Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Saturday, May 31, 2008


In the previous post I talked of Matthew's birthday, and the gift I purchased for him. Remember? It was a Black and Decker tool set for children ages 3 and up.

Of course, I had to get the best -- Black and Decker -- Alan's favorite tools are B&D's. I'm not saying that Alan uses them much any more. He did tighten up the screws in the dining room chairs -- they were getting wobbly.

Why can't they make furniture anymore that holds together? I have a beautiful table and chair set, but the chairs have been a problem from day one -- the screws that hold the chair together seem to want to come lose and need tightening at regular intervals. I have always done that chore myself, but Alan sat in a chair that almost broke under his weight, and I was behind in my screw tightening duties, so he took care of it. Wasn't that nice?

We have a garage full of tools that will not be used ever again. We have taking up space -- and you will be able to tell that this is a sore point with me, because if you don't use something in two years, you should get rid of it, and it's been at least 20 years since Alan's radial arm saw has been used. It's a big hulking thing that sits on a table and takes a lot of space in the garage.

We don't put cars in our garage -- we can't, there's no room. Too many tools. Too many boxes not yet opened after seven years -- get rid of them, if you haven't needed the stuff in those boxes for seven years, you don't need that stuff. Four old, useless computers and screens. What are we saving them for? I'm wondering if Alan has a plan to melt them down and somehow convert them to car fuel and save us a couple of gallons worth of gas. I don't know. Why are we keeping four broken chairs, and six of those plastic porch chairs that I won't have on my porch now. We could give those to the kids, if they wanted them, or just throw them away.

Our garage is the laughing stock of the community and of our children and of anyone who has seen it. Alan loves it. It's so full of junk, useless junk to me, but if he finds that one rusted bolt per year in one of the gazillion jars of nuts and bolts he has down there, it's worth the save.

See, that's where we differ -- Alan and I -- I would just go out to Lowe's and save all that time trying to find that one rusted bolt, pay the $2 or whatever it costs and be on with my project.

Don't misunderstand -- Alan has issues with my "savings". I have scrapbook stuff coming out of every inch of space in the guest bedroom. But I got rid of ALL the education documents I had been saving from the early 90s, and there were at least 20 boxes of those documents to be gone through and purged and destroyed. I did that.

What other collections to I have that bug Alan. He recently complained that I left my shoes all over the house. Well, I had one pair by the elevator -- I hate to wear shoes, they hurt my feet. And I had my pair of slippers out of the closet in the bedroom. That's it.

Still I feel like my house is a mess all the time. My room, my office, is especially nasty. I clean it up, and then I have three birthdays coming up and the presents are scattered all over the room along with several types of wrapping paper, and the room is a mess again. I mail three packages, and four more come in and I have the boxes sitting around the room.

I'm waiting for Alan to finish the oak, antique file cabinet for me so I can get my scrapbook papers put into one place, instead of all over the house. I have them (the papers) organized, I just need to get them into something other than ugly plastic folders.

So, in this BLOG, I've gone from TOOLS to TRASH. Not a bad jump. I think it's time I went down into the garage -- a place I avoid like my friend avoids pain -- and put sticky notes on all the things that can be pitched for underuse. That's a plan.


I've been writing short vignettes about my grandchildren. Today is Matthew Hahn's birthday. He's three. Every bit of it. I think you can see from his face that he is a cutie.

Matthew likes to run. Matthew likes to play with tools -- his daddy's. So today, I got him a Black and Decker tool set (for children, ages 3 and up). He was thrilled and didn't realize that there is a different between his screw driver (all plastic) and his father's (sharp, metal). You get the picture.

Now he has a saw and he can't really damage anything with it. He has a drill that actually spins and won't put holes in any furniture. He has a wrench set that won't really take apart his bed. Yes, Matthew is curious and wants to know how tools work. So with the plastic tools he can find out how they work with the built-in damage control.

Matthew was very tired today, but he wasn't that tired. He obeyed me when I told him not to stick his fingers in the icing on the cake -- I'm so mean in that department. I just hate eating cake that has been mauled. And he learned very quickly that his tools were to go into the box, not on the floor, and he was good about putting them back in his box after he played with them.

In all, it was a nice birthday for Matthew. I pray he will grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.


Well, even though it's not officially summer, it feels like it her. The pool is open, and Memorial Day is gone by almost a week ago. Memorial Day is the official start of summer, right? And Labor Day is the official close, correct? It's just that the real, true calendar -- God's calendar -- is obsolete, or at least that's what some would have us think.

God made the seasons, and they change on the 21st of certain months, according to where the sun is -- or should I say where the earth is in its travel around the sun each year. So, while God's calendar isn't telling us that it's summer, man's calendar is, and for the purposes of this BLOG, we're using man's calendar.

My body thinks it's summer. I don't know whether it's because Daylight Savings Time comes so much earlier than it used to, but I think that has some bearing on my biological clock telling me it's summer. I mean, it's not that hot, just hotter -- a lot hotter -- than it's been all spring -- that is since March 21.

Today I changed the bed linens and put on the summer spread -- it's white. A foolish non-color, I know, but I love it. It's so cool, and breezy (can a color be breezy?), and sea-shore-ish. It seems to me that every beach house I was in during my childhood -- not that I was in very many beach houses -- had white linens on the beds. White, light-weight covers that served as bedspreads. I think white was not a good color (or lack thereof) for a beach house. You know what I mean -- all that sand!

Anyway, my bedroom is now officially at it's summer beach color level and I'm loving it. I enjoy my winter colors -- which are put away until mid-October (or Christmas), but I love my summer colors, because they evoke such wonderful memories of trips to the shore and being landlocked here in Northern Kentucky, I certainly do miss the beach. I am so glad that this year we're heading to the beach in September -- can't wait.

My mother always changed the linens on the beds in the spring -- far earlier than I have done it this year -- and we always had a light-weight bedspread for the summer for each bed. And they were white, what else. And changing the spreads was the excuse to do all that spring cleaning. Mom also changed the curtains in each room each spring. So new bedspread, new curtains.

I guess that's where I get my love for the white bed because it recalls to my mind a happy time, and I certainly do believe I had a happy childhood. That childhood made happy by a loving mother and father -- they loved each other, and they loved me, and I knew it.

Friday, May 30, 2008

My oldest is Jack Benny's age

Will my son Phil remain 39 for the rest of his life? I don't know, but today is his birthday, and he is that -- 39. Wow! Where did the time go? I can remember his birth day as if it were yesterday, or earlier this evening.

I won't go into all the details, but one is quite amusing and you might enjoy it.

My water broke at 3 a.m. Alan, being the first time dad he was about to become was flustered, to say the least. This was the first and last time I have ever seen him so discombobulated. Having been told that when the water breaks, the baby will come really fast, he ran around like a chicken without its head getting me into the car and over to the hospital.

He forgot his glasses -- he was blind without them. We were in the car on the way to the hospital and he put the top down on the convertible in which we were riding. Now why would he do that? It wasn't warm, and it certainly wasn't sunny. It was just something he did. When I mentioned it, he put the top back up and no one could hear my screams.

Actually, there were no screams at that point in the birthing process of my son. Fortunately for me I remember none of it after 2 p.m. the following day. I had no pains at all for all that time -- 3 a.m. until 2 p.m., then they decided I needed to be induced.

I remember one contraction -- just one -- and I remember a cutsie nurse telling me to breathe through the pain, at which I point I grabbed her and asked her if she'd ever had a baby. Of course, she hadn't. So I told her when she had experienced the pain I was experiencing, then she could tell me to breathe.

I remember nothing after that. But let's just say that Alan said he was never so embarrassed in his life at my behavior and my language. Oh, well. That's what happens when you have a baby sans epidural with only some Demerol to lighten the pain.

Phil was such a cute baby. We called him Pip. He was also photographed a lot. Aren't' all first born? And, I supposed he was a good baby. Although, I didn't think that his needing to be fed every two hours was a "good" baby. My mother kept tell me how good he was. Yeah, well, she wasn't feeding the child almost constantly, getting no sleep, etc.

I loved my baby boy. I still love my son -- he's a man now. When I went back to work after he was born, I took him with me the first day to show him off, and one of the staff said, he's so cute now, but in a few years, he'll have a big nose, and hair all over his face. Well, I don't know about the big nose, but he did get that hair all over his face. Boy to man. It sped by. He was a man before I blinked twice.

Now, my baby boy, had four babies of his own -- or his wife had the babies, but he had his part in that process. Sooner than he thinks, he'll have grandchildren. And life goes on and on and on.

The fat lady sings

I started a new BLOG today -- It's all about me! I decided that I needed an outlet to write about me and Alan and what I'm thinking about things on a daily basis that have nothing to do with Runnemede, the Sbaraglias, the Drexlers, or the Evangelistas which is the purpose of this BLOG.

So, I now have two BLOGS, but the fat lady BLOG really is about me. I don't know how often I'll write on it, but I don't like to "journal" with a pen in a book because my hands hurt too much. Typing isn't a problem, thus the BLOG. It may be easier for me to keep a journal for my thoughts, my insights in God's word, my favorite things, etc. rather than putting them here in the family space.

You all can comment in the comment section about this BLOG anytime you want, and that really helps add to the family "lore". Don't by shy.

I'll be back later with today's epistle -- maybe -- I haven't thought of a topic yet. :):):)

Oh yeah, the fat lady BLOG is open so you can check it out if you want.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Untitled -- about one of the Runnemede house's rooms

One of the last times my mother was ill -- so ill I was called home to see her for the last time -- I remember so vividly the room in which she lay. It was summer. She was in the "back bedroom." That was the room that would abut the kitchen and if the kitchen had a door would have gone directly into that room.

Her room was stuffy, even with the windows open. There were two windows in that room, and the bed in which she lay was between those two windows. I recall that the shades were always pulled down to try to keep the room cool, with just about six inches of light showing at the bottom.

The room was what I would classify as ugly. It had been my brothers' room. The lower 2/3 of the room was papered with contact paper in a brown, faux paneling design. The upper 1/3 was painted an ugly dark tan. The other furniture in the room was a bureau and dad's armoire.

Dad's armoire had to be in that room because there was no room in the main bedroom which also had a bureau, mom's vanity, their bed, and dad's desk, as well as a bookcase, and oh, yes, dad's high boy. And Dad had to have an armoire because the house had only one small closet, a hall linen closet, and the space between those two with shelves which was located in the bathroom, such space not being a closet, but more like an overgrown medicine cabinet.

The main bedroom was very, very crowded. I doubt that at my present girth I would be able to walk around in that room if it was still so full of all that furniture.

So, today, I was thinking about that room and what was NOT mom's last days. Don't know why I thought of it because today, here in N KY the weather was super. Not too hot at all, and it was an open-the-windows day, which I did (open the windows, that is).

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

New Indiana Jones Movie


I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. I like Harrison Ford and he does an amazing acting job in this movie. I mean he is MY age (a.k.a. he's old), but you'd never know it. He looks older than he did in the previous Indiana Jones movies, but his movement is young.

I didn't watch this movie to see if it contained any anti-God notions, and it probably does. I just sat and watched it as an action movie with no political or spiritual motive at all behind what I was watching. That may have been wrong of me, but there you have it.

I must say, it is NOT for young children. They WILL be scared. I wouldn't let any child under 10 attend the movie, and then 10-year-old attendance is iffy. Boys will be okay with the scary parts, but the girls won't. I mean, little boys like snakes and lopped off heads and people that morph into skeletons in a matter of seconds, right?

So, I've had my say on this movie. I recommend watching it on the big screen, rather than waiting for the DVD because there are parts when you need to get the panoramic view of the scene.

Sense of humor

I wish I had my father's sense of humor. He could take any topic and make something funny out of it.

I think that's why he was so good at teasing us when his hearing started to diminish.

It was amazing. He could always hear my soft-spoken daughter, Becky. And he could always hear soft-spoken Sue (Mark's wife). But me -- he would take anything I said to him and turn it around or make a sentence out of what I said that rhymed with what I said but was nowhere near what I had uttered. (Do you like that word? Uttered? It's more than one syllable.)

So dad would find humor in the most unusual ways. I remember in college I had to write a "semantics" essay. That is, take one word and work it into an essay using all the meanings that you could think of for that word and it's derivatives.

Well, I picked "vertigo." Dad helped me with it and we worked so much humor into that essay that my professor read the essay to the class as an example of how to use one word in a semantics essay. I got an "A". Or, rather, daddy got an "A". I did type it, does that count?

Actually, I wrote it and daddy added the humorous parts, thinking that with humor you can get your audiences attention better and probably the professor would enjoy it more than some other dull, boring litigious paper.

So, I try in these little snippets to inject some humor from time to time. I hope I making the mark.


I love to do logic puzzles and Sudoku. If I had time, I'd spend all day, everyday, working them. I subscribe to a company that sends me a book of logic puzzles each month. I generally finish off the book of puzzles in three or four days.

I've been doing logic puzzles since I first started teaching. The students loved them -- the simpler ones -- and I was hooked. At one point I was going to go to law school and much of the LSAT consists of what I would consider logic puzzles. But, God had other plans and I never made law school and I never became Judge Judi.

But I get my love for puzzles from my mother. She would work the Philadelphia Bulletin and the Philadelphia Inquirer crossword puzzles everyday -- at least after we children became self sufficient and she was able to take a couple of hours a day to relax.

I remember her sitting in "her" chair -- the one opposite my father's chair. Her chair was a soft chair, whereas, dad's chair was a wooden, captain's chair. I digress.

She was good at doing the puzzles, too. My sister recently reminded me how much mom loved doing those puzzles and was so disappointed when, in her last years, the medicines she was taking, took away her memory and her ability to read and think and remember the simplest words.

Now the medical community tells us that if one does those types of puzzles it will help with your memory as you age. Huh! I don't know about that. I've had several mini-strokes and with each one I find that my ability to remember words longer than two syllables is becoming less and less, so I can sympathize with my mother -- NOW -- but I couldn't at the time her mind was failing.

I now understand how difficult it was for her. She was very smart. She had to be, she was fluent in three languages. She didn't fail quickly either. Her inability to think clearly started after her first heart attack in 1970 and for 18 years she gradually lost her ability to remember. She didn't have dementia or Alzheimer's, her memory loss was due strictly to the medicines she was taking to keep her heart going.

I wish I could tell her that I understand and apologize for not helping her more when she would ask me for a word to finish a puzzle.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Church in Runnemede

The entitled this THE CHURCH in Runnemede, because as far as I'm concerned there is and was only one church in the town, whereas in reality there are three. The ONE church is Mt. Calvary Union Church

I just received word that the church will be pastorless at the end of June. Finding a Bible teacher to fill Pastor Bill's shoes will be difficult. Expository Bible teachers are few and far between these days, and the church is really a small, country church.

The parsonage is cozy, but I love that home. The house was renovated after daddy left and the bathroom completely gutted and redone. There's actually a shower in the tub now. Wow! There is, however, only one bathroom in the house. I know I've mentioned that before. And, that can be a problem is there is a family with children. The living room is 12x12, the dining room is 12x12 with a floor to ceiling bay window on the west side which makes the DR seem larger, and the kitchen is also 12x12, and you can eat in it, because there is enough room for a table. However, if it were my kitchen, I would put a stationary counter in the middle making more counter space, which is limited (very limited). The kitchen was also redone, and cabinets were added after daddy left the house.

Anyway, pray for the search committee. They will have a tough job. In just two years the church will be 100 years old. Will it make it to 100 years? I pray that it does. Whether the numbers in attendance are large or not, the church has consistently enjoyed expository Bible teaching over the past 98 years. What a blessing for those who attend.

Mom's Jewelry Box

I love jewelry. Ask my husband. Whenever we go on a cruise, we I get something at Diamonds International, just a trinket, which I don't need. And, I don't wear an excessive amount of jewelry -- my wedding ring, my engagement ring, and another ring, and maybe a necklace. Oh yes, my diamond tennis bracelet never gets removed, not even for showers, so I really forget about it.

Anyway, this love for jewelry comes from my childhood. Mom had a jewelry box on her vanity and it was loaded. It had a lid that when lifted, lifted another tray, so it was, in effect, a double decker jewelry box. It was in the center of the vanity, right under the mirror.
Mom received a lot of "scatter pins", beads, costume earrings, etc., for gifts from parishioners. The coral rose pins above are representative of "scatter pins" and my mom had this particular set, which I loved.
I would ask which pair of her earrings I could wear when I was playing, which beads I could wear, which of her high-heels I could wear, and then I'd wrap a baby blanket around my waist, thus giving me a longer dress, like an adult, and I was a mommy. It was so much fun, and such a nice remembrance of my mom and her willingness to share anything with her children.
I loved, especially wearing her earrings. Pierced ears were never an option. Poking holes in ones body is spoken against in Exodus, in the Bible, so there would be no ear piercing in our household, not that I was interested in having that pain inflicted on me just so I could wear earrings.
Of course, back in the 50s and 60s, pierced ears was not popular, but screw on or clip on earrings were, and they were inexpensive. Mom had more earrings than she could wear in a month, even if she wore a different pair each day, which, I suppose, is why she didn't mind letting me play with them.
I just gave my daughter several pairs of clip-on earrings. I don't wear earrings anymore unless we're on a cruise and I'm formally dressed. So, I've passed on my earrings, and the few remaining earrings that belonged to my mother's as well.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The fat lady is singing

Well, Memorial Day 2008 is over. And the fat lady (that would be me) is singing. We had a great day. One that we will remember for a long time.

First we had the community flag raising and Alan had the duty to pray. He prayed a very special prayer, and there were few dry eyes when he finished. Then the flag was raised and we all went into the clubhouse for coffee and donuts and fellowship.

I was surprised that so many came to the gathering. I think we had over 50 people. It was really nice. I know we have more than 50 people in the community, but given that probably one-half of the residents were away today -- judging from the lack of cars in the parking areas -- it was a good showing of support for our troops.

Then we had the family picnic. It rained. But that was not a deterrent. We stayed at the park and it cleared up. I wimped out and went to the car during the rain, but went back to the picnic area after it stopped. The rest of the family got wet, but they didn't care.

I think all the grandchildren had a great time. We had one child throw up -- a tradition! Every year that I can remember, one of the grandchildren eats too much junk and throws up. So why should this year be any different, right? It was okay. It was outside and only the grass got dirty. We poured water over the offense and it dispersed quickly and you'd never know that someone was sick at that place in the grass. Makes you want to take your shoes off and run through the park, right? You never know where someone has been sick, and what your bare feet are running through.

After the picnic we went our separate ways and Becky and her family came to our house. Rosie came too for a while and then Amy and Rachel and David came for a little bit. Rosie, Amy, Rachel, and David were going to Bob Evans for dinner and since we live two blocks from the place, they stopped in after the picnic which was great. I'm glad they came over.

Then Alan decided the family should watch the movie ET which was showing on Nick at Night. So we all watched ET again. Cute movie. I especially love the part where the little girl screams when she first sees ET.

Well, that was our day. I hope you had a memorable day as well. Signing off for now.

NOTE ON PICTURES: Top picture is Rosie, Rachel and David. Bottom picture is Annie, Rosie, Gracie, and Rachel.

I did it!

I did it! I actually got out the iron and ironed two articles of clothing today.

You all know how much I despise ironing. I don't thank God for the man who invented the iron, electric or otherwise. I mean, what's wrong with wrinkles. They even make material that is wrinkled already!

Well, Alan had to wear black slacks to the Memorial Day ceremony here in N. Kentucky, and a white shirt. Fortunately, all his white shirts had been ironed last year and he hadn't worn them since I ironed them. Yeah! But his black slacks he wears a lot, and they had just been washed. They didn't come out of the dryer in good enough condition for a semi-military function, so I got out the old iron and pressed his pants.

After I finished I thought they looked pretty good. Then he put them on and they were as wrinkled as they were when I started. What happened? I know the iron was hot enough, and there was enough water for a good steam flow, and they looked good when I gave them to him.

Oh, well, I tried. I even ironed my one and only red, white, and blue shirt for the occasion. I only wear it twice a year because, even though it is a pullover t-shirt-type material, it is 100% cotton. You all know that cotton needs to be ironed, right? Even 50% cotton needs to be ironed.

Since I bought a few things several years ago that I found out after buying had to be ironed, I checked the labels, and yep---cotton. While I love the feel of cotton, I loathe ironing. So now, I don't order or buy any clothing that has any cotton in it (except underwear which I would never iron).

I recently bought some beautiful pillow cases -- 400-plus count cotton -- I figured at that high count there would be no ironing. WRONG. They wrinkled just as much as 125-count cotton does. They look like silk though, so I put up with ironing them twice a year. I only use them for guests. The rest of the year I use poly-cotton pillow cases (Martha Stewart brand). They seem to need no ironing even with the cotton in them.

So, that's my tale of woe for today. Ironing. Yikes! I don't want to do that again this year.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Memorial Day

Memorial Day was a day set aside to honor our military -- living and dead -- those men and women who had fought to make our country the best in the world. Memorial Day was always on May 30th until Congress got it in its head that Monday holidays were better than Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday or Friday, or any other day holidays, and decided that all holidays, would be on the Monday that fell nearest the date set up originally for that holiday.

Alan and I were and still are watching the Indianapolis 500. Traditionally it was held on Memorial Day, May 30. Since the holiday was changed to a Monday holiday, however, the race has been held on the Sunday before the holiday, which will never be on May 30!

My oldest child, Phil, was born on May 30th, when it was still Memorial Day. Who won the Indy 500 that year? Mario Andretti!!! So the Andrettis have been our favorite since then. Right now, which is near the end of the race, Marco Andretti (Mario's grandson) and J. Andretti (another grandson?) are NOT winning, but the race is not over.

Tomorrow is a picnic day for our family and that's what brought this to my mind. Our Memorial Day Celebrations as a child were on MEMORIAL DAY, May 30, not the last Monday of May as they are now. And I've talked a lot about those special days. No matter what day of the week, everything shut down, and we celebrated the day. The VFW had a memorial service at the VFW center on Clements Bridge Road early in the morning. And our community will have a short service at our flagpole to honor those who have served our country.

As we were driving down to Tennessee I noticed all these irises along the road and that, of course, brought back Memorial Day memories because it was a tradition that we would visit the Iris farm in Allen, Pennsylvania on that day. Mom, me, Aunt Anne, and whomever else wanted to go piled into Uncle Joe Egitto's car and off we went.

Poor Uncle Joe, and sweet Uncle Joe, he just was the driver, and he had to wait patiently in the car while we tromped through the iris beds oohing and aahing at the old and new varieties of this wonderful plant. I just love irises. I think they are beautiful, stately, and the colors are fantastic.

After we had our fill of iris looking we would pile back in Uncle Joe's car and go back to Aunt Anne's for the annual picnic. Every Italian lady (all were Italian) brought something yummy to share with everyone else. Actually, I think each lady brought stuff for their family making enough for at least a dozen more of each dish. We did not go hungry.

We enjoyed the day visiting with cousins, aunts and uncles -- catching up on the past year's events in each other's lives. It was a happy, fun day. The Evangelistas kept us laughing with their good humor and jokes. They still have that ability -- the wonderful ability to make people happy.

So, tomorrow we shall gather -- the Hahn clan -- and continue our own family tradition -- a picnic in the afternoon on Memorial Day. The difference is that we always go to a park for this event. We've been doing this for at least 7 years now. We started doing that the year we moved to Cold Spring and we've been here that long. This is our 8th summer at our final earthly home.

Have a good day tomorrow, and remember to pray for those in service people in our family -- Peter Hahn serving on a submarine somewhere in the Mediterranean.

The Picnic Basket

My family (that is my growing-up-years family) didn't have a Coleman ice chest, or a styro-foam container, but we did have a picnic basket.

I loved that thing. It was made of wicker and it had a hinged top -- it was hinged in the center on two sides of the center post that held the handle. These two images are similar to the one we had. the one on the left is almost dead on, except we weren't fancy and didn't have a lining in ours. The one on the right is the same style, except ours had a wooden handle. You get the picture.
We had another basket which I found out is called an "English Tea Basket" but it was empty of any of the "tea" stuff that comes in those types of baskets. Mostly that basket was something we children played with when we played "picnic."
So, whenever we went on a picnic, we didn't have a "cooler" to keep the potato salad from going bad. But I don't recall that we ever got ill from warm potato salad either. Maybe we built up a tolerance to whatever you can get from bad mayonnaise.
When we went on our picnics --which were few and far between -- mom would pack the basket carefully and would get everything in the basket including paper plates, cups, plastic utensils and she did have a LARGE thermos container for drinks, which I recall was usually some sort of Kool Aid.
So many things were "invented" as I was growing up. Thermoses of the non-glass type were new on the market when I was growing up. Prior to that there were thermoses, mostly the two cup variety which had a glass liner. How well I remember taking my thermos to school in the morning and finding that someone had dropped it, and I had a glass milkshake! It was a happy day when the new "extruded plastic" thermoses were put into lunch boxes. Our family went through the glass-type thermoses very quickly. It seems that no matter how careful we were, we were always braking them.
So, mom had one of the newer type heavy-duty "Thermos" containers. It held two gallons of drink -- enough for our family of six for one day.
Of course, Tupperware was coming out about the time I hit the teenage years, and mom was happy to get in line and get her fair share of that product, including pitchers in which you could carry drinks to picnics that were guaranteed NOT to spill in transport. NOT!!! They all leaked a little!
But that picnic basket. It was stored on a shelf (built in under the bay window in the upstairs) in the basement along with a few other rarely used items, such as the English Tea Basket, skates, some Christmas things (most Christmas things were in THE TRUNK), and I think I recall my first doll stroller, which was really something my father's cousin Alberta had when she was a girl, so it was really old when I got it, and it lay in a heap waiting for someone to fix it on that shelf with the picnic basket and the picnic thermos.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

As he lay dying

This is about my father, as he lay dying. Now, I wasn't there, but my sister was, and she related this little tidbit last Sunday when we were all enjoying a repast after church (in Tennessee -- see previous post).

We were talking about my father and his love for the Word of God and how he shared it no matter when or where he was.

Well, it seems that in his final days, Deb and Jim went to visit him, and he told them he was just to busy to be with them at that time (of their visit) because he was having a conversation with the Sanhedrin. Yes, I can imagine my father discussing the Word (Old Testament portion) in great detail with the members of the Sanhedrin. He probably knew it better than they did!

Anyway, it was a little story about dad that I thought you all would enjoy.

Honey bees

I was thinking today -- well, I think everyday, but this thought was something I thought I'd share, like it or not!

As I was driving home I spotted a row of beehives, and I got to thinking about bees. What would we do without them?

I know we don't enjoy the pain they inflict upon us if we swat them, but have you ever held a bee in your hand or let it land on your arm and not molest it, so that it strikes out at you and stings you? No, of course not. That's what I was thinking -- what would happen if I had a bee land on me and didn't hurt it. In theory, at least, it's not supposed to sting me. Would it? Am I brave enough to allow such an even to happen? I don't know.

I'm getting braver in my approaching "wild" animals -- by that I mean birds. I didn't used to want to get near them. Remember the Alfred Hitchcock movie entitled The Birds? Well, that movie is still fresh in my feeble mind, or has been for years, so my enjoy birds except from afar -- very afar -- has been nil.

My brother, Mark, enjoys birds, and my mom loved them. As I've mentioned before she would search for birds on our walks in the woods and point out something new. She especially loved gold finches. Now, in New Jersey, there aren't many gold finches. Out here, in northern Kentucky, you might say they were the state bird. They're not, bluebirds are, but you get my drift. They are abundant. They are cute little things, and they flit from tree to tree enjoying each others company -- at least in my imagination they do.

I'm going in another direction, so pay attention here: I'm wondering why the Kentucky state bird is a bluebird. I have seen only one in all the years I've lived around here. Maybe they don't cross the Ohio river, and that's why I never saw one in Cincinnati. But even here in Cold Spring, I can only say I've seen one -- in seven years, one bluebird. Surely, there are more somewhere in the state, just hiding out from me. I've seen many, many cardinals, robins, blue jays (not the same bird), gold finches, hummingbirds, mocking birds, morning doves, pigeons, hawks, I could go on and on, but I'll stop. Alas, no bluebirds.

Now, back to the subject at hand which was honey bees. I think I'm going to perform an experiment the next time I'm in the area of bees -- which should be Monday when the family goes to the park for a picnic -- and see if a bee will land on me without stinging me, or me swatting it first, making it think I'm going to harm it, so that it strikes back and pierces me. I'll let you know what happens.

Home again, home again, jigity, jig!

Yes, we're home again. I'm glad to be back, but I did love the place we were in Tennessee. It was so quiet and peaceful and the weather was scrumptious.

On the way home I was thinking of my next BLOG -- THIS ISN'T IT!!!! Being the elder person that I am, and since it is difficult to write something down when one is driving and the spouse is asleep, I didn't write down my topic, and it has left my brain. Hopefully, the computer in my brain will rewind and I will recall the topic. It was about RUNNEMEDE and growing up, not about anything that is remotely in the present tense.

But, in the present tense: Alan and I really enjoyed the play at the Cumberland Playhouse ( We saw a play entitled, Smoke on the Mountain Homecoming. What a hoot! It was so enjoyable, and we went with David and Linda, which made it even more fun.

During intermission, Alan decided to take a TRIP (definitive word) to the rest room. Well, he missed a step and bam, he fell and twisted his knee. After resting and icing the knee all day Friday, he seems much better.

I, however, packed the car this morning. Praise the Lord my knees were functioning as they should and not bothering me, as they had been all week. I was able to do it all and he was able to still enjoy the rest. He is walking without the aid of the cane he used all day yesterday. So, that's behind us now.

Oh, how I wish I could remember what I forgot because I know you all would have loved what I was going to say in my remembrance BLOG about something that had to do with my life in Runnemede. But, alas, it's gone from my mind for the present.

I'll have more reports as the evening progresses. Right now, I'm off to enjoy the rest of the community pool opening party, and then I'll unpack the car.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Still in the hills

Today is just beautiful. Sunny, warm but not hot. A gentle breeze is blowing. Alan and I are just enjoying the "view."

We will be visiting with David and Linda tonight. I'm posting the newest pictures of our family members here. That's Dave and Linda on the left -- we went out to brunch after church on Sunday. The picture on the right is me, Deb, and David.

So, tonight we're going to see a play at the local Playhouse. We're looking forward to more time with David and Linda this evening.

Yesterday, Alan and I visited with an old classmate of his from Rift Valley Academy (and his classmate's family). It was a great day. We decided that "old" was the definitive word. You just never know what a person is going to look like when you see them after 40 years. The hair is gray, the body is bent, although I have to say, Steve and Elizabeth are remarkably straight backed considering our ages. We're all the same age.

So, we reminisced -- or rather Alan and Steve and Elizabeth did -- but I enjoyed the conversation, and discovered so many things we have in common. Steve and Elizabeth gave up on the school system early on in their children's lives and home educated their children, as did Alan and I. They have four children, we have three.
Alan and I will be packing it up tomorrow. We're not sure what else we're going to do then. Maybe head home early, maybe not. I want to be at the pool opening on Saturday, but probably won't happen. It will be our first miss in seven years.
I'll be back in full-swing next week with more remembrances, I hope, of life with the Drexlers/Hahns/Evangelistas/Sbaraglias. Who know which part of the family will be memorialized in print.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Just to say "Hello"

I know you're all having withdrawal pains because the BLOG has been missing for a few days. Well, it's going to be missing for a few more days after I finish this message.

We're in Tennessee for a few days, enjoying good weather. My sister, Debbie, and her husband, Jim, were with us for a couple of those days and I was so blessed to be with her again.

This, by the way, is my second attempt at putting this BLOG up today. The WiFi connection keeps boinking out on my -- another reason the BLOG will not be up for a few more days.

On Sunday we went to David's Church (Faith Community Church) and he gave a great message on Revelation 6. He ended the service with the same benediction my father used for all his years as a minister. I'll try to remember it verbatim. As I was recalling this earlier, I was only recalling bits and pieces, so here goes:

"Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God, our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion, and power, both now and ever. Amen." Jude 1:24, 25.

That brought back some memories, I can tell you.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Spin and Marty

[Click on the title to go to the website for Spin and Marty].
Alan and I love to watch Gunsmoke. The other day one of the actors on the program was Spin of Spin and Marty fame. Spin was a heart-throb of mine back in the 50s, not that I'd ever met him or ever had any hope of meeting him. Just a dream, you might say. Spin and Marty was a series on The Mickey Mouse Club (the original one with Annette and Bobby, etc.).
Spin, the boy on the left in the picture, and Marty were two kids who had the pleasure of spending the summer together at a dude ranch. Marty was wealthy and even brought his butler along with him. Spin was from the wrong side of the tracks. The story is basically about how these two boys from different ends of the social stratum got to know each other and actually learn to like each other. I guess you had to be there. It was a good, clean series.
Anyway, I mentioned that the character on Gunsmoke was Spin -- and Alan asked me what a spin was. I tried to explain, but because he didn't see a TV until 1959 and Spin and Marty had ridden off into the sunset, he never had the pleasure of watching the series.
I bring this up because I was thinking about the TV actors (teenage boys) I loved to watch when I was a teenage myself. I even carried their pictures in my wallet (remember I wrote about that some weeks ago).
Alan also likes to watch Leave it to Beaver, not a program I like to watch, but I sure did back when I was 14. Beaver's brother, Wally, was what we called "a hunk". He didn't age well, though.
Another one of these "hunky" teens was the brother in a series with Donna Reed called, if you can believe it, The Donna Reed Show. The son in that show was a double for a local young man I enjoyed being around, but who didn't necessarily enjoy my company. Actually, we did go out a couple of times, and skated together at the Christian skating parties a lot. Paul Peterson played the son, Jeff, and he actually did age quite well.
I know this is a silly post, but then silliness was the norm when I was growing up. And I bring this up because the other night we were watching Survivor and my daughter was appalled at the lack of dress of the young ladies on the series. Since I have been dumbed down enough by the previous weeks' viewings I didn't even think about it. In the 50s women/girls would never be seen in a two piece bathing suit, let along the almost string bikinis the ladies on Survivor were wearing. Modesty ruled the viewing. No bad language was permitted and God could only be used if someone were quoting scripture, not as in "Oh my....." (which I find very, very offensive).
It's amazing to me to see how in my lifetime TV has degenerated to a place where I am not offended -- as I should be -- by what I'm viewing. I'm glad my daughter's spiritual sense was tuned into what I should have seen for myself.


Dust -- is it truly a protective covering?

I remember when I was growing up the one chore I really hated was dusting. And even when Pledge came along, I still didn't like dusting, although I did enjoy inhaling the fumes from the stuff.

No, dusting has never been on my list of things to do. So, most of the time I have a very good protective covering on everything in my home.

Those venetian blinds are the worst at dust sucking. I mean, I can wash them or dust them, either one, and the next day, I can hear the sucking sound. Why is that? It's not like the blinds are near the air vents, where I know a lot of dust scatters from.

I'm so not into dusting that I clean my air filter religiously every month on the 26th of the month so that less dust is circulated through the furnace fan. Why the 26th? Because that's the day that my calendar reminder tells me to do that. I have not put "dust the furniture" into my calendar task reminder, though.

We had guests right after we returned from Florida. I dusted the day they came, but I missed a few places, and don't you know, that's exactly where they looked? I didn't realize that cobwebs formed in great profusion behind picture frames that are standing in a collection on my sofa table. Our friend picked up a couple of the pictures and while I had picked them up to dust around them, I didn't think to dust in that little gadget that makes them stand up. And lo and behold -- cobwebs!

Live and learn.

Making the bed

A favorite "Link" friend of mind wrote recently about making her bed -- or the lack thereof -- and wanted to know how many of her readers, if they were daring enough, ever left their bed unmade and how many days a week that event -- or non-event -- occurred.

This has really been bugging me and I don't know why. I always made my own bed -- at least I think I did -- except, perhaps when I shared the bed with my sister, who would make her side and leave my side of the bed unmade, and vice versa. My mother always made her bed. And made sure we made ours. Even my brothers had to make their beds.

Alan grew up in boarding school, so he HAD to make his bed AND pass inspection every day. One he got to college, however, that requirement no longer existed, so he didn't do that chore any more.

When we married, I would leave for work before he woke up and would come home to an unmade bed. I really didn't like that, but being the good little housewife I was back then, I made the bed when I got home from work, only to have it messed up again at around 10 p.m. (5 hours later) when I went to bed, while Alan stayed up until early in the a.m. studying.

Then when we got our first home, I was home with the children for a couple of years, and made the beds -- all of them -- every day.

Then back to work, Alan up after me, and the bed got made late in the afternoon. That is, until I realized that it was pointless to make up a bed for such a short period of time. I mean if a robber had visited my home prior to my returning from work, s/he would have seen my unmade bed already, so unless we were expecting guests in the evening, I didn't make the bed except on weekends.

Now, we live in a condo where you can see the bedroom from the living room, so I HAVE to keep the bed made, which is okay, because truly, truly, I prefer a made bed.

I have to admit, when we're on vacation, I don't make the bed, unless we're staying in some one's home. Of course, on a ship, they make up the bed every time there is even an impression in the pillow. If we're in a maidless facility, though, I just let it go. Is that sloth? I hope not. You know what the Bible has to say about slothful people.

Have I become my mother? Or have I become Martha Stewart-ized?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Wednesday is mid-week

It's the middle of another week (already)! I cannot believe how fast time flies. We're coming up on a time with family in Tennessee and I'm really looking forward to the trip. Anticipating a trip is usually a slow time, but not this time.

I got all my scrapbook sales delivered and will get a new order in while on the road. I'm working on a digital book to share with family about our western trip. I have almost 400 pictures, and making a digital album is so much easier than cutting, pasting, etc., into a regular album. It's just point, click, move, drop, and the page is done.

I'm using Storybook 2 Plus from Creative Memories and it's so easy to do. I got hooked on Storybook albums a couple of years ago when all that was available from Creative Memories at the time was their free download to Storybook creator. It's still available free, but the "Plus" program costs money. Since I sell the stuff, I was able to use my credits so I could get it for free. Yes! So, I started on the book and while we're in Tennessee, I'll finish it, I hope.

So, it's Wednesday. I got the suitcases out. The laundry is finished. The resort called me to tell me we they were putting a ramp on the steps leading to the condo -- that's a nice touch -- and except for loading the car, we're pretty much set to go. I know, I still have several days before we leave for the short break, but as time seems to be flying, we'll be leaving before I realize it.

I don't really like the getting ready part of traveling. I love the driving and the visiting and the vegging. I just don't like the packing because I ALWAYS, and I mean ALWAYS forget something. I don't worry so much about the things I forget -- unless it's a passport -- because I can go shopping almost anywhere, but I hate it when I think that I forgot to unplug something.

I don't ever have to worry about unplugging the iron. I rarely iron -- by that I mean I iron annually. If it doesn't go in the washer, then the dryer, then the hanger, it doesn't get worn again. I have a pile of such clothing. When my "annual" ironing day for 2008 rolls around, I'll get to wear those clothes again, once. Then after they're washed, they'll go back into the pile.

Fortunately, I don't worry about style too much -- I mean how much style is there is t-shirts and cropped pants or sweats -- my mainstay. If it's something for Sunday dress, I only wear it for a couple of hours, take it off as soon as I'm home from church, and hang it up. I have five dresses, only one needs to be ironed after it's washed. The rest hang wrinkle-free.

So, it's mid-week. We're almost out of food -- which is a good thing, because I don't like to leave stuff in the refrigerator -- although this trip is so short that any food left in the fridge won't spoil in such a short time.

I did find out that there is no WiFi where we're going, and I'm really not up for using dial-up -- it's just too, too slow and I don't have the patience. I'll BLOG in Word while we're away and then post the BLOGs when I get back.

The best part of this particular trip is that, as I mentioned, we'll be visiting family. My sister is one of the family with whom I'll be visiting. And for that, I can't wait, and time does pass slowly when I think of it.

Alan sort of wanted to take the back roads down to the resort, but I want to get there as quickly as possible. While I enjoy driving, I don't enjoy driving for 10 hours when I can get to a place in 5.

This will be our last trip until late September. I hope by then the price of gas is still below $5 a gallon.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Tuesday Nights at the Drexlers

Tuesday night at the Drexlers was hectic and then quiet. Hectic until my father left for Grace Bible Institute where he taught on Tuesday night, and quiet after he left.

We had to eat by 5:30 p.m. -- 1/2 hour earlier than normal -- on Tuesday night so daddy would be ready for his ride to the school. Then we had three hours of pretty much quiet, until 9:30 p.m. when daddy got back home.

I wonder why it was quieter when my father was out of the home rather than in the home. Was it because he was teasing us? We had to listen to classical music at the highest volume the radio allowed? People knew he was home and the phone never stopped ringing?

I don't know, but I do know that after he left it got quiet. That was probably because we were transfixed in front of the TV our minds becoming mush on some new program such as the Twilight Zone or something.

Bedtime for the boys was 8:30 p.m., so that may be at least one hour very quiet. When daddy got home from school, Deb and I headed upstairs to our bed. We giggled for a while after we were in bed, and at least once a night daddy or mommy would have to yell up to us to get quiet and get to sleep.

After we went to bed mom and dad would read for a while and then turn in around 11.

Monday, May 12, 2008

More on family sayings

Well, we've been Dio ti benedica-ing each other and our grandchildren since last Friday. Remember Dio ti benedica means "God Bless You" in Italian? Seems there's a lot of pollen around this area this year and even I, who haven't been bothered by allergies in 35 years, am having problems. It seems the sun porch is my worst enemy right now. Bummer.

My dear granddaughter, Toria, was having such a bad time on Friday night when we were scrap-booking that I had to leave the monthly crop-fest early to take her home. I had Benedrilled up so I was okay, mostly.

Well, I was thinking about the family, as I often do, especially on family occasions like Mother's Day, and I remembered another word that we used every single day. After daddy said "grace" or the family said "grace" depending on my father's mood that day, someone would say Mangia -- EAT.

As we got ready for dinner yesterday (Mother's Day) Beck stopped in with her family and a bucket of Kentucky Fried. After Daniel thanked God for the earth, his family, and the food, he said, "Amen." Automatically, I said, "Mangia." I haven't done that for a while. I guess it's the presence of more than two people at the table that evokes that memory, of prayer, then "Mangia," because at home the table was always crowded and noisy. Reflex action on my part!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Another oddity of my father's

I was reminded today of another thing my dad did to get the attention of children -- specifically his own, or his grandchildren.

As I mentioned before he loved flashlights, and he had a bunch of penlights -- they were flashlights that looked like pens.

He would take a pen light and put it behind his ear lobe and hit the button so that his earlobe would light up.


To honor my mother

I didn't honor my mother much during her lifetime.

Oh, I always remembered her birthday and Mother's Day and hers and daddy's wedding anniversary (usually with a card). But I didn't really honor her.

I know I adored her. Loved her. I admired her. I didn't want to be like her, though. I definitely didn't want to be a pastor's wife. Too much work. Too much "putting on a pleasant face even when you wanted to cry."
My mother was loved by everybody, at least that's the impression I get because any time I mention my mom to someone who knew her, they always says, "I loved her so much."
She WAS a sweet lady. Always smiling. She was the perfect pastor's wife. I wanted none of that.
I received my musical ability from my mom who played the piano beautifully. My father played by ear, and that was passed down to me also. I wish I had received her artistic ability. She could draw anything, and it looked like what she was drawing. I can't draw a stick figure that resembles even the stick figure I want it to resemble. My mom wasn't a great cook, but I loved everything she ever prepared, but then I like to eat.
As far as honoring my mother -- when I got to my teenage years I didn't even call her mom, or mommy, or mother. I called her "wom" (short for woman). I figured if our Lord Jesus could call his mother Woman, I could call my mother woman or a derivative thereof. How unglorifying and unhonoring is that? I cry when I think of those four years.
The "wom" phase ended when I went to college and mom because Mom again.
How does one honor their mother? In words and deeds. My words were honoring toward my mom, but I don't think my deeds followed suit. I didn't do anything specifically that would dishonor either my mother or my father, but I didn't hold my mom in the high regard I now do.
I know I always respected my mother, but when I became an adult and had my own children, I think I thought of my mother as more my age and conversed with her as such, bringing her down to my level. I should have raised myself up to hers.
I sometimes, now, want to call her on the phone. My mother was good at giving advice, but only when asked for. She didn't foist her opinion or advice on any topic upon any other person unless they first asked for it.
I remember asking for advice on a problem I had (physically) when I was pregnant and mom told me to ingest a tablespoon of olive oil each day until the malady cleared up. Good advice, it worked, but getting it down was a problem.
I always asked my mom for advice, when I had my own home, about plants and how to care for them, because she always has such a beautiful garden. I never did, but I tried.
My mom always spent time in the morning, while sipping her cup of coffee and eating her toast, reading her Italian Bible. Why she read the Bible in Italian, I don't know (rather than English). I never asked her, and I wish I had. She was raised with the Italian Bible, and like me, raised with the King James Version, it is my preferred text. So, I assume that's why she always read her Italian Bible. She carried the KJV to church.
My mom went over and above each Sunday. Most Sunday evenings (until I was no longer at home, then they dropped off) people from the church would "drop in" for coffee and some sort of repast -- usually crackers, lunch meats, and cheese, and some sort of dessert. The drinks were coffee or tea. Often mom would make soup. If there were special speakers or missionaries, they were invited. And mom never complained about this.
You all know how small mom's house was, but there was always room for "one more".
As she aged, my respect deepened and my requests for advice became more numerous. I know my mom prayed for each one of her children, and while we didn't always appreciate it at that time, in retrospect, we certainly do now.
So, today, Mother's Day, 2008, I finally HONOR my mother -- Rose Sbaraglia Drexler.


I was also thinking today about the uniqueness of each of my children, and then of my grandchildren.

God created 15 individuals from me and my husband, each one is unique. And I was counting the ways in which each child and then grandchild is different from the other.
I had 19 years of learning the differences (the uniqueness) of each of my children before they started to leave the nest. Each child was certainly different, not just in temperament but in appearance.

Both of my girls are beautiful and they have become beautiful women. What shines through is their love for others and their love of God. My daughters resemble neither me nor my husband, but have just the right combination of both of us to make them unique. My son looks like Alan, but he also looks like me. Some say he's the spitting image of his father, others say he looks like me. I can't tell, I think he looks like Phil. Unique.

These three children married, and each had children -- my grandchilden -- and each child born to these children (mine) are also unique.

So each grandchild has a uniqueness about him or her that sets them apart from each other. They have different personalities, they look different, they have different qualities.
For instance, I was thinking especially about Adam. The picture of him (above) was taken while he was waiting for his dad to instruct him, and he wasn't aware I was taking his picture.

I haven't written about Adam, but Adam is the most unique, I think, of all the children. Not in a strange way. He frowns a lot and is lost in his own thoughts. But when he smiles his whole face lights up and it transforms his whole body. He goes from slump to straight, just that fast. Adam is kind, but he is feisty. He is a tease. He loves battle gear and loves to fight imaginary battles. Now, that's not strange, nor is it unique for a boy of 8, but he battles so well even by himself.

I love Adam. He even looks different from the other children in his own family. Some say he looks just like Alan. I think he looks just like his father's father (Doc). And I believe his thinking time is something he gets from both grandfathers. I have a picture of my son when he was about three and he resembles Adam a lot, but I don't see that resemblence now.

So, Adam, my precious grandson, I love you, and pray that as you learn to love the Lord more you will grow into a servant of His, just like your daddy.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Great grandchildren

Does that mean grandchildren that are great, or by birth they are great grandchildren? Today's epistle will be about great-grandchildren -- those that are born, not how they turned out.

My mother and father, if they had survived until today (they'd be 99 and 100 respectively) would have 22 great grandchildren -- I think. I know for sure they would have at least 20, but I'm pretty sure I got that number correct. At least that's the present count. The family may be blessed with more children to my children's generation. My mom never lived to see any of her great grandchildren. My father saw my oldest grandson, and two of Becky's children. My son had two children, I think, at the time of my father's death, but he didn't see them,.

What's my point? I was just thinking of all the grandchildren my parents had -- they had 12 -- and then those grandchildren are now having children, and that count is up to 22 or more, and so it goes.

The thing that amazes me, and for which I am so thankful, is that for the most part, my parent's children, their grands and great-grands are be saturated with the Word of God. They attend good churches, and the present parents have taken it upon themselves to nurture their own children in God's Word. Isn't that great?

I know that I have seen 12 of my grandchildren. I will be reunited with all of them some day in the place God has prepared for us, and it will be a wonderful reunion. That will be SOME Mother's Day!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Back in the good old days

I was reminded tonight of something about which I hadn't thought for quite a while.

I refer to "the good old days" as the time in the 40s, 50s, and 60s prior to my marriage. Now, I'm not insinuating that after my marriage I entered into the "bad old days", not at all. Just that prior to my marriage when I was in my formative years, shall we say, that was the time of the "good old days." My Runnemede days.

Was leaving Runnemede the beginning of the no longer "good old days?" I don't think so. Just that when I started spending every waking and sleeping hour with my husband, I wasn't looking for good or bad, because I had the comfort of knowing that all our days would be good, even if they weren't. So we were then into the good new days.

Enough babbling.

This evening a friend picked up some scraps of paper that I had left behind, and said, "I was raised in the depression and we didn't throw anything away." I knew that. My mom and dad were survivors of that era, which I suppose could be known as the "bad old days", although I've never heard them referred to as such. And it just brought back that which I was thinking about earlier in the day.

I had been recalling the time when my mom died, and how my sister-in-law, Sue, and I had to clear out her things so my father wouldn't have to do it. We knew she was dying and so we started cleaning, so to speak, before she had gone Home. She was in a room separate from hers and daddy's room, a room that had none of her things in it, because there was a hospital-type bed in there and other paraphernalia associated with a sick person.

So Sue and I could work on removing her clothing, her sewing things, her books, etc., which as I look back on it now, was so gross of us to do with her still in the house. Both Sue and I knew our time to get this mammoth job completed was short, and that's why we worked on this project while mom was still with us. Both of us would have to leave Runnemede and go back to our jobs as soon as the funeral was over. So, as mom slept, we cleaned. When mom waked we stopped what we were doing and did whatever she wanted us to do.

So I know that depression survivors were savers. Mom saved breath mints -- every purse had at least one package of three-year-old breath mints in the bottom. Each purse also contained at least one package of the green Wrigley's chewing gum. She had a comb in each purse. She had a pen and pencil and pad of paper in each purse. She had a handkerchief in each purse.

And, I suppose she had all these supplies in each purse because it made it easier to change purses -- just put your wallet in the purse you were then carrying and you're ready to go.

I know you're wondering how many purses there were -- let me just say, there was LOTS of them. Each purse also had some "mad" money in it. The amount varied from $50 to $100, said amount tucked away in one of the zipper pockets that were common in purses of the 60s and 70s.

Mom saved material. She had baskets of material. I benefited from those baskets when I was sewing dolls clothes, and my own clothing. I just never knew how much material she had. She had balls and balls of yarn. Mom wasn't a knitter or crocheter, but she had lots of yarn. I guess people gave it to her and she just kept it.

We did nothing with her plants -- they were all around the house -- but we didn't know what to do, we couldn't just throw them away (kill them), so we left them and hoped that daddy would water them. Some of them survived for years after her death, others didn't. Dad explained that he was talking to the ones that looked bad, but he wasn't having much success in keeping them alive.

I think it was at the time of my mom's Home going that I got a lot of the old family pictures and it started me on my scrap booking journey -- a journey that stagnated until two years ago, and then blossomed and has taken over my house, like kudzu.

Scrapbooking with Toria

Toria is my oldest granddaughter. I have five other granddaughters. All are beautiful girls. Of course, I'm prejudice. Wish I had a picture of Toria -- a good picture of her. It seems that my grandchildren like to make faces when I take their pictures, and so I have few good ones of them.

Anyway, Toria is here with me tonight and we're going to a crop fest -- we're going to scrapbook from 7 to 10 or later depending on whether I hold up or not. She's a great scrapper. Tonight we're both working on projects which have a short-time due date. So, we'll be cropping fast and furiously, I'm certain.

I'm finishing the second book of my mom's family. This time, just the Evangelista cousins. I was able to copy almost 75 pictures when I was visiting Micki, who, by the way, is improving each day, and they will be going into this book so I can take it to David's when we go to Tennessee.

I had to decide whether I wanted to finish that album or work on my digital, computer generated album of our trip out west. That album will be printed by Creative Memories when it is finished, but now I'm using their Story Book Plus program to drag and drop my pictures into wonderful backgrounds, and using the various Microsoft letters for the description parts of the pages. I have to say that making an album of 375 pictures this way is much easier, but less fun, and I feel less creative, than the old-fashioned way of pasting pictures into albums and then deciding which background I'm going to use for each page. (If you click on the title, you go to the Creative Memories website.)

But given my age I want to get this completed before I can't work on it any more, and if I do it the old fashioned way, I know it would take me years, because other projects would interfere with my desire to finish the westward ho trip.

Toria is working on a project, and that's all I can say about it. It's a secret. So far she has done a wonderful job.

So, in about a half hour we're heading out with another friend to spend a night with about 30 other ladies cropping and gabbing and sharing stories about our pictures.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Working in Philadelphia in the 50s and 60s

I was thinking back about my days working in Philly. Except for a summer job at Mr. Softee in Runnemede, all my jobs were in Philadelaphia.

I worked at Strawbridge's -- a department store -- for three Christmas seasons. I worked for Echelons (a temporary agency) for four years, and while with that agency I was sent to law firms, the Pennsylvania Railroad, Graybar, and finally the owner of the Philadelphia franchise took me in as her assistant, which meant I did it all, including placing people in jobs.

I didn't particularly like that job, but I was prompt and did my work with perfection because less than perfection for me was not an option (personally). I found a permanent job in the listings that came in, that was working for a law firm in the PSFS building, and that law firm included a young man who was running for mayor of the city, that man being Arlan Spector. I really wanted that job. I would be private secretary for one of the senior partners. I had visions of me accompanying him to court, doing his leg work, etc., like Perry Mason's secretary did in the TV show. Not to be. I mean, I got the job, but this partner was a zoning specialist, which meant all we did was building searches, land searches, etc. It was pretty boring stuff.

Back then, too, you had to think about how hiring was. I was newly engaged, and they were reluctant to hire an engaged or newly married woman because they figured she'd be gone within a year either because she was pregnant or because she and her fiance moved away. So, I hit my engagement ring and got the job. Not quite honest, but I knew I wasn't going to get pregnant and I wasn't going to move anywhere.

There was uniform all women wore to work in the 50s and early 60s. By the mid-60s the uniform was no longer required.

First, let me tell you, that I would arise at 6:30 a.m., get dressed (I took my shower and washed my hair at night), run out the door at 6:50 to catch the 7:00 bus. Now, I was only a two or three minute walk from the bus stop, but buses didn't necessary run exactly on time. Mostly they were early, so I made sure I was at the stop at 6:55 a.m. That got me into Philly (because it was an express) by 7:30 -- enough time to stop at Schraft's for breakfast.

My stomach has never worked well right after I get up. It needs at least an hour to "settle" before I put even coffee in it.

So, I, in my uniform -- a hat, white gloves, and a dress or suit, nylons with seams up the back, and high heels -- went to work. I had a very limited "uniform" closet, so each week, during the summer I would purchase one item for my closet, albeit a hat (I loved hats), a pair of shoes, a new dress, a new suit, a winter coat -- I purchased something for my closet.

When I worked at Strawbridge's I got 20 percent off, and I would head down to the bargain basement and get such great bargains. But to get to the bargain basement I had to pass the handbag counters. I think I mentioned before my affinity for handbags. Since I was TWO, I carried a handbag, always. I loved pocketbooks (handbags).

Now, I have a handbag that is functional, not pretty, and I don't change it out from day-to-day or weekly or monthly. I don't change it out at all. It's the same handbag I purchased last summer in Wyoming. I don't expect to change that bag for anything because it's also a wallet, and I don't need a big bag to stuff a lot of menial stuff in.

Of course, those handbags I bought back in the 50s and 60s weren't large either. I still have them and I notice that they barely would contain a wallet and a tube of lipstick. At least my new purse will hold a cell phone, makeup, and anything you could stuff into a wallet.

I'm a little dismayed that workplace and, yes, church, dress standards have been so lowered that women no longer have to "dress" in dresses and wear hats. There's just something about that manner of dress that I love.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Lunch for 25 cents

I was thinking tonight as I watched the news and the gloom and doom reminders that everything, especially food and gasoline, is getting more expensive. No, everything IS NOT getting more expensive.

So as I watched and the newscaster was giving a few examples of how prices have increased over the past year, I thought back to when I was a single, working girl having to pay for so many things myself, and I was earning $60 per week. Not a bad wage in 1961.

I had no car, but I had car fare (bus fare) which ran me a total of $2.20 per week. I could pack my lunch or buy something. I preferred to stop for breakfast at Schraft's and get an English muffin, two eggs over easy, a bottomless cup of coffee (coffee was 10 cents a bottomless cup back then), and three strips of bacon for 99 cents. If I didn't pack my lunch I could get a hot-dog on a bun with whatever toppings I wanted and a soft-drink for 25 cents. So, I would say that food ran me about $7.00 per week. Uncle Sam took $14 (social security tax and income tax). I gave my mom $10 for room and board. Tithe was $6.00, so I was left with about $21, from which I put $2 a week into a Christmas Club fund.

Of the $21 remaining I set aside as much as I could for the upcoming college expenses of books and transportation. My tuition was covered with a scholarship.

Now, let's review, so you can see how much prices have REALLY increased over the past years. Coffee -- 10 cents a cup. This price held up pretty much until the mid-60s, then it went up to a quarter, and this country almost went to war with itself at that jump in price! Gas went from 25 cents a gallon to 50 cents a gallon, but it was a slow climb in those five years, so no one complained.

You need to remember, though, that a car's tank held approximately 12 gallons of gasoline, and cars got 8 to 10 miles per gallon of gas, so fill ups were more frequent than they are today. A fill-up of $5.00 would get you perhaps 100 miles. A fill-up today of $50 will get you, if you don't have an SUV, about 350 miles. If we are cost comparing, we should get 1,000 miles on a fill-up, right? So I would say that gasoline is really a wallet buster.

Now, phone calls are still holding at about the same rate -- I'm talking about long distance. Now that we can bundle and get unlimited long distance for $25 a month or whatever, I wouldn't even think of comparing, because in the "old days" you paid for each call and long distance was very, very expensive. I can recall some phone bills I had to reimburse my dad for (from talking with Alan at Rutgers) that were as high as $25 for one call, said call being about one hour long.

Other items have decreased since the 60s -- calculators for instance. When they first came out with a small, almost hand-held calculator (it was billed as being able to be held in your hand, but it really was a bit heavy for a one-hand hold) it cost $168. I know this because I balked at the price when Alan HAD TO HAVE one. Now you can get them for, what, $3?

Wrist watches are so cheap you can throw them away rather than replace the battery which costs about the same as a new watch. The wind-up kind we had (and which I still have) cost at least $15 and that was a Timex.

So, while we complain about the rising cost of gasoline and food, we should be thankful for those things which really have gone down in cost and price throughout the years -- TVs being another one of those items. Computers? Our first computer cost us $12,000 it only did what we paid for it to do, that is word processing. Alan's first Apple cost $3,000 and it had 48K of memory!

So be thankful when you're filling that tank. Don't kick the car or the pump. Some things are a lot less expensive than they used to be.


I'm so excited. I'm going to get to visit my youngest and her family on Friday to take pictures of them all. After all, Ellie is now 13 months old -- time for some new shots of her. And as I was reminded recently my oldest grandchild is 14 years old. He's so tall, and his voice is so deep. What a change.

Anyway, I'm going to take pictures. Then when I come back home, Toria (one of my granddaughters) is coming home with me, and we're going to go through the new pictures and the pictures she took of her family and friend (with a digital camera I loaned her). We will then print out the ones she likes the best.

Then, she and I was going to a scrapbooking session and we're going to work on our albums with the new pictures and some really old pictures.

I have to get an album finished by next weekend to take with me to Tennessee to share with my sister and my cousin. I need to set deadlines, or I never get any scrapping in (at home).

In fact, I get the most work completed at the various cropping sessions I attend each month. It's a time of fellowship with other ladies who enjoy making albums of their loved ones.

I love walking around and seeing what the others are working on. One lady, last month, was making a wedding album. She's been married over 30 years, but only had loose pictures of her wedding, so she was cropping the pictures and arranging them in a album. Several others were working on albums of their newborns, or nearly newborns.

So, I take pictures, I print the pictures, I file the pictures, and eventually, I put the pictures in a book, which hopefully when I'm gone will be a reminder to my family of who we were.

Mother's Day

Warning: This starts our very negative, but ends up positive.

When does a woman become a mother? Does she become a mother at the moment the baby comes out from it's initial growth place, her womb, and is placed into her arms all slimy and wet, but the most beautiful sight she's ever seen? Or does she become a mother as soon as she knows that there is a baby within her body to be nurtured for 9 months until she can actually hold that child.

I believe she is a mother when she learns that she is carrying that child within her.

Now to my epistle for today.

Mother's Day is this Sunday. I really never liked Mother's Day. At church mom's with the largest families, the newest baby, the most grandchildren, etc., were given plants, and I sat there -- no category applied to me, and I would go home flowerless.

My first mother's day, my husband did nothing -- no gift, no card, no taking me out to dinner, nothing. He reminded me, I wasn't his mother, so I shouldn't have expected him to give me a card or anything. Needless to say, I wasn't pleased with his response. Alan is a loving husband, but on this issue we disagree.

So, Mother's Day for me wasn't a celebration until the children were old enough to make me something in school or remember on their own that there was, in fact, a day set aside to celebrate mothers. My children have, for as long as I can remember, made me feel warm and fuzzy on Mother's Day.

I didn't even realize that Mother's Day was coming up this year until my middle daughter invited herself and her family to visit me on their way home from Georgia to celebrate the day. Then, what a wonderful surprise I received yesterday, as my youngest called and offered to take me out to eat. Wow!

Actually, since my own children have grown up, they have been very good about celebrating Mother's Day and Father's Day with us. I am, after all THEIR mother. And my precious son does honor his wife on this day set aside for Mother's (as well as me) just to thank her, if nothing else, for the four precious children God gave to them.

You see, that's what I think Mother's Day is. It's a time to honor mothers, whether it's yours or your children's mother. It is an honor, bestowed by God, to be a mother, and it's wonderful for others to recognize that honor as well.

As I'm writing this, it has hit me. What does it matter whether anyone else honors ME ( is it all about me?) on Mother's Day. God has HONORED me by giving me three wonderful children, and now 12 precious grandchildren. So, I'm blessed, and I'm happy just to see the whole group of children/grandchildren on that day.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

On being a mother

I hope I don't step on any toes with this BLOG. I was thinking tonight about several young ladies I know, both from church and other areas of my life, who are about to become mothers. Some are second- or third-time mothers, others will become mothers for the first time later this year.

My own mother was what is now called a "stay-at-home" mom. When I was growing up that was the norm. She, however, had to join the legions of working women in the early 60s. She worked part-time as a sales person at Gimbel's Department Store in Philadelphia, and hated every minute of it. I know what Proverbs says about working women, but neither she nor I ever felt that God wanted us selling or working outside the home.

You can't imagine how awful I felt when I, who always envisioned motherhood as being at home for my children, was forced because of our finances to go to work. My baby was just two months old. When I left him that first morning when I left for work, it was horrible. I cried on the bus the entire way to the office, and then I sniffled most of the day. When I got home, my son wouldn't even look at me. Every time I tried to get him to look at me, he'd turn his head away. I could tell he was upset that I hadn't been with him all day long.

I left my child with my mother. I cannot imagine leaving a child with a stranger, or in a center with 30 or 40 other children running around. My mom took care of Phil for 9 months and then had a heart attack and could no longer take care of him. I quit work. Alan was mustered into the Army and we had very few expenses, so we were able to muddle through.

I am so thankful that my own daughters and my daughter-in-law are able to be "stay-at-home" moms and can nurture their children all day long.

What I forget to mention is that I would leave my baby early in the morning around 7:30 -- just after he woke up -- I cleaned him, dressed him, and fed him, then kissed him good-by. When I got home at 5:30 it was time for his dinner. The only time I had to spend with him -- because I believed in schedules, and his schedule meant he was in bed by 7:30 p.m. -- was those two hours into which I fed him his dinner, if I could get him to look at me, and then gave him his dreaded bath, and after that screaming event, dressed him for bed. Sang to him, prayed with him, and patted his little bottom until he was asleep.

It was a hard time. I did a lot of crying. When Alan got into the Army all that changed and I was able to spend 24/7 with my baby, who was my little boy, and then with his sisters. When my youngest was two I was back in the work force, hating every minute of it, realizing that I was working to help keep us fed and clothed and sheltered didn't help my feelings about being out of the home.

So you know, my husband always thought I enjoyed working. He never knew how much I disliked being a part-time mother, a less-than-part-time home maker, and a full-time whatever (I had several jobs from teaching to selling).

God was my strength. I know I couldn't have done what I did when my children were growing up without His mercy and grace.


It's another beautiful day here in northern Kentucky. That has nothing to do with dolls but I just wanted to start out on a positive note.

I've written about my dolls before, but I finally found pictures of what my mother called bashful dolls. They weren't really bashful dolls, but because the head was turned a little downward and you couldn't get a right-in-the-eye look at the face, I suppose that's why she called them bashful.
So, I've included pictures of three of those dolls which I had (finally found them on-line) and you will notice the pretty dresses. Each dress had a snap in the back so removal of the clothing was very easy even for tiny fingers. Under each dress the doll had on a pair of pantaloons. the shoes were painted on.
These are not samples of the dolls I had, but actual copies of the dolls I had. I especially loved the one on the left with the dark hair. Her dress was such a pretty blue.

I learned to sew by hand when I had these dolls because I wanted more clothing for them. Mother would give me scraps of material and I would design and sew dresses, vests, even slacks for these dolls. I loved them and collected them for several years. I had more than three in my total collection because I would get one for my birthday and one for Christmas -- two per year. And I probably got them for five years.
I do recall that I saved money so I could buy one that had a Scotish outfit.

I don't know where they went, I suppose I threw them away when I became a teenager, or gave them to some child in the church whose parents couldn't afford toys. Perhaps my sister inherited them and then they were given away. I do know that both my sister and I took very good care of our toys (dolls) because we received such nice gifts so rarely. The dolls cost $2.98, which may not sound like a lot of money, but you have to remember that back in the "old" days, you could buy a loaf of bread for 10 cents, and a pound of American cheese for 39 cents.
I certainly have very fond memories of those dolls.