Monday, May 23, 2016

Laura Ingalls Wilder Love

If you know me at all, you might remember how much I love the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. In grade school and while we lived in Illinois, I began reading the Little House books. Our teacher read to our class Little House in the Big Woods, and well, you know how it goes, I was hooked on the books. It was after I’d read my favorite of the books, The Long Winter, that I decided I would write the author a letter.  

Guess what? She had already passed away. I still feel a little bitter about that. 
I'm so pleased that I live near Laura's adult home in Mansfield, Missouri. I visit there at least once a year. So you might imagine my happiness when they announced last year (or it could have been the year before)that a new museum would be built. 

It is built.

It has opened. 

I have visited. 

The old museum was wonderful, but a bit small. The new museum is larger and has a few additional items that were not on display in the old museum. If you get to Missouri, travel to Mansfield, stop by the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum and visit her homes. 

You’ll get to see the farmhouse.

And the rock house that their daughter Rose built for her parents (my favorite). 


A huge Laura Ingalls Wilder Fan since grade school!

Have you ever read the LIW books? Visited any of the Ingalls' home sites or Mansfield, MO? 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Now when I was a kid...

Soon we’ll be looking at another summer in the rearview mirror, waving goodbye either with gladness or tears. When I was a kid, the older adults said, “Now when I was a kid, things were different.” 

I'm now, not so suddenly, that person.
When I was a kid in the sixties, summers were different than what kids experience today. As a child, I played outdoors, my brother and I pretending we had a ranch, using tree branches for our horses. Our cattle were illusions of our minds. Leafy grasses became our currency. Often barefoot, we stayed outside all day, except for meals. When we moved to the city, for three years, we still played outside all day, but we had other kids to play with and bicycles to ride.

In the country, our bathroom was an outhouse, our bathtub--a washtub or a pan of warm water. I didn't know that air-conditioning existed. We slept most hot summer nights, upstairs. After church, summer Sundays were spent at my grandmother's house eating good food, making ice cream, swimming in the creek or river, and playing with cousins. 
My summers as a teenager were different than younger childhood. My brother and I no longer played together. We fought as siblings do. I thought about boys a lot. I read many books. One summer, I discovered the wonderful world of mythology through the traveling library from town.  I also discovered the classics written by authors like Jane Austin, John Steinbeck, and Kurt Vonnegut. I willingly disappeared into fantasy worlds. 

I taught myself to play the guitar. I played John Denver and Eagles songs. 

One summer, I discovered soap operas. They became my family and friends. I cried with the characters, fretted, fell in love and looked forward to seeing the characters each day. And "so were the days of our lives". 

I discovered talking on the telephone with friends, while being careful of what I shared, since we were on a party line and had neighbors who gossiped. Our phone was attached to a wall in the kitchen--a rotary dial. I didn't know about cell phones, but did fantasize about "what if" we had a car phone, and I could talk to my friends on the way to town. By that time, we had added a full bath for five people, to our house.

In the summer, rural teenagers(in my area)dated or hung out in groups of friends and drove continuously around our "square" in town on Saturday nights. We ate hamburgers and drank cokes from Mr. Swiss or the Snack Shack. We watched movies at the town movie theater, but preferred the drive-in movie at the edge of town. Some kids sat on river banks drinking beer or wine, bought by older peers, while some kids smoke their cigarettes and other things.


All summers, for most kids, were spent in church activities, ice cream socials and Vacation Bible School.

I enjoyed my summers, but always longed for school to begin again, since I craved the social life with my friends. 

Kids in my day were imaginative, read books and played hard physically, but that was my childhood. Kids are still imaginative and read. Every new generation forges their own childhood summer memories according to what is available to them and what they choose to do. Their memories will mean no less to them, than mine do to me. They will inevitably say to a younger generation,"Now when I was a kid...." 

Looking back on summer. 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

I blame the turkeys.

I'm the little girl, far right, in the photo.
No fence separating us in this photo!
(Sorry for the grainy picture.)
When I was a young child, my paternal grandparents (see header photo, bottom far right) were raising turkeys, probably I was familiar with chickens because my maternal grandmother (see header, bottom left photo) would take me with her to gather eggs, showed me how make them leave their nests and even tied up a hen or two so that I could have a pet chicken, while I visited. (No hating on me, okay? I was a child.)

Turkeys were a different matter.

One day we were visiting my grandparents and ended up outside the turkey pen, looking in through the wire.

“Stand back from the fence,” Grandpa said, “They could bite.”

The turkeys seemed as curious about us as we were about them. While the adults talked, I watched them. They strutted about, sometimes in circles, puffing out their chests, fluffing out their feathers and all the while screaming turkey words at us, in gobbler sounds.

Bold, but not so beautiful, the turkeys moved closer to the wire fence.
I moved closer to the fence.
Something told me to stick my finger through the wire and wiggle it. Know what happened next? Yes, one rude turkey rushed to bite it.
At first I was in shock, then I burst out crying while holding my finger. My grandpa raced to me, lifted me to his arms, and studied my (non)injury.
“A turkey bit me,” I blubbered.
“The turkey thought your finger was a worm and wanted to eat it," he said, rubbing the pain from my finger. "Now don’t do that again.”
I remember I stopped crying to look at my finger. A worm? Eat it?
I also remember the turkeys and I never became friends.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

One Beautiful Sound

We stood on the porch of the singing church that was filled beyond limit. The rest of the attendees flowed to the porch where we waited  in our Sunday dresses: my cousin, my friend and me. We waited for our names to be called because we were there to sing.  Church singings were the place to be on a Sunday afternoon with your family—back then.
The name we gave to our singing group escapes me, but we had one.  When our name was called, we clawed our way through the standing people on the porch,  the large group inside the foyer and scooted sideways down the aisle between folding chairs shoved at each end of the wooden pews. When we finally stepped up on the platform, at the front of the room, one tween and two teens faced a sea of staring faces. 
What seemed like hours was only seconds as we waited for the pianist to start the song we would sing: At the Cross. To help my nerves, my eyes searched the room for my Grandma Sadie who had a seat inside. Some people smiled at us, some glared and others carried blank expressions. Finally, my eyes touched her sweet face and smiling eyes. 
Afraid we would miss our musical cue, I jumped in singing a little too soon, a little out of key and my voice cracking under nervous pressure. When a new confidence exploded in our egos, our voices sang out, blending into one beautiful sound.
After the song ended, we enjoyed the crash of applause but hurried back down the aisle to escape. On the way out, people patted our shoulders and said things like “You need to sing again sometime.” And, “Girls, you've got talent.”
As I remember it, we never sang together again. Probably for the better. We might have become famous, and well—you know.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Smuggling and Giggles

The word smuggle makes me giggle. I have no idea why except some words do that for me. When Hillary Melton-Butcher from Positive Letters…inspirational stories…. featured the word “Smuggling” as her A-Z alphabet word posted here, I giggled. Then this story popped into my mind.

I have a weakness for most sugary candies. When my kids were young, every Easter I bought candy to fill their Easter baskets. Halloween, I would buy candy to hand out to the goblins. Christmas—well the same, I bought candy to fill the Christmas stockings.

My problem was that this task turned into an expensive venture when I would buy the candy and then smuggle the candy (out of the baskets--sometimes) the “Easter Bunny” had prepared or from the stash of candy I had hidden and eat it.

Then off to the store again I would go to buy candy, all over again. Thankfully, my metabolism was much better then.

One day, my (then) husband said to me after my run to the store to purchase more candy, “I thought you'd already bought candy for the baskets.”

I grinned and nodded, then rolled the half eaten Easter egg with a hardish shell and creamy white middle, to the inside of my cheek. “I ate most of it.”

He rolled his eyes and left the room.

A few years later, I decided that I wouldn’t buy ANY candy for ANY occasion until the day before I needed it. This works much better for my pocketbook, my waistline and my smuggling weakness.

And let's not forget the story of smuggling a box of sugar cubes from my friend’s basement so we could eat the entire box, but when we couldn’t, stored them elsewhere for future consumption. It didn’t really work out. Read The Sugar War, if you haven't, yet.

Smuggling drugs, people and terrorists into any country is not cool, terribly wrong and criminal.

My type of smuggling gives me--yes, giggles.


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Friends and Séances, Love and Regret

Hattie, Jewel, and I are spending the night at Katie’s house because we’re too young to cruise the streets of the small town, where we go to school, in cars we don’t own and with dates we’re too young to go on—officially. Instead, we play records and dance, talk about friends and enemies and 1971 fashion. Jewel changes clothes, under the clothing she’s wearing, like a magic act. I change in the only bathroom in the house, while Hattie and Katie strip down to dress in their PJs, in front of everyone.

As I walk back to Katie’s bedroom, I stop to stare at her brother’s vacant room. He’s out on a date with an older girl that I’m convinced stole him from me. My junior high crush is long gone, but not the memory of belting out, for him to hear, Loretta Lynn's song, You Ain’t Woman Enough to take my Man, with Katie singing back-up—a regrettable performance. Later I conclude that love is time consuming and heart wrenching—made of sweetness, until it sours and easily replaced with new love.

Back in the bedroom, the four of us occupy Katie’s full sized bed, crisscrossed, propped on our sides—talking again. That’s when I bring up the accident of my childhood friend. I tell them she had fallen off a hayride wagon and underneath its wheel. I tell them how I’d heard, that the wheel ran over her head, but how she stayed alive to call out for her mom and dad, when someone found her. Then she died. I say it’s sad that she won’t get to be with her family again, except in heaven, or grow up like we’re doing. No one says anything until Katie says, we should have a séance to see if she wants to talk to us. 
Someone says we need a candle so Katie sneaks one into the room along with matches to light it and places it on the floor. As if we’d done this before, we form a circle around the candle then sit with crossed legs and hold hands. Katie decides the lights should be off and leaves the ring of girls to flip the switch, then in the candle light, she joins hands again.

No one points out the waltzing shadows unleashed on the walls, by a single flame. With wide eyes we stare at each other, eyeballs dancing from friend to friend, chests heaving with anticipation—and fear.  For whatever reason, I take the lead and call out to my friend asking if she is in the room and to say something if she is. One of the other girls says something, but its muffled in my ears because there is a deafening pressure, and they need to pop.  
We’re still holding hands when the flame stretches upward, then flickers in an attempt to stay alive, but doesn't. The hush of darkness lasts only seconds before screams pierce the silence. Hysteria rouses us to race to the door, tromping each other until someone flips the switch and the lights come on.

“What was that?” Katie says, in spastic breaths.
“Who blew out the candle?” Jewel demands.

Each girl shakes her head—no, but we still challenge each other with raised eyebrows.  The  séance over.
*Names have been changed to protect privacy.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Frank Dugan Loved to Sing

"Songs of Inspiration"
My grandfather Frank Dugan loved to sing.

I sang in a band during my high school years, later--solo at church functions. Once I sang for 200 plus people at a church revival, other smaller revivals, a women’s (church) conference and a wedding.  

I love singing, too.

One Sunday after I had sang for my church, a man who grew up with my mom, told me that my voice reminded him of my Grandpa Frank’s singing voice. I knew that my grandpa loved singing, but no one had ever compared my voice to his. 
I have a songbook of his. This well worn songbook has his name written inside, in my grandmother's handwriting. 
Frank Dugan.

The first song in the book: There Shall be Showers of Blessings

I can imagine that he sang with zest and perhaps sang to me once during the six months we lived with him.  Someday I'll hear Grandpa Frank sing again--in heaven. Perhaps we'll sing together.

The last page.
Here's my post on and photos of Frank Dugan's family.

And.that's.a.wrap! My third A-Z Blogging Challenge has been completed. In the process, I've brought out of hiding family treasures to share with you. I hope you enjoyed my posts.