Monday, January 26, 2015

I saw it in the funnies

Sunday newspaper arrives. The battle ensues. "Where are the funnies?!" I usually screamed. "Mom, June won't share the funnies!" Yes, the funny papers had arrived.

We called them the funnies when in reality they were called the comics. Throughout the week, a few strips might appear in black and white in the back of the newspaper, but on Sunday the comics came in living color. I had my favorites.

Perhaps my love of mysteries began back when I followed the adventures of Brenda Starr and Dick Tracy. Brenda Starr was created in 1940 by Dale Messick. She was a mysterious, adventurous reporter always landing in exotic places and steamy romances. She was pursued by the man with the black eye batch. Ah, the mystery of the black orchid. See, after all these years, I still remember.

Dick Tracy was police detective created by Chester Gould in 1931. He was often off to save Tess Trueheart who would one day be his wife and mother of Bonny Braids. I sent off box tops for a Bonny Braids doll. 

Blondie was my lighthearted reading. It was created in 1930 by Chic Young. Until I did some research, I did not know that Blondie's maiden name was Boopadoop, and she had been a chorus girl. Dagwood pursued her as he was a playboy son with a billionaire father. This all changed during the Depression when the couple married. Dagwood was disinherited for marrying a gold-digging flapper. It seems that the comic strips changed with the events of the time. I have to admit that one of my favorite names in a strip was that of Mr. Dithers. His name certainly fit his personality. He reminded me of my grandfather.

Li'l Abner pursued Daisy Mae. Tarzan fell for Jane. Little Orphan Annie with her white eyes found Daddy Warbucks. Alley Oop, Flash Gordon, Pogo and his friends, so many wonderful characters came to visit back the lane every Sunday. In 1960 Family Circus came to call. It captured a new audience with all of the things that happened to families on a regular basis. We saw ourselves in those sweet faces and laughed at our own foibles.

Charles Schulz brought Charlie Brown and all of his wonderful friends to life in 1950. Charlie Brown didn't even have a jagged stripe on his shirt when it all began. For years we have followed that young, ageless boy, cheering him on every step of the way. One day after his death on February 13, 2000, a message was posted. A message written by Charles Schulz was posted the day after his death on February 13, 2000. He said 'good-bye' to his little playmates. These are his closing words:

Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, Lucy... how can I ever forget them...
— Charles M. Schulz

I feel the same about those wonderful characters who came into my life every Sunday when the funnies arrived back the lane. I will never forget.

Monday, January 19, 2015

My Nirvana

Did you have a Neff Road? Did you have a childhood where you could run in the fields and play in the woods? Did you ride on a tractor with your Dad and gather eggs for your Mom? Did you hang clothes on the line and use a wringer washer? Did your ride a horse to the creek and feel the strength of it beneath you? Did you play in a corn crib or hide in the corn stalks? Did you bale hay or eat raw oats? Did you squish tobacco worms and walk behind the planter replacing missed plants? Did you look for baby kittens or cuddle a lamb?

Did you go to a church where everyone helped raise you? Did you play the piano and sing for Sunday service? Did you help take food to ill neighbors? Were you hugged and welcomed as one of their own? Did you go on a hayride? Or swing from the barn swing? Did you?

Have you seen babies bunnies hidden beneath leaves? Have you watched a hawk dive and catch a fish? Have you sat for hours by the fishing hole catching nothing or pulled in fish one right after the other? Have you ice skated on a pond wearing double bladed skates or skated around the basement on metal skates that clamped onto your shoes? Have you ever found a morel mushroom? Did you ever eat one?

Have you been inspired by a night sky or the birth of a baby lamb? Have you watched a dung beetle move a ball slowly down the back lane? Have you ever watched a praying mantis or worn a cicada shell? Did you ever step on a bee? Have you ever gone barefoot for three months? Did you ever blow on a dandelion or pull apart a thistle pod? Have you seen the Dutchman's britches hanging in a row or the ginger blossom hidden close to the earth? Have you seen Jack in the pulpit or the violet king soaking his feet?

Have you known unconditional love from neighbors? Have you been on a road where everyone comes out to greet you? Did you ever feel at home no matter which of those houses you visited? Did you ever have a Neff Road?

I did. My own Nirvana.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Always a good day

Off and on all day long:  "MeMe, I go potty." Emma calls. "Me, too" (which comes out 'Me, poo') Nolan echoes. This  has been my last three days and nights. Mommy and Daddy went to NYC., and I kept the twins. Potty training is progressing, and I am the designated driver. On top of that, any time between 1:30 and 4:30am, Nolan wanders to my bed. About an hour later, Emma joins the family. All night long I dodge feet that bounce off on my kidneys and a little girl who wants to sleep as close as possible to her MeMe, and would be happiest if she could actually sleep on top of me.  As much as I love these little tykes, I am ready for some sleep and down time. Seems that this year so far is a little iffy.

On New Year's Eve I was ill. Had no voice. Felt lousy. Then I got a call that my dear Margaret had passed away. Now all this is bad enough, but I was not prepared when we were told last week that our store is closing, and we have no jobs the end of the month. When I called my son to tell him the news, he said, "Mom we're only on day five of this year!" Seems to me that this year is not starting off well.

Well, as the saying goes, things can only go up from here. If it gets worse, I am in big trouble. I sat down to write this column and thought....and thought....and in truth, had no thoughts. My brain that is functioning with no sleep for three days refuses to look for thoughts. The blank page reflecting blank thoughts. Not a good start to the year.

Mom and Dad had many, many bad days, months and years, yet you never heard them complain. Mom always said, "There were others much worse off than the Loxley family." All you have to do is look at the news and realize that your problems are mighty small. Life moves forward regardless of lack of sleep or an employment future that is in limbo. As I tell customers who wish me a good day, "I always have a good day. Why would I choose otherwise?"

So I leave you with this. I have a few bruises and sore spots this morning. I also have wonderful memories of two little ones spending time snuggling up with their MeMe. My friend Margaret had a wonderful, long life. I was blessed to know her. I already have a possible new job. If it does not pan out, I will find another. Yes, I have been warned by the events thus far this year that life is to be lived with gusto, embracing those we love and getting off our duffs to be successful. Yawn. Oh my. Nap time!

Sunday, January 4, 2015


Woodrow Wilson was president. WWI was being fought. Babe Ruth made is major league debut. The world's first airline to provide regular commercial passenger service flew from St. Petersburg to Tampa, Florida. Ford Motors announces an eight hour work day with a minimum wage of $5 for a day of work. Charlie Chaplin made his film debut. The Panama Canal was inaugurated. Mother's Day was recognized as a national holiday. The world's first electric traffic signal was put up in Cleveland.
The average age for a woman to get married was 21. Only .1% got divorced. The average first birth age was 22. It cost a family $4 for a weeks worth of groceries.  Life expectancy was 51. A small baby began a year of life.

The fourth top baby name in 1913 was Margaret. A lovely name, especially for one precious baby named Margaret May Loy (Stager). She was born on December 2, 1913. She passed away January 2, 2015. A  Centenarian and the last, next-door neighbor to the house back the lane on Neff Road. Mom. She was my other mom. I was at the Stager house as much, if not more, than at my own house during my growing up. And, over the years, that friendship has never faded.

Some people say that it is wonderful that she had 101 years of life and was probably ready to go home to her husband Hollie who has been waiting for her with my mom and dad. Being a believer, I am comforted to know I will see them all again; however, that does not make the losing easier. Having lived away from my roots long ago, I find that distance has always made me think that 'back home' has always remained the same. My parents and the farm are gone, but in my heart, I still see Dad on the tractor in the field and Mom at her pie-making in the kitchen. I think of Hollie sitting on the back stoop cleaning fish and Margaret at her sewing machine. It's easy to do when you live far away. Yet when I return, nothing is the same. The homes have new lives and the losses are felt.

I did not make it home last year. It was the first in a long time that I had not been back for yearly visit. On the last visit, I remember sitting at the table holding Margaret's aged hands, wondering if this would be the last time. She was the last of the next-door neighbors. The last of the adults who knew me as a toddling kid. I will miss her dearly, but I have learned a great deal in this losing of loved ones. There is no time for arguing or anger. There is no time for excuses and bickering. We are only blessed with people we love for a very short time. Each day is an opportunity. Each day is a picture to be taken and placed in a memory. Life is wonderful. It is made wonderful not by money or possessions. It is made wonderful by the opportunities we have to love one another.

In 1914 a baby was born. Thank you, God, for giving her to us for awhile.