Saturday, February 28, 2015

Our State Street Home in Indianapolis

My mother purchased our State Street home that was located at the corner of State Street and Ohio, 1 block north of Washington Street, the main east-west street of Indianapolis, IN.  We moved to this house after living with my grandmother on N. College.  It was a 2 story, white frame house with 3 bedrooms and bath upstairs.  I had an imaginary friend named Jean who lived in the mirror above the sink in the bathroom.  She had dark hair and was a good listener.  Mother rented the bedrooms out and we lived in the downstairs part.  I know we had 'roomers', but I really don't remember anyone ever being there except for my mother's best friend, Joyce.  She lived in the pink bedroom.  There was one roomer that lived upstairs that let us use his TV in the living room, but I don't remember what he even looked like.  Come to think of it, it may have been Joyce's TV.  Renting rooms to single people was pretty common back then.  So, the dining room was converted to the bedroom for my mother, brother, sister and I.  We had a front porch with a brick half wall around it.  There was a small backyard.  On Sunday, my mother would do the laundry down in the basement with a wringer washer and tubs for rinsing.  I was always afraid that I would get my arm stuck in between the rollers of the washer.   She would hang the washing outside in good weather.  She also had lines strung up in the basement in case of bad weather.  The back yard was also our burial ground for our only 2 pets, a parakeet named Mickey and a gold fish.
There was a small house behind us that a little girl and her parents lived in.  Her name was Marcia.  Even though she lived right behind us, I don't remember playing with her that much.  While most of the houses on our side of State Street were single family dwellings, the houses across the street were mostly doubles of frame construction.  Those houses sat really close together and always looked dingy to me.  I don't think I ever went across the street.  Most of the yards in our neighborhood were just dirt.  I remember Mother trying to get grass to grow, but it never would. We had friends that we played with on our side of the street - Butchie who lived with his grandparents (his grandmother was the lady who had the big iron press),  It always seemed dark inside and had that 'old people' house smell.  Do you know what I am talking about?    
There were 4 young girls living in a double down the street with their parents.  The oldest girl was my age and her name was Donna, too - Donna Sue.  One winter after a big snow, her dad made a Daniel Boone snowman with rifle and coon skin hat.  It was really cool!  It seemed like her parents fought a lot - I think he drank too much.  When he built the Daniel Boone snowman, I thought to myself - why couldn't he be that nice all the time.  The Daniel Boone snowman was really cool and everyone was really happy.  Just across the alley from them, there was a boy a few years older that lived there.  They had a big maple tree in the front yard and in order to climb it, you had to throw a rope around the lower big limb and hoist yourself up the trunk.  Once, I got halfway up, the rope broke and I fell on my back.  It hurt and I crawled home.  Actually, I didn't hurt all that bad, I just liked the drama..............After the houses, there were a few businesses on State Street towards Washington Street.  A cleaners that had a sloped parking area in front that was great for roller skating, Next to it was an auto garage that smelled of oil and grease.  The old men would sit outside the overhead garage door.  They were always nice and would say 'hi' when we walked by, but I was a scared of them.  Then at the corner there was the drugstore.   After my grandmother would go downtown on Saturday for her dressmaking shopping, she would take the bus to our house to visit.  The bus stop was at the corner of State and Washington and my brother and I would walk her to the bus stop when she left.  She would give us each a dime to buy something at the drugstore.  You could buy a lot for a dime.  Sometimes we would buy bubble gum or small tablets to draw in and then there were always the wood paddles with the rubber balls.  My brother and I were big suckers for those wooden paddles and balls.  They usually broke within 10 minutes and then Mother would have herself a new paddle.  We had a big heavy white upright piano in our bedroom and when Grandma would call to talk to Mother, Eddie and I would get the paddle and push it under the piano.  There was quite a stash when we moved out of that house.    
Here is a newer picture of our block (1) our house (2) the cleaners (3) auto garage (no longer there) (4) drugstore (no longer there) (5) Marcia's house and (6) was the alley.  Back then, the garbage cans were left at the alley where the garbage trucks would drive through to pick up the garbage.  Garbage was just thrown in the garbage cans - we didn't have plastic bags.  It always smelled bad.  I'm not sure when this aerial was taken or if that house is the same one that we lived in.  It seemed that there were more houses when we lived there in the 1950s.

My brother and I also liked playing on our front porch - it was big.  There was a big glider to swing on and a milk box by the front door for the milkman to leave milk in.  We could even ride our tricycles on the front porch.

We had the freedom to play and our imaginations knew no boundaries.  The house was our toy box.  Here is another aerial picture of our house.   The apartments across Ohio St were the apartments that we stood next to for our pictures with our sister.
This is one of the pictures with Joyce, my mother's best friend, taken with my brother, sister and I.  Joyce was very pretty.  She was a sweet and fun lady and had a bubbly personality.  
The State Street house holds lots of memories.  This is where we lived when Eddie and I had our picture taken on the pony.  My sister was born here and this is where we lived when Eddie and I started school.  That first year of school for me was rough.  Eddie was still at home and was able to play with all the toys by himself.  It was really bad if we got a new 'toy' and I had to go to school.  I remember one time, someone gave us these big photograph books.  There weren't any photographs in them;  just blank thick paper.  We were going to draw in them.  I just knew Eddie was going to draw on all the paper while I was at school.  There were many mornings that I had to be physically pushed out the door.  Quickly the door would shut and I had no where to go but to school.  It just wasn't fair!  

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Life Lessons for School Pictures

School pictures happen every year.  Back when I was in grade school, you only had your picture taken once a year.  Now they are taken twice a year.  It is really stressful for girls - hair; what dress should I
wear;  remember not to blink;  do I have any milk or cracker crumbs on my face;  don't touch my hair.  I was 5 going on 6......endless worries.  Our class lines up in single file and we walk to the gym.  The boys start playing around and you are trying to keep them from touching your hair.  Then some adult hands you a comb.  Everyone gets one.  No mirror?  You're not sure if you need to comb your hair or not.  The stress is unbearable ................... For my first school picture which was my kindergarten picture, I wore a pretty dress with some lace.  Put on my favorite necklace - it was gold with red stones - beautiful.  I had curled my hair with pin curls the night before, so my hair was curly.  Now I was being lead to the stool - it was my turn.  I sat down on a stool, they said: "look at the camera" and I'm thinking 'don't blink' 
Weeks later we get our school pictures and voila, this is my kindergarten picture for the 53-54 school year.  I thought it was pretty cool...................  

Life Lesson - How to Make Your Eyes Sparkle for Picture Taking

It was the 54-55 school year.  I was going into the second semester of the 1st Grade (remember, I am a mid-termer) and school pictures were about to begin. I was 6, soon to be 7. I had the hair curling down pat - just twirl my hair around my finger, slip off and bobby pin it. Then, my mother asked me if I knew how to make my eyes sparkle for when I got my school picture taken. I told her that I thought carrots made your eyes sparkle. She just laughed and said, Donna Jo, let me show you how to make your eyes sparkle. So the lesson began............
My mother said, just look at an object and blur your vision without shutting your eyes. Sort of like when you are mad and giving someone that 'look' except smile, but just a little. Or, quint without shutting your eyes. So, I practiced and with her guidance, perfected my 'sparkle' eye look. 
Picture day was still stressful. Trying not to let my hair get messed up.  Remember to make my eyes sparkle and for heaven sakes, don't blink.  Got in single file and headed for the gym.  Boys start goofing around - really!  Don't they ever grow up?  Weeks later, I receive my 1st grade school pictures.  Took them home and Mother opened the packet.   My 1st grade picture was my best school picture ever. As you can see, my eyes sparkled.........

Now it is the 55-56 school year and it's that time again - school pictures.........I was much older and wiser, after all, I was going into the 2nd semester of 2nd grade.  I realized that gaudy jewelry might be a bit much so no jewelry for me.  Maybe my hair was a bit too curly last year so I went for the bigger curls.  And, just maybe I would smile a little bigger this time.  So off to school I went, all dressed up for my school picture.  Soon, it was time to head for the gym.  Got in single file (the boys still acted stupid), but I could not wait to get my free comb.  Yes, a free comb.  Kept thinking, please remember - don't let my eyes blink.  Set on the stool and looked at the camera.  Whoops, think I forgot to make my eyes sparkle, but at least I didn't blink.  Several weeks later, got my packet and took it home to my mother.  Here is my 2nd grade picture.

Jake and Mariah Saul / Weisenauer Get Together 1909

Picture/postcard of the Jake (Henry Jacob) & Mariah Saul Weisenauer family, my great, great-grandparents in Plevna, IN. I am pretty sure they are as follows: Seated left to right: Otto Glen Weisenauer (my great-grandpa's brother) holding his and Lulu's first child, Mary, who was born in May 1909. Goldie Weisenauer Singer (my grandmother's sister), Jake (Henry Jacob) Weisenauer, Stella Weisenauer Hodson (my grandmother's sister), Mariah Saul Weisenaur, Cliffie Weisenauer Shockney (my grandmother), Ed (John Edward) Weisenauer (my great grandfather) holding John Howard Weisenauer (born 1907) (my grandmother's brother). Standing in the back row left to right: Lulu Fisher Weisenauer (Otto Glen's wife), Della Weisenauer (my great-grandpa's sister) and Bertha Northcutt Weisenauer, my great-grandmother. Picture would have been taken in 1909. I believe that the May D. Saul that this picture/postcard was addressed to is Mariah Saul Weisenauer's neice (daughter of Mariah's brother, John Kagy Saul). May Della was born in 1891 and died in Nov. 1911 or 1912 (find a grave) in Liberty Twp., IN. Once again, my great-grandmother, Bertha, has her daughters looking beautiful.

Greentown Festivities of June, 1973

Picture taken on Father's Day - 6-17-1973 at my grandmother's home in Greentown, IN. My great-grandfather, Ed (John Edward) Weisenauer with his 5 children (my grandmother and her 4 siblings). These siblings were the backbone of our family - they were very close and I was lucky enough to have known all of them during my childhood and into adulthood.  
The picture above taken at my grandmother's house in Greentown, From left to right: Goldie Weisenauer Singer, Cliffie Weisenauer Shockney (my grandmother), Ed (John Edward) Weisenauer, Stella Weisenauer Hodson, John Weisenauer and Charles Weisenauer. Picture taken 6-17-1973. Great-grandpa was 91 in this picture.                                                                                                                                                                            
The weekend before, there was the 4th annual Greentown Glass Festival. The glass festival was a 3-day event and included carnival rides, food vendors, the antique glass show (lots of Greentown glass dealers), visits to the Glass Museum, pie eating and egg carrying contests, parachute jumps, square dancing and the glass festival parade. The parade went in front of my grandmother's house so we could sit inside the screened porch or in the yard and watch. The little kids always had such a fun time trying to catch candy and seeing the clowns. More than 100 units participated in the 1973 parade and it lasted for a good 90 minutes. The 3 grand marshals of the parade were Bob Gregory, John Lindsey and Don Hein, all newsmen from an Indianapolis television station. My grandmother had a house full 2 weekends in a row. 
My grandmother, Cliffie Weisenauer Shockney, Aunt Goldie, Aunt Stella, Great-Grandpa and Chloe (his 2nd wife) visiting the Greentown Glass Museum in downtown Greentown, IN. during the Greentown Glass festival. 

Rojay Gotee - Thunder n' Lightnin'

My 45 record player like we had back in the 1950s and 1960s.  I bought this for my Christmas and birthday present of 2013.  It has been refurbished and it works beautifully. Now I can play a stack of records.  RCA Victor in dark brown bakelite. Soooooooo cool!!!!!!!!!!!! 
Summer of 1965, I went to stay with my grandmother in Indianapolis, IN.  We had gotten out of school early because of the Palm Sunday tornado destroying our school in Greentown, IN.  So off to Indy, I went. My best friend, Skip, had a car and every evening around 10:00 pm, he would pick me up and just go driving around, blaring the radio and singing. Our 3 favorite songs were "I Got You, Babe" by Sonny & Cher, "Satisfaction" by The Rolling Stones and "Thunder 'n Lightnin" by Rojay Gotee. We'd have all the windows rolled down and sing at the top of our voices.  I still have my record of Thunder 'n Lightnin and just played it on my new "old" record player. It is such a cool song.......with teenage attitude!  WIFE, the popular teenage radio station use to play it towards midnight. Don't think it was played during the day. It was just one of my favorites that summer.  Oh, Rojay will never die.............

Enjoy the song!

Monday, February 23, 2015

All In A Day's Work

"A History of The Kagy Relationship in America, From 1715 to 1900" by Franklin Kaegy that I recently purchased is just fascinating.  This book was written back in the late 1800s, taking Franklin Kaegy 23 years to write.  Not only does the book provide a record of births and marriages of the Kagy family in chronological order, but also includes glimpses of the lives, beliefs and character of our Kagy ancestry.  Some of these stories just need to be shared..........first let me show you how our distant cousin, Rebecca E. Groves Terry, fits in our lineage.
  • Rudolph Kagy m. Frances Barglebaugh  about 1774  (Rudolph is the progenitor of our branch of the Kagy name and came to America from Switzerland in 1764)
  • Christian Kagy m. Mary Bibler  about 1796   (Christian is a brother to Rudolph - our branch)
  • Rebecca Kagy m. James A. Ashbrook  11-10-1836
  • Abigail Ann Ashbrook m. Robert Groves  about 1859
  • Rebecca E. Groves m. William H. Terry  9-23-1875
As told by Franklin Kaegy on page 491:  "Mr. Terry resided near Wildwood, Washington State.  On the 21st of March, 1883, he was engaged in clearing up some land, and in cutting down an alder tree it fell on him and killed him.  His wife found him and sawed the tree off in order to release him; she then carried him to the house, distant some two hundred yards, over a creek and up a hill.  She and her two little children (Mary born Dec 3, 1880 and George born Jan 21, 1883) were the only occupants of the house, the nearest house being two miles distant, and as this occurred about 5 o'clock in the evening she was compelled to remain there alone until morning.  When morning came she locked the door and started for her parent's home, carrying both of her children a distance of two miles.  During her stay in the house over night she prepared her husband's body for burial."
Isn't that wild?  Now, Rebecca was born in 1860 and died in 1953.  She was only 15 when she married William Terry.  Mr. Terry was born in 1846 so he was 14 years older than her.  Rebecca remarried the following year to a Charles B. Runyan and they had 3 children.  This incident would have happened during the time that Franklin Kaegy was writing this book and Rebecca lived long after this book was published.  

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Cowboys, Indians and Pony Rides

My brother and I are only 13 months apart so we were constant playmates when we were little.  We always combined playing house with cowboys and Indians.  I'm not sure that we knew there were girl's toys and boy's toys.  We wore cowboy hats and had cap guns and holsters around our waist.  We used big cardboard boxes to make a fort around our "house" which was a card table with a blanket over it that also served as a tepee when we were the Indians.  We would string cord from the banister to the front door knob for our clothesline.  Dolls were our children.  In the winter time, the floor register was our campfire.  It would get pretty hot when my mother would shovel coal into the furnace.  She wasn't real happy when the clay (our food) melted on the floor register.  Oh, and the time we spilt chocolate milk down the register - she wasn't real happy about that either.

So, when the man came around and asked if we wanted our picture taken on the pony, we got so excited.  Now, we didn't have much money and mother didn't splurge on frivolous things too often, but she ended up saying we could.  And, here we are sitting on our pony.  This was taken in 1953 at our house on State Street.  We were full-fledged cowboys and our pony was the most beautiful and best pony in the world!  Sitting on the pony and playing cowboys and Indians with my brother are some of my most wonderful childhood memories.  
So, when did the guy with the pony stop coming around to take a picture of you sitting on the pony?  He was still coming around in the early 1950s when my brother and I were little.  By the 1960s, I don't think he was coming around anymore.  My sister never got her picture taken on the pony.  So, what happened that ended one of the most wonderful memory makers for any city kid?  
Luckily, for our sister, Ann, we had the best rocking chair ever.  It was perfect. The arms were the horses. We would sit on them and rock like we were riding - even the end of the arms looked like horses' heads, don't they? The seat was used as a stagecoach.  After my sister, Ann, was born, we pretended she was our child and would put her in the 'stagecoach' and take her on our adventures.    We made up stories and played for hours. How this chair has held up for 60 years, I have no idea. It is now in my living room - retired.  I'm just glad that we were children of the early '50s and didn't miss the man with the pony. 

The picture of my brother, Eddie, was taken when we still lived at 839 College with my grandmother just before we moved to the State Street house.  Now, why is my brother all happy and smiling and I'm not? He's got the HAT. He always gets the HAT.  And, he doesn't even know how to hold a gun..............he still gets the HAT!  

The Blender of My Childhood

I unpacked the boxes that contained the blender and mixer we used when I was a child in the 1950s.  The Waring blender was in the dining room closet along with 2 Sunbeam Mixers exactly where my Grandmother had stored them.  I guess my mother and grandmother both had a mixer.  I'm sure the one with a little more wear was my Grandmother's.  I'm keeping the blender - it is just so cool.  Note that the jar does not have a handle.  The jar was made by Pyrex for Waring and is so marked on the bottom.

Look how clean the bottom of the base is.  I don't remember ever using this for anything other than making malts or milkshakes.  The thing was that they never tasted like the ones you got from the soda fountain at the corner drug store.  But, it was still a big treat when we got to make them - usually on Saturday evening as a family.  My brother and I usually had the honors of making them.

You really had to hold the lid down tight when turned on as it did not fit tight like they do today.  It was so much fun to make the malts, but I sure didn't like cleaning the jar with those blades at the bottom.  I am just so happy to have this wonderful childhood memory sitting on my kitchen counter.

Our National Motto - In God We Trust

The following article was taken from the 1980 Farmers' Almanac, compliments of Avon.  It is an article written by Mary Accles in the Liguorian Magazine, a  Catholic magazine.  I am not sure when this article was written, but was probably just after the Supreme Court's ruling banning the word "God" from prayer in public schools.


In God We Trust, originating during the Civil War as an inscription for United States coins, was first contemplated by the Reverend M. R. Watkinson of Ridleyville, Pennsylvania, a deeply concerned churchman who in 1861 wrote to the Secretary of the Treasury, Salmon P. Chase.
The letter read:  "From my heart I have felt our national shame in disowning God as not the least of our present national disasters."  The clergyman then suggested "recognition of the Almighty God in some form on our coins."
Secretary Chase, in complete accord, ordered designs prepared with the inscription "In God We Trust."  It first appeared on some U.S. coins in 1864, then appeared and disappeared until 1955, when Congress ordered it placed on all paper money and coins.
In 1956 "In God We Trust" was designated as the United States national motto and was signed into law during the presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower.
There are those who would exclude God entirely from the American way of life even though dependence on God was first permanently established by our Founding Fathers in the preparation of the Constitution.  Such permanence has been affirmed and reaffirmed in the context of assertions by many of our greatest statesmen, churchmen, authors and poets. 
We have the undeniable and indisputable claim that America is the only country in the world founded with an implicit faith in God.  The last sentence of the Declaration of Independence states:  "And for the support of this Declaration with a firm reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor." 
In view of the Supreme Court's ruling banning the word "God" from prayer recitations in public schools, it's comforting to know "In God We Trust" continues as our national motto.
We shall continue to affirm our unqualified reliance on God and joyously acclaim, "In God We Trust."
-----Mary Accles

Liguorian Magazine

My Sister's First Haircut

My brother e-mailed me a copy of a note I had written to my mother back in 1960.  He called it "Donna's Confession."  It's one of those stories that we laugh about today, but it sure wasn't funny Thursday night, July 14, 1960.  
The summer of 1960 - sort of a lazy summer.  I was twelve.  My sister was five.  She had long, thick dark brown hair.  It was very pretty and had never been cut except for the bangs.  My mother loved brushing her hair and making it curl.  I kept offering to cut it, but mother wouldn't hear of it.  She was not going to cut my sister's hair. 

We lived with my grandmother and my mother worked second shift at a factory.  After dinner, my grandmother would go back into her sewing room and sew.  There wasn't much to do except watch the boys play baseball across the street, not that I didn't like doing that.  I'm not sure why but on this particular Thursday night in July,  I decided I was going to just trim my sister's hair.  Just a little.  We were upstairs in our room.  I got the scissors.  I sat my sister in a chair in front of the mirror on the dresser and brushed her hair out.  It was so long and just needed to be evened out a little.  Told her to hold still and began to cut.

I never had any problem cutting my own hair.  Her hair was so thick and I just couldn't seem to cut it straight.  Kept trying to even it out, but this was not going according to plan.  My sister just sat there - have no idea what was going through her mind.  Pretty soon I had cut her hair up to her shoulders.  Not good.  I stopped.  It was too late, the damage was done.  I couldn't put it back.  Mother was going to kill me.  And, oh, if Grandma sees this I'm in worse trouble than my mother killing me.

I called my best friend, Barbara, and told her what happened.  We talked in a whisper so that my grandmother wouldn't hear.  It was before cell phones when phones were actually tied to a line in the wall.  Our phone was in the foyer right outside my grandmother's sewing room.  After we talked (I was sure I would probably never see Barbara again), I went back upstairs and wrapped my sister's head with a hairnet so it just looked like her hair was up.  Put her in bed.  Once she was in bed, she didn't move.  I wrote a note to my mother and here is what I wrote:
Dear Mommy,  I did a terrible thing to Ann you can possible guess.I got my wish, but I wish I didn't do it.  Ann likes it, but she is afraid she will get in trouble or I will.  I know I will but she didn't do nothing except move.  I cut her hair!  I was only going to even it up, but she moved and then I had to cut more off.  I'm sorry, very sorry but don't tell Grandma what I did.  I thought I better tell you what I did instead of you finding out about it yourself.  You'd be madder if I tried to hide it.  I save her hair.   Donna.   Thursday July 14 - 1960 
After writing the note (did you notice how I tried to weasel out of it being my fault and that my sister liked her haircut?), I also got in bed and as far down in the covers as I could get.  She was going to be so mad.  When my mother got home that night, I was still awake.  She came upstairs and into our room.  She saw the note and picked it up.  She read it.  And oh, was she mad.  She yelled and cried.  I didn't say a word.  I think she was afraid to spank me, she was so mad.  She would say that this was the worst thing I ever did. 

At the time, I knew that I had done something that hurt my mother and I really was very sorry.

Here is a picture of my mother with my sister and brother soon after my horrific crime.  Please note that I am not in the picture - I was probably still locked up in the dungeon.  Yes, I was still in the dungeon, please note how happy my brother is;  just all smiles isn't he.....and my sister?  She doesn't seem too upset with her new haircut.  Yes, Eddie and Annie seem to be doing just fine without me while I was wasting away in the dungeon.      

Friday, February 13, 2015

Lunch At The Five & Dime With My Grandmother

I loved spending time with my Grandmoher when I was little.  When we didn't live with her, I would still visit her on weekends or a week here and there.  I loved watching her sew.  In the early 1950s when she lived at 839 College Ave., Indianapolis, IN (the picture of her to the left was taken there in January, 1953), she would let me sit on the sewing machine extension and watch her.  I loved seeing how fast she could get that needle going and listening to the whining hum of the machine - it always whined higher the faster she would go.  She was a dressmaker by trade and had her own business.  She not only did alterations, but also made new clothes for others.

I loved watching her customers trying on their clothes and her pinning and marking the alterations to be made.  She would let me play with the scraps of material so that I could make clothes for my dolls.  There was a card table next to her sewing machine for handwork and I had a chair across from her so I could 'work', too.  While this chair may look a little beat-up, it holds a lot of wonderful memories.  I now own one of the chairs and my sister, Ann, has the other chair.  She always had a radio on - we would work, listen to music and talk.  And, when I got tired of sitting, I could dance in front of the floor length mirror and pretend I was a ballerina.  Every once in a while I would check to see if she was watching me (it would embarrass me if she did) and she was always working on her sewing project not paying any attention to me so my freedom of dancing could continue.  She never called me a princess, but I definitely was her princess just like my oldest granddaughter is to me.

Every Saturday morning, she would go downtown to get her notions, supplies and material needed for the next week.  If I was staying with her, I would get to go downtown to shop with her.  We got dressed up and would catch the Delaware-Central 19 bus to go downtown.  I loved her holding my hand when we walked up those big steps of the bus and the bus driver smiling at us.  She bought most of her notions at the J.C. Penney's.  This store was located on the Circle in Indianapolis and the Soldiers and Sailors Monument was in the middle.  It was really tall and there were cascading water falls on two sides of it.  It was so beautiful.

The fabric department at J.C. Penney was on the second floor.  It was so much fun touching all of the fabrics and feeling the different textures - the plushness of velvet, the ribbing of the corduroy, the cuddle softness of flannel, the smoothness of satin, the slippery silks and coarseness of organza.  I think my favorite fabric was polished cotton - it was so shiny and smooth.  I know, sounds weird, but I was a child.  And, yes, I still have to touch everything when I go shopping for clothes or material.  Now, if we were going to more than one store, it was hard keeping up with her - she walked fast.  And, there was no such thing as a mall.  We had to walk out in the weather, cross busy streets, it was noisy and there were so many people.  But it was all worth it because we always got to eat lunch at the five and dime.  We had a choice of Woolworth's, Kresge's or the G.C. Murphy dime store.  Sometimes she would let me choose.  Usually, we had to wait a few minutes so we could get two seats together.  Everyone ate at the counter.  I loved watching all the people while we waited and the anticipation of a waitress asking me what I wanted to eat made me feel so special.

After we ate, we would have to walk back to the Circle to the bus stop and catch the bus back home.  Did I tell you that my Grandmother was a fast walker?  My legs were always hurting by this time and I couldn't wait to get on the bus and sit down in those big seats.  But, once we arrived home and she was putting away her threads, zippers and seam binding, I was looking forward to going shopping with my Grandmother again and eating lunch at the five and dime.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Earth Angel

"Earth Angel" by The Penguins was first released in October of 1954 out of Los Angeles, CA.  By February, 1955, "Earth Angel" had hit #1 on all the major R&B charts.  My sister was born on February 12th and this became my mother's song for her.  At the time we lived in the State St. house and I remember sitting in the living room listening to this song on the record player with my brother and mother holding my baby sister and telling her that she was her earth angel.  It was a very happy time.  This is my brother, Eddie, and I with our baby sister, Annie.  She was about 8 mos in this picture.  I am 7 and Eddie is 6.

(click on the link below to listen to the song)
The Penguins - Earth Angel 1954

OK, let me tell you about the night of February 11, 1955.  It was Friday and it had been a pretty cold day, only getting up to around 10 degrees (isn't the internet wonderful).  My mother seemed a little nervous that evening.  We all knew that we were going to have a baby brother or sister soon and just couldn't wait.  Mother would let us feel the baby move inside of her tummy - it was all just so exciting.  Mother kept saying 'just any day, now.'  My mother packed some clothes for us and a bag for herself, then told us we needed to sleep in our clothes so we would be ready.

Sure enough, sometime in the middle of the night, mother woke my brother and I up.  Since we didn't have a car, she called a cab to come get us.  We would be going to our grandmother's and mother would be going to the hospital.  My grandmother lived at the 34th Street house.  We were dropped off at grandma's and my mother was taken to Methodist hospital.

The next day, my grandmother told us we had a baby sister.  I can't remember if my grandmother went to see my mother and my new baby sister that day or the next day.  My brother and I couldn't go because kids weren't allowed.  We couldn't wait until my grandmother got home so she could tell us what our baby sister looked like.  When my grandmother came in the door, she was all smiles and told us how pretty our baby sister was and that we would be able to see her in a few more days.  Then she described my sister.  Grandma said that she had long, straight dark hair and dark eyes.  I was panic-stricken!  Long, straight dark hair?  My baby sister looked like Buster Brown?  This can't be.  I didn't say anything.  My grandmother didn't seem too concerned, but I was mortified.

After a couple of days, my mother's friend, Joyce, went to get my mother from the hospital and take her home and then Joyce came and picked my brother and I up.  On the way home, Joyce told us how beautiful our baby sister was.  I knew better but didn't say anything.  My sister looks like Buster Brown.  We walked into the house and went straight to the bedroom where my mother and new baby sister were.  My mother was holding her.  As I looked down at my new baby sister, my heart just stopped.  She was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen.  She didn't look like Buster Brown.  Just instant love.  I asked if I could hold her and my mother said I had to sit on the bed and put a pillow on my lap.  As she laid my sister on the pillow, I just couldn't take my eyes off of her.  She was just absolutely beautiful.  She was definitely an 'earth angel'.


A Special Mother

My brother, Eddie, was 6 years old and I was 7.  Our sister, Ann Elizabeth, had been born in February, 1955 so she was about 8 months old and my beautiful and loving mother, Joan (Rebecca Joan) Smith Beheler

Special Mother

My mother is no longer with us but will live in my heart forever.  She passed away September 9, 2008 at the age of 87.  She had suffered from dementia with lewy bodies.  Her happiness was her home, being surrounded by her "pretties" and her privacy.  This disease took that away from her.

My mother's greatest gift was her unconditional love for my brother, sister and I.  She raised us kids on her own, working in a factory until she retired.  Growing up as young children in the early '50s, it's amazing what she accomplished through hard work and perseverance.  Although, she had to work outside the home, the rest of her time was devoted to us kids.  She loved us and talked to us about everything.  She would buy records (45s) and play them on our record player.  We'd sing and dance in the living room.  She would read to us from the Bible, especially stories about how Jesus loved little children.

She was also very creative.  She made up her own stories and we loved listening to them when we were little.  We could play with our toys in the living room - I don't think she ever told us not to mess anything up.  We were poor, but we didn't know it because of her unconditional love for us.  Did she ever get mad at us?  Well, the only time she would get mad was if my brother and I would fight.  She did not like fighting at all.  Oh, and maybe the time I cut my sister's hair that had never been cut before ..... we'll just leave that for another story.

My mother enjoyed collecting things and going to auctions and never, ever threw anything away.  She had always saved newspapers even when we were little kids.  She'd like to cut out recipes and fashion advertisements - well, just about anything that caught her attention.  When grocery stores started selling dinnerware in the '50s and '60s, she started buying dinnerware - she liked every pattern!  When she retired, she started going to auctions and really started collecting.  In her eyes, anything old, especially glass, was beautiful and special.  I don't think any auctioneer had to put back a box due to no bidders if she was in the audience.  Most items were still in the boxes that she brought home from the auctions, still carefully wrapped in the same newspapers.  She also loved to read and belonged to about every book club there was.  And, I would almost bet that her Avon rep received sales awards having my mother as her customer.  She saved all of our clothes, our toys and school papers as we were growing up.

It took us about 3 1/2 years to go through all her things.  She had always said we would have fun going through her pretties.  Although none of us were convinced at the time, she was right.  My brother, sister and I found a new closeness that we had not shared in a long time.  Not only did we find our childhood memories, but we also found things including her written personal thoughts that have brought an awareness about how unique and wonderful our mother was.

At times there are tears, but then there is laughter, so, yes Mother, we are having fun going through your treasures.  You see, these "things" are our wonderful memories, too.

We are still going through pictures and letters and trying to put together the puzzle pieces of our family history.  We are in the process of trying to identify as many people in the many pictures that we have inherited.  Along with the old letters, research and memories, we are hoping to put together the living story of our family history for our children and grandchildren.