably another kind of salami. Then you add shredded lettuce, not as much as they smother your sub/hoagie with at Subway, tomatoes, ONIONS, and hoagie spread. Hoagie spread is a mixture of hot and sweet peppers pickled in vinegar. Delish! And then you sprinkle lightly the whole thing with a mixture of spices -- there's the rub (pun intended) -- no place has the right mixture of spices except the little Italian delis all over South Jersey and the Philadelphia area.

After purchasing my hoagie, I would bring it home, and enjoy it at the kitchen table. The whole time I'm enjoying this delicacy (because it truly is), my father would be telling me to wash my hands, wash the table, wash the floor, wash my face, wash my hair; and don't touch anything until you've washed your hands.

Did all that nagging bother me when I had a delicious hoagie in my hand? Not at all, but we were remembering that dad had said the same thing to my brother whenever he came back to Runnemede and got a hoagie. So, I imagine it was the same with all the children, because growing up in South Jersey/Philadelphia, not a week went by after I became a teenager, that we didn't enjoy a hoagie at least once. Even mom got in on the act and would buy a whole hoagie -- a rather long version of the regular sized hoagie -- and bring it home, and then divide it up between herself and her four children, with the voice of my father nagging in the background:

Rose, make sure you wash your hands and make sure all the children wash their hands. Judith, be sure to wash your hands. Deborah, wash your hands. Mark, don't touch anything until you wash your hands. Carl, be sure to wash you hands.

So do clean hands mean a pure heart? I don't know, all I know is it means my father would be pleased he wasn't smelling onions any more.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Anything be'cept clothes

Anything be'cept clothes. Ah, what a statement. It is the mantra of every child who receives gifts that are what that child needs rather than what that child wants. What child wants clothes? Even if that child's shoes are full of holes, a child would much rather have anything be'cept clothes. (be'cept is except in adult language).

Well, my brother, Mark (John), was the originator of this phrase in our family. Me? I didn't care what I got if it was wrapped and I could tear off that paper and open a box. Maybe it was because I was a girl, and little girls like clothes almost as much as big girls. But not boys, no siree.

My dear, dear brother...what can I say?

Apparently, one year, my brother was given $2 for a birthday gift from our Aunt Francis. Now, back in the 50s, $2 was a fortune to a kid who had next to nothing, and boy was he looking forward to spending that money on himself. And, Aunt Francis was a poor missionary, and we rarely got any gifts from her and Uncle Howard -- not because they didn't want to give us gifts, but we were giving them gifts because they had less than we had.

Anyway, I think Mark had visions of a new fire truck or some such "real" toy (not popsicle sticks). But, no, mom took the money and fled -- straight to the 5 and 10 and bought Mark SOCKS! That dreaded gift that no child wants to receive -- SOCKS! Yikes!

So, when Aunt Annie asked him what he wanted for his birthday a few days after the money for socks event, and not knowing that Aunt Annie had already bought him a new shirt, Mark said, "Anything be'cept clothes."

And that's how that expression caught on in our household. But it didn't matter, whether we wanted anything but clothing, we got clothing anyway. Why? Because we really, really needed new clothes.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Popsicle stick races

My brother related something to me last weekend about how he spent some of his time when he was a boy. He would have Popsicle stick races -- in the gutter, around the sewer drain, and back into the gutter down to the pike.

Here's how it works -- and I think I got this correct.

He would take two Popsicle sticks -- they were free -- and you'll see the ingenuity of a child who didn't have Wii or other video technology. Just loads of fun back in the 50s.

He could only do have these races after a rainy day or an afternoon shower, so the timing was limited. Anyway, the trail of the race was from the gutter down on Central Avenue, between Second and First, and then apparently there was a loop around the actual storm sewer, so the sticks didn't go down the drain, so to speak, and the route continued down First Avenue to Jack's Five and Ten -- at the Pike and First Avenue.

Mark would put two Popsicle sticks into the stream in the gutter making sure they were at the starting line together, then he would pick one, and hope that the one he chose was the one that won the race. He would give them both a little nudge and off they would go and he would race along side the stream in the gutter down the block and around the corner and down the next block, following his Popsicle sticks until the finish line.

He didn't say what his percentage of wins was, but I gather he was ahead in the end.

How many kids today would race Popsicle sticks in the gutter?