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. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Left-handed comments

Evidently, there was no left-handedness remaining when I became the youngest member of the Loxley family. Both of my sisters are left-handed. The closest I could come to it was to write back-handed with my right hand. I asked June why my siblings were left-handed while neither parent had the trait. She informed me that there was a time when you were not permitted to be left-handed.In fact, according to her and my research material, the left hand would be tied behind the back requiring a child to learn to be right-handed. It evidently wasn't permitted until my sister Peggy was in school. I decided to check into this history of the left hand.

There was a time when left-handers were thought to be sinister or wicked. There were times when I was growing up that I was sure this was true; however, research has discounted all of that falderol. Only one in ten people are born left-handed. There are more men than women who are of the same sort. Research points to some complex collaboration between environment and genes that causes this southpaw event. Evidently, lefties have more left-handed family members. This lead me to ask the question of my sister why neither of our parents were left-handed. This brought up the fact that during their time, it was not allowed. My mother had beautiful writing. My dad's writing was atrocious. It weaved across the page and was so small that you had to get closer to the page to read it. Yep, Dad was probably left-handed.

My sisters reside in the ranks of many famous people: many US presidents, Helen Keller, Dr. Albert Schweitzer, Alexander the Great, Jim Henson, Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, Fred Astaire, Mark Twain, HG Wells, Lewis Carroll, Prince William and his dad, Neil Armstrong, Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Picasso, Mozart, Beethoven, Winston Churchill, Queen Victoria, Joan of Arc, Marie Curie and many, many more. Thank goodness, no one decided to tie back their left hands. I found an interesting note that Einstein learned to speak late, had problems in almost every subject in school and was frequently labeled as being backwards. 

Many different cultures viewed left-handers in a good way. Incas thought left-handers were capable of healing and possessed magical abilities. Zuni's believed left-handedness signified good luck. Having left-handed sisters has definitely been good luck for me….and, no, June, you do not have magical abilities.

June told me that when she took a calligraphy class, she had to turn the paper upside down in order to keep the ink off of her hand. It is impossible to write from left to right without dragging a hand across the paper of already written words. I know because in writing back-handed as a right-handed girl, I often had pencil rubbings across the side of my right hand as I dragged it across my paper turned sideways. Always wiped out the paragraph above the line of print. 

We all seem to have our own map when we are born. We cannot alter the makeup of the human body. We are different. There is no pattern that stamps us all out the same. And, we are all sent to this earth with love from He who created us. We are born with our own recipe made up for us in the womb. If we alter that recipe, perhaps alter the not only the future of a child but perhaps even the future of mankind. Perhaps one day this judging of what is viewed wicked, the prejudice that once followed left-handers, will fall away as we accept one another just as we are when we enter this earth. 

Words from a back-handed, right hander.