Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sharecropper's Daughter

"I'm just a share cropper's daughter...." (to the tune of Coal Miner's Daughter). When I heard of the term sharecropper it was in association with poor southern farmers almost as bad as poor white trash. I never considered our family as sharecroppers though that is what we were - we lived on a farm owned by someone else and shared the crops 50-50 with the owner in exchange for living there.
Some farm families moved every year or two. It never occurred to me that we were in danger of having to move if the landlord decided Dad wasn't a good steward of the land. I think I remember a time or two when Dad was nervous about settling up with Hade at the end of the year. Apparently they got along well though as the Jasper Township farm was the only one my parents ever lived on.
After Hade died his wife Maude became our landlady. I think she was even easier to get along with. I remember her bringing us a five pound box of chocolates every xmas. When Dad's health ended his active farming career, he asked Maude to sell him the home 80 acres (so Mom would be certain of a place to live) and she did.
As a kid I knew we weren't well off but I didn't think of us as poor because we were pretty much like everyone else. We always had plenty to eat. Mom raised a large garden. We had chickens for eggs and meat, cows for milk and cream and butcher pigs and steers. Grandpa & Grandma Ridnour had apple and pear trees with plenty of fruit for everyone; the Reichardt brothers gave us cherries for helping pick them and we had one peach tree.
One of my favourite times of year was the fall when we would go to the timber and pick up hickory nuts and walnuts. (I still love walking in the woods in autumn; hearing blue jays holler and squirrels chatter.) The walnuts were fed through the hand cranked corn sheller to remove the husks then allowed to dry. Over the winter we would crack them and dig out the walnut meats. It was a contest to see if you could dig a complete half out of the shell without breaking it.
Mom told me a few years ago that they had had the opportunity at one time to buy Uncle Jim's farm in Douglas Township. Uncle Jim was Grandpa Lynam's uncle. Grandpa worked for him when Dad was a boy so Dad was familiar with the farm. His sister, my Aunt Leona, was born at Uncle Jim's. Mom said she was willing to take the chance and go into debt to buy the farm, but that Dad was afraid to even though the land was much better there.
We used to go for Sunday drives. Often Dad would drive up past there and say "That was where Uncle Jim lived", but he never said "That is the big house you could have grown up in." I wonder how my life might have been different if I'd been a "land owner's daughter"?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Picking Up The Pieces


"When I was a child I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became an adult I put away childish things."
Now that I am on the edge of my second childhood, I'm pulling those childish things back out. I bought a 550pc jigsaw puzzle at the Friends of the Library book sale a week ago. It is described as an Artists Collection puzzle. The picture is "The Village A" by John Zaccheo. By googling him I found he was born in 1942 and painted mostly Mediterranean ports and seascapes.
I have always enjoyed putting a puzzle together. It was something we did as a family before television. A card table was set up in the living room, the puzzle pieces were dumped out and we commenced puzzling. First all the pieces were turned right side up. Second the edge pieces were found so the border could be put together. Third, pieces were grouped by color. Once the outside was in place we could begin working our way in. If there was a building or another feature it might be put together separately and then fitted in later.
Two things I remember doing as a kid were palming a piece when the puzzle was almost put together so I could be the one to put in the last piece and trying to fold the puzzle up as much as possible to put it back in the box so next time we wanted to put it together it was already partially completed. (Yes, I suppose that did defeat the purpose.)
It takes time and patience to put together a puzzle. There have been a few other times in the past 10 years or so when I have had the desire to do a puzzle but once started never finished. I believe I will complete this one. The sky is already done and I'm working on the buildings. There is just something so satisfying about finding the piece that fits. Sometimes I find several pieces in a very short period of time and other times I look and look and can't fit any pieces. That is when I walk away from the table for awhile; coming back later with 'fresh eyes'.
I could make some comparisons about how life is like a puzzle but I think I will let you make up your own and go work on "The Village A".

Monday, September 28, 2009

Bashing Baby's Brains

My younger brother (I was going to say little brother but he's 6'4") is an intelligent, good-looking, humorous, nice guy - no thanks to me.

I was nine years old when Mom asked me one day if I would like to see what she was ordering from the catalog. She made a lot of our clothes, but sometimes ordered clothes and shoes from Aldens in Chicago. (It embarrassed me that we would go into the local shoe store to "try shoes on" so she would know our correct sizes, then say to the clerk, "We'll think about it." then go home and order shoes out of the catalog.)

I remember it was the fall of the year because the big Christmas catalogs from Sears-Roebuck and Montgomery-Ward hadn't come yet. Nor had Aldens, but they often sent out smaller special sale catalogs. It was one of those Mom was holding. I, of course, thought she was ordering something for Betty & me. When she showed me pictures of maternity clothes I asked her why she was ordering those. "Well why do you think?" she laughed. I couldn't believe it. I was so excited and couldn't wait to tell my sister. She and I had been asking for a baby brother or sister for at least two years. After all, Mom's sister, Aunt Lois, was still having babies, why couldn't she?

I also could not wait to go to school and tell my teacher. The next morning our neighbor picked us up and gave us a ride to school. Of course we told them our big news. When we got to school, before I could get inside to relate our surprise, one of the neighbor boys ran in and told everyone, "Lynam's are having a baby!" I was so mad at him. (Still am.) That was OUR news to tell; MY good news.

When we got home from school Wednesday afternoon, February 17, 1954, Mom said Grandma Lynam was coming out to spend the night with us because after supper Dad was taking her to the hospital in Creston. We had known the baby was due anytime, but Mom said she knew it would be that night because there was a full moon and babies were often born when the moon was full.

It was around 10:30 when Dad got home. We heard him coming because he had driven all over the neighborhood honking the car horn - letting everyone know our baby had arrived. We ran downstairs to learn if we had a baby sister or brother. We wanted a brother and we got one. I don't even remember what name they had picked out for a girl, whether the initials would be LLL or not, but for a boy it was Leslie Louis Lynam so his initials would be the same as Dad's, Louis Lavern Lynam.

Five days later they brought him home from the hospital. Betty and I had our real baby doll to play with and care for. I was deemed old enough (ten) to learn to change diapers. I had to put my fingers between the baby's skin and the diaper pin and hear the story of how someone had once pinned a diaper TO a baby. We also had to support the baby's head at all times and be careful of the soft spot.

Leslie was three weeks old when Mom went out to help do the milking one evening. He was asleep in his crib. She told me to watch him, that he probably wouldn't wake up until she was back in the house. I couldn't wait for her to leave so I could "take over". I'm sure I facilitated his waking up just so I could prove I was able to take care of him. I picked him up and layed him on the bed to carefully change his diaper, then carried him out to the living room so I could hold and rock him.

There were two doorways between the bedroom and living room. On the second doorway I hit his head on the door frame. He cried. I panicked. He wouldn't stop crying. I didn't know what to do. I was about to bundle him up and take him to Mom in the barn when he quieted down. I was so afraid I might have caused brain damage, but I was more afraid of telling Mom what had happened.

That summer Betty upset the baby buggy and gave Les a black eye. There was no way she could hide that. But it was many years, at least twenty, before I ever told Mom about bashing my little brother's head against the door frame.

As I said, my little brother is a smart, funny, educated, (lucky) man; in spite of me.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

R Family Reunion

Today was the R Family Reunion. It started out as the 3 R Family Reunion for the three different spellings of the family name: Ridnour (ours), Ritnour and Ridenour. It was soon discovered there were many more spellings of what may have orignally been Rittenauer back in Germany.
Most of us attending today trace our family back to the two brothers who came to Page County, IA in the 1800's. The ones descended from Samuel Jr. are Ritnours while those of us descended from his brother Benjamin are Ridnours. To further complicate matters some Ritnours married Ridnours back in PA where they left the e in Ridenour and kept two t's and an e in Rittenour.
History has always been my favourite subject and family history is even moreso. I love hearing stories about great grandparents, great aunts, great uncles, cousins and I love telling my memories. With so many descendants working on their family trees, there are bound to be errors. (One I caught today in someone's geneology book was "Dawn Gray" standing next to her cousin "Norman Anderson" when in reality it was [previously blogged about] "Don Gray" next to his cousin "Norma Anderson".)
Growing up, my Grandma Delphia Means Ridnour always adamantly denied we were related to any of the Ritnours except for her niece, Delilah Means who married Floyd Ritnour. Grandma's brother Orphas had been married to Laura Brock who left him to marry Dick Ritnour. Hard feelings on Grandma's part on behalf of her brother kept us in the dark about our Ritnour cousins other than Dee's children. Ain't it fun?
I missed last year's reunion. Two years ago my two sons, three of my grandchildren and both my brothers were there. This year only my cousin Larry's widow, Ruth, & I were there representing all the many descendants of our grandparents. In the past we have had people from all over the U.S. - Oregon, Washington, Montana, Texas, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, California, Colorado. This year the attendance was very low. My generation is now 'the old ones' and 'the young ones' just aren't interested.
I can understand that. I remember when I went to family reunions with my parents and grandparents and was bored out of my gourd. Who were all those people? And if I was brave enough to talk to the other kids and play with them for awhile, so what? I'd probably never see them again. How I wish now I had paid more attention then. How I wish I had Grandma or Mom to ask who someone was and how we were related.
In the meantime, I will try to keep my stories straight for my kids and I vow once again to write the names of people on the backs of all those pictures.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Cankles, Muffin Tops & Cottage Cheese

I've learned a couple new terms this summer. Today I heard of cankles for the first time and a month or so ago I became aware of muffin top.

Cankles is a combination of the words calf and ankles. If you can't tell where your calf stops and your ankle starts, you may have cankles.

Muffin top is the description given to the bulge of flesh hanging over the top of your jeans. (I thought those were love handles!)

There may even be new terms for cottage cheese thighs and thunder thighs. Cottage cheese was the definition for cellulite in the 70's because those hated ripples, dips and dimples in the thighs, hips and buttocks resembled cottage cheese. Thunder thighs was a term for a person with large thighs, alluding to the sound of thighs hitting against each other. (I remember being at a comedy club in Des Moines one night when the comedian was pulling people out of the audience. He asked one young woman her name and she said, "Thunder Thighs". It got a lot of laughs.)

Of all these terms, the only one I've heard of men using about themselves is love handles and not always in a derogatory way. Women are much more conscious of their faults - or perceived faults. Especially when they are young. Somehow we got the message that we were supposed to be perfect. Even before advertising and movie stars, women were judged by how attractive they were. Think of all the billions of dollars which have been spent on cosmetics, hair products, diet aids, plastic surgery and liposuction; all because we care about how we look to others.

Eventually most of us learn it is more important to be a good person on the inside than a beautiful person on the outside. Aging has much to do with the acceptance of self (there's only so much a person can do about wrinkles and age spots). We learn to know and accept ourselves as we really look, not the way we wish we looked. It's easier some days than others. I know that I have cankles, a muffin top and cottage cheese, but if I just lost some weight ..........

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Joy of Cooking

Julie & Julia is one of those rare movies which is better than the book. (In my opinion.) So many thoughts after seeing the movie last night: 1) I want to know more about Julia Child and her husband and their life together. 2) It is very interesting what can come of writing a blog. 3) I need to learn to cook!
My Mom's love of cooking completely by-passed me. She was such a good cook and baker -making everything from scratch, baking her own bread, trying all kinds of new recipes. It all seemed so easy for her. Maybe that is why I didn't learn to cook from her - it was easier for her to do it herself. Our job was to wash the dishes. It always seemed like there was an endless supply of dirty dishes. She would start making something for the next meal before Betty & I could finish the previous meal's washing up. I did learn to make an angel food cake from scratch and Betty made cookies. That is all I remember making.
When we were first married I remember Kenny complaining, "Can't you make anything but soup and sandwiches?!" Eventually I became more adept at putting together meals. I even learned to follow recipes, though most of my cooking & baking came from cans and boxes. (My repertoire now includes frozen packages as well.)
My oldest son, Douglas, inherited my Mom's talents in the kitchen. I'll never forget the summer he was 12 when I got home from work one day and he had made a sponge cake. I had never made a sponge cake in my life and still haven't. When I asked him how he knew how to make it, he said, "I followed the recipe."
Doug is such a good cook and enjoys it so much I once asked him why he didn't become a chef instead of a carpenter. "Because if I did it all the time, it wouldn't be fun anymore," he replied. He raises his own chickens for eggs and meat; grows many of his own vegies; cooks everything from scratch; knows how to use herbs; is a master at grilling and smoking and has a knack for inventing new dishes often combining whatever ingredients are handy.
Earlier this year when camping season began, my niece, Kristi, told me she had been elected queen of the dutch oven for the 'mountain man stew' and peach cobbler she had made over a campfire in a dutch oven. She also takes crock pots of food for everyone to the races at the Adams County Speedway every Saturday night, so she must have inherited her Grandma's love of cooking, too.
Every once in awhile I do get an itch to try something new. Last month I made "Peach Creme Brulee" which was pretty good. I made a tortellini salad for a Labor Day picnic which was awful even though I followed the recipe. Maybe that is why I don't venture out of my cooking comfort zone. When I stick to my same old stuff (tried & true) at least I know what to expect. It's just that watching Julie & Julia made me feel like I could do more or at least should try.
Let's see, I'm going to a family reunion Saturday. Should I take "Ramona's Famous Pea Salad" or a cake made from a box mix or Stouffer's Frozen Lasagna? Or should I open a cook book and try something entirely new from scratch? Hmmmmm........

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Footprints in the Snow

Yes, kids, I was one of those students who had to walk a mile to school uphill both ways in snow, etc, etc, etc. My parents did not believe in taking us to school - walking was good for us. If it was cold we bundled up. If it was raining we wore boots and rain coats with hoods. If it was hot, we sweated. Poor babies.
We did have neighbor boys going to our school because their school had been closed. They lived almost two miles away from the school house so their parents took them to school every day. If we timed it right, we would be out on the road when they came by and they would pick us up; especially if it was quite cold. We were pretty good at timing but once in awhile we would miss a ride or we would leave too early and be almost to school and they wouldn't stop. It never occurred to me how presumptuous we were.
One morning when I was in 8th grade and Betty was in 6th grade we set off down the road in some newly fallen snow. When we got home that night Dad said to Betty, "Let me see you walk across the room." What? What was going on? That morning after we had gone to school he had walked up to the other place to chore. He noticed in our footprints that one of Betty's was going straight while the other was turned out at an almost 90 degree angle.
That led to a visit to our family doctor, which led to an appointment with a specialist which led to a decision for surgery. X-rays showed that the ball of Betty's hip joint did not fit the socket as it was supposed to. Apparently it had been that way since birth; 'congenital' they called it. They were going to have to surgically break her hip, reset it and pin it. She would be in Omaha in the hospital for a week then home in a body cast for six weeks.
Looking back I marvel at what she and my Mom went through; Betty because of the pain and discomfort, Mom because of the nursing she had to do. I used to think she was in the hospital bed six months. But six weeks could seem like six months. We had her school books at home and each day Mrs. Kimball would send her lessons home with me. Once a week she would come after school and go over the lessons so Betty wouldn't fall behind and have to take sixth grade over.
Eventually she got the cast off. Then she had to learn to walk on crutches. At least she could go back to school and we could move the hospital bed out of the living room. But from then on, she always walked with a slight limp. And I think she got out of having to take Phys Ed in highschool.
We both married young and started families. Our sons were 18 months apart in age and our daughters about six months apart. Just before I was 30 and right after Betty turned 28, another 'congenital' condition showed up; Betty died of a brain aneurysm. Her son was almost 10. Her little girl had just turned 5. That was nearly 36 years ago.
Today she would have been 64 years old. Happy Birthday, Sis.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Har Palm (Or Good Blog Idea)

When one has decided to write a daily blog, one has to come up with topics. I noticed I often thought of ideas while walking the track at the Y but might forget them before I got home. Solution: carry a pen and paper with me. Good idea. Bad idea to only write down an abbreviated version of prospective topic as in this post title, "Har Palm".
It has been three weeks and I still have no idea of what 'har palm' stood for: Harbor Palms? Harbinger of Palm Sunday? Harold Palma? Hardy Palms? I thought it would eventually come to me, but not yet.
Slipping into dementia ranks right up there with my worst fears. Every time I want to use a certain word and can't think of it or try to remember someone's name and can't I wonder if it is a sign I am going to forget everything. This morning's headline: "Dementia Toll Climbs to 35 Million Worldwide" does not make me feel any better.
My mother was in her mid 70's when I first realized she was going to need help in order to continue living alone. At first it was forgetting things or repeating the same things over and over or calling the grandkids by the wrong name; nothing major. Then she began having trouble following recipes. She had always loved to cook and bake - to try new recipes. For her not to be able to do so was unsettling.
When we moved next door to her it became a balancing act - I wanted to be there if she needed me, but I also did not want her to depend on me if she could still do things for herself. It was so hard to watch her decline to the point of sometimes not knowing who I was. It has been six years since she went into her final stage. It is still painful for me to remember.
In ten years I will be in my mid 70's. So often I say about myself, "Just like my Mom." Will I be just like her in ten years? Working a daily crossword is supposed to help keep the mind agile. Writing every day helps, I think. I try not to dwell on my fear of dementia. Who knows, I might not even make it ten more years. I think I would prefer that to not knowing my own kids.
In reality, all any of us has is now; one day at a time.
Har Palm? Harmony Palmyra? Hardly Palmolive? Harvest Palm Oil? Harriet Palmer?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Merle Hay Environs

Bud scheduled a 7 a.m. appointment in Des Moines a while back. As the day approached neither one of us was too gung ho about arising at 4:30 a.m. in order to be on the road by 5:30. We decided to spend Sunday night in Des Moines.

We usually stay out on the west side somewhere, but due to the appointment location, Bud wanted to stay around the Merle Hay Road exit off I-80, so he made the hotel reservation.

Let me just say, "He did good." Neither of us knew anything about the Ramada he booked. When we arrived, I recognized it as the Holiday Inn from the '70's.

The old HI offered a "Secretary's Club" membership to those of us in a position of making reservations for out-of-town clients. The main perc, for me, was use of their outdoor swimming pool. (Very few indoor pools back then.) It was great to get home from work on a hot summer day, load the kids into the station wagon and go for a couple FREE hours of swimming. In addition to my three, I sometimes had my nephew and niece staying with me for a week. I wonder what the paying guests thought as we all trouped into the pool? I always kept my 'secretary's club' card handy, though I don't remember ever being asked for it.

The picture above is of the Pirate Ship in the new indoor water park at the Ramada. There is also a dinghy, a 3-story slide, fountains, spa pool, regular pool, basketball/volleyball pool and a poolside bar for adults. What a difference from the little outdoor pool! How much fun could those five kids have had in this place?

Parts of the Ramada are still being renovated. The room we had was complete. New paint, carpet & beds; a refrigerator and microwave, tiled walk in shower with half glass - a nice up-scale feel. I'm looking forward to a return trip for this year's family xmas get-together.

A Sunday afternoon shopping trip to Merle Hay Mall also evoked memories of earlier trips there - like before the mall was enclosed when it meant walking outside from store to store along the pedestrian mall. I learned that Merle Hay Road and Mall were named for the first Iowa soldier killed in WWI. And I learned that he was buried in the Glidden Cemetery when we went to that area to visit Denny's relatives.

It has been several years since I shopped at Merle Hay. What was once THE shopping mall in Iowa now feels a little worn; not quite as sparkly as it once was. Even so, it was a successful shopping trip.

Oh, and that pirate ship, even though it was the day after 'Talk Like A Pirate Day' there was still one guy shouting "Ar-r-r-g-h!" before he went down the slide head first.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Close Encounters of the Balloon Kind

Until this morning my balloon sightings of this Creston Balloon Days Weekend have been in the distance; very pretty SW of McKinley Lake yesterday morning as Budbo completed the 5K Walk/Run.
I was sitting here in the 'office' earlier this morning when I heard whooshing. No doubt in my mind what that was! I grabbed the camera, donned the flip flops and rushed outside to begin snapping. The balloon in this picture is not even the one which came closest. A little later one flew very low right over the house. I talked to the people in the basket. Great fun and so beautiful.
My first close encounter with a hot air balloon was in the 1970's when the kids and I were still living on the acreage (Our House) northwest of Urbandale. A balloon landed in a field west of the house near Cutty's campground.
Of course Indianola had a huge hot air balloon festival each year in August; something we never attended until one weekend when Bud's mom, Lottie, and son, Mark, spent a weekend with us. That would have been late '80s. In the early 90's, we also took some of the grandkids to the Indianola balloon festival. Those were fun, but nothing like standing on your own deck and watching them waft by.
Being a passenger in a hot air balloon used to be one of my biggest desires. Now I'm afraid I would be too afraid to go up in one - something about fear of heights or vertigo as I've gotten older. I still think I might be able to do it - overcome the fear enough to get into the basket - once there, I think I would be o.k. and I know I would love it. Maybe gliding over the countryside in a hot air balloon needs to go on my bucket list.
My favorite close encounter of the balloon kind happened early in the new millennium. Mom called one Sunday morning (much like this one) to say there was a balloon flying south of us. Her neighbor had called her to tell her it had gone over her house. We stood in Mom's front yard and watched as the balloon landed in a field about a quarter mile away. It paused awhile, long enough for me to fetch my camera, then took off again. It was still quite low as it passed over the field just west of Mom's house. Low enough that I have a picture of my sweet Mother with a big hot air balloon flying over her shoulder.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Illinois Connection

Grandpa Joe Ridnour had a first cousin, Roy Gray in Plainville, IL. (I have yet to discover why Grandpa Joe's aunt Josie moved back to Adams Co., IL from Adams Co., IA.) Joe & Roy were good friends. Roy's wife, Nellie and Grandma Delphia became good friends. Over the years the two families made many Iowa-Illinois trips back and forth.
I believe my fear of crossing bridges came from the trip we took with them to IL the summer before I was five. There had been an accident on the Mississippi Bridge over to Quincy. We were stuck along with many more cars and trucks on the bridge. Grandpa was so afraid the bridge would collapse. I think I took in his fear and it has stayed with me. (Bud always made fun of my fear until the I-35 bridge collapse in MN.)
Nellie did not drive. After Roy's death, her son, Don, would bring her to Iowa to stay a week. Don was always fun to be around. He had been in the Navy and had tatoos of an anchor on one arm and 'Mom' on the other. He had a mustache, thick wavy hair and a gravelly voice, probably from smoking too many Pall Malls. And he always drove a Mercury convertible. When we were teenagers, he was in his late 30's, early 40's. We would beg him for a ride in the convertible so we could go to town and scoop the loop and show off. We even pooled our change so we could buy him a dollar's worth of gas.
Over Thanksgiving break the year I was a junior, Grandpa & Grandma took me and my cousin Janet with them to Illinois. Of course, being teenagers, we were soon bored. Nellie suggested Don take us to a movie in Quincy. So he and another Plainville cousin, Dale Richmond, took us to see 'A Summer Place'. Quincy had several grand old movie theaters. I think we went to the Orpheum, but it might have been the Italian Renaissance styled Washington.
At that time, 'A Summer Place' was considered a risque adult movie. Richard Egan and Dorothy McGuire played former sweethearts who came together again many years later and had an affair. Their children, played by Sandra Dee and Troy Donahue, also became involved. Pretty steamy stuff for a naive sixteen year old like me. And the music! I still remember "....and the sweet secret of a summer place is that it's anywhere when two people share all their hopes, all their dreams, all their love..."
It was a magical night. Riding back to Plainville, looking at the snowy landscape under an almost full moon, it was easy to imagine I was on my first date - though of course it wasn't really a date.
Don was just a nice distant cousin who had never married and lived at home with his mother. I had overheard the adults talk about his "friend" in Quincy. They didn't say 'girlfriend', but I assumed that was what they meant.
During the rest of the weekend, Don introduced me to classical music. I remember 'The Grand Canyon Suite", "The Firebird Suite" and some Strauss waltzes, especially "The Blue Danube". He also asked if I'd ever read any Shakespeare. "Duh, who?" The first thing I did when I got back to school was go to the library and check out 'Macbeth'. I didn't actually 'get' Shakespeare, but I did make it through three of his plays that winter. I couldn't wait until the next time Don was back in Iowa so I could discuss with him what I'd read.
Don was also a painter. I began checking out books on art and familiarizing myself with the old masters and their works. Perhaps my natural love of learning would have eventually led me to discover the world of classics, but I credit Don Gray with introducing me to it .
When my mother and her sisters attended the funeral for Don in Illinois, his sister Gladys asked if they would like to choose one of his paintings. Mom picked one of tall pine trees against a cloudy blue sky. No one else wanted it when she died and I just couldn't let it go to a stranger at the auction. It reminds me every day of my Illinois connection.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

'Ole Betsy' (Or The Cars In My Life)

We've attended a few car shows this summer, the most recent one of Corvettes at the GM dealer. There's another one tomorrow in conjunction with Balloon Days. I find I'm always drawn to the older cars - a nostalgia thing I'm sure.
The first car I remember was the folk's '36 Dodge. And my first memory at age two is of having to sit in the back seat of it because the new baby was now in front with my mommy.
After that was the brand new '49 Plymouth bought when new cars became available again after the war years. It was the only new car my parents ever had. They went to Omaha to buy it. Our neighbors (the Firkin's) also got one. Ours' was dark green; theirs' was light green.
Few girls had their own car in high school. When I was a senior my older brother bought a '51 Plymouth Convertible to go along with his '50 Plymouth Coupe. Nice guy that he was, he let me drive the convertible occasionally.
I did not have a car that was "mine" until the mid 60's when Kenny and I bought a second car for me to drive to work. It was a dark red and white '57 Plymouth Belvedere 2-dr hardtop. I had it repainted black. It was my pride and joy. I loved that car.
Both cars were in Kenny's name. When we divorced he wouldn't let me have my car. I heard he sold it to someone for $50 to drive in a demolition derby. It broke my heart. I swore I would never love a car again.
Dad went with me to Red Oak where we found a '58 Ford station wagon for $225. He co-signed a note for me so I had a means of moving across the state to Mt. Vernon with my son to start a new life.
'Ole Betsy' served me well and I should have kept her. I wanted a newer car. As the saying goes, "the salesman saw me coming". I bought a '63 Mercury with a power rear window. The car was a worthless piece of c..p which I ended up paying off long after it quit running.
By then I was remarried and living in Des Moines. I was able to either walk to work or take a bus. But when we moved out to the acreage, I needed a car. My next 'Ole Betsy' was another Ford station wagon - a big old '67 boat with the cute little fold up seats way in the back.
After that, a '68 Plymouth Valiant; '69 Plymouth Fury; '73 Chevy Impala; '75 Plymouth Duster; '76 Chevy Impala and an '85 Dodge Aries station wagon used to make many trips to move Kari to Macalester College in St. Paul and around her different apartments and houses while there, eventually moving her and her cats back to West Des Moines.
My cars always had names - feminine names - cars and boats are always 'shes'. I wish I could remember all their names. Even the faithful little Aries' name is forgotten; something Irish...Fiona or Maeve.
The little '93 Ford Escort wagon I have now is 'Scilla'. As of January, I will have had her for 10 years. She's showing her age. I've been suffering 'new car fever' for some time now. Maybe in 2010?
When we picked up Bud's new black, 2005 Honda in Bellevue four years ago, we took her on a maiden voyage to western Nebraska - out to Chimney Rock and Scottsbluff area. Along the way we kicked around name ideas: 'Black Beauty', 'Black Magic', 'Mariah', 'The Black Mistress', and Morrigan among others. Finally Bud said, "I've got it: 'Sally'." (You history buffs and Jeffersonians should have no trouble figuring this out.)
Until I actually get a different car, I can't know what her name will be, but I'm thinking......

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Kaffee Klatsch

I went to Wednesday morning coffee at the club house this morning for the first time since we moved here a year ago. We are usually at the Y every morning. Today Bud had a dental appt. so I decided it was time to meet more of our neighbors.
During the early 60's when I was a young wife and mother, "Kaffee Klatsches" were all the rage. Working full time and taking care of a baby and an apartment seemed to keep me plenty busy. It always seemed I had better things to do than go to coffee. That, plus I never was much of a joiner.
Before Kaffee Klatsches, there were neighborhood clubs. One of the ones Grandma Ridnour belonged to was the Kil Kare Klub. Club members took turns hostessing a meeting once a month. Officers were elected, dues were paid, roll call was answered and agendas were adhered to. After the business was discussed, the hostess would serve "lovely refreshments". One time when I went with Grandma, we were served little sandwiches and a perfect square of jello. The jello had a little squiggle of white on top. "Oh good! Whipped cream!", I thought. Yuck, it was mayonaisse which at that age I did not like. I embarrassed my Grandma by spitting it out.
Once a year instead of an afternoon meeting, the club held an evening potluck which spouses and families attended. And once a year the women went on "Skip Day" which meant they left early to drive to some distant town for lunch and shopping. Grandma was active in her clubs well into her 90's.
Both Mom's sisters belonged to their neighborhood clubs but Mom never joined the one in our neighborhood. Nor was Grandma Lynam a clubber or a coffee klatcher. So maybe I take after them. Or, maybe I've always been too content with my own company (and books).
I'm now realizing the importance of social connections as we age. They introduce us to new people, different prospectives and keep our minds working. It is still easier for me to be reclusive but I'm trying to learn to be a joiner. I've joined the 'Book Chicks' - exactly the type of book club I was looking for - and have made some friends there.
And I think I'll try to make it to the weekly coffees here at the club house at least once a month. Being sociable isn't so bad after all.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hot Beef Sandwiches

We went to the Eagles last evening. The special was hot beef sandwiches, one of Bud's favorites. For me, not so much, although they were very good.

Our family very rarely ate out. On the rare occasions we were away from home during meal time, we usually stopped at a grocery store, bought a loaf of bread, some bologna, ketchup and maybe some potato chips. Then we went to a park for our picnic. Our beverage was water. Mom almost always took along a jug of water when we went any distance from home.

The rare times we went to a restaurant, Mom always made us get hot beef sandwiches. I don't know if it was because they were inexpensive or because she thought they were more filling or healthier for us. The exception to a hot beef sandwich was a hot pork sandwich; same thing - sliced meat between two slices of bread, a mound of mashed potatoes and gravy over all.

Once I was old enough to express my gastronomic druthers, I always wanted a cheeseburger and fries. An incident which has always stayed with me was a trip somewhere in Missouri. Grandpa and Grandma Ridnour were with us, so maybe it was one of the times we went to an apple orchard down there. Anyway, we stopped at a cafe for lunch. When the waitress asked what we wanted, I said I wanted a cheeseburger and fries and a coke. Mom said "No, you'll have a hot beef sandwich". Crying or whining never worked with her. I was given a choice, hot beef sandwich and milk or nothing. I must have pitched quite a fit because I can still invision that cafe and finally giving in and eating a hot beef sandwich.

Lucky little bro, Les, came along enough years later that he was allowed to order what he wanted. One of the family stories is of how, when asked what he wanted to eat at the Hwy 92 Diner in Council Bluffs, he asked for "Ketchup with a hamburger on it."

Lucky little kid. I wonder if he likes hot beef sandwiches?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Bonding in the NICU

Seventeen years ago today I became Grandma for the fifth time and my youngest son, Preston, became Dad for the first time. Ki Alexandor Fleming was born around 5 p.m. at Iowa Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines. He was several weeks early; a preemie.
I was working for The Graham Group located at 810 Grand Avenue - from there just a short walk up the hill to the hospital. At 5 p.m. I left work and went to the maternity ward waiting room to join the other grandparents. I didn't have to wait too long. We got a quick look at the baby before he was whisked away to the neo-natal intensive care unit. It was the beginning of a scary time for me.
Later in the evening when his parents and I were allowed in to see him, I was appalled at the sight of the nearly naked little form inside the isolette. Other than a diaper, he was wearing only a mask over his eyes - to protect them from the bright warming lamps. What got to me the most was the IV inserted into the top of his head. I had never been in a NICU before.
Around 8 p.m., one of the Drs. decided he needed to be intubated. I told the kids I would stay there with Ki while they did that. Preston took Shalea back to her room. There was no way I could actually watch the intubation. I walked over to a window and looked out into the night. In the reflection, I could see them working over the baby. I made a promise to the little guy: "If you live, I will somehow make what you're going through up to you."
Each day on my lunch hour I made the journey up the hill. After scrubbing and gowning, I would be allowed into the NICU. At first all we could do was sit beside the isolette, reach in an touch his little hand. The nurses encouraged us to talk to him. He was taken off the respirator. I watched as they fed him through a tube. Everything was carefully recorded.
Becoming a regular visitor made me realize how lucky we were. Some of the babies didn't survive. Another new mother was anxiously awaiting taking her little boy home. He had already been there three months, weighing slightly two pounds at birth.
Finally Shalea got to hold Ki and feed him. And then, so did I. After three weeks they got to take him home. Happy, happy day!
Last week this little boy brought me his senior pictures. He is more than six feet tall and wears size 14 shoes. Over the years he's given me a lot of joy and a few other minor scares. There has always been a special bond between us. It began in the NICU.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Nicknames

Reading lgold's blog reminded me of something else Ron & I talked about - Dad's nicknames. (lgold referred to one of her friends as 'Robbie Dob'; a nickname for Robyn.) Elder bro asked me if I knew why some of his friends called Dad 'Sundowner'. That is a name I didn't even remember and Ron didn't understand until long time acquaintance Dick Ashenfelter explained it: "Your dad was so tall that when the sun went down, the last thing it shone on was the back of his head."
Another of his nicknames neither of us know the origin of was 'Cy'. No, he was not an Iowa State alum nor fan. Louis got shortened to 'Lou', of course. And any tall, long-legged guy can be tagged with 'high pockets'.
Older brother Ronald has always been 'Ron' (except for a brief 'Ronnie' when he was little); younger brother Leslie was Leslie until he went away to college in Warrensburg, MO and became 'Les'. Sister Betty was already a diminutive of Elizabeth, but her real given name was Betty. I had someone argue with me once that her name was really Elizabeth and we just called her Betty. I think I knew what my own sister's name was!
Ramona often gets shortened to 'Mona' but I have never been a Mona. When I began school some of the kids tried calling me Mona or Monie, but I wouldn't answer them. The only person I would answer to was Grandma Ridnour when she called me 'Monie Rene'. With the exception of a highschool classmate who did and still does call me 'Groaner', I've never had a nickname.
What are nicknames? Some are natural shortenings of a given name. What about the ones that have nothing to do with a first or last name? Are they generally given by friends? Is there always some story behind the naming? Do the nicknames survive after the school years?
What if we were named in the way of Native Americans? Would I be 'White Dove' or 'She Who Sings Like Frog'? What about you? Do you have a nickname? Did you give it to yourself or was it given by family or friends? And what is the story behind your nickname?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Jasper # 2

My older brother, Ron, has been on my mind so much this week; hadn't talked to him for a couple of months. I anticipated seeing him at our cousin's 50th anniversary celebration but he wasn't there. So-o-o-o last night I just picked up the ole phone and called him! Marvelous invention that phone.
One thing led to another and we started reminiscing about Jasper #2 - the school we both attended for eight years. (His twin grandsons started school this year and had asked him about his first school years.)
There are markers in Adams County where all the old one-room schools were once located. Our marker says "Humbert School", also known as Jasper Center or Jasper #2. The Humberts were an early prominent family in our neighborhood. Ernest Humbert served as a State Representative but he and his father Leon were best known for their Percherons. Leon Humbert emigrated from France. He and his son made many trips back there to purchase stock. I vaguely remember going up to Humberts with Dad and seeing all the huge Percheron horses. I find it interesting that the advent of tractors ended their business of breeding, raising and selling the big work horses and now, sixty years later, the Percherons and Clydesdales are once again notable breeds.
I started first grade at age five. In those days, you had to be six by November 15 or wait until the next year. I don't know if it was because Dad was secretary of the school or if I was deemed old enough or because I turned six only three days after the cut-off date but I headed off to school the fall of 1949; riding on the back of my big brother's bike.
First grade was the only time I had a classmate. Mary Wilson and I were most likely equally intelligent but I always felt like we were in competition. Maybe Miss Ternahan encouraged that; pitting us against one another so we would try harder. All I know was I was glad when the Wilsons moved away.
Miss Ternahan also moved on. My second grade teacher was Miss Flowers. She was young and single and more interested in school day visits from her boyfriend. She would put one of the older kids "in charge" while she sat in his car down at the driveway. Of course we all ran to the windows to see what was going on. Not only that, but she smoked! A woman smoker was unheard of in 1950 rural SW Iowa.
The county superintendent at the time was Maude Friman. She had a reputation of being really tough. Generally she advised the teachers ahead of time when she was going to make a school visit so we could all be on our best behaviour. Miss Friman made a lot of unannouced visits to Jasper #2 that year.
From third through eighth grades, I had Mrs. Kimball for a teacher. Ron says she was brought in to restore discipline and make sure we learned something. Boy! We were disciplined all right. She even kicked one of the eighth grade boys out of school for three days. For the first few years I was afraid of her. By the time I was in sixth grade, I had learned to respect her, even like her.
My seventh grade year she took me, the eighth grader and the sixth grader (all girls) to Chicago on the train. We rode the train all night, toured Chicago all day and rode the train home that night; a whirlwind trip for $25.00.
Mrs. Kimball and the whole one room school experience prepared me well for highschool and beyond. It was her recommendation that helped me get my first job as a bookkeeper in a small insurance agency. I began after school and on Saturday my senior year and then went to 40 hours a week at $1.00 an hour after I graduated.
My sister Betty had Mrs. Kimball for all her eight years at Jasper #2. School reorganization was the thing in the late 50's, early 60's, so our little brother, Leslie, only attended school there a half year before being bused to town.
The building an contents were auctioned off. The school yard grew up in weeds and silver poplars; eventually being cleared and returned to crop ground. Mom bought the teacher's hand bell. It now resides in Missouri with my brother Les - the last of us to attend Jasper #2.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

50th Anniversary


Saturday I attended an open house in honor of the 50th wedding anniversary of my cousin, Glen Roberts and his wife Mary Lou (nee) Kingery. Glen is the oldest living of my first cousins. He is 70. (His older brother, Larry, died from cancer five years ago.)
Glen is the son of my Mom's elder sister, Evelyn and her husband, Howard Roberts. They had the two boys followed by four girls. All four sisters were in attendance along with some of their children and grandchildren. And, of course, Glen & MaryLou's four kids, spouses, grandkids, etc. My how families do grow!
It is always good to see my cousins; this time at a happy occasion instead of a funeral. Being with them inevitably brings up memories from our childhood.
Staying at Aunt Evelyn and Uncle Howard's was my first experience of homesickness. I was o.k. until bedtime, then I wanted my mommy. After listening to me cry for awhile, one of the girls gave me a musical teddy bear to sleep with. Several windings and listenings to the tinkle of the song finally put me to sleep.
In my mind, that visit gets wrapped up with later ones when I was older. After thinking about what age I must have been, I have decided Aunt Evelyn took care of my brother and me when Mom was in the hospital for a week the summer of 1947. I would have been almost four.
We spent a lot of time with our cousins - usually at family dinners at Grandpa and Grandma Ridnour's. Even though Larry was the eldest, Glen was the instigator of all the shenanigans we pack of kids got up to. Grandpa's hay was rearranged many times as we built tunnels in the haymow. Our parents allowed us to go rabbit and squirrel hunting with real rifles and no adults. We played on the ice on the pond without checking to see if it was thick enough.
One summer when Ron & I were staying with the Robert's, it rained all day. After tiring of sliding down the pasture hill in the mud, we decided to dam up the water going through a tube under the road. We had the up flow side pretty well dammed up when Larry and I decided to go into the tube from the other end to check for leaks. The dam broke while we were in the tube. Somehow we managed to get out without drowning!
Another memory is one of us going hand fishing in the west branch of the Nodaway River. We were all at Aunt Evelyn's, including Grandpa & Grandma and Mom's younger sister, Lois, and her family. After dinner, the men and most of we cousins walked through the cornfield down to the river. It was summer and the river wasn't very high - easily waded by even the youngest. The men and older boys were checking out the deep pools, trying to catch catfish by hand. I still remember how grandpa got ahold of one and grabbed off his good brown felt hat to use to scoop the fish into it. I'm sure grandma gave him whatfor for ruining his hat.
My Mom used to talk about the fun she and her sisters had with their first cousins; Aunt Florence and Uncle Tom's nine kids. I think I have some idea what her memories must have been like - much like mine are of times shared with my first cousins. I hope my children and nieces and nephews have some similar memories although I don't see how they could be as good as mine!
I'm grateful for the memories and glad Glen and MaryLou were able to celebrate 50 years together. Not many of us will be that privileged.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The "Other Place"

In Overland Park, KS and Mason City, IA, The Other Place is a Sports Bar & Grill. In the Hill Country of Texas near New Braunfels, The Other Place is a resort on the Comal River. But for me, The Other Place was, is and always will be the farmstead north about a quarter mile from where I grew up and on the west side of the road.
In my memory, there was a barn with attached hay shed, a corn crib, a hog house, a round steel grain bin and an eight by ten portable structure we referred to as the cabin. At one time there had been a farmhouse which was destroyed by a fire.
The majority of the land my Dad farmed was on the west side of the road. We had cattle in the two large pastures, feeder pigs in the hog house lot, and for a few years baby pheasants in a brooder house the gun club members moved in. In other words, chores to do twice a day.
Once my sister and I were old enough to "pike off" by ourselves, the other place became one of our play sites - the area for many of our pretend games of cowboys and indians. The little cabin might be our ranch house or the sheriff's office. On days we weren't playing cowboys and indians, it was our play house. There was an old horsehair sofa, a wood burning stove and a table which could be fastened up out of the way, but dropped down and held by chains when in use.
Mom said at one time and old fellow used to live there. I think his name was Brady Ankrum. Brady was an orphan raised by his grandmother. When she died, he came to Corning because he had an aunt living there. He must have been deaf, as his obituary says he attended a deaf school as a youngster. I don't know how long he lived in the little cabin, maybe only for a summer while he worked for our landlord. Maybe the story is just one of my sort of remembered childhood legends.
West of the cabin was a small grove of locust trees which served as one of our camps. It was a good place to camp, but we had to watch out for the indians sneaking up on us through the woods. (One summer my cousin and two other boy scouts from town did camp out there overnight.)
What I remember most about the locust trees, other than playing there, were their long thorns and the heavenly smell when the trees were in bloom. Mom warned us about getting stuck by the thorns because they were poison and if we ran one of them in our arms or legs we could die. She probably just told us that so we would be careful (it worked!), but it probably also added to the allure of the place.
Other things I remember about the other place: the pond and the raft my brother and neighbor built to play on; the year of drought when a well digger came and 'witched' for water; the junk ditch where years later in search of neat old bottles all we found were dozens and dozens of ketchup bottles. Mostly I remember walking up to the other place with my Mom to cut asparagus from near where the house had been or with my Dad to watch him scoop corn out of the bin and scatter for the hogs.
The Other Place.....another time.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Age Creaking Up

One of the best things about living in Creston for us has been the proximity of the Y. We joined shortly after moving here, so it will soon be a year of good excercise. Just what the doctor ordered for staying in shape and keeping moving as we age.
In the past, I was a fair weather walker; walking a mile a day when it wasn't too hot, too cold, raining, snowing.....in other words, not too often. I began at the Y by walking in the shallow end of the pool for 30 minutes twice a week. Now, I walk one mile on the track, bike five miles on a recumbent bike and do reps on nine machines at various weights (seven upper body, two legs) five days a week.
The benefits of the past year of regular excercise have been amazing. Even with my arthritic knees and a knee injury two years ago which reduced me to barely being able to walk, I now walk pain free in my knees. I haven't lost any weight, but my legs are more defined as are my arms because there's more muscle, less flab.
Often I find myself wondering how long I can keep up this routine before the knees get worse. This week, for the first three days, it wasn't the knees it was the hips. I could not walk a mile because they hurt too badly. What was I doing any differently? Had I done something to make them hurt? Was it just old age catching, creeping, creaking up on me? Today, thankfully, there was no pain as I did my 17 laps on the track.
The gist of this blog is to remind myself not to trouble trouble until trouble troubles me and to encourage even the youngest of my readers to get into the habit of daily excercise.
One of the things I ponder as I'm walking and looking at everyone else's legs is "Why do men have smaller, shapelier legs than women?" Is it because early man had to run fast and often to spear food for the clan and woman only had to stand or sit around to butcher and cook that food?
See? Excercise is not only good for keeping my body working, it also works my mind.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Skating at the Villa Rio

Although Corning had a roller skating rink, I never skated there. For me, there was only one skating rink and that was the Villa Rio in Lenox. It was operated by Leo Hale and his wife - he of the diamond pinkie ring and she of the dyed black hair.
I was six when I began learning to roller skate. Little kids wore clamp on skates. You didn't get shoe skates until your feet grew. After paying to get in and renting the skates at the counter, you'd sit on the bench and Mr. Hale would clamp your skates onto your shoes. Sometimes, if it wasn't too busy, he would pick you up and plop you atop the counter to fasten on the skates.
There were bars around the walls to cling to as you made your way to the back of the rink where there was an area about 8' x 15' where you could practice until you were good enough or brave enough to join the other skaters going round and round. There were also three poles in the middle where beginners practiced skating from one to another. You just had to watch out for someone cutting through to catch up with a friend across the rink.
By the time I was in seventh grade, I could skate fairly well. Good enough to attend skating parties and have fun. It was a big deal to be invited to a skating party. Groups such as 4-H clubs and church youth groups would reserve the rink then send out invitations. I remember one time when Mom was making Betty & I some new dresses. She had them almost done and I just had to have mine to wear to a party. The dress was long sleeved with buttons at the wrist and a row of buttons down the front. Mom stayed up late the night before working on it and finished it the next afternoon in time for me to wear.
Some skating parties weren't very well attended. This particular one was crowded. It was hard to even skate with so many people on the floor. We had only been there a half hour or so when I went over to the bench where Mom was watching from the sidelines and told her I wanted to go home. I was afraid she would be mad at me for wasting the money to rent the skates and for making her hurry to finish the dress. But she wasn't. Maybe if I had told her the other reason I wanted to leave - because the boy I had a crush on wasn't there - she might have gotten upset.
Villa Rio became a magical place for me when I began dating at 16. Kenny loved to roller skate. He even had his own shoe skates. On our first date, we doubled with one of his brothers and went skating; the first time of many. If he had wanted a skating partner, he would never have asked me out again. He could skate backwards, dance on skates, twirl, really wow me and everyone else watching.
One of the things I remember most about the Villa Rio was the long flight of stairs going up to the second floor. After a night of skating, it felt so funny to put shoes back on and walk down those stairs; kind of like 'sea legs'.
The skating rink was above the jewelry store. Kenny & I had been going steady for a year when one night after skating instead of heading across the street to the cafe, he began looking in the windows of Bunn's Jewelry.
A few years later, when our son Doug was six years old, I took him skating for the first time. I tried holding on to him until he learned to skate, but he was having none of that. He wanted to learn by himself. And learn he did. He inherited his Dad's ability and love of skating and spent many happy hours at roller rinks.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Shame On You

Do parents still shame their children? "Shame on you!" "You should be ashamed of yourself!" "I am so ashamed of you!" "Shame, shame!"
I'm certain I must have shamed my three kids, because that was the way I was raised. But I don't think I shamed them quite as much as I was. At least I hope not. To this day I cannot leave food on my plate no matter how full I am....."Shame on you, don't you know there are children starving in...." "I'm so ashamed of you calling Miss Friman 'Maudie'." "Shame on you for tracking mud in on my clean floor!"
I definitely grew up knowing what shame was. One of the incidents I was most ashamed of wasn't something I did, but something I was accidently a part of.
Some extra-curricular activities took place after school, but junior play practice was held after supper. One of the neighbor girls, a senior, was going to town for something else and she offered to take me and bring me home.
She and one of her friends, another senior, wanted to ride around for awhile before going home. Hey, that was ok by me; scooping the loop was the thing to do. After awhile, Nan said: "Betty Brink is baby sitting for Springs tonight. Let's go out and scare her." Dolores agreed. And I had to go along (wanting to be 'cool').
The house was a little way out of town, beyond where there were street lights. We parked across the highway behind a feed store, then crept up to the house. They began by scratching at the windows, then knocking on the door, then running around to the back side of the house to do the same there. We could hear Betty saying "Who's there?" After a while we could tell she was crying. Dolores and Nan were laughing like crazy - until the town cop showed up. Busted.
He read us the riot act. Nan stuck up for us saying we were just having some fun. Betty opened the door and saw who it was and was a good sport about it, laughing about how scared she had been.
Town marshall Reed warned us not to do anything like that again and let us go. He probably even said, "shame on you", but I didn't need to hear that. I was so ashamed of myself for even being there. Instead of feeling like one of the gang, of being accepted by the senior girls, I felt even further apart. In fact, I no longer cared about being popular if it meant acting like them.
I don't think I ever told my parents about what we had done that night. It has always remained one of the things I have been most ashamed of. (And yes, Dolores was one of those neighbor girls Dad was always asking me why I couldn't be more like.)