Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Monday, June 30, 2008


What brings up this topic is that my grandson Adam will be 8 in a couple of days -- at least I think it's 8, I'm really not sure, and I have to take apart the packaging that the toys I bought come in.

First there were just toys -- that's what my parents thankfully had to contend with. There were no bicycle put-together parties the night before, and no puzzling toys with instructions written in a foreign language, mostly Japanese or Chinese, etc. Then there were toys that came in pieces and had to be assembled before they were used (including bicycles) -- that's what Alan and I had to put up with. Did you ever put together a big wheel from instructions written in at least 6 languages, and the English instructions were just three sentences. Now, you knew there was more to it than those three sentences. My word, even a moron could see that the Spanish instructions were three pages long.

Presently, there are toys that you (1) have to assemble that come in a package that you need to disassemble, often with a screw driver and/or hammer. Or if you didn't understand the previous sentence, let me be perfectly clear -- you have to disassemble the package before you can assemble the toy. Not fun, I'll tell you.

And, why, you ask, do they put these toys in such hard to get through packaging? Well, there are two thoughts that run through my mind -- first, they are sadists -- those toy packagers, or second, they are trying to prevent theft of the toys. Well, duh! Just put one of those plastic thingies on the toy like they put on ladies clothing. You ladies know what I'm talking about. That plastic device, that if not removed in the store, you can never, ever wear the article of clothing you purchased because it has that thing attached.

So, what's next in the make the parents and grandparents look stupid department? Who knows? But I'm sure some childless genius will figure something out.

Does my granddaugther look like me?

I posted a picture earlier today -- and I've posted it again here.
I'm also going to post a picture of my granddaugther, Grace. I know her face is a little rounder than mine, but one of my grandchildren has to look like me, don't they? What do you all think?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Two pictures

Here are two pictures you folks might be interested in. One is me when I was just 16. Aren't those glasses something else? And the other is when I was 18. The blouse I'm wearing in that picture was a peach color, and I received it in a care package along with a couple other things from my cousin Bette when I was about 15. I only wore it on special occasions because I loved it and wanted to keep it. Also since it was sleeveless, the wearing season was shortened. So it was with me for a long time. Actually, I outgrew it before I outwore it. :)

And...don't you just love the Betty Boop hairstyle. What else was I to do with the natural curl I had. That's about all I could get, even if I styled it, or pin curled it, or used big rollers to flatten it. I even tried ironing it, all to no avail. I think that if I turned around you'd see a french twist or a short pony tail. I could never get a nice pony tail because all my hair would do would curl into a ball. Not at all stylish!

When I started college, at 18, I lost the glasses and only used them for reading, which was stupid because I really couldn't see very well without them and probably made my eyes worse by not wearing them, but vanity kicked in, and there you have it.

I hope you enjoy the pictures. Oh, yeah, I was really skinny back then.

TRHS Science fair

Triton Regional High School (TRHS) became a very important part of Runnemede's anatomy in 1957. The first classes started in the new campus started in the fall of that year. In 1960-61, Alan, my husband, attended TRHS. He was on the football team, and I met him after football season was over when he finally was able to attend Hi-BA meetings which were held at our house.

But this is about the TRHS science fair held in 1961 -- and Alan's project. I recall that Fair because I was in love and I wanted to be with Alan all the time, and since he had to "man" his project for two days, I was able to be around him more than just passing him in the halls of the school. I recall manning my own project, but not that year. I was a junior and I had no science classes, as I opted not to take chemistry for reasons mentioned several times in the past, and physics was strictly a senior subject.

Anyway, Alan made a model of a home heating system. He got a doll house and made a basement for it, into which he "grew" this heating system. He cut holes in the floors of the rooms of the doll house which is where the hot air came out and he put little tiny streamers above the holes so people could see that there was at least air coming out of those holes. I believe if you held your hand over the "vents" you would feel heat.

My one and only science fair project was demonstrating photosynthesis -- whatever that is. Well, it has something to do with the way plants collect light in order for them to grow, and I was able to demonstrate the need for light by shoving one of my mothers philodendron in a closet for six weeks, while another of her philodendron was put on the back porch which received sun all day long. Another plant was placed in a back corner of a room, and while it got light, it didn't get as much as the porch. The porch plant did best. That was my big claim to fame.

I loved those science fairs, though. I really liked to see what my classmates came up with -- my own being so lame I was embarrassed. Some were really quite complex.

I know I didn't win any ribbons with my project. Nor did Alan.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Lavender blue, dilly, dilly. That was a song that was sung in an episode of "Dr. Kildare," a popular TV show in the early 60s. Dr. Kildare had fallen in love and was dancing with his lady fair to that song, Lavender blue, dilly, dilly, lavender green, etc. (Click on BLOG title for words to the whole song.)
You see that picture? Well, if you look behind it you would see our home. Mom had a patch just outside the back door on the right as you descended the steps, and the aroma was wonderful. The patch of lavender grew and grew and grew.
I have a pot of lavender growing in by my front door. It wintered from 2007 to 2008 and is growing beautifully. It has flowers galore. I'm go glad because flowering lavender generates new lavender because the flowers become the seeds that keep the plant going.
Lavender has medicinal purposes, and mom made lavender tea a couple of times -- it was not my favorite, but it was okay. And it was supposed to relieve cramps. It didn't. Nothing did. They (cramps) just had to work their course.
Now, lavender ice cream is all the rage on cruises. And boy does it taste good. Lavender is, after all, a member of the mint family, and we all know how good mint ice cream tastes.
I especially love lavender oil. The aroma is supposed to make one sleepy. Put it in a tub of hot water and you'll find yourself drowning it. Mix with with water and put it in an old Windex bottle and use it to spray on your clothes as you iron them. (Like who irons these days?). It will make the clothes smell really good. I especially like to place the flowers and some of the leaves in with my pillow cases and sheets.
So, thanks to my mom for giving me another thing to remember her by. As I brush by my lavender when I leave my own house, I think of the lavender that I inhaled as I left my mom's house so many years ago.

My mother (again)

This is a picture of my mother and me. This picture of mom is how I will always remember her. I don't remember her as she aged. Maybe I'm trying to block it from my mind. After I married and she passed 65 years of age she deteriorated. And as I traveled home to see her each year I noticed how she was going downhill. So, this is how I want to remember her. Vibrant, obviously loving her child(ren), and happy.

I guess I was thinking so much of my other yesterday and today because I finally got her engagement ring back from the jewelers. Long story here. So hang on.

Several months ago, my sister handed me a box that contained my mom's engagement ring. Now, my mother didn't receive a diamond, but she received a beautiful aquamarine ring, set in sterling silver. The setting had deteriorated, the stone was scuffed, and entirely out of the setting. I took the ring to my favorite jeweler and he couldn't repair it in its original setting. Bummer. So, he and I sat down and went through book after book after book of settings for rings. Now this stone is quite large, so that limited how many settings I had to choose from. Also cost was a factor, since I couldn't get anything in sterling, and had to opt for white gold instead.

Well, I'm wearing that ring today (and yesterday). And I was thinking that my mother was engaged probably in 1935 sometime. I don't know, and my brother has all my father's letters to my mother, and that information is probably contained in one of those letters. Anyway, that makes the ring 73 years old. Well, the old ring is 73 years old. The new ring is 73/0 years old. The stone is old, the setting is new, but looks old.

I was thinking about how happy my mom always looked in her pictures, even when she was old and could hardly remember her own name. That ring was given to me when I was a teenager, and I thought I had lost it or that it was lost in our move from Fanwood to Cincinnati (my charm bracelet disappeared in that move as well as several other family pieces). I was so glad that my sister had it and was willing to give it to me.

So this ring was worn by me on my pinkie finger for years and then I didn't know where it was and my father would ask me from time to time why I didn't wear the ring. I told him it didn't fit (truth, but not the whole truth). I just couldn't tell him it was lost.

Now as I look at the old setting I wonder how it even fit on my pinkie. My mom had extremely small fingers. Her wedding band is a size 4. I've been wondering if my father chose an aquamarine because they were married in March and that's the birthstone for March.

In fact, my mother and father were married on March 21, 1937 -- 61 years before my son was married on March 21, 1998. (I think I have that year correct).

I wish I could have been a fly on the wall when my mom got engaged and when she got married. I see the pictures and I know how happy she was. You can't fake happiness in a picture. You can smile, but as I mentioned before smiles aren't always smiles that evoke happiness, they're just plastered on your face because someone is taking a picture. I don't have any pictures of my mother that say, "cheese."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I'm so glad my niece, Lori, is BLOGging. She gives me so many ideas for topics to put on my own BLOG.

Pictures -- her last BLOG was about how difficult it is to get a "good" picture. I was thinking about that. I take a lot of pictures, and I have more bad pictures of my grandchildren, than good ones. I keep few of the bad ones.

When I ask a child to smile I get a smirk, a crooked grin, a dentist-style show-me-your-teeth grin, a sneer, a leer, and even an occasional frown. But it is not often that I get a beautiful smile from them. The babies do okay until they get to be about four years old, then the smirking, sneering, leering, and frowning begins.

I'm getting to my point, be patient.

My father took many, many pictures. And when you put pictures on film, not onto a memory card to be scanned at a later time, you got what you shot. If the kids weren't perfectly coiffed, it didn't matter, because that was the charm of the photo.

I have so many photos of my siblings in which we are, well, how can I put this, antsy, out-of-sorts, unhappy, not wishing to say "cheese." So, to you parents out there who are bemoaning not getting a great pictures of your children to pass on to friends and family, be glad, be very glad you're not working with film -- think of how expensive that would be. Developing a whole role for just one picture?

I think the top picture shows this precisely. It's a church picture. I was wearing a size 11 at taht time. Wow! But look at Phil, obviously, not a great smile. Cyndi could always smile nicely and look like she was enjoying herself. Becky, as well. I have to say that I still had pimples (obviously) when I was in my 30s. So, if you're a teenager and you're reading this, dont' believe it when they tell you that when you're 21 the pimples will disappear. They do not.
The next picture was taken at the Music Palace and we were clowning around, obviously. I don't think Cyndi will be happy to have this picture on the WWW (that's her in front, do the Cyndi dance).
The next picture: Obviously, Deb's hair is, well, not exactly combed well. Mom is clearly trying to control Carl, and Carl, never one to be controlled is doing his own thing. But you see what I mean?

The other picture -- You will notice that my father had his hand on my shoulder making sure I kept still. And Deb's a baby, so you get what you get with babies. I think, though, it's a nice picture of the small (at that time) family.

And remember, some day you will love those "messed up" pictures because they will remind you what your children were like when they were little. They aren't picture perfect, and certainly not perfect. They're just children. Enjoy the messes.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Nothing says summer like....

A nice frosty mug of root beer! Does anyone remember those frosted mugs with the root beer that had a "head"? Was it Weber's who served them?

I used to (and still do) loved to slurp the foam off the top of a glass of root beer. No matter how you pour it, it gets a "head" just like beer. And the "head" is the best part. Actually, it sweet, root beer flavored air with a tiny bit of moisture. After the "head" is gone, you get to the real root beer.

And there are differences in root beers, did you know that? My favorite has always been Hires. But it's net to impossible to find any more. My second favorite is the kind that you get at Weber's Burger Drive-Ins (are they anywhere but in New Jersey?).

But, usually I settle for Stewart's brand. Don't ever drink home made root beer. It's terrible.

Root beer must be served cold. I drink most "soda" right from the can, right from the box, right from the laundry room floor where it's stored. But not root beer. Root beer either has to have been sitting in the fridge for 24 hours or more, or it needs to be served over ice. Of course, if served over ice, it tends to dilute, but if it's a real sweet root beer, like Stewart's, that's okay. Hire doesn't hold up well in ice because it's not real sweet.

I love pouring a can or root beer over crushed ice. It tastes like a snow cone -- a root beer snow cone. Remember them?

Down on the corner of The Pike and Clements Bridge Road there was a snow cone stand. It was open May through September. And for a nickle you could get shaved ice with whatever flavor you wanted. I usually got root beer syrup poured over my ice. Sometimes I got chocolate, and rarely I opted for vanilla. So, when I can I put crushed ice in a glass then pour the root beer over the crushed ice. Yum! It reminds me of those summer days in Runnemede several decades ago.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Moving in

This should probably be posted in The Fat Lady Singeth because it is really something about me and Alan and our life today.

Seven years ago yesterday -- I can't believe it was that long ago, because it seems like yesterday -- we moved into our present home. I LOVE THIS PLACE!!!! Still!!! This place is a God given place for me and Alan. And yes, I know the picture is full of snow and we moved in on a hot, humid summer's day, but I couldn't find any pictures of our yard in summer. And, yes, I could have taken one and downloaded it, and then posted it here, but I'm a bit too lazy to do that today. That would mean I have to WALK to the other end of the condo, and I just WALKED to this end, and the knee is throbbing, as usual.

I was noticing today that the trees have grown so much since we moved in. I can't see the Gazebo any more because the view is blocked by trees that were mere sprouts when we moved in. You can see the Gazebo in the picture above because the trees are bare. That's it in the middle of the picture.

I look around and there are buildings where there was dirt and rock when we moved in. Our building was the eighth of the 16 buildings to be built, and we were the first to move into our building. In mean, the only condo finished when we moved in was ours and the one downstairs was almost there. The other four in this building were still a month or more away from being "finished".

We have good neighbors. We've had some that weren't so good, but they have moved on. We pray over every home that becomes available, asking God to send the right person to that home, and God has blessed us with so many Christian neighbors.

While we don't all attend the same church (several families here do attend our church), many of us are of "like precious faith." How we thank the Lord for that.

Now, it's summer, the trees are in full bloom, and are hiding some of things I can see in the winter, but I don't care. Those trees are full of bird families, and I love sitting on the porch and watching them flitter and flutter from tree to tree. I watch in amazement as they fly and don't crash into anything, and wonder at how they can change directions so quickly. God made an amazing "animal" when he created the birds.

So, it's been seven years. We're not suffering from the "seven year itch" -- wishing we were some place else. We are content with such things as we have. God has blessed.

More on my mom

I was writing a comment in my niece's BLOG today and it occurred to me that I never talked about how easy my mom made being a mother seem. I don't recall that she was ever harried, rushed, out-of-control, etc. She always seems to just ease into everything.

I think that's a wonderful thing to remember about my mother, or any mother. I only remember the one thing that caused my mom to be out of sorts and that was her headaches. To my sister and my daughters and to myself, who have suffered from migraines, I wonder now how she did it. She didn't show us that she was down and out. Daddy took over for her. He would put her in their room, darken it, and give her some pills, believing that the pills would work in two minutes. He did the same for me when I got migraines. In a short time, she would be well enough to be our mother again. She never missed a meal or a church service or anything because of a headache.

I remember her throwing up, then feeling fine. Yes, that's how you get out of a migraine headache -- at least in our family -- if you could bring yourself to throw up you would feel fine. But who wants to throw up? I could never gag myself to relieve myself of the headaches. I'd just suffer. How I thank God that I don't get them any more. Now, I spend time praying for those who do. My sister, my nephew, Jake, my daughters, Becky and Cyndi.

So, here's to you mom. You were so quiet and unassuming, and it seemed that nothing bothered you. You handled four children like it was something you had done all your life prior to the four children. And how I wish I had expressed to you while you were with us, how much I appreciated that. Someday I'll tell you.

Cowboys etc.

"One day I was speeding along at the typewriter, and my daughter - who was a child at the time - asked me, "Daddy, why are you writing so fast?" And I replied, "Because I want to see how the story turns out!" Louis L'Amour

I don't know whether my father enjoyed reading Louis L'Amour, but I know he had several Zane Grey books in his HOME library. Those Zane Grey books were in the book shelf that was nearest the TV -- the big one that now sits in my sister's back hallway (at least I think it's still there, it may have been moved). He often encouraged me to read them. I never did. And to this day I haven't read a Zane Grey novel. After I finish all 313 Louis L'Amour books, I'll start on Zane Grey.

Anyway, I thought, wow, that's how I feel when I'm typing something. I want to see how it ends. I just keep plugging away, typing at 100 words per minute (used to be 120) and like to see what ensues.

I don't write stories, but I do relate events that have become family stories. So, I'm always glad when I finish a topic.

Now, back to cowboys. My dad loved cowboy movies or TV shows. We watched Hopalong Cassidy (named a dog after Hopalong); The Lone Ranger; Bonanza; Gunsmoke; Wagon Train; Roy Rogers. Sounds like a lot of TV, but as I recall, cowboys shows were popular in the 50s and early 60s, before sit-coms became the main genre on TV. At least it wasn't sports.

I'm so glad my dad wasn't a sports nut. Oh, he enjoyed watching the Wimbleton Tennis match once a year, and he watched the US Open. But he would much rather watch a cowboy anything than watch a boring baseball game. Sorry to my brother Mark who can't relate to anyone not enjoying watching a slow, boring baseball game on TV.

So this was another bonding thing I had with my dad because I, too, love watching cowboy movies or shows. Thanks, dad.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

221 B Baker Street

That's the supposed address for the residence of Sherlock Holmes. One of the PBS channels had a Sherlock Holmes movie on today -- I missed most of it, and picked it up just the very end.

My father loved Sherlock Holmes. He was keen on reading the books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (I seem to recall that he had several of those books, but I don't know what happened to them). I, too, thoroughly enjoyed watching the movies -- The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes -- on TV with my father. The world stopped whenever there was a Sherlock Holmes adventure on the tube.

Daddy would laugh and go tsk tsk and try to solve the mystery before Sherlock did. My father especially loved Watson, played by Nigel Bruce, and usually called him "the poor guy" in his falsetto voice, whenever Watson got in trouble. Sherlock, who could do no wrong, was portrayed by Basil Rathbone.

I know there are newer versions of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, but there are none so good as the oldies we watched on TV in the 50s and 60s (late night movies). If they are in the TV programming I find them irresitable and will stop what I'm doing to watch Mr. Holmes solve the mystery -- assuming I find out about the showing of the film in a timely manner. :)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

It's the second day of summer

And I can feel it already -- the darkness is descending upon us. Did you notice it? Just a few minutes less of light in the evening and morning and we're being encroached upon from both ends of the day with darkness. Argh!

I was relishing the lengthening days and evenings, and then boom! Summer solstice hits, and we start reversing the trend.

Why just two nights ago Alan and I went out for dinner after our community meeting which broke up around 8:15 and we went to a place where we could eat al fresco -- it was, after all still light outdoors. Even when we finished at 9:30, there was enough light to read a newspaper with.

I noticed tonight, though, at 9:30, it was darker, so already the darkness is coming. Soon we will be in the winter of the year and be surrounded with grayness and darkness for months on end.

So, I'm recording these beautiful sunny days and shortening evenings to remind me when the darkness takes over totally, that just a few weeks or months ago we had light. I think God got it right when he said, "Let there be light." It's not recorded that he said, "Let there be dark." Does that tell you something? Remember, as I try to do everyday, Jesus is the LIGHT of the world. So even when we are experience physical darkness, we know in our heart that our God is our Light!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Roll out those...

lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer, those days of soda, and pretzels and beer (root, that is).

Creative Memories suggested "songs that remind one that summer is here." Well, it is. Summer, that is. Officially. And it is quite warm today -- H&H. Just like NJ weather in the summertime. We look forward to those rumblings of thunder in the west, which are predicted for tonight and tomorrow, but often spread out around us to the north and south, and we seem to be spared.

Back to the topic at hand, though.

It was Nat King Cole who sang that song -- Roll out those lazy, etc., etc. and it has such a nice, catchy tune. Sorry, but I don't have MP3 so I can't send the link. At least I think that's the reason the computer won't let me listen to it. But can't you just picture those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer? Why even on the Internet there are websites that tell us how to make lazy, hazy, crazy salads for summer.

Of course, summer is the time for salads, everyone knows that. Tonight I favored Alan with a steak (bought at Kroger) and salad. I took one bite of the meat and spit it out. It tasted absolutely horrid. I'm too used to good beef from my no longer neighborhood butcher, and so I haven't had beef for a long time, but it tasted bad. Alan seemed to enjoy it though. I guess he was just happy it wasn't chicken or hot dogs or spaghetti.

Back to summer songs. How about, In the good old summertime? Strolling down a shady lane with your hand in mine? She's my tootsie wootsie in the good old summertime?

What's a "tootsie wootsie". Is that like a stud muffin? Or honey one-y? Or darling two-sie? I recall, strolling down a shady lane with my tootsie wootsie back in the mid-60s. We were at Hacklebarney State Park in NJ. It's a lovely state park, lots of shady lanes.

And, of course, no collection of songs that remind me of summer would be complete without
Summertime. That was a song which the various choral groups in which I participated in various schools in various years seemed to have included in the spring choral program, which was held very close to the ending of school, which in NJ was mid-June. Summertime and the living is easy, fish are jumping, and the cotton is high.

Now, I couldn't tell you anything about how high cotton grows, but I did reminisce at one time in the past about fishing on Timber Creek in the summertime, and while the fish were jumping they weren't biting!

And because of the heat of summer, living is easy. Lazy. Strolling weather.

I'm sure there are other songs that will come to me. I always things of the hymn, In the Garden, in the summertime. It reminds me of my mom.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

More on Aunt Annie

My niece told me told something that she thought was amazing about Aunt Annie. The fact that Aunt Annie could sing any hymn they asked her to sing from memory.

I wrote her a response about that tid-bit, and my response may sound a bit self paternizing but I do not mean it to be. However, in this day and age is must seem amazing for anyone to know the words to the old hymns of the church or even to know one old hymn besides Amazing Grace.

Here's what my response to her was: I didn’t know that about Aunt Annie, but then I personally wouldn’t have thought that was so special as my mom and dad could do that too.

Now, my kids and people in our weekly Bible study think it’s amazing that I can sing any song in the hymnal and not only that, I know which page they’re on as well! Not bragging or anything. And the page they’re on? Oh, it has to be the correct hymnal – in other words the one we used at church when I was growing up. I was red and said Church Hymns on the front of it. Nothing fancy there. I still have a copy of that hymn book. Alan uses it for his devotions a lot because he doesn’t remember the words to hymns like I do. Sometimes, he’ll ask what the title of something is, if he’s getting the first line wrong or something.

What gets me now, though, is that I hear a tune in my head and can’t think of the first line. Or I’ll think of a hymn, get to the third verse and my mind goes blank. I really, really hate that. It keeps me awake at night. Then I think, I can
Google it, and find out what the words are. Most of the old hymns are on line. I haven't found any that weren't.

Back to the present. Some day just take the time to look up some of the old hymns on line. Remember Sunday I wrote about God of our Fathers? Well, I couldn't remember all the verses so I made sure I got the words correct for the whole hymn. There's a lot of good theology in those hymns if you think about it. And some bad, I'm sure. The point is, the old hymns had tunes and I think that's one thing that made them to memorable to many of us older people.

To my niece: I'll bet your dad can sing the words to all the hymns like Aunt Annie could, he just wanted you to find something unique about her so you would want to go back and visit her again and again. To me Aunt Annie's uniqueness was her patience with all us children and the fact that she never seemed to become agitated when we were tearing (literally) through the photo albums she so wonderfully kept on hand for us to see.

The telephone is ringing

Before I get started on the telephone ringing, I would like to welcome a new BLOG to my list of BLOGs (see list left-hand side of my BLOG). The new BLOG is being written by my niece and I think all of you will enjoy it. The link is

So, about the telephone. Gone are the days when we only had one telephone and I could run fast enough to answer it no matter where in the house I was situated. Now, it takes me two rings just to get out of the chair, then at least another two to walk to the nearest phone.

And what happens after I've expended all that effort? It's either dead air or someone telling me I owe them money. All right, already, I know we owe you money. You'll get it when we get it, so leave us alone.

So, I started thinking, we have these portable phones and I could carry one with me wherever I go. That's what I did -- I started carrying a phone with me -- even into the bathroom -- and it never rang.

Today, I forgot that I had a phone in my pocket and I took off the pair of shorts I was wearing and threw them in the washing machine because I was doing laundry and they were dirty. I forgot the phone! I can't believe I forgot the phone was in the pocket. Well, I remembered as soon as the phone rang which was just about the same time as the washing machine was going from its water entering process to its agitating process.

I opened the washer which stopped the agitation, but the phone was not in the pocket, it was not floating on top of the wash. That would be too easy. It was near the middle of the pile which I discovered after I pulled out several articles of dripping wet clothing.

Then I looked at the phone, and swimming in the caller ID area were little fishes. Not really, just bubbles and lots of water. Needless to say, that phone is caput (that's a family saying meaning it's broken and beyond repair).

At this point I'm walking around with the other portable (there were two in the set I bought, good thinking, huh?), but before I picked up the portable -- I tend to forget it after I put it down -- I got a phone call. I KNEW I wouldn't get to another phone in time to find out who was on the other end.

Well, my message system told me -- some credit company wanting money -- what else?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Oh where, oh where, have all my friends gone? Oh where, oh where can they be?

I had several friends when I was growing up. I recall my earliest friends who lived just up the street. They were Linda Wallace and Jeanette Briton. We played house, mostly. And Linda's father built a wonderful playhouse, in which we really became little mothers. We used boxes for our stove, sink, refrigerator. We used blankets for our beds. It was so much fun.

Then when I went to school I got more friends. I wonder where they are now? Linda Lott was probably my best friend all through my school years, because her dad, too, was a pastor, and we both knew what it was like to have to be perfect all the time. Linda contracted leukemia shortly before she was married, and died not to long after her marriage. She was about 23 or 24 when she died. I prayed for her recovery, I recall. But God saw that it was her time to be with Him. We had that in common as well, our love for our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Of course there were many school and church friends. And I know where some of them have gone or where they are now. Were I to list them or talk about them it would be a very, very long BLOG. Perhaps some time I shall talk about my church friends. I have pictures of those friends, and I know where most of them are today, and what they're doing. Friendships that I have kept up with are few, but I do have some.

I bring up the topic of friends because I have grown-up friends as well. People I met after I married and after I had left Runnemede. I spent today visiting with one such friend. Her name is Anita. She is the sweetest lady you'd ever want to meet. The love the Lord shines through her. She has six children, all of which she either has home educated or is still educating at home. Her oldest just graduated from Marshall University (in W. Va) and will be getting married on August 31. Her second child is studying to be a pharmacist, like her dad, who, by the way, just received his Ph.D. in pharmacy.

Anita was in town because one of her younger children was accepted to Cincinnati Conservatory of Music Summer Session for violin. So, Anita is here with her youngest daughter, Olivia, while the young lady attends violin camp, or whatever they call it. It's an intensive week of study and Olivia is loving it.

All her children have some sort of musical talent. Abigail plays the harp beautifully. Rebekah plays the piano as does Joe and Audry and now David is learning.

So, my friend, Anita spent the day and we just got caught up on our families lives and what we and the family members have been doing since we last saw each other -- which was about two years ago -- not that long when you think about it, but long when a friend is in a location that is not nearby. Phone calls aren't always a solution to a need for friendship.

I have had and do have other friends and I thank God for the people he has put into my life that have nurtured me and put up with me and loved me even with all my faults. That's what a true friend is -- someone who tolerates you even when you're "ugly". Not facially ugly but ugly in your actions.

Alan's Aunt Jean taught me about "ugly." I had never heard that expression about the way someone behaved and she was talking about a time when her sister-in-law had acted "ugly" and it took a while for her to overcome what she perceived as an insult.

So I ramble on about my friends and if I listed them all here -- at least those I count as my friends, and friendship is really a two-way street, isn't it -- I would have quite a list because I barely touched the surface of all the people I've known and which I consider my friend.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Fun vacation spots

This is another topic that was recommended by CM to journal. FUN VACATION SPOTS. What fun vacation spots? When I was a child there were no "vacations."

The family was given a "scholarship" to Sandy Cove Bible Conference one year. I was sent to the girls camp and the rest of the family spent the time at the main conference center. It was NOT a fun vacation spot.

I guess I would have to say that Ocean City, NJ was a fun vacation spot. I spent a week there with my cousin Alberta when I was 16. I recall that when I got home everyone was telling me how tan I was. Duh! I tan just walking to the car on a sunny day. Always have. It's in the Italian genes, I guess. Mom always had that "olive" complexion they say Italians have. My daughter Becky is the same way, as is her daughter Grace. And who puts on sun screen just to walk to the car? Not me. I don't use any of that greasy stuff on my skin. When I got pimples, at the young age of 12 or 13, I made sure nothing greasy was put on my skin for my pores to absorb then redistribute to my face.

Aunt Annie's was a fun vacation spot, too. At least for us children it was. I don't know that it was much fun for Aunt Annie. I mean we weren't the quietest bunch of kids. But we all loved her house and we loved the rooms we were put in to sleep. Each room had a dormer window which we thought was the cutest thing. My sister and I used our doll things to decorate the dormers like we would a house. Those dormers were our "play houses." And, I think we always had a fun "vacation" at Aunt Annie's. Those vacations were short, two or three days, but they were fun.

I can't say they were really vacations, just that each year my father was a speaker at Tri-State Bible Conference in northern NJ, and rather than us stay at home without daddy, Mom would pack us up and off we'd go to Aunt Annie's house. I sort of recall that when I hit my teen years and was able to navigate the public transportation without supervision, enabling me to get to Aunt Anne's alone, I visited and stayed with her more often than the whole family. I really loved her little cape cod house. And to me it seemed like a castle, yet I know it was a tiny home by today's standards. Probably 1200 square feet, plus a basement (unfinished, but very, very, very clean).

So that's a recap of the "fun vacation spots" that I recall from my youth. Not exciting, but fun.

Another breezy place

Short and to the point. Not about Runnemede.

Today is rather cool. I'm loving it.

I opened the windows and discovered a new breeze. My office window was open, as was the porch slider. Well, it produced a wind-tunnel effect. The incoming breeze (into my office) was such that it blew all my papers from my desk, said desk not being right next to the open window. It (the breeze) got my curtains all catty wompus. And -- ta da -- it felt so good!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Best place to catch a breeze

This is another topic that Creative Memories recommended I "journal" during the summer. Well, I think I've written on this topic before.

Our Runnemede house (pictured here) was a wonderful place to "catch a breeze". The front porch was especially breezy -- all the time. Even when there was barely a stir of wind in the air, there was just something about that porch that caught the breeze and if you sat on the eastern side of the porch, that was where the best breeze could be felt.
As I reported a couple of days ago, if the front door was left open, and dad had the fans positioned just right, there was a good stiff wind that came through that door and cooled off the whole living room.
The back porch was not as breezy as the front porch, and I suppose it was because it was only half open, the lower half being completely shut off due to the way the room was constructed. Also, the back porch had permanent windows or screens. In other words, if it was winter the windows were in, but you couldn't open them or shut them. They just fit in their frames and kept the porch warm on a sunny day. So, in the summer there were screens put in where the windows were in the winter, but not every window was replaced with a screen.
I'm not sure whether this was because it was a lot of trouble to replace all those windows with screens and then reverse the process in October, or whether there weren't enough screens to replace all the windows. I think it was the first scenario, because in the recesses of my mind I recall several times the whole back porch and everything one it got soaked during thunder storms. Since we used the back porch as a playroom and there was real furniture out there, I think it was decided that certain windows would be left in, mainly those on the western side of the porch, since that's where storms came from (the west).
Another great place to catch a breeze was in the back yard under the shade of my "climbing tree." That tree has long-since been removed, but it was located about half way between the back door of the house and the back door of the porch, not too far from one of the chicken coops.
Mom had set up some chairs out there, and in the evening that was the best breezy place we had. Lots of lightning bugs, too. Mom had a great part of her garden growing near there so we had to be careful when we were collecting the lightning bugs, but I do remember the breeze.
Fast forward to today. Not in Runnemede, but where Alan and I have our home. The best place to catch a breeze, of course, is my wonderful sun porch. It's also the best place to die of heat stroke on a hot, summer day. So, while the positioning of screens is not a problem, nor is catching a breeze a problem, my thermostat has changed and I can no longer tolerate a HOT breeze as I could when I was growing up.

Double Queen King

NOTE: For those reading this with children, there might be some sensitive material in this you don't want them to see. So please review this article prior to reading with your children.

Who every heard of a queen-sized or king-sized mattress/bed back in the 40s, 50s, or even the 60s. No, there were three sizes -- crib, twin, and double. The double was the size bed and headboard was all that was available to married couples who chose to sleep in the same bed. Believe it or not, many married couples did have two single beds in their bedroom. Go figure.

So, it came time for Alan and I to purchase our first mattress/frame. We weren't married yet, but he had contracted on an apartment at Rutgers in the married student apartment complex, and we were able to move in on August 1, 1966. So on that date, at 10:00 a.m. when the store opened, we went to Bellmawr Furniture (because it was the only furniture store nearby, and because we knew one of the sales persons) and blushingly -- at least on my part -- purchased a double sized mattress, springs, and frame, which we promptly put into a borrowed truck and moved that along with a very few other furnishings and some boxes and a hope chest that was full to overflowing, thanks to the generosity of friends, neighbors, and relations, to our new home in Piscataway, NJ. It was quite a day because we had spent so much money. Alan probably still has the receipt somewhere, but I think it was about $200. Once we got to the apartment, we barely had time to do anything but get the stuff unloaded and then head back to our individual homes.

The early days of our marriage -- furniture wise -- was what one could described as bare-bones. I mean one of our "seats" was in the bathroom! But I'm wandering away from the topic.

The double bed issue -- the queen bed issue -- the king-sized bed issue.

When we were in the army, we had our furniture in storage for a couple of years, and used the furniture provided by the army in our housing. That meant twin beds for everybody. We did have a crib for the babies. Becky's first bed was a drawer.

Then we moved to our first home in Fanwood, NJ, and we had five bedrooms! And it was a huge house and the rooms were big. So Alan and I were back in our familiar double bed, the girls had bunks -- pulled apart because one or the other kept falling out, and we were getting close to being called abusive parents because of the trips to the hospital because they fell out of the top bunk, and Phil was on his own in a really nice bed we pulled from the trash -- it was an old army bed -- metal.

When we moved to Cincinnati Alan thought we needed a bigger bed, so he bought a king-sized bed with a brass headboard. Up to this point we had never even had a headboard, except for my grandmother's bed, which was reserved for guests. So, in comes this huge mattress and two sets of springs and the thing upon which it would all rest. It was set up in our bedroom, and there was barely room to move around in the room.

It was nice having the room to spread out, but it was not nice to have to outfit the bed with sheets, blankets, etc. Can we say, "Expensive?" I think the first set of sheets we got cost as much as the "deal" we got on the mattress and box-springs! That bed served us well -- because it was large enough for our growing children to pile into with us on a Saturday morning -- a favorite past-time of the kids when they were growing up. And it became a custom that on Saturday morning they would wake us up that way. I wonder if they remember doing that.

Then in 1994 we had our whole bedroom/bathroom area renovated -- we pushed out the walls of the rooms and added five feet onto the one wall making the bathroom and bedroom soooo much bigger. And Alan thought it was time to get a new bed again. This time a queen sized one that cranked up and down and vibrated if you pushed the right button. And with all that added room, the new bedroom seemed huge. Well, it was, really.

So we're up to date. We still have that queen-sized bed that adjusts -- and hind site is fore site -- that has been such a blessing with him being in it so much the past 9 years. And, after our 1994 renovations, after which I finally, after almost 30 years of marriage had a bedroom I wanted to actually live in, not just sleep in, I was enjoying the evolution I had made in my thinking about beds for married couples and that, after all, size isn't what's important. Comfort is!

(Bet you thought I was going to say something else, right?)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

God of our Fathers

Today is Father's Day. My father is with his Lord and has been for a long time. Alan isn't my father so I feel no real reason to celebrate the day.

But, I was thinking back to Father's Day when I was growing up. It wasn't a big deal then, either. I mean I gave dad a hankie with his initial on it in a card, or a new tie, or something like that. I mean he had everything he needed and if he wanted it, he got it. And he wasn't a "tool man." So that really meant that we said "Happy Father's Day" to him, and went on with the day.


I do recall that every single Father's Day we had to sing the hymn God of our Fathers. I have reprinted the words here, just to remind everyone what we sang. Frankly, it wasn't that pretty of a tune. I have included the link in the title of this BLOG so you can listen to the catchy tune if you wish. The words, however, must be read and dwelt upon especially in this day and age.

God of our fathers, whose almighty hand
Leads forth in beauty all the starry band
Of shining worlds in splendor through the skies
Our grateful songs before Thy throne arise.

Thy love divine hath led us in the past,
In this free land by Thee our lot is cast,
Be Thou our Ruler, Guardian, Guide and Stay,
Thy Word our law, Thy paths our chosen way.

From war’s alarms, from deadly pestilence,
Be Thy strong arm our ever sure defense;
Thy true religion in our hearts increase,
Thy bounteous goodness nourish us in peace.

Refresh Thy people on their toilsome way,
Lead us from night to never ending day;
Fill all our lives with love and grace divine,
And glory, laud, and praise be ever Thine.

Friday, June 13, 2008

What I remember most about summer

This could be a very long BLOG. If it gets too cumbersome, I'll cut it off and make it into several parts.

Now, you have to remember that my rememberer is not functioning as good as it used to. But I shall attempt to recall several things that I remember about summer, which was always a favorite time of year for me. But then, growing up in Runnemede, each season held a specialness.

Winter's endearment was the snow, which I loved; Christmas and walking the main street looking in the windows of the few shops; New Year's day parade in Philadelphia. Spring brought the anticipation of summer -- so spring wasn't so special. Summer was the best growing up, even with the heat and humidity, and I'll get to that. And, of course, fall -- the colors of the trees are what I remember most about the fall, and the movement toward winter which required at least a sweater to be worn all the time.

Back to what I remember most about summer. I think I'll leave out the "most" and just talk about what I remember about summer.

I was thinking about this earlier today and I thought of the front door being always left open so we could enjoy what little breeze there was. Dad had strategically positioned the fans so that we would get the most circulation -- those were the days before ceiling fans, by the way -- and he would draw in the cool air from the front and push out the hot air through a fan in the bay window.

I recall several trips to the shore with one of my Uncles Joe taking us there and eating "sand"wiches -- literally, the blowing sand made them gritty with sand.

I recall practicing the piano a lot during the summer. My two favorite things to do -- practice and play the piano, arranging hymns with frills and runs and chords and different rhythms, and that the piano was located right by that open front door, so the whole world could hear my efforts. Those efforts weren't presented as a brag, more likely as something hurtful to the ear!

I recall waking early on a Tuesday morning so that I could get to my piano lesson at 8:30 a.m. followed by my violin lesson. It was a long walk and I opted for the early start time because I didn't want to walk in the heat. In fact, my friend from up the street, Linda Wallace suggested that to me when I was about 10 years old. She was 11, and of course would know this better than I. She said she always took her lessons early in the morning so that she didn't have to walk to or from in the heat of the afternoon. I thought, what a great idea. So, I, too, took my lessons early. Then I would head home and start practicing.

I recall summer as being the time I would excell in my piano playing efforts because there was sort of a competition between me, Sue Youngblood, Linda Wallace, and Kathy Kenders to see who could learn the most NEW pieces of music. I think in the end it was a wash, but it was a fun competition. I had the smallest hands, so my pieces had to be Bach or Mozart, some composer that didn't use a lot of chords. The girls with the larger hands learned the heavier, louder pieces. So in the noise category, they won. But in the speed category, I won!

I recall the smell of the an incoming thunder storm -- about which I have written several times.

I recall sitting on the front porch reading my favorite books. Did I have favorite books back then? Yes, I did. I read Little Women at least once every summer until I reached 16. I read Hans Brinker and Black Beauty, almost every summer. And I read my most favorite, The Secret Garden, again until I was 16, then my favorite author became Grace Livingston Hill, who wrote stories of young women struggling through the depression and meeting the most wonderful men in the world, all Christian and serving the Lord, which was their main purpose. Sappy stuff, but I loved them.

I recall walking through mom's garden at least once a day, smelling the roses, enjoying the ones that were just getting ready to open.

I remember going to the Little League field Monday evening through Thursday evening to watch the little league game (mostly I watched the boys, let's be honest here). I always had a nickle or a dime to spend, and my favorite treat was a frozen Three Musketeers bar -- that cost a nickle. Add french fries for another nickle -- and I have to tell you, they were the best french fries ever -- and there went my dime. Where I got these precious nickles and dimes I don't recall, but I know if I didn't have a nickle or a dime I didn't go to the ball field. I probably finagled my dad into giving me a nickle or dime and he was probably glad to get one kid out of the house for a few hours. Just kidding. I NEVER felt like either of my parents wanted me out of the house for relief from the burden of raising four bratty, spoiled, preacher's kids.

I recall going to church and how warm it always was in the sanctuary. We had only those fans that the funeral homes handed out to keep ourselves cool. No air conditioning back then.

I recall getting new shoes before school started -- two sizes too big -- and stuffing cotton in the toes so I could wear them without them flipping or flopping off my feet.

I recall the best part of summer being new school supplies -- that meant a new notebook -- three-ring and the most beautiful I could find, a new box of pencils, and a new pen nib for my fountain pen. We didn't get to use ink until we were in third grade, and I don't recall that we had Bic ballpoints back then. We always used fountain pens. And I got a new bottle of ink, my favorite color was teal.

Ah, those were the times. I really did love summer. And that's what I remember most.

Twenty wishes

I just finished a book -- this has nothing to do with Runnemede, by the way -- and I want to recommend it. It is funny and it is somber -- it will make you laugh and cry.

I read anything Debbie Macomber writes -- her early books are not worth the paper they're written on, but her books written after 2000 are. I think in an effort to get notice she wrote books about men and women and added the really personal stuff to get attention -- the "personal" information -- steamy bedroom scenes, let's admit it -- did nothing to enhance the plot or enjoyment of the books.

Now, however, her books are really good. Yes, there are still the personal encounters, but they are written in a general sense and not specific.

So her newest book, Twenty Wishes, is one I grabbed as soon as it hit Kroger's bookshelf. This is part of her series on the Blossom Street store owners, and how their lives all intertwine. And I can see and almost guarantee what the next book will be based on this one. But I digress.

Twenty Wishes is about a group of recently widowed women who get together on their first Valentine's day without their respective spouses. All are depressed -- a couple more than others. And one of the women suggests that they start a list of wishes -- and they choose the number 20 -- and since they meet on a regular basis for lunch or to attend a function that is near and dear to one of the other ladies -- they discuss these wishes and how they are progress in getting these wishes granted.

These aren't hokus-pokus wishes. They are things they wish they had now or had receive prior to the losing of their spouse. And these were spouses they lost, not "significant others." So, the main character, the owner of the book shop -- a book shop like I would like to have owned at one time in my life -- leads us through these wishes made and granted with her friends, and it is a delightful book. I really did enjoy it.

It is NOT a Christian book -- in other words, it's not Karen Kingsbury, but there is some "religion" in the book. Debbie Macomber's later books show a definite turn around about life and God, another reason I like her books.

I have linked to her website in the title of this BLOG if you want to see what else she has written. I do recommend any of the books that have to do with Blossom Street.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Personal shopper

I recall a BLOG written by a friend of mine, and her desire was for a personal chef. Well, I don't wish a personal chef. I like to cook, and I do it well. There are times when I would like to go to a restaurant, but they are few and far between, because it's just too much trouble to put on a new set of clothes -- clothing that I wouldn't mind being seen in, in public. So here's to you, Stacia.

The other night I received a phone call and the person on the other end asked to speak with the person in the house who did the grocery shopping. I blithely answered, without even thinking about it, that my PERSONAL SHOPPER was not in residence right now, did the person on the phone wish to have me have my PERSONAL SHOPPER return her call.

Yes, I have a personal shopper -- just for the summer. And, I'm loving it. Actually, Megan works for me for four hours a week and one of those hours is spent Krogering. I hurt, and that's a great use of her services for me and for Alan who dislikes grocery stores -- or any store for that matter -- more than I do.

I had to relate to you all about my "personal shopper". I am truly blessed to have Megan doing these jobs for me this summer. She can get down on her knees, stand on a ladder, and we WILL get the attic and the pantry cleaned before summer's end.

Today, I received a magazine -- Creative Memory's Lasting Moments magazine. In the back there was a list of journaling ideas and it stirred my creative juices and gave me a few ideas to write about Runnemede. This isn't one of them. Don't get excited.

Switching gears -- If you want to see my recent journaling efforts you can take a peak at The Fat Lady Singeth -- there's a link on the side of the this page.

So, watch for a few remembrances of Runnemede coming in the next few days.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Star gazing

I recall when I was a teenager (and even into my 20s) laying out on the lawn of the lot next door to the house (which is now a parking lot for the church) and watching the stars and waiting for meteors.

I loved to do that. It didn't matter how cold it was. If there was a meteor shower for that night, I was out there around midnight, laying on a blanket on the cold, damp group waiting for a view of shooting stars.

I think I got my love for star gazing from my father. He had at least three telescopes, and at times he had all three of them out back pointing each one at something different -- i.e., one was pointed at the full moon, another was pointed at Saturn, and another a Jupiter. And he would call me (and anyone else who showed the least bit of interest in his hobby) and ask me to "Look, Judith. Isn't that amazing?" Most of the time I oohed and aahed, but really didn't see what I was supposed to see.

Mostly, I had my head pointed toward the Orion constellation where the meteors would be shooting from.

When I went to college I signed up for Astronomy 101 and 102. And then I signed up for the Astronomy Club -- which meant that once a month went went up on the roof of one of the buildings, looked at either a constellation from which a meteor shower was spewing forth its debris, or we looked through a telescope at Saturn's rings, or Jupiter's moons.

Those were the days!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Spring extravaganza

Each spring -- usually sometime in April before the graduation planning and practices went into full swing -- Triton (Regional High school) had a play, musical, or some such thing. This was separate from the spring concert, but might have involved many of the music students.

I was never part of Triton Troupers -- the name of the group that put on these fun-filled events. But I attended each one until I graduated.

I remember the first one was Our Town, and Nancy Touchet was one of the stars of that play. I can't remember too many of the other plays/musicals the Troup put on, but I remember that one. I believe they did Oklahoma when I was a senior.

You'd think I'd remember the one they did when I was a junior because it was one of Alan's and my few real dates -- one that cost money. One where we got to sit together and hold hands. Alan doesn't even remember going to the play with me. Does that tell you where our minds are going?

I recall, though, that we sat in the center of a row, and it was pretty much down in the front. I always prefer the back because I don't have to throw my neck back to watch. Alan can't see so he doesn't care about his neck and would rather sit on the first row. .

So, sister and brother and anyone else who went to Triton from 1958 through 1961, do you remember any of these plays/musicals that the Triton Troupers entertained us with?

If I had been able to afford the yearbooks I could check it out, but I only have one yearbook, my senior yearbook. Can you imagine not being able to come up with $15 for a yearbook? Well, dear folks, $15 might as well have been $1,000 at that time of my life. So, in my yearbook, there is nothing about that play or any other, except a variety show, which I assume was what we saw the year before since pictures for anything after March would never be in the yearbook which came out in May.

'nuf said.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Spring concerts

It was a tradition when I was growing up that there were spring concerts -- notice the word "concerts" is plural. Yes there were several.

I know somewhere in our boxes there are pictures of me playing or singing in various spring concerts.

In Runnemede, spring concerts were as much a tradition as Christmas concerts. In grade school I was in the school choir. I learned so many "show" tunes -- it seems that's what we sang, mostly.

Why am I bringing this up now? Well, I was watching South Pacific -- or two minutes of it -- a few days ago, and it reminded me of those grade school spring concerts. I remember singing songs like Once in Love with Amy, Big D, Old Man River, and Oh, what a beautiful morning.

The time frame is a little fuzzy, though. Did I sing those songs in grade school or high school? In grade school we practiced in Mrs. Renseller's classroom because it had a piano and because the doors which divided her room from Miss Charmin's room could be opened so that the "choir" of 60 children could all fit in the desks in those two classrooms. Mr. Renseller was a great choir leader. So patient with us and our young voices. There were actually two chorus groups -- the really young children, grades 1 through 4, and then the older children, grades 5 through 8.

I don't recall who attended the grade school spring concert nor where it was held, probably in the gymnasium with folding chairs for the attendees to sit upon.

Practice for the spring concert started right after Christmas. And we didn't just sing "show" tunes. I recall singing This old house (By Stuart Hamblem), Climb Every Mountain (well taht's a "show" tune), Amazing Grace, Battle Hymn of the Republic (before the Mormon Tabernacle Choir made it popular), and various southern spirituals. At Christmas we sang mostly religious songs, but that's a tale for another day.

When I went to high school, I continued singing in the school choir. I was in the full choir, the women's chorus, and the orchestra. All three of these groups had a part in the spring concert for the high school. It was an exciting evening for me. I loved it. I loved it until....

When Alan came into my life, that spring of 1960, I didn't want to go to the spring concert as a participant. I wanted to be in the audience with my sweetheart. Well, that didn't happen. However, I didn't show up the night of the concert. Alan and I did something else, and I just didn't go to the concert. I felt so guilty -- and I should have -- not that I had a great voice or was a great violinist -- but my "part" was missing.

The next day, the instrumental music teacher and voice teacher both asked me where I was. I told them I wasn't able to make it -- WHY? I didn't want to tell them that I was playing miniature golf with Alan, so I said I just couldn't get there. (Like it was a 10 minute walk to the school). Neither of those teachers were pleased, but didn't drop me from any of the school music groups.

My senior year (1960-61) before each concert, the teachers would check with me to make sure I was going to attend -- it sort of became a joke to them to make sure they didn't waste the space I took up on stage if they didn't have to.

One other annual spring concert was the recital given at the Hegeman School of Music where I studied piano, organ, violin, and music theory. I had to prepare for my piano recital, my organ recital, and the orchestra concert after all the students presented their solo numbers.

Spring was a busy time in the area of music in Runnemede, and I loved it.

Friday, June 6, 2008

School's over for the summer

I was thinking about this again, because it was on this day 51 years ago that I graduated from elementary school (grade 8). I have written about my graduation from grade school before. Just click on the graduation link for more stories about graduations that have made me what I am today!

It's June. June is hot. June has always been hot. Sometimes it's been hotter than August. Well, I graduated from grade school at the Runnemede Little League field. None of the schools in Runnemede at that time had an auditorium large enough to house the class and all the guests that would attend, so we had the ceremony at the Little League field.

I don't know how many years this tradition continued. For all I know they may still hold their 8th grade graduations at the ball field. But it was a hot night, and it was dusty. We had to wear white. White is not a color (or lack thereof) that you want to wear when it is dusty. My dress was already "gray" because it was NOT new -- it was used. So adding dust to it, didn't help anything as far as I was concerned.

It was a very depressing event for me. Puberty was in full swing and I was still skinny as a bean pole, wearing a dress that was made for a larger person than I was, held in at the waist with a satin ribbon. My dear mother didn't know what to make of my tears. They were NOT tears of joy or happiness over the dress. Mom tried to make the dress prettier for me, but nothing she could do with her needle and thread helped. It was hopeless. I was hopeless. I think you can see how ugly the dress was. It was see through, too, which didn't help matters. I had to wear a full slip and it was a little girl's slip, not a grown-up girl's slip, you know the kind with the adjustable straps.
Maybe you don't know. Back in the 50s/60s slips were an undergarment women wore no matter what, just like under pants and a bra. It was part of your under apparel. Well, a grown-up slip had straps that you could adjust (like on some bras) to make the slip shorter or longer in length. Little girl slips were just elongated little girl undershirts (sleeveless). I would post a picture of what I'm talking about here, but I might get hate mail for leud and lascivious pictures. So, my verbal picture will have to do.

Anyway, it was on a hot, dusty night in June, 51 years ago, that I left elementary school and was promoted to go on to high school. Well, that -- high school -- was really a shock for me. Some other time I'll talk about that (again).

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Ellie Mae

Just got this picture yesterday. Isn't she the cutest thing? Ellie Mae was almost one when this picture was taken. I think it's one of the best we have of her. Just precious.

Technology and mail

Alan and I were talking about technology and thinking about what it would have been like when we were "courting" via the US and Kenya mail systems if we had been so fortunate to have e-mail and cell phones and e-mail with web cams, etc.

Did that absence from each other and that waiting for those letters make our hearts grow fonder? Might that not have happened had we been able to "see" each other every day, and even talk to each other via the Internet? I don't know.

We do remember, though at the 1964 World's Fair -- which was held in New York City -- that picture phones were an idea Ma Bell (that was before the break-up of the monopoly) proposed to the Fair goers. One would go into a room, and then a buddy would go into another room, and they would be able to see each other on a monitor and use the phone at the same time. It was nothing like holding a cell phone in front of one's face and smiling for the phone camera so that the person on the other end, should that person be fortunate enough to have a phone with the camera or receiver in the set, could see the person talking to them.

No, technology back in the 60s was nothing like it is today. I'm glad in a way that Alan and I went through the angst of waiting for those air-grams. I'm glad I had to walk to the Post Office twice a day, hoping against hope that the blue letter would be waiting for me. In actuality I was lucky if there was one letter for me from Alan once a month. He wasn't a good writer. I wrote to him almost every day, sending him two or three letters a week. Each air-gram cost 12 cents -- that was the cost for overseas air-mail.

Do they even have air mail any more? I suppose all mail is now air mail, but back in the 50s and 60s air mail was something special and you paid extra for it. If you wanted something to get to California from Philadelphia in three days or less, you paid to have it sent air mail. Today, anything mailed from Philly, arrives in California the next day and is then sorted for delivery on the second day.

Today, I can send a letter to my daughter who lives in Indiana on Wednesday and she has it on Thursday. It wasn't like that when I was growing up and becoming a young woman. Even mail to the northern part of New Jersey from South Jersey took at least two, probably three days. You always counted on an extra day, so if I sent a letter to someone in North Jersey, I expected it wouldn't be there for four days. A letter sent from Runnemede to Bellmawr (the next town up the pike) might get there the next day.

You see sorting wasn't like it is now. We didn't have zip codes until the mid-60s. I remember working for a Philadelphia law firm, and we always wanted the mail to get there a.s.a.p. That meant first class to Philadelphia, Special Delivery to towns that weren't within the air-mail limits. And Air Mail to everyone else. No faxes back then either. In fact, xerox copiers were just coming into vogue and the law firm had one, but it couldn't be used for anything except inter-office mail. Courts did NOT accept xerox copies of anything back then. Only carbon copies were accepted by the courts.

Even in the late 60s/early 70s, copiers were more readily available, but Alan still had to hand in carbon copies of his master's thesis. The committee would not accept a xerox copy. I say xerox because that was the first company to really get hold of the copying market. And you didn't say I need a copy of this or that, you said you needed a xerox of this or that.

So, I thought you might like to know about this. It isn't a five-mile walk in snow uphill to get to school story, but it is a story about what it was like before all this technology came along. Life was much, much simpler then, but somethings were made much simpler for you folks today.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


We've had two days of non-stop thunder storms -- big ones, storms with hail, tornadoes. In fact the storms have been so bad that on Tuesday night no programs on the "big 4" TV stations were on because it was more important to get the weather information to the watchers than for the watchers to know who got booted off Hell's Kitchen. NOT@!!!!

Does anyone know who got the boot? I even watched the news on the channel following the weather warnings, and they didn't even tell us who it was.

I'm thinking -- my life is my life controlled by who gets booted off a reality show? I don't think it is, but if I am able to watch the program, which was last night, I really don't need five channels telling me the same thing -- get to your basement if live in Moscow (Ohio, or was it Indiana?) there's a tornado in your area. You will hear the sirens, that means you are having a severe thunderstorm and might have a tornado.

I've lived out here long enough now to know the signs. The sky gets green -- it was green most of the morning this morning, and most of the tonight -- and the wind blows. It hails, then the wind gets worse, and then you have a tornado. The sirens go off somewhere in there, and then you head for the basement. What basement? We don't have a basement. We have a closet under the stairwell, that's our hiding place during a tornado. I had grabbed my computer. And later we were talking with some of our friends, and I was the only one who thought of the computer. They all grabbed jewelry. So, next time, I'll grab the computer and my jewelry box.

You are probably wondering why I didn't grab the photo albums. Do you know how many of them there are and how heavy they are? Anyway, the pictures are all on the computer, so I would only have lost the fancy background artwork that I put in the books. I'd still have the photos. I have three 3-mg travel drives with pictures on them, and I grabbed those, too.

I think losing the pictures would have been worse than losing anything but my husband.

So, we survived this round. Tomorrow -- 92 degrees -- that means I'm going swimming!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A Long Time Ago

....In a Galaxay, far, far away... Gas prices were 25 cents a gallon. That's what we paid for gas back in the early 60s down at Egolf's gas station (it was a Gulf Gas Station) on the corner of Second Avenue and The Pike. In fact, every gas station in south Jersey priced gas the same -- no price wars back then.

I was talking with my granddaughter Rose today telling her that I remember when gas was only 25 cents a gallon, and I remember when it shot up from about 30 cents a gallon to 75 cents a gallon -- Thank you Jimmy Carter -- and we were all in shell shock because it happened overnight.

I wish I could remember why it happened, but I remember how broke we all felt when gas was priced that high. Of course, a good income was $12,000 a year back then, also. If you made that much, you could buy a home, furnish it, and live comfortably, including owning a car, having three children, and paying all the necessary bills that went along with those responsibilities.

That's $1,000 per month. Why now we're paying almost half that much per month just for medicines to keep us alive, and the other half for gasoline. So while our income has crept up, we are NOT making seven times what we were making back when gas was 75 cents a gallon. We are also not paying much more for food than we always have $100 a week since the children became teenagers. Now, though, there are only two of us, so that $100 a week isn't really a bargain, is it?

Well, I think it is. I know food has gone up, and produce goes up and comes down, then it goes up again -- that is depending on winter freezes, summer droughts, etc. Beef and chicken, though, that's another story. Since when did chicken become more expensive that steak? I just noticed that two breasts, bone in, is around $4, and I can get a nice round steak for under $4.

The thing is, I prefer chicken to beef. Pork and veal and lamb are not an option -- while we can get pork, it is awful. Veal and lamb aren't even available out here. So, we're basically stuck with hot dogs, brats, chicken, or beef.

Long way to go from "A Long Time Ago" , isn't it?


I love thunderstorms. I always have. In Runnemede, as I've mentioned before, you could tell when a thunderstorm was coming, even if the sky showed no evidence of an in-coming storm, just by the smell in the air.

Out here in Northern Kentucky, Southern Ohio -- the two places we've lived for the past 35 years -- I have never smelled that smell. Why? I don't know.

I think it had something to do with the wind flows over the Delaware River, which was just west of us, and the storms came from there, and frankly the Delaware didn't smell too great back then. It's been cleaned up a lot since I was a girl. But, the last time I was in Runnemede, I was sitting in church, and I smelled that smell, and sure enough, later that afternoon, there was a thunderstorm.

Now, out here we've lived just north of the Ohio River, and now we live just south of the Ohio River. Storms out here can come from any direction -- north, south, east (yes, we've had them back up and give us a tornado from the wrong direction), and west. So, I should, if it was the river smell that was causing the "storms coming" odor, have smelled it. But I never have.

The last storm that went through was rife with tornadoes -- none touched down where we live, but just south of us, they passed through -- not more than 5 miles as the crow flies. And the lightning was constant, thus the thunder was non-ending. Very few of the storms we have here are like this one. In fact, the TV weather station said that this was a once-a-year type storm. I only remember one other storm like the one just past since we've lived out here in tornado territory.

Now, while the sun is not out, it has brightened up some, but it's still hot and humid, and the storms are to continue through tomorrow. Apparently the weather front has stalled over top of us.

I remember one Memorial Day weekend, when the children were younger, we spend a weekend camping out, and that whole weekend we put up with storm after storm after storm. They just kept coming up the Ohio River and dumped on us the whole time.

Finally, I gave up and told Alan I was heading home, I'd see him when it was either time for the camping experience to end (it was a church affair), or the sun came out which ever came first. Well, I guess Alan had had enough as well, because he and the children and I went home that night, left our camping gear at the campground, and went back the next day, after a dry night at home in our beds. Our gear was soaked, of course, but was drying on bushes where some thoughtful church friends had put the stuff.

And people wonder why I don't like camping!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Interesting thought

I received this text in an e-mail earlier today.


I wonder what would happen if we treated our Bible like we treat our cell phone? What if we carried it around in our purses or pockets? What if we flipped through it several times a day? What if we turned back to go get it if we forgot it? What if we used it to receive messages from the text? What if we treated it like we couldn't live without it? What if we gave it to Kids as gifts? What if we used it when we traveled? What if we used it in case of emergency?

This is something to make you go....hmm...where is my Bible?

Oh, and one more thing. Unlike our cell phone, we don't have to worry about our Bible being disconnected because Jesus already paid the bill.

Makes you stop and think 'where are my priorities?' And no dropped calls!

Well, you know what? My father did this. He always carried at least a New Testament with him, often a full Bible, very small print. He flipped through it several times a day. He never forgot it, though. It was part and parcel of his left-hand breast pocket. He couldn't live without it. He gave away more Bibles than anyone I know. Interesting e-mail, isn't it?

Graduation parties?

We never had them. My niece asked me to write about our parties, but, alas, they were non-existent. Now, my brothers may have benefited from them, but I didn't, and I don't think my sister did.

It was cultural shock when we moved out here and every high-school graduate was given a big party. I mean every, single one. So, we went to all these parties -- church kids who earned their high school diplomas -- and we gave our requisite gifts -- not begrudged.

Then it was my children's turn. Phil was 13 when he graduated from high school. What kind of party to do give to a 13-year-old. We gave him two. One for his friends, one for ours. The one for his friends was a pizza party at a local pizzeria. Then the one at the house was for the church folks, and we had a wonderful cake made especially for him. It (the cake) looked like a stack of books. It was held in our home, and the day was a nice day.

Then we had Becky's party. It was outdoors, and again, it was mostly church people, and a few neighbors, as Becky was well-known in the neighborhood, because she had cleaned most of the neighbors homes or babysat their children.

Cyndi's party was a pre-engagement party, I think. She wasn't engaged, yet, but she and Shandon were surely thinking about marriage. She got married when she was 19. She worked at Family Bookstores, while she was being home-schooled, so her trek through her books was slower than the others. She did very well in her SATs and was scholarshipped to Cincinnati Bible College. She didn't accept. She wanted to get married. That was okay with us. And she has a good marriage and great children.

So, that's the story on graduation parties. When I graduated from grade school there was a party at the school, that was it. It was held in the gym and not very many graduates attended. When I graduated from high-school, there was a party at the school, but I wasn't permitted to go. There was a previous commitment made by my parents -- not a party -- I think it was a church service or something -- and I graduated, got my diploma, and came home. No party for me. I had even sewn a really pretty dress for the event.

The night I graduated from high school is embedded in my mind forever, I think.
It was a hot, humid day, and practicing in the heat was taking its toll -- kids were dropping like flies. After practice, which they cut off at 10 a.m., we went home and waited for the graduation exercise.

Around 5 p.m. a string of thunderstorms rolled through Runnemede and arrangements were made to have the graduation in the auditorium -- which meant only parents could attend -- rather than in the football stadium, to which we could invite 6 people. Well, it cleared up in time for the graduation to be held outdoors. However, two things the powers-that-be forgot or didn't think about -- first, the turf was wet, and we all sunk in to our ankles. There had been a LOT of rain. Second, it got cold, really cold, and we weren't prepared to be outdoors in cold weather, since it had been so hot only two hours prior to the ceremony.

My father was asked to give the invocation (that's a prayer given prior to the ceremony). My friend, Linda Lott's father was asked to say the benediction (that's a prayer after the ceremony). I'm including those definitions because they don't do prayers at graduations any more.
Daddy, of course, had on his three-piece suit, so he wasn't cold at all. I was freezing. I mean those gowns -- under which we ladies were ordered to wear only our underwear including a full slip -- was not enough covering in cold weather. I mean, I thought it was going to snow after those storms went through. It wasn't really that cold, it just felt like it because it was so windy.
The ceremony went according to plan, except for the sloshing sound our feet made in the turf. I got my scholarship, and some other award, and that was it. I went home. Sulked for several days, and forgot all about my lack of party attendance. It was time to get ready for college, and the day after my graduation from high school I receive a letter from my college telling me the books that ALL incoming freshmen were required to read prior to attendance in September. They were boring books, too.

I never did get any thrill out of reading Walden's Pond, The Federalist Papers, or 1984. I also had a volume of American literature which included stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mark Twain, and several other not-so-easy-to-read authors. I was on my way. Graduation was left behind, and I was looking forward to my college experience.

I spent the summer on the porch, reading those books. And thankfully, it was a breezy, not-too-hot summer and I was able to enjoy my reading time.