Friday, May 24, 2013

Our Changing World

It’s difficult to realize that many of our current citizens don’t have real awareness of many changes that are taken for granted.  How can it be that good string is now a luxury?  Seventy-five years ago nearly all packages were tied with string securely tied.  As soon as the buyer unwrapped his purchases the string was carefully added to the ball of string to be used as needed.

Who among our teenaged population would make certain that he had a tire patching kit – or an easily attached jack, for that matter?  Anyone capable of driving a car was expected to know how to change a tire.  And in case no good inner tube was available, there were the supplies for mending a small puncture.

Kerosene lamps and lanterns were standard household items until the luxury of Coleman lanterns became common.  And those required spare mantels lest one in use became damaged.

Insulation did not come from the building supply companies.  Should the unpadded wire bed springs need to have a warm and more comfortable layers of newspaper will improve the rest of the sleeper.  of course there were always a number of luxury covers or preferred feather ticks.

As a child I spent much time pretending to make doll dresses although needing some way to close them was a constant problem.  Buttonholes were much to difficult so pins were inserted where needed.  Of course most of my own clothes were well provided with buttons of all sizes.

Today’s children have more choices.  Even a small child soon learns how to use a zipper.  Other fasteners are being developed, machines provide the buttonholes, and buttons are fast becoming decorations.

A nightly chore in most households was winding the clock along with any watches or alarm clocks.  It is now common to have batteries replaced in our wall clocks, our [blank space] and our watches.  It sometimes feels that we have been deprived of a privilege, an adult responsibility, a pleasant [blank space] no longer being able to as, “Did you wind the clock?”

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Christopher's Song

Little boy you are tired and sleepy
Put your head on the pillow just so
The sun is so warm and so pleasant
You’ll soon be asleep there I know

Sleep little Christopher sleep
Little boy with the bright golden hair
Sleep little Christopher sleep
Your Grandma will drive you with care

The trees wave their arms as we pass them
The waves sing a song of the sea
Tractors, and horses, and windmills go by
But Christopher’s eyes do not see

Sleep little Christopher sleep
Little boy with the two eyes so blue
Sleep little Christopher sleep
Your Grandpa is waiting for you

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Name Game

As we stop and consider the possibilities we can indeed find a real cause for exploration.  Perhaps there is a clue in the spelling of the surname.  Does it end in ‘son’ or ‘sen’?  That spelling will determine it’s country of origin.

It is well to separate the obvious syllables in order to compare them with your past experience of similar names.  Almost unaware of doing so we presume to assign all ‘Mac or Mc’ names to Scotland, O’brien or Patrick to Ireland, and quite likely, Roosevelt or Styssant* points to Holland.

Regarding the origins of my own variety of surnames, I unconsciously assign charastics to each.  My husband’s forefathers tended to have English-sounding names – Park, Paxton and Haws.  As the siblings married we find Gingery, Norine, Jones and Ackerman.

My father’s background includes Harrison, Clevenger, Williamson, and Osborn – all very English.  But a quite different picture appears as I contemplate the revealing assortment of Dutch, French, & English names in my mother’s family.  I find such names as Roosa, Turner, Rappalje, Oakley, and Montayne appearing across the years.  They appear to be all sorts of reasons for the bearers of such arrival in America and for a variety of livelihoods.  Among the ladies teaching stood high with one nurse.  The men were at times carpenters, farmers and a sprinkling of soldiers.  Just possibly some official was notable for having a country named for him.

Adding spice to the interesting subject of names stop and consider the impact of the affect of forms of address.  We feel particular interest in hearing “Congressman”, Judge, Professor, Admiral, General, and Doctor. 1) Just watch the quick increase of interest as the faces of the newly informed that first become alert and responsive.  The expressions of the newcomers can be most interesting.

My husband was a veterinarian, and he was a member of a group of vets employed by the Dept. of Agriculture to test milk cows.  As we were moved frequently nearly all of our acquaintances bore the title of “Dr”.  Our children tended to substitute that word for ‘Mister’ and clearly saw no reason to do otherwise.  Any friend of Dad’s would be Dr.

One of our landladies was so titillated by having two of our group as tenants she seemed to desire special satisfaction by constantly saying, “Doctor Ellsworth is there anything you need?” “Doctor Herndon, it’s so nice to have you men here.  I just know we’ll be the best of friends.”  Doubtless some of us went out of our way to “Doctor” the others in our crew lest someone feel unappreciated.

One of our family stories relates the time that a doctor was called to treat a lady with a critical condition.  She lay quietly, eyes closed, and apparently uncaring.  The doctor was unable to suggest a treatment so he shook his head and whispered, “I’m afraid there is noting I can do.”  From the invalid’s bed came a frantic whisper, “I aint dead, I aint dead!”

Impatiently her husband responded, ‘Hush, Jennie, the doctor knows!”  Here we find the attitude that the form of address used establishes the undeniable profession of the fortunate bearer.

There are, of course, numerous names that do not appeal to the general public.  In fact some are undesirable due to their connections.  In my time the names of Stalin, Hitler, Chang Kai Check, Mussolini, and Castro ring offensive bells.  yet when a person has built a reputation of right living and reliability he has reason to honor the name given on his birth certificate.  He has the privilege and responsibility of keeping its image clear.

My high school class included three or four students with Jewish names.  Young Givirtzman was the son of the shoe store owner.  he was a good student.  At our fiftieth reunion the same man had a totally different name.  Convenience and good business brought about the change.

After a woman marries with the understanding that she will keep her birth name.  Or she may combine that one with her new husband’s.  Children will be able to choose.

My newly married niece might be tempted to cling to the easily written name of Dewy rather than use the more complicated name, Santonasto.  And how will their offspring decide to be – should surnames still be in vogue?

*Not quite sure of the spelling she used on this.  Some of the letters are crossed out and not sure what she was trying to correct.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Cowboy Pat

It was during my teaching year on a Wyoming homestead that I became acquainted with Pat.  He was definitely not the type of person a young teacher would consider her ‘dream boat’, but he was well behaved and more than willing to serve as an escort.  The teacher who lived at the next school knew him from the previous year.

When Miss Van developed a chest cold and really needed a caring companion, Pat was there and rubbed some Mentholatum on her chest.  He felt it was neighborly, Im sure.

When Pat was in our area he made himself useful by getting in the kindling for our stoves or supplying water.  In addition he often had some interesting news.  We had no telephones or newspapers so we were eager to know about the other teachers and their families.

At times Pat used a wrong word in expressing his opinions.  I was really impressed when he spoke of ‘compensition’ while meaning competition.

I have no knowledge of Pat’s home base, but in that Godforsaken no man’s land we were pleased to have him as a friend.  I trust that somewhere there was a haven for that well meaning, but unpolished member of the human race.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Neighbor Ananias

No doubt the fellow had a proper name yet in our home be bore the unenviable name of Ananias.  Undoubtedly he had earned that name because of versions of the truth, entertaining though they were.  That natural ability made him a welcome visitor in our farm home.

The man’s work in a slaughter house located three quarters of a mile away allowed him to acquire from time to time some small knife or other tool that he kindly offered to my mother.  She felt some uncertainty  about accepting these ‘maybe’ gifts.  Possibly she offered some small item in return.

When one of her daughters became quarantined with a case of Scarlet Fever, Ananias appeared with a copy of the Sunday comic’s and a magazine or two.  He valued our good opinion, and we saw no harm in showing friendship.  We hoped he would not intrude on our neighborliness.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Cowboys and other Interesting Characters

Henry was a sometime occupant of a tiny cabin at Glenrulac, the mountain ranch where I boarded in the early thirties while teaching.  My landlord was the president of the school board and needed transportation for his six year old daughter.  Glenrulac was a lovely spot among Boxelder trees fed by a warm stream.

Henry had served as an Aide-de-camp during one of the wars and when present he was an asset to the establishment.  Fuel for the fireplace which heated the living area was constantly needed, snow had to be cleared away, and garbage needed disposal.  Potatoes needed to be dug and stored and milk was brought from the farm three-fourths of a mile down stream.

Henry was quiet, obliging, and trustworthy.  Two or three of his fingers had been injured, but he was an accomplished handler of some “Bones” at various country dances.  When he was “away” for such events we missed him.

His private domain was a small log building just beyond the clothes lines.  It was so convenient to be able to call on Henry for errands and a bit of odd jobs.  The lighting system was supplied with power from the upper falls.  He understood it and its eccentricities.  There were times when the mail would need to be picked up two miles below the ranch house.  And then three year old Lynette was a very independent young miss whom everyone was aware might fall from the foot bridge while watching the shiny fish below.  Henry would have found tasks to perform near by.  He felt needed and appreciated.

As Mr. Wilder, the owner of the property became more helpless and dependent, I’ve no doubt that Henry kept a close watch on the man whom he respected.  And when the ‘end’ came it was Henry who found is superior officer lying on the floor of his ranch home.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Would you like to take a walk?

Just join me for half an hour tour of my neighborhood.  As a result of having lived in this area for about thirty-five years I feel qualified to act as a guide, relating tales of former and current residents.

As we leave my home I’ll mention the house across the street.  There are two very tall palm trees in the front yard.  Somehow I feel they are lacking a tropical setting.  The pleasant couple living there “manicure” their lawn so the rest of us feel obligated to be in step.

My neighbor on the south raised a family of three daughters and a son.  like many families they had ups and downs.  Both parents were employed though they had arrived with so little that discarded vegetables from the market were gratefully added to their menu.  For several years they had much joy from digging clams.

Across a short street we pass a house inherited from a nice lady whose husband lost his life in a drunken brawl somewhere in the Deep South.  She was unable to adjust to the single life so appeared to “give up”.

Moving along we pass well-kept yards and several homes with changes in their appearances.  Garages may now be family rooms, plain windows have become bay windows, and front porches have ben enlarged or are beautified by grill work.

When we reach the corner we go west to the playground of Adam School.  On Saturday we are likely to see a game of soccer in progress.  In fact there maybe three games in all as Adam Park is just beyond.  I really enjoy watching the young players who are dressed in shorts and knee socks.  They are trying so hard to be the best.  Families sit on the grass eating and talking.

Across the street we see Minami Center.  It’s a popular spot and is used by adults and school children.  There is a baseball diamond, basketball courts, and best of all several tennis courts.  I’ll never understand why my own children neglected to learn tennis.  Yet it isn't any easier to inspire one’s children to be athletic than to force them to develop their musical abilities.  Where is the enthusiasm?

Walking allows us to view the low hills to the west and notice a low-lying fog bank.  One morning when I heard a crop-dusting plane just beyond the park I hurriedly gathered four small grand children to go with me to watch the activity.  The youngest child became frustrated when both feet tried to go into the same pant-leg.  But we were able to see several dustings delivered by the plane.  Children need to experience unusual happenings.

We hurry along till we are past the park and find ourselves opposite the Co. Fairgrounds.  Quite often there are special events taking place there.  Usually we see numerous RV’s, possibly some horse trailers, and a stream of exhibitors.  One group is the Mineral Society and another the Strawberry Show.

We invited a granddaughter and her friend to go to the Circus there.  Each girl had about $1.00 to use for treats but both were shy about asking the “hawkers.”  Finally I asked by husband to get them some cotton candy which solved their problem as well as saving their money.  Probably I would have carried along some food for my own youngsters.

Without stopping we walk along under some eucalyptus trees – the messiest, most unattractive trees imaginable.  They constantly shed bark and there is no one to clean it up.

Back into our own neighborhood we see familiar faces and are greeted.  One neighbor is busy in his garage, sawing, shaping, and finishing a variety of attractive cupboards and entertainment centers.  Another publishes a newssheet for the Lifetime Learning Institute.  I am pleased to live in an area where many are busy just living.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Open House

“Bed and Breakfast” may be a relatively new term.  Yet we did not consider our week-end guests as a source of profit.  Rather they were easily entertained and our two daughters were more than cooperative.  We felt we should willingly share our home with some of the Vandenburg fellows who yearned for some family life.  Here there were few rules and considerable freedom.

No extravagant meals were served, no beds to make – nor any provided, and no alcohol was allowed.  Our girls and at times another girl or two provided companionship.  Our small dog was always eager to take a walk.  Table games and croquet allowed competition.

One young fellow, a Catholic, entered the front door by exclaiming, “God Bless this home.”  Another had some talent for painting and registered in an art class at Hancock.  There were many discussions and takes of home life in Idaho or Pennysylvania.

On Sunday morning Mom and Dad dressed quietly, tip-toed into the kitchen, and ate a light meal.  The sleeping-bag forms on the living room floor were not disturbed as we stepped over and around them.  We drove away to attend a Bible Class and for Choir practice – After an hour and a half Dad drove home to pick up his passengers.

It is fair to say that it was a fairly profitable venture as the two most regular became members of the family.  We have been provided with four grandaughters and two grandsons.  As of yet non has joined the armed forces, but Lisa will be commissioned as a Navy nurse in December

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Don’t Just Stand There

As I answered the door that Saturday morning I had no inkling of the sort of day I was to have.  There stood a strangely subdued neighbor girl, this youngest of four.  She was holding some library books.

“Mrs. Park, will you take these over to the school for me?  They are due next week.”

“I’ll be glad to Susie.  Has something happened to your father?  I know your mother just got home, and she was sure that he was out of danger.”

“He was real good, but now he’s dead and we are all going to San Diego as soon as we are ready.”

“How will you go?  Your station wagon is down there, and you wont be able to fit in the VW.  Who is going with you?”

“I don’t know, but we called the police.”

Suddenly realizing that I might be ‘up to bat’ I hurried next door.  Sure enough a speechless police officer stood helplessly by.  I looked around.  The mother in-law, two high school girls, and two young ones stood quietly near their hastily assembled luggage.  I began to put two and two together.

The woman standing before me was a zombie.  Her eyes were fired, and she appeared to be detached.  Over and over she stated in a self-accusing tone, “I killed him.  I killed him.  I killed him.”

In desperation I appealed to the officer, requesting permission to take her to my doctor.  It was plain to see that she was in no shape to make the trip.  As my mind considered – and rejected various possibilities, I found only one feasible solution.

Just as we were ready to go to the doctor’s, I rushed home and spoke to my daughters.  “Tell Dad we’ll take our Falcon and their Volkswagen.  We’ll need a thermos of cold water as it’s going to be a hot trip.

When the doctor was told the circumstances he was quick to give Marie a sedative.  He handed me an envelope containing some extra pills which I promised to leave with her sister-in-law who was a nurse.

Two of the girls, one a Junior in High School, and their mother climbed in the Volkswagen.  I knew little if anything about driving one, but I could always ask questions.  My young companion should have given the answers but her mother was able to instruct me.  Shelly did not volunteer any kind of information as she may have been in shock.

Fortunately I had a close idea of the route to follow and all events well except for the unseasonable heat.  I doubt that either car had air conditioning, yet there were no complaints.  It was fortunate that there were no sounds of grief.  I was not prepared for such outbursts.

Somewhere between L.A. and San Diego we felt the need for a break as some refreshment would be advisable, and my left leg was in desperate need of straightening out.  The leg space was very cramped.  We found a small grocery and bough bread, cold cuts, fruit and drinks.  That appeared to lighten our spirits quite a bit.

As we reached San Diego I followed the directions to the home of the sister of the deceased.  She may have been surprised but at the same time relieved.  Decisions needed to be made.

The members of the miller family were too numb to function except for Marie.  The older girls were capable of helping with the house work which was wise.  The little ones were meanwhile reassured.  The father had been in the hospital for a week or more before his surgery.  A blood clot had formed and caused his death.

My husband and I did not feel ready to return to Santa Maria in the heat.  We contacted a family we had known in Santa Maria and whose son was a close friend of one our our sons. After a light meal we drove to their home and visited for an hour or more.  The ice cream we all enjoyed was a treat.

During our homeward trip we kept hearing some unfamiliar road noises.  We checked all the tires but to no avail.  Eventually we found one of the rear windows partially open.  After it was closed the frustrating sound no longer existed.  We reached home at about 4:00 a.m. and stretched out in our own bed.

From time to time we have had numerous visits from Marie or one of the daughters with a bridegroom in tow.  Some of their memories in this home were good ones.  Strangely our relationship has been closer since the unfortunate occurrence that we were able to help them get through.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Random Notes

Margaret – some type of concern – health, family, safety etc.

Papa seemed never to have enough time unless he was driving a team and showing us the contents of his trunk.  He tended to consume his food so he could keep going.  “If I just had 40 men.”  Where’ve you been all the forenoon*?

Mama, too, pushed herself.  First things followed by next things, and yet more things.  All along her busy mind kept planning, deciding, and accomplishing.

Dear Grace coping as best she could, ever fearful through not foolishly.  Such a dear friend.

Chick, the neighbor with grand hopes to be a car owner, a dog breeder

*at least I think she wrote forenoon. It was written along the edge of the page and I cant be sure of the spelling.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

My Thoughts re:Heroes

Until we know more than one fact of a person’s life, we can not judge fairly the value of their heroism.  A hero must be self-disciplined and be dedicated to certain values.  Oftentimes someone in his life has been a role-model.  At other times an event has made a strong impression on him be it a lynching, a fear of fire, or seeing a helpless child or animal in distress.

Some heroism is sparked by disaster, some by a desire to effect change, and some by just deciding to stand up and be counted.  Quite often heroes become so by circumstances – shipwrecks, floods, avalanches etc

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Taken for Granted

The taken for granted use of gasoline, heating oils and harnessing of The Geysers located near Geyserville, CA have long been a marvel in my thinking.  Natural gas exploding from the earth just a few miles from our Colo. farm and created new vision and opened wider fields of possible sources of ‘cheap’ energy.  Great power to be harnessed.

As I lay in the hospital bed after the birth of my first child, I scanned an article in ‘Life’ mag. about a young calf born in New England, but fathered by an Argentine bull.  I challenged by obstetrician wondering why our medical profession being behind the times.  He was a bit nonplussed.

Candle-making a lost art?  Not so, but a useful one.  Coleman lanterns most useful but requiring gasoline and some expertise.

Small stoves become popular as kerosene could be used in hot weather as a fuel rather than coal or wood.  Much comfort resulted.

One invention we have all profited from is the rubber tired vehicles.  To travel on wheels with iron rims rather than inflated rubber or pneumatic tires.  Consider our athletic shoes we love.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

My Role Model

Not being conscious of having a hero, I’ll settle for a role model.  Not many are qualified for such a responsible position, but without a doubt my mother filled that position.

With better than average education and considerable ability, Mama gave her family the image of a courageous woman, well mannered, and talented.  By the time I was old enough to remember her she served as doctor, teacher and entertainer.  She was a source of anecdotes, stories, fun and games, and book lore.  She served our clothes, cut our hair, and baked our bread.

Life was fascinating as we accompanied her to the country school where she taught.  She and Papa ‘broke’ the young horses, chopped trees, and trapped muskrats.  A gun was kept within reach to control chicken hawks by day or late travelers at night when Papa was gone.  We harvested wild mushrooms, raised ducklings from wild duck eggs, and came to the rescue when the neighbor’s pet bear had entered their house and was vandalizing it.

I treasure several samples of her literary offerings.  Creativity was always searching for expression in her busy life


I received a large box of genealogy goodies from my Aunt and in going through it found a treasure trove of stories my Grandmother wrote. 

These need to be shared and I figured this would be one of the better ways to share with the family and any others who may come across them.

Not every story has a date and I believe most are about events that happened as she remembers or she added to the memory, making a fantasy out of the story.

I hope you enjoy them.