Sunday, December 28, 2014

Auld Lang Syne

Robert Burns wrote a poem in 1788. It was later set to the tune of a traditional Scottish folk song. Similar text was found used as early as 1568. And we still use the same words today. Auld Lang Syne can be translated as 'old long since, days gone by and long, long ago'. A poem that pulls at the heartstrings and calls us all back to other days and those loved ones gone before. We bid farewell to a year ending and welcome a new year of memory making. My heart aches with the remembering other days and those times of saying good-bye. The missing is strongest on New Year's Eve.

My column is simple today. It is for those in my family, including Dolores Bucholtz and Janet and Don Rhoades who were my neighbors. It is for my friend Brenda Sparks and my dear 'Mom' Margaret Stager. For cousin Sue Johnson Snipes and Uncle Phil Barnhart. For my family of Painter Creek Church. For my friends from Franklin Monroe. It is for a family who lived back a lane on Neff Road. This is for you and those who have been part of your lives. For those from long, long ago.

Auld Lang Syne

Should old acquaintances be forgotten, and never brought to mind? Should old acquaintances be forgotten, and days of long ago! For times gone by, my dear, for times gone by, we will take a cup of kindness yet for times gone by.
We two have run about the hillsides and pulled the daisies fine, but we have wandered many a weary foot for times gone by. We two have paddled in the stream from noon until dinner time, but seas between us broad have roared since times gone by. And there is a hand, my trusty friend, and give us a hand of yours, and we will take a goodwill drink for times gone by!
And surely you will pay for your pint, and surely I will pay for mine! And we will take a cup of kindness yet for times gone by! For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne, we'll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne. And surely you'll buy your pint cup and surely I'll buy mine! And we'll take a cup o' kindness yet, for auld lang syne.

So we say farewell to 2014 and welcome the new year.  Happy New Year, my friends. Happy new year.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

To quote Tiny Tim

The woman asked if we had any bells. She was taking her grandchildren on The Polar Express that runs along Mt. Hood and wanted to give them each a bell. Well, Hallmark did a good thing in making a Polar Express bell. She took four. I made sure that she knew the price. It was no small gift. She touched my arm and said with tears in her eyes, "This is important. Today is the anniversary of my mother's death. I want these children to remember me and these moments. I can't give them her, but I can give them me." I gave her a hug and told her that tomorrow (December 14) was the anniversary of my mother's passing. A bond. Children of another generation realizing the importance of being grandparents. Children missing their own parents, knowing the gift we can is in the memories we make.

The man stood at the ornament wall.  Being my usual nosy self, I asked if I could help him. He was looking for an ornament for a dog. They had just lost their family pet. I asked if he was doing okay. With tears in his eyes, he said, "No. I lost my mother in October and my father in November. Now this." "Do you mind if I give you a hug?" I asked. I hugged his tall frame and his body shook with sorrow.

I wondered if perhaps there was a reason that Mom left us in December. She was the spirit of Christmas to me. She opened her arms to all with a loving embrace.  I know I sometimes resented never having Mom and Dad to myself. I was young and did not fully understand the meaning of living a life in Christ. I never knew my parents to be selfish. I never saw them turn anyone away. They always managed to feed whoever came through the door. Love was abundant in our home. My parents never complained. They led by example.

I remember standing in the large window in our house in Wisconsin. The snow fell in large, silent flakes. Already the ground was covered with many inches of snow. White. The white you dream of as a child, waiting for Santa to visit. I looked up into the winter sky and thought to myself, "I wish you were up there, Santa." I was far away from Neff Road. I missed those cold winter days before the fireplace, roasting hot dogs and visiting with old friends and neighbors. I wanted Santa to come to take us back to Christmases before.

I do not live in that house back the lane on Neff Road any more, but the lessons I learned have followed me throughout my life. We are all given opportunities to love and to be loved. We are placed in situations that call for compassion, forgiveness and selflessness. To be aware of others is to be blessed. The gift of Christmas.

We don't have much snow here in Oregon, but I know that up in that evening sky hopes of young children will fly. Parents will embrace the delight in giving. And hopefully, each person will seek peace and love for everyone they meet. To quote Tiny Tim, "God bless us every one."

Monday, December 8, 2014

My buddy Bing

Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Perry Como, Andy Williams, Bob Hope. On and on the list grows of those entertainer I grew up with. Well, I did not really grow up with them, but still they resided in our house. We even had Rudy Vallee, Hoagie Carmichael and many of the old timers there as well. I saw them off and on all year long but even more so at Christmas time.

This time of the year I pull out the Christmas music. I am fortunate to have the music that was handed down from my mother's cousin as well as much of her own sheet music. Three generations of music. Some is actually stitched along the fold to hold it together. This is the music that surrounded me in my growing up years. The songs I memorized by hearing them played and sung over and over again. The songs I grew up learning one finger at a time until I had conquered the notes. Now they come out again to greet me this new holiday season.

A fellow employee came up to me, "Do you know that some of these girls do not know who Elvis Presley is!?!?!?" Oh, yes, I know. A customer once asked one of girls if we carried something with Elvis on it. She blanked. I popped in with my ancient knowledge and helped the fellow. He went on to quiz the girl about JFK, Frank Sinatra and several others, totally sending the girl into tears. It is a new day and age. The family singing around the piano is a rarity. I grew up in a family where most everyone played the piano. Songs were handed down to the smallest of the tribe. Now ipods and headsets take the place. Singular music versus group. A new day. A new way.

I think there is something missing now-a-days, as my parents would say.  No one dragged us to the piano. No, we came from all parts of the house once the first notes were played. The old and the young stood together in harmony. When I was little, I remember being held by different family members while we sang. Funny, but I do not remember ever not knowing the words to those songs we all loved. I never had to memorize carols. They were part of the dialogue of my past that was placed upon me as surely as were my blue eyes.

Today I sang Jingle Bells in the car when taking the twins to my house. In the back seat I hear Nolan singing 'bells', 'way', 'tails', 'ring', 'bright', 'night'. Learning at age 2 by what he hears. Music that I will share from when I was young. Music he that will accompany him his entire life.

The beauty of the past comes alive at Christmas. It comes in a tune. It comes in a memory. It comes with the voice of Perry Como and the jazz renditions of Aretha Franklin. The stack of Christmas music comes out of the trunk. Bing and Danny Kaye look up at me from the front of  "Count your Blessings". I smile. I cannot help it! I have not seen these boys since last year. Now we have all come home for Christmas. A season of indeed counting blessings.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Season of sixty-seven trees

Thanksgiving is finished even if the leftovers are not. Just twenty-five days until St. Nick hops his chubby body into the sleigh for another yearly flight. Tree fever has hit the neighborhood. Tree lots are looking bare, waiting for more newly-cut trees to show up. Chilly weather keeps some from going to the tree farms dashing to the corner grocery instead. The weekend of the tree.

I have been single for a good many years. There are no arguments over which tree is perfect nor anyone to tell me that the tree is too big. I can have crooked tree or one with two tops and have no one to blame but myself. However, I could have used a little help this year getting the tree first out of my trunk then into the tree stand. Three times the tree fell over. Does a tree make a sound when it falls in the forest? Well, I do not live in a forest and the tree did not make a sound in the living room...I did.

Always when I put up the yearly tree, I think of several things. I remember Christmas's back the lane on Neff Road. Dad lifting me up to put the angel atop the tree, the angel with spun glass hair. I flicked the bubble lights to make them wake up and bubble once more. My little hands placed the cast iron ice skating figures on the mirror. Little houses and tiny evergreen trees added with a bit of fake snow made the perfect winter scene.

Then came the Christmas tree hunting with my children. Off to one of the wonderful tree farms here in Oregon. The tree that had a dead bird in it. A tree that fell on a friend who cut it. The perfect tree we found in a woods. The time my son and I rolled a tree down a hill to get it on top of my car. The ropes through the car windows and branches slapping the car. The smell of evergreen around us and on us. Perfect tree hunting days.

There is something about a Christmas tree that makes a house even more of a home. The soft lights and ornaments full of memories warm the heart. God certainly created a wonderful thing when he graced the earth with trees. The tree of the present represents all the trees from the past. Days when my aunts and uncles came to call. When my parents gave their daughter a puppy. A time I cannot recapture. Now new memories I can give my grandchildren.

It is that time of the year. The season of  my sixty-seven trees.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Leftovers to savor

Betty's baked beans. Aunt Welma's butterscotch pudding. Mom's roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, stuffing and pies. Food filled the counter tops. Aunt Bess was a fantastic cook and worked side by side with Mom. My job each Thanksgiving was to tear toast into small pieces. Mom did not buy croutons. She put her youngest next to the toaster with a full loaf an bread and set her to work. The big, white dishpan slowly filled with toasted pieces of bread doomed to be devoured. Mom boiled giblets and chopped onion, adding them to the toast. She broke an egg into the bread mixture then chopped the giblets and bits of chicken tossing them in, too. Next she added enough broth to the stuffing, or dressing as we called it, to make it very moist. When the Loxley girls got older, we tossed in some chopped mushrooms. The dressing we remember still. Leftovers to savor.

Favorite memories of Thanksgiving always seem to focus around the food. When I was older and had my own family, I hesitated to go away from home for that big meal for very selfish reasons. I wanted the leftovers. Cold dressing and chicken sandwiches, leftover pumpkin pie and mounds of my special mashed potatoes. In fact, I think perhaps the leftovers were better than the meal. With leftovers, I savor every bite.

The meal around the table. A puzzle in the living room. The men watching football or talking in the kitchen. The activities of the day seemed to hinge on the refrigerator door. Kids played pool or ping pong in the basement while babies played in the toy box. Thanksgivings over the years back the lane on Neff Road.

As time passed, so too did the traditions. The family scattered and many family members had passed. The traditions of Thanksgiving and Christmas changed. Children stayed home to have their own holiday celebrations with their families. Mom and Dad celebrated with Junior Shuff at their table. They were not ones to visit their children on holidays. I learned a lot from that. I decided that I would be with my children in any way possible rather than sit at home where old memories pulled at my heart. I would enjoy new holidays, watching new memories take shape. My special mashed potatoes are still on the table. Sometimes cousin Betty's baked beans appear. The pumpkin pie has changed to the family pumpkin cake. The old blended with the new.

Someday I will cook all the foods I miss from my childhood. I will stand next to the toaster, remembering a little girl whose small hands tore the bread into bit-sized pieces. I will look forward to leftovers the next day...and probably the next day after that. I am thankful for those Thanksgivings from the past and those that have been added with my children. I am thankful for being raised on a farm where most of the meal came from that place back the lane. And, I am thankful for you, my readers. May God bless your Thanksgiving. May peace come to those of you who find this time of the year difficult. May your day of thankfulness be filled with laughter and love. Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

My Humble Roots

The holiday season is knocking on the door. Along with the tinsel and wish list comes the recognition that there are many who have very little. It is the season of giving. It is the season of receiving.

We did not have much in that house back the lane on Neff Road. A family who lived on a farm and on the bounty it provided, if indeed there was a bounty on any particular year. And, our home was no different than those that surrounded us. We lived by the success or failure of the crops, of the well-being of the animals and of the health of the family members. I have a such admiration for my parents. Their love and commitment to one another was powerful. It was the one thing that kept this farm and family going. There was a strength in their pairing that could withstand anything that confronted them.

Bang! Bang! With each gun shot, another cow fell. I know that my mother cried and ached as each shot was spent. I know that every neighbor heard, and they, too, were heart broken. My mother probably held her daughters and wept. My father was probably one who held a rifle and wept as his lovely herd was put down. Bangs Disease took their livelihood. A new cow stable built for the milk cows. The latest equipment was purchased by the young couple. Dreams died in a pit truly of despair. Scarlet Fever attacked the young family. A disease fought only with penicillin, a drug not on the market until 1945. A middle daughter diagnosed with rheumatic fever and bedridden for two years. A baby daughter wrapped in a rubber sheet and placed in ice water to reduce the fever of spinal meningitis. How much could a family take? How did they survive?

As I laid in my tiny bed trying to survive, the small child in the next bed passed. My mother prayed that if I would live, she would give service to God the rest of her life. And she did. I believe that the faith that had seen them through the horrors of their young married life saved my life. The commitment of my mother to God truly touched the lives of all those who knew her. This was what happened in the house back the lane.

But there was much more. "I remember people leaving food outside the door." June said when I asked how they survived scarlet fever. The neighbors fed our family. I know when June was ill and in bed for all those many months that the neighbors made sure that she had things to do and visitors on a regular basis. When Dad lost his cattle, I know that the other farmers understood and did all they could to help him through this painful time. We were all poor but gave what we could of our own food, the help of our hands and all of our faith to help one another. It was, it is, the way of life on Neff Road.

My parents were very proud people. The most difficult thing in the world was for them to receive. Giving was easy. Accepting was hard. They never received that they did not feel compelled to do equally for someone else. I often had this argument with Mom over the fact that sometimes you had to receive to give others the benefit of giving. A hard lesson for a woman who promised to give for the rest of her life.

We on Neff Road came from humble roots. We live by the land. We love by the land. We are part of the land. What befalls a neighbor befalls each of us. When I return to my roots, I find that I am always welcomed home. I settle back into conversations as if I had never left. I find the same love greets me with open arms. The layers of the past welcome the memories and layers of the present. None of us had wealth, but living on Neff Road, we were rich.

It is a season of giving.....and receiving. A season of memories and thanks giving.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Time out

Time for a change. Literally, time for a change. Or, perhaps, change of a time. Daylight Savings Time. What ever happened to the wonderful days of ordinary standard time. No hopping ahead. No dropping back. Just time. The clocked just ticked the same as it had all the days before. Internal clocks remained constant. Hm. Time for a change. Change of a time. Bah humbug.

Time has a way of hopping around whether we like it or not. If we travel across the country, we change time zones. If we make a call coast to coast or internationally, we must adjust to the time differences. Time, you are a tricky rascal. I wonder if the sundial was this complicated?

Time flies by when you're having fun. Time slips through your fingers. Time and time again we hear about time. Time for this. Time for that. Time for a change. Time to change your socks. I seem to be locked into a time warp! Help!!!

Well, not that I had a vote in it, but time did change. I supposedly got an extra hour of sleep. I'm not sure since I stayed up late in order to capture that extra hour and not get too far off my daily routine. I can't track that extra hour, since I was asleep when it crept out door. I noticed that it hadn't left yet when I got into my car and again when I looked at my watch. Evidently, time doesn't go as quickly when you physically change the clocks. My phone and my computer knew that the time had changed even before I got up to acknowledge the fact. Hm. I wonder if they saw that hour creep away.

I remember when my children were young. The time change always brought with it irritable babies, wanting to eat earlier than the clock permitted or didn't want to sleep because the clock played a trick on them.  For several days their irritability seemed to spill over into the rest of the family. Children trudged school. Farm animals wondered why the farmer changed his hours of visitation. The rooster was so confused that it had to be institutionalized. Time changes are not for the weak.

At least in the fall we do get to capture that extra hour. Following closely on the heels of this extra hour rides the recognition that in a few months that hour will be snatched from our greedy hands and tossed to the wind not to be recovered for a few more months.

Perhaps this timely column is telling you things that you already know. I apologize and promise not to repeat this time and time again. For now....ah, that extra hour.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Who was the rump?

"So who was the rump?" I asked my sister June.

"Carol, of course," she replied. "I made it." Hard to argue that fact.

I was a little girl when my sister pulled out some empty burlap bags and went to work creating an elephant costume. Two people were required for the two-piece costume. June had created the large head with a trunk that would swing side to side. Carol Stager must have drawn the short straw to get the rump of the pachyderm. June often came up with some interesting ideas. This was indeed her grand champion. The costume was worn only once a party at Welbaum's house just on the other side of the bridge.

Halloween was not a big event back the lane. My sisters did not trick or treat as Mom thought it was begging, and she would have none of that. I was fortunate enough to experience a change in attitude when I came along. Dad drove me to the homes I visited every year. We stopped at Grandpa Force's house. "Why that's got to be Willard's girl," he would say each year. Yes, the clef in my chin that matched my Dad's always gave me away. We went to Jimmy Hartle's house. I had a crush on him in fourth grade. The relatives got a knock on the door as did all the neighbors. Dad seemed to know which homes would welcome a night visitor and those who would not. Just Dad and I and a growing bag of candy.

Mrs. Delaplaine and Miss Ditmer's first graders lined up around their home rooms. On signal, we followed the teachers out of the rooms and passed through all of the other classes. We paraded our costumes, those elaborate and those designed from the clothes in the dress-up bin. Back to our room to watch all other classes do the same and for the snack that followed. Children who could not trick or treat were given a chance to wear a costume and be seen. For those who had no costume, my teachers gave a hat or mask so they could participate. Some children came from families who did not believe in Halloween festivities. They stayed in the room waiting to see the parade pass by. No child was forgotten.

A Halloween party was held at Deo Moore's house back that lane down from Franklin School. I believe it was a church party. We bobbed for apples, passed a potato, carried a marshmallow on a spoon, playing Halloween games. Food, friends and harvest time in Franklin Township. All ages joined together as often was the norm on those farm days of the 1950's.

Halloween brings along with it memories that many of us share. We might not have lived in the same neighborhood, but still we lived in a time when life was simple and traditions strong. Until the farm sale, the old burlap elephant hung in the barn....decades after that elephant had made it way down the lane.  Why Dad kept it those many years is a mystery. Perhaps it was because his daughter designed and created it. Maybe it had to do with the silliness and joy it brought to our neighborhood for a few day. I think it was the memory of the two girls who went from cooperative elephant walking to becoming teachers one day. The pride of a father. A fond recall for the rest of us.

Happy Halloween, my friends. From a girl with a clef in her chin. Sister of the front half of an elephant.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Outside In

Wet laundry no longer hung on the line. Mom hung it instead on the clothes line in the basement. The clothing took a long time to dry with the basement feeling as damp as the fall weather outside. The season changed as did life back that lane on Neff Road.

From the days of playing outside, we now built forts and flew across the barn on the swing. It was not sunny and dry enough to play in the creek bottom, and it was too early to anticipate winter snow. An in-between time when life in the house changed. Dad was in the house more often or in the barn repairing equipment and storing tools. The old lawnmower was pushed to the back of the barn and the bushel baskets and rakes brought to the front.

The screens had been cleaned and stored. Feather beds aired and fluffed. "Did we sleep with the feather bed on top of us or on the bottom?" I asked June. The feather beds were old. I am pretty sure that our pillows and feather beds were part of Mom's dowry she brought with her when she married Dad.

"I think we might have had one on top and one on the bottom," she replied. The casing held the feathers of chickens long gone. The way they smelled and looked, I think perhaps they might have been passed down from my great grandmother to my grandma to my mom.

"They weren't down filled," June continued. Well, that was an understatement. I well remember the feathers with their poking spines jabbing at me when I rolled over at night. Still I loved it when Mom tossed the throw across our bed.

"Remember the flannel sheets?" June asked. How could I forget!? Sleeping next to my sister in a frigid upstairs bedroom far from the one radiator, we relished anything to keep us warm. I am seven years younger than my sister who, on more than hundred occasions, told me to move over. There was a bit of a problem with her request. I was a little tyke and she was a preteen. I automatically rolled to her side of the bed! Still in retrospect, I do not blame her. She was stuck with the baby of the family. Oh, yes, I remember the flannel sheets. I did not slide so easily to the other side of the bed when the leaves on the trees turned red and gold.

On our weekly trips to Greenville, Mom looked for 'entertainment' for her daughters. A new piece of sheet music. A new comic book. And, for me, an activity book. I loved the ones that had a sheer piece of velum between the pages. With a sharp pencil and a little less wiggling, I could be an artist copying the picture on the page beneath the sheer sheet. I could dot-to-dot and color to my hearts content. Puzzles came out of the closet and dress up was a daily activity. Summer was put away for a few months.

October seemed to change us all. We each had our own things to do. The kitchen saw more of us since we were drawn inside. Conversations were longer and relatives and neighbors showed up more often. It was a time of visiting. Coffee and pie. Stories from the past.

I stood looking at my big, fluffy comforter. Hm. Did not look nearly as exciting as that old feather bed. I missed the barn and the smell of fall that permeated it. I missed the neighbors who claimed me as their own my entire life. I threw a few damp clothes over the curtain rod and remembered the laundry in the basement. Fall. Ah, yes, I remember.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The season of fall

Fall has yet to come to Oregon. Our seasons are very moderate and fall often lasts until Thanksgiving. The leaves still hold their summer green and cling to the trees. Attire runs from shorts to jeans. (Those not eager to give up summer and those ready for fall.) This is a time of the year that I truly miss Neff Road, the sights, the smells, the flavor of the season.

The Pumpkin Show herald in the coming of fall as we tossed confetti and walked the streets of Bradford all night long, looking for likely targets. The parade, the bands playing, the chicken grilled at the end of the street. Huge pumpkins lined up for judging. Yes, indeed, fall had arrived with the Pumpkin Show. The entrance of fall.

We didn't raise pumpkins. In fact, I don't ever remember having a pumpkin on the farm let alone one that was carved. Mom usually made lots of pumpkin pies, but as far as I was concerned when I was a kid, pumpkin always came from a can....a can named Libby. Fresh eggs from the hen house and a can of evaporated milk that always sat on the shelf in the fruit room. Hm. Wonder if it had an expiration date? Mom rolled out the crust and made her girls little cinnamon roll ups out of the left over dough. Nope. Never saw a pumpkin back that lane on Neff Road, but sure did put away the fresh baked pumpkin pie brought to us by Libby's and Mom. The taste of fall.

The old mulberry tree in the circle of our yard dropped a cajillion leaves. Dad raked them, and I loaded them into the bushel basket. From there they were carried to the lane where Dad lined them up then burned them. The smell of fall.

Fall was the quiet time on the farm. Corn was on its way to the crib. Tobacco was ripening in the shed. The sheep were woolier, and the cows were ready for a change in diet from grass to hay. A season of change. We didn't have corn mazes back then. Dad would cringe at the thought of losing any of his corn for such frivolity. In fact, he often talked about kids knocking over the corn shocks that the farmers had worked so hard to pull together. Crops were a farmer's life and livelihood. Fall. The silence of fall.

My sisters were off to college in the Fall. The house was quieter. I was lonelier. The mulberry tree was cut down, so leaf raking was really boring. Mom and Dad didn't have the youth group, so there were no more hayrides. Fall was a time of change. Sometimes for the better. With two sisters gone, I got more pie. The season of fall.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Neff Road/Neff Road

"I remember riding my bike on the gravel road," my sister June told me after I asked a few questions about Neff Road. Hm. I was trying to figure out if I remembered the road before the black tar was poured. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I seemed to remember the disappearance of the gravel and the new surfaced road.

"Remember the floor boards of the bridge before it was tarred?" she asked.

Well, I find that the older I get the more "hm's" I seem to express. What do I really remember and how old was I if I do truly remember? Pros and cons of aging.Yes, I seemed to remember the wooden floor of the bridge.

"I think our road was one of the last roads to be paved since Neff Road really didn't go any place." June continued.

She is a genius. I have always believed anything she has ever told me. God help me if I am just gullible. Hm. It was true. Pitsburg/Gettysburg, Red River/West Grove. I guess that if you got onto one of these roads, you need not worry about where it was going because the road name told you where you would end up. On Neff Road you just ended up on the other end of Neff Road.

"I remember when Stager's moved there," she continued. (I was getting a little tired of her 'continuing' since I couldn't remember things I never knew).

"You mean they didn't always live there?" I rather naively asked. "Of course, they didn't always live there! They lived down from Dave and Mary (Hollie Stager's parents)."

Well, you learn something new every day. Hm. "Was Brenda born then?" I asked.

"I don't know!" she replied. Seems to me she was getting a little testy by then.

"Hm. I wonder if the road was paved."

We always wanted Dad to pave the lane. In reflection there is a little voice in me that says that they considered it when the road was tarred. But by now I'm afraid to ask my sister. I think she is long past caring about the condition of the road, where it came from or where it went, and who lived there when. Sometimes my best resource is out of sorts.

I'm glad that road was paved when I was riding my bike around selling magazines and potato chips for my class project. It gave Brenda and I hours of fun popping the tar bubbles caused by the hot weather. The clip clop of the horses passing by the house echoed on that paved road. Yep, Neff Road didn't need to go anywhere for me. I liked it just fine. Neff Road/Neff Road.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A ball and a basket

Her colors were purple and gold. She wore a short skirt and short-sleeved, V-neck shirt. Her knee socks hugged her legs and her shoes had so many holes for the laces that I lost count. My mother was a basketball player when Franklin Monroe was just Franklin. 

Women's basketball in the high schools was fairly new when Mom came onto the scene. Organized basketball for high school girls came to be in early 1920 (from what I can find in the online history of the sport). For young women modestly dressed, this was quite a change. Instead of sitting on the sidelines, these athletic youth would be running down the floor twisting, turning, sometimes landing on the floor. It was a new age for young women. Would it be too dangerous for them to be in such a rough sport? Would it compromise their modesty? Without researching this topic of women in sports, I know for a fact that farm women are made of pretty sturdy stock. They learn to do hard work at a young age. When it came time to play, they played with equal gusto.

According to Wikipedia, the game of basketball began when Dr. James Naismith (in 1891) placed fruit baskets nailed to a low rail of the gym balcony where his players could toss their basketball. Whenever a point was scored, the game stopped so the janitor could bring out a ladder and retrieve the ball. Somewhere along the way, someone (I am thinking it was probably the janitor) suggested that they might like to cut the bottom of the basket out so the ball would fall through. Needless to say, the game picked up speed.

Well, all farm kids have tossed everything from corn to potatoes into a basket as far back as we can remember. Eggs in a basket, tomatoes in a basket, tobacco plants in a basket, on and on it goes. No wonder most farms had a basketball hoop on the end of the barn. Ours certainly did. When the farm hands took a break from field work, they tossed a ball into the hoop. Basketball players, both male and female, were raised as readily on the farm as were the stalks of corn.

According to Timothy Hudak of Sports Heritage Specialty Publication, in 1939 a referendum was submitted to Ohio schools to decide if basketball would be continued as a girls' sport. The voting schools opted to discontinue interscholastic basketball and other sports for girls as of 1940.  Twenty-five years later interscholastic athletics for girls would begin again. My great grandnieces who live in Indiana were both on state champion teams when in high school. Even as recent as last year, they were coaching the same sport.

Mom never got any basketball players out of her three daughters.  We all seemed to head more to the artsy side of the family. But basketball gave my mother a place to learn what it was to be part of a team, a place to excel, a time in her life when women were moving into their own. Her successes inspired her daughters.

My cousin Gene Johnson played basketball when he was in high school. After he returned from the service, he kept stats for the FM basketball games. Something he would continue to do for many, many years.  I would like to think that perhaps he and his Aunt Ruth tossed a few balls through a hoop when he was a boy. Perhaps Mom's stories of her days dribbling that ball influenced her nephew. Perhaps it was nothing more than farm kids who learned to toss things at an early age.

The bucket hung on the back door handle. My two-year-old son lifted the little ball above his head and toss it. I required no ladder to assist me in emptying the bucket. Some things just come naturally.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

No discord

We didn't know where the notes would leave. Sometimes they even left the page. Still we followed. We followed and knew exactly what would happen next. Not a day passed when either Mom or Dad didn't break into song. More times than not, it ended in a duet. Mom and Dad's marriage was a duet. They new the music and passed through each day singing it together. We learned life by the sound of invisible notes.

I do not know how to explain this thing called music. I do not know why when we dance, we seem to know which way to go to follow our partner's steps. I do not know how we find the notes to harmonize or the way we improvise. If you did not grow up back the lane on Neff Road, this might all sound strange to you, but to the Loxley girls, this was our growing up. This was our way of life.

Working on a farm takes more than dirt beneath the nails and sweat on the brow. Farming has a rhythm. It sings in nature and in the love that tends the earth. The hum of the tractor, the rhythm of the planter, the birds that sing, and the crunch of gravel beneath your feet. Sounds we know from birth. Sounds that carry forward in all we do.

When I was a small girl, I learned to harmonize when my family sang. No one taught the high notes to me or the way they wrapped around the notes the rest of my family sang. No one taught me to find the patterns of notes as they climbed and fell. There was no map that lead me to the notes I should sing. The rhythm and the sound just were. Had I been raised in a different household, I might not have had the time to listen. If I did not have parents who only knew the music that captured them in everything they did, I might not hear the song that runs through all mankind.

discord  [n. dis-kawrd; v. dis-kawrd]


noun
1. lack of concord or harmony between persons or things
 
Not a new word. One that covers the pages of newspapers, invades homes and threatens the very core of society. Discord. There is a meshing that needs to happen in order for people to live and work together. A rhythm. A need for everyone to try to blend in harmony. That way of knowing how to enhance one another, encourage, working to live peacefully. It is in us all. I know it is. If we try hard enough, we can find that thread that ties us together. I see it every day. Someone comes into the store sad or even angry. Find the right notes and doors open. A connection is made. And....just maybe...a heart is warmed. Harmony.

We never had a singing lesson. We did not need someone to show us how to do it. Harmony was the heart of our lives on Neff Road. We grew from it. It embraced us. Sometimes the notes even left the page.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

A birthday toast

Judy posted the picture. A group of friends celebrating her twelfth birthday in 1959. I couldn't help but smile. Vivian's reddish hair stood up in curls. Mary wore her usual pony tail. In fact, I don't think I ever saw Mary with her hair down. Marilyn was laughing and as pretty as ever. Judy, the birthday girl, had pin curls, and thankfully, my face was hidden by Donna's sweet face. Best friends all through our few years of elementary school. However, it wasn't the face of my friends that caused me to pause. No, it was what we were holding in our hands. A birthday toast with bottles of Pepsi-Cola. Pepsi-Cola in the round bottle with the square label on the front. Confession: I loved Pepsi. Still do.

I might be getting up there in years, but Pepsi-Cola was around before my time.  Caleb Davis Bradham from Chinquapin, North Carolina, was a teacher turned drug store owner. His drug store was on the corner of Middle and Pollock Streets in New Bern. Like many of the drug stores back then he had a soda fountain. It was in 1893 that Brad's Drink was first blended. In 1898 he renamed is drink Pepsi-Cola. The Pepsi-Cola Company was launched out of the pharmacy backroom where it took off, and in 1902, the company was incorporated in the state of North Carolina. Now it is interesting that on June 16, 1903, Pepsi was officially registered with the US Patent Office. Of course, it is probably only interesting to me since my birthday is June 16....not 1903.

When I first began drinking Pepsi-Cola, it had a square label on a round bottle. I liked the 'P' on the Pepsi and copied it when I signed my name. We loved Pepsi-Cola at our house. On grocery runs, Dad would pick up an entire case of Pepsi-Cola with the bottles lined up in their own little section in the wooden box. Those boxes now hang on walls or sit in the corners of antique lovers' homes. We certainly helped the environment every time we returned the wooden box and empty bottles to the store then picked up the next round. Didn't even need a deposit back then.

When I was in high school, the bottle changed. A new, more contemporary design chased the round bottles away. The bottle now swirled and the name was shorted to Pepsi. I kept the 'P' but lost interest in drinking the beverage. I think perhaps it tasted better in the old bottles. Maybe it was better because it came home in a wooden box and not a cardboard holder. Perhaps with my sister gone from home and me looking to my future, the family nights of Pepsi-Cola and popcorn had changed.

The old Pepsi-Cola bottle, the wooden box and the memories of a once twelve-year-old girl.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

When you move away

Something happens when you move away. The going home is sweeter, I think. Perhaps because when I returned home, I stayed there in that same house for several nights. Saying good night to Mom and Dad was even more comforting than when I was a kid. Yes, something happens when you move away.

Often I am asked how I can remember all the things that I carry around in this silly head. In my mind, I wonder why I would forget them. My days on the farm were each and every one a treasure....even in those days of holding my father's hand and saying good-bye for a final time. These memories are each and every one a gift. I did not notice them until I moved away.

"Mom, whatever happened to that old silhouette you had done of me when I was about nine?" I asked. Mom usually gave away the things that she considered useless even if they did belonged to one of her daughters.

"Go look for it," she answered. She told me that any time I came home I could look for any of my old treasures in the drawers and closets. It was then and always would be my home. Sometimes she joined me in the search. She knew that I cared for the past that she and Dad had given me and was delighted to know that I cared. Often our searches would end up with a big suitcase of old pictures. An hour would stretch into two with some of the pictures making their way to the kitchen table where Dad joined in. Mom would disappear and return with an old dress of mine or maybe one from her childhood. Memories that she held on to. Something happens when you move away.

In the forty-two years since I have been gone from that treasured place, I have found that the memories have not only followed me but have been increased layer upon layer. A dear friend passes, and the days of baseball in the meadow and the warm embrace that always greeted me wraps around me once more freshly remembered. So why remember? Hm. Good question, Pamela.

Perhaps if I had never moved away, I would not appreciate the little things that were part of your past and mine. Perhaps a blue bottle or a row of pignut hickory trees would mean little. Maybe I would walk down the streets of Greenville uncaring about the old millinery shop or the butcher shop with the winter coats hung by the freezer door. Maybe a plate of mush or a bag of cracklins would not sound nearly as good. Perhaps a woods full of trees would not seem nearly as important as the new homes built in that same woods. Maybe that old school that stood on the corner would not be nearly as missed as it is when you pass that corner on your way to the old homestead. Maybe that walk back a gravel lane to that lovely house on the rise would not be nearly as sweet. Perhaps the memories would fade.

Something happens when you move away. You just might write a column to keep the stories alive.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Cobalt blue

The jar was blue. It came off the shelf whenever a Loxley girl had a stuffy nose or chest cold. Mom warmed the substance in a pan of hot water then held a towel over the head of the sick girl, allowing her to breathe in the vapors. For further healing, a warm cloth was placed across the sticky stuff when Mom slathered it on her child. Now I'm not saying this was awful. It was, in fact, soothing. Yes, like many of you, I grew up with Vicks in my life.

A customer came up to the counter where for some unknown reason a conversation ensued regarding the benefits of the little jar of Vicks. The healing powers of this gooey substance has more recently extended to spreading it on the bottom of feet to subdue a cough or spread on nail fungus to chase the nasty stuff away. We all had our positive stories about Vicks.

I only knew of a few things that came in that cobalt blue glass. Bromo Seltzer, Vicks and Noxema were on the pharmacy shelves. My friend Vivian wore Evening in Paris cologne which came in a cobalt blue bottle found in the makeup section. I didn't pay much attention to the glass back then, but now I love the color of the bottles sitting in a window with the sun shining through the blue glass. The product was successful enough to continue for generations with old bottles now prized by the collector.

We didn't have a medicine cabinet. As hazardous as it was, the meds all sat on a shelf at the side of the stairs to the basement. Everything from horse liniment to mineral oil lined up on that shelf. Further down on the shelf was a box of rollers and tissues in a Toni Permanent Wave box.The Vicks bottle always caught my eye when I opened that cellar door. That cobalt blue jar that offered comfort.

Back in 1890, pharmacist Lunsford Richardson developed a products that would provide relief without the use of plasters and poultices. He named it after his brother-in-law Dr. Joshua Vick. In 1898 he marketed the product along with other Vick products. I grew up with Vicks VapoRub and Vicks cough drops. A pungent salve soothed a cold and delicious cherry cough drops made a cold tolerable.

We talked about Vicks. A group of women ranging in age from 21 to 67. As the customer left the store, she turned back and said an absolutely wonderful thing, "I open the jar of and remember my mother." Thanks for the memories, Vicks.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Run, Spot, Run

The Fair was over and school close on its heels. A new notebook, a couple of No. 2, yellow pencils, a new pad of lined paper. New, long, white sticks of chalk sat in the tray at the blackboards.We were ready for school, and school was ready for us.

In those first years of school, we started the year with a big, fat, black pencil and paper that was more grey than white with fat lines to accommodate the fat pencil. Our desks were ages old. I remember sitting at a desk that actually had a place for an ink well. The top of the desk lifted so we could store our school supplies. I often thought of the little girl who had her pig tail dipped into the ink well long before I went to school. Dick, Jane and their dog Spot came into our lives.

Mom took me school shopping for replacements of clothing that no longer fit. Hand-me-downs from my cousin Karen were the always loved and appreciated. New white bucks for band were a bit expensive but necessary. We never really went with the trends. We went with what fit into the pocketbook. I always hated that first streak of dirt on my new Keds yet couldn't wait until they were scuffed up to look broken-in. I had a new hair cut or perm, both which made me look ridiculous and maybe, just maybe, a new sweater.

Our feet that had been toughened up over the summer and our bodies that were tanned from hanging out in the fields paled as the year wore on. We changed colors with the changing of the seasons. My hair went from pale blond to dark blond. My fingernails went from summer digging grey to winter white. A farm kid was always in transition.

I am jealous that we didn't get to set our own style back then. If you dared to be different, you ran the risk of whispers behind your back. A boy didn't dare have long hair. Girls didn't dare have short skirts. That was about the long and the short of it.

My granddaughters go back to school with their backpacks, insulated lunch bags with plastic containers, calculators and very little paper. Most of their homework is done on the computer. They no longer get a grade card. It is all online. They can email their teacher's with questions and can get homework at home when ill with just a few clicks on the computer. School supplies now consist of supplies for other students and the school as well. Best of all, there can wear their own style. Being popular takes a back seat to academics, and many kids have college credit by the time they graduate. Pretty exciting.

I don't think they make those old fat pencils any more. The old desk with the inkwell is worth about $185 online. You can buy an old copy of Fun with Dick and Jane on ebay for a reasonable price.
Time for school, and all I can say is "Run, Spot, Run!"

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Reel to reel

"The only surviving movie house in Greenville. A renovated former live theatre built in the 1920’s and owned by Tony Macci. It had converted to movies by 1941, when the seating capacity was 460. It was split into two smaller theatres, each with 120 seats, in the late-1970’s or very early-1980’s." - from Cinema Treasures

The room was dark. I sat on my mother's lap, holding tight to her. A princess danced across the screen. Vague memories from 1950 when Cinderella opened in theatres. I was three the first time I went to Wayne Cinemas. It was there that I had my first date. The movie was Gone With the Wind. News reels showed us news from around the world. Cartoons entertained us before the main movie event. Wayne Cinemas, a staple to the scene in Greenville, Ohio. A landmark that held memories for us all.

I was saddened to hear that the theatre is closed. Even if it opens again, our memories are in that old theatre where we grew up to the movies that came our way. A medium bag of popcorn was around $3.99 back then. A ticket was about $.25. We didn't have much then, so this trip into town for our family was a major event. I never knew of my parents going to another movie in Greenville. It is indeed a treasured memory.

Sammy Force worked for Ken Whited at the little grocery in Painter Creek (or Rip Town to we locals). On Saturday nights, Sammy would pick up his girlfriend then make another stop to pick up my sister June and her friend Bev Whited (his bosses daughter). Off they went to Greenville and the Wayne Cinemas. If you got to the movie house for the 10:30 PM movie, you could stay after it was over and watch the first run of the movie for the next week for free. Two movies for the price of one. A date with two tag-a-longs.

We all have sweet memories of the Wayne Cinemas. Driving into Greenville and down Broadway, we were always greeted by the marque announcing the current movies playing. It was as welcoming as the circle in the middle of town. Greenville was the hub of activity for this area full of farm kids.

Now we have all sorts of theatres. I can go to a movie and have a beer and pizza. Our newest theatre has the Living Room where you can recline and put your feet up. A waiter drops by with your dinner and a glass of wine. It's better than your own living room. But is it really?

Going to the movies as a kid was a real treat. The candy bars in the case. The smell of popcorn in the little bags. A tasty soda with cubes of ice. A new movie...and sometimes an old movie. The hand of a date on yours or sitting in the lap of a parent. We had our memories in that old movie house. Reel to reel memories.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Blue ribbon days

The blue ribbon lays in the bottom of a box of papers and items from the past. The box hold lots of treasure. The blue ribbon has been there since I was a child. It's still blue and very flat.

I was in 4-H from the time I could first become a 4-h'er until I started dating.  I was in it because Brenda was in it and her mother was a 4-H leader. Sounded like a good deal to me. Not only did I get to hang with my best friend, I got to hang with my other mom as well. 4-H projects started out with simple projects. It wasn't until a few years ago that I actually got rid of my apron made by my 4-H hands. I gave it up after realizing that I never did wear aprons. I was never very good with the needle and battled with the sewing machine on each project. But part of being a 4-H'er is making something to take to the great Darke County Fair.

We were farm kids but never took livestock to the fairgrounds. The neat kids got to stay at the fair with their animals. I never understood why we didn't get to stay with our sewing. Made sense to me. Still we hung out at the fair as much as possible. Usually I hitched a ride with Margaret and the girls. We stopped to admire our work then hit the rides. We ate junk food all day. Candy apples that should have pulled our teeth out of our curly little heads. Cotton Candy that stuck to everything like Velcro. We ate and we ate and we.....well, you know how it is.

The fair was a state of mind. We cherished the memories from year to year and waited for the next year to roll around with as much anticipation as that we experienced for Christmas. Mom and Dad never said 'no' to our going to the fair. I don't remember them going often. Yet they always managed a little extra money for us to spend on fair days.

Never does a year go by that I don't have a bit of regret that I live so far away at fair time. I don't care so much about the rides. Would still like to eat those goodies that never were good for me. Mostly, I would like to see old friends and neighbors again. I would like to walk through the barns and ooo and ah at the cows, sheep, horses and even the pigs. Maybe I would make it back to the 4-H barn and see what the new age of 4-H'ers are making now.

It's fair time. Yes, I am a bit homesick. Not only that......I can't for the life of me remember why I won a blue ribbon. Guess I'll keep it anyway.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Flavors of the past

"......was wondering if anyone out there has the recipe for the caramel cake that we used get for lunch at the elementary school," wrote Marsha on the Facebook Franklin Monroe page. Within seconds, the conversation took place among past FM students who once stood in the cafeteria waiting for that tasty cake. Jane came to the rescue. With a bit of online checking, Marsha can have her caramel cake.

It is interesting how one conversation can shake loose all sorts of memories. Some are triggered by taste, some by music, some perhaps by just a word or two. I shared this culinary conversation with my sister June.

"Wasn't the cafeteria by the back door?" I asked her.

"Yes. Before that it was in the basement where the band moved after the school started sending grades 9-12 to Monroe. It was the Home Ec Room before the cafeteria moved there."

I was a little kid, probably first grade. I remember pushing that tray across the front of the food case just waiting to eat something a little different than what we ate at home. Canned corn, butter bread sandwiches, applesauce in little dishes. "On Fridays we had mac and cheese." June added.

"Didn't we have fish, too?" I asked. She informed that we had fish because the Catholics couldn't eat meat on Friday. I had never met a Catholic in Franklin Township when I was a kid so didn't know why we had fish. We had Mennonites, German Baptists, Brethren, Methodists, Christians, etc, but no Catholics. Well, it didn't matter. I loved those little squares of fish on Friday, so I guess I owe them a big thank you.

"Ok," I wrote in this Facebook conversation. "Now work on the recipe for the chocolate cake with the chocolate sauce." (Might as well get my two bits in.) Again Jane comes to the rescue.

"That is hot fudge cake!" she said and promptly posted a recipe. Women from difference years at FM coming together to remember days of their childhood. The flavors of the school cafeteria.The desserts we haven't had in decades but remember vividly.

This community we have recently formed, even though we were years apart in school, is drawn together remembering the flavors of the past. A support system that through technology is drawn together in conversation. Do you remember the flavors of the past?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Grammy has her groove

Early in the morning before the store opens, the young women who work there crank up the music. I ring in and start dancing down the aisle to clock in at the front of the store. Tori looks at me and begins to laugh. Then she starts dancing with me. Yep, I might be 67, but I can still dance.

Sometimes I think it shocks our children and grandchildren that we danced rock and roll long before they were born. We danced to The Beatles and Beach Boys. We swayed with The Mamas and The Papas. Mick Jagger rocked us out of high school with I Can't Get No Satisfaction. We could twist, we could rock, we definitely could roll. So what is the surprise that we still love that type of music and still have our groove!?

On the weekends, we sat in front of the TV and watched American Bandstand. A world of music and the faces that went with it became part of our lives. I remember once in high school we went to Dayton for the local version of American Bandstand. It was exciting to know that TV cameras were rolling while we danced. We wore our bobby socks and straight skirts. Hair was teased into submission and our lips were bright red. It was the 60's and the beginning of what our grandkids dance to today. 

I think perhaps were have lived during the most exciting time in music history. We grew up on our parents' music. Then came that music of our older siblings. Pat Boone, Andy Williams, the crooners and the Patsy Cline and Ricky Nelson. Elvis Presley took music to a new level. The Supremes. Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.  Gladys Knight and Pips. The Temptations. We came in on a wave of new music.

There were songs that meant a lot to each of us. Our first steps into the future were greeted with songs by Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, Judy Collins and many more asking for peace not war. John Lennon wrote Imagine that has be proclaimed as one of the greatest songs of all time. It was a time of rebellion in our music as well as in our lives. A time of deciding just who you wanted to be.

When my kids were growing up, I made it a point to listen to their music. I sang along with them. Now I listen to those my granddaughters enjoy. I try to find out about the singers in order to show them that Grammy can be pretty cool. Grammy really does care. I still love the Golden Oldies, because they remind me of special times in my life. Perhaps a dance and a special boy. Perhaps a time when there was a loss. More times than not, they remind me of laughter and days gone by.

I remember my mom dancing the Charleston well into her later years. A big smile would cross her face, and I could see the girl she was long before. She was an inspiration. I want to be an inspiration, too. I plan to keep my groove until I can groove no more. Indeed Grammy has her groove.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Dial it forward

The phone sat by the toy box. It's eyes rolling and forth when pulled around the room. "These kids will not know what an old phone was like." Said an adult at the twin's birthday party. And, indeed that is the way of it. I barely remember the old phone hanging on the wall with the big bells on the front. Then the dial phone came later changing to the push button phone. These were the changes seen in the time of my parents.

My granddaughter who is now age 2 can pick up my cell phone, unlock it and find an application I downloaded for her and her brother. She can pick up my camera, turn it on, point and shoot. The caller and callee can now see one another. I can check my mail, pay my bills, take a picture and look up bumfuzzle in the dictionary on my phone. What would my mother think?

Times change. I do not think that we ever give up the things we knew growing up, thinking them the best of times. I still hold dear to my heart the things of my past which I guess you realize since this is what I write often in this column. My sister and I skyped this morning on our computers. Wow! I love seeing her wonderful face as we talk. Still we did what we always do, recalling things from the past.

Recently, a friend posted a picture of our old homestead. As always, seeing my home brought tears to my eyes. "We certainly lived in a beautiful home, didn't we?" I said to my sister.  "Yes, we were very lucky."  she replied. Beautiful and full of memories. Not just walls but a place where history happened. Where an old crank phone was replaced by one with buttons. A radio replaced by a television. A pump replaced by indoor plumbing. An outhouse replace.....well, you get the point. I think perhaps we all store those treasures away despite the new 'fangled' things that come and go. A history resides in pictures and words. The layers of time built upon one another. I cannot begin to imagine what my grandchildren will experience in their time. I hope that I am receptive and excited to learn from them as the remote control and laptop fade into the past.

The little phone sat against the toy box with eyes that roll. Next to it sits a two-year-old holding toy cell phone.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Vulnerable

 Believe it or not. It's your choice. However, before you decide be aware.

"You need to get those stockings that zip up the side," Tari told me when I was complaining about tired legs after a long day at work. Tari has MS and is totally bedridden. She watches TV constantly  and believes every ad she sees. This started me thinking. I was an actor and understand the process that goes into commercials and ads. What is seen on the screen is not real. It is advertising.

What does it take to get into a film or a commercial? Well, it doesn't take much. I was in a couple of industrial films. These are films that are used for training purposes. Industrial films are used by government, medical industry, etc, to inform the public. I liked them because they paid well and a shoot only lasted a day or two. These commercials had a good message and didn't sell anything.

So who are these people in the commercials? Well, very seldom are they the people they portray. Rarely, in fact. When actors are called to a commercial audition, they go totally unaware of the commercial product. When you sign with an agent, you are listed in categories that fit your look and talents. I once went on a call where they were looking for black men, housewives and prostitutes. So here I am in a room full of the above which was really quite comical. Just for the record, I was there as a housewife. Sell. That's what it is all about. The best way to sell is to use people who might be like you and your neighbors. And, sometimes they pay stars big money to sell their products as well. Just a paycheck for all involved. It doesn't mean endorsement.

I was in an industry film where I played a dock boss.  I definitely was never a dock boss and got the role by just walking into a room with a shocked look on my face. Well, I walked in twice and got the main role. In the next film, I was an alcoholic mom. We shot the film in a house that was scoped out by the advance team. They just found a house, knocked on the door, got permission to shoot, and we shot three industrial films that day in the same house. I had been producing plays on drugs and alcohol for years so this role was easy for me. I was a shoe-in. But it was not real. We were actors pretending to be the people we played in a house that certainly did not belong to any of us.

Recently I have been zeroing in on these cheaply made commercials. Sometimes you actually see an actress in one role selling a product and in the next she is on a sofa with her newly matched love of her life. A picture is shown of  'before' and then we see the 'after'. The before picture is often not the same person. I tried to read the small print (disclaimers) posted on these commercials. The words are blurred and pass quickly from the screen. Don't be fooled. These are commercials just trying to pull you in. The man who says he is a veteran is most likely not a vet but a body builder. The woman who has an infirmity probably is an actress who loses her infirmity immediately after the camera stops rolling. This is an industry of actors, directors and marketing strategy. This is an industry making money by pulling you into buying the sponsors' products.

As a side note:  A friend of mine received a phone call telling her that she had something wrong with her computer and was asking permission to get into her system to repair the problem. Beware. These are more than likely people trying to get into your system and to capture you information. If you receive such call, never give permission. Immediately call your internet provider and tell them what has happened. They might in turn tell you to contact the police. Do it. Make a difference in stopping these criminals.

These are the ramblings of a woman who cares and wants to pass it on. My friend with MS is vulnerable. Aren't we all?

Saturday, June 28, 2014

An ocean canvas

Night time came. We took our chairs to the beach where my children sat at my feet. Night time had arrived. Our location was Cape Kiwanda, one of the many Capes along the Pacific Coast in Oregon. This was a first. I had seen fireworks many times before but never any that were shot into the sky over the ocean.

During early morning, this beach was lined with fishing boats waiting for the tide to come in. Fishermen would push their boats out to meet it. Later in the day these same boats would return home riding the waves onto the sand, bringing home their catch. At night the silhouette of the cape stands out against a starry sky.

The entire Oregon Coast is public. No hotels or private parties can own our beaches. You can walk from our northern border meeting the Columbia River to the southern border snuggled against  California and still be on public land. Thus our coastline is protected and stunning. Thankfully, I live only an hour away from a day on the beach.

Darkness came and as with all fireworks, we waited patiently. Well, sort of patiently. Then it happened. The first skyrocket shot into the sky. Not just a firework, but a lovely moment when the blue ocean becomes a July 4th canvas. I don't know how it was for the other people watching, but I was truly awed. I was torn between watching the sky and watching the Pacific reflection. Colors danced across the water, in the water. The fireworks in the sky seemed to melt into those just below. What a lovely sight.

We haven't been back to the coast for fireworks. Fireworks are shot up over the Columbia River. But in the years since, we have always favored going to our local fireworks. Those that began in the 70's as a few neighbors getting together for their own little display have grown to an event bringing hundreds to the still small neighborhood. A place to go to see friends.

Wherever you go for the 4th, please celebrate safely and make memories. My favorite resides in the blue Pacific.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Life changed forever

Ah, the things we take for granted. Growing up country, I did not realize what we lacked because most everyone else was in the same boat. We all raised our own food. Many of us had outhouses. Livestock lived in our backyards. Our fathers worked from dawn to dusk in the fields, while our mothers used elbow grease to do laundry with a ringer washer, feed a dozen farm hands and continually work the farm alongside the rest of the family. But what was life like just a few years before I was born? I thought the outhouse was bad, but it could have been worse.

We watch shows on TV about the romantic time of gaslights and Laura Inglles reading by lamplight. Old castle were lit by torches on the wall and young girls lead to their tower rooms by an old crone carrying a dripping candle. The romance of fire dimly setting the scene.

How many of us who are still around lived through a time of lamps and candles in our own homes? At age sixty-seven, I can say that I do not remember. I decided to investigate as to when electricity found us back that lane on Neff Road. It happened during the presidency of FDR. City folks already had electricity. He was concerned that living standards for rural areas were falling behind. It was during the depression. Power companies did not believe that electricity was feasible for rural areas. The President signed an order creating the REA within the USDA. the agency helped form user-owned cooperatives providing them with loans needed to build the electric rural area.

I had not thought much about what it was like to work the farm by oil lamp. Doing chores, farming the fields, working in the rain and snow. Women working in the homes sewing their family clothing by candlelight. Washing the clothes in a dark basement or backroom during winter days. Cooking over a fire and washing by hand. No wonder so many died long before their time. What was it like when the first light was switched on? I cannot begin to imagine the joy that my parents felt. No more carrying water and heating it over an old cast iron stove. No more rushing to get all chores completed before night time came to call. Food could be stored and frozen. There must have been singing and dancing across rural America.

I remember how much fun it was to pull a chain to turn on a light. I probably pulled quite a few chains in my lifetime (even a few beneath light bulbs). When young, my children and grandchildren loved to turn light switches on and off. The snap of the button, the ability to make light appear and disappear. Not many years before I was born light came on in the big white house back the lane and life changed for the better.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Age 5

Age 5 - "Pam, don't move!" Dad yelled. A short time later, Pam moves. "I told you to stand still!" In my head I was thinking, "Well, Dad, a 1,000 lb. cow was running straight at me. Seemed to be the thing to do." The cow and I knew I was the weakest link. I was so short the panicked cow probably didn't even see me. Seems to me that maybe Dad had it wrong.

Age 10 - "Pam, go around the other side. Don't let her through." Hm. A short time later Pam is frantically waving her arms. Cow and girl have a stand-off.  Cow looks a girl. Girl looks at cow. She really didn't care. Let the cow run. Was kinda fun chasing her. "Why did you move?" Dad asked. At this point I was wondering if Dad liked the cow better than me.

Age 15 - "Pam, get out there and help get the cow in. Pam! PAM!" There comes a time when a girl turns off her hearing. Usually happens when she becomes a teenager. I had chased chickens, cows, a horse and a few sheep in my time. The conversations between my dad and I were pretty much same over the years. I had come to the conclusion that Dad needed a son or two to do his dirty work. I needed to tease my hair and think about my boyfriend. Run free, sweet cow! Run free.

I love the memory of running across the yard along with the rest of the family, flapping our arms and screaming at a critter or two who just decided to take a walk. Once in a while we helped a neighbor whose cow probably wanted to visit our own. The chase livened up the day and sent Dad to the task of repairing a fence while yelling at one of his young ones who probably left the gate open. A family activity shared by all.

When the livestock no longer lived in the barns, and we woke to silent mornings, I missed the days of
the chase. The times when Brenda and I would climb the gate to watch the cows. Later when my children climbed the same gate marveling at the large beasts who lived at their grandparents' house. It has been a long way from then to now, but I know that if I come across a wandering beast, I will not run away from it. I might just run along with it.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Wearing the mantel

It was attached to the wall, serving no purpose at all. In front of it sat a figure of a dog. He sat there all through my growing up until my grandfather passed at the age of 90. A mantel on the wall with no fireplace to keep it company. A dog that couldn't bark or do much of anything. My curious mind began to wonder just why my grandparents had such things in their front parlor.

Their home wasn't the only home where I had seen a mysterious mantel absent the usual fireplace. And, the curiosity of a critter sitting by it was similar to that in the Johnson house. What in the world was happening! Did these people misplace their fireplaces? Did they feel the need to have a mantel but didn't want the mess of wood and ashes? Were their rooms warm enough without a warming fire? NO! My grandparents' front room was always cold. A fireplace would have been a nice addition.

In researching this mystery, I find that more and more modern homes are using old mantels in their modern decor of mantel on the wall minus fireplace. If they sit a ceramic dog in front of it, I will swear they have stolen an old idea. Yet, this seems to be a lovely way to add personality to a room. Or maybe it creates a conversation piece. A piece I am conversing about with no resolution.

I need to ask Geneva if they still have the mantel in the front room. I think the dog is long gone. In my estimation, they should have kept the two together, since they had gathered dust the same over those oh-so-many years.

This is a rather nonsensical piece, but the curious mind tends to ramble at times.  Perhaps your grandparents or parents had a mantel with a lonely animal keeping it company. Perhaps your mantel was wondering what the heck it was doing hanging on the wall. There are mysteries in this world. Questions left unanswered. And, perhaps topics better left alone.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Old screen door

"How many slams in an old screen door? Depends on how loud you shut it. How many slices in a bread? Depends on how thin you cut it. How much good inside a day? Depends how good you live 'em. How much love inside a friend? Depends how much you give 'em." - Shel Silverstein

It wasn't unusual to hear the screen door slam, and Mom put another plate on the table. When I was a little girl, the screen door came directly into the kitchen. Later after the remodel, the screen was on the screened porch. The creak of the spring moving to open that screen door always signaled hands coming in from the fields, Dad returning from the milk route, Loxley girls coming home from school.
The sound of the screen door wasn't usually followed by a knock on the door. Nope. Most people knew to just walk into the house. That was the way it was on the farm back the lane.

I loved that old screen door, that sound of the old spring doing its job. We don't have many screen doors here in Oregon. There is little need for storm doors. When my cousins, Gene and Betty Johnson came to visit, they were amazed that we left the door open. Then he noticed that lack of flies. I'd been here long enough not to notice. Perhaps it was then I began missing the old screen door.

"Anybody home?!" Doris yelled through the door. Mom yelled back from wherever she happened to be at the time. They sat and chatted. Mom in her apron. Doris in hers. After a bit, Doris walked through the door. Mom stood there with the screen open talking until Doris headed back down the lane, returning home. Sometimes Mom would go on out on the porch and sit on the swing. On warm summer days, her youngest daughter flitted around with the flyswatter splatting dead flies all over the screen door. Mom would point them out, and I would dash after them. The old swatter was a floppy old thing that sounded like a whip in the hands of a pro. Sometimes Dad would watch me with his upturned hand resting on his knee. He loved to show me up by catching a fly between his fingers. Ah, good times by the old screen door.


I think perhaps Shel Silverstein heard a few screen doors slam when he grew up in Chicago. That sound is part of my growing up and probably the same for some of you. When I returned home with my children in later years, I walked the lane to the house next door, "Doris, you home?"

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Step by step

Aunt Welma held my hand, and we walked to the little store behind the barn on the opposite corner. Behind the store was the old Beech Church. On down the road from the store was the home of my Mom's parents. It was the town of Red River. Only took little bit of time to walk through the village.

On a sunny day, Dad and I would walk over to his parent's home which was just around the corner from our house. We always stopped at the old bridge. My grandad lived back a lane, so we hiked two lanes to get there. From there, many times Dad and I would walk to the woods. We hiked across the fields and spent time either at the pond or poking around the woods with Dad telling me all about the plants. Then, we walked back home again.

Sometimes I walked down to my Uncle Keith's house. I liked to see Raymond and Lena Linder when I passed their house. Sometimes I stopped to chat. Uncle Keith lived back a lane. Seems that lanes ran in our family. On a really nice day, I would walk all the way to the end of the road to visit my friend Rowena and to spend the day playing at the parsonage. They didn't live back a lane.

Daily one of us walked our lane to get the mail or to visit Doris and Victor Lavy or to visit Hollie and Margaret Stager. A walk west usually ended up with a visit to both. I walked the lane to go to school and on return did the same. Seems that daily I walked to the bridge by the creek bottom. When I was in high school, I hopped off the bus at the corner of Byreley and Neff and walked home.

I walked to the fields. I walked following the tobacco planter or the rock skid behind the tractor. I walked to the creek bottom to play and to fish. I walked to find mushrooms. I walked to find arrowheads I spent so much time on my feet that they are flat. I love that it was a way of life back on the farm. We thought only of destinations without a pedometer to track the number of steps. I walked my horse. Ran with my dog. Walked miles behind a lawnmower and many, many times chased cows, sheep or chickens.

My son accuses me of not walking enough. Well, maybe I don't, but I think I logged enough miles when I was growing up to last a lifetime. In fact, if you added in all the places I biked, I probably earned enough miles to take me to Heaven. We didn't plan our walks. We just enjoyed the walking that took us past neighbors, sometimes sending us running from Cyril's dogs. And in the end, I walked Neff Road one more time to say good-bye.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

A lesson in respect

The earth grumbled and occasionally moved. Having only been in Oregon for a year and a half, we
didn't know what an earthquake felt like. In fact, it just felt as if a big dog had just walked across the room. We didn't have a dog, so evidently it was something else. The earth was talking to us. They had been told to leave the mountain. Old man Truman sat in his home refusing to move. He shouldn't have been surprised that the beautiful mountain was getting impatient. He knew it well. The scientists told him. The old mountain told him. But still Truman and others refused to leave their homes.

The Northwest is a paradise of nature in all her beauty and untamed wildness. When we first came here, we drove down the Columbia River Gorge. It was there I had my first glimpse of Mt. Hood. We dashed from the car. My heart was filled with awe at the site of this gorgeous mountain. A bit further down the way a lovely cone rose up from the earth. Mt. St. Helens was the princess of the mountain range quietly gracing Portland with her beauty.

No one knew exactly when it would blow or what the result would be. Not until 8:32, a Sunday morning, on May 18, 1980. The earth shook and the mountain's voice was heard. We drove the 8.1 miles to Portland along the hills until we came to spot overlooking the city. James was 6 and Stacey 8. We were the first to find this clearing in the trees. Excited and a little scared, we sat watching this incredible sight. A mountain raging, spewing an enormous mushroom cloud into the sky. Lightning flashed in the grey mass. One couldn't help but think of the animals, people, earth that were tossed into this melee. I was terrified and awestruck at the same time.

Nearly 150 square miles of forest were gone, trees blown over or left dead standing as sentinels over the massive grave. The eruption lasted 9 hours. A landscape was changed forever. 57 people were killed; 250 homes were destroyed; 57 bridges and 15 miles of railway were gone; 185 miles of highway erased. The debris avalanche triggered an earthquake of 5.1.

We had an ash dusting or two. We were asked not to drive unless necessary and not to breathe in the ash that created a dense fog. My husband was in California when the dusting hit the west side. I stood at my back door watching for the ash storm but heard it before it arrived. The sound of particles falling from the sky.

The anniversary of the eruption is at hand. The mountain has been quietly rebuilding. I learned a great about this old earth in those days. I have learned a great deal about nature since living here. I live in an area preserved in its natural state. I live where we fight to protect what we have and keep it for future generations. But I learned that nature, this earth, has her own voice. We cannot assume that life will go on as usual. Old man Truman made that mistake. We cannot assume that our natural resources are sustainable without the help of we who use them.

We drove up to the Toutle River where 13,000 feet of the mountain blasted everything in it's way. The blast line on the trees was at least 20 feet above our heads. The homes that remained were filled to the roof with ash. Cars and bridge girders were twisted like pretzels buried in the mass. The earth had had her say. Trees for as far as you could see were stripped of bark and limbs laid in rows like toothpicks. It was a landscape of grey. Beautiful Spirit Lake was full of the same looking more like a lake of trees, floating in a dead landscape.

Yes, I learned a lot on May 18th. A lesson in respect for Mother Earth. 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Frying up morels

Lowell posted that they were frying up the season's first morel. Morels. My most favorite food in the entire realm of culinary possibilities. I sat reading the post craving those tiny morsels. I love the mushrooms and love the hunt even more.

Doris came into the kitchen. Her apron was folded over. A big smile on her face. She had just returned from a walk in the thicket. She unfolded the apron exposing a few lovely morels, the first of the season. I don't know who loved the mushrooms more the Lavy's or the Loxley's. Seems to me that there was always enough mushrooms to go around each spring. It was always fun to see who would find the first. Not long after Doris showed us her find, we were out the door heading to the thicket.

A couple of years ago while visiting my sister, June, we stopped at a stand selling mushrooms. We took a bag of spendy tidbits home for a savory experience. Butter, flour, mushrooms. Yep, that's how Mom did it. Conversation turned to the kitchen on the farm, the hub of most of our growing up. The smells, the flavors, the people who came to visit. The kitchen knew it all. Mom had flour down the front of her apron as she fried up each batch of mushrooms. When we sat around the table savoring each exotic taste, the stories of the hunt began.

"I swear, Pam found was finding them right behind me. I don't know how I missed them," Dad would relate. As a child, I always thought I was the great mushroom hunter. As an adult, I realize that Dad didn't miss a thing. He saw the mushrooms. More than picking them, he loved seeing his daughter find the treasures. It was a time when father and daughter laughed. He made memories in that simple act.

One year we found a few mushrooms out by the chicken yard and Hollie's field. Fingers were crossed that this would be the new hunting ground. But, the next year, no mushrooms. God has a sense of humor.

I don't fault Lowell for enjoying his mushrooms, yet for someone who resides 2,323.7 miles away, it just isn't fair. Okay. I need to be honest. We do have mushrooms in Oregon, including morels. I just have a healthy respect for our immense forests. Maybe one of these days I'll find someone who enjoys the hunt as much as do I. Perhaps. Until then, I'll enjoy the memory of Doris with her newly found treasures and enjoy giving her son a hard time about his fried-up batch of yummy mushrooms. Spring on the farm.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Returning to the past online

The old cane pole stood in the corner of the barn. The cow stable was covered with cobwebs and mounds of dust. A smell that was there when I was a child still lingered. Now the stable was full of all sorts of jumble. It hadn't been used in decades. Dad didn't do much on the farm at the end. I stood in the past looking at that old cane pole.

We were at my Aunt's Lodge in Ludington, Michigan. I must have been around twelve at the time. Dad and I had boated over to the Dunes to do a bit of investigating. Dad and I were really good at finding treasures. And once more we did. We found the old cane pole with hook and line intact. It became mine. No rod and reel could ever replace the fun I had with that old pole. Many a sunfish, blue gill, perch, catfish had dangled from the end of that line.

Today my memories got carried away. Perhaps it is the sunshine reminding me of summer excitement when it was warm enough to fish in the pond or in the creek. Better yet was a summer trip planned to Lake Hamlin and Aunt Bess. I decided to go online and take a look at the North Lake Shore. The beauty of Maps online is that you can actually see the houses and travel down the roads. I found the place where Aunt Bess and Uncle Sam wintered. The house with green shutters was probably one of the many while homes now lining the street. Then I traveled on down the road, an area built up over the years. Then I saw the bridge. I'd know it anywhere. I turned (as only you can do on Maps) and saw that the store had been replaced by a house. My heart sank. I turned to the other side and looked across the bayou. Across the bridge sat my cousin's house. On the other side of the road, the cottages we had stayed at forty years ago still stood.  On down the road, Aunt Bess's house sat painted a different color. The old Mead Cottage had a surround porch but still the old cottage remained.

I have wanted to return to the store, the bayou, the dunes of the past, but now I know that I cannot. We can't go back. I have changed as much as has North Shore. But I do wish I had that old cane pole. I left it there in the corner thinking how silly it would be for a woman to get onto the plane with her precious pole. I think I might get out the old pictures of the lodge. I need to reinforce what was and not what is. For in those memories of a fishing pole in my hands lies the beauty of a time gone by.

Monday, April 21, 2014

R.R. #2 Survival Skills

Oh, my, I have been away from the farm for a very long time. But let's not forget that I learned lessons there that can serve me well if indeed I should be caught in an emergency situation. Most of my friends are town born and raised. They are resourceful people, yet I know that I have an advantage. For one thing, none of them have ever lived without indoor plumbing. Hm. Disadvantage.

We didn't camp when I was a kid, but I can manage without the necessities of home, cooking over a fire, sleeping in the wild and learning from TV that staying with someone who does not repel you is great in case heat is lacking. I could fish with a string and safety pin pulling those slimy earthworms out of their homes. I can chop off the head of a fish and wring the neck of a chicken....neither of which I have done but have seen it many times. I call it on-line learning since the chickens hung from the clothesline and the fish was caught on a line. I can pick up a dried cow patty to toss on a fire. I can open a box of dried matches and light the fire. (Okay, I'm not perfect!)

My friends would cringe at all of the above. They would scoff at eating all parts of a chicken or at frying up a few frog legs. Crawdads would probably send them screaming. I could go on and on. And, I could in the meantime confuse myself as to just how easily I could survive. For one thing, after a night on the cold ground, I would be unable to walk the next day. I probably would make friends with the chickens and get poison ivy on my keister in the woods. I may be a farm kid all grown up, but time has taken its toll.

However, when faced with an emergency, I think that we kids of the earth would go into an automatic mode and take charge doing what we must for ourselves and our families. The lessons we learned from farming and the life with the soil taught us to be tough and to endure. We didn't live lavish lives. We lived the life that was handed down from generations of people working the soil, clearing the land, suffering the new-hand dealt each year be it illness, poor crops, diseased animals. My parents forged ahead doing the best they could with what they had. This is how we learned what we are made of.

With so many catastrophes in the world, we can't sit back and ignore the fact that we just might meet up with something we have never experienced before. I guess I write this today to tell those of you who grew up as a farm kid that we had it good. We learned life lessons, we learned how to work and how to live, we learned that we could even survive....in town.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

A table of old friends

The table held three years....three years of graduates from Franklin Monroe High School. I was the only representative from my class. That was a few years ago. It was before the new gym. It was before the old school was torn down. It might even have been before I let my hair remain in its natural state of white with highlights of grey.

This year the class of 1964 was honored. Fifty years ago, this group of 'older grads' stood together receiving their diplomas. Next year the class of 1965 will move into the slot of honored. The year I went to the Alumni was a wonderful evening. I sat at a table with two good friends from the class of 1966 and three from the class of 1967. I was the lone grad of '65. No, we weren't well represented, but we were all in high school at the same time. We all shared the days of sitting in the bleachers cheering for the Jets. Those days of homework from the same teachers. Most of us had been together when the old 'new' gym was built. We had history.

The FM Alumni Banquet was Saturday night. My friend Sandy was going to go....without me. Sitting in Oregon, I was jealous. Many of the honored class were friends of mine. How I would love to have seen them again. I didn't want to just go eat a meal and watch the program. I want time to sit and just chat for hours with all of the people, my people, from the years I lived on Neff Road. Yes, I was jealous.

When I went to the banquet, not many locals were there. Perhaps I'm just a little weird, but I love seeing old friends over and over again. Maybe by living away, I have a different perspective. I know what I don't have any more. Even though I have lived in Oregon for over thirty years, the people who knew me in my growing up years have a special place in my heart. They are part of my memory scrapbook. When I go to the Alumni, I want to see them all!

Well, I missed out this year. I will be back on April 4th next year, looking once more for familiar faces. I don't feel old enough to be honored, but what the heck. The older I get, the more I realize what is truly important. Life is about people and the connections we make. Sometimes we find a walk through the past gives us memories that linger well into the future.

Friday, April 4, 2014

A Grandparent's Voice

Please check out my blog at agrandparentsvoice.com. A place to share thoughts, to pray for others on the Care List and a place to think a little more about life.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Blue Velvet

"Mom, why do you read the obits?" my daughter once asked.

"Mom is no longer around. How else will I keep up on the news?!" I replied. My mother knew every wedding, funeral and birth that happened in the county and informed her daughters each time they called home.I keep up on the news by taking the Advocate online. I like that I am only a couple of clicks away from Neff Road. Once in awhile that quick check-in leaves me saddened and reflective. Sometimes......

I danced with a young man who liked the softness of my blue velvet dress. He held me close running his hand across the back of my dress. "Your dress feels good," he said. I had no idea how to reply. We were at the Armory dance. I was a very naive farm girl a little afraid of the town boys. This skinny kid continued to dance with me (or my dress). I didn't see him again until another dance at Arcanum High School. He showed up hoping I was there. I didn't wear the blue velvet and he still found me. By now we danced fairly well together. In fact, we won a dance contest.

The next summer I again ran into my dance partner at a park dance. He walked me to the car. We never had a date, but for some reason, this boy, as my mom would say, was smitten. He asked me to go steady with him and wanted me to have a medal that meant a great deal to him. I declined. I knew that Mom and Dad would not let me date a town boy.

I never saw the boy after that; however, recently I discovered that our lives had taken a parallel course. I went to Wright State majoring in journalism as did he. Yet we never saw one another. He went on to write and, well, evidently I followed the same path. During his life, he went into public relations as did I. When I was home the last time, I asked my friend Louise if she knew him. I was curious as to what had happened to him. When I found out that she did, I asked that she give him my regards.

We always wonder about the people who pass through our lives. My sister says that I do more than most. I figure that if you have a little history with me, then you have a part of me for life.

I no longer have that blue velvet dress, and the young man I once knew just passed away. Rest in peace, Jack. Thanks for the memories.

Monday, March 17, 2014

And a stamp was 3 cents

Soap dish, small gift box, pesto, Easter basket goodies. I was walking down the aisles of World Market looking for items on my shopping list when I  stopped dead in my tracks. On the top shelf of the gourmet aisle sat two items that catapulted me back to the 1950's. There on the shelf sat Fluff and Bosco. Mom used Fluff when she made some whippy dessert full of calories. Bosco was a treat rarely seen in our home. Neither product had I  seen since way back then.

It is interesting how one incident can open up a dozen memories. I began looking for other items. Around another corner I found Ovaltine. When I returned home, curiosity took me online searching for other things I might be missing from the 1950's. Here are some prices of food items in 1957: Grape Jelly $.19,  hamburger $.89/pound, Hunts Fruit Cocktail $.23, Jiffy Cake Mix $.10, Maxwell House Instant Coffee $1.19, bananas $.27/ two pounds, perch $.49/pound, Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls $.23, Campbells Tomato Soup $.10, Carnation Canned Milk $.14. In looking at these prices, I was reminded of what was stored in the our fruit room (pantry). Mom always had several boxes of Jiffy Cake Mix. They always drank Maxwell House Coffee. I vividly remember a lot of fruit cocktail at meal time (didn't eat it). Canned milk was always on the shelf and sometimes dusty. We did not have much, but Mom took advantage of the low prices. Back then, these prices were astronomical for many people. We were farmers and raised much of our food. Yet the freezer and fruit room gave us meals when crops were poor. The fruit room saved us many times over.

In my online journey, I also found that some favorites of today had their beginnings in the 50's. Tuna noodle and green bean casseroles came fresh from the oven along with frosted meat loaf (covered with mashed potatoes). Chex Mix was a new snack and sometimes known as Trix Mix or TV Mix.

It is funny how a glimpse of something on a shelf can trigger a time with family and memories of the house back the lane. A family sitting around the table while Mom emptied the refrigerator of fruit cocktail, sliced peaches or grapefruit slices. The newfangled thing called a casserole came hot from the oven. Dad was not overly fond of them. And, Tang often sat in on a shelf growing old.

What new things will grow old for my grandchildren? What sort of evolution will be next in the future of food? How much more can food prices inflate? I think perhaps I was raised in a golden age. A time of making-do, eating leftovers until they were gone and sometimes having breakfast for dinner. One thing I know for sure. Each memory is golden.