Friday, January 25, 2013

Skate on a Puddle, Skate on a Pond

The winter blast has swept across the United States from Oregon to Ohio. It seems that when we have cold, Ohio has warm, then the opposite applies. Every time I hear that Ohio had chilling temperatures, I think immediately about the frozen puddles that sat low in the lane that lead back to the house on Neff Road. Brenda and I loved to test the puddles with our booted feet. First a tap to see if the ice was fully formed. Then we would stand back, get a good start and glide across the 2 1/2 foot puddle. It was well worth bundling up against the cold for just a few glides across the ice.

Grandad's pond had been a skating rink for children since my father was just a boy. He often told of he and his brothers skating across the ice. It probably had to do with that bit of Swiss blood that ran through our veins. The old quarry was dark and deep, yet when winter came, it's beauty was unsurpassed. The woods gave the pond a lovely backdrop that blocked the wind for chilly skaters. We sailed across the deepest parts of the pond feeling the power over its depths. A pond that had seen a few generations.

Often the Stager, Lavy and Loxley kids dragged boots and skates across the fields to the pond. Dad loved any excuse to take us with his skates slung across his back. He would pile us into a wagon and drive across the frozen field not only taking the kids but also bringing along hockey sticks and pucks.  Kids of all ages slipped and slid, skated and spun across the frozen pond. We skated on that pond from the time we could walk until the day we walked away from Neff Road.

Winter embraces Ohio once more. The puddles in the lane disappeared when Dad tiled the farm. Two little girls grew up and became grandmas. But still we remember......skate on a puddle, skate on a pond.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

What a Switch

The first one I remember was essentially a string. It hung down from the ceiling in the basement fruit room. Whenever I entered, I reached for the string in the dark and gave it a pull. The light came on. I prayed I wouldn't see a mouse, but loved to pull the string. Sounds silly, but as a kid, I yanked that string a good many times. The light in our bedroom turned off and on with a little, silver chain. The light bulb sat in the socket with the chain hanging below. My sister would make me turn off the light then find my way back to the bed we shared. More times than not she would hide before I got back into bed then scare me. She was good at it.

My grandfather had a light switch. Well, it wasn't a switch like we have now but a knob that turned the lights off and on. He also had brass switch plates with two buttons. One button turned on the lights. And, you can imagine the purpose of the other. I think those might be my favorite switches. Many years later lights turned on with the silent lifting of a switch bar or the pushing of one end of the button. I can track my history by light switches.

Now we have lights that dim, are on timers, have motion sensors and can be turned on or off by the clapping of hands. You can get on your computer and turn your lights off and on at home. Car lights turn on before we ever get into the car. Lights seem to automatically follow us around by no effort of our own. I sense a bit of laziness in my hands. They occasionally have the urge to push a light button again. My grandkids won't have any idea what the old light switches were all about. They won't know the thrill of walking into a dark room reaching out for a light string. The won't know the thrill of pushing the buttons or reaching for a dusty light bulb hanging from a cord. Those were usually in the barn.

I'm not sure how much more progression can be made in this history of light switches. Maybe next we will use the 'think method'. All I can say is "what a switch".

Monday, January 14, 2013

Warming the present with the past

Shhhhh. I'm typing in a state of memory...or more aptly, in the state of Ohio. It's winter. Snow is falling.  I hear Dad in the basement. His face is bright red. He is stomping his boots on a mat. Snow is scattered around him. His arms are full of chopped wood.

Upstairs Mom is in the kitchen. She made potato salad earlier in the day. "Pam, take these buns downstairs." I load my arms with packages of buns and anything else I can carry. The hot dogs are already in the refrigerator in the basement. I pull out the condiments and set them next to the potato chips and dip. Dad has a nice fire going by now and is pulling out the roasting forks.

An old piano bench sits before the fire.  I sit down next to Dad. We watch the flames dance, talking about the different colors. The fire has to burn down, so we could roast the hot dogs evenly. None of my father's daughters last too long next to the fire. He usually does most of the roasting. I like to brave the flames, so I can spend time with my daddy.

Here comes Mom carrying another bowl of food and dessert. By now the dogs are done, the plates out, and someone is taking drink orders. Two 7ups and three Pepsi. We fill our plates and sit down in to eat. This is our our second kitchen. Our meal together is light hearted and usually attended by one or two other guests who show up before we are finished.

Oh, how we loved those times spent in the basement around the fire. It was the place of hot dogs, marshmallows, Christmas lights and a roaring fire. It was ping pong, pool, rollerskating and laundry. It was a place of fellowship, family and, once in awhile, a little romance. Whenever I go back to the farm in my memories, I go first to the basement. There I warm the present with the past.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

A Blogging Neighborhood

Neff Road is for all ages. It is a place where I just talk about my life growing up on a farm. A place where you can learn about the past, and a place where you can find a memory of your own. If you have something you would like to talk about, please make a comment or email me. Our world gets smaller all the time. You are my neighbor. We can have a great time sharing those memories and giving others a peek into the past. So please, contact me and get the conversations going. No one can track you on this blog site. You do not need to add a name. In fact, it is a good time to make up a fun name.

Welcome to my neighborhood. Remember that it is yours, too.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Death of Galoshes

Overshoes. Rain boots. Hm. I typed galoshes into Google to see if I could find any current pictures of galoshes only to find that when I pulled up each site that was listed for galoshes, I found only overshoes or rain boots. Hm...again.

I have very fond memories of galoshes. One of my favorite Little  Golden Books that I loved as a child is called Little Galoshes. I had a pair of those wonderful galoshes just like the little boy on the cover of the book. Mom would pull the rubber boots up over my shoes then pull each metal buckle over to latch them tight. When I got older, I got to latch them myself. I must have buckled them a million times just to play with the buckles. After a cold day of playing in the snow, Mom would pull of the galoshes along with my shoes and socks. My toes were cold, but my galoshes kept them dry.

I know that my grandkids will never know the thrill of wearing galoshes. In fact, the word itself will probably be lost to the past. I still like to say the word. "Galoshes". Just rolls off the tongue. It's one of the words that was part of the past, as are words like couch, wash (laundry), butcher knife, automobile, pop, covers (blankets), curlers, bobby pins, etc. Words come and go. Our dictionary gets larger by a few words each year. The old words gets lost among the most commonly used and memories of those things seem to fade as well. If you love to write about the past, be it fact or fiction, those old words are like a soothing balm that calls to memory or plants a piece of history into the future. Kids now wear boots without shoes. There are less mud puddles to splash in with shiny black galoshes because there are fewer gravel driveways.

My old Golden books will get read to my grandchildren. They will hear the words, and I will explain the words they won't understand. My history of old rubber galoshes will be handed down. I just might try to find an old buckle to show my grandchildren the fun I had as a little girl. I'd gladly run through puddles again or shuffle my feet through the snow. I'd love once more to have Mom pull off my snowy coat, hat and scarf. My cheeks would be red. My toes would be cold, but my heart would be warm.

I mourn the death of galoshes. I'd gladly lose a sock and a shoe to the depths of an old, black, rubbery boot.