Friday, April 30, 2010

Arbor Day

1arbor or chiefly Brit arbour n [ME erber plot of grass, arbor, fr. OF herbier plot of grass, fr. herbe herb, grass]:a bower of vines or branches or of latticework covered with climbing shrubs or vines

2arbor n [L, tree, shaft]

Arbor has always been a romantic word for me. Probably because of definition 1. I suspect my first understanding of the word came from reading fairy tales of princesses in their bowers.

There was an arbor over the entrance to the storage cave at my great-grandparents, Rufe & Kate Ridnour's. I don't remember what plants vined over it - grapes, I think. I just remember it as a cool place to sit in the summer.

Arbor Day - a day set aside for the planting of trees - was a date I first became aware of in grade school. I don't remember ever planting a tree especially on that day while at Jasper #2, but we may have.

What I do remember is learning that Arbor Day was founded in Nebraska City, NE by J. Sterling Morton - the first one being held on April 10, 1872 when an estimated one million trees were planted. The Morton family had an extensive apple orchard on their farm west of Nebraska City which is now included in the Arbor Lodge State Historical Park.

I took Mom and the kids to Nebraska City many years ago to tour the Morton Lodge and park. There had been so much rain that Hwy 2 leading up to the Missouri River bridge was almost under water - the low fields on both sides of the road were all flooded and it was still raining - a little scary. In the early 80's Bud & I went to Nebraska City so he could run the Applejack Road Race as part of the Arbor Day festivities.

Arbor Day is now generally held the last Friday in April. The date varies around the world. For many years Arbor Day was observed on April 22 which was Morton's date of birth and which is now observed as Earth Day.
Over the years I have personally planted or contributed to the planting of many trees. Having a tree planted in Ireland in honor of my brother Ron's 50th birthday has become one of my family's jokes: I ordered the tree planting in March - plenty of time to receive the special certificate before his May birthday. The certificate arrived promptly. I put it where I would know where it was when it came time to enclose it in his birthday card. Yeah, I forgot where I put it. So all I could do was 'tell' him I'd had a tree planted in Ireland for him, thinking I would soon find the proof. That was twenty years ago. I still have not found the certificate (which included directions to 'his' tree in Ireland). Thus, the family joking whenever I purchase something special ahead of time and put it "where I'll know where it is" when the occasion occurs.
One of the ironic similarities Bud and I have discovered in our years together was that as kids we both had wished we had a weeping willow. In celebration of Earth Day in 1999, we planted a weeping willow at Orchard Prairie with the help of Preston, Shalea, Ki, Kathryn, Deise, Dominique and Devin. (Shalea & kids in picture above a few years later.)
As I wrote about in my February 7 blog, I love trees. I won't be planting any here at Quiet Harbor, but I can continue to contribute to plantings in other locations and to observe both Earth Day and Arbor Day each year.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

"Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White"

"It's cherry pink and apple blossom white
When your true lover comes your way
It's cherry pink and apple blossom white
The poet's say.......
And so that's why the poets often write
When there's a new moon up above
It's cherry pink and apple blossom white
When you're in love.
(Mack David and Louiegay 1951)
All the beautiful trees in blossom right now reminded me of this song from my youth. The most popular recording was by Perez Prado (The "King of Mambo"). It was on the charts for twenty-six weeks - ten weeks at number one in 1955. (Alan Dale's vocal version went to #14 on the charts.)
The song that knocked it from #1 was "Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley and the Comets. (One of my all-time favourites.)
This picture of Buffy in front of Mom's crab apple tree was taken in 1989. Her tree was always so gorgeous. It was used as a background in many pictures.

Such as this one of Kari, Mom and me circa 1985. The tree was an orna-mental. I don't think Mom ever tried making crab apple jelly from the fruit, but the birds enjoyed it. And while the crab apples from it were sometimes a pain in the fall, they were worth it for the beauty in the spring.
Today's high winds will play havoc with many of the cherry pink and apple blossom white blooms which reminds me of some lines from a Shakespeare sonnet:
"Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate;
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date......."
It isn't quite May yet. Not all cherry blossoms are pink nor are all apple blossoms white. The moon last night was full, not new, but I hope you are able to enjoy the beauty of spring and are at least a little in love.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Bridges of Madison County (BW&O*)

(*Before Waller & Oprah)

Roseman Bridge

Every once in awhile our family Sunday afternoon drives went beyond Adams County.
Ten years before Madison County began celebrating with their annual Covered Bridge Festival every October (1970) we set off to find the covered bridges ourselves.
Before they became famous thanks to Robert Waller's book and Oprah's live broadcast from Cedar Bridge, the bridges were old, unmarked and hard to find. The day we went looking for them in the autumn of my senior year, we only found Cedar and Roseman (pictured). Out of the nineteen original covered bridges in Madison County, only six remain. All have been renovated except Cedar which has been rebuilt after an arsonist destroyed it. As nice as they are now, there was a certain dilapidated charm to them before.
That same day we drove through Harmon Tunnel (above) in order to drive around Pammel State Park, one of Iowa's earliest state parks and, I think, one of the most beautiful.

This picture of me was taken that day as I walked across the ford over the Middle River. It always seemed so exciting to me to drive through the water.
Several years earlier we Jasper #2 schoolers took a trip to Pammel. It may have been an end-of-the-school-year picnic or a science field trip. The thing I remember most about it was finding snail shells. There were so many of them and they were so pretty. I had a pocket full of them before I smelled my hands. E-w-w-w-w-w! It took me awhile to realize the awful smell was from the snails. I emptied my pockets and wished I had some soap with which to wash off the smell. The best I could do was dip my hands in the river and wipe them on my jeans.
The Middle River through Pammel played another memorable part in my life the summer before I turned 40. A chance remark at a Tupperware party resulted in an invitation to go canoeing. (I had stated canoeing down a river before I turned 40 was an ambition of mine.) Eight people in four canoes put in along a gravel road above Pammel. It was one of the most fun afternoons. When we got to the ford, all the canoes except one put out above the ford and then put back in. Two guys thought they could make it over. Of course the canoe capsized and they ended up in the water. Hilarious.
We made one more stop on the way home that fall day in 1960 - at the Mormon Cemetery at Mt. Pisgah. That was another unmarked place you had to know how to find. Somehow Dad knew how to get there. There are directions to the cemetery along Hwy 169 now. The way we went was along a winding dirt road off Hwy 34. That road is closed now. Somehow following it made the drive more romantic to a teenager. Just as romantic as walking through the old Roseman Bridge. It just took Robert Waller to let the world know just how romantic.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

April Reads I

W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O'Neal Gear have authored many notable books about native peoples of early North America. Now they have turned pens to their first book in their 'Contact - the Battle for America' series - as the native inhabitants come into contact with the "discoverers" of the Americas.
"Coming of the Storm" tells the story of one of the first cultural clashes when Hernando DeSoto lands in what is now Florida in 1539. Up until that time various tribes warred with one another. Now they must band together to try to defeat a common enemy - an enemy which does not recognize the rules of ethics the tribes honor even in war.
The Gear's backgrounds in anthropology and journalism along with their desire to tell it as it was, makes reading their novels very interesting to one who loves history. I always learn a lot when I read one of their books.
The second Anne Perry "Inspector Monk" mystery, "A Dangerous Mourning" was my next April read. Monk is slowly regaining his memory when he is assigned the case of who murdered Sir Basil Moidore's beautiful daughter - stabbed to death in her own bed. Sergeant Evan is again by his side as they work to solve the case. Nurse Hester Latterly extends her intelligent help once again after losing her position in one London's Victorian hospitals. Monk also loses his livelihood as a member of the Metropolitan Police for refusing to arrest one of the young footmen in Sir Basil's employ. Runcorn at last has an excuse and gleefully fires Monk. Ms. Latterly surreptitiously makes a suggestion to a wealthy friend and Monk is set up in business as a private detective.
I'm anticipating Nurse Latterly and Inspector Monk in business together in book three. Perhaps Evans will even join them?
Anna Quindlen won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992 for her NY Times column "Public and Private". At the time "Rise and Shine" was published in 2006, she was a columnist for Newsweek. I have read her four other novels: "Object Lessons", "One True Thing", "Black and Blue" and "Blessings" and enjoyed them all. Likewise "Rise and Shine" - the story of two sisters and their relationship to one another and others in their lives in New York City.
Another of Kristina's recommendations when we were in Tucson was Tony Earley's "Jim The Boy". Our library does not have it, nor did Half-Price Bookstore. Half-Price did have Earley's follow-up to it, "The Blue Star", however. 'Blue Star' is a coming of age book which follows Jim through his senior year in high school up to when he catches the train for basic training at the beginning of WWII.
Earley's spare and perfect prose captures the simplicity of the way we (of a certain age) used to live. That may be why I am so entranced by this book. It is set in North Carolina in 1941-42, but could have as easily been placed anywhere in the United States during the '40's.
Earley is purportedly thinking about a third "Jim" novel. I'm hoping he does write it and sooner than the eight years between the first two. In the meantime, I still have "Jim The Boy" to look forward to.
Elizabeth Berg is my adopted author at Gibson Memorial Library. Her latest, "The Last Time I Saw You" was released April 6. The library called me Monday to say it was in. I picked it up yesterday and finished reading it today.
"Last Time" is the story of a 40th class reunion. Five class members' stories are told leading up to, during and after their reunion weekend. The five, two men and three women, range from the hero quarterback, the class beauty, the nerds and the 'unseen'.
For me, Berg is one of the best authors in terms of getting inside her characters and making them real. When I finish one of her books, I say, "Oh, my gosh. How does she do it?" I follow her blog. One of her readers told her she always feels like trying to be a better person after she has read one of Berg's books. Maybe that is her appeal for me. It just feels like she knows me - like I know her - and we are friends. She is uplifting.
When I suggested one of Berg's books for a book club I once attended, some of the others felt the novel we read was pretty lame and unreal. I've thought about that a great deal. One of my realizations was that I was the only uneducated person in that book club. So, maybe Berg appeals more to the common masses? I don't know. I just know I love her writing and will continue reading her books as long as she keeps writing them.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Oh My Aching Back

It is estimated between 85 and 90 percent of us have problems with our backs sometime during our lives. I have had back pain of one sort or another all my life. I started going to a chiropractor when I was ten years old. One of the worst times was when I dove into the swimming pool the wrong way. Another was when I was moving a chest of drawers and my back "went out". Now I have some arthritis in my lower back and a place under my right shoulder blade that feels like someone is sticking me with hot pokers. It is the same location I once had severe muscle spasms.
Still, I feel lucky. Especially after talking with one of our fellow YMCA walkers this morning. His wife is having back surgery tomorrow. First they will scrape the vertebra where it is pinching a nerve. Then they will put two rods in to try and align the spine. Ouch. She won't be able to do anything for four months. I can't even imagine going through something like that.
I know some (probably most) of my pain is from poor posture and not doing back strengthening exercises - which are actually abdominal muscle strengthening exercises. Losing some weight would help, too, I'm sure. All things I could do for myself. Must do if I don't want to have surgery someday.
Dad always had back pain. Part of it was occupational - farming is hard work. Part of it was being overweight. The week before my wedding in 1961, he was carrying a bushel and half basket of corn across the barnyard from the corn crib to the hog house. His back went out. When I left for the church to get ready for the wedding, I didn't know if he was going to be there to give me away or not. When he did show up just in time to walk me down the aisle I was more concerned about him collapsing than I was about anything else.
Drs. told him he had a slipped disc. He could have back surgery. But that was one thing he wouldn't do. Someone he knew back in the 40's had back surgery and ended up being paralyzed. No way was he going to chance that even though medical procedures had become safer in the twenty some years since then.
Then he decided he had multiple sclerosis or even Lou Gehrig's disease. If someone he knew had MS or ALS, he went to visit with them to compare symptoms. Dad died in 1978 of a heart attack without ever being diagnosed with a degenerative nerve disease or having back surgery. I had forgotten until I recently re-read his obituary that we had suggested memorials be made to the Multiple Sclerosis Association.
Generally after I've been up and moving around for awhile my back quits hurting. I just need to follow my own advice to stay away from any kind of surgery as long as I can.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Take the A Train

"Hurry get on now it's coming
Listen to those rails a'thrumming (all aboard)
Get on the A train
Soon you will be on Sugar Hill in Harlem....."
'Take the A Train' was the signature tune for the Duke Ellington orchestra. The A train I'm thinking of is Amtrak. Taking a trip by train is one of the to do's on my bucket list. At some point I need to start crossing things off that list. Maybe Kari's visit is the time to do that.
When Kari and Ken first started talking about coming back for a week this spring, they talked of taking the train back. That plan gave way to the less time traveling, more time there, practicality of flying. But it got me thinking of a trip on the train to Chicago while they are here. The more I think about it, the more it sounds like fun. It could just be an overnight stay in Chicago which would be enough time for a museum or two, a nice dinner, shopping on the magnificent mile - a small taste of the city, not a feast - enough of an experience to decide if we'd want to expand upon it.
I still have faint impressions of taking the train and visiting Chicago when I was in 7th grade - it was 54 years ago, April 27-28, 1956. Mrs. Kimball took the sixth, seventh and eighth graders on a school tour. I think the cost was $25.00. We boarded the train in Corning at 11:55 p.m., got very little sleep and got into Chi-town at 9:10 a.m. I still remember breakfast on the train - the scrambled eggs weren't fully cooked.
We went to the Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Science & Industry, the Shedd Aquarium and the Lincoln Park Zoo. We were on such a tight schedule. Dinner was at Fred Harvey's. We left Chicago at 6:30 p.m. and didn't get back to Corning until 6:30 a.m. There was some problem and we spent three hours stuck in Burlington. I would not want to try to crowd all that into one day again! I remember having $5.00 spending money - alot in those days. I also would not want to try to only spend $5.00 in Chicago now.
The more I think about this, the better it sounds........

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Learning to Handle Disappointment

Most of my "words to live by" came from my Mom. But there is one thing my Dad said to me that I have never forgotten.
It happened two or three years before this picture of us was taken in the fall of 1960 - my senior year in highschool - a couple months before my 17th birthday.
There was a movie showing in town that I was just 'dying' to see. I had to see that movie. I begged first Mom and then Dad to take me to town so I could see that movie!
Neither of them relented. I went into a major whining, moping, crying fit. Dad said to me: "If not going to that show is the biggest disappointment you ever have in your life, you'll be lucky."
I didn't appreciate it at the time but he was trying to teach me to put things into perspective.
Kids need to learn how to deal with small frustrations in order to cope with larger disappointments later in life. Over my lifetime my way of dealing has been the development of the philosophy that 'it wasn't meant to be' or 'everything happens for a reason' even when I don't understand the reason at the time.
For the past week I have been looking forward to seeing my grandson Brock for the first time in more than two years and seeing his son, Ridge, for the first time ever. Ridge is my first great grandchild, born four months and two days before Rodney. And while I looked forward to seeing them both, I did not let myself believe that it would actually happen. A good thing, because they did not come down. There have been a lot of disappointments where Brock has been concerned. I was protecting my heart from yet another.
Because of the circumstances, I know I'll never get to be the grandma to Ridge that I will be to Rodney, but I do believe I'll see both Brock and Ridge before too long. I won't be disappointed.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

"Where There's A Helpful Smile......

in every aisle...." (Or as Bud said during his brief HyVee career - "Where there's a smirk on every jerk.)
When Kenny and I were married in 1961, I was the chief bread-winner. I had a 40-hr per week job which paid $1.00 per hour. That's right kiddies, my gross paycheck each week was $40.00. Out of that I bought groceries, paid for health insurance for both of us, and paid $30.00 a month for rent. I had purchased used furniture and appliances before our wedding. We drove Kenny's 1949 Mercury when it ran. Our entertainment was an occasional movie, mostly we got together with other young couples and played cards.
It was a happy day when Kenny got a job at Miller Chevrolet. Unfortunately it only lasted a few months, but helped get us through the winter. Then he got some work helping farmers during spring planting. Before Doug was born in August, Kenny got a job with Hy-Vee; a job with benefits and employee bonuses! Yay! When he began working there, the store was in the old Turner building at the top of main street where the antique store is now. Later they moved into the current location - a similar-sized building but a much bigger parking lot.
Kenny worked for Hy-Vee the rest of his life with the exception of a brief time working for Turner's in Bedford. From the Corning Hy-Vee he went to Villisca. From there to SE 14th in Des Moines and then to Perry which is where he was working when he died in 1980 at the age of 37.
Now it looks like he has a grandson following in his footsteps - Doug's son, Zach, has been working at the Hy-Vee in Muscatine for more than a year. After his Mother died and his sister moved back to West Des Moines, it left Zach without any family near-by. He began looking at the possibilities of transferring to a store nearer to Des Moines. Yesterday he called with the good news he is transferring to the Newton Hy-Vee. It will be a homecoming for him as Newton is where he grew up and attended school.
Zach never knew his grandpa Kenny, of course, but I hope he feels a connection as he continues his career with Hy-Vee.

Friday, April 9, 2010

"Niagara Falls or Bust"

Last month as I read "City of Light" set in Buffalo, NY during the early 1900's during the time Niagara Falls was becoming a source of power for electricity, I was reminded of growing up in the late 1940's and early 1950's when after almost every wedding the groom's car was decorated with "Niagara Falls or Bust" shoe-polished on the rear window.
Not many couples from Adams County Iowa actually went to Niagara Falls on their honeymoon (one of my classmates did) but it was still a destination to aspire to. For a kid with an imagination, it seemed to me it had to be a magical place even if I didn't understand about honeymoons. When Kenny and I were married in 1961 the double-entendre "Hot Springs tonight" had replaced "Niagara Falls or Bust" on the car window along with the shoes and aluminum cans tied to the back bumper.
Another post wedding rite was the charivari, or as we called it, a shivaree. A young married couple was often shivareed or serenaded by relatives, friends and neighbors within a week or two after their nuptials. The point of a charivari was to 1) surprise the newlyweds (often shortly after their bedroom light went out) and 2) to make as much noise as possible by honking horns, banging on pots and pans and ringing cowbells. Once the couple had been routed from bed, it was incumbent upon them to supply cigars and candy bars to the revelers.
The charivari I remember best (most likely because I was 12 yrs old) was the one for Richard Goldsmith and Norma Jean Boswell after their marriage in 1955. The couple had rented an upstairs apartment from Earl Johns. Besides all the noise we made and crowding into their small home, I remember someone in the kitchen putting salt in the sugar bowl and sugar in the salt shaker.
Even though Kenny and I had cigars and candy bars on hand for a shivaree after our November wedding, we weren't shivareed until the following February after my cousin Lila's wedding. The custom was to bring the newlyweds to town and make the groom push the bride up main street in a wheelbarrow and the bride push the groom down the Davis Avenue hill. Kenny and I were there to join in the fun when cousin Glen decided we hadn't been charivaried and needed to do the wheelbarrow thing after Lila and Darrel. Being the party-pooper I am, I refused and used being pregnant as my excuse.
Wedding anniversaries were another time couples were shivareed. When our neighbors and good friends, Dean & Crystal Firkins were celebrating their silver anniversary, the neighbors got together to plan a surprise charivari. We all met at the bottom of the hill north of Dean & Crystal's then drove in with lights off and horns blaring. Unbeknownst to the party planners, the Firkins had decided to drive to Omaha for the night to celebrate. Some of the neighbors involved decided to go into the house anyway and proceeded to make a big mess - not just exchanging sugar for salt but putting flour or something in the bed - and generally making a huge clean-up job. The fall-out was that Crystal blamed Mom and quit speaking to her. Until then they had been best friends and even though Mom said she wasn't involved in making the mess, Crystal didn't talk to her again for years.
After reading about Niagara Falls and thinking about how it had once been a destination for honeymoons, I added it to the list of where we might go to celebrate our silver anniversary.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Duncan Cousins

Finding this picture of Shirley Jean Duncan, age six years and William Lloyd Duncan, age four and a half months, prompted me to get back in touch with Shirley's daughter, Victoria. She had contacted my brother, Les, four years ago looking for information on her Duncan relatives. He forwarded her e-mail to me and I replied with what info I had.
Shirley and William are the children of Grandma Bessie Duncan Lynam's youngest brother, Ralph. I met Ralph and Shirley in May, 1957, when they came from Seattle, WA to visit Grandma Bessie and Ralph's brothers, Leslie and Lloyd. I remember the visit at Grandma's house plus it was reported in the Free Press.
From reading the old papers online, it appears Ralph, his wife, Pearl and little Shirley lived in the area until April, 1939. I don't know when William was born, but he is not mentioned in any of the Free Presses.
Victoria and her cousin Rachel, William's daughter, were looking for answers to one of their family's mysteries as well as working on their family tree. When they were teenagers, the girls had heard that their Grandpa Ralph had been married before he and Pearl were married and had a son from that union. Did we know anything about that? It wasn't a story I had ever heard. Another question she had was how did Ralph and Pearl meet as she was from New Jersey and he was a southwest Iowa boy. Again, something I could not answer. Pearl's maiden name was Kuiken. The only mention of any Kuikens I find in the old newspapers was from the September 29, 1938 Free Press - "Mr. & Mrs. John Kuiken and daughter Genevieve of Omaha spent the weekend in the W.O. Stalder home." This was in the "South Brooks" news. Might Pearl have been a relative of theirs?
I asked Victoria if she had had any luck in their search during the past four years but she did not reply to that question. She did say she would like to have the pictures I have of her Grandpa. And I will send this one along to her, too.
Talking about divorce or children born out of wedlock wasn't something our grandparents did. They might not even have told us if we had asked such questions. There are only two Duncan cousins of Dad's still living. I'd best be talking to them before it is too late.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Sibling Rivalry

Sibling rivalry - that phenomenon that turns brothers and sisters against each other - even though, deep down, they really do love one another. The feelings are as old as the bible and as new as the baby brought home yesterday. No matter how hard parents try to prevent the jealousies among their children, they are still going to occur.
This picture of my sister and brothers and me was taken April 21, 1955. Leslie was 14 months old, Ronald was almost 15 years old, Betty was nine and a half and I was eleven and a half. I was never jealous of Ron or Les - well, ok, maybe when Ron got a car when he was in highschool and I didn't. I always looked up to my older brother and my younger brother was too cute and precious to be jealous of.
Oh, but my sister; that was another story. I have always claimed my very earliest memory at age two was of having to sit in the backseat of the car on the way to town because "the baby" had taken over my place in the front seat with my Mom.
As we got older, the rivalry was over our Dad. I thought Betty was his favourite because he had named her. She thought I was his favourite. (I don't know why.) I don't think the brothers were ever jealous of one another - there was too much of an age difference. I've never asked Ron if he was jealous of me when I was born. He was three and a half when I came along, so I imagine he might have been a little jealous. Betty was jealous of Leslie at first, but she got over it.
Regardless of how much sibling rivalry and jealousy occurs in youth, if we live long enough we supposedly outgrow it. I will always wonder if my sister and I would have been close now. When she died at age 28 (I was 30) we were still jealous of one another. Besides the 'survivor guilt' I felt, I had a clear memory of when we were little, crossing a street in Corning, each of us holding on to one of Mom's hands. I wished I was the only girl and had Mom to myself. The memory of that wish haunted me when she died.
I know there was and probably still is rivalry among my three. Kari probably thinks I favor the boys. They probably think I favor her. Doug might think I favor Preston because he is the youngest while Preston thinks the opposite because Doug was my first born.
Rivalries and jealousies even extend to grandchildren. Grandma Ridnour's favourite was Larry, the first born grandchild. It also seemed to me she favored Aunt Lois' kids over Aunt Evelyn's and our family (with the exception of Larry).
After Betty died, her daughter, Kristi, lived with my Mom & Dad for several months. I did not have a problem with that, but when, after a couple years, it seemed to me Kari was becoming less fond of her Grandma Ruth because of the favortism she showed toward Kristi, I talked to Mom about it.
I'm sure if my grandkids were asked, Doug's kids would say I favor Preston's children and Preston's kids probably think I favor Doug's. Nothing I do or don't do or say or don't say will change that. Now there is another generation, two great-grandsons to compete for favortism.
Sibling rivalry will never end. The only solution is to have only one child....and one grandchild....and one great-grandchild............

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Memories

Easter morning was almost as much anticipated as Christmas morning. Mom boiled eggs for us to color on Saturday. Sunday morning we would rush outside to find the hidden eggs and our baskets. Some of our baskets were paper mache rabbits like these. The basket on the back of the large bunny would have had green 'grass' in it and some jelly beans. I also remember bunnies that had a kind of fuzz on them with a slot in their back to use as coin banks.
Dying our eggs was a huge competition - whose was prettiest; most unusual, etc. When the dye kits began containing a wax pencil to draw designs on the eggs before coloring, the creativeness escalated. We learned we could have two-toned eggs by dipping each side in a different color - even how to come up with new colors by using first one dye then re-dipping the egg in another color. That didn't always work too well however when our eggs came out an icky drab green or brown.
It was at Easter that I first learned Santa Claus wasn't real. We got up before Mom had hidden our eggs and baskets. We wanted to run outside right away, but she needed to detour us. She looked out the east door and said, "Look! There goes the Easter Bunny down the sidewalk!" While we tore out of the back door to look for the Easter Rabbit, she went out the west door to hide things. Unfortunately we gave up trying to find the E B before she finished and we saw her hiding the eggs. When I confronted her about being the Easter Bunny, she admitted that there wasn't a real Easter Rabbit, that it was she. Later in the day I started putting two and two together. "Are you Santa Claus, too?" I asked. When she admitted that, too, a certain childhood innocence was lost.

By the time my children were small, the Easter baskets looked more like this - full of hollow chocolate rabbits, marshmallow peeps in pink and yellow, chocolate covered marshmallow eggs, jelly beans and fuzzy little yellow chickens - not real ones. Although when I was a child, Corning Hatchery had live colored chicks at Easter time. They dyed baby chicks in colors of green, pink and blue. I remember looking at them through the window and wanting one, but we never got any. We always had 200 baby chicks to raise in the brooder house every April. Mom didn't think we needed to pay fifty cents or a dollar for a pink or green one.
I remember my children wanting the fancy cello-wrapped Easter baskets which usually contained a stuffed animal and a few candies. Instead of buying those expensive versions, I bought plastic baskets or cheap wicker ones, green 'grass' and several bags of candy and made their baskets. We did the coloring of boiled eggs to hide around the yard, as well. There were probably some years I made their baskets out of something like a cut-down oatmeal box or reused the ones from the year before. I'm sure my Mom did the same for us - probably using the squat, round, one-pound cans coffee came in.
By the time I had grandchildren to hide Easter eggs for, the fillable plastic versions had arrived. It was so much easier to have those already filled with candy and hidden around the yard before they came for Easter dinner. Invariably every year there would be one or two we couldn't find. I would find them while mowing the yard that summer or even when hiding the eggs the following year.
Other than learning Mom was the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus, my most memorable Easter was when I was 16. I decided I wanted to go to Easter Sunrise service at Fairview Church. When I got up, it had snowed overnight and was still snowing. I knew if I asked, the folks would say no to me taking the car and going, so I didn't ask. They were out in the barn doing the milking when I left. They were really upset with me for taking the car in the storm; "What if you'd gone off the road?, You're not experienced enough to drive in snow!" etc. was all I heard when I got home. They threatened to ground me for a week but later in the day my boyfriend came over and they let me go out with him.
As much fun as it was to color all those hard-boiled eggs, it wasn't easy to get them used up. Eating a couple boiled eggs was plenty. My sister, Betty, came up with a solution - "Eggs ala Goldenrod" - a fancy name for chopped boiled eggs in white sauce served over toast or biscuits. It was good. It got the eggs used up. I still think of her and her "Eggs ala Goldenrod" every Easter even though I no longer participate in coloring eggs.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

"But it seems like just yesterday......"

Every grandparent asks the same question: "How did they grow up so fast?" We helped Princess Alyssa celebrate her 21st birthday last night.
Little Aly and Grandpa Bud have always had a special bond. We were still living in West Des Moines when Doug & Shelly had their baby on April 2, 1989. (I was glad she waited a day so she wasn't an April Fool.) Being in close proximity meant we saw a lot of Aly the first six years. Even after we moved back home she spent occasional weekends with us when her parents were busy.
One of Bud's favorite stories is when we took her to an Easter egg hunt when she was only one. She may not have understood the concept of grabbing candy and putting it in her basket, but she knew what to do when a little boy tried to take a piece of candy away from her - she stood her ground and took it back.
One of my favourite stories is the night Shelly, Kari, Aly & I went to the xmas season kick-off in Valley Junction - so many stores, so little time. We were trying to plan a strategy when five-year-old Alyssa piped up: "We can do it all!" We laughed and agreed - we are women, we CAN do it all.
Bud's favorite picture of Alyssa when she was little is the one above. I think mine is one of her leaning over the rain barrel in the back yard of 517-4th St trying to catch rain on her tongue as it came down the spout.
Where does the time go? How do our little ones grow up so fast? It is a delight to cuddle and love them when they are little. It is a privilege to know them as adults. The time between feeding the ducks and geese at Maclaren's Resthaven with Aly, age 4 and visiting Luther Campus with Alyssa, age 20, passed so quickly. I don't know what she wished for last night at her birthday party - but my wish is we get to celebrate many more birthdays with her.

Friday, April 2, 2010

April 2, 1916

Until twenty-one years ago, April 2 meant to me my Grandpa & Grandma Ridnour's anniversary date. Joseph Rufus Ridnour and Delphia Verda Means were married on this date in 1916 by Adams County's "marrying preacher" A.Y. Cupp at his home near Carbon.
Joe was the son of Lydia Katherine Mauderly and Rufus Ridnour. He grew up with his sisters, Florence and Lottie on the Mauderly home place NE of Nodaway. He had a little brother, Fred (Freddie) who did not survive. Grandpa was born in Page County June 11, 1896.
Delphia was the daughter of Matilda Naomi Lippincott and George Robert Means. She was born May 10, 1896 near Mt. Etna. She had an older brother, Orphas and two sisters, Drothel and Delilah. Delilah was born March 4, 1890 and died of cholera in August, 1891.
Grandma's grandparents, David and Catherine Lippincott operated the Mt. Etna Mill at one time. In the spring of 1905, the Means family decided to move to Kansas. I remember Grandma Delphia telling me about going to Kansas in a covered wagon. Either they got homesick or did not find Kansas to their liking because three months later, July 1, 1905, they were back in Washington Twp. (Mt. Etna). That must have been quite an adventure for a nine year old.
When I asked Grandma how she and Grandpa met (because to me as a youngster, the distance between Nodaway and Mt. Etna seemed farther than they could travel by horse and buggy), she told me they met at the Brooks Homecoming.
It must have been the very first Brooks Homecoming held which was in 1915. I can remember going to the Brooks Homecoming as a young child. The last one was held in 1953. By then they didn't amount to much - a picnic lunch and a ball game is what I remember. But in the 30's & 40's besides ball games and other sporting events and contests, they included a pet and doll parade for the 12 and under crowd, a flower show, concessions and a dance both nights of the festivities.
Grandpa & Grandma's first home was a small three room house on the Leatherman place in the Highland area in Douglas Twp. It was in that house their first daughter, Evelyn was born in November, 1916 and my mother, Ruth was born in January, 1919. I think they had moved NE of Villisca (to the farm where Findley Cemetery is located) before Lois was born in June, 1920.
After living in the Guss area many years Joe & Delphia bought the Heaton Farm west of Ivyville in 1941. It was there they lived the remainder of their lives. It was there I remember celebrating holidays, birthdays and anniversaries, including their 43rd in 1959 before Grandpa died in February of 1960. (This picture was probably taken around the time of their 30th anniversary.)
April 2, 1989, my second granddaughter, Alyssa Mae Botkin was born in Des Moines. Today I remember my Grandparent Ridnour's wedding anniversary date. Tonight I will be present as Aly celebrates her 21st birthday.