Friday, January 12, 2018

To Grandmother's House We Go

This week on FB, I posted a photo that I have hanging on a wall in my house of a road that once led to my paternal grandparents farm near Long Lane, Missouri. The road is still there. My grandparents are not and their farmhouse has since burned down.

The photo evoked emotions from some who had lived off of and traveled the road. 

Those people shared their memories. One said that the trees in the photo were no longer there. A couple of people wrote about riding the school bus and playing in the creek that the road runs over and picnics. I talked about my own memories and a cabin that my dad had built overlooking the creek when he grew up there.   

For me, the road begins at a highway just before the small town of Long Lane and eventually passes a church with a cemetery where some of my relatives have graves. There were other ways to get to this road that turned onto the road where they lived, but we normally didn't go those routes.

A sign on the chain link fence around the cemetery.
This sign good to know. 
Memories are what we use when we cannot revisit something or someone. 

Memories are unique for each person, personalized by experience. 

Saturday, January 6, 2018

When rewriting a story should not be done...

When I was a kid there was a game we played. We called it Gossip, but I think the real name might be the Telephone Game. The first person whispered a sentence or two in another person’s ear. That person whispered what they'd heard in the next ear until the last person repeated out loud what they had heard. At that time the first person would read or repeat the actual message that had been gossiped. Usually, what came out at the end was not the original story.

If nothing else, Gossip made us laugh. 
Sometimes family stories are rewritten on purpose (to save face) and sometimes because people cannot remember them correctly.
My Easter outfit that year. I wore this
to the graduation
For years, I had told a story about staying with my grandmother Minnie one night so that I could attend my aunt’s college graduation with her. At the time, we didn’t have many college graduates in the family. I knew it was a great accomplishment and wanted to go. The plan was that I would stay the night with my grandmother and the next day drive down to School of the Ozarks (now called College of the Ozarks).

That evening, (distant) relatives that I did not know, and had never met, out of the blue stopped by my grandmother’s tiny two bedroom house in town. They asked if they could stay the night. I remember four adults: the older couple, their adult son and daughter and a younger kid (although the kid could be gossip). My grandmother cooked them dinner, fixed up the living room couch as a bed and put bedding on the carpeted floor. She didn’t want them to invite themselves along to the graduation the next day and asked me to not mention our plans.

In her bedroom, Grandma told me they "mooched" off other people. She said that the younger male, probably in his early twenties, hadn't ever worked a job. And by the way, she didn't trust him, and thereby, I would be sleeping with her and give the spare bedroom to the older couple of the family. I was fine with that. She told me to bring my purse in the bedroom, too, because things went missing after their visits. To me they were odd acting people. I did what she asked. She put her poodle Trixie in it's bed between us and shut her bedroom door. The next morning Grandma fixed a monster sized breakfast with no help from anyone but me and did the dishes, then encouraged them on their way.

Trixie in 1983 or 84
Here’s where I sort of rewrote the story. I've told this story many times in depth, how I slept in my grandmother’s bed with Trixie the poodle between us in a little pet bed made by Grandma. One day my daughter said, “How could that have been Trixie?"

Originally, Trixie was my aunt’s dog but did not have her when she graduated college. After she finished her masters degree, she worked her way across the U.S. with a friend of hers for the experience. I believe that is when she left Trixie with Grandma and well Trixie never went back to live with my aunt. My aunt graduated college in 1969 or 1970. Trixie was born after that. As I think back, one of grandma’s cats was probably in the pet bed between us, but who knows? I could be rewriting that, too.

Are family stories ever rewritten in your family? If so why? Bad memory? Embarrassing incident?

Saturday, August 19, 2017


In my rural community, you either like (a measure of love) or dislike (meaning hate) a neighbor. It's probably that way everywhere. Usually, there is no middle ground since neighbors are important fixtures, in a rural community. They will help watch your property when you’re absent. They wave from their vehicles when they pass or from their lawn mowers in their yards. They call an ambulance for you and take your kindergartener into their home until you get back from the emergency room. Good neighbors also bury your nineteen-year-old cat that has crawled upon their deck to die. They rally around you when times are tough and cheer you on when good things happen. These are good neighbors.

I’ve talked to my eastern neighbors a lot this summer. There was the issue of my thirty-year-old tree needing to come down, that kept getting in the power lines and shutting off everyone’s electricity. It was an emotional issue for me, the tree. My neighbors never said that I needed to take it down, in fact they mourned the passing of the tree with me. There was the issue of limbs that fell out of that tree and damaging my eastern neighbor’s shed. This is a shed they’d just reroofed and painted a pretty shade of gray to match their house. I wanted to pay for the damage. They said no that it wasn’t that much damage. The male of the house cut up the limbs that fell on their property, before I could get someone to do it. They hauled that away plus a pile of limbs in my yard. There was the exchange of family matters, between the female and myself, on sad stuff like their kid and grandkids moving to another state. She talked about her debilitating autoimmune illness and a new treatment that is working. I talked about my being dumb and exposing myself to heat exhaustion this summer and wearing a heart monitor for thirty days.
I’ve lived near my eastern neighbors forty-one plus years. Forty here. One year at another location. My first house after marriage happened to be next door to them. After we both moved, they invited us to dinner at their new house. I even remember the menu and that I read a book (or ten) to their oldest child. I was pregnant at the time so I felt motherly, I guess. I looked out of their patio doors that day and asked about the house being built behind them. After our baby was born, we moved in.
I've lived next to my western neighbors, my daughter-in-law's parents, for the same forty years. Funny thing is that one out of each of the households graduated high school with me. To the north, there is an older couple that I absolutely adore. They moved in from CA about seventeen years ago (I think). One of their kids (with family) lives northwest to me. They are all wonderful.
I am blessed with good neighbors.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

When socioeconomic groups come together

If there is one thing, okay maybe two, that will bring socioeconomic groups together it might be sports teams and dollar stores.

In the town where I work (and live near), there is a new Dollar Tree! For months, Facebook buzzed with excitement over the new business. At one time, our town had its fair share of industry, for a rural area nearly forty miles from Missouri’s Queen City. 

I didn’t go to the opening of the new Dollar Tree, since I don’t like crowds, and I figured there would be crowds. However, one day after work I stopped by to purchase a greeting card. I bought two.

My big-spender purchase cost me one dollar plus tax. Even on that day, after the grand opening had passed, the parking lot was full. Inside, I was met with a well-organized, clean store and lots of people shopping, with carts. I recognized the patrons as a mix of those who had less money and those who had more than enough money. 

Customers were buying everything from food to school supplies. Most bought much more than I bought, but I’m careful with my dollars in the dollar store or I might be sorry. Dollar stores are a great tempter.

I'm super happy that we have a new business and that our community can come together over a dollar store. I only wish that one could buy a dollar tree from a dollar store. If I did buy that dollar tree, would I spend those dollars at the dollar store? That is the big question.


Friday, May 26, 2017

Sewing Part 3: The Fashion of It

Sewing was a part of my life in the 1970s. The struggle with cutting out my patterns was real. I had to use the floor of our living room as my cutting table, and...well...we had this cat named Frisky or Friskie. She was ornery a spirited kitty cat. The minute I would put my fabric on the floor and she heard the pattern rustling, Frisky would pop up out of nowhere and race to the middle of my efforts, to rearrange the fabric and tear the pattern. 

The fabrics I used most, in sewing my clothing then, were double knits, seersucker and dotted swiss.  I also used a pinwale corduroy (only) twice because it was difficult to keep the nap positioned correctly. Too much trouble! 

I made this short sleeve jacket from seersucker fabric and this pattern:


I made two corduroy suits (unlined jackets). Shown in the black and white polaroid photo is the tan/gold color suit, my favorite (and my mom's, too). I made it from this pattern:
Just me and my twelve string

Other patterns in my stash included this dress with butterfly sleeves (not sure what they were actually called). I made the short version and loved how it looked and felt on body. I made a few dresses from dotted swiss fabrics and this pattern. Most of the swiss fabric I used was flocked. The sleeves excited me!!! Is that so wrong?

I also made a few smock tops to wear with my elephant legged jeans, a trend that girls were wearing my senior year in high school. I don't think I have any photos of me wearing one, but one stands out in my head--a blue gingham print.

I also made two prom dresses, but I'm not sure what pattern I used on the first one. I still have the dress.

My final prom dress was a halter style dress. I loved halter tops then. My prom dress that year was not fancy and made out the middle view with a dotted swiss.

Finally, I didn't make this dress, but my Grandma Minnie Powell offered to make my wedding dress. She had made so many of my childhood dresses and my blue carnival dress seen here. Of course, I said YES!

Wedding dress made with love by my Grandma, Minnie Powell. (This was right before I "marched" down the aisle.) She also made the floor length veil and headpiece, as well as, a garter.  

Here's the other half of the photo. I'm with my mom, Joyce Powell, in a dinky room/closet that was chosen for my dressing room at a church. 

The End!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Sewing Part 2: Good and Proper

Sewing as a teenager, and as an adult, allowed me to get more wearables for my money. This skill was demonstrated to me by my mom, grandmother and aunt. My freshman year of high school, I repurposed a couple of other hand-me-downs into garments that I could wear to school. After that, I sewed clothing from patterns and took a home economics course, and it changed my everyday life.


The wife of our school superintendent, Mrs. Ferrell Mallory taught our home economics classes, similar to the FAC’s class of today, but not really. She taught many life skills for the average girl of that day, which included managing a household and sewing and cooking. There could have been something about child rearing, but I don't remember that part. 
When it came to sewing, Mrs. Mallory was strict. Our sewing had to be good and proper with nothing handed into her for a grade unless it was nearly perfect. Tearing out seams and re-sewing garments again and again was tedious work, but it became the normal and I (eventually) appreciated the outcome. Mrs. Mallory's skills and knowledge base seemed vast to me. During my time in her class, I ate Baked Alaska and caviar for the first and last time. My group tried our hand at a soufflĂ©. We also learned to cook several dishes, including her version of American Asian food. I tried it out on my family, but--um, they didn't like it and said so. Mrs. Mallory taught her students how to identify furniture styles including Duncan Phyfe and Queen Anne. It matters for nothing these days, but I can still identify styles of furniture. She walked our class to her beautiful home, a block away, to see firsthand the styles of furniture she had taught on. I loved it! We also walked downtown to a fabric store. There we viewed and discussed fabric. This aided our class in creating fabric books for class. 
One more note before I move on. Even though she taught us how to dress a table, use our manners and get in and out of a car properly while wearing a dress, Mrs. Mallory never said or implied that we owed our future husbands these skills, or even that we needed husbands. She taught what she believed were important (girl) skills for the day. However, she also encouraged us to be what we wanted to be.
The First

The first garment I sewed for my class was this jumpsuit. I made it from a funky rust color, ribbed double knit in the short version (surprise, surprise). Everything I wore was short: dresses, skirts, halter tops, shorts. This jumpsuit was a perfectly sewn garment. Trust me on that. Eventually, I made another short version, from another double knit, but the color was either purple or blue and white. I wish I had photos of me in one. I didn't like wearing the heavy double knit of the 1970s, but that is what we had to work with and wear. I also made garments from corduroy and cotton.
At that point in time, I would ask my mom for my clothing allowance to purchase fabric and patterns to make my wardrobe for each school year. In the long run, I got more for the bucks. However, I remember the first time the huge Sears (and Roebucks) boxes arrived at our house, a few weeks before school began. I was the only family member who did not have clothing inside, except for underwear. I was sad. My mom was sad for me. Such is life.
Learning how to sew was awesome and changed how "much" clothing I owned and later how I decorated my home. Come back next time and I'll show you patterns (several) of the day, in Sewing Part 3: The Fashion of It

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Sewing Part 1: Resuscitation

Back in the day, I was not alone in sewing the clothing I wore. Many of my friends also sewed. To say  that I've sewn a thousand garments, household items and gifts combined, is probably an understatement. I used to sew a lot.

Then I stopped.

There is a new generation of young women who are sewing! This not only loads my heart with happiness because sewing is a great skill, and I feared a lost art, but also inspired me. These particular ladies have YouTube channels and vlog (video blogging) about their “makes” and experiences.

I've started sewing again.

Machines and Things

With my daughter's help, I concluded that I stopped sewing (my clothing) in the mid 1990s. During that time, I was responsible for raising our kids alone and running the household while working a full time job, due to my (then) husband living about two hours away and finishing his degree. My busyness and the fact that I could find clothing for less money at places like Tempo and TJ Maxx, for my family, I stopped sewing clothing.

Then a baby quilt changed my mind! My niece had a baby and I wanted to )make her a quilt. I doubt if she’ll use it. The quilt is rather blinding bright, but my niece seemed to genuinely appreciate the effort. It was a fun project. After that I decided to remake some thrift store buys because I loved the fabric (inspired by my early days). Then  I seamed up a couple of tops, from patterns. Oh and I decided to make another simple quilt. It's cut out and stitched, but not all together.
A couple of Christmases ago, my daughter gifted me with a serger. I didn't really use it until this year. Recently, I replaced my old 1974 New Home model machine  (seen here) with a Singer. 

New Home machine circa 1974
My old machine (see photo) still sews, but oh so slowly (probably needs a new belt). Plus, it’s all metal and super heavy. The new machine makes buttonholes kind of on its own! My old one does not. I haven't used the new buttonhole feature, yet, but if I read correctly, I pretty much place the fabric under the foot, click the heels of my ruby red flip flops, three times, and bam buttonholes are born! Okay, it's not that easy, but almost, especially compared to how I made them in the past.

I'm about to tell you more history of (my) sewing, so, get a pot of coffee, a cup of tea or a gallon of wine, I don’t care. It's your drink. Or if you're bored, you can opt out.

A Little History

I've always felt "creative". I think growing up rural with limited TV time helped me find things to do to fill my creative mind and free time. By the way, I can't ever remember ever being bored in my lifetime. What a great way to live--responsible for my own entertainment. 

My parents worked hard to provide for their family of five, but there was little extra money, for a clothes hungry girl like me. In about fifth grade, while we were still living in Washington, Illinois (Trading Lives), I started noticing fashion and asked my mom if I could pick out my own clothing. She said yes, forked over the money, and let me wander through a huge store until I found what I wanted. It was a magic day. (I did get lost from my parents, but I don't think I ever told them.)

Back in Missouri, during my junior high years, I felt the pressure of possessing lots of clothing, because the other girls did. I knew that sewing my clothes would be the answer. The tides were changing at school and we were allowed to wear pantsuits to school, for the first time ever. Previously, we girls wore dresses to school, rain or shine, hot or cold temperatures. That year, I reconstructed my first garment, from a sleeveless shift dress, opening it up to resemble a vest. I sewed this on my mom’s Sears brand sewing machine, along with some hand sewing. This idea came to mind when I remembered my Grandma Minnie sending me a dress, while we lived in Illinois, made from a hand-me-down. The dress was gorgeous.

There would be a lot of sewing in my future. Come back for additional posts and see my first sewing pattern and what I made. In high school, I made this dress (see below), a very short mini dress.  

This dress was made from a double knit fabric:

With this pattern: 

Coming next post: Sewing Part 2: Good and Proper

What fashion from your day has been worn in modern day? What shoes were you wearing your senior year in high school? Would you wear them today?