Sunday, November 23, 2008


When I was young

Subject: when I was young!!
It was real cold outside yesterday when I went to the Hospital Wellness clinic to work use their exercise equipment. Was only 8 degrees F when I got up yesterday morning and only reached into the 20`s all day. People at the clinic were talking about how cold it was and it got me thinking of what it was like when I was younger. Our road, back then, was a private road so the town didn`t plow it. Our Father would get up real early, connect his plow to the front of his car and plow out the long road. The only houses on the road back then were the home place where my father`s family lived and our home. Many mornings the snow would be back almost as high again by the time us kids left for school. There were no school buses in our district so we walked to school, home for lunch and back to school. Dad once checked the distance with his car and said it was a mile one way. So, from the time we were 5 years old we walked a total of 4 miles every day. I started school at 4 years and had my 5th Birthday a couple days later, Most of our friends never needed boots to go to school as the main roads were all plowed. But, us kids needed boots just to get down our road to reach the main road. We often had wet feet if the snow was higher than our boots. Boy, that left your feet feeling frozen and aching all day at school. We would put on dry socks when we went home for lunch, but often those were wet from snow falling down into our boots as we walked back to school. Back then the boots were the kind that you slipped on over your shoes. I doubt kids today have ever heard of boots that you kept your shoes on and pulled the boots on over your shoes. Those boots were solid rubber, they didn`t have any laces in them, there was no way to make the tops of those boots close up tight against your legs to keep out the snow. We were not allowed to wear snow pants as they were once called. Girls had to wear dresses and the socks back then were only ankle high- no knee socks or long stockings for kids back then - so the legs were bare from the ankles to the knees. I remember thinking how lucky the boys were with their long pants protecting their legs from the harsh winds and cold snow. I remember how my legs would be real red and aching from the cold. Today I often wonder if that wasn`t what caused me to have leg and knee pains all through the years.

Now I do feel ancient as I remember those winter freezing outhouses, water pumped from the well, the pail and dipper sitting under the pump spout that you had to remember to leave enough water all the time for priming the pump with, the scrub board and large wash tubs- one for washing the clothes and the second one for rinsing the soap out, wood racks for drying on bad weather days, the long clotheslines ( I just put a new rope on my about 76 foot long pulley line), cooking on wood stoves (had one in our first apt. after we married-actually learned to bake with it), the old deep cistern at the end of the farmhouse filled with rain water, catching snow to melt on the stove for water for washing clothes , the old coal furnace that was banked at night and always went out before morning- oh how freezing cold it would get before Dad awoke to restart it again, ... I remember the old coal bin in the cellar under one of the cellar windows. The coal truck would back up into our driveway and stop near that cellar window. Then someone would go downstairs and open that window. The driver of the coal truck would then connect the long coal chute ( which looked like a playground slide with no support under it to hold it up. It connected to the back of the truck and the driver would then use his coal shovel to keep pushing the coal off the truck and down the chute through the window and landing in the coal bin. We had a short handled shovel down cellar by the coal bin. I remember watching my Dad using this shovel to throw some coal into the furnace and then he would light a fire As the fire got going good it would set the coal on fire and every time it started feeling cold in the house, it meant it was time to go down and shovel in more coal to keep the fire burning. I remember the huge square furnace cover that was in the dinning room. The dining room was once in the center of the house, but later on a new larger kitchen was added to the back of the house. This cover was called a grate and must have measured about 4 foot square. I remember under that grate was two tin cylinders one inside the other. They extended from inside the furnace in the cellar and came up to almost touching the dining room floor under the large sized grate cover. I will never forget those cylinders because one time my brother-in-law was helping my mother lay new linoleum on the dining room floor and they needed to remove the grate to cut out the shape of the grate. This happened when I was about 19 years old. They removed the cover while I was upstairs getting dressed for work. When I came downstairs I walked across the linoleum covered furnace with intentions of getting my High School jacket which hung on the wooden archway beyond the furnace. I never made it beyond the furnace as I fell through the linoleum right into the furnace scraping up both legs and both arms. Boy, did I ever look terrible to go to work -at all places at a Hospital caring for patients. Back then we used the red colored Mercurochrome on every cut. Even though we wore silk stockings, the red on every one of those scrapes and cuts showed through. The uniform had short sleeves, so every one of the cuts on the arms showed also. I must have looked like I got into a fight with a wild cat, or more like a bunch of wild cats. I sure learned how sharp the top of those round tin centers were. Today, looking back, I realize how lucky I was to fall straight down the empty center area or I would have had some very serious cuts instead of numerous scrapes and long thin cuts that were not real deep. Glad the Mercurochrome stopped the bleeding. I fully expected to be sent back home when I got to work. I was afraid they might not let me do nursing work around patients looking that bad. But, on the 3 to 11 shift I worked, there was just the one registered nurse and me. So, they would have been in a big mess if they hadn`t let me remain working. Things seemed backwards for a few days. It was usually me feeling sorry for the patients, but then the patients started worrying about me. I wasn`t used to that. But by a week or two all the cuts had healed and I no longer felt embarrassed about how I looked. I remember my mother asking me- what was with all this falling through things. I knew she was remembering years before when my brother and I fell through the old well boards on my Aunt and Uncles farm. That time the well was covered with snow and we were following another brother who said we were a long ways from the old well. First the well, then the furnace. OH, Well, neither of them left lasting scars , so I sure was lucky both times. I still have a fear of drowning if I am swimming and water touches my face. A few years later my father converted the coal furnace into an oil burning furnace and the large furnace cover was replaced with small grates in all the rooms. Was nice knowing the furnace wouldn`t go out during the night, even though there were no heat grates in the upstairs bedrooms. There was one small grate in the upstairs hall that allowed some heat to rise up from downstairs. It was chilly when you climb out from under the blankets, but not freezing like when I was small.

I remember how the mothers would save all the left over grease from frying and when there was enough they would use this grease for cooking. I remember the cans of lard that were often used to cook doughnuts in or for frying french fried potatoes in. All this lard seldom made anyone fat because there were no TV`s or computers to keep people sitting around for long periods of time. Kids spent every nice weather day playing outside in active games which gave them lots of exercise. No one wanted to stay inside if they didn`t have to. It was hard for a mother to keep a child inside even when the child were sick. Being made to stay indoors felt like being punished. Today a child feels like it is being punished if it is told to shut off the TV or the Computer and go outside and play for a while.
Guess I better stop thinking as the more I think, the older I feel. :) OH, how much easier we do have it today. At least we did have electricity- but used kerosene lanterns when the power went out. As hard as our life was, it had to have been much much worse in our parents and great grand parents day.
Maybe I should explain what :) means as it might become outdated years from now and if the great grand kids ever read this, there might not be someone around to explain to them that :) just stand for smiling. Also, I want those reading this years from now to know that I am only telling you about what it was like when I was a kid so you will know more about your Family History. I am not trying to compare my growing hardships with yours as every generation will always have it`s own hardships to handle.Love of Family will always be special to me.

Sunday, November 09, 2008


Sunday, Nov. 9th, 08/ Blond Hair and after.

Subject: My Dad and Blond Hair

While I never knew my father when he had blond hair, it was dark as far back as I can remember, but he was born with blond hair and I inherited it from him, mine darkened when I was in grade school. My Husband was also a blond which darkened years after we were married. I got my blond from my Dad, while my husband got his blond from his Mom. My Mother and his father both had dark colored hair. Since all my children except for one of the twins are blonds and most of the grandchildren are also blonds as are many of the great grandchildren. So, when they read this, they will understand where their blond hair came from. I am sure they might wonder where their parent got the blond hair since both their grandparents had darker hair when they knew us.

Today I own the very large baby picture of my Dad sitting in the highchair -that my mother used to keep on her bedroom wall after we lost my Dad. She gave it to me before she passed away, but I refused to take it as long as she was here to enjoy it. She said it belonged to me because I was the only one who ever washed the glass or dusted it for her. Funny that I can`r remember where that picture was while I was growing up. I think it was kept upstairs as it took a lot of room hanging on a wall. In this picture, he is wearing those black high top baby shoes of years gone past. He was wearing a beautiful long Confirmation Dress that I think he was Baptized in. Back in those days ( in 1903), babies wore those long dresses. His hair was blond in this picture. I have no idea how old he was when his blond hair started getting darker. I only know his hair was almost black as far back as i can remember. He was only 73 when he died and then his hair was gray. My Mother was born with brown hair which turned a grayish white when she was either in her 70`s or 80`s , I think. I know very little about Walt`s parents. But I was told his mother was born a blond while his Dad had dark hair. Most of their kids were also born with blond hair and most of their grandchildren were also born blonds. So, it was no wonder my children were also blonds. My blond hair turned a light brown when I was still in grade school, while Walt`s blond hair never started to darken till he was in about his 40`s. Funny, I can`t remember exactly when his changed. The only one of my kids that wasn`t born a blond was one of the twins -who has brown hair. He was the image of his grandfather ( my Dad) when he graduated from High school. In that picture my Dad`s hair had already turned dark. In this picture of my Dad, when he graduated from High School, you would think this picture and my son`s graduation picture could be the same person. Things might have been different for that twin without this picture. I once overheard my son telling a friend that his mother had brought home the wrong baby. I guess he got tired of having kids asking him why he didn`t have blond hair like his brothers and sisters. So, he made up an excuse. I remember the day I overheard him saying this to his friend. I went in to the room and told him that if I had brought home the wrong baby, I would have taken him back for the right one as he cried a lot. He was more demanding than his twin brother was. I would give him at least three spoons of food to every one I gave his brother when they were babies in high chairs and still he would be crying while I gave that one spoonful to his brother. His brother is still a very patient man and seldom argues with anyone. When they were about 5 months old and in the playpen he would crawl over and grab whatever toy his brother was playing with. He didn`t want the toy, he just wanted whatever his brother had. As soon as his brother picked up another toy, he would again take it from him. This continued till they were 9 months old and his brother started walking while he was still crawling. Now, whenever he started to grab the toy, his brother would hold the toy outside the playpen and run to the other end of the playpen. I remember a neighbor being with me when this happened and she just laughed and laughed watching the littlest one finally winning against his brother. After about 10 minutes of not being able to take the toy the bigger one just sat down and started crying. All through school he was demanding over his brother till one day his brother came to me asking that I tell his brother to hurry up. They both had jobs while still in High School, but only one owned a car and he provided transportation also for his brother. This one day. the one was playing cards with his girlfriend when his brother was ready to leave for work and the one owning the car asked me to make his brother hurry up. I told him it was time he learned to stand up to his brother like he did when they were small. So he told his brother he was leaving and if he wanted a ride he better come now. Brother kept playing cards and soon we heard the car backing out of the driveway. The girfriend told his brother he better get going as his brother was leaving. he replied to his girlfriend with this remark " Don`t worry, he will only go as far as the corner and he will drive back". Was he ever surprised when his brother never came back for him and he then asked me for a ride to work. I felt it was time he learned he didn`t rule the house, so I told him that he had a ride if he had wanted one. The next day a neighbor told me she saw my son thumbing a ride on the Northway ramp. You can bet after that he was ready to leave when his brother was. They not only have different colored hair, but the blond has blue eyes while his brother has brown eyes. They are still as different as day and night-- one is book smart and talks like he was an executive working in a high position, while the other one is head smart in different ways, like he knows electrician , pluming, repairing cars , etc, but talks more like a regular everyday worker. The blond is three minutes older and only weighed 5 pounds 1 1/2 ounces and was shorter than his brother. The younger brown haired one weighed 6 pounds 11 3/4 ounces and was a bit taller. Two beautiful babies with completely different temperaments- one was very outgoing and the other one grew up thinking he wasn`t as smart as his brother. I never caught on to this till they were in their teens.

While one twin had brown hair, his brother`s hair was almost white when he was born. So far all the other kids still have their blond hair- even the ones in their 50`s. I figured it is staying longer due to having both parents born blonds.

Wish I had gotten to know both of Walt`s parents, but they died when he was just 13 and almost 15 yrs old. Much of what I learned about them was from Walt`s older brothers and sister. Walt was the baby of his family.

And to think all this started with my Dad and Walt`s Mom being born with blond hair. Or i could say it started with my Mom and Wal`t Dad having dark har.

One more thing I wish to add is that when I was small I always said I was going to marry a man with black hair and Walt`s hair turned black- just as my Dad`s did before turning gray. So, for a few years my childish dream came true.
Another thing I said ,when in High School, was that I would never marry a Morehouse. I dated one- no relation to Walt`s family- back then and a friend asked if I thought we would ever marry. He was a polite man, often giving me boxes of Chocolates, etc., treated me well, but he just wasn`t the type I wanted to live a whole life with. He did once ask me to marry him, but I was honest with him and told him I liked him as a great friend, but I just wasn`t in love with him. I told him he deserved real love and one day he would meet the right person. A few years after Walt and I married we were at the Bowling Ally with my family and just as Walt was ready to throw his ball down the ally, there came the one I had dated years before. He came over to where I was sitting and said he wanted me to meet his wife and that I was right- the right woman had come along. Walt got so jealous that he tossed his ball and it went right down the gutter. He had four stikes in a row and now a gutter ball. I am glad he eventually outgrew his jealousy before it destroyed our marriage. When we first married he once told me that all women were alike and his first wife was a runner. They broke up after he came home on furlough from the Army and found her in their bed with another man they both knew. I asked him what he did. He said all he did was tell the man- you want her, you got her. Then he walked out and flattened all 4 tires on the man`s car. I met him a few years after that. It didn`t take me long to convince him that all women are not alike.

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