Monday, January 15, 2018

When I was little my father worked the night shift at Frigidaire.  During the day he layed brick and plowed other people’s gardens.  I never knew when he found the time to sit down.  He had a lot of energy and was an excellent story teller.  He was also very funny and liked to “fool around”.  Except at church, and there he was always very serious

I could never go to sleep until 11:15 at night when he got home from work.  It just felt so safe to know that he was home and in the house.

There came a time when I was not allowed to sit on his lap.  The church felt it was not right for little girls to sit on their father’s lap.  I didn’t understand that until I was grown.  People at church talked about this one father who had six little girls, and they all would take turns sitting on his lap.

My daddy was an emotional man and I saw him cry for the first time when his best friend died.  I will never forget the emotion that made him shiver and cry so.  I only saw him cry a couple of other times in my life.

Daddy and Mother got along quite well but I did see them argue once over my sister running around with an older man.  My mother threatened to sit on him if he didn’t straighten up.  That was only the second time I remember him reprimand any of us kids.  I believe my sister got a good whipping.

My brother had this annoying habit of running through the house and jumping up to touch the ceiling.  He said he was practicing his layup basketball shot.  I started running through the house and touching the lower entry to the kitchen.  Once I was doing this and Daddy was sitting on the couch by the entryway.  I jumped and touched the ceiling, but my hand slipped and I knocked down a little plastic thingie that hung on the wall.  It fell and hit Daddy.
He jumped up and said he was sick and tired of us doing this and he would put an end to it.  He took off his belt and gave me the whipping of my life.  It didn’t hurt pain wise so much as it hurt my feelings that my Daddy had whipped me.  I believe my brother and I never jumped in the house again.

Daddy and all his church friends played guitars and other instruments.  They would trade off instruments and try to learn to play them.  We got to try out the mandolin, a Dobro guitar, a banjo and a ukulele.  It was so fun.  I loved the mandolin and learned quite a few songs on it.

I never saw my father as happy as when he was playing his guitar and singing with all his friends.  He and mother would sit in the evenings and play and sing.  We kids would join in and it was very entertaining.

Sundays were especially fun.  A lot of church folk would get together at one of their homes.  The women would fix lunch and the guys would tune up the instruments and get ready for a sing-a-long.  We kids would play outside and have the best time.  Then later it was off to church again for the evening’s service.

Daddy just loved ice cream.  After church on Sunday night he would hem and haw and finally say, “Who wants ice cream?”  We all agreed and off we went to get yummy ice cream.  I know he enjoyed getting the treat for us, but I know he just wanted the ice cream himself.  His favorite was Butter Pecan and now-a-days when I get an ice cream I always get Butter Pecan and say it is for my Daddy.

Marshall VanHoose was a wonderful father but he did things for me instead of teaching me how to do it.  I often wished he had taught me how to lay brick.  He was meticulous in his brick laying.  He didn’t teach me about gardening and used to laugh at my one row of beans, four tomato plants and some herbs.  I wish he could see my gardens these days.
I wrote this poem before my parents died and I would like to share it


"Back when we were kids," "When I was young,"
I heard them say more times than one.
Their clothes were square, their ways out of jive,
But the smile I saw in my father's eye
When he spoke of good times
And the look exchanged between two people sharing a memory.
Mother and daughter, father and son
It's a shame we didn't know them
When they were young.
My memory of them is stuck at that stage,
With old fashioned hairstyles at a really old age.
And I don't recognize the strangers I meet,
At Christmas and Easter or Thanksgiving feasts.
They keep that look in their eye hid
Until one says, "When I was a kid,"
And those folks are back with me and I am home.
Mother and daughter, father and son
It's a shame we didn't know them
When they were young.
Now I'm grown and have kids to raise,
I find myself on occasion using that phrase,
"When I was a kid", or "When I was young."
I don't suppose my own kids have that yen
To have known me when I was a kid...
It's not possible for its not that late,
Though they say I'm old fashioned, my hair out of date.
I'm still lively and full of vim,
And most of all I can remember when...
I can't believe it, but it must be true
The roles are changed, the faces new.
Do my kids see me the same way I know?
I saw my Mom and Dad a long time ago?
 And in a few years will they proclaim?
To have kids who see the same?
We live our lives
Failing to realize.
Mother and daughter, father and son
It's a shame we didn't know them
When they were young.

Friday, January 12, 2018

When I was a child, my mother coddled me.  I didn’t have many chores except to make my bed and clean the bathroom once a week.  My mother and father had grown up with outhouses and my mother was repulsed at cleaning the bathroom.  I didn’t mind.  It was an easy chore and it looked so sparkling clean when I finished.  I still don’t mind cleaning the bathroom.

When I was a teenager my mother had to have an operation, and was in the hospital for several days.  My father expected me to cook for him and I didn’t have a clue as what to do.  I remember trying to make gravy.  Luckily, the biscuits were from a tube in the fridge.  I got out my mom’s cookbook (that she never used) and looked up how to make gravy.  My dad laughed at me.  “You don’t know how to make gravy?”  As if every female child is born with the innate ability to make gravy.

I made the gravy and served the biscuits to him.  “You forgot the salt.  This tastes like glue,” he chastised at me.  Well if no one ever taught you how to cook, how in the heck are you supposed to just cook?

Sometime after that, I was working a concession stand in Chautauqua near my home and one of my co-workers made us sloppy joes for lunch.  I made them for my parents a few days later.  I was so proud of myself.

My next venture in cooking was when I ate lasagna for the first time.  I went to the library and got a cook book with the recipe and my mother and I made lasagna.  Daddy didn’t like it because he didn’t like cooked cheese.  (Who doesn’t like cooked cheese?)

Another thing that my mother would let me make using her kitchen was these most horrible chocolate oatmeal cookies that you didn’t bake.  I made them once for my girls when they were little and realized how awful they really were.

I was allowed on occasion to get a Chef Boyardee pizza mix and make a pizza for myself.
When I moved to Middletown to attend college, my roommate, Pat, and I cooked for ourselves frequently.  Our specialty was tuna casserole.  I still love tuna casserole.  Pat made it for me when I visited her a few years ago.

That next summer I worked as the fountain girl at a local Frisch’s Big Boy restaurant.  The head cook taught me to make salads, so they were ready made for the waitresses.  I still love to make salads and have perfected my Big Ass Salad which people ask me to bring to pot lucks frequently.

Once when the hubster and I were first married we didn’t have a lot of cash to buy groceries.  We purchased a cooked canned chicken and the cashier misread the label and we paid 29 cents for the thing instead of the $4.29 it was marked as.  We felt like we had won the lottery.  We made the absolute worst Chicken Cacciatore out of it and it was a true feast.

When my girls were little I was determined that they would not grow up not knowing how to cook.  They sat on the kitchen counters when I cooked and I explained everything I did.  They smelled the herbs and spices as I added them to my concoction.  Jess didn’t like onions at all and so I kept them separate from my recipes.

Once Addi insisted that she would turn the pancakes.  I put her on a stool and gave her the spatula.  She unfortunately used her finger to help flip the pancake and burned her finger.  You’d have thought she set her whole hand on fire.  We then learned to use a chopstick to help turn the pancake.

When the girls were a bit older I insisted that they make at least one meal every week during the summer.  Addi came up with this recipe for turkey meat balls, and the sauce was a mixture of apricot jam and mayonnaise.  It was delicious!  Jess read a recipe on the back of the soy sauce and made Firey Chicken and it was wonderful also.

My girls grew up to love cooking as much as I do.  I believe I love to cook because I love to eat.  And I love to try new things.

Peace be with you.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

When I was a child we didn’t take many vacations.  We usually went to Kentucky and stayed with my Aunt Ola.  My parents would visit friends and family that lived close to her.  We kids would run around barefooted and play in the yard.  My aunt’s sons, Gerald and Emerson, were a lot of fun.  We played games and even played guitar and sang songs.  I loved going to my Aunt Ola’s house so much.  She always had baked chocolate pies for our visits.

I do not recall much of our first vacation but remember it because of everyone who talked about it.  We packed up the car and drove to the Smokie Mountains.  I don’t remember if my sister came along but I know brother Russ was.  It seems as though Russ saved all of our lives.  We were driving along and Russ fell asleep.  When we stopped for whatever reason they couldn’t wake him up.  I don’t know if we took him to the hospital or what, but it seems that our exhaust was coming back into the car and my brother was susceptible to the carbon monoxide, more so than the rest of us

We got the vehicle repaired and continued on our journey.  We stopped at a restaurant and ordered breakfast.  When the waitress asked daddy how he wanted his eggs, he replied, “Done.”  I guess everyone got a real chuckle out of that reply.

I also remember that the mountains were so high and beautiful.  We stopped at a lookout and mother got so dizzy from the height that she reeled and almost fell before daddy grabbed and caught her.

I must have been very young because I really don’t remember this, it is just what I had heard from my family.

I do remember a trip we took when my brother was in the Air Force.  He was stationed at Fort Bragg, NC.  We decided we would go see him and packed up the car and drove to the air force base.  Russ joined us and we set off for Myrtle Beach, SC.  I remember distinctly the first time I saw the ocean.  We drove through the town of Myrtle Beach and went up a hill.  When we got to the top you could see the ocean and how vast it was.  As far as the eye could see and further than my mind could believe.

We stayed in a motel that had a pool but we spent most of our time at the beach.  You could rent these little inflatable rafts and paddle out to the buoys.  Then you climbed on the raft and the waves would carry you into the shore.  I have never seen my father whoop and holler so much.  He had the best time.  We all did.  Well except for my mother.  She couldn’t swim and was scared of the water.  We did finally convince her to doff her shoes and wade in the waves.

My first trip alone, without my family, was in my Senior year of high school when my friend, Shirley Smith, and I flew to Akron, Ohio to visit my sister.  My first airplane trip was wonderful.  I was really afraid at first, but as soon as we got in the air, I was fine.  I do believe we applauded when the pilot landed the plane.

My most memorable trip with my family was when we once drove to Florida for spring break.  The girls were so funny.  Addi hung her Barbie doll in the window by her hair and would wave to people driving by.  The girls had monkey noses that they got in their happy box from McDonalds.  Addi put her dunking bag (why she had it I don’t know) over her head and put on the monkey nose.  She waved to everyone going by.  We got caught in a traffic jam and we made signs to hold up for our neighbors to read.  We were behind a car from Alaska and dad suggested we hold up a sign for them that read, “Had any good blubber lately.”

We caught vacation lunacy and giggled our butts off.  We stopped at a facility that sold fresh oranges.  The girls got these little gadgets that you screwed into your orange and you could suck the juice right out.

We stayed at a place right near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge connecting Tampa and St. Petersburg.  Jess and I sat on the beach that evening and looked at the stars.  She started singing “When the lights go down in the city” and I joined in while hugging her.

The next day Jess and I went into town and viewed “The Red Couch” display at the Art Museum.  It was about a book that has photos of famous and not so famous people sitting on this red couch.  It was really cool!

I remember on our trip back we saw a hot air balloon in the air and watched it for several miles.  Years later, the girls and I were part of a hot air balloon crew.

Peace be with you.

Friday, January 5, 2018

            When I was quite young, under seven, I always played with a girl across the street named Shirley.  Shirley was one of five kids and the same age as I was, and my mom would let me cross the street to play with Shirley or her mom would let her come over and play with me.  We played outside most of the time because Shirley had a swing set, and because when we were at my house, my mom didn’t want Shirley inside because she touched my mom’s things and asked for food or drinks.  My mom just hated that!

        My favorite place to play was at Shirley’s house on the swing set.  For some unknown or unremembered reason, Shirley and I would take turns singing a song and swinging as high as we possibly could.  I can almost close my eyes and remember swinging to the top of the limits of the swing and singing, “Swinging on a Star” at the top of my lungs.  When I’d finish it would be Shirley’s turn to swing and sing.  We had to take turns because the old swingset would rock with our swinging and if both of us were swinging it would rock right out of the ground.  We were afraid we would turn the swingset over and then we’d be left without our swingset.

            Shirley knew many more songs than I did because she and her family had a television set.  My family went to church a lot and I knew lots of hymns.  Most of the secular songs I knew were from Walt Disney because my family sometimes went to a neighbor’s house and watched the Disney program.  Shirley taught me a lot of wonderful songs like High Hopes, Over the Rainbow and Blue Moon, which were some of my favorites.

            When Shirley couldn’t play outside I sometimes went three houses down from mine and played with Fay.  Fay took piano lessons and I was so jealous.  I would beg her to play for me and I’d sing along if I knew the song.  She taught me chopsticks and a couple of really simple silly songs on the piano including “Heart and Soul”.  Fay’s family was also religious and she knew a lot of the same hymns that I knew.  I’m sure her Mother appreciated my playing with Fay because she got a lot of piano practice in.

As I grew older and learned to ride a bicycle, my mom allowed me to ride down to the end of our street and I became closer friends with Jeanie.  The musical connection between Jeanie and myself was that we were in choir together in high school.  We were also cheerleaders together in high school and it seems every time our squad was on the road to a game we all ended up singing together.

            I will never forget the incredible feeling of swinging and singing with Shirley.  I felt so free and happy.  And I didn’t mind that we had to take turns because it was so worth the wait.  My inner child springs forward every time I am near a playground.  I have no hesitation getting myself to the swingset and I really don’t care if anyone sees me.  I do refrain from singing at the top of my lungs but there are times I could break forth.

            I’ve never learned to play the piano but I remember every song that Fay taught me on the piano.  Sometimes I think that maybe 67 is not too old for taking up the piano, but I don’t have one.

            As for singing together with Jeanie and the cheerleaders, I still enjoying singing whether by myself or with a group.  I sang with a band for a few years and the thrill of my life was singing at Rockford’s Labor Day festival, “On the Waterfront”, in front of hundreds of people.  My friends and family were there for me and it was definitely the highlight of my life.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

I have entirely too many good memories of my children, but I include some of my very favorites.  When Addi was very little, just barely talking, we were folding the laundry one day and she asked me, “Is this frog side in?”  I was taken back and asked her to explain.  She said, “Frog side out or frog side in?”  Beyond cute!

When Jessica was three she decided she wanted to be call Leigh instead of Jessica.  I figured she was old enough that everyone could adjust and, so we started calling her Leigh.  I taught her a little song so she could remember how to spell it.  “Jessa Faerber has a new name.  It’s L E I G H. She learned to spell and write her new name. She came home from Pre-School with Leigh written on all her papers.

Well the next year she decided she wanted to change her name again.  She asked me what we had almost named her, and I told her Monica.  That is what she wanted to be called from then on.  Her Pre-School teacher took me aside and said this had to stop. It would be too confusing to all the other children.  Jess and I had a long talk and she decided to become Jessica again.  Problem solved.

When Addi was about four or five she took to wearing a Kool Aid t-shirt, that was much too big for her, and one of my half slips.  When she got tired she sucked her finger and fondled the half-slip.  I was embarrassed to take her out in public.  We decided to go shopping at the local Goodwill store and see if we could find her something more appropriate to wear.  She picked out a pink, what looked to be a flower girl’s dress, that was full length.  I’m pretty sure she wore it out, but she got out of that craze in no time and was back to wearing real clothing.

Jess, Addi and I traveled to Niagara Falls when Jess was four and Addi was six with y sister.  The girls were asleep when we got to Pennsylvania. I told them we had just gotten into Pennsylvania.  Jess looked out the window and asked, “Where are all the pencils?”

On that trip to Niagara Falls we got to see the Cirque de Solei before they ever became popular in Vegas.  The girls also got brand new winter coats from the local coat warehouse outlet, and they each got a finger puppet that was a mouse.  Addi called her mouse “Squeaky” and promised her undying love for the puppet.

When we got to the hotel that evening we were all pooped.  I got the girls changed into their pj’s and into bed when Addi suddenly exclaimed, “I’ve lost Squeaky.”

My sister thought it had fallen out in the car and went to check.  No Squeaky.  Addi was sobbing and carrying on so, I thought she would never get to sleep.  She did eventually calm down and go to sleep.  In the morning when we got to the car, there on the ground lay Squeaky.

Years later I came across Squeaky and mailed him to my sister as a remembrance.

When the girls were very little they got so bored on rainy days.  I taught them to play Wonder Woman.  They donned their bathing suits and rubber galoshes.  I tied a towel around their necks and masking taped their wrists and foreheads. They ran around in the rain, splashing in puddles and fighting off the bad guys in the cul-de-sac.  I am so very sorry I never got a photo of them dressed as Wonder Woman.

When we first moved to northern Illinois we decided that we would explore every city park we could find as they grew tired of the two playgrounds at Lake Summerset.  I packed balls, hula hoops and these stilts, that I had made out of coffee cans and rope.  They each asked a friend to join us and we drove all over northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin playing on the playgrounds.

Peace be with you.

Monday, January 1, 2018

After my Junior year in high school I was close friends with a guy named Roger Hamlyn.  He was a geek and had started his own radio station in his bedroom. We weren’t boyfriend and girlfriend, but just friends.  He introduced me to his friend, Bill Howard, who was the manager of the Chautauqua Park facility in our neighborhood.

Roger and Bill were talking about how they needed some workers for their concession stand in the park and I said I’d be interested in trying the job.  My parents didn’t want me to work until I got out of school, but I insisted that I could walk to the park each day (It was around a 20-minute walk) and walk home at the end of the day.

My first assignment was for a Jerry Lee Lewis concert.  There was this great big concert hall at one end of the park and they had big events all the time.  I drew fountain sodas at the concert.  No alcohol was allowed because of the Christian Chautauqua thing.

Jerry Lee Lewis brought down the house.  He played on the top of the piano, under the piano and from the floor.  The crowd loved him.

I got paid 75 cents an hour and I believe I was there for two hours.

My next assignment was the actual concession stand.  I made cotton candy (which I despise to this day), snow cones, corn dogs, popcorn and drew fountain sodas.  We had to wear these little aprons for our uniform, so I took one home and my mother made one for me.  It was red and white checked.  It really helped save my clothes as snow cones and cotton candy make a mess.

I met a ton of kids that summer.  We had a deaf Christian camp group come through and I learned a lot of sign language.  I met boys from New York, Michigan, and Indiana.  We sometimes stayed after work and went to the coffee shop and had burgers with some of the campers.

I got to know the girl who ran the Putt Putt golf course and she did the best thing in the world for me.  We kids who had the same hour lunch break would get together and cook our lunch sometime.  She had a hot plate and brought the stuff to make sloppy joes.  I was so inspired that in the next few days, I made sloppy joes for my family for dinner.  I can’t even remember the girl’s name but she definitely changed my life.  Maybe her name was Jane.

Before that I had never ventured into my mother’s kitchen.  She didn’t like me in there because I broke things.  I cleaned her bathroom, which she considered too unsanitary to clean, and I stayed out of the kitchen.  That summer I also had a cheerleading seminar at a local college where I ate lasagna for the first time.  When I got home my mother and I learned to make lasagna.

Because of that job, I was hired at Frisch’s Restaurant in the new Dayton Mall.  I was the fountain girl.  I came in early to do prep work, made ice cream sundaes as ordered, wrapped sandwiches for the carry out, cut and prepared the pie display and whatever else I could do to help the restaurant run smoothly.  I loved that job!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

My Daddy

          “Anyone can be a father but it takes a special person to be a daddy.”  Hallmark card

          This morning at our usual Sunday breakfast, I had a wonderful realization about my father.  My friend was telling a story and responded that she saw a lot of her father in her son and in herself.  I thought to myself and brought to my mind’s eye an image of my own father.  I told the group at the breakfast table that I thought the only thing of my father that I had inherited was the ability to tell a good story.

          Later while writing in my journal I realized what a marvelous gift my father had given me.  I am a writer.  I tell stories and thanks to my father’s gene pool, I tell a pretty good tale.

          When I was a little girl one of my favorite things to do was to say to my father, “Daddy, tell us something about down home.”  My parents were from the rural Kentucky hills and their childhood seemed to be Waltonesque to me.  Big family, not much money but a whole lot of love and adventures for kids running free in the countryside.

          My dad would conjure up a story about when he was a kid.  He had such wonderful stories to tell.  My favorite one was about the time his brother had challenged him to see who could throw a rock the farthest and my father had hit his brother right between the eyes with his throw.  We would all laugh and Daddy would just beam with obvious delight.  We kids would ask for more and more stories and he would agree and give us another rendition of one of his favorite memories.

          The things that made my father’s stories so good were the fact that they were real and had actually happened.  He used expression in his face as he told the stories and you could tell from his face that he was reliving those moments as he told us about them.  He would laugh and clap his hands and we would cry, “what then? What then?” and he would entice us further even if we had heard the story before.         

Daddy had so many stories about hunting and courting my mother and stories about his brother and sisters.  My most unfavorite were the snake stories because I would have bad dreams.  My mother would try to hush these stories but once he got on a roll there was no turning back.

          I think the reason I loved my daddy’s stories so much were that they allowed me a glimpse of him when he was young.  When I envision my daddy I see him, as he was young, smiling and handsome with such beautiful wavy dark hair.  I’ve heard it said that it is a shame that we didn’t know our parents when they were young.  Because of my father’s stories, I did know him when he was young.  He will always be young to me.  And he was a very special person.

        My Daddy used to tell stories.  He was a fabulous story teller.  He was a big cutup and liked to joke a lot.

        He would meet people for the very first time and tell about when he was in the Army.  (He was never in the army.)  He talked about when he got shot and the person he was talking to asked him where he got shot.  He would point to the top of his head and tell them to feel where it went in.

        When they felt the top of his head he would lift his butt, and then tell them to feel where it came out.  They would all just crack up.  (Sorry about the pun.)