Friday, October 30, 2009

Trick or Treat


"Why did the man throw the clock out the window? Because he wanted to see time fly." That was one of the jokes my little ones learned for Trick or Treating. The jokes have become much more sophisticated since then.
I won't be here for trick or treaters this year, but Bud will be home, so I bought some Reese's Peanut Butter Cups just in case. They are one of my favourites, so if no T or T'ers show up, I'll have a treat when I get home. Last year only my niece and grand niece stopped by and that was because I asked them to so I could see their costumes. Kristi was a very authentic looking hippie.
When my kids were little, they celebrated Halloween twice. We lived out in the country near Urbandale which held Trick or Treat on "Beggars' Night", October 30. Kari & Preston's babysitter, Maryanne Bradley and her son lived in Urbandale. We had remained friends even after I no longer needed her to babysit. So on October 30 we would dress up and go into her house. My oldest son would take the little ones around the neighborhood while Maryanne and I enjoyed a glass of wine and answered the door for T & T'ers.
Then on Halloween night, we would host a big party at our house for the kids' Johnston Schools classmates. We always had a big bonfire, bobbed for apples, gave prizes for best costume, etc. A whole lot of fun. Often some of the parents would stay for the evening.
When we moved back to Corning, Doug was old enough to drive. I'm sure he got into his own Halloween mischief. Kari was in junior high when we lived at Mrs. Elliott's farm. We rented the house and buildings and a few acres. The barn was a perfect place for a "haunted house" and party. The kids helped me clean out part of it. We decorated; added spooky sound effects and lights and music for dancing as well as soft drinks and food.
About half way through the evening, I suggested we take a walk down the old dirt road to the bridge and back. On the way I started telling a ghost story about the bridge; how many years ago a man had hidden under the bridge and attacked a couple parked on the road. I tried to time it so we were almost to the bridge when the story ended.
We had Doug hide in the ditch wearing one of those horrible, scary rubber masks and carrying an ax. I shined my flashlight on him when he jumped out on the road, roaring threats and coming toward us. Some of the kids had already figured something was up, but a few ran screaming back to our house.
Such fun! Halloween is Kari's favourite time of the year. Perhaps because I always enjoyed it so much and tried to make it fun for my kids.
Whatever you do this weekend; however you celebrate this old Celtic holiday, I hope you have a fun and safe time. Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Join The Club


After blogging about waiting to be asked to join in yesterday, I remembered I had planned to go to the Iowa State Savings Bank where Karla Hynes was to be from 3:30 to 5:30 explaining their Preferred Advantage Club. (Part of their newsletter logo shown.)
A few weeks ago I decided it was finally time to move my banking from Wells Fargo in Des Moines after all I haven't lived there for 14 years. It was easy to choose a local bank - my niece works at ISSB.
I was the only one there so it didn't take long for Karla to explain the club and answer my few questions. I signed Budbo & myself up for the club and am already looking forward to our first trip with the group.
There is one next October to Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. PEI includes visiting the home of "Anne of Green Gables". Forget an Alaskan cruise to celebrate our 25th Anniversary. I am starting to lobby Bud right now to go on this tour next fall!!!
The club also makes trips to the New Dinner Theatre in Overland Park, KS a couple times a year. I'm guessing this is the dinner theatre Les & Susan attend. Maybe I can coordinate one of the trips with meeting them there some time.
As excited as I am about the travel prospects, I'm happier about two other results from talking with Karla. 1) Just meeting her. I got the impression she is a lot of fun. I am looking forward to becoming better acquainted. 2) She helped me reconnect to an old friend I had lost track of.
When Karla mentioned she was originally from Mt. Ayr, I asked her if she knew Andrea Cook. Turns out Andrea was best friends with Karla's sister. She told me Andrea is on Facebook. (I hadn't even thought of looking for her there.) After looking through 500 Andrea Cook's to find her, I sent a friend request and this morning had heard from her.
It's such a small world.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Waiting To Be Asked


I was a half hour early for an out of town appointment yesterday so I stopped next to a park to read a book. A few minutes later I heard a group of children coming down the street from the school house. It was afternoon recess for kindergarten and first and second grades. I watched as one group of boys started playing football while another group shot baskets. A few girls went directly to one corner and sat down and began talking. But the little girl who caught my eye stood alone against a building; just watching the others. Eventually another girl approached her and they went off together to play.
That little girl reminded me of me. All my life I have waited to be asked instead of doing the asking; waited to see if I was wanted to join in. Over the years I have learned to sometimes do the inviting, but I mostly still wait and watch.
I don't know if this is an inherited trait or one learned or a combination of both. On the hereditary side, I have a great niece who is very shy. Her Mom was the same. And because her Grandmother (my sis) and I were quite shy as children, that could point to an inherited trait.
On the other hand, at a very early age I learned to be afraid of other kids. Whenever we went down to Grandpa & Grandma Ridnour's, my aunt and her two little boys (close in age to us) would inevitably be there. As soon as we got out of the car, they would come running out of the house and start punching my sister and me. That could be a learned reason for hanging back.
Attending Vacation Bible School at our church provided a larger group of kids for possible friendships than our one room school, though I don't remember playing with anyone in particular. I always felt more comfortable with the adults.
High school was a little better. I did form some lasting friendships there. I have to wonder if I might have made more if I hadn't been so afraid of trying. If I didn't approach anyone, I couldn't be hurt if they didn't want to be friends.
I think there is a fine art to being a good friend and I just never learned it; even when I tried. Or maybe that shy little girl is still locked inside me.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Perfect Haunted House for Halloween


Would you be brave enough to tour the Villisca Ax Murder House by lantern light on Halloween? (Or any other night of the year?)
We sometimes went to Villisca instead of Corning. Villisca wasn't a county seat town, but it had a good selection of stores. The two main reasons we went there were probably Danielson Implement, the John Deere dealer, when Dad needed tractor parts and Dr. Richey, the chiropractor. At some time on one of those trips, the house pictured here was pointed out to me and I heard the story of how an entire family plus two girls who were staying overnight were killed with an ax.
I don't remember being especially frightened by the story. Probably because it happened so far in the past - 1912 - forty some years ago at the time I heard the story. Or maybe because I was told Mom's cousin was born that day and how they would never forget her birthday!
In the early 80's in an attempt to bolster Villisca's sagging economy, they decided to hold "Villisca Ax Murder Days". There was a parade and other typical small town celebration activities. I remember a walking tour around town was offered, which included walking past the house. I didn't do that, but I did go to City Hall where the ax, the murder weapon, was on display. You could still see the blood stains. I also attended a presentation at the Rialto Theater where the murders and possible perpetrators were discussed and bought a reproduction of The Villisca Review newspaper published the day the bodies were discovered.
Apparently the murders divided Villisca's residents based on the theory of who may have been involved in the murders. Hard feelings on both sides were still felt 70 years later and "celebrating" the horrible crime only caused more hard feelings. "Ax Murder Days" was dropped after a year or two, but interest in the mystery was revived; books were written, movies were made; new theories evolved.
After watching the movie, "Villisca, Living With A Mystery", I was convinced who the murderer most likely was. Since then, after reading more, I'm not so certain. It's a fascinating subject.
Over the years, the house itself suffered from the modernization of green steel siding and being a rental property. After a couple years of remaining empty, it was in danger of being torn down when Darwin and Martha Linn bought it in 1994 and began restoring it to its original condition. The house is now on the National Historic Registry. It is possible to tour the house and even sleep in it overnight if you are brave enough.
If I were going to go through a haunted house this Halloween, I would want to go through the Villisca Ax Murder House. I would want to see if I "felt" any spirits as others have reported at www.villiscaiowa.com. Unfortunately, it has already been booked for "leased overnights" all this week. Maybe next year....or maybe I'll just visit it during daylight hours! Happy Halloween.

Monday, October 26, 2009

House Plants


How I wish I could bring this gorgeous Boston Fern inside my house for the winter. I adore Boston Ferns and this one is especially nice. I already found a home for my other one which was in a hanging pot. Tomorrow I will take this one to my favourite massage therapist. She thought I just wanted someone to keep it alive over the winter. I told her, "Nope. It is yours. Kill it; give it away, I don't care." At least with her, it has a chance.
I am no good with house plants. My first was an African Violet Mom gave me for my room when I was 13. Ummm, I think it survived a month. After that I didn't have a house plant again until after I was married. Someone told me "You can't kill a philodendron." Oh yeah?
I don't know what I do wrong. Over water? Under water? Too hot? Not enough sun? Both my Grandmothers were good with houseplants, especially Grandma Ridnour. She was exceptional with flowers inside and outdoors. Her south and east porch windows and south living room window were full of plants she brought inside for the winter. Mom kept up her Mother's tradition; slipping sultanas and geraniums in the fall and keeping them thriving until time to set them outside the following spring; potting up small palms and dieffenbachias until they were the size of trees.
Grandma Lynam had an ivy setting on her buffet in the dining room. (The same buffet I now proudly have in my DR along with her DR table.) Her ivy grew from the pot up the side of a window, over the top of it and another window and down the other side. I don't know how many years it took to grow it to that length. She was also good with African Violets.
Over the years, in many different houses, I've tried to keep house plants alive with varying success; mostly poor. I did bring one plant inside last year. When we moved I took a start from the pussy willow tree I planted after Mom died. I wanted to get it started good and then set it outside this spring. It was dead before Thanksgiving.
That is why, no matter how pretty and healthy the plants are out there on my patio, they will stay until a hard freeze gets them. I've learned to let them go and start over anew in the spring. I'm just happy this Boston Fern will at least have a chance.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

"Polly Put the Kettle On"


I have always been a lover of hot tea. Even in summer I am more likely to drink hot tea than iced tea. I began drinking hot tea at a very young age. During the winter Mom always made a pot of hot tea to drink with the evening meal, which we called supper. My cuppa' was probably more milk than tea. A spoon of sugar was added to about a half cup of tea then the cup was filled up with milk. As I aged, the tea increased and the milk decreased. I was in my mid-twenties before I quit putting milk in hot tea.
It is impossible for me to read a book in which drinking tea is mentioned more than once without making myself a cup of tea. I'm currently reading "The Jasmine Moon Murder" one of the Tea Shop Mysteries by Laura Childs. And I just finished a cup of Lipton Tuscan Lemon tea. Very good, but my favourite tea is Ahmad's English Tea No. 1.
Several years ago friends of mine brought me a selection of Ahmad Teas from their trip to London. English No. 1 was my favourite of the four samples. But how to get more? That was before the internet. When my brother went to Ireland and England, he brought some back for me. And a couple times I found some at TJ Maxx, once in West Des Moines and once in Louisville, KY. That was a lucky find because the tea came with a grayish-green Ahmad teapot.
Then my brother told me about a store in Lawrence, KS called "Brits" which stocked all things British including Ahmad Tea. I began ordering it from there, stopping by a couple times in person to purchase supplies when we were on our way once to Colorado and once to Texas. Now that I'm on the net I can order from anywhere; most recently from Tea With Grace in Minneapolis, MN.
The health benefits from drinking green tea got me to try it again. I say again because green tea was what my Grandmother Lynam always drank. I remember the first time I stayed with her when she asked if I wanted hot tea with supper. Well, of course. That was what I drank at home. I thought when she made it it looked awful pale compared to the amber tea Mom made. Then I tasted it. Yuck! I probably drank it as I had been raised to be polite. But I certainly didn't ask for any more!
When drinking green tea began being touted as a natural way to lose weight I thought there might be something to the claims as Grandma Lynam was always a thin woman. Something else she did was drink tea from her saucer. I never knew the reason for that unless it was to cool the tea so she could drink it sooner.
I keep sampling different teas, white, chai, flavoured, Stash's, Tetley's (their British version isn't bad), Celestial Seasonings', Tazo's. I really wanted to like Bewley's Tea of Ireland. It is ok. Just not as good as Ahmad English Tea No. 1. I'm not trying to replace my favourite, I just like trying new things.
I have another Tea Shop Mystery to read after this one. Looks like I'll be enjoying hot tea for awhile. What is your favourite tea?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Corning (Free) Public Library

"See Jane. See Dick. See Spot. See Spot run." Those were the first words I learned to read. It seemed such an accomplishment to read the Dick and Jane books in first grade. Each day I learned more new words by sight. Then studying phonics taught me how to sound out the words I didn't know. I had loved being read to by my Mom. But once I learned to read on my own books became my best friends.
The one room country schools had limited libraries. Ours had a set of encyclopedias, a dictionary and a handful of donated reading books. In order to have a bookcase full of books to read for pleasure, the teacher would have to go to the County Superintendent's office at the Court House in Corning. There she would fill a box suitable for all grades. Some teachers would just grab anything to fill up the box. Mrs. Kimball always tried to choose books with her students' interests in mind. After a month or six weeks that box of books would go back and a new box would take its place. That was always an exciting day for the ones who loved to read - to see what was available and who would get to read it first.
There was a chart on the wall with each student's name. Once we read a book, we wrote the name of it on a little colored rectangle and stuck it on the line next to our name. The stickers were different colors, I think for the degree of difficulty. If you read an easy book, you got a pink sticker; blue, green and yellow for progressively harder to read books. If you read enough books by the end of the school year, you received a reading achievement award.
Summer vacation was a dearth for country school kids; at least the poor ones. Corning had a nice big public library open and free to all town residents. Unless you lived in the city limits the only way you could have a library card was to pay for it. I'm sure the cost was nominal by today's standards, but by rural 1950's standards few could afford a library card. We could go in and read a book in the library, we just couldn't take one home.
We could, however, walk up three creaky flights of stairs to the County Superintendent's office and check out books there as long as a parent was with us. That was always kinda scary if Miss Friman was there, but if it was her assistant, Miss Edna Miller, we could take all the time we wanted and check out several books at a time.
It must have been sometime in the mid 50's when the Corning Public Library became free to all Adams County residents. I know I was still going down to the basement to pick out books and that is where the children's books were. I was so very proud of having my own library card.
When the new addition was built and the library was computerized, we no longer had library cards. Each patron's name was in the system. The librarian pulled up your name and scanned the books to check you out.
Having an actual library card again is something I enjoy about the Gibson Memorial Library. There is a sense of pride and responsibility each time I hand over my library card and check out an armload of books.

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Good Book


Doesn't this look like a book written just for me? It even has a crossword puzzle in the front to be solved after the book is read. The author is Parnell Hall. I just happened to see the book when I was on the Ha shelf choosing some Charlaine Harris mysteries. There was an Aurora Teagarden I hadn't yet read as well as one of her Harper Connelly series. I haven't read any of Ms. Harris's Sookie Stackhouse books , but so far I like the Harper character the best. But I digress.
"A Clue For The Puzzle Lady" was well written and worth reading, but I had figured out who "The Graveyard Murderer" was before the end and why he did it. I was also able to solve the crossword puzzle. It appears Mr. Hall followed this book with "Last Puzzle & Testament" which I would probably read if our library had it.

A little over two years ago I visited my younger brother in Warrensburg. I was anxious to see his new house and how he was getting along. The first morning over breakfast we started working the Kansas City Star crossword together. He would fill in a word or two, then hand it over for me to see if I could solve any of the clues, then I would hand it back to him and back and forth until the puzzle was complete. That led to him hunting out the previous few days crosswords that he hadn't yet worked.
We talked about how solving crossword puzzles is supposed to help the mind. I told him about buying some easy crossword books for our Mother a few years before she died, but her dementia was already too far advanced by then. Les said, "You know there is a daily KC Star crossword online...." So when I got home from Missouri, I added that daily crossword site to my favorites list and I've been solving them ever since.
At first it took me between 35 and 45 minutes to solve a puzzle. After awhile I was able to do one in 20 to 30 minutes. Now I can work most of them in between 10 and 15 minutes; most days around 12 minutes. I believe that is proof that doing the puzzles does help the mind.
Earlier this week there was an online article about increased brain function in older people who searched the internet; that scientists saw an increase of brain function in older adults after just one week by first time users. I think that is significant. Maybe instead of putting computers in every classroom, we should be putting computers in every senior citizens' center. And for every college student who receives a notebook a senior citizen should be given one, also.
In January it will be ten years since we got our first home computer. (Wanted to wait until after Y2K to be certain computers would still work.) If I had to choose between the computer and television, the TV would lose. So would the dishwasher, probably even that adored washer and dryer. That's how much being online means to me. (BTW, it took me a little over 14 minutes to do today's crossword. It was a hard one!)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Monday, Monday


"Monday Monday, so good to me, Oh Monday morning...." Monday was always wash day when I was growing up. We had to start early in order to have clothes hung out on the line before 8 a.m. Later than that denoted a lazy housewife. I vaguely remember having to heat water in big kettles on the stove in order to do laundry before we had a hot water heater. Also when the wringer washing machine was actually in the little building appropriately called "the wash house."
It was the early 50's before we dug enough dirt out from under the house to enable us to have a cement basement. From then on dirty clothes went down the stairs and baskets of clean wet clothes were hauled up the steps to be hung out on the line.
There was a certain order in which to wash - whites first while the water was the hottest and cleanest, followed by sheets and/or towels, then colored clothes and finally jeans and work clothes. The clothes were run from the washing machine through the wringer and over into a rinse tub. The first rinse tub I remember had a handle which was pushed back and forth operating a paddle on the bottom which agitated the clothes. When that tub rusted out we sloshed the clothes up and down several times by hand and then back through the wringer into a clothes basket.
Laundromats were my laundry rooms when my kids were little. Wash day happened Saturday or Sunday or sometimes at night because I worked full time. I sorted the clothes at home before hauling them to the laundromat. If I was lucky there would be eight or ten unused washing machines so I could get all the clothes washed at the same time. Often, though, there would be a wait for the washers and then the dryers.

To me, a laundromat was the most demeaning place of all. When my sons were dating, I told them they should not get married until they could afford to buy a washer and dryer.
When we moved to the acreage NW of Urbandale there was an old wringer washing machine in the basement and clotheslines outside. Eventually we bought a used dryer. The wringer didn't work well enough, though, so I would take the clothes in to the laundromat where they had a machine called an extruder which spun the water out. Then back home to the dryer. No wonder I hated doing laundry.
I never had an automatic washer and dryer until Kari & Preston were in high school and we lived in the apartments at Normandy Terrace. There was one washer and one dryer for six apartments. Luckily they were right outside our door. I've had a washer and dryer since then, but never a matched set until we bought these when we moved here. Now laundry is so easy. And instead of eight or ten loads a week, I only have two loads every other week or so. Like I said once before, life is backwards.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Have A Nice Trip?

I was 12 years old before I finally convinced my Mom I needed glasses. She thought I just wanted them because my friend Virginia had gotten glasses the year before. I was having trouble seeing the blackboard from the back of the room. Each fall the teacher "tested" our eyesight by having us cover one eye and then turn our hand to point whatever direction the big E was pointing. When Mrs. Kimball told Mom I flunked the eye exam at school she finally took me to Doc McAlpin.
The verdict was I needed glasses only for distance. My reading eyesight was fine. I picked out frames as nearly like my friend's as I could - kind of a blue gray plastic. The catch was I had to take my glasses off while reading. That was a pain. Worse than being inconvient, though, was how many times I sat or lay on them when I had taken them off to read.
When I had my eye exam freshman year, Dr. McAlpin suggested I try bifocals. The top would be for looking into the distance while the bottom would be plain glass for reading. When his office called to say my new glasses were in Mom said I could walk downtown during lunch period the next day to get them.
In order to cut down on the congestion in the hallways, there were three dismissal bells for lunch which rotated on a weekly basis. If you got out on first or second bell, you had plenty of time to walk downtown, grab something to eat and walk back to school. Third bell week or inclement weather meant you ate at the hot lunch line unless someone had a car.
The cafeteria food wasn't bad and it only cost 25 cents a day. It was much more fun to go downtown to the Candy Kitchen or one of the drugstores where you could get a coke for a nickel and a sandwich or french fries for 20 cents. I had never had mayonnaise and lettuce on a peanut butter sandwich until I ate one at Dunham's Rexall Drugstore. Ugh! What a combination. Funny thing was I got so I liked peanut butter sandwiches that way.

It was the third day of my freshman year, August 30, 1957, when I was to pick up my new glasses. I still didn't know too many people but there was one girl who had the same class schedule I had and we had started to be friends. I told her about my new glasses and she said she would walk downtown with me.
After we picked them up, we bought ice cream cones to eat on the way back to school. If you've ever worn bifocals you know about not being able to see clearly if you are looking at something right on the lines. We had only gone a block when we crossed a street. I looked to see if there was a curb on the other side and didn't see one (I was looking on the bifocal line) so I didn't step up. There was a curb, I didn't step up and went sprawling onto the sidewalk. (But managed to save my ice cream cone!)
My new 'friend' started laughing and could not stop. Sure, it was probably funny, but not that funny. I thought it was more embarrassing than funny. Ellen laughed until she cried. She would stop for a bit, then start in again. "Have a nice trip?" Ha-ha-ha-ha. I finally got so mad at her I crossed the street and walked back to school by myself.
Not a very auspicious beginning for a friendship and we've had many more ups and downs during these 52 years, but to this day Ellen Sullivan Seaton is a friend of mine. And yes, she still tells this story every time we are together and there is a third party to relate it to. And she still laughs and laughs every time. It tickles her so, I have to laugh along. Then I say, "But at least I saved my ice cream cone."
I can see it now: Ellen will be attending visitation before my funeral. She will be standing by my coffin telling someone this story and laughing. And wherever I am, I will be laughing too because that is what friendship is all about.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Lady Bugs

"Lady Bug, Lady Bug, Fly Away Home" - the opening lines of a children's rhyme. One of the first things I learned as a child in my Mother's garden was that Lady Bugs were good bugs. They ate aphids which were bad bugs. I would put my little fingers next to the leaf the Lady Bug was crawling on so she would crawl over to my hand. Then I could get her close to my eyes and watch her until she eventually flew off.
Several years ago it seemed we were overrun by Lady Bugs. There were thousands of them everywhere even inside our homes. But somehow in those years since my childhood, the Lady Bugs had become biters. What was going on?
What was going on was that those bugs were no ladies. They were/are Asian Lady Beetles. As the outdoor temps cool, they begin looking for a warm place to spend the winter. According to one website, Beetle flights are heaviest on warm, sunny days following a period of cooler weather. That is what happened here yesterday. It was as though we were under attack. I haven't found any inside the house yet, though I'm sure I will.
Interestingly enough, this same website says the beetle is becoming a concern to the wine industry. "Due to their noxious odor, even small numbers of beetles inadvertently processed along with grapes can taint the flavor of wine." NOW I have a real reason to be disturbed!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Blogging as Habit


"The unfortunate thing about this world is that good habits are so much easier to give up than bad ones." Somerset Maugham
Isn't that the truth! We took a little trip to Decorah last week which meant missing five straight days of excercise. It would have been so easy for me to go right on missing our daily trip to the Y. Obviously excercising daily is a good habit as it would be so easy for me to give up!
Writing this blog after several days is also harder. Does that mean blogging is a good habit for me?
We began planning our trip to NE Iowa last spring. Ideally it would accomplish three things: 1)Seeing #2 granddaughter. 2)Watching her cheerlead at a Luther College football game. 3)Touring the "Little Switzerland" of Iowa during peak peeping season.
We didn't see Alyssa cheer and there wasn't much color in the leaves, but we did accomplish #1 and that was the most important.
We arrived Thursday afternoon after Aly's last class of the day. It was cloudy and drizzly, but that didn't stop us from touring the campus. Preus Library was my favorite (of course). The history of Old Main, destroyed twice by fire, was more interesting than the new Old Main building. Even in the rain, it is a beautiful campus.

Aly & I left G'pa Bud at the hotel and went to visit Winneshiek Wildberry Winery. For a Thursday afternoon, the place was busy. There are so many wineries in Iowa now. I enjoy visiting them. It must be fun for the proprietors to think up the names and accompaning little stories for each of their offerings. "How Ole Made Lena Blush" and "Horny Heifer" were two of the wines we sampled.
Friday's weather was sunnier, but still chilly. Aly had a full day of classes, so Bud & I drove over to Harper's Ferry on the Mississipi River, upriver to Lansing and New Albin then back across county roads in Iowa and Minnesota to Lidtke Mill in Lime Springs. There was some leaf color, but nothing like past years.
Both nights we ate at the Americana Grille where Alyssa works in order to spend more time with her. It was a plus that the food was good. I'd never heard of Irish Nachos before.
The trip home Saturday was uneventful except for a short stop in West Des Moines to see #1 granddaughter, Katrina. She was taking applications at their soon to open Little Caesar's Pizza on Grand so in addition to seeing her and other family members, we saw the "before" of their store. We'll see the results when we go back next month to visit her and our new great grandson.
A closing thought about bad habits: "The easier it is to do, the harder it is to change." Procrastination is one of my worst bad habits. Looks like I have put off the dusting, vacuuming and laundry as long as I can. Oh, I can do that tomorrow. I'd better finish that book today......

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The I P F(unny) Club

The Fairview Congregational Christian Church is no more. It lasted more than 100 years but the little country church three miles south of our home place was sold and dismantled a couple years ago. Attendance and support for what had once been the centerpiece of a community dwindled down to a few members - most of them elderly. There just weren't enough young people to keep it going.
The youth group was still well attended when I was growing up. It was known as IPF which stood for Iowa Pilgrim Fellowship (I think! Maybe it was International Pilgrim Fellowship?) Smart aleck teens that we were, we just referred to it as the I P Funny Club. But not in front of the minister nor the parents, of course.

Each month two of the mothers were assigned to bring refreshments. One of Mom's biggest pet peeves was a kid bringing back his plate with a napkin covering something he hadn't eaten and saying, "Thank you for the delicious refreshments, Mrs. Lynam."
Once or twice a year we would go to Triangle meetings at another church. That meant three church groups got together on a Sunday afternoon. I remember one in Orient only because our minister let me drive his car home from the meeting. I had just turned 16 and gotten my driver's license.
Next in size were Rallys when several churches met. I remember one in Atlantic because of how much larger the church was than ours and because I was running for district secretary. I don't think I wanted the job very badly because I was relieved when Connie Pigg was elected. Connie was nice, pretty, popular and her name was pronounced with soft g's; Pijj, not pig.
The only time I remember going to a conference for all of Southwest Iowa, it was held in Council Bluffs. That was a big deal because we stayed overnight with host families. My host was the caretaker at a cemetery. It was fun the next day to say "I slept in a cemetery!"
Not all IPF meetings were fun. One night at church the other girls were whispering and giggling. They laughed when I tried to join in then ran off leaving me feeling very lonely and hurt. Mrs. Vogel saw what was going on. She put her arm around me; said some words to make me feel better; put the Fellowship into IPF.

Monday, October 12, 2009

"In the Morning"

"In the morning, in the evening, ain't we got fun...." (Words to an old song for all you young'uns.)
For me it works best to excercise of a morning. I like to sit out on the deck of an evening. In the summertime before we had air conditioning, sometimes of an evening we would take a ride in the car to cool off. I like to read of an afternoon.
Budbo makes fun of me if I say I do something "of a morning" or "of an evening." He says I should say "in the morning" etc. Most of the time I do say it that way. I know I speak the way I do because Mom would say "of an evening" and so did her Mother.
The first time I tried looking it up on line, I found a website relating it to people of Irish and Scottish descent. I can't find that website now. But www.thefreedictionary.com states: "Some speakers of vernacular English varieties, particularly in isolated or mountainous regions of the southern United States, use phrases such as "of a night" or "of an evening" in place of Standard English "at night" or "in the evening".
It also says it is informally used to indicate a day or part of a period of time when some activity habitually occurs. (Which is generally the way I use it.)
The most southern of my ancestors that I know of were the Duncans. Great, great grandpa Duncan was born in Virginia, eventually coming to Iowa via Michigan and Wisconsin.
Do you sometimes say "of an evening"? Do you know why? This vernacular form of usage may be fading out, but I kinda' like it. Perhaps one or more of my kids will continue saying they do something "of an evening."

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Spaying and the Facts of Life

After Mimi disappeared from our acreage near Cutty's, we got a puppy from a neighbor of my folks. She was a Border Collie mix, mostly BC with BC colors and markings. Mimi had been Doug's dog from when he was little, so he got to name the new puppy. He was taking French at Johnston High School. He named her Nadette. (Seems to be a French connection in the dog naming.)
Doug named her, but she was everyone's puppy. While we were gone during the day, we left her in the basement where it was warm and dry and easier to clean up messes. One morning as Kari was carrying Nadette down the basement stairs, she slipped. She ended up with stitches in her head - but she didn't drop the puppy! (Her main concern.)
Nadette would be an outdoors dog just as Mimi was. That summer as she neared six months of age I said we would have to take her to be spayed before she went into heat. Kari asked, "What does that mean?" "Ahhh, my little girl is growing up. She's ready for the facts of life", I thought.
This was going to be the perfect Mother/Daughter teachable moment. I took her to the big swing hanging from a tree out in the grove and proceeded to explain to her all about males and females and menstruation and eggs and sperm and babies. About sex and how wonderful it could be between people who loved one another - the whole nine yards.
Kari listened very attentively. It was only when I stopped talking that I realized she didn't care about the facts of life: "But Mommy, what does 'in heat' mean?"

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Odell Place

If ever there was an ideal setting for a house it was the Odell place west of Brooks.
The big old four square farm house sat on a rise up a long lane. The front yard sloped down to the curving drive. The small back yard rose to a timber. West of the house there was a pond. East of the house there was a small stream. A two car garage had been built between the house and the stream. A six foot retaining wall separated the yard from the parking area. A flight of steps led up to the walkway to the back (kitchen) door.
We moved to the Hanzie property in Brooks when Doug was just a few months old. We celebrated his first birthday there. When that property sold, we moved up the street and rented the Methodist Parsonage for a few months. Then Mom's cousin, Jim Haley, bought the Odell place. We asked if he was going to rent the house. He said we could live there rent free just so there would be someone there so it wasn't vandalized. I was ecstatic. My dream of living in a big house had finally come true.
Doug was two and a half that first winter there. One day after a big wet snow I bundled him up to go out and build a snowman. Then I decided to roll the biggest snowball I could. It was about three feet in diameter before I could no longer roll it. I packed some more snow on top then got my camera. I wanted a picture of my little boy standing on the big snow ball. I put him on top of it and he started crying. He was scared. He didn't want to stand up there. I kept insisting I wanted his picture atop the snowball and he kept crying. But I didn't want a picture of him crying. I told him he could get down as soon as he quit crying and I took his picture. Mean Mama. Doug finally won; the pictures show him standing on the huge snowball, crying.
Two rather traumatic incidents happened the following summer. The house had a wrap around porch on the south and east sides. Doug could play out there and I could keep an eye on him from the kitchen sink and from the living room. He had been outside quite awhile when I realized I hadn't seen nor heard him for some time. I went out to check on him but could not find him anywhere. I looked everywhere before thinking of the pond. I was frantic. I had myself convinced I would find him drowned. I was so relieved he wasn't there, but where could he be? I hollered and called for him; no answer.
There were some stray cats around when we moved there. We began feeding them and could eventually pet the two females but the tom cat wouldn't let us near him. Except for Doug. When I finally found the little scamp out in the garage, the tom cat was lying on the dirt floor and Douglas was scooping up the soft dirt and pouring it on him. The cat ran away as soon as he saw me. Doug got spanked for not answering me when I hollered for him.

As scary as that episode was for me the day Doug rode his tricycle over the retaining wall was much worse. I heard him screaming and crying. By the time I got him untangled from the trike and picked him up a knot was already forming above his eye. For some inane reason back then tricycle handlebar grips were pointed. Doug still has a scar in his eyebrow showing how close the handlebar came to his eye. And yes, I did take pictures of his first black eye.
One of Jim's daughters lives there now. They tore the big old house down and built a nice one story brick home on the same site. I often have dreams of moving back to the Odell Place; to the big old square white farmhouse with the wrap around porch.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Cerridwen


Cerridwen is Welsh for 'Keeper of the Cauldron'. Cerridwen was the name of my beautiful black cat.
I moved back to our family farm from West Des Moines October 31, 1995, the night of Halloween. The old mobile home we had purchased to live in next to Mom's house was in place; everything was hooked up except the rural water which was done by the end of the week. I moved into it alone as Bud had yet to find a job in SW Iowa so he stayed in WDM for another four months.

One day in December Mom & I went to visit Ron & Ruthie. Their cat, Oreo, had had kittens in October. They had found homes for all but two of the little fur balls. "Don't you need a kitten?" "No, we've got a cat." "But she's still in WDM with Bud. Don't you want a little kitten to keep you company? They're already house broken."

Whether they wore me down or if I wanted a kitten and didn't know it, I finally said "maybe." Both of them were black females. How to decide which one to take? I held them up looking into the eyes of first one and then the other back and forth. I don't even know why I chose the one I did. She rode home inside my coat - next to my heart.

I hadn't had a kitten of my own since growing up on the farm forty-some years earlier. The cat we had was my daughter, Kari's, which we inherited when she went away to college. My brother and his wife had sent home a litter pan with me and enough kitten food for the first night. It was cold. The kitten was away from its family for the first time. It seemed natural to take it to bed with me. I cuddled it, talked to it and let it roam around the bed. It finally settled down and curled up on the pillow at the top of my head.

I knew I wanted a Celtic name for her. Kari had given me a wall plaque of the mythical Cerridwen stirring her cauldron. It fit: Cerridwen, the crone, stirring a black cauldron, moving there on Halloween, black cat born in October; I named her Cerridwen. And she did keep me company that winter. And every night she slept on top of my head.

Cerridwen was a long haired cat which may have made her seem larger that she was, but she grew into a very big cat; not fat, just long and big and heavy. She still wanted to sleep atop my head. Each night she would jump up on the bed and pad her way up to the pillow. I would let her stay there awhile then gently put her down. She was too heavy to let her stay there all night.

Both of the cats were spayed, so we didn't have to worry about them being outside. Cassie was always ready to come in at night but Cerridwen started wanting to stay out. If we brought her in, she would sit by the door and meow until we let her out. Every morning when I got up she would be sitting on the deck waiting to come in.

Then one morning in October when she was three, she wasn't there. I never saw her again, never knew for certain what happened to her. That was October, 1998; eleven years ago.

I think it is likely I will adopt a kitten again someday. But there will never be another one like Cerridwen.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Big Bro & the Picture Show

As big brothers go, I got one of the best. Ron is three and a half years older than I. He has always been someone I can look up to. (No, not because he is 6' 5".) Almost all the time he has had my back. Mom once told me she never had to worry about him until I came along and led him astray. She said he never even climbed trees until I was old enough and tried climbing every tree on the farm and got him to do the same. Luckily neither of us ever broke a bone falling out of them.

The American Theatre in Corning was operated by Mrs. Kuhl and her son, Dick. Saturday matinees were a dime; popcorn was a nickel. The selections were usually westerns or animal stories.
One Saturday afternoon when I was four Mom either let me go to the show with Ron or made him take me. She told him to sit with me near the back and not down front with all the other kids. I guess she was aware of how rowdy those down front kids got - throwing popcorn and punching arms.
The first two or three rows on the left as you went down the aisle were short rows of four seats each. Then the rows lengthened to either six or eight seats. We sat in the first long row and settled down to watch a movie about a boy and his dog. Everything was fine until well into the movie when the dog became lost. It went through some pretty harrowing experiences trying to get back to the boy. Finally it looked as though the dog was dead. I lost it; started crying and sobbing. Ron tried his best to console me, but I could not stop crying. He gave up in disgust (and embarrassment) and moved down the aisle several rows and left me crying.
There was a woman sitting behind us with her kids. She said "Come here." I went back to her. She took me on her lap, pressed my head against her shoulder and said over and over, "It's o.k. It's just a movie" until my sobs ceased. Of course it helped that about then the dog and boy were reunited.
Ron picked me up on his way out. As soon as we got to the car he told Mom, "I'm never taking her to the show again!"
He remained true to his promise until high school. I was a sophomore which means he had already graduated. I don't remember the movie but it was one I desperately wanted to see and since he was going anyway he agreed I could go along.
I met up with one of my classmates, Donna Perrin, and Sandy Wilkinson from Prescott. Par usual, after the show we went to the Candy Kitchen. Ron was ready to go home but I wasn't. Sandy had her car, so she said she would take me home. He left. We started scooping the loop.
Donna's brother and a couple cousins of mine were doing the same. They invited us to join them which we did. As soon as we got in their car they headed out of town and the tops began popping - they had beer. Prude that I was, I wanted to go back and have Sandy take me home. I knew driving and drinking did not mix and I wanted no part of it. They just laughed at me and said we'd go back soon.
We ended up going to Villisca where they bought more beer and drove all over the country until it was gone. My curfew time came and went. They finally took me home. Of course I wanted to try and sneak in the house. It was 2:00 a.m. Instead of leaving quietly, Don revved the engine and spun out of the driveway as noisily as he could.
The inquisition began as soon as I got into the house: "Where have you been?" "Who were you with?" "Do you know your brother is out looking for you?" "You're grounded for a month."
Not only was I in trouble, Ron was in trouble for not bringing me home with him. He did not get back until almost 4:00 a.m. - he had been driving all over looking for me. Once again my brother said, "I'm never taking her to the show again!" It was a promise he kept the second time.
I never knew who the lady was who consoled me. (I wish now I did.) There were many movies after that - especially scary ones like Psycho - when her mantra once again got me through: "It's only a movie. It's only a movie."

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Missouri Compromise

As you remember from your school days, the Missouri Compromise had to do with the number of slave states and free states admitted to the USA. (Simply put.)
My new definition of a Missouri Compromise - when two very stubborn people can't agree and one finally gives in.
We all make compromises every day. Any time more than one person is involved, there is going to be compromise. A successful marriage is supposed to be 50-50 when in reality I think one of the partners usually gives more than the other.
My Aunt Evelyn made me so mad 24 years ago. She attended an open house for us after Bud & I were married. As she left she said to me, "You'd better make this one work," referencing my two previous marriages and divorces. My immediate thought was that one person couldn't make a marriage work; it took both people trying.
I think what she had in mind was I should be willing to be more like brides of her time and before - willing to sacrifice; always deferring to the husband. Maybe she hadn't realized we'd had women's liberation!
The easiest compromising is when one person cares more about an outcome than the other. i.e. "What do you want to watch on t.v. tonight?" "I don't care, nothing sounds too good to me." "O.K. if we watch football then?" "Sure." (Of course tivoing has helped the 'what we are going to watch?' question.)
But what if you both have strong opposite opinions about something? i.e. "I want to go skiing in Colorado on vacation." "But I want to go on a Caribbean cruise." You either compromise or take separate vacations.
There have been disagreements in our years together; times we've both had to compromise. I have to admit it is generally Bud who gives in, not in a begrudging manner but in a gracious, generous way. That probably says a lot for why this third marriage of mine is working.
I like to think his good example has rubbed off on me a little bit.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Judgement Day

"There won't be any trumpets blowing come the judgement day, on the bloody morning after....one tin soldier rides away...."
It is human nature to pass judgement on others. Whether it is based upon social standing, color, nationality, or the shoes they wear, we all do it. Fifteen years ago I swore I would never judge another person by their looks.
That Friday morning in early July, 1994 was like any other at work for The Graham Group in Des Moines. The young assistant to the manager at Methodist Medical Plaza had brought down the time cards and we joked around as usual. But he went too far and said something that hurt my feelings before he left. Twenty minutes later my phone buzzed and the receptionist said I had a call on line two. I expected it to be him apologizing.
Instead it was my daughter-in-law; "Mom, you need to get up here to the hospital as fast as you can. They just brought Doug in. He has been electrocuted and they don't know if he is going to make it!" Thus began one of the worst weekends of my life.
I know I let out something between a scream and a groan as my co-workers quickly crowded into my cubicle to find out what happened and what they could do to help after I told them. I asked them to call Bud and tell him to meet me at Iowa Methodist. I knew I would need his support.
Doug held the certainty that he was going to die young because his father, Kenny, had died in June 1980 at age 37. As I rushed to the hospital I wondered if Doug had been right? He was almost 32. I also wondered if I was going to be like my parents and lose a child at an early age.
When I got to the emergency department I learned that Doug had been hooking roof trusses onto a crane at the job site when the boom came into contact with power lines. The electricity passed through his body and out his feet, blowing holes in the bottoms of both. It also stopped his heart. Two of his employees began CPR while another called 911.
At that time, Shelly was working at Iowa Methodist as an x-ray tech. She had been paged to the ER to do x-rays on an electrocution victim an ambulance was bringing in. The patient's clothes had all been cut off except his red briefs. There was a towel over his face. She saw Doug's tennis shoes on the bottom of the gurney; remembered that he had put on red underwear that morning and snatched the towel away to discover she had been paged to x-ray her own husband.
It is true the minutes passed as hours while emergency personnel worked to save my son's life and we huddled in a private waiting room. A hospital chaplain came in. A nurse came to tell me my boss was outside waiting to hear how things were going. I couldn't talk to anyone; I didn't know how things were going. Bud went out to talk to him.
Finally a nurse said I could see my son before they took him up to ICU. I was taken behind the curtains into a cubicle. My beloved first born lay unconscious on life support. All we could do was wait and pray. Only one person at a time could go in his room to see him for five minutes every other hour. On Saturday we were told they were keeping him in a medically induced coma. If they allowed him to come to wakefulness, he was combative - a sign of possible brain damage. Add that to the worry of whether or not he would live.
Sunday afternoon, the best of news - Doug had extubated himself. He was awake and talking. There were no immediate signs of brain damage. The next day he was moved to the burn unit to begin two weeks of recovery and skin grafting to cover the holes in his feet. He was in a wheel chair for awhile, then on crutches.
Doug has built many more houses since that awful time. Next month he will hold his new grandson at that same hospital. Grandpa Doug and great-grandma Ramona will have much to celebrate.
Oh, my vow not to judge people by their looks? Those two employees of his who saved my son's life were the most unlikely looking heros. They were kinda scruffy - types you would expect to see in a bar; certainly not guys you would pick to know CPR.
I have not been able to keep my vow; I still judge others. I just try harder not to.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Sweet Sixteen......

....and never been kissed. I began high school in the fall of 1957 at age 13. High school was an overwhelming experience after eight years in a one room school. The girl who had been my best friend was a year ahead of me - a sophomore with a whole new set of friends. Some of the town kids were nice while others just made fun of us country bumpkins. The first day or two I discovered I had every class with another girl from the country, Ellen Sullivan. Fate threw us together and we have been friends ever since. Gradually my circle widened.
Mom & Dad had made it clear to Betty and me that we would not be allowed to date until we were 16. OK, so maybe I couldn't date them, but that did not stop me from having crushes on the boys in my classes; and thinking about them and talking about them and giggling about them and dreaming about them.
Finally the fall of my junior year began - the fall I turned 16. Now I could date! Problem was, no one asked me out. Then the break through, a senior boy (Marvin Lockwood) called me up and asked me out. Just my luck, I did not want to go out with him. I told him I would have to ask my parents and call him back. They told me I was old enough to make up my own mind. I told him they said 'no'.
The guy I was really interested in was a senior boy from Prescott High School. He had three older brothers and the four of them had been dating girls from Corning quite a while - long enough that they had "love 'em and leave 'em" reputations. Kenny was going steady with a girl in my sister's freshman class. Sandy was a friend of friends of mine who knew I wanted to go out with Kenny and had told her. One Monday morning we passed one another in the hallway and she said: "He's all yours. You can have him!"
It was a bit of a shock to hear they had broken up. It was a bigger problem to finagle a date with him since he didn't even know me. The campaign began the end of January. There was one place everyone went after the picture show on Saturday night -The Candy Kitchen. I was there with my girl friends, he was there with his brothers and their dates. No one actually introduced us, but I was pointed out to him so at least he knew what I looked like.
The middle of February after a basketball game a bunch of us were in the Candy Kitchen. After I left he asked my girlfriend, Donna Hall, why a nice girl like me would want to go out with a freak like him. (One of the advantages of moving last year was finding my diaries from my highschool days...my memory certainly isn't this good!) Donna said maybe I didn't think he was a freak to which he replied, "Does she need stronger glasses?"
Finally after a lot of tense moments and mixed signals Carma Neta Bennett (the girlfriend of Kenny's oldest brother, Ronnie) told me I had a date with Kenny the following Saturday night. It had been arranged as a 'blind' date. She said they would pick me between 7 & 7:30. When they still weren't there at 8:30, I just knew I had been stood up. Dad said even if they did show up that late I couldn't go out with him. At 5 til 9:00 they drove in.
March 5, 1960, my first date with Kenny Botkin. We went skating in Lenox then stopped at Stringtown for a coke before they took me home. We were in the back seat. He put his arm around me. I could tell he was going to try to kiss me but Mom had said I shouldn't let a boy kiss me on a first date so I turned away. We were almost home when he asked me for a date for the following Saturday night. I accepted. I think my curfew was 11:30. At 11:40 he walked me to the door and kissed me good night. Sweet 16 yrs, 3 mos and 16 days and I'd finally been kissed.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sunday Morning Coming Down

"And there's nothin' short of dyin', half as lonesome as the sound, on the sleepin' city sidewalks: Sunday mornin' comin' down."
Kris Kristofferson has long been a favourite singer/songwriter/actor of mine. If there was one entertainer I could spend an hour with, it would be him. Though I would be too tongue-tied to talk to him, I would be enchanted just to listen to him talk. I seldom buy CD's anymore, but I just might have to have his new one "Closer To The Bone". (Yes, my birthday is coming up and so is xmas.)
I've had my share of Sunday morning coming downs. Sundays used to be very depressing days for me. I was never quite certain why; whether it was because I knew I had to go back to work the next day or because as Grandma Ridnour used to say, "I'm just a lazy sinner", or what? When the Des Moines Sunday Register still had some real content they published stories meant to be uplifting about people overcoming obstacles to do something meaningful with their lives. Instead of feeling uplifted, I always felt depressed because I was just plodding along doing nothing great.
Grandma R told me one time Sundays were her worst days, too. She said they were so lonesome. That was late in her life. Perhaps she was lamenting her younger years when some of her family members were there for dinner nearly every Sunday.
Her "lazy sinner" comment was one she made often also in her later years when she was unable to do much anymore. Her reply when asked "How do you feel?" was always, "With my fingers."
Sundays aren't as bad for me anymore. Maybe because I'm retired and don't have to go to work the next day. Or maybe because I have accepted that I'm never going to accomplish anything meaningful. Or maybe I believe as I told my son, Doug, this morning when he was talking about doing some of things he has always dreamed of: "It's never too late."

Saturday, October 3, 2009

"Smoke 'Em If You've Got 'Em"

Once in a while some people are surprised when the subject of smoking comes up and I say, "I used to smoke." It is the one vice I am most happy about no longer having. Mom thought I started smoking when I was a senior in high school because my friend Donna smoked as well as my boyfriend Kenny. In reality I did not start smoking until after graduation and it was my brother Ron who got me started. We were both working in town that summer. On the way home he started offering me a cigarette when he lit his. I think the brand was Viceroy.
Smoking was de rigueur then; almost everyone smoked and there were very few places you could not smoke. A pack of cigarettes was 40 cents but if you went to Missouri or Nebraska you could buy them cheaper.
The first time I quit smoking was when I was pregnant, not for the health of the baby - we didn't even think about that then - but because it made me nauseous. After Doug was born and I went back to work, I started smoking again - Kools that time. One day I was holding the baby and smoking when an ash fell on his little hand and burnt him slightly. I was so appalled at myself that I quit again for a short time. When I started smoking again, I switched to Salems.
I smoked until 1967 when I wanted to purchase "The Great Books of the Western World". I could make the monthly payments by using the money I saved on cigarettes. Over the years I started and stopped several times - again during two more pregnancies. It was only after Preston was born (#3) that I started smoking again specifically so I could lose those last 10 pounds. Those sexy Virginia Slims were just made for women like me.
I did not smoke those longer, thinner ciggies for more than a few packs, though, because they did not fit in my fancy green leather cigarette case with matching lighter. Proper accoutrements were all a part of the smoking mystique. Just the pop of opening the case and the snap of closing it and the click click of lighting the cigarette were part of the image I imagined for myself. A large ceramic ashtray and its matching lighter was the centerpiece on my coffee table.
When the stop smoking campaigns began in the 70's, Doug began his personal campaign to get me to quit smoking. Every time I lit a cigarette, he would tell me I needed to quit smoking; that it was bad for my health. His little sister and brother began the same pleadings. Then cigarettes went to 50 cents a pack and between the cost and the quit smoking campaign, I bought my last pack of cigarettes in January, 1973. One morning at work, I looked into the mirror above my desk and said, "That's it. I quit."
I bounced around the walls for about two weeks; was bitchier than usual, but I stuck it out cold turkey. I have never regretted giving up cigarettes. However, there was a time later on I wanted to smoke a pipe. I dated a pipe smoker off and on for five years. I loved the smell of his pipe smoke - a blend he bought special at David's Briar Shoppe. Luckily, I did not learn how to smoke a pipe.

To paraphrase the Virginia Slim ad: "I've come a long way, baby!"

Friday, October 2, 2009

Saturday Night Live

I'm guessing you can tell someone's age by what they think of when they hear 'Saturday Night Live'. Old ones are going to think of the good old days when Saturday night meant going to town; young ones will think of the tv show.
Saturday was the one evening a week that chores were done early. We HAD to get to town early so we could get a good parking spot along main street. Which meant we left home around 5:00 p.m. because we had to stop at the produce station to sell our cream and eggs before we drove up and down Davis Avenue looking for the most likely place to park. Seems like the preference was for the west side between 6th & 7th streets. On that side was Biggar's Dept. Store, the Dime Store, a shoe store, a women's dress & hat shop, a couple cafes and crossing 6th a grocery store.
Two distinct memories involving that stretch of sidewalk come to mind both involving my little sister. We were going to go into Gentle's Cafe but Betty (age 5) wanted to go on down the street to Daisy's Cafe for some reason. She started crying and screaming "I want to go to Daisy's"! Mom could not get her to shut up any other way so we went to Daisy's.
We were walking down that same sidewalk a few years later when Betty was hit from behind by a kid riding his bicycle down the sidewalk. It knocked her down skinned her knees and arms and hurt her leg. We were near Daisy's so Mom took her in there to clean the wounds. I don't remember if we even knew who the kid on the bicycle was, but I always think of it as being one of the Smart boys. There were four of them. They were always terrorizing other kids; real brats. There was some speculation a few years later when Betty had to have hip surgery that it might have been because of the bicycle accident.
Once their shopping was done, people stood around or sat in their cars (or on the fenders) and 'visited'. Mom rarely let us girls out of her sight but one night she allowed us to walk up and down with a girl we had just gotten acquainted with. We were supposed to only go up to the drugstore but as soon as we were safely out of sight, this 'town girl' led us on a merry chase. She knew the ins and outs of every store. She tooks us clear up to the third floor of Turner's where back in the back she knew there was a restroom. We had never been beyond the second floor before. We had been gone so long Mom began looking for us. She gave us such a bawling out and told us we could never have anything to do with Kathy Penn again. (Turns out Kathy and I were in the same h.s. class years later and got into mischief together more than once!)
The stores all stayed open until 10:00 p.m. There would be a last minute run at the grocery store to pick up the sacks with our name on them setting along the front wall. We would pull up outside and the grocery boys would bring out our bags. Sometimes Dad would go in and buy a half gallon of ice cream to eat as we watched 'Saturday Night Wrestling' when we got home.
Saturday nights in town were ruined sometime in the 60's when the city fathers decided to make Thursday night the night they stayed open late. It just wasn't the same. Saturday night live became Saturday night no longer.