Recent weather reports from the nor’easters blasting the eastern coastline as well as the storms to the north of us in Washington state brought back memories. As I watched the news, I was taken back to the year 1951.
To a child’s delight, snow began to fall on January 28, 1951, as did a lot of ice in the form of freezing rain (to no adult’s delight). Winds blew taking down power poles. Roads were blocked by fallen trees. How little I knew about the wildness and harm of it all. Continue reading →
I couldn’t come to grips with writing a new post this week. Something or Someone advised me to step back and take a self-care breather.
So, I’ve pulled this one from the 2015 archives, brushed it up a bit, and offer it to you on this Easter weekend in 2020. The memory is one of my childhood favorites. It always comes to mind during the week before Easter.
One Easter Sunday stands out in my mind above all others. The year 1950. I was around age four. Dressing up was a highlight to most little girls, especially around Easter.
Easter meant a visit from the Easter Bunny with baskets filled with eggs and jelly beans and always a chocolate bunny. And it almost always meant new clothes. This particular Easter meant a new pair of black patent leather Mary Janes. I was proud and excited to wear them. I thought Sunday would never come.
Finally, Sunday came. Up early to check out what was left by the Easter Bunny, eat breakfast, brush our teeth, and then dress for church.
That’s when it all fell apart. I heard Mama and Daddy talking. Well, maybe arguing.
“She cannot wear those shoes. Can’t you see it snowed last night?”
Oh, no! Mama was telling Daddy I couldn’t wear my new shoes. If I hurried, I could get dressed and have my new shoes on before they finished.
“Honey, the snow isn’t that deep.” Hurray for Daddy! But Mama was having none of it.
Finally, Daddy saved the day. He told Mama if she felt it was too messy to wear the new shoes, he would carry me from the house to the car, from the car to the church, and reverse his plan when it was time to come home.
I’ll never forget wearing those shiny new shoes. But above all, I’ll never forget how loved I felt when Daddy reached down with his long arms, picked me up, and carried me to the car and into church that morning. I like to think it was Daddy’s way of showing me the unconditional love of God.
Transitions are never easy. We are habitual creatures and enjoy life when all goes along as usual. Move-in day my freshman year of college is a memory like none other. It is representative of life going any way but the usual.
My parents drove my roommate, Nancy, and me to the small town of Pulaski, TN, about 70 miles south of Nashville. Daddy had done his very best at getting everything into the trunk or between Nancy and me in the back seat.
When we arrived at the address we’d received for our dorm, we found a mass of cars, parents, and other students. Dad began to unload the car, and Nancy and I ran ahead to the front doors of the building. When we gave the receptionist our names, she had less than a large smile on her face.
It was not good news. The room assigned to us was on the first floor. Unfortunately, the first floor of this brand new building was still under construction.The first thing that popped into my mind was where would we sleep that night. But better yet, where we would shower the next morning?
Our housemother arrived just then with new living arrangements. We would be living on the third floor of the home of the Dean of Students and his young family.The dean’s home was in an old Victorian house. This meant no air conditioning and no bath on the third floor.
The Housing Office had gone out of its way to provide comfortable accommodations. Finding space for eight freshmen girls and one sophomore “big sister” in one place was a challenge. However, the situation provided the nine of us with the opportunity to get to know each other in a smaller community. Solid friendships were formed during this time.
Many good memories grew out of this experience. We did get noisy at times. Dean White had a clever way of alerting us to lower the noise level. He used the light switch at the bottom of the stairs to douse us into total darkness if we were bothering his family.
Spending your freshman year in college at “The White House” is not something everyone can brag about!
Sunday started the cruise-in season for car guys. Last year was our first year to take part. We had purchased a 1964 Studebaker Commander (see above image) in May of 2018, and we wanted to show her off. Cars have interested Bob since he was a young boy. As his wife, I came along carrying my dad’s interest in cars and built on that history to enjoy Bob’s interests.
Studie is the child of one previous owner. The gentleman who owned her took meticulous care of her outside and inside. Not much, if any, restoration occurred during that initial ownership. Car records note a new paint job (in the original color) and new upholstery (close to the original).
We never fail to receive a thumbs up along the highway, and then at the cruise-in a lot of “she’s a beauty.” Who knew you could feel as proud of a vintage vehicle as you do your three children? Well, it isn’t quite the same but similar.
Dad also had a love of Studebakers. So when Bob mentioned he’d found one for sale nearby, there was no question that we’d go take a look and kick some tires. I loved Dad’s Studebaker. It was where I got some of my best alone time with him.
Dad’s Studebaker was also a Commander but a few years older than ours. It was born in 1949.
The pictures below are of Dad at the wheel of his blue Studebaker. The other is of me on the first day of school (either first or second grade) waiting for my ride to school with Dad.
I find it amazing how threads of passion weave themselves through your life. Who knew as a young girl in first or second grade I’d be the wife of a man who, like my dad, had a special love of cars? Who knew I’d have fun going to cruise-ins?
Gratitude fills my heart for a lot of things shared in this story. My car guys are men so similar. A father like my Father in Heaven with plenty of unconditional love. And a husband, also a good, hardworking man who loves and cares for his family. I stand in awe of the connections found across two generations in our family.
Ever notice how memories slip into the activities of our everyday lives? Things we don’t think of until something or someone triggers that long ago memory and it rushes to the forefront of our minds.
Several years ago while caring for my mother, near the end of her life, I wanted to help get her to eat. She’d suffered another of several congestive heart failure episodes, and the nurses encouraged some fruit. I brought bananas, something I knew she enjoyed.
Recently staff had begun mashing her food, so I mashed the bananas. Their aroma overwhelmed my senses. You know…that smell only a fresh banana has.
As I continued mashing, I remembered doing the same for my son when he was an infant. No doubt Mama had mashed bananas for him, and other grandchildren, and for her children.
My next thoughts moved to contemplate how the cycle of life catches up with us in the mundane. As my mind wandered back through generations, I imagined my grandmother engaged in the same activity, and her mother, and on and on.
Among my thoughts was the process of aging. As we age our bodies and our abilities revert to how we were as children. Unable to care for ourselves. Unable to read or write. Even in our eating things change.
Oregon is HOT in our neck of the woods. Usually, summer days aren’t filled with temperatures nearing 100 or humidity starting the day at 70% or more. We’re accustomed to average summer temps in the low to mid 80’s, low humidity, and nights cooling down into the 60s or even high 50s.
Mornings now you can hear the sounds of neighbors doing what you’re doing–opening windows and doors to let the cool morning air in. At our place, in Meyers Woods, this will keep the house cool throughout the day with the help of shade from our old growth firs and cedars.
Many older homes in the area have no air conditioning. Oregonians are somewhat complacent thinking that global warming isn’t going to affect the Pacific NW. Best we think again, dear neighbors!
But global warming and current days are not my subject matter today. I want to talk about…
Back in the day, the 1950s.
There was no evidence of air conditioning in any of the homes on our block. None anywhere we knew about. But people fared the summer weather without a hitch.
I grew up in Nashville, TN. The south offers a hot summer for the most part. The humidity can often be as high as the temperature. Mosquitoes are everywhere.
Unlike Oregon and the NW, summer nights in Tennessee didn’t cool off much. But I didn’t mind. I counted lightning bugs and stars until Mama or Daddy called us at bedtime.
Monday was wash day at our house, and Mama laundered sheets and pillowcases. A favorite activity was handing her the clothespins, or some call them clothes pegs, for hanging the wash.
Going to bed with air-dried linens made summer nights a delight!
Hot Nights Meant Bedtime Delight.
Windows were open as far as they would go. Hopes were high for a slight breeze or a hefty draft blowing through.
I could hear Mama using the Coca-Cola bottle she used to dampen clothes for ironing. This signaled the preparation of cooling sheets, as she called them, for the long, hot night.
Each sheet was dampened as much as she felt necessary to keep us cool enough to fall asleep. When she brought the sheet to you, Mama carefully laid it over you spreading it to its full size.
Now the hope for breezes was at its peak. And as soon as someone felt a breeze, the whole house knew–there was either a long “ahhhhhhhh,” or a giggle, or one big yawn.
It was time to fall asleep and dream dreams.
What memories do you have of hot summer nights?
Perhaps there’s something you’d share with us in the comments below, or perhaps this is good fodder for a short writing piece you’ve been putting off.
Either way, my hope is that it’s not so hot where you are that you can’t sleep! Sweet dreams!
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