Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Monday, March 31, 2008

Udate on Aunt Daisy

Aunt Daisy is the lady, my mother's oldest sister, who suffered a stroke when she was a relatively young woman (early 40s) and was paralyzed until she died.

Recently, in visiting with Micki (her daughter, Martha) I garnered more information about this woman. All Micki kept telling me was about her mother's endurance, her ability to strive through adversity, and her relationship with Christ. Daisy's relationship with our Lord is what helped her survive.

And she didn't keep her faith to herself, either. She told Micki many times that whatever she (Micki) did, she needed to make sure she would do it only if she could take Jesus along with her. That was a hard thing for Micki to adhere to being in show business. But she tried, she tells me.

In fact, she blames her "lack of success" in "show business" on the fact that she turned down many "gigs" because she couldn't take Jesus with her -- several requests for her to be in Las Vegas shows being one thing. Micki told me that every time she would think of taking a job in a bar or as an opener for a "girly" show, the voice of her mother would pop in her head, and she would turn it down.

It also occurred to me that all of Daisy's children had Bible names: Ruth, Hannah, Mary, Martha, Esther, Grace (well grace is the theme of more than one book, right?), Elizabeth (we called her Bette), and David. I guess she wanted and hoped that her children's names signified to others that she read her Bible and knew the characters in it. And, she prayed that all her children would follow her Lord as well.

BTW: Micki ended each one of her radio/TV broadcasts, with: Thanks to all you out there, and especially you, mom.

Mt. Calvary Union Church

My father, Carl Drexler (you can search his name on the web and some of his writings are published) was called to this church in 1944. It was in October. In November of that year there was a bad hurricane that hit the area. I remember that -- me, I was only 1-1/2 and I remember that hurricane. I remember the lighting of the kerosene lamps (I have one of them in my home). I remember being in the kitchen when one of the wild cherry trees fell very close to the house. Dad just kept walking from one end of the house to the other checking windows. Neither the parsonage nor the church suffered significant damage.
Anyway, Mt. Calvary Union Church (pictured above) was where my father spent the rest of his preaching life. He was there for 56 years and if his health had held out, he probably would have been there until he died. As it was he needed a live-in person and that was unaffordable for him or us. But he got to teach after he moved in with my sister in North Carolina. Her son Jamie would sit for hours talking to dad and learning from him. He (Jamie) still listens to my father's message tapes (they started taping him in the 60s).
Why Mt. Calvary Union Church was named that is not known to me. The "union" part is unique. It wasn't affiliated with any denomination. In fact my dad always told us it was episcomethobapterian. Sound it out, you'll get it. E-pis-co-meth-o-bap-ter-i-an.
I read in The History of Runnemede that it was started by several locals who wanted something other than Methodist -- there was a Methodist church down the pike. At the time the church was built, there were only about 100 people in the whole town of Runnemede. But in those days everyone went to church.
Yesterday was Sunday, and if 100 people were at Mt. Calvary, it would be a very good Sunday. To be fair, the church seats 120 people, and that with extra chairs. It's a very small church, but it's big on the Bible.
What I remember is that the church always had a heart for missionaries. When dad was there 20 percent of each offering went to missions. Dad got paid a percentage of the morning offering. Some weeks it was good, some weeks the pay was not good. Mom was good at saving some out each week, just in case. At the end of her life we found out just how much she had saved out in those weeks.
Some of the missionaries I remember were, of course, my husband's family -- The Hahns, they were missionaries to Kenya. My Aunt Fran and Uncle Howard (Boyll) were missionaries to the people in Bristol, TN. Mr. Zodiatis (American Board of Mission to the Greeks); Anthony Zioli (the elder) -- he was a personal friend of my dad. He was a hell-fire and brimstone preacher, let me tell you. He was a shouter! Mary Teagarten was a missionary with the China Inland Mission and she was in Indonesia. Mary Scippione was a missionary to Italy, but she rarely came back to America on "furlough."
I loved hearing the missionaries and seeing their pictures. No matter what I got a front row seat when there were a missionary speaking in church, except when Anthony Zioli spoke, because he would shout and point his finger at people. So I shied away from the front seats when he was in church. But, I did listen to him. How could one not?
This is the church where I grew up. This is the church where I came to know the Lord in a personal way. This is also the church in which my husband and I were married. This is the church I go to when we visit the east and we're in the area on a Sunday. If you're ever in Runnemede on a Sunday morning, listen for the bell to ring at 11:00 a.m. and visit the church. You'll be blessed.

Sunday, March 30, 2008


My husband, Alan, and I were watching the tail end of the Rutgers University Women's NCAA tournament game. Remembering Wabi Sabi Girl's comments about her as-yet-unborn child's name (should it be a girl) I was thinking, she could do worse -- much, much worse than the name (Guiliana) that she has picked. I actually think Guiliana is a beautiful name, sort of like my granddaughter's name (Elliana).

We talked about the names our family have picked for our grandchildren and the names we chose for our children and the names my ancestors and Alan's ancestors gave their children.

Several of my grandchildren are being called by the middle name given them. For example, Elizabeth Anne is Annie, Victoria Grace is Gracie, Evelyn Rose is Rosie. So why give them a first name knowing they were never going to use it? Well, Gracie is not Victoria because we already had a Victoria in the family, but my daughter loved the name and had chosen it years ago, long before the first Victoria was born. Annie was named Annie because, well, she's an Annie, not an Elizabeth, Eliza, Liz, Beth, or Betty. You look at her, and know, her name is Annie. Regarding Rosie. I think we knew all along she was going to be Rosie, but Rose Evelyn wasn't as rhythmic as Evelyn Rose, so we just called her Rosie from the first day she entered this world.

My husband's name is Robert Alan. Those that love him call him Alan, because his dad's name was Robert (Bob) and they didn't want to confuse the two, they started calling him Alan. So this middle name business is not new to our family. Alan was Alan when I met him, but he went to college and there was another Alan in his dorm room so he went over to Bob (Robert) and in the army he was known as Robert A. Hahn, so he kept Bob throughout his working career. You see? Those that know him call him Bob, but those that love him (family) call him Alan.

My brother is John Mark -- we called him Mark. My mom wasn't overly fond of the name John, but my father wanted him called John Mark (after that person in the Bible of the same name), and I believe my father called him John Mark a lot. The rest of us called him Mark or Markie. He's now John to most people. When he went to college, it was easier not to explain to people that your mom didn't like the name she had given you, and so he went by the name he had to put on those numerous forms you fill out each semester. Thus, he was known as John. His wife calls him John, his parishioners call him John, the family still calls him Mark.

My name is Judith Anne. Judith was the name I was called when I was in trouble, although, I don't think my father ever called me anything but Judith. I went by Judi as long as I can remember, although I spelled my name Judy until it dawned on me that I wanted to be a little more unique, and so I changed it to Judi and told people I just cut off the "th". I'm not especially fond of my name and requested that none of my grandchildren have Judith as any part of their name. Fortunately, my children agreed with me.

Cyndi (Cynthia Rose) was "girl" for five days. We were expecting a boy, and had a boy's name picked for her. So it took us a bit of time before we named her. Oh, yeah, back when my children were born, we were in the hospital for five days. A bit overdone, but when you had two toddlers to come home to, I suppose it was for the best.

Anyway, the names the Rutgers players had (which started the whole conversation) were names that were, shall we say, a bit unusual? Here's the list Essense, Epiphanny, Rashidat, Matee (I assume that's pronounced mat tee, but it could be mat tay), Mijia, Khadijah, Kellisdra, Judith, and Heather. Even spell-checker doesn't recognize seven of the nine.

So the next time you think you have a horrible name, or don't like your name, or want to change your name, or are naming a child, just get out the old spill and spell container, throw the letters on the table, and whatever appears, that's the name you use.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Woods

It was always on a Sunday afternoon that Mom would take us to "the woods." "The Woods" was a small patch of forest in Runnemede's northern end, and in spring and summer mom loved to take us there and point out the flora. She knew it all. We gave up our Sunday-afternoon-nap happily to go with her.

Usually it was just my mother, my sister, and me who went. Sometimes it was just my mom and me. She would walk through the woods -- no trails -- just pushing branches out of the way, looking for a new plant she could dig up and put in her garden. Oh, I forgot to mention that we lugged a trowel, and a small bucket with a bit of water in it to keep the plants moist until we got home.

I wish I could remember which plants she dug up. I know she always wanted a holly bush. Well, she finally got one -- but not from "the woods."

She visited me in Cincinnati, shortly after we moved there, and I thought she was going to have a heart attack when she saw my holly bush. She saw the runners under the bush and was determined to dig up a small starter and take it home on the plane with her. Well, she did dig it up, she wrapped the small root ball in a plastic bag and stuck it in her purse. That transplanted holly tree is alive and well at our former home in Runnemede (at least it was last time I was there).

Not to be outdone, the next time I visited her I dug up several iris bulbs and transplanted them to my home in Cincinnati. They're still there, blooming (in a couple of months). They are probably the only plants I didn't kill. I have a "black" thumb, not a "green" one. You get the picture.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Naturally curly hair

Every time I see the commercial on TV where a girl is flaunting her curly hair and another is in a salon using products especially designed to give you curly hair I want to throw something at the TV screen -- I was going to say I want to puke, but that would be gross.

I have naturally curly hair (NCH). How I wish it has been in style when I was a girl/teenager/young woman/older woman. But it wasn't.

I remember my dear playmates having their hair put up in rag curls or pin curls and their hair on Sunday would always look so perfect. My hair would look good for three seconds then, sproing, it would spring out in all directions -- that's the nature of naturally curly hair.

I have NCH, my sister has NCH, my girls have NCH, my son even has NCH. Alan has NCH, but he was able to train his hair to lie flat with the use of lots of Brill Creme. Girls couldn't use Brill Creme. Now days, though, my girls use those flat hair irons or the very large curling irons to straighten their very curly hair, because while "curly" hair is in, it's not NCH that is in-style. NCH never, and I mean NEVER will relax enough to have those cute little-girl like curls that the ladies are wearing now. I'm not bitter, Stacia.

I tried everything. VO5 creme was supposed to "relax" curls. NOT. Curl Free (a permanent to straighten one's hair) worked until you washed your hair again after the perm, then boing-oing-oing-oing the curls sprung lose again. Argh!

The poodle cut was perfect for me, but even then, my mom would put my hair in pin curls, and the result never looked like the poodle cut. (See picture) And I so badly wanted to have my hair in a pixie style. Mom tried to get my hair to stay straight on the sides but it didn't work.

Finally, there was the flip. I was able to get a pretty nice looking flip (right), and my hair looked great on my wedding day. But, I had just given myself a Curl Free perm and it was on the second day. By the time we got to Bermuda and I went swimming, well, I don't have to tell you what happened. My hair bunched up so bad I couldn't even put a comb through it.

Now, I have it easy. I have a good, no great, hair specialist and she cuts my hair so all I have to do is towel dry it and run my fingers through it, and it is in a style that is current for an elderly person with all white hair.

Ice Cream

I've talked about going down to "Joe's" to get ice cream when I was a child and into my adult years. The whole time I lived in Runnemede, Joe's was the place to go to get ice cream cones. And they cost all of 25 cents. (that's the double dip cost)

How times have changed. Alan and I enjoy going over to Graeter's (the local ice cream eatery) once in a while for an after-dinner cone. Of course, we're both double dippers. Tonight we went to Graeters, and we haven't been there since before this past summer. Something always was "in the way" of our getting out of the house and actually getting in the car to go over to Graeter's.

Well, tonight we BOTH really wanted some ice cream so we went over to Graeter's. Now, I broke my toe this morning so I'm not walking very good. Fortunately, it's not the foot I use to drive the car. So with my good foot in it's proper position(s) I drove us over to the drive-up window at Graeter's -- the one across from St. Luke's Hospital.

Sticker shock!!!!!!! Boing!!!! Two double dips cost $10.26. The last time we order two double dips it was $8.25. I couldn't believe much the price had gone up since we last visited our favorite ice cream dippery. I guess that's it for this year. :)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Prayer requests

I remember prayer meetings on Wednesday nights. Today is Wednesday. My sister sent me an a-mail that told me she thought of me and was praying for me. I am so glad. I need prayer. My new meds on some days really have a bad effect on me. And it hits me suddenly. I get very, very tired, and I see triple or more. I then have to lie down. Today was such a day.

Back to Wednesday night prayer meetings. They started with a good song service. Four or more hymns such as Great is Thy Faithfulness, Sweet Hour of Prayer, or In the Garden. I miss singing those hymns in church. The new songs just don't do it for me. (enough editorializing -- for you children out there reading this, editorializing means giving an opinion on something.)

After the song service, dad would give a short message, usually about prayer and why we should pray. Then he would ask for prayer requests. Mostly we prayed for sick people or unsaved people. I don't ever recall praying for our country or the president. We do now, though. And the prayer request session would last usually about 5 minutes. Some people wrote down the requests, others (like me) didn't. We were then broken up into groups of five or six and we went into various parts of the church to pray.

You see, five of six people praying at once is better than one person praying. At least I suppose that was the thinking. I rather liked the small group praying. I was shy of praying in front of the whole church. I know I shouldn't be shy, after all I'm talking to God not to the church, nor to impress the church members, but shy I was and am.

Of course, Wednesday night prayer meeting did not include the whole church. The whole church was invited to prayer meeting, but only about one-third of the church showed up. Well, folks, there are pray-ers and there are non-pray-ers and the pray-ers were at church on Wednesday night. It's still that way, isn't it? That is, if you can find a church that has a Wednesday night prayer meeting.

We have a small group meeting on Tuesday night, and we usually spend 3/4 to one hour praying for various requests, including our President (yes, we even prayed for 8 years for impeached-president Clinton), our country, the unborn, and those girls deciding whether they are to keep their unborn child or get rid of it (we pray for our local pregnancy center), etc. Times change, some requests remain the same -- still praying for sick people and unsaved people just like we did in the "old" days.

Oh yes, we sing hymns -- songs like He Lives and Christ the Lord is Risen Today -- as well.

More about high school

I had no idea what high school would be like. We didn't have junior high in our town, we just had grades K through 8 all in the same building. I knew nothing about lockers, changing classes, gym class, showers, running through halls to get to the next class, homeroom, etc. I knew nothing about homework.

I think the biggest shock about high school was that EVERY SINGLE TEACHER ASSIGNED HOMEWORK. Why we couldn't do the work in class stymied me. Since I had no study hall I had to lug home six books every night; and book bags had not yet been invented!

The locker situation was one where I had a locker and two "bullies" had adjoining lockers. I had little enough time to get to my locker between classes, let alone put up with two "bully boys" who thought it funny to slam my locker closed every time I opened it. I handled that situation by learning a couple of self-defense moves, and they left me alone. I also went in early to get to my locker, and left late. They weren't around at those times.

I had never eaten in a cafeteria (other than Horn and Hardarts) in my life, so I knew nothing about cafeteria etiquette -- if there is such a thing. I figured it was get in line and wait until it was my turn to be served. Because the lines were so long, and that left little time to scarf down my food, I didn't buy my lunch very often. Bagging it was much easier. At least I had friends and we all sat at the same table every day, so a seat was saved if one of us decided to buy our lunch.

I had a love/hate relationship (if you can have a relationship) with gym class, a.k.a. physical education or phys ed for short. We never called it physical education or phys ed. It was gym. I loved gym, the action, the sports, the running, jumping, leaping, hand stands, etc. I despised the afterward -- the "you must take a shower" part. There were NO private showers, only a gang shower -- that meant all the girls in the class had to shower at the same time. I was (still am) body shy. I had a horrible figure. Actually, I had NO figure. I was stick skinny. And those teachers sat in a chair and made sure you took a shower after class. They actually checked off your name. You were allowed to miss FOUR showers per month -- all in one week. I don't have to tell you what that was for.

I was good at anything the gym teachers threw at us. I always got an "A". Yippee! An "A" in phys ed! That will get you a good job after high school. NOT.

I also loved my music classes whether it was orchestra or choir or girls chorus. I liked most of my teachers. And while most students didn't like Miss Magargee, I really liked her. I had her for two years of high-school English. She was heavy on grammar. And she always knew if you had or hadn't completed your homework. I guess she could tell a guilty look when she saw one. I only missed on assignment in those two years and she caught me. Can you believe that? I had a perfect record and in my senior year, toward the end of my senior year I missed one assignment, and she caught me. I couldn't believe it. How did she know? It had to be the twitchy eyes or the trial look of innocence. I don't know, but she knew. I don't think it dropped my grade much because I always received an "A" in her class. But the threat of a lower grade kept me doing those homework assignments -- all but one.

So high school, being what it was, a stepping stone, actually, to college, then life, was not the best time of my life. I survived -- like who thought I wouldn't.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

High School

I don't know what to write about high school. I attended Triton Regional High School (it was named Triton, not after the Greek god, but because there were three towns that would be attending the school. Actually, it was two towns and a township, which encompassed another 3 towns (or so). I never got that straight. But somehow there were three towns involved when the high school was originally concepted.
I wasn't "popular" in high school (I was in grade school). I was well-known, just not "popular." That was okay, I had better fish to fry than to be a cheerleader or be in the "in crowd." The "in crowd" by and large were not geeks. Not that I was a geek, but I was in the "college prep" curriculum along with about 1/3 of my fellow classmates. Right there, that tells you I was in the minority.
I was in Future Nurses of America, because for a while I wanted to be a nurse. Then I was in Future Teachers of America, because I thought I wanted to be a teacher. I got a scholarship to the state teachers college at Glassboro, NJ because I stuck with the teacher thing. I was in the girls chorus. The school choir. I tried out for NJ All-state chorus. I was in the orchestra (I played violin). I was part and parcel of every school concert in the four years I attended high school. I was in Future Homemakers of America -- why? I don't know. My mom taught me all I needed to know about being a homemaker, and much better than FHA did, but I thought it was something I should be in. Do you see where I'm going with this?
I was one busy teenager. There was something for me to do everyday after school, and I opted out of study hall so I could be in the Glee Club/Orchestra/Chorus and, yes, the Triton Players. I never got a part. But -- ta da -- I attended every play that the Triton Players put on in those four years. Does that count? I suppose not.
I graduated in the top 5 percent of the class. Big whoops! I didn't graduate first, so what does it matter. I met the one and only love of my life in high school in my junior year -- he's still the one and only love of my live, my dear husband, Alan. I think that was the best part of high school. That one brief year we had together, which was only about six months, really. But it was a great part of high school, and really the only part I remember well.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Spring break -- Part III

Now, we're up to modern day. These days. Now it's my time to be a grandmother. My children didn't have a local grandmother, and I don't know what, if anything, they recall of either of their grandmothers.

We tried to head back east at least once a year to visit with my parents and Alan's parents and thus let the children get to know their grandparents. I'm not sure how well that worked out.

Older folks don't have the patients with active little ones (speaking from personal experience as well as observation). I know my dad did some weird things with them -- teasing type things. And he had special names for my three children (Mavis, Maud, and Magirk). My mom, when she was able, was usually in the kitchen cooking or cleaning. At the end of her life, she was usually just sitting in her chair, but she did listen to the children. I wouldn't be surprised if she took the girls on a walk through her garden, explaining to them what each plant was. I know she did that with me, many times in my life. And while I couldn't tell a rose from a weed when I was growing up, I have a pretty good knowledge of plants -- wild flowers included.

Alan's mom and dad were similar, except those grandparents were game players, and that's how they "entertained" the children. They played board games. My children love board games. I'm not overly fond of games of any kind. Most of the time, I opted out of the board game fests.

Anyway, it's now my turn to do "spring" break things with my grandchildren. So in the next two weeks I'll be as busy as my legs will allow doing things with my various grandchildren.

This week is scrap booking with Rose and Rachel. David didn't seem interested in a "play date" this week, and Matthew I can't handle yet. Next week, I'll have the opportunity to spend time with Cyndi's and Becky's children. I know what Tori and I will be doing. I lent her a camera and she's taking pictures of her friends and the family and we're going to download them and pick and choose several to print out for her to make an album with.

I would like to have Adam and Jonah come over as well. They're more Pop-pop children than grandmother children because Pop-pop has all those cars to play with.

I doubt I'll get Shandon to come over, but maybe I will, who knows. He's a sweet young man, and he's very friendly and talkative whenever he happens to answer the phone or when we're alone waiting for family events to begin.

So, that's what spring breaks are these days. Grandparents days. I love 'em.

Spring Break Part II

When I had my own children, again, I don't recall that we did anything other than shopping for new clothes (new from Goodwill) and dipping eggs and getting a ham dinner ready. By the time my children were with us, and we had moved to Cincinnati, there were no more Good Friday services. Except for the Catholic churches in this area, we could find no afternoon service and our church had a Good Friday evening service only for a few years, then it was dropped. Easter of course -- Resurrection Sunday -- was a celebration -- for me it was also work.

I was always church pianist or church organist, and as such Easter required extra music on my part, that meant practicing -- although I probably over practiced. And it meant being at the church earlier than my husband thought was necessary. So the girls and I would head to church at the time I needed to be there, and my husband and son would enter later (sort of like a late grand entrance).

So my girls and son will have to let me know what we did at Easter time during their short Easter breaks (usually Good Friday through Easter Monday).

I think we had a couple of egg hunts in the house, but I'm not clear on that.
I do know that Easter Bunny was like Santa Claus -- a myth, not to be thought about. The purpose of celebrating Easter break was to think about what the Lord had done for us those three days -- the day of his crucifixion, the days he was in the ground, and the day of his resurrection.

So that's what we did with our children.

Spring break series Part I

I don't remember much about "spring" break when I was a child or teenager. It was EASTER break. It always preceded Easter and we were back in school on Easter Tuesday (the Tuesday after Easter).

All I remember was that it was a nice break and that the weather was usually cold and dreary. I guess I preferred the later Easters rather than the early ones (wasn't this year an early Easter -- it sure sneaked up on me) simply because the weather was nicer and I could play outdoors.

We never did anything specifically interesting during those few days away from school. And it was a few days, usually Wednesday through Monday. The only things I can recall doing I wrote about yesterday -- getting new clothes and dipping eggs and being in church.

Even my time as a teenager -- I don't remember doing much during that time. I do know that I never went to Florida during spring break and yes, there may be some bitterness there, but in hindsight I can see what God protected me from since Alan and I were fortunate enough to take a vacation in Panama City Beach during spring break in 2004. You'd think heavy girls would know that bikinis don't look attractive on their bodies! 'Nuf said.

I don't even recall that the extended family (the Italians) got together with each other to share a ham dinner (or was it lamb?) during that time. However, as you will see in the next couple of BLOGs things changed when I had my own family.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

He is risen!

What a wonderful thing that is. Christ the Lord is risen. He is not dead, he is alive! Hallelujah.

I had that ingrained in me from the time I was a baby. You must tell your children that Christ the Lord is Risen. He is not dead. We have a living God.

I recall Easter as a three-day "event". On Good Friday there was a three-hour service at the church from noon to 3 p.m. Daddy would go through the seven last words of Christ (it is seven, isn't it?) and explain what each meant and go into how much our Lord suffered for us, and how he gave hope to the thief, and then the ultimate sacrifice when he said, "It is finished." In the evening on Good Friday, there was a communion service. That's all. No preaching, just a time to fellowship with the Lord's supper. Of course, daddy explained about our Lord's last supper with his disciples, and gave a vivid picture of what that supper was like. Then we all shared communion in our small church, and thought about our Lord and what he did for us.

On Sunday, we rejoiced -- He Lives! Christ the Lord is risen today! Hallelujah.

As children we didn't celebrate the Easter bunny. We didn't go on egg hunts. I do recall, though, coloring hard boiled eggs on the night before Easter each year. Mom taught us how to use a white crayon and draw on the egg before dipping it in the dye, thus enabling us to "paint" pictures in reverse on the eggs. There was no symbolism taught us about the eggs, it was just a fun thing to do at Easter. The family got one coconut filled decorated egg, and that egg what parceled out in little bits and pieces over the next week. And when I say bits and pieces, I mean bits and pieces, TINY pieces. Such a taste. But, oh, how we looked forward to the taste each day until the egg was entirely eaten.

On Easter Sunday we got new clothes (our semi-annual change of Sunday clothes came at this time). And, I got to wear a hat. I loved hats. I still love hats. And gloves. And carry a purse. That had nothing to do with the speciality of Easter, that being the day of our Lord's resurrection from the dead. But maybe it did, when you think about it. His sacrifice -- if we'll accept what He did -- gave us new life. My mom and dad gave us new clothes.

Well, when I read what I just wrote, the similarity isn't there. I just thought you might want to know how we celebrated Easter when I was a child.

Oh yes, one more thing. All schools were closed on Good Friday, and most businesses were closed from Noon to 3 p.m. Nothing was open on Easter Sunday, not even the gas stations. How times have changed.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Food, food, food

Why is it that food evokes memories long forgotten?

I know I've written about this before, but tonight's dinner brought back more memories of my mother and her cooking style. Some would say it was southern Italian, since her family originally came from Abruzzi, in southern Italy. If you haven't googled it yet, you really must. Google Torrevechia Teatina Chieti Abruzzo. If you do that (I could do it for you, but you need to practice) you will find out where your ancestors lived.

I was told that the Sbaraglia family were the caretakers of the town cemetery. Whether that's true or not, I haven't been able to verify. If you use and key in the Torrevechia Teatina Chieti Abruzzo search you can find amazing pictures of the town, because the satellite picture gets in pretty close.

Back to food. Tonight I made my mother's southern fried chicken (Italian style). I couldn't find my Bisquick, I guess I ran out of it and didn't write it down that I needed another box. Anyway, I substituted flour for the Bisquick (not as good, but okay), lots of seasoned salt, and a few shakes of garlic salt. That was all dumped into a paper sack, and then the chicken was thrown in there and tossed until it was well coated. Of course if was fried in olive oil. Not a lot, just enough to get it browned. Then my mom would cover it and cook it for about 45 minutes. I changed that to putting it in the over for 45 minutes -- it makes it crispier. Southern Italian fried chicken, while it is very good, is NOT crispy.

I thought of my mother and her giving up food for us. Either that or she was not hungry, not ever. I find that hard to believe. Although, you know she never was more than 105 pounds. She would cut up a chicken into pieces, and cook all of it, including the back, and liver, and gizzard, and she would boil the feet and eat them. Yes, she actually ate the feet. I never could get past what the feet had stepped in to even watch her eat the feet, but eat the feet she did.

Daddy got a thigh and drumstick. I got a wing, if I was lucky -- there was always a fight over who would get a wing. When I got older I realized that the breast was white meat, like the wing, and I opted for that part of the chicken. I can't remember who ate the back, probably mom. Dad liked the liver and gizzard, so he got those, too. He was welcome to them. I mean they're internal organs, and I never could get a liking for chicken livers.

So, folks, check out Abruzzo (Abruzzi) on Google. There are many websites about the region, and you just might come across a Sbaraglia in your searches. If you haven't already guessed, the picture at the top is Torrevecchia Teatina Chieti Abruzzo. Town center.

The Secret Garden

I have my father's copy of the book, The Secret Garden. I remember reading it as a child. And I remember as a teenager watching the movie (of the same name) -- the one with Margaret O'Brien as Mary, and Dean Stockwell, as Daniel. That particular version of the movie was one TV (TMC) tonight -- beginning at 10:45 p.m. Why do they put the good, old movies on so late at night?

I was determined to watch it, no matter that it was on so late, and I did. What I love about my father's book (now mine) is the pictures. The picture plates in the version I have are beautiful and just a few pictures added to the words of the book, make the story to clear in my mind. I imagine the garden, walled as it was, to look something like, well, my mother's beautiful garden. My mother's garden was always beautiful -- at least until she died and no one cared for it.

It was amazing to me, each year as I returned to the house, before daddy was removed for his health, how even though no one was caring for her garden, some things didn't die and kept putting forth fruit, so to speak. Her irises, while piled high with leaves from the previous winter, still put forth beautiful stems of color. The lilac bushes were still prolific producers. Her roses didn't die, but they didn't grow either. She had lavender by the back door, and it grew and grew and grew.
I wish I had my mother's ability to make plants grow and not die. I have to say my parsley is STILL hanging on since last spring (it's in a pot on the sun porch), as are the rosemary and thyme. My lavender is in horrible shape, and I hope that it perks up once we get warm weather again. The lavender is by the front door, where it got lots of ice and snow and rain. It probably drowned. We'll see, and I'll let you know.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Chocolate pudding with heavy cream

I'm not even sure my brothers and sister will remember this dish, but I offered it to Alan tonight, and he wasn't so sure he wanted to try it.

When I was growing up we always had heavy, whipping cream around. The cream rose to the top of the milk and our milk was delivered with this wonderful heavy cream on the top. Sometimes mom would just shake it into the milk. I guest I got used to drinking half-and-half milk instead of whole milk and that's why whole milk tastes watered down to me.

But, tonight I made chocolate pudding, and I remembered that my mother would pour just a little bit of cream on the top of the pudding, it would settle along the sides and you would get a scoop of chocolate pudding and a little bit of the cream. Basically, it was unwhipped whipped cream.

Alan didn't comment on it until I told him what I did. Then he said, "I prefer my chocolate pudding plain." Oh well, so much for trying new dishes.

Heavy cream is wonderful in coffee. It basically floats on the top of the coffee so while you get some of the "milk" taste, you get more of the coffee taste. Now, if you prefer your milk with a little coffee, rather than your coffee with a little cream, don't try it the way I just mentioned. It's another trick I learned from my mom -- long before Starbuck's had lattes with or without or whatever.

Back to the chocolate pudding and cream, I guess Alan's non-preference is based on the fact that when you scoop your pudding with a bit of cream it dilutes the sweetness of the pudding -- good for me, because I'm not partial to very sweet treats, but bad for Alan or anyone who likes chocolate-flavored sugar.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


I have three friends from Answers in Genesis ( who have BLOGs and which I religiously, every day, check on to see if they've updated them.

I haven't put a link to them on purpose because, frankly, they're my friends and I don't want to share them with anyone -- NOT. I just haven't asked them if I could share their postings with my family and that world, and so I'll just share them with you in this BLOG (today) and be done with it.

First, I got into BLOG mode thanks to Stacia McKeever. Stacia was the person I worked with most at AiG. She's a writer (gifted) and if you search her things out at the AiG site you'll see what I mean. Her BLOGs are funny and they mean little to anyone except those who actually know her. Through her BLOG I've found a side of her I didn't know existed -- her humor. She can be one funny lady. Stacia's BLOG is entitled, Notes from the Holler, ( and you might want to give her BLOG a gander. The comments are not to be missed. Don't skip over the comments because some of them are funny as well.

The second lady whose BLOG I don't miss is Stephanie Zovath ________, she's married and I can't recall her last name, but her husband's name is Ben. Do I get points for that? Her children's names are London and Clay. Do I get points for that? Sorry I can't remember her new/old last name. I mean, she married Ben at least 5 years ago. Her BLOG is entitled Wabi Sabi Girl, ( and she writes like a mom -- a full-time mom, and her topics have mainly to do with enduring life as a young mother with two very young children and another one on the way. Humorous. So relatable. She has written a children's book, and it's available from Answers in Genesis -- check out that website and buy the book. The book's title is Not too small at all -- a mouse's tale. And I found Stephanie's not-so-new last name -- it's Townsend. Duh!

The third woman whose BLOG I check every day is Frost Smith's. Frost is a genius. Actually, Stacia and Stephanie are too, but in a different way. Frost knows computers, and she knows programming. She's not just a computer user, she makes things happen on the computer that only geniuses can make happen. Frost is a working mother. Her topics are mostly about her daughter, Mariah (Ri). Her BLOG is entitled, Fruitful Fulminations, and you can read her BLOG at Frost even gets into "deep thoughts" about the Bible. Read the comments (again). Frost's BLOG is a little more intense than Stephanie's or Stacia's, but worth the read.

Again, thanks ladies for keeping me entertained from time to time. And your updates were a nice relief when I got home. I really missed you while I was in the land(s) of no internet, and received great pleasure when I returned home and got caught up on your lives while I was warm in the sun, and you all obviously were freezing in the snow and ice.

Uncle Joe Sbaraglia

First, let me apologize about the picture transfer for the BLOG. I'm not really good at doing this, and am just doing what I know how to do to get the pictures copied. I can't seem to "clip" them and make them nice and even. That said...

Uncle Joe Sbaraglia, my mother's only brother, spent what I would say was a lot of time in Runnemede. He and his family -- Aunt Rita, Robert, Joan, and Lynn -- lived in South Philly in a house on Juniper Street. It was near where the Mummer's Parade starts. I loved that house for more reasons than one. But that's another tale.

Uncle Joe came often to visit. Now, I have to say, I didn't like the smoking. I'm not a smoker, have never had a cigarette, and frankly the smell really makes me ill -- gives me a headache. But I loved Uncle Joe. Who wouldn't? He always gave me a quarter when he came to visit. He had the most adorable children -- my cousins -- Joanie being my favorite. Robert and I played together when we were younger, I know because I have the pictures, but I don't remember enjoying times with Robert. With Joanie, I could say, we had some very good times when we were growing up, and into our teen age, boy crazy (she for her husband, me for mine) years. And the years when we LOVED Frankie Avalon and other male bee-bop singers. I still have sweet communion with Joanie and she is as sweet today as she always was then. There's just a sweet spirit in her.

Back to Uncle Joe. He came to take us kids (with his two oldest) to places we never would have gone had he not taken us there. He had a car. He came to visit to help my mother do things around the house that she couldn't do by herself, like paint the ceiling, wallpaper the living room, fix a window. It's not that we couldn't get someone else to help with those chores, the point is, Uncle Joe looked to find things he could do to help his sister. I recall several years he came to help my father replace the storm windows with screens, and vice versa.

Uncle Joe was married to Aunt Rita -- the lady who was the best cook in the family in the opinion of ME, and since I'm writing this, that's all that counts. Her spaghetti sauce (gravy) was the best. Micki's was good, too, but not as good as Aunt Rita's.

Uncle Joe encourage me so much when Alan left for Africa. I was devastated when he left, even though I knew it was inevitable. I just knew he would forget about me and I'd never see him again. Uncle Joe told me that first, he wouldn't forget. A guy doesn't forget his first love. But second, he told me that if Alan and I were to be married, he would return to me and we would be married. Of course, you know the end of that story! 42 years ago we were.

I know Uncle Joe loved the Lord a lot. Other spurts of memory come to me -- his asking my father questions about the Bible, his singing hymns, or humming them.

Uncle Joe could play the piano in such a jazzy style, I really envied him. It was a skill that took me a long time to learn, and it wasn't until I was in my mid-20s that I got a hold of the bluesy/jazzy type playing he did on the piano. He played the ukulele as well (Robert has his Uke now) and would sing silly songs along with his plucking.

I might say that all the Sbaraglias were musical in some respect. My mother, Uncle Joe, Aunt Annie, and Aunt Fran played the piano WELL -- it must have been part of the training their mom wanted them to have (I BLOGged that a couple of weeks ago). Aunt Diasy I don't know about, but here is Micki. She sure had a talent.

The last time I saw my uncle was the day of my sister's wedding. We were all gathered at the house afterwards. I had recently become pregnant with my first child and was so proud of my almost protruding stomach (three months, first pregnancy, you look for things like that). And he was very happy for me and we talked about my being pregnant and how I was feeling. We talked the way I would talk with my father, actually. He listened to me, and we enjoyed the back-and-forth chatter for quite a while. Anyway, when Uncle Joe was getting ready to head home after the wedding, I said, "Well, Uncle Joe, have a good trip home, if I don't see you again here, I'll see you There." Little did I know that would be the last time I would see him. But I shall see him again.

I'm bringing up Uncle Joe Sbaraglia again because, first, I recently had a visit with Robert, his son. And we rehashed what little we remember of our lives intertwining when we were young. But because a dear friend of the family recently passed away, and my cousin Joan was telling me about her mother and how she died.

These are Joanie's words she said I could use them: My Dad had just come from upstairs, after getting ready to pick up my sister and her girlfriend from their part time jobs at Gimbel Bros. It was at the bottom of the stairs (corner in the living room) that this happened. My father NEVER forgot how Mary Ricci's mother (Mary Ricci is the friend) went to be with Our Lord. He brought it up numerous times, as it impressed him immensely!!! He said she loved God so much...a second before she passed; she smiled, looked up and followed something around the ceiling, she then fell on her knees into a praying position still looking up..and took her last breath. Do you know that's exactly how my father died? I couldn't believe this when my mother and the funeral director told me. In a split second, that's all it took!

I loved all my Uncles and I miss them. On of my biggest regrets is that I wasn't the kind of Aunt to my neices and nephews I had when I was growing up. Physical distance puts a damper on that kind of relationship. Be thankful if you have family living nearby. Enjoy each member of that family and get together as often as you can. The remembrances are wonderful.


I'm not talking about the Biblical icon -- the Queen who defied everyone to protect her people. I'm talking about a sweet, Christian cousin whose life was cut short due to a heart problem.
According to her sister, Bette, Esther was really pigeon-toed. Bette could wear all of her clothes (which she borrowed frequently), but never her shoes. She had an adorable figure. We all loved her laugh. (I share the pigeon toed gene with her).

She had such a difficult life with her heart congestion. In the end, she drowned in her own body fluids and was dead before she hit the floor.
She loved the Lord, which was the most important thing. She was funny, like all the Evangelistas are -- where the humor comes from and is part and parcel of each member of that family, I don't know, but it sure makes being around them very enjoyable.
As I've written before, dear Esther was taken Home on a Monday afternoon and I was told about her passing just before our weekly Hi-BA meeting (Hi-BA stood for Highschool born againers). I was sad, but couldn't cry. However when I went to her funeral the floodgates opened and I did cry for MY loss, her gain was that she was no longer in pain. She was only 35 when she died.
As the Apostle Paul put it: I would rather be absent from the body and present with the Lord.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Micki and Elvis

In case you didn't believe me, that Micki met Elvis. That's HER backstage, not his. He was just getting started at this point. She had her own show at this time. And I wanted you all to see this picture of her and Elvis, just to prove the point. I asked her about this and it's all jumbled up in my mind because we were going through pictures so fast at this point, and what she said was more than "I was doing a show and he visited it," or something like that. She did give me a few more details, but being a 65-year-old, whose brain is slighted addled, I don't remember what else she said.
It will come to me in the middle of the night and I will write it down on the pad of paper I keep on the bedside table, but won't be able to read one word of what I wrote in the morning. I do that all the time. I think of a topic for the BLOG, then when I look at it, I can't read it. I've thrown away more slips of paper with writing on them which I can't decipher at all and which if I could remember what I wrote would be good fodder for this BLOG.
When I was on the State Board of Education I would keep a small voice recorder on the bedside table and when I thought of something I thought was very important in the middle of the night, I'd tell the tape recorder what my thoughts were. Most of the time all I heard on replay was mkjkp mmph, hmmk, jklsjf dasdf. Get the picture?

Bunny Hop

Okay, here's one to bring back memories -- Do the Bunny Hop. Hop, hop, hop. If you dare to click on the annoying link to the song and lyrics, go ahead.

I was thinking about Easter and visiting with my young grandchildren on Sunday. Well, this year, I thought Me-mom is going to do something with the children instead of just saying "Hello. How are you doing?" I am going to teach them the Bunny Hop. I think I taught it to my own children. It should be a fun thing to do.

Now, I'm not a supporter of the way the world celebrates Easter -- bunnies and eggs and jelly beans. I prefer church and remembering the real reason we celebrate Easter -- Jesus' resurrection from death to life. So that said...

Back to the Bunny Hop. Back in the 50s it was a fun thing to do -- even at the skating rinks -- they let us do the Bunny Hop -- try doing that on roller skates (blades) -- the hopping part, that is. That and the Hokey Pokey -- but that's another remembrance. So we did the bunny hop all over town, I kid you not. We'd form a line and start at one end of the street and work our way to the other end (not actually all over town, really).

So, you all need to know about the Bunny Hop (hop, hop, hop) and do it just for fun, not as a start to a family Easter tradition or anything. Just enjoy the moves.

Overnight guests

When I was growing up, we didn't have overnight guests. I don't know where we would have put them if we did have them. Oh, we had an occasional "guest" cousin spend the night, but that was a child staying with us children. I don't recall any ADULT spending the night in our home. Cousins could sleep on the floor, I suppose. Adults could never be accommodated that way.

What brings this up is that we were neighbors with a family for 30 years. Alan worked with Jack at the Corps of Engineers, and his wife, Bev, was a stay-at-home mom. They had three children, who were older than my children, but it worked out okay because they were good baby-sitters. Bev watched my children when I worked for a short time after we first moved to Cincinnati, and we got together for various reasons over the years. Mainly, Bev and Jack had a wonderful Christmas Eve party every year, and we so looked forward to that event. They stopped having the party about the time Alan got cancer. In fact, the last year they held their Christmas Eve party was in 2001. Alan was in no shape to go to the party, but he did anyway. We had just gotten home from his first bone marrow transplant. He was one sick cookie, but he wanted to go to Jack and Bev's anyway. We didn't know it would be the last one.

Well, Bev called me the day we got home from Florida and said they were going to be in town, could they stop in. I asked if they wanted to spend the night. Now, folks, I had laundry all over the house -- three weeks worth -- and absolutely no food in the house -- and I'm inviting these long-time friends to spend the night. How unrealistic is that? Well, they accepted the invite and I'm glad they did because we had a wonderful time -- even though the house was less than spotless. I didn't get a chance to clean the kitchen floor. I was able to get the bathrooms cleaned and sparkling, and I pushed all the laundry and junk that wasn't unpacked into the laundry room.

There you have it -- a house presentable to guest as long as no-one opened the laundry-room door. If that had happened we would have had a "Fibber Magee and Molly" event -- things spilling out of the door all over the place.

For your younguns' out there -- Fibber Magee and Molly was a radio program and every week someone opened the door to Fibber Magee's closest which was so full that if you opened the door to the closet, the contents spilled out. It was a funny part of the program, even though you knew what would happen when that door was opened. You can "google" Fibber Magee if you want more information on the oldies radio program.

So, Jack and Bev have left. And Bev left the bathroom spotless -- I wouldn't have expected less from her. And I enjoyed the change -- we had been guests for two weeks at various homes in Florida, and I guess it was my turn to help someone who needed a place to spend the night.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Two more family sayings

When we were on our trip a couple of sayings kept slipping out of my mouth -- when you're near people with your accent (Philadelphia) you start to talk like an east-coast person again. I know, I know, some of you are saying you always talk (tawlk) like an east-coast person, but I have tried over the years to lose the accent. I still say coffee the correct way (caw-fee) not the wrong way (cah fee). And that's a dead give-away.

Anyway, the two home grown sayings are -- are you ready for this?

capisci (cap eesch) -- we dropped the last "i" and just said cap-eesch (phonetic), meaning, do you understand? I think that word is used throughout the Godfather trilogy just before each shooting or dismemberment.

And the other word is stupido (you just did something stupid). I always thought stupido was Spanish, but then I found out that it's also Italian, so it had to have come from my grandmother, not my high-school Spanish class.

I'll put these words back on the "Sayings" page as well, but you don't have to go all the way back there.

We got into a discussion about words when we were with Alan's Aunt and Uncle (in Florida) and I used a "bad" word to describe Mrs. Clinton. Alan's Aunt didn't appreciate the word, but I could think of no other word to use, and then we got into a round of discussion about what is a bad word anyway. In some cultures what we consider bad isn't, and what we consider good isn't, so it's a matter of culture and semantics.

I grew up not knowing four-letter words of the swearing sailor variety, but when I got out in the world there they were and slowly they crept into my vocabulary. And, I catch myself each time I use one, blush, ask for forgiveness from God, and go on. The female dog word wasn't one of the forbidden words, but it was used to describe a female dog, not a back-biting, nasty female person running for president. So, explaining my use of the forbidden word did little to asuage Alan's aunt, and I thought we might be out on the street out last night at her place before we left for the cruise. I don't think she understood where Alan and I were coming from with words. And I could see her point.

We got into a discussion about damn and darn. She says darn when she means damn and my point was what is the difference? One letter -- "r" to "m" it means the same thing, therefore her use of darn would be just as bad as my use of damn (which I don't use in public, in my thoughts I use it). Heck and hell, was another two words we talked about. So how did I get to here from two more family sayings?

Well, think about it. Calling someone stupid in Italian might be as offensive as calling someone a dork in English. So, be careful little lips what you say!

Pictures, pictures, pictures

I hope I can upload a lot of pictures and give a little bit of information about each one without the format being too messed up. I shall try. If I get frustrated you might just get one picture at a time.

This first picture is a very, very young Micki Evans (Martha Evangelista) picking at her guitar. She told me she picked away at every opportunity. She was self taught. And she started on a small guitar when she was six years old. She left home at 14 or 15 and never went back. She supported herself with singing and waitressing and working in hotels as a check-in person. It was a difficult push for her to get as far as she got with her voice, her yodeling, and her guitar.

Mickie was a first-class yodeler -- I mean that woman could yodel! The yodeling cowgirl. And she told me she inherited it from her father. He apparently came from the Tyrolean region of Italy and was an excellent yodeller himself. He never yodeled for his supper, though, as Micki did.

This second picture is a picture of Micki in one of her many cowgirl costumes. She let me know that these costumes cost a lot of money. The car behind her was one of her prized possessions back in the 50s. I had a similar car to that one, but I bought it when it was 10 years old, not new. This is when she was working between Trenton, NJ (radio) and Baltimore, Maryland (TV). TV was a very young industry when Micki was getting started in her career, and she was in on the first wave of TV talk-show hosts -- I guess that's what you'd have to call her -- back then. She sang on her shows, of course, and talked with celebs that were brought in to meet her. All this I found out in my recent visit.

Micki is now 83 -- she says almost 84 and can't believe she's as old as she is. Well, Mick -- I can't believe I'm as old as I am, either. Life moves faster and faster the older you get. Watch for it!

My mother and father and me

More from Micki

This isn't really about Runnemede either, but it is in one respect. If I hadn't been born, I wouldn't have known about or been known in Runnemede. So here's the tale.

Because of a SNAFU we had to go back to Micki’s to pick up Alan’s wallet which he left there when we visited two weeks ago. What a great opportunity we had to be with her again.

Once again I “pumped” her for details about the Sbaraglia family. She did tell me something that I never, ever knew. And I imagine I never was privy to the information she gave me because my mom and dad just never talked about pregnancy or “having babies.” Ever after I was married and having my own children my mother wouldn’t talk about such things.

So, I was very surprised when Micki explained to me that when my mother and father were married they never expected to have children. Apparently, my mother was not supposed to be able to have children. And while she loved children and wanted children the doctors told her she was “too small” and would never be able to carry a child to term. The whole family (Sbaraglia/Evangelista) knew this.

And I guess that after my mom started having children (she had four) the original prognosis of no children just slipped ever one’s mind and it was never talked about again.

Being the first “surprise” I was pampered, I have to admit. Imagine my mother’s happiness when she found out she was having a second, then third, then fourth child. My mom did love children. And she was good with them. Some people have a knack with children – my sister does. Some don’t (I don’t). I do know that after my second brother was born (the fourth child) I was old enough to understand the whispering and quiet talk about my mother health being jeopardized if she did have a fifth child. She was no spring chicken when my brother Carl was born. And I’m guessing that between her age and her tough pregnancies, it was time to call a halt to having babies.

I remember after my youngest brother was born that my mother was ill a lot. She had severe nosebleeds and not flashes so bad she would turn beet red and have to sit down or lay down. Still she loved us children and we could tell that all her effort were put into making us – her children – happy. With so many financial limits she still made the four of us feel as if we were the most important thing in her life. And we knew that our father was really the most important person to her. We knew she loved him, and he her.

I thought you might want to know about this.

Aunt Daisy

This BLOG will have nothing to do with Runnemede, but everything to do with my mother's family.
Aunt Daisy (left in the picture on left and in hospital bed in picture on right) was my mother's oldest sister. She started having children when my mom was about 10 years old. So Ruth (her oldest, not pictured) was only 10 years younger than my mother. And the families merged together, so that cousins were like brothers and sisters. I don't remember who Micki said the girl was in the picture. But it's one of the Evangelista sisters.
Aunt Daisy married Maurice Evangelista (pictured with her on the right in the left-hand picture). I don't know the year. And they had lots of children -- seven girls and one boy. One of the girls, Mary, lived only a short time. She died of pneumonia when she was 6 years old.
The only Aunt Daisy I knew was the one in the hospital bed. She had a stroke sometime in the 1940s and the only times I saw her were at the rehab center (they didn't call them rehab centers in those days, they were institutions) in Lima, PA. Mom took me with her several times to visit with Aunt Daisy.
Aunt Daisy looked like my mom, but she also resembled Aunt Francis (my mother's other older sister). I thought I was looking at my mother the first time I saw Aunt Daisy (in a wheelchair). I only remember Aunt Daisy smiling. Always smiling.
The picture on the right is a picture of Aunt Daisy (in bed) with Hannah, Micki, and Esther. Esther also died young (she was in her mid-30s when she died of a heart attack). I remember the day she died, I was in high school -- junior year, it was in 1959 or 1960. Esther lived with Aunt Annie for a long time, and of course, she was at all the family events in my early life.
I still remember Micki most. I don't know why. I spent the least amount of time with her, when I was growing up. Maybe it was the knowledge that she was in "show business" and I kept track of her and whenever she was "in town" I went to see her and got to be with her for a few minutes.
Our recent visits were such a blessing. Renewing the relationship and talking about family and details I don't recall or didn't know about the family members.
More to follow......

Sunday, March 16, 2008

I'm not real happy to be back

We're back from our trip to Florida and Panama and Hondoras and Belize and the Western Caribbean. We just had too much fun and I would rather still be floating around on a large ship in the Gulf of Mexico (they call it the Western Caribbean rather than the Gulf, don't know why) than having had to drive for three straight days to get home.

Oh, we could have flown to Florida and rented a car, and then flown home, I suppose, but we didn't, and I would still rather be in Florida and the waters around it, than back here in the cold.

We had a wonderful time with Micki again, and watch for it -- I'll be writing a lot this next week. Lots of new pictures and lots of new "old" pictures as well to put on the BLOG.

Alan and I were able to walk well in Florida. Must be the air down there. Or the heat and humidity levels are just right. I don't know, but we were walking with minimal pain and weariness. It was so nice. Oh, I had a sciatic nerve attack, but that went away after one day in bed. And I felt almost normal -- like a 65-year-old should feel, not like a 90-year-old person.

Alan got me a birthday present on the cruise -- he hasn't even seen it yet -- let's just say it's jewelry. He asked me if I bought myself something for my birthday, and I told him, yes, HE had bought me something for my birthday. I figured 65 is a milestone -- you know, medicare and all that -- so I got myself, oops, HE GOT ME something really, really nice. And his Aunt Marion and Uncle Dayton had a birthday cake for me -- a surprise cake. It was delicious.

But, we're home now. We're safe. We wish we were safe in Florida instead of Kentucky. What can I say? I'm adicted to warmth and slow drivers!!!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Driving in Florida

Driving is Florida is something else. Everyone is old and drive like old people. Oh, yeah, I'm one of the oldies, but goodies. Anyway, I was driving with Micki on morning last week, and she kept pushing on her brake trying to stop the car. Only she was pushing on the floor not the brake. I think that happens a lot down here. We laughed about it and praised God that we were in a parking lot going all of 1 mph, if that. But I find myself wondering why if the speed limit is 45 we are going 35. I guess the reflexes are down some when one is over 65.

I'm not OVER 65 yet, just got there. So I assume next year I'll be driving in the slow lane and I'll be there for the rest of my life.

The pictures are of Robert Sbaraglia (he's 67, I think) and Micki (she's 83, I know that). We had a great visit with both in Pataka. We spent a few days with Micki, but only a few quality hours with Robert. He does, after all, have a horse farm to take care of. Mick's spaghetti was so good. And, yes folks, the picture of her alone shows how much she looks like Grandmother Sbaraglia. Amazingly so. That's Alan giving her a smooch on the cheek just before we left for Port Charlotte.

We're leaving for Panama, and I understand my houseguests have had and are having a great time in our condo in the cold.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Schooling for mom and her siblings

While visiting Micki she told me of my grandmother’s tenacity in getting a good education for her children. My grandmother spoke very broken English. She worked as a janitor in a mission in South Philadelphia in order to support her children. She had to do this because her husband (Grandfather Sbaraglia) died shortly after Uncle Joe was born, which was about 10 years after they arrived in America. Before Uncle Joe was born, our grandfather worked at odd jobs to support the family.

I’m trying not to get confused with this writing because Micki told me so many things. And her father (Uncle Maurice -- pronounced Morris) worked for Wanamakers as the person in charge of heating the entire building. He was the “engineer” – that was his title – in charge of the boiler at Wanamakers. And, he, Micki’s father – uncle Maurice – made very good money doing that. He (Uncle Maurice) was also a member of the Black Hands – one of the Italian mafia groups in Philadelphia in the early 1900s.

Back to my mom’s parents – Orazio and Santa Sbaraglia. Orazio died when my mom was 6 or 7. He had red hair. No one in the family inherited his red hair. All his children had black hair and all had either brown or black eyes. Mom's eyes were so dark they were what, I imagine, would be considered black.

My grandfather Sbaraglia helped to build the Panama Canal. But that was prior to their coming to America. Because he contracted yellow fever, and because he worked for an American company that was building the canal, his "benefit" for the suffering was a free pass to American for him and his family. Of course, the free pass wasn't really free, but the transportation to American for him and his family was.

In a few days, Alan and I are cruising to the Canal, and the closer the time comes to the day of that cruise, the more excited I am getting. I’m thinking, I could be walking at the same place my grandfather dug dirt, and then contracted yellow fever, which set in motion the red-tape that allowed him and his family to come to America.

Santa worked very hard, as I wrote above, to make certain her children had good schooling. My mother (Rose) and her sister (Anne) because they were fatherless, were able to go to boarding school in Massachusetts to a place called Northfield. My mom didn't talk about this, but Micki told me that she did, in fact, go there. I always assume my mother went to Philadelphia Public. I knew Aunt Anne went to Northfield because she and mom talked often about Aunt Anne's days at Northfield. The connection didn't connect with my brain, though. I recall Aunt Anne talking about how hard it was for her at Northfield without my mother being there -- I guess that implies that my mother was at some point at Northfield at the same time Aunt Anne was there.

Anyway, they both graduated from Northfield.

My uncle Joe, because he was fatherless, was able to attend Gerard College – it's not a college, but a school for fatherless boys and it went from first grade through the end of high school. Gerard College is located in Philadelphia. While it is a boarding school, I'm not sure my Uncle Joe boarded there, since a short subway ride would get him there.

I have a picture of Aunt Anne in her cap and gown on the the day she graduated from Northfield, but I have no pictures of my mother during that time period. And I have Uncle Joe’s graduation picture (it’s marked on the back – Joe’s graduation from Gerard College).

Micki has nothing but wonderful memories of our grandmother. She was, of course, was quite young when grandmother died. But she does remember those “touches” I mentioned in another BLOG writing.

Family photos

They're coming. Watch for them. They will be posted sometime after March 16.

Getting the pictures developed was a big problem. I went to my favorite photo duplicating center – since I had no scanner or printer, I had to make copies – and the center was “out of photo paper”. However, I was told I could buy a box of photo paper and make my own copies. So I started copying all the pictures I had culled from the hundreds of pictures I looked at that were in Micki's books and boxes. I ran into a problem during the copying process. The finish (toner) kept coming off in streaks. Turns out I was ruining their machine with the paper I was told to purchase. Fortunately, I was able to get one copy of each of the pictures I had chosen from all those photos of Micki's, and I will put them onto the BLOG and then write a little about each person and the picture.

I didn’t make copies of ALL the pictures Micki had with her and celebrities. I did make a copy of her autobiography (the copy that was given to the press back in the 50s and 60s). There were just too many celeb photos for me to copy, and I wouldn't remember the names of the celebs anyway. Just let me say, she knew a lot of people who made it big in the country/western field of show business. Most of those she knew and worked with are now passed away. But, their records (those are the same things as CDs, but bigger and tonal quality is less) are still around and often in the midnight to 6 a.m. slot on the TV you can buy them for only $19.95 plus shipping.

Cousin Micki

First, let me say that I WILL be posting photos as soon as we get back home. I will have to scan in the photos before I can put them on the BLOG. All the new photos will have captions so you will know who the folks are in the photos and their relationship to the Sbaraglias. Now, on to other things.

Regarding Cousin Micki (Martha Evangelista). Micki's stage name was Micki Evans, and she kept that name, and I suppose had it changed legally to Micki Evans since all her mail comes to her at that name. I'll have to ask her to be sure she is legally Micki Evans, but I did ask her if she even used Martha Evangelista, and she said no. So, on to what I wrote to remind myself about my recent visit with Micki. I had written about her before.

Micki has always been on a pedestal for me because she is a family member who was actually in show business. You could say she was an American Idol back in the 50s because she won on Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts – a show sort of like “Idol”.

Well, we visited her recently (real recently) and she is a hoot. What a character! She’s still on that pedestal, by the way. Micki told me so many stories of her early life, and her life as an entertainer, that I’m not sure I can write about all of them.

Should I publish the picture of her and Elvis – yes, the real Elvis, as in Elvis Presley, not an impersonator, and not the one that keeps showing up at McDonald’s. She knew Elvis when he was a young man, before he got old and fat.

Mick also worked with Gene Autry (Back in the Saddle Again) and she was in the Grand Ole Opry for several weeks in Nashville. She has written many songs, and is getting residuals from at least two of them. A couple of her songs were pirated by other singers, but she’s okay with that. She told me that all of her life has been directed by God, and the ups and downs of the entertainment portion of her life were as God would have them. The good, the bad and the ugly were all God directed, and she’s happy with her life.

She is 83 years old. Her back hurts her most of the time, but she is still very energetic. Amazingly so.

She told me of another of Daisy’s children – one that I had completely forgotten because she died when she was a little girl. That child was Mary. Mary was only 6 when she died, and Micki was close to Mary because of their birth order.

So, here is the way Aunt Daisy had her children: Ruth (several new pictures available of her), Hannah, Micki, Mary, Esther, David, Grace, Betty.