Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Last Entry

I have come to realize that my stories have not done what I had hoped in the last 6 months. I will continue to write my stories, but I will not be placing them on the internet. The reason is that my stories can be laughable to some, but hurtful to others. Just because I don’t use names does not mean that my family will not be able to “point the finger”. I am sure that there are stories from my family’s point of view that do not put me in a “kind” light.

It is unfair to hurt my family and I will not do it any longer. I will continue to write my stories, but they will not be posted on the internet for the world to see. In doing it this way, I will be able to use names, but the world will not see. My family will have an opportunity if they choose to do so.

Below are the titles or subject matter that I will continue to write about. If any member of the family wants to read a specific story, please contact me via email.

Stories to be written:

First Kiss

Holding hands with Larry

Birthday celebration at Niagara Falls

(throwing Bob’s father over the falls)

Dad and Uno

Dad’s Support at 2am

Dad and King

Best Christmas (Dad came home)

Learning about “no sense of direction”

Getting lost

Asking for Divorce

RIT and Calculus (Meaning of Marriage)

Levitation and mind reading


Tracey and child abuse

“My Hand”

Swing and flying

Riding motorcycle

Mom and the bicycle

Larry and the Mumps

Nicknames: Bobbie, Barbie

Black Light that diffuse

Love of my life is no sex

Stick foot outside bed

Big brother Bob and rumors

Wishful thinking and Raj

Dad’s heart surgery and support

Grandfather’s heart attack

Grandfather saves car from flipping

Miracle Grandmother

First time Larry kissed me

Snow bound and walking the dessert

Snow bound at Larry’s

The Inferno

Red lights are girls – Oneida

Drummer and “Ticket to Ride”

Chorus tour

Poison Sumac will get you

Cindy stood up to Dad

Kit and the baby

Kit and the crawling baby

Parking and the jack rabbit

Allegany State Park – dance and cedar box

Allegany State Park – the moat

Patty’s 5th birthday at the races

Playing baseball at the races

Under the road in a drain pipe

Kitchen counter and broken arm

Tracey’s birth

Michael’s birth

Margie and the puppies

Margie / Strawberry

Getting drunk on water

Mother’s of Invention

Coffee and the iron

Date with Colgate College “No problem at all”

Radio Show

Dad and the 3rd finger

Beer in his face

Mike getting lost in Massachusetts (fife and drum core)

Tracey joining the fife and drum core

Michael and little league

Mike – just keep on walking

Can’t tell a lie

Ambulance and IBM

Fighting City Hall and School Board

Mike’s midnight walk

Tracey’s trip to the ER

Fat Bob become a wolf

Renaissance Fair and the elf

Larry’s work picnic

Visiting relative before going to school (Aunt Thelma, June, Martha)

Learning of the identity of my guardian angel


Moon Rainbow and stones

Black candles

Crash – Bill and me

Sunglasses and LSD

Pet Sounds

Jaw and donuts

Dad and cremation

There may be others as I think about it, it will never know.

Thank you for reading my family stories


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Story of Janet and the Bleach

My sister Janet was the baby of the family for many years. She is a unique individual that was first noted in her first years and continues to this day. She is beyond fear, has a great capacity for love, has a caring nature of all living things, and can take whatever life can dishes out and she has the scars to prove it. She is difficult to understand at times, yet she is very easy to love. She is the shortest in height of all my sisters but the tallest of us all in character. She is the “salt of the earth” but is soft and gentle as a soft summer wind. She is the one that I have given the greatest psychological harm to, (i.e.: previous story), but the one I have and will forever give my greatest respect. To this day I don’t know how she does what she does. This story in one of the best stories I remember of my little sister.

My father gave nicknames to all of us girls with the exception of me. Janet’s nickname was Jinxy Falkenberger. It was later reduced to Jinxy, then Jinx. What is unusual was that she earned her nickname. When she was very young she would try to help everyone; Mom, Dad, and her sisters. The problem was that no matter what she did, it always came out wrong. Her heart was in the right place, and therefore it was impossible to scold, punish or ever yell at her. This story is a case in point.

Mom and Dad have replaced the kitchen floor with linoleum tiles. The tiles were the color of green grass with streaks of white. The setting of this story occurred a few weeks after the new floor was installed. I woke up and came down to the kitchen. The house was very quiet so I thought I was the first one up. Wrong. There was 3 year old Janet in the kitchen dressed only in her underwear. She was standing next to a bucket and trying to use a mop in the manner it is intended for. The sight was comical since the mop towered over her by many feet. The mop was very wet and you could tell that she was in the process of mopping the floor. The problem was that there was a distinctive odor coming from the bucket and the floor.

When asked, she stated that she wanted to mop the floor for mother. Apparently she had trouble getting the bucket to the sink, filling it with water, and then placing the bucket on the floor. She was just too little. So she came up with a better idea. She used the only source of liquid that she could handle and reach. Under the sink and next to the bucket was a container of Clorox bleach. She had completed half of the floor. The beautiful green tile was never as green again.

Lesson: Love your little sister, but watch up for them. They can be your biggest source of frustration.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Story of My First Heartbreak

In several of my previous stories, I had mentioned that many times, my sister and I were on the opposite sides. In fact, the majority of the stories are ones with me at odds with my sister. If you read too closely, the reader might think we hated each other when in fact that is not true. In this story my sister fought for me and tried to protect me. The events are one that I look back on with great love and respect for my sister.

It is the time of high school and junior hops. Every weekend, the school would hold a dance in the gym and there young teenagers would go to socialize, hope to meet new boys, and dance. Usually the scene was the boys would be standing on one side of the gym and the girls on the other side. Shoes would be along a wall because it was much easier to dance in your socks. Some would be dancing boy-girl, but most times the girls would be dancing with each other. The boys seemed afraid to ask the girls to dance.

My sister and I were at the gym for the dance, and it was arranged that Mom would pick both of us up at 10 p.m. when the dance was over. I didn’t feel like being a wall flower. The area behind the belchers was a caged area where the records were being played over the sound system. I happened to know the boy who was playing the records. In the cage the teen DJ would lock himself inside, so the many students would not be able to handle the records. Some records were school property but most were owned by fellow students. This was considered, by the school officials, as the only way to protect school equipment and property. One this night I had asked the teen DJ, who was a friend, if I could help and he agreed. All during the dance we picked out all the songs the students would dance to.

The hop had been going on for awhile, when girls started coming into the cage area requesting Bobby Vinton’s “Blue Velvet”. This was not abnormal, because this gave the girls to dance real close to the boy of their choice. The problem was the song was being requested so often, that if the girl’s had their way, no other song would be played. I got curious. I asked one of the girls why she wanted the song “Blue Velvet” to be played.  I was informed that a boy from another school was at the dance and all the girls wanted to dance with him, slow. They told me he was dreamy and cute and every positive adjective that girls used at that age. I had to see this boy, this young god. I left the cage and took a seek peak. The girls were right. Now all I wanted to do was to dance with this guy. Somehow I managed my turn to dance with him as the “last dance.” I found out his name was Bob and he would be there next week. I went home on a cloud. I couldn’t wait till the next dance.

The next week came. I waited and watch for this young man. He finally arrived, with only 30 minutes left in the dance. I tried to talk with him, but he was surrounded by other girls. I had somehow decided that I was his girl. I had to find a way to get him alone, hopefully to dance, but I had to have him for myself. Time was running out and I was desperate. When I finally manage to get him alone, he told me he didn’t want to dance. He made it very clear that I was not his girl, nor was any girl at this school. He also informed me ‘to get lost’ and not to bother him.  I was crushed, my heart was breaking. The dance was over, my face was wet, my eyes were red, and Bob had made me the school fool. I ran to mother’s waiting car, crying uncontrollably. Mom asked where my sister was, and of course I had no idea, and I really did not care where she was. I had been crushed.

My sister finally arrived and home we went. I ran to my bed and continued to cry. I was sure that I would die, or hoped I would die. Mom came in and started talking to me. Her words were those of understanding, love, and other wonderful ideas parents tell their children when they realize their little girl/boy is growing up. Then she added something wonderful, something I would never forget. The reason that my sister was delayed in reaching the car was that she had seen Bob giving me the brush off and my reaction. She had gotten so angry that she started searching for him.  Apparently she found him among other boys. She went up to him and gave him a lecture on hurting her sister, and during the lecture, adding a few punches or slaps. My sister stood up for me!!

I am sure that my sister’s side of the story is quite different, but this is how I remember it. This was no morale, but one of life’s lesson. Every young individual must go though the sadness of a broken heart. How else will we recognized true love when it comes.

The Story of Cindy’s Dream

Many years ago, one night my sisters and my mother were sitting at the dining room table telling stories and relating memories. Somehow we got on recurrent dreams. Each of us had a recurrent dream that we could still remember from our childhood. Each dream had an impact of that sister’s life and we concluded that these dreams would remain for us for the rest of our lives. Some were good dreams, but most were nightmares. These nightmares would cast fear into our hearts. Mine was about snakes, while Cindy’s nightmare was about screaming. I can’t remember now what she said her dream was about, but what had continued into her adult life was the scream. As she related her story, Mom and I suddenly knew where her nightmare had originated.

One night Mom and I was home alone. Cindy was asleep in the next room. We watch television or talked about the events of the day. The hour was late and I had decided to go to bed. Suddenly we heard a squeaking noise. It sounded like a baby’s squeak toy, but there were no babies in the house and therefore no baby toys. We listened intently, and then we heard it again. We both got up and started to search for the cause of the noise. We realized that the noise was coming from the basement.

We descended the stairs and looked around. There were always cats around, so to see one of the cats in the basement was not unusual. We listened patiently for the squeak again. The sound was coming from the corner of the basement where coal had been stored for the winter months. As we got to the corner, we saw a bunny, no more than a few weeks old. The bunny was making the squeak. Looking closer, we saw that the hind leg was severely injured and bleeding. As we bent down to pick up the bunny, the cat attacked.

The cat, while hunting for mice, had found the bunny. Since the young rabbit was about the size of a large mouse, it had become the cat’s prey. The cat was not about to give up his prey, especially to my mother or me. The cat became ferocious, like a tiger or lion, both in manner and in sound. This unnerved me and I am sure it did mother. Finally we rescued the bunny and tended to its wounds. The wounds were too severe and the bunny died a few hours later.

The sound of the bunny’s terror was the source of Cindy’s dream screams. As soon as Mom and I related the story and therefore the cause of her nightmare, Cindy would no longer have this recurrent dream.
The lesson is that children will have nightmares, and some of those nightmares will remain with them for the rest of their lives. As adults, we must realize that a child’s nightmare probably has its origins in the real world. If the situation is not one that the child can understand, the child will change the facts of the situation in terms that the child can understand. If the situation is too difficult or painful from the child’s point of view, a nightmare could result. As the child grows, the ability to understand the “real” situation surrounding the nightmare will result in destroying that same nightmare and therefore will cease to exist.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Story of the Fight

This is not a funny story but one that has lasted my entire life and has colored my perceptions of my family. As mention before, I grew up with 5 of my 6 sisters. At the time of this story, most of my siblings had started families of their own. It was Christmas time, and the one time each year that all of the sisters would be in one place, my parents home. Earlier in the year my father has suffered a gun shot injury while hunting. After being hospitalize for several months, he had returned home. He was in a full body cast and his bed was located in the living room alcove. Strange when I think about it now, but that is where he was when he died many years later.

My mother has always contended that when ever all the sisters were gathered together, there would be an argument. But if one of the sisters was removed from the equation, no matter which sister, there would be harmony. This also applied to decisions. To this day, there has been only one time that we all agreed to one thing. That one time was when our father died, but that is another story. The main point is that these premises still apply to this day. Thus, on that particular Christmas the ground was fertile for a great argument.

Now I would like to reveal the players. Me, I am the Bossy one and the one who always has to have the last word. The next sister is the one who usually is the Contender. She is often in contention with me. You know the type: I will say “day”, she will say “night”. Only seldom have we both ever agreed to the same thing, idea, or situation. The next sister is the Instigator. She likes to get the ‘juices’ flowing. The next sister is the Fighter. She is the one you never want to knock down because she will get back up fighting harder than before and you will lose. She might have the worse injuries but you will not be unscathed. The youngest sister is the Badger. Once she gets hold of an idea, she will never let go. If you are in a jam, you want her on your side, for better or worse.

From the time of my parent’s first grandchild, they had been blessed with a new grandchild every year for 10 years. Since our young families was rapidly growing and my youngest sister was still young in years and therefore still living at the family homestead, the problem of purchasing gifts for all the children was getting more expensive for each of the sisters. It was suggested that the idea of drawing of names should be started. This meant that all the minor children’s names would be collected and each sister would draw names according to the number of children in each family. The problem was the decision at which point in time would the withdrawal of a child's name from the Christmas drawing occur. Believe it or not, this started one of the worst arguments in our family history.

Being that Dad was confirmed to a bed in the living room, we were all trying very hard not to have any disagreements. Any disagreement or loud voices would upset Dad and this was to be avoided at all costs. That was our mistake; we would be acting out of character and a pressure cooker situation as bound to occur. The stage was set for round 1 of this 3 round event.

Round 1: The Instigator posed a question or comment. What was said has long been forgotten, but not the fallout caused by this comment. Almost immediately I, the Bossy one and the Contender started talking, escalating to louder and louder voices. Round 2: The volume of our voices was so high that neither one of us was listening to the other person's words. The sad part of this situation was that neither one of us realized that we were both saying the same thing, just from different ends of the stick. An example of this idea: Is the cup half full or half empty? Meanwhile the Instigator has stepped back, watching the battle. She will go to the side that is victorious. The Fighter had joined the battle. She picks the stronger side, the Contender, and the Bossy one is going down for the count. The Bossy one is in the corner and she is getting verbally beaten to the pulp. She looked to the Instigator for assistance but found that this was not going to happen. Only in hindsight did the Bossy one realize that the Instigator was just there to watch the scenario unfold. The Badger was too young to join this battle. Her time would come later in the family life. But she, the Bossy one had to have the last word. It didn’t matter what that last word was, but she had to have it. The battle is lost, and the Bossy one must retreat, but she is in the corner. It is well known in the world of hunting, that the hunter must be very careful of the wounded animal especially if the animal has been cornered. That animal will attract even if it is suicide. Thus, the Bossy one attacked. She started to scream and throwing her arms around. She had to escape. The screams and the frantic flinging of the arms did the trick. The Contender and the Fighter backed away, while the Instigator would remain background. The Bossy one started to make her retreat and headed for the door.

Round 3: As the Bossy one was headed for the door, the husbands of the two main characters was now heading to the site of the greatest commotion. Both forces, the injured and the innocent were trying to get though the same door at the same time. This was leading to an impossible situation. In the speed of the Bossy one’s retreat, her footing was lost. Down the three steps to the landing below she fell, but she was not alone. Her young niece was coming up the stairs as the Bossy one started rushing down the stairs. The young niece was falling with her aunt. In a split millisecond, the aunt surrounded her niece with her body and took the full force of each step, protecting the young girl. The child was scared but had suffered no injury. The aunt or the Bossy one would suffer the events of that night for the rest of her life. Not because of any injuries, but on the realization that even though they were siblings with the same mother and father, they were all different. Sometime they would agree, but there would be a higher probability that they would not.

The lesson is two fold. The first is that it is not important who has the last word, but if the words are being understood. If the message is not being understood, it is better to walk away and face it at a later time. The second is this: never rush away from an argument in desperation. It is better to walk away a loser of the battle and return later in hopes to winning the war.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Story of the Shack

This is not a story of my childhood but an experience while in my late 20’s. My husband and I lived on a little dead end street just 1 mile from the town’s main street. Even through we were just 1 mile away, this was a country setting. There were only 3 houses on the street with room for many more houses to be built. The street ended at the bottom of a large hill. Since there were only 3 houses on the street, it was a very safe place for my daughter and son to ride their bicycles and just play. The only cars that came down the road were usually those of the 3 families or their guests. Since this dead-end road was almost a mile in length, it became a great place for the local teenagers to park, watch the submarine races or “make out”. During the weekends of the summer months, many cars would drive down, stay an hour or two then leave. Usually by 10:30 or 11 pm all the cars would be gone. We could actually count the cars going down and coming back from the sound of the motors and the headlights.

One summer the action was very different. Around 10 p.m. or just after dark, numerous cars could be heard driving past the house but there were no headlights. These cars would not leave until the early morning hours. This activity continued daily for many weeks. I started to get curious because of several reasons: 1) the activity was daily not on the weekends and 2) the headlights were never on. It was like clockwork. The cars, at least two, would start down as soon as it was dark. After about 60 – 90 minutes, they would leave together and return about 45 minutes later. This cycle continued through out the evening until 2am or 3am. Then on one summer night, there could be heard noises of a party. This was a place for kids to “neck” but party. I just couldn’t take it any more, I had to find out about this area and why the kids were so secretive.

I got my jacket and turned it inside out so I could not be seen and grabbed a flashlight. My husband was concerned for my welfare, but since the cars had just left, I knew I had at least 45 minutes to explore, and I was taking the dog for protection. My husband could not go since someone had to stay with the children. So down the road I started.

I got to the natural line of trees. This was where the developer had stopped regarding the land for development. Just as I got to the trees, a car turned onto the road. Since our house was the last on the street, and we were not expecting company, I knew I was in trouble. Sure enough it was one the cars were came nightly, but the driver saw my husband sitting on the front porch. That meant that someone would have seen him coming down the road and he couldn’t have that. He would have to leave, which meant he had to turn around but he had already passed the last driveway. What could he do? What did I do?

When I saw the car turn onto the road, I knew I was in trouble. The whole idea was to explore the activities at the end of the road, and I couldn’t be seen. I did what any normal sneak would do, I hid. I did not have time to get to the trees, but there was a ditch. I drove into the ditch. James Bond or any spy would have been proud of the skill I had in this desperate moment. While I was laying flat in the ditch, would you believe the car turn around right next to me? I had to be careful not to get run over. Of course my husband saw where I drove and of course, thought the car had run over me. He was frantic. The car left and I got up and waved to my husband, letting him know I was okay. Then I continued down to the hill.

I got to the bottom of the hill and I saw a worn path along the foot of the hill. I followed the path and after only 25 yards, I made a discovery. There was a little shack, completed with a well title roof, a new door and windows. I looked into the windows and I saw an over-stuff chair, a make shift bed and a pot-belly stove. All the building materials looked new and some of the materials were lying outside with construction site information still on them. The flooring was study and was raised above the ground. I looked under the house and found several cases of beer. This was more than a place for the teenagers to make out; this was a place to do some serious parting.

I had many concerns about what I had found and I did not like what it was adding up do. I went home and of course my husband was upset that I had not returned after the car had left the area. I told him that I knew I had some time, at least 45 minutes, until the car returned again. I told him what I had found. He then walked down to the hill and confirmed everything that I had reported. We watch the activity to the shack for several days until my husband even got concerned. We called the local police and reported what we had found. The police investigated our claims, return with a case of beer. He said that the police was wondering where these parties were being held. It seemed that at one of these parties, a young girl had gotten so drunk that she passed out and then aspirated. She had almost died and her parents wanted to find who was responsible. Also, local building contractors were reporting robberies from their building sites. All the items that had been stolen were part of the shack or lying on the ground next to the shack. The officer confiscated the beer and gave it to my husband. He said he couldn’t take it with him and he could not leave it at the shack.

The police got a hold of the owner of the land, who lived in Florida, and informed him of the activity that was occurring on his land. He did not approve of the activity and wanted the shack destroyed. The policy contacted the fire department and set up a controlled burn to destroy this “party house”. The cars who traveled down our road in secret never return. There were no arrests since it could not be proved who actually stole the building material to build the shack.

The lesson is: 1) it is amazing what you can do when it is required of you, 2) it is good to be curious, 3) be aware of the activity in your neighborhood. Then a normal routine is changed, it is a good idea to find the reason.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Story of My Relationship to Buffalo Bill Cody

This is a story of the Cody family in North America and a story of my family on my maternal side. In the late 1600’s, Philip and Beverly Cody immigrated to the America via Ireland. For many years it was thought that they were Irish. About 20 years ago (estimated), it was learned that Philip and Beverly were married in France. Due to the persecutions of that time, they left France and eventually traveled to America. The history has been recorded first by my great-great-great grandmother, Lydia Cody Newcomb, and then updated by the International Cody Family Association, Inc. in 1986.

According to this biological work and family history, Philip and Beverly had 6 children, of which only 3 had issue, (children). They were John, Joseph and Isaac Cody. William F. (Buffalo Bill) Cody was the 6th generation son of Isaac Cody. Lydia Cody was the 6th generation daughter of Joseph Cody. Due to the fame of her cousin, she is the one who started recording the family information that is used in part for all the biographers of Buffalo Bill to this day. Lydia Cody married Simon Newcomb Jr. in 1826. Their daughter, Stella Newcomb married Daniel Wheeler and had 3 children. Their youngest child was my grandmother, Mary Ione. Therefore I am the 10th generation of Joseph Cody, and therefore a cousin 5 times removed Buffalo Bill.

As children, we learned of our family history from my grandmother as well as the family stories. It wasn’t long before I felt important and proud. Of course, this was not conveyed to my mother or grandmother since they would be considered more important to us. They had a higher family number than us children. The Cody Association had started a numbering system to keep the generations organized and traceable. The earlier generations had numbers such as:  Joseph Cody (16), Lydia Cody Newcomb (117). It was in her generation that there was a split in the numbering system. All future generations after her would start the re-numbering system. My grandmother was 117/113. This meant that the first 1 pointed to her grandfather who was Lydia’s first child, James Harvey Newcomb. The second 1 point to James Harvey Newcomb first child, Stella Newcomb, (my great-grandmother). The third number 3 pointed to my grandmother, Mary Ione, since she was the 3rd child of Stella. My mother’s gynecological number is 117/1135 and my number is 117/11351. Therefore in my mind, the lower the number the more important the person.

I began to “put on airs” and pride started to grow inside me. I looked down on my school mates which was great since they thought I was not worthy to be their friend. I had few friends in school and now I could make my self important, so important that I did not need them. After a while, Mom started to notice a change in my behavior, and not one for the better. She started to tell me the less famous characteristic of my famous cousin. These stories were not flattering and made Buffalo Bill into a living, breathing human being. This person was not perfect and did make mistakes. He had faults and many bad habits.

This was the lesson or moral that I learned and my passing on to the reader. Even though you have a member of your family that is famous, you do not have the right to share that notoriety. That you have to make your own mark on the world and share in both the ups and downs. That is the lesson of this story.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Story of the Stockings

Again this is a different kind of story and one that will be forever etched in my memory, but not for the good feeling but my first real experience of the dark side of life. It took place during the first Christmas after my 13th birthday. I was finally a teenager and was thinking that I was grown up. Adults have a hard time understanding the budding teenager. They are no longer children but not quite adults. The young teenager still thinks in childish ways, but wants to be treated as a grownup. No wonder there is much confusion in this time period. Parents have hard time dealing as well as their children.

Well that Christmas I got my first pair of silk stockings, complete with the shoes of a young girl, and the garter belt. My mother had told me that stockings were expensive and I should be careful not to get any runs in them. They were to last for several times of wear. I wanted to show Mom that I was an adult and intended to get the maximum use out of these stocking and to take very good care of them. This was before panty hose and the stocking were made of silk and had a seam in the back. That seam looked like a black line going up the back of the leg and it was very difficult to make the seams straight. I still think that seamed silk stockings are sexy but you can’t find them any more. Too bad that times have changed and this item if clothing is lost.

We were going to the family Christmas party. This was my father’s side of the family. Mom had to work so it was my dad and my 3 sisters. Not all of my sisters had arrived on the scene yet. My father’s side of the family was not the loving type, and I really did not look forward to being with them. But I would be wearing my grown up attire for the first time and I was very proud that I was now grown up. That pride would be completely shaken before the night was over.

My father had 3 brothers living in the area. Two of the brothers had 5 boys between them and the third brother had 3 girls. Now the two older girls were hateful and hurtful. The elder girl was 2 months younger than I was and hated me with a passion. She would find great joy in making me the object of ridicule and practical jokes. She enjoyed getting my sister to join in with her plots. Therefore it was always me against the 3 other girls. To this day I can’t think of Elvis Presley with thinking was the ridicule they gave me when they found out I liked his music. They found great pleasure in searching for my diary and breaking the lock to see my secrets and telling everyone about them. My sister enjoyed all the pranks against me and helped them in any way possible.

Well this Christmas they were going to keep me in the place, under their feet. Since I was being treated as a young adult by my father, I was given responsibilities as a young adult in keeping the children in line before the presents were opened, assisting with the dinner, and assisting with the clean up. In a rare moment, my cousins and sister invited me upstairs for some girl talk. They had been very pleasant and friendly, so I had a positive attitude that maybe this would be a lot of fun and they too had changed. But it was a trap.

We entered a bedroom and started our girl talk. They asked me about the stockings and how I liked wearing them. Suddenly, the elder boy cousin, who was a few month older than me, came into the room. I told him that he was not invited because it was girl talk. He quickly informed me that he was invited. He rushed to my side and made me lay down on the bed. Then the youngest of the girl cousins came and helped to keep me down. As I tried to get up, the elder female cousin and my sister started for my legs. They raised my skirt and started to go for the garter belt. They tried to figure out how the undo the stockings from the belt, but I gave them a difficult time. I was kicking and fighting to escape but the hold of too great. When they couldn’t get the stocking loose from the belt, they started clawing at the stockings. I started to scream but my male cousin covered my mouth. Everyone was clawing at me, hitting me, and slapping me. I couldn’t get away. Finally my dad hears the commotion and called upstairs, asking what were we doing. By this time, the younger cousins were witnessing the attack and cheering their older brothers and sisters on as if it was a school basketball or football game.

The cousins got off of me and warned me not to say anything. I was a mess. The clothes were wrinkled and out of place, my hair was all over the place, and my stockings had been torn to shreds. All I good think about was that I had let my mother down. These beautiful stocking were to last me for many days and I had only worn them for a few hours. I started down the stairs, crying and ashamed. My father met me on the steps. He hugged me and told me it would be aright. I told him about the attacked and how my stockings were ruined and how Mom would be ashamed of me. He consoled me and told me that Mom would not be angry. He made me feel safe and unashamed again. I think we left the Christmas party shortly after that because I really don’t remember what happened after the talk I had with my father.

Today the lack of memory would be considered shock after a violent episode, so it is no wonder I don’t remember the events after the brutal attack. Within a few days, my mother gave me a new pair. I wear them responsibly and with great care. I was proud of my new status as a young lady, but never showed that pride. Years later, my mother told me that she was so upset with my sister for her part in the attack and that the replacement stocking were taken out of her allowance. My mother vowed that she would not allow any situation of sister against sister happen again. Years later, a similar situation came up with my daughter and the daughters of my sister. Both my sister and Mom were fast in breaking this vicious cycle, and it never did happen again.

Morale: Allow your children to grow up but keep in mind their emotional age. If a child shows timid ness and shyness with certain relatives, there is a reason. It is a duty of a parent to find the reason and resolve the situation to the best interest of all the children. But most importantly, be supportive to your child.

The Story of the Love for Shakespeare

This is a story of the influence that a grandparent can have on a child. It is a story of love; love for a children, love for literature, love for a country. My grandmother was born in England in the late 1800’s. She met and fell in love with a farmer, my grandfather. They married and had 6 fine sons who grew up on a farm outside of Geneva, New York. She became a naturalize citizen before she married, but she never lost the love of the country of her birth.

After my grandfather died, she lived a part of the year with each son. The summers were the time that Grandmother lived with us. I loved my grandmother and she quickly realized the amount of responsibility I had. To counteract this responsibility; she would spend hours talking to me. She did not talk of her life, but she talked about England and their history. It was from her that I learned about the kings and queens of England past. She told me of the historical events of England history, about Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. She would mentioned that Elizabeth I and myself share a common birthday. Actually they were days apart but close enough to inspire a young girl. Along with tales of Elizabethan England, she taught me about Shakespeare. Many Sunday afternoons, when Dad and my sisters went to the races, I stayed with Grandma. At these times there would be a movie for one of Shakespeare’ plays. I fell in love with “Hamlet” with Sir Lawrence Oliver, “Macbeth”, “As You Like It”, “Midsummer’s Night Dream”, “The Merchant of Venice”, and many others. We would discuss the history behind the play and reasons for why Shakespeare wrote the way he did. By the time I entered high school, I already knew a great deal about the subject and I couldn’t wait till the subject of Shakespeare would be part of the English curriculum.

I had just entered high school. Christmas was approaching and my parents asked myself and my sisters what we wanted for Christmas. My bike was getting too small for me, so they expected me to say a new bicycle, but I surprised them. I had seen the “Complete Works of Shakespeare” in the stationary shop downtown. I was memorized by the book, but it was very expensive. So that is what I asked for. My dad had left school before the 8th grade. My mom had graduated from high school, but she never liked or understood Shakespeare. My parents couldn’t understand why I wanted this book more than anything else. But that was all I wanted. I got the book and believed or not, I still have it. It is one of my most treasured possessions. In fact is the 2nd best Christmas of my life. The 1st best is another story.

By the time I graduated from High School in 1965, I had read most of the plays and all of the sonnets. I had read and saw "Hamlet" so many times, that I had become a sort of expert on the play. In fact when I returned to college in the 80’s, this knowledge served me well. As a student in the Honor Society, the professors would use the Honor Student to proctor their classes. We would assist the professors, assist in testing, and even instruct at study classes before exams. My English professor had a doctor’s appointment and would be unable to conduct a study class before the final. The final would include questions on 3 works of literature. Of the three works, I knew two of them, one of which was “Hamlet”. She informed me that another professor would come in later in the class to instruct on the one piece of literature I didn’t know, but I would be the instructor of the other two. We had finished going over the first and started on “Hamlet”.

A frequently asked question was to identify the three times that Hamlet could have killed his uncle and step-father and why he did not commit the act. The most famous time was when the uncle was in the chapel praying. That is the time when Hamlet recites one of Shakespeare's most famous speeches “To Be or Not To Be”. But what is not so common knowledge was the reason why Hamlet did not kill his uncle at the time and why the “To Be or Not To Be” speech was created in the first place. The reason for not killing the uncle dates back to the time of England’s Henry II and the reason that Chaucer wrote the “Canterbury Tales”. (If the reader is learning the real reason behind this action and speech, drop me a line and I will gladly inform you.) During this explanation, the substitute professor arrived. When I finished, I started to leave and let him take over. He stopped me and told me that he never knew the reason and he was impressed on my knowledge on the subject. I later learned that this question was on the test and all the students answered it correctly. My professor told me that this was a question that she expected the students to miss and it was set up as an extra credit question. She was also impressed with my knowledge and congratulated me on making the subject interesting for her students. She had asked her student where they learnt this information and they told her it was me. They also told her that they now felt that they go could enjoy Shakespeare, not only for the literature but for the history behind it.

Morale: Allow your children to converse freely with their grandparent. Let them listen to their stories. There are lesson that only the grandparent can give that could be carried with them the rest of their lives.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Story of the Fire behind the Stove

This is a difficult story to write because it is a funny story but with a very different type of ending, one that is not funny. This is a story with effects that stretch over the years like faint whispers on the wind.

It was the summer of ’67. I had just graduated from college with a degree in Registered Nursing. I was employed at my home town hospital with an appointment date to take the State’s Finals for licensing. I enjoyed working at the hospital, and in a way it was like school because I was learning the practical side of my profession as well as helping people. It was also a time of decision as well. My future husband was still in the Army and stationed in Oklahoma. We had not decided if marriage was what we truly wanted, so the final decision would be made when he was mustarded out of the army in a few months. It was a time when the fashion of skirt and dress lengths had gotten very short. The popular dress apparel for young women was mini skirts and mini dresses. The hem or bottom of the skirt was approximately 10 inches below the waist. This meant that when you sat down, you would be sitting on the bare chair and not the material of the skirt or dress. It also meant that your arm extended down would be below the skirt line. I had brought a mini dress but I was afraid to wear it. It was really too short to make me feel comfortable and for heavens sake’s, don’t ever bend over!!

On this particular Sunday, I came home from working at the hospital and Mom was still working at the restaurant. My sisters were off somewhere with my father, so I had the house to myself. As a mentioned in my earlier stories, having the house to me was an event of greatest remembrance. Since I was hungry, I selected a TV dinner from the freezer and placed it in the oven. (This is before microwave ovens.) The dinner would take about 25 minutes to heat, so I changed out of my uniform into the mini dress. I decided to wear it in order to determine if I could get comfortable in this outfit, and besides no one was home to see me. It was a great solution? Right – wrong!!

The timer went off; I removed the dinner from the oven and began to eat. Just was I finished the meal, I noticed a strange odor. Something was burning. I walked towards the kitchen and immediately saw smoke coming from the back of the stove. I tried to move the stove from the wall in order to see what was burning and hopefully put out the fire. I couldn’t move the stove, so I got a pan of water and poured it between the wall and stove. I repeat this for a few times. The smoke was still coming out from behind the stove. I called the fire department, grabbed the parakeet that was around the corner and exited the house to wait for the fire department. I stood on the front porch and watched for the trucks.

Soon the fire department truck could be seen coming down the road, but they didn’t slow down. They actually passed the house. As I started jumping and yelling for the trucks to return, they did turned around and came back. The firemen entered the house, pulled the stove from the wall and examined the damage. In reality, I really did put the fire out, but the fireman were quick to note that if it had been a electrical fire, throwing water on the flames would have been the worst thing to do. The first action should have been was to identify what is causing the fire. Therefore I was very lucky. So what did cause the fire?

The fire was caused by the years in the habit of throwing the pot holders to the area next to the stove. Mom kept the pot holders close to the stove for easy accessibility. When we were finished with the pot holder, instead of walking the few steps to return the item, we simply threw the pot holder to its home location. Unfortunately, some times the throw was not accurate and the pot holder fell behind the stove. After years of heating the oven, the temperature had gotten to be too much and the pot holders started to burn. That had been the fire – the pot holders. Now I was relieved but now I had to clean the mess behind the stove, since the firemen did not return the stove to its normal position.

As I escorted the firemen to the door, there were 10-12 men at the door looking in. I went to the second door, and again 10-12 different men at the door. The same was at all the doors and windows. Here I am in a mini dress and it seemed like 100 pair of eyes were staring at me. These men came from the “rifle range” a mile from the house. When they saw the fire truck go by, they had decided to follow in case they could have been of assistance with the fire. That was why there were so many men at the doors. Now I was scared. Not from any fire, but from all the men located at the parameter of the house. I was 19 years old and pretty, (if I do say so myself), and I am wearing a mini dress. To be honest, I was afraid of rape. In this time, society did not view a rape victim as a victim. She was asking for the crime to be committed against her. With this mini dress, I felt that I would be viewed by these men as a woman asking for sex and therefore becoming a victim of rape.

I was really, really scared. Even with the men gone, I was afraid that even one man would return. I started calling for help, but I couldn’t find anyone. I finally started calling friends of my parents. One friend came over. He had been friends with my parents for years. If fact he was a player in my experiences at the time of JFK’s assassination, but that is another story. I will call him OC in this story as I do not want to use names.

OC arrived shortly after I called. I explained the events surrounding the fire, and the men from the rifle range, and why I was scared. By the time he got there, I had cleaned the area behind the stove where the fire had been. OC helped me move the stove back into place. I thank him, and offered him a cup of coffee. I was sure that when he had finished his coffee, enough time would have gone by to ensure that I would have no unwelcome visitors from the rifle range.

He drank the cup of coffee, and started asking me personal questions, too personal for me to answer. He also had a strange look in his eyes and he was now someone to fear. How could I get him out of the house? I did ask him in and he was my parent’s close friend. He asked me to sit by him on the couch. I move to the far end, but soon he was sitting next to me, and touching my knee. His hand traveled up and down my leg and I was too nervous to scream. He sensed my fear and backed off slightly. Then he changed his strategy.

He said I looked tense and he would massage my neck. My neck was sore, so he preceded to massages my neck but he didn’t stop there. He now started to massage my back. Next thing I know, I am laying on my stomach, on the couch. OC was massaging my back over my clothing, and I was holding on to the hem of my skirt for dear life. As he massaged, he tried to get the dress to rise up revealing more skin, but I held the skirt down. He kept trying to get me to release the hold of my dress, but no way was that going to happen. It was my only active defense. My other defense is that he was a friend of my parents.

He finally left and I felt shaken. I never felt comfortable when he visited after this event. It happened that about 6 months later, he did try to rape me again. My mother, not realizing my feelings, forced me into a situation where I would be alone with OC again. He took this opportunity to force himself on me. I really don’t know how I defended myself, but at some point my knee hit in his private area with enough force to allow me to escape. I told him that I was had every intention to tell my parents, he replied “It was a good thing that I came to my senses”. I told my parents of his attempts to rape me, and his remake. He was never welcomed into their home again, and I never saw him again.

The morale is:
1) If you have a fire, of any kind, call the fire department. Don’t try to put the fire out yourself. You could make a bad situation worse.
2) Don’t wear anything that you don’t feel comfortable in. If you are comfortable in a mini dress or skirt, I am happy for you. If you are uncomfortable in any dress style, don’t wear it.
3) In the crime of rape, the victim is never asking to be a victim. If you are a victim, you did not cause this violence, the mind set of the abuser is at fault. Just remember the victim is just that, a victim.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Story of Snowballs in July

Living in New York State, winter is guaranteed to deliver snow. One year in the late winter we had a snow fall that can never be forgotten. It is not because it paralyzed the function of daily life for the masses, but for what it meant for my family.

My sisters and I woke to find fresh and white snow on the ground. We couldn’t wait to go out and play in it. We got our coats, warm leggings, boots, hats and mittens on and headed for the back door. We opened the door and we were greeted by a white surprise. Between the wind and the snow fall, the door was complete blocked. The snow covered the entire doorway and we just couldn’t get out of the house. This had never happened before and you couldn’t believe the surprise and frustration we felt. What could we do? We wanted to play in the beautiful white stuff, but we were stuck. It was at this time that Mom came up with a brilliant and wonderful solution.

Every fall my mother would buy meat for the freezer, enough for the whole winter. This was a cost saving measure for the family, and therefore as the winter went on, the supply of the meat decreased in the freezer. Luckily for us, there was plenty of room in the freezer for mother’s idea. She got a cardboard box and suggested that we make snow balls, place them in the box, and she would put the box in the freezer for storage. So that is what we did. We opened the door and made a box full of snowballs that we would use sometime in the future. As time went by the snowballs were forgotten.

Now winter was over and it is the middle of July. We were hot and complaining that we wanted to go swimming, but the lake was miles away and Mom had work in the house to do. Our boredom was slightly relieved when some friends came to play, but before long we were all bored again, not to mention how hot we were. Mom came to the rescue again!! She reminded us of the snowballs that had been stored in the freezer.

Out came the snowballs and we proceeded to had a snow ball fight. It was refreshing to have a snowball hit you or even has some snow down your back. When I look back, we must have been a sight; having a snowball fight in July. But the most wonderful moment was yet to come.

We were down to just a few snowballs and they were melting fast. One of the friends, a boy, took the few remaining snowballs and climbed the tree that stood close to the road. One of the branches actually hung over the shoulder of the road; therefore it was a great vantage point. As we all hid around the corner of the house and we waited for a victim that is a car coming down the road.

As a car started down the hill towards the house, the boy in the tree got ready. Just as the car was passing his vantage point, he threw the snowball. The snowball landed in the middle of the car’s windshield. Since the snow was melting, it was therefore soft and mashed against the glass. Suddenly he slammed on his brakes and stopped his car. He didn’t see us around the corner of the house and he didn’t see the boy in the tree. He got out of his car, examined the windshield and picked up what was left of the snow. He looked at the windshield, scratched his head, and continues to examine the remainder of the snow. Meanwhile, we were all trying very hard not to make a sound, which was quite difficult. Finally he got into his car and drove away very slowly.

We broke down in laugher and even had to sit down because we were laughing so hard. All we could think about was how this man was going to report snow hitting his car when he got home. Would his family even believe him or would they think that he had been drinking?

The morale is simple: A simple act, in this case the storing of the snowballs, can provide the greatest enjoyment at some later time. If you take what you have, and apply some imagination a wonderful memory that be created. There could be another lesson, from a mother’s standpoint, a way to keep the children from under foot.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Story of Grandma and the Lightning

This is a short story but one that will leave the reader wondering if this is possible or if it really happened. Believe me it did!

Our home can be best described as a box, or my mother was often quoted as saying, it was a “cracker box”. On a summer day, when all the windows and curtains are open to let the fresh breeze in, a person could look in the front window and see the back yard out of the back window. Or a person could look into the kitchen window on the right side of the house and see the yard on the left side of the house. This was proven on one particular summer day.

Although it looks like it might rain, Mom continued to wash the clothes and hang them on the clothes line. Grandma was sitting in her favorite rocking chair that was by the front side window. Grandma would sit and watch the cars go by on the road, bask in the sun light coming though the window, or just nod off into a little nap. My sister and I were playing near the center of the house in the area of the living and dining rooms.

All of a sudden there was not one lightning strike but two. What was really strange was one bolt of lightning came through the front window, where Gram was sitting, and traveled through the house and out the back window. The second bolt of lightning came through the kitchen window and went out the window on the left side of the house. In other words they cross each other. My sister and I drove under the diving room table. When I say drove, I mean drove. We stayed under that table in a start of wonder, confusion, and just plain scared. We didn’t dare say a word. Grandmother continue to sit in the rocking chair, napping.

Mom came into the house and immediately noted that we were under the table. She told us to get out and we told her no. When she asked why, we told her that we didn’t want to get hit by lightning. Of course this surprised her and we continue to tell her how two lightning bolts came through the house. Of course she was skeptable. She told us that it couldn’t have happen, there was no damage to the house and it was just our imagination. We told her that it didn’t hit anything, just when in and out of the windows. She doubted our story, so we get upset and started crying because we were not lying and we couldn’t seem to make mother believe us, until….

Grandmother woke up and was stating that she felt hot and that her feet felt like they were burning. Mom went to her to check her and to see if she was all right. Grandma had been wearing sneakers with rubber souls, and the sneakers were smoking.

The morale is this. If your child is truthful in nature and does not tend to make up tales, then it is your responsibility to believe your child even then the incident he/she is relating is unusual. Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Story of Jigger the Crow

In my previous story, I mentioned among the household pets a crow. It seems like this is a good place to tell his story. Since we lived in the country, they were plenty of space of imagination, role playing games and animals. I really can’t remember how we got Jigger, but we did.

Jigger was a typical black crow that somehow had been tamed. His original owner couldn’t keep him and somehow Mom allowed him to join the family. There was an old chicken coop in the back of the yard that had not been used by this family. I asked Mom why we did not have chickens since we had a chicken coop and she replied that they were too dirty, so the run-down building remained vacant and unused, that is until Jigger arrived. The building became Jigger’s home. Jigger was kept in the chicken coop and every day we fed him.

We asked me why Jigger couldn’t be let out of the chicken coop and she said that he had to get used to us first. After many days, Jigger was released. We thought he would fly away, but he didn’t. It was great having an outside bird that would land on your shoulder and that we could feed from our hands. It was fun watching him soar and we even interacted by him. It was like some great movie where the English Lord would have a hawk or falcon sitting on his arm. He was a great bird until Mom put the wash out on the clothes line for the first time.

As soon as Mom finished putting the clothes on the line and attaching the clothes pins to the clothes, the fun would begin. Jigger would sloop down and pulls the pins off the line. Of course when Mom returned with the next load of laundry to dry on the line, the previous load would be on the ground. Laundry day become a battle of the wits between Mom and Jigger. I am not sure now how the battle ended, but it was fun seeing Mom yelling at someone other than us children.

I remember one time when we were playing badminton. We would hit the plastic birdie across the net, or at least try to. One day we really did hit the birdie, but it wasn’t plastic, it was Jigger. As time went on, the neighboring children got to know Jigger as well. I guess they were jealous and started to find ways to get Jigger to come to their home. They would entice him with food and pretty soon he had two places he could go to get fed. But of course, a bird’s nature is to poop after eating. We had a messy porch where we fed Jigger, but we expected as such and that was part of our daily care of the bird. In other words, Mom cleaned the porch. But the neighbors did not like the down side of have a free flying bird on their hands. They start complaining that the bird was messing up their porch. Mom told them to stop feeding the crow and he would leave. But the neighboring children would not stop feeding the crow and the complaints continued but one day. The police were called and we were forced to get rid of the crow, Jigger. It wasn’t the bird’s fault, or ours but it did not matter.

Mom found a home for Jigger, but they did not keep the birds confirmed for a while like we did. Jigger escaped into the wild. Mom informed us of the sad news. She said that since Jigger had been tamed, the wild crows would see Jigger as a threat and probably kill him. We were so angry at the neighboring children in making us get rid of Jigger and blamed them for his death that we were sure to occur. After a while, life continued and Jigger became a happy memory for us. The funny thing is that soon we realized that Mom loved that crazy bird more that us.

For years, every time a flock of crows was spotted, Mom would call out “Jigger” as load as she could. If we were in the car, she would stop the car, get out of the car, and start calling for the crow. To this day, I think that every time Mom hangs laundry on the line to dry, she remembers Jigger.

The morale is that animals and birds can find a special part in your heart and live there forever. It is when you recognize a special animal or bird, they some how became a person, friend, family. They do hold a special place in our Father’s plan.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Story of the Bird and Hurricane Hazel

This is a story of responsibility and the effects that it has on others, especially on those you least expect.

In my growing years, we had several pets. A dog named King, too many cats to count, a crow (that’s another story), and several parakeets. While the dog and cats were outside animals, the parakeet would be the only official inside pet. We loved to hear the bird’s sounds and we all consider the parakeet as Mom’s official pet.

Mom would clean the cage every other week because great care was needed for the bird and in the cleaning of the cage. The best part of cleaning the cage was that it was the only time that the bird could fly around the house. When the cleaning was in progress all the doors and windows had to be closed and all of us, girls, had to stay in the house. No one was allowed to go outside until the bird was safely backed into the cage. We love to see the bird fly and it was a contest on who could get the bird to land on our outstretched finger.

One day it was decided that the cage needed cleaning, but Mom was not home. Since we had watched Mom cleaned the cage so often, we figured that we could do the job carefully and correctly. We really didn’t want to clean the cage, we just wanted to watch the bird fly, but I had forgotten one of the rules, one of the sisters was outside playing.

With all the windows and doors closed, the bird was set free. During this process, the cage was cleaned very slowly. We were too busy watching the flight of the little parakeet. Then the unthinkable happened. The one sister left outside came into the house and the bird got his ultimate freedom of the great outdoors.

I was so upset. I yelled at the sister who let the bird out and ran to find my little feather friend. Of course it wasn’t my sister’s fault, it was mine. I had forgotten the only rule that had been set to protect the parakeet. I called and looked in all the trees for hours. Mom joined into the search. She reminded me that the bird was probably close by since he would be scared of the new environment. Then the wind started picking up. Mom led me inside because a storm was coming.

That storm was Hurricane Hazel. The wind was so strong that it felt like the top of the house would blow off. When the tree branches hit the house, I thought the windows would break. It was my first hurricane that I could remember and it was very frightening for this little girl. I was frightened of the storm, but I also was frightened for the pet parakeet. I could just image that the wind just blowing him away. The parakeet was never seen again and to this day I wondered what happen to that little bird.

The morale is that rules are made to protect us and everyone around us. To break the rules or even bending the rules can have lasting effects for your entire life.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Story of the Christmas Tree Fire

It was a normal summer day. Mom was at work at the Hotel and Dad was at work at the V.A. I was about 12 or 13 years of age or maybe younger but I was left in charge of my sisters. This was a normal part of life in the 50’s. I was the eldest and was responsible for their safety. Mom was always reminding me that I had to set a good example for my sisters. I guess you could say I had few moments of just being a kid. The only times that I can remember being a child was when the neighbors came down to play and Mom was at home. When I was charge of my siblings, I was instructed to keep them around the home area and do things that Mom would have done if she was home and this would include discipline. It was a hard job for a young girl. Most times my sisters resented me and considered me bossy. I guess I was, but I had to be. But sometimes a kid will be a kid and this was one of those days.

We had been watching “Heidi” with Shirley Temple on the television. In one scene, there was a Christmas tree but instead of lights, the movie had used candles in the branches. We all thought that was cool, but we wondered how they kept the candles straight up on the branches. It just so happened that we had an old Christmas tree decoration that stood about 12 inches tall. On the branches with these metal cup shape holders which could hold something, but we couldn't figure what. Then we understood what it could hold, candles!

We decided to try placing candles in the small tree just to see what it looked like. But where could we get the candles? Fire was one rule that was not allowed, and as the adult of the group, I had to make sure that no matches or lighters were ever used, especially since we were home alone. But suddenly I was the kid with a kid’s curiosity.

I remembered that we had birthday candles in the drawer. I would like to inform the reader the lay out of the living room where our demonstration or experiment was to take place. My parent’s bedroom was to the left of the room. Next to their bedroom door was the front door of the house. On the wall next to the door was a picture of my father’s brother, Ned. It was his graduation picture. He had been killed during WWII by the Japanese, but that is another story. Below the picture was the television. Next to the television, there was the front window with lace curtains. Below the window stood a two shelf bookcase which housed the complete set of Encyclopedia Britannica. The encyclopedia was a huge investment for us children and Mom would remind us on how much it cost for these books. Whenever we asked Mom a question she would say, “Look it up in the encyclopedia.” But the encyclopedia was extremely hard to understand. If we looked something up for a school assignment, we didn’t understand the words. Therefore we would write the information, verbatim, on our homework paper. Of course we would not get credit since it was not in our own words. We didn’t know about plagiarism at this time, but how we hated that encyclopedia. On top of the bookcase was a fish bowl with 2 goldfish and a one of Dad’s motorcycle trophies. Next to the bookcase, in the corner, was a floor lamp with a yellowing lamp shade.

We removed the trophy but kept the gold fish bowl on the book case. We got the Christmas tree out of storage and set it next to the fish bowl. Then we got the birthday candles out of the drawer and set them in the holders. The holders were larger than the candles, so we were careful in putting the candles on the tree. Then we got the matches and lit the candles. I must admit it was beautiful, but I also knew how dangerous it was if the lit candles slipped in the holders. After a few minutes, we blew out the candles. Now we had to decide how to get rid of the used candles. We didn’t want Mom to find out that we had been playing with fire, literally. My sister came up with the idea of melting the candles away, to destroy of evidence.

Terry got Dad’s big ashtray and we placed all the candles inside the ashtray and we lit the candles once again. But when candles are lying on the side, they don’t burn as they should. To speed up the melting process, Terry started fanning the candles with her hand. Unfortunately, in her fanning process, her hand caught hold of the lace curtain and up it went in flames. The flames traveled up the curtain and across the top of the window to the other curtain and later to the lamp shade. You can imagine the terror that the four of us girls had at that time. The two youngest girls started screaming. I don’t remember where they went but Terry and I both knew that we had to get the fire out. Water! The closest water was in the fish bowl so we started scooping out the water and throwing it on the flames. When the water got low enough we had to find another source. I ran into the kitchen, got the biggest pan I could manage, filled it with water and ran into the living room. I poured the water on the flames and ran back to repeat this process. Very soon the floor was wet from the thrown or spilled water. On my third trip, I slipped. My feet went out in front of me, I went down on the wet floor on my butt, and the water went straight up and come straight down on top of me. I couldn’t help but start laughing. For a second I really forgot about the emergency we were having.

I returned for more water, and again dosed the flames. In the last trip for water, I noticed that the fire was out. I turned around to see my sister at the desk where the telephone was located. She was on the phone calling the fire department. I heard her say, “Hurry, hurry! We have a fire at our house!” Then she hung up. Now that the fire out, I again turned into the responsible adult. I told her that she did a good job but she forgot one thing. We forgot to give the fire department our address. Now she was mad at me for criticizing her. I was probably blaming her for catching the curtains on fire, so I guess she had a right to be mad at me. After all she was scared.

I quickly looked at the damage. The fish had soot in their bowl with very little water for them to survive. The book case showed some fire damage but the bindings on some of the books were completely destroyed. The curtains were gone. The lamp shade showed a lot of damage too. There was no way to hide this damage from mother when she returned home. So I decided that the best course of action was to call her at work and inform her of the activities at the house. I informed her that we had had a fire, that it was out, and no one was hurt. This was the responsible thing to do, plus she couldn’t spank me over the telephone lines.

I don’t remember her actual reaction, but when I hung up I felt good about myself. About 30 minutes later, my sisters and I were trying to clean things up as best we could, when a car pulled into the driveway. A man got out of the car and walked into the house. I was quite disturbed that a strange man just walked into our house. Who did he think it was! He checks out the fire damage. He felt the wall on both sides of the window and above the window and the ceiling. Then he proceeds to go upstairs to my bedroom, which I shared with Terry. Our bedroom was right above the living room and therefore above the area where the fire was located. He checks the floor and the wall. Now I was angry. A strange man walked into my bedroom! How could he!!

A little while later, Mom came home from work. I was still angry about the man in my bedroom. I told her that a strange man came into our house and went upstairs. She informed me that he was the Fire Chief. He worked at the hotel and was the bartender there. She had asked him to come out and check to see if the house was safe from the fire and to make sure that there was no fire still remaining in the walls, smoldering. He was also asked by Mom, to give us a good lecture and if possible a spanking. She reminded us that we were very lucky. Mom got a new lampshade, new curtains, but the encyclopedia remained in the fire damaged condition for many, many years.

The lesson is obvious: Children should never, never play with fire, but from my point of view, I also learnt that even in the worst situation, there is always something to smile about.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Story of Unlawful Entry

This story is one of adventure, from a child’s point of view, but one that should keep parents aware of what their small children are capable of doing. The time is set before housing developments and people didn’t have fears like they do now. Houses were never locked and children were safe to play and use their imaginations.

As I have mentioned before, my family and I lived in a valley. No matter which way you went, there was a high hill. There was a field in front of the house and across the road, but that way was ignored. The house, on the hill to the right of our home lived a family who kept cows and farmed. Every once in a while the cows came into our lawn and we would spend the afternoon chasing the cows out of the corn. Great fun but the cows were bigger than we were and to us they might as well been monsters. The house on the hill to the left of our home lived a family with 3 children, 2 boys and 1 girl. The girl was a year older than me, but when you are lacking playmates, you have to make due. The hill behind the house was the best. On top of the hill were the rail road tracks, but beyond were a farmer’s fields. The hill was full of trees, sweet grass, small streams and poison sumac. It was a place where imaginations could run wild. At times the trees would become the walls of a castle, the stream became a raging river, and the sweet grass becomes an oasis in the dessert. In those days, there were no computer games and movies on DVD, there was only your imagination and you could go anywhere at any time. The hills and fields were our canvas and our imaginations were the paints.

Like most children, I was no different. Sometimes when I wanted something, I wanted it NOW! One early morning I woke up and desperately needed to talk with my girlfriend on the hill. I just couldn’t wait; I had to see her now. I woke my sister and talked her into going to the friend’s house. I was still dark and my sister wanted to go back to sleep, but somehow I talked her into it. We got dressed and down the stairs we went, being careful not to walk on the creaky spots on the stairs or the floor. We took the back way up the hill to her house.

Coming up to the back of her house gave us more cover than walking up the road. Remember we were on a mission and could not be seen. I tried to wake my girlfriend, by throwing small pebbles at her window, but no matter how hard I threw, I couldn’t reach your window glass. I had to find another answer. Everyone considered it inconceivable to enter someone else’s house without an invitation but the house was not locked. We crept up to the back door, opened the door and entered the kitchen. The house sure looked strange in the dark. We exited the kitchen and headed for the stairs.

As my sister and I started up the stairs, but the stairs did creak. These were not our stairs and we didn’t know the location of the creaky boards. We tried as hard as we could to be quiet, but before we were half way up the stairs, my girlfriend’s father yelled “Who’s there!” Boy was we in trouble. We could go to jail. RUN!!!

Out the front door we ran. It was the closest door. We were kids. If we were smart, we would have left the way we came in, but we didn’t. The front door led to the front yard which was the size of a football field and there were very little trees planted in the yard. We ran fast, but no so fast that the father could not identify us. If we had gone out by the back door, we would have been safe, but kids don’t always think right when they are scared, and we were scared. Not only did Mr. N see you, but he got dressed and jumped into his car. By this time, my sister and I had reached the road. This country road had bushes and wild berries growing along side it, so there would be good cover since we did not want to be seen. The cover was not as good as we thought.

When the car started down the road, we hid behind the small bushes, but the car stopped right in front of us. Mr. N opened the car door and told us to get in. I don’t remember any conversation, but I was scared. He dropped us off at our house and told us to get back to bed, and we did. When we woke up the second time, we were still scared and were very quiet all day. We were waiting for Mom’s or Dad’s punishment, but it never came.

About 3 days later, Dad called me into the living room for a small talk. I was excited, because I would have Dad’s attention all to myself and I wouldn’t have to share it. He informed me that he had just finished talking with Mr. N. My dad was asked what kind of punishment he gave to my sister and me. My Dad was confused and said he didn’t know what he was talking about. Mr. N informed Dad of the events of that other morning. Dad had remembered a car pulling in the driveway but he thought it was the school bus picking us up for school. He hadn’t realized that it was a Saturday.

The lesson is this. Never underestimate a child’s determination. Imagination can be a great asset but it can also lead to trouble. But the greatest lesson is: if you do something wrong and you got away without punishment – you are just plain lucky. Your punishment will come when you least expect it.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

It Happened in One Night

I am sure that everyone has one date that you can’t forget, and this is my story. So much happened on this one night that it could fill the time for several dating experiences. The cast of characters is six. Myself and my date, his friend and my sister’s friend, Linda G., my sister and what turned out to be her date of the evening. The night was like any other. The next day I was due to return to college, so I wanted a special night and did I get it!

I met up with Linda G. early in the evening. Linda G. lived about two miles from my home. In the country side, two miles away was like the house next door. I had called a boy that I had met in the summer, and we had decided to go out for the evening, but he had a friend that would need a date, so Linda G. was to be his date for the evening. Dale, my date, lived in the next hamlet so I picked up Linda at her house and off we went. When we got to Dale’s house, we had to wait for his friend to arrive. We started talking and it wasn’t long before I noticed that Dale was a little depressed. Dale was a cute, blonde hair boy that had a deep mystery that had gotten my attention. Finally that mystery was going to be solved. His twin brother had been killed in a car accident a few years before. He had been his parent’s favorite and Dale felt that he could never live up to his parent’s expectations. This left a void in his life; his parent’s wish that he had been killed and not the favorite son, and his own loss of his twin brother. I was determined to get him in a happier state of mind, but what I didn’t realize that Dale had developed a self-destructive nature that would come into focus before the end of the night.

We had decided to use his car and I left my car at his house. The four of us drove into town, trying to figure out what on earth we were going to do. I couldn’t go dancing at the local bar because only Linda and I were of drinking age. As we were driving, we saw my sister in town. We picked her up. There is another void in my memory because somewhere in that early part of the evening we did pick up another boy, so that we became three couples. Another factor was the fact that my sister was under a curfew from our parents. She had to be home by 10 p.m., which would never be met. We finally decided to go to “Lookout Point”. This was a place that overlooked the lake. It was a great scenic view and one that had a local history of lover’s leaping to their death, thus called “Lover’s Leap” by the teenagers. I don’t know if anybody ever leaped from this spot, but it made a good reason to see the locale.

The site was a few miles from town, so off we went. It was a night that was overcast and the moon could not be seen. We had never made plans on how we were going to walk through to dark woods to get to the spot. Since we had no flashlight, I bought out the cigarette lighter that I had. Using the lighter was a light, we made our way though the woods to the area. We had to walk single file with one hand on the shoulder of the person in front. It looked a little like the blind leading the blind, but it was fun. We got to the spot and it was beautiful. The country side was full of lights from the houses below, but how it could be a “Lover Leap” escaped me. There was no cliff but a down hill slope with lots of trees. It was a good place to get hurt but no suicide jump off. But it was a scenic and a special place.

Now we had to get back to the car. We had to wait for the lighter to cool down so we could use it as a light once again. During our trek back, the lighter ran out of fluid. We walked, single file, one hand on the person’s shoulder, to the car. The person in the lead was the one who had it rough. Since we couldn’t see, there was a lot of running into trees, tripping, etc. Then someone looked into the surrounding dark woods. Through the trees we saw a pair of eyes. I don’t know if it was a deer or bear, but we all decided it was a bear, and we all started running as best as we could, the girls screaming and the boys yelling all the way.

Once at the car, our fears melted away and we started trying to figure out what to do now. Dale remembered that he had a relative that worked in a bar in the next town. That town was up the hill side a few miles. We decided to go to the bar and pick up a few six-packs of beer. During the drive and somewhere in my flirting, I had decided to sit on Dale’s lap while he drove. There were no cars on the road, so we felt safe. I handled the steering wheel, he handled the gas. It reminded me of the time when I was very small, when I sat on my Daddy’s lap and he would let me drive. Of course then he never took his hands completely off the steering wheel, and he could see the road over my head. Dale didn’t have that luxury. While going up the hill, I saw a pair of eyes in the road, and then I realized it was a deer. I panicked. I couldn’t say a word to tell Dale to hit the brakes, and he couldn’t see the deer. At the last possible second, Dale saw the deer and hit the brakes hard. The resulting situation was no damage to the deer, no damage to the car, but physical pain where the lowest part of the steering wheel met my body. I was in deep pain and decided never to drive again sitting on someone lap.

When we arrived at the town, my sister informed us that she had to make a phone call to our mother. It was almost 10 p.m. and she was going to ask permission to stay out since she was with me. She made the phone call but she didn’t ask my mother for permission to stay out. Instead she told my mother that she would be home in 10 minutes. At the time she made the call, we were 60 minutes from home.

Since Linda and I were of age, we would enter the bar and get 4 six-packs for the rest of us. We were going to tell the story that our parents sent us on this errand. Linda and I went into the bar to get the beer. We were nervous, and I am sure that the bartender knew that something was up but he sold us the beer anyway. Now where could we go to drink the beer? We were, at least, smart enough not to drink and drive. We drove into the hills, looking for a spot that was not near any houses. We found a field, stopped and started our own little party in the car. Before long we were laughing and having a good time. The boys were making animal sounds that made everyone laugh so hard that it hurt. After the beer was gone, we all left the car to make a “pit stop”. During this “pit stop”, one of the boys found a pond. He came back all excited because he thought that it would a good night for a swim.

I didn’t want to go for a swim. No one had brought a swim suit, it was too cold for a swim, and I wasn’t that drunk to take off my clothes for a dip in the pond.
The other four decided that they would go for the swim. They left the car happy and laughing leaving Dale and me alone in the car. Since we were alone, we started kissing, just like any young couple would do. Before long, the four returned, but not laughing this time. They had decided that it was too cold to take off their clothes so the jumped into the pond with their clothes on. They forgot that once the clothes got wet, there would be no way to keep warm.

Dale started the car, started the heater at full blast and down the hill side we went; destination home or anywhere where the kids in the back seat could get warm. During the long ride down the winding hill side, the headlights went out. The moon had come out from behind the clouds, so we had some light. We were all afraid of running into a deer again... There was no place to stop, so we just prayed that we would get home safety. The kids in the back just wanted to get warm. The headlight came back on, so off we went. Then the headlight went off again. This off and on cycle continued all the way home. Dale figured that was a short somewhere in the circuit and soon we all felt like it was normal for the headlights to go on and off.

During this ride, someone started talking about marriage. Before long it was decided that we would all drive to Maryland and get married. I had no intention of getting married, but it was decided that we would go. On the way to the Thruway, (toll expressway of NYS), we stopped a full service gas station. I should mention that this particular gas station was 3 miles from Dale’s house and 5 miles from my house. The attendant looked at the headlights and said he would repair them. During the repair, the attendant couldn’t help to notice four teenagers soak and wet and shivering like crazy. He gave them two blankets to wrap around them. Dale informed him we were on our way to Maryland State to get married. The attendant said to keep the blankets as our first wedding present.

We were on the road again, with the headlight fixed, the heat on high, and the two wet couples snuggled in their blankets. The only problem was that the blankets smelled of gasoline. The heat and moisture sent the gasoline fumes into the car. We had to open the windows to let the fumes out, but at the same time the kids were cold again. We were in a ‘catch-22’. The kids froze with the blankets off and froze with the blankets on. We got on the Thruway, and I got very tired. I laid my head in Dale’s lap and started to drift off. I had no intentions of getting married but I would worry about how to get out of it later. Little did I know that things were going to change again.

The headlight started to go on and off again. The attendant had not fixed the problem. Now going down an expressway at 60 mph is not something you want to do when the headlights are off. Dale exited the expressway at the next exit that he came to. Carefully driving to avoid the police, he took the back roads all the way to his house. Now everyone was tired and just wanted to go home. I picked up my car at Dale’s house and headed for home. It was 3 a.m. and remembers that my sister had told our mom that she would be home at 10 p.m. and that she was with me. My mother is like any other mother, she worries. The result of that worry is that she was out looking for us. In the country side near my home there was a place where two roads intersect and it is very flat. A driver can see another car a mile away from either road. As I was traveling, I saw a car coming towards me. I told me sister that I think it is Mom. She said it can’t be Mom, she is home sleeping. I wagered with my sister that if the car turned left at the intersection, it was Mom. The car did turn left and it was Mom.

When we all arrived met at the house, my sister, in a panic, informed our mother that it was my fault and we were late because we had been on our way to Maryland to get married. She was grounded and I left for college the next day.

The lesson of this story is: It doesn’t matter that you think that you are indestructible; the truth is that you are just lucky this time.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Story on How to Meet Boys

I am sure that every girl has a story in her background on how to meet boys, so this is mine.

The first is one of complete simplicity. Just stand on a corner: a corner of the street or in my case, the corner of the garage. As I have mentioned in my previous story, my father had a small track around the garden in which we rode the motorcycles. The garden was oval in shape with approximately 600 feet on the side and 100 feet at the ends. We had a good size garden. When my father brought teenage boys to the house for motorcycle riding lessons, my sister and I would survey the young men. When we saw one that we might be interested in, the plan was simple. We would stand at the edge of the garage, which was located at one end of the garden. We then made sure that the boy saw us and then waited. If the boy in question was also interested in us, then by the third time around the garden, he would stop riding. The first time around was to see the girl. The second time around was just to make up his mind if he would stop riding. The third time was the decision to stop riding and speak to the girl. That was it. It was quite successful and it was a great way to start a conversation.

The second way is virtually a verse from the song, “Summer Nights” from the movie, “Grease”. If you don’t remember the verse, it is: “He showed up smashing around”. My girlfriend and I had just brought identical bikinis. Of course today they would have been called 2 piece swim suit, but at that time they were quite revealing. We went to the local lake, (not too many people had swimming pools at that time), and looked for boys. One day we saw two boys who, we felt were promising, but how to meet them? The answer was again simple. We just kept swimming in front of them. This was difficult at times, because they kept changing their direction but finally they got the nerve to talk.

A third way was more dangerous, and I wouldn’t suggest it today. When I look back, I can’t believe I would have tried it, but when you are young, you feel like there is nothing that can hurt you. I was driving the family car and cruising down the streets of my home town. Cruising was a good way to meet new people. Cruising was a way of life for the young. The Beach Boys sang about it, but the movie “American Graffiti” with Ron Howard and Harrison Ford probably showed the meaning of "Cruising" the best.

Anyway, during the ride, my friends and I notice a car with the same number of boys inside, also cruising. How to get their attention was the question. Since I was driving, I had the control, but not the way of “attention getting”. While at the stop light, the girl on the passenger side simply opened the window and stuck her head out and shouted something. I don’t remember what she said, but it certainly got their attention. The next step was the controlling factor. I got in front of their car. No matter what, I couldn’t let them get pass me. This was the major objective. When the speed limit allowed or on coming traffic allowed, I would slow down. This would cause frustration on the part of the other driver and thereby keep him or they interested. When the other driver got the opportunity to pass, I would speed up. I had to make sure that they couldn’t pass me. But I had to have a destination in mind so that when we stopped, it would be a good meeting place to introduce ourselves and start a conversation. The cat and mouse game continued for about one hour. The boys were getting more daring and therefore a chance that they would get away. I stopped in front of a local hangout and of course they stopped right behind us. The first thing they would want to know is why we were driving like that. We told them that we wanted to meet them and that was that.

A most interesting way to meet boys is as follows. My girlfriend and I had nothing to do. We didn’t want to stay home but we had no idea of what to do. My father was in the hospital following a knee operation. I asked Mom for the use of the family car and she responded with the question on where we were going. My mother always asked the destination. If I had said that I just wanted to drive around, I would have never gotten the car, so I said I was going to visit Dad in the hospital. Of course I did visit dad. I was not a liar, just never told her the whole plan for the night. This was the only way to get the transportation that was needed. During the ride, my friend and I heard that a music group was playing at the local ski resort. We both wanted to see them but we only had $13.50 between us. The entry fee to the performance was $5.00 each. That left $3.50 for the evening. Since the show didn’t start till 11:30 p.m. and we got at the ski lodge at 8:30 p.m., we had 3 hours to wait with only $3.50 to spend. Since the drinks were $3.50 each and soft drinks were $1.50 each, there was only 1 choice. We had to find some boys to help spend the time and to pay for the drinks until the show.

I decided that we had to purchase a drink that looked like a drink but actually was only a soft drink. The only type of drink I could like of was “rum and coke”.
We purchased the cokes, with very little ice. This was important since the amount of ice indicated if it was a cocktail or just a coke. Then, when we met the boys, we would indicate that we had rum and coke and didn’t want to change the type of drink we were having. Now we had be find the boys since we only had $0.50 left. The lodge had the main floor with the stage, but there was a 2nd floor that overlooked the dance floor and stage. We went to the second floor and to a position where we could watch all the people below. We watched for boys who were alone. Soon it became apparent that all the boys at the lodge were taken and we have been nursing our drinks for so long, that the fizz had left the cokes. Then we noticed two boys sitting at a table close to the wall. We watch them, waiting for the girls to show up. After 15 minutes, we saw them gather something from behind the curtain; it was a bottle of booze. Since the lodge did not allow anyone bringing their own liquor, we determined they were alone. No boy, trying to impress a girl, would be caught being so cheep. They were our suckers. But how to meet them, that was the question? Suddenly I had a plan.

I told my girlfriend to put her cigarette lighter away. The dangers of smoking were unknown at this time and time smoking was considered a social function. I walked over to the two boys’ table, with 2 cigarettes in my hand. I simply asked one of the boys for a light. He lit both cigarettes for me, and I walked back to our table. I gave one cigarette to my friend and kept the other. I smiled at the boy who did me the favor and returned to the conversation with my friend. She said that it wouldn’t work and I told her just to wait, it would. I really don’t know how I knew it would work, I just did. After a few minutes, the boys did join us. We had a great evening, saw the music group we wanted to see and later had additional dates with the boys.

The last tidbit is how to you know that a boy really likes you. There is a song that states, “It is in his kiss”, but that way is not very reliable. In my experience, the kiss only tells you if the boy is interested or his intentions are on other activities. The kiss is far to deceiving. I found a better way. Announce loudly that you are going to view something, anything, but what ever you are going to view will allow you to be alone. If the boy is interested, he will follow.

My case in point, I really liked this boy but I was unsure how he felt about me. My parents were friends with his parents. Each time these friends, with their two sons visited, I was away, babysitting or something. My sister had a crush on the elder son and that was the same one that I was interested in. Since I was never home when they came over, and my sister was always raving about this boy, I thought I would never get my chance to meet him. But that was about to change that autumn. Every fall, my father would go deer hunting. The meat from his kill would help with the meat supply for the family in the winter and reduce the grocery budget. The one problem my dad always had was to the accomplishment of butchering the deer. Since his new friend was a butcher; my dad asked him if he would do the honors. He said yes, so one Saturday afternoon he arrived at the house to do the work and he brought along with his two sons. I was finally home when this boy was also at the house. I got the impression that he was interested in me when I took a sharpened knife to his father. I felt him staring at me and decided I needed a plan to find out if he was interested or if it was my imagination. I started to think of a plan, but nothing seemed to fit the situation since there was no time when either of us would be alone.

The situation was about to change when the butchering of the deer was completed. The meat was placed in large tubs located in the non-heated back room. There the meat would be kept cold until my mother had a chance to wrap it for the freezer. The butcher then came into the house to get warm along with a little socializing with my parents. Of course his two sons accompanied him and now I had my chance. I announced very loudly that I was going to view the meat. Now I ask you, what teenage girl wants to view bloody meat? Since I knew that my sisters had no desired to view the meat, this was my only chance I could think of to see this boy alone. I went in the back room and waited. Sure enough, within a minute, the boy joined me. I then knew he liked me. Just as we were starting a conversation, his little brother joined us, but the spark had been struck. This small spark became a start to a whole new life. That boy later became my husband and the father of my two children and the grandfather of five.

The lesson of this story is this: there are many ways to meet the opposite sex, but the best way is to be you.