Friday, December 27, 2013

Off with the old

Off with the old, on with the new. That's supposedly what this transition from the old year to the new year represents. But we can't go forward with the new unless we build on the old. Unless we learn from the old.

I have a pile of old magazines. In this pile I found out that 1968 was an incredible year. So I decided to take a look and see if indeed is was incredible. The photo on the front cover is a view of earth from Apollo 8. Jim Lovell, Frank Borman and William Anders circled the moon 10 times shooting pictures never seen before. The first lunar orbit. Yep, that's pretty incredible. The Pueblo was seized. Mia Farrow was a flower child. Martin Luther King was assassinated in May. Robert Kennedy fell the next month. Jackie married Ari, and Nixon became President. A war was coming to an end and our boys were coming home. Discrimination was a dirty word and the line between black and white began to slightly fade.Tiny Tim, Mrs. Robinson, Arthur Ashe, Shirley Chisholm and a show called Laugh in were names readily recognized. Now that is incredible.

Cigarette ads filled the pages. Anacin announced that "When boredom and emotional fatigue bring on the 'housewife headache', a couple of Anacin will clear it up. A year subscription to Life Magazine was $8.75.  And I lived on Forest Park Drive in Dayton. At least that's what the address label says.

I sit looking at this issue of Life that cost me all of 40 cents back then, trying to mesh then with now. The time went so quickly and seems just like yesterday. This look back to a time when I was only 21 tells me a lot about myself. All of the ways I have adapted to this quickly changing world. The people who have been added to my life....and those who have been taken away. Still in all the ways we have grown, we are still holding back in many. Pockets of prejudice and violence reside with us. War still looms and mistrust abounds.

I leave 2013 knowing that the changes that take place during the lives of my grandchildren will be even more amazing when they look back to the time when they were young. The new hangs onto the edge of old, waiting for the baton to be passed. May you carry with you all you have learned during the old year and go into the new knowing that you can make it better for you everyone around you. What better resolution. Happy New Year, my friends!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas on Neff Road

Hot dogs roasting on an open fire. Cinders warming up your toes. Yuletide carols being sung by the piano and folks dressed up like everyone else in the 1950's. A basket of nuts sat in the living room usually in Dad's lap. An angel-haired angel sat atop  the tree. A stocking held an orange and a small wooden doll that walked when a tiny ball on the end of a string was dropped over the side of the table.Christmas on the farm.

Geneva and Marilyn pulled Merrill and Don over to sled down the hill. Bill pulled Brenda over on their sled. It wouldn't be long until Dad was off on the tractor pulling car out of the ditch. Mom sat with Margaret or Doris or Betty in the kitchen laughing and talking about the weather and the health of everyone on Neff Road. Christmas on Neff Road.

Many people go through their lives never looking back. I find that in looking back, I can make the journey forward even more memorable. God knew what He was doing in placing me back that lane on Neff Road. He knew that I would carry on the stories of the past. He knew that I would learn from the life I was given and put it to paper, er, computer. Most history books give the facts. I hope that I pass on to you the heart of the people of Darke County. A farm community is like no other. We all knew what it is to share the burden of years when the weather failed the crops. We knew what it was to put the farm and the farm animals first. We knew the importance of our neighbors and our church. We shared Christmas joy together from year to year. This is the legacy I pass on.

Neff Road continues to be in my life. Janet Rhoades keeps me in the Neff Road loop. Last week she sent two lovely pictures of the snow and my grandfather's farm. We are the few who still remember the old neighborhood. We have developed a bond of friendship because of our tie to that lovely neighborhood.

I send you all seasons greetings from a girl from Neff Road. Special Christmas hugs to three of my favorite ladies from Neff Road. Margaret Stager, Doris Lavy and Dolores Bucholtz. With you, I still remember. May your Christmas be blessed with love and memories to keep you warm on other winter days.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Songs of the season

Retold memories of a once little girl from Neff Road.

The line of cars caravaned from place to place. Dressed in our winters warmest, we were a ban of merry carolers. Sometimes it was Mom and Dad's youth group from Painter Creek Church. Sometimes it was a group of singers from the choir. No matter who it was I tagged along. It wasn't like a Loxley to miss singing.

Even in the bitter cold, we trouped up each sidewalk then gathered close for warmth. Somehow I was always pushed to the front of the group. I never remember any other small children tagging along so I'm sure Mom and Dad were in charge. We began to sing with voices harmonizing, creating music that drifted through the chilly night. Shut-ins and elderly huddled against the cold as they stood in their doorways enjoying their own private concert. Often we were invited into the homes, but carolers had to keep moving in order to make all of their stops. Musical Christmas presents home delivered with love.

We went to the County Home in Greenville. It was a dark building that seemed rather ominous to a small child bundled so heavily that only two eyes and a little button nose peaked out from the wool hat and scarf. I vividly remember the door opening. A stairway ran up to the left. Along with a few other people, I stood at the bottom of the stairs inside out of the cold. Several thin, elderly people stood on the stairs while others gather in the hall. My sister remembers singing in a common room there. Mom wanted me to sing Away in the Manger. I don't think I did, because I was terribly shy. Maybe I hummed along. The experience left a mark on me. Not a Christmas goes by that I don't think of that dark hallway and the people looking at me. Those dear people had such little joy. These carolers were indeed a Christmas gift. A bit like the Little Drummer Boy. We had no gift to bring only our voices. I wish I had sung that song for them. For today I still carry those people in my heart.

I haven't heard of anyone caroling for years. That simpler time in life that I once knew was immersed in music. Families sung together. Men left that 'man circle' to come join around the piano. Carolers took their gift to the homes of those who were lonely and those who were sad. Music lifted us up and carried us through the hard times. Being shut in due to bad weather didn't stop us from having a great time. Not with a piano in the house.

For unto us a Child is born. Give a gift from your heart. Give a gift of music.

Friday, December 6, 2013

A bit of snow

Winter has come to Oregon. Even though we are a northern state, we have fairly mild winters. This year the cold blast has brought chilling winds and a dusting of snow. Only in the last few years have we seen much snow. It was a rarity when we moved here in 1978. Snow. How I miss the farm when the ground turns white.

We had two sleds. One was Dad's old sled. I imagine the second was purchased when the second daughter came to reside at the Loxley home. As a late comer, I got to ride with one of my sisters arms wrapped around me. Most of Neff Road is fairly flat. Our house sat on a hill; therefore, all the neighbor kids came to sled. Bundled from head to toe, they flew down the hill gliding out into the field. Dad watched over us making sure we were all safe and having a great time. He liked to give the sled a push and listen to the laughter of the children. Mom waited in the house with hot chocolate and popcorn balls.

This time of the year on Neff Road was very special. It meant neighbors coming to visit more often. It meant a warm fire in the fireplace and hot dogs on the roastings sticks. It meant fresh pie in the kitchen and a basket of nuts to crack open. Cold nights in the upstairs bedrooms and warm clothes draped over the radiator. The animals had on their winter coats. And we, too, donned layers of clothing. The old, thick comforters came out of storage along with a musty feather bed.  Sisters sharing a bed got along a little better in order to share the warmth. Dad was in the house more since the fields were sleeping. It was winter on Neff Road.

I stand by the window with my two little grandchildren. They see their first snow. Eyes are big and wonder is written all over them. What is this white stuff? They won't know the hill on Neff Road. Only the stories I write, the pictures I share and the memories I tell will keep this memory of mine alive for those who come after. I long for Neff Road, but with you, I visit it often.

We share memories, you and I. Our history is alive in what we pass on. A bit of snow and a childhood remembered.