Wednesday, July 1, 2015

"The Station": Building and Running a 1940s Gas and Service Station

Alger Jordan Gochenour 
My grandfather Alger Jordan Gochenour built and ran a gas station and garage on Military Road in Tonawanda, New York. Sadly my grandfather passed away when I was three. He was only 51 years old.

My father was a teenager when the station was built. Dad learned on the job. When my grandfather's health precluded him from working Dad took over the business, supporting his parents and unmarried sister Alice as well as his own family.

I grew up behind The Station in a large 1830s farmhouse, seen on the right in the photo below. Sometimes I would go into the garage to buy a cold pop from the vending machine. There were tools and supplies all over, cement floors and cinder block walls. I remember the hydraulic lift that raised the car into the air while my dad worked from below.

Dad's hand always had grime deep into the lines and under the nails. He would scrub with Lava soap. I would kiss all his "owies" better. Sometimes when he was plowing snow at night I would ride along with him. The factory parking lots were empty and dark.

Dad as a young man
Dad wrote about The Station, as we called it, in his memoirs. Here is Dad's story and photographs.
The house had a large front yard on Military Road
"Our house had a very large front lawn, and Dad would sit on the front porch and watch the cars as they passed by. He never liked factory work and thought he would like to do something different. He thought he had a good location for a service station garage, so he decided to build one.

Alger Gochenour
Alger working on the station. Dad's car.

"Dad signed a contract with the Frontier Oil Company to sell their products. Frontier was a small local company. It had a refinery on River Road, by the Niagara River. They agreed to install the gas tanks, pumps, lights, signs, paint the station, install a hoist, and an air compressor. Soon after we opened they blacktopped the driveway.
Alger Gochenour
Finally we were ready to open the station for business. We had just received a load of gravel and I was spreading it on the driveway when a car pulled up to the gas pumps. He practically had to bulldoze his way there, but he said he wanted to be our first customer. He lived up the street on Military, and his name was Witmer, and we always called him Witt.

Levant (Lee) Becker, dad's uncle
"There were a few people that helped Dad build the station. There was my Uncle Lee, a close friend of Dad’s, Carl Yotter, Uncle Ruben [Becker], and I. But Dad did most of the work. Mother always did her share also. 
"In the (above) Lee is painting the fence. Years later I replaced the fence and I said “the first person that damages this fence will be killed!” Well soon after, I was working on a car that had no brakes, and had to park it so I could work on another car. When I drove out I forgot it had no brakes, and drove right through the fence. So much for threats and predictions.

"A few years after we opened the station we bought a fairly new 1950 Ford pickup truck. I spray painted it blue and white, the company colors. Then we had the station name painted on the doors. We called the station Rosemont Service because that was the name of the street that would one day be built next to the station.
The Rosemont Station and tuck
 

"When we first opened I quit my job and dad continued working at Chevy, on the night shift, and at the station during the daytime. But not long after he started having chest pains and could no longer work. He had always worked hard, had been a Fire Chief at the Sheridan Park Volunteer Fire Company, been a Boy Scout leader, hunted and fished, so the inactivity was hard on him.

Uncle Lee Becker
"When we first opened the station we sold gas for 18-cents a gallon for regular, and 21-cents a gallon for high test. We washed cars, sold and repaired tires, sold batteries, polishes and accessories. As time went by we could not compete with the specialty stores so we had to do other things like towing, snow plowing, and heavy repair work.
Dad about age 17
I weighed about 129 lbs in those days and wrestled with truck tires that weighed more than I did. I had a five-foot bar that I used when I removed a tire from a semitruck. I would put the lug wrench on the lug, insert a five foot crowbar in the wrench and jump on it to loosen them up. When I got the tire off, I used a sledge hammer and some pry bars to take it apart. Since we bad no power tools, it was all bull work.

"In the winter I only wore a T-shirt and a Navy turtle neck sweater because if I sweat, then went outside in the wind to pump gas, I would freeze, so I was always cold. One night after I had worked about twelve hours during a snow storm I went into our apartment. All I could think of was to hop into a hot tub to warm up. I stripped and jumped in when the tub was filled. Then I noticed that some of my toes were black. This scared me because I knew they must be frozen, so I jumped right back out so I could slowly thaw them. I felt colder than ever then! I had bought new boots, and that day [had] decided to wear them. They were too tight, that is why my toes froze. I learned a lesson that it is better to have boots too loose than too tight! Since the boots were new, I gave them to a friend, Bob Cole, that worked at the station. Luckily, I did not loose any toes. [I personally remember this incident!I never saw Dad so upset.]

"Work during the winter was hard. Sometimes when it stormed it would drop up to 18 inches of snow overnight. The wind always seemed to blow, and when it stormed there could be snow drifts six to eight feet high. Then I would have to get up early in the morning to plow out the station, the house driveway, and snow blow a couple hundred feet of sidewalk, before I could open the station.
During bad storms, many customers’ cars would not start, and I would take mother with me in the tow truck. She would steer the broken car and I would tow her back to the station to repair it. Mother also did bookkeeping, drove to pick up parts, went to the bank, and took home customers while we worked on their cars.
Typical winter snow; back of the Military Rd house

"During the winter storms, the cars we worked on were loaded with snow on top, and underneath. Sometimes when we had them on the hoist, large chunks of frozen snow would drop on us. Also icy water dripped on us as we worked from below. Even though the engines were like blocks of ice, we had to work with bare hands, because gloves were too bulky. Since I could not afford to hire someone to repair things around the station when they broke, I did the work myself. I repaired the roof when it leaked, replaced broken windows, built shelves, sent out monthly bills, made out tax forms, and any other thing that had to be done.

"Sister Alice was a big help by entering the daily sales into the ledger. Occasionally I would have to hire Charlie Tingly for a plugged sewer, or a plumbing problem. The Oil Company repaired the gas pumps, hoist, compressor, lights, signs, and other equipment. Many hours were spent plowing snow from nearby business parking lots in the winter. Because my hands were wet so much of the time, they were calloused and cracked, and black with dirt and grease. When I got married I used steel wool to try to clean them. They looked bad! It was dirty work, and at the end of the day I would remove my shoes before I went into the house, and change before I sat down.
The Station at night time
"Running the station was a hard life, and I thought I had better make a change before I grew too old. I knew the mental and physical stress was wearing me down. Even with all the hard work and time spent at the station, all we ever did was barely make a living. So Joyce and Mother and I started talking about selling the house and business. We talked about buying a motel in the Adirondacks, or me going to work at a factory, or working as a mechanic at a car dealership, but I really didn’t like any of those options. I knew I did not want to go into another business. Joyce wanted to be near her family, and since my mother was living with us, we decided we would move to Detroit where I would get a job with one of the major car companies. I hoped to get a job at General Motors where my father-in-law and brother-in-law Don worked.

"The man that bought the house and business was named Harper, and he used the station to run his gutter business.

"Harper ran his gutter business from the station for several years. Mother had sold the house and station to him on a land contract, which he eventually paid off. He either lost or sold the property, and it was torn down and a condominium was built there. They say the wrecking ball had a hard time breaking it up."

After moving to Michigan Dad found work at Chrysler and became an Experimental Mechanic. He loved his work.
Dad at his job at Chrysler in Highland Park, Detroit 

Monday, June 29, 2015

1968 Fashion Advice: Purses Are Not To Be Used As A Weapon

Judith Keith's 1968 fashion advice book is filled with great black and white illustrations. The advice may be dated but those of us who remember those days can enjoy a nostalgic trip down memory lane. 

Those who don't remember them can learn a few things about what their predecessors had to deal with. RULES about everything! Including how to carry a purse.

Ladies needed a wardrobe of purses for every occasion:

  • Daytime: durable textured leather was preferred in basic colors found in one's wardrobe. Leather is preferred as more lasting than vinyls "and their quality enriches any outfit."
  • Evening: all silk or velvet or beading
  • Casual: winter wool or summer straw
Handbags with "handles" need to be carried close to the body so you don't "clobber others" with it. "Place arm through handle from the outside in, keeping palm close to the body. The handbag will be balanced and sit close to the hip."
Oh dear. How many innocent victims have you clobbered with your purse? 

Sometimes people purposefully use a purse to clobber. We once had a lady in fur coat clobber our 1973 VW Beetle while we were in it. My husband was trying to parallel park on a Philadelphia street. We were poor and needed the free parking. A Cadillac came up behind us and the driver didn't want to wait. So his wife got out and clobbered our car with a whale of a purse (leather I am sure) and shouted for us to MOVE. It was the only time I was attacked on a Philadelphia street.



Yes, handbags are the weapon of choice of little old ladies everywhere. Here is a story about a Tory Baronness who hit a cyclist with her handbag after he ran a stop light.


http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-508136/Tory-baroness-84-uses-handbag-whack-cyclist-jumped-red-light.html

Younger women know that handbags can also fend off unwanted admirers.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1552096/Youve-got-lovely-eyes.html

The use of the handbag as weapon is so prevalent TV Tropes calls it the "Handbag of Hurt", often "occurring in the Cat Fight and Wimp Fight." They list this usage in television, film and literature,

Keith wisely suggests a daily triage of what is inside your purse. Purge what isn't needed. But, what if we need a brick in case a gunman breaks into the school board meeting and we have to hit them with our purse? Or to save my colleagues? (These stories have appeared in the news.)

Sorry ladies. The rule is to carry that purse close to the hip and don't clobber others.



Sunday, June 28, 2015

A Year With The Fairies: Lady Summer, The Fairies' Serenade, and The Fairies' Graphophone

Lady Summer
Summer is a countess fair
Clothed in shimmering sheen,
Rosy footsteps everywhere
Show where she has been.

The glinting sun, the freshening showers,
The bird and honey bee,
The wealth of foliage and flowers
Show her supremacy.
The Fairies' Serenade
In the mystic hour of night
When the moon is gleaming bright
And little ones in Dreamland play,
The Fairies sing their sweetest lay.

Like a climbing rose they go
To your window, in a row,
And on a nodding rose they sing.
While to and fro they swing and swing.
The Fairies' Graphophone
The Fairies all wanted a graphophone,
So they used for a sounding horn
The bell of a blue morning-glory,
For a needle, a rose's thorn.

Then they put a nasturtium leaf
On an acorn cup for a disk,
And the music that comes from that graphophone--
No wonder they frolic and frisk.

from A Year With the Fairies by Anna M. Scott, 1914
+++++
What was a Graphophone? I had heard of a gramophone and the  phonograph; we own an Edison Disc Player and a Victrola from before 1920.

I learned that the Edison phonograph (1877) used tin foil as the recording medium, and the graphophone (1880) used wax. In the 1890s the gramophone using hard disk recordings allowed mas production. The company that produced the Graphophone became Columbia Records. The name Graphophone continued into the 1930s.

In 1906 the Victrola with the 'talking horn' changed the industry and recording machines became known as Victrolas.

To learn more about graphophones and the history of recording machines check out these websites:

  • http://www.recording-history.org/HTML/phono_technology1.php
  • http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/berlhtml/berlgramo.html
  • http://www.tiki-toki.com/timeline/entry/145959/Media-Today-Chapter-10-The-Recording-Industry/#vars!date=1898-05-01_08:17:33!


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Roots of Understanding: Junior Great Books and The Happy Prince

In Sixth Grade (1963-4) I was in a Junior Great Books Club. It met after school and I believe was led by a parent. It was a smallish group, and being new to the school I didn't know any of the kids.

Like the Great Books Club for adults we read a work and discussed it. Only I don't remember much discussion really.

I had forgotten about this club until I chanced upon the book set I used while in a thrift shop. Of course I brought it home.
 
Moving a dozen times meant sacrificing books. They are heavy and we had a weight limit; above the limit the costs came out of pocket. Having shallow pockets...books were sold and donated. The one volume of this set that I kept for many years included A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde.

I loved them both. They have similar themes. Scrooge must learn brotherly love, to give up his riches to help others, and thus reunited with mankind finds redemption. The Happy Prince never knew happiness until he gave away everything, even his very self, to help others. The Happy Prince broke my heart again and again when I read it.
Illustration for the first edition by Walter Crane
The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde

High above the city, on a tall column, stood the statue of the Happy Prince. He was gilded all over with thin leaves of fine gold, for eyes he had two bright sapphires, and a large red ruby glowed on his sword-hilt.
     He was very much admired indeed.'He is as beautiful as a weathercock,' remarked one of the Town Councillors who wished to gain a reputation for having artistic taste; 'only not quite so useful,' he added, fearing lest people should think him unpractical, which he really was not.
     'Why can't you be like the Happy Prince?' asked a sensible mother of her little boy who was crying for the moon. 'The Happy Prince never dreams of crying for anything.'
     'I am glad there is some one in the world who is quite happy', muttered a disappointed man as he gazed at the wonderful statue.
     'He looks just like an angel,' said the Charity Children as they came out of the cathedral in their bright scarlet cloaks, and their clean white pinafores.
     'How do you know?' said the Mathematical Master, 'you have never seen one.'
     'Ah! but we have, in our dreams,' answered the children; and the Mathematical Master frowned and looked very severe, for he did not approve of children dreaming.
     One night there flew over the city a little Swallow. His friends had gone away to Egypt six weeks before, but he had stayed behind, for he was in love with the most beautiful Reed. He had met her early in the spring as he was flying down the river after a big yellow moth, and had been so attracted by her slender waist that he had stopped to talk to her.
     'Shall I love you said the Swallow', who liked to come to the point at once, and the Reed made him a low bow. So he flew round and round her, touching the water with his wings, and making silver ripples. This was his courtship, and it lasted all through the summer.
     'It is a ridiculous attachment,' twittered the other Swallows, 'she has no money, and far too many relations;' and indeed the river was quite full of Reeds. Then, when the autumn came, they all flew away.
     After they had gone he felt lonely, and began to tire of his lady-love. 'She has no conversation,' he said, 'and I am afraid that she is a coquette, for she is always flirting with the wind.' And certainly, whenever the wind blew, the Reed made the most graceful curtsies. I admit that she is domestic,' he continued, 'but I love travelling, and my wife, consequently, should love travelling also.'
     'Will you come away with me?' he said finally to her; but the Reed shook her head, she was so attached to her home.
     'You have been trifling with me,' he cried, 'I am off to the Pyramids. Good-bye!' and he flew away.
     All day long he flew, and at night-time he arrived at the city. 'Where shall I put up?' he said 'I hope the town has made preparations.'
     Then he saw the statue on the tall column. 'I will put up there,' he cried; 'it is a fine position with plenty of fresh air.' So he alighted just between the feet of the Happy Prince.
     'I have a golden bedroom,' he said softly to himself as he looked round, and he prepared to go to sleep; but just as he was putting his head under his wing, a large drop of water fell on him.'What a curious thing!' he cried, 'there is not a single cloud in the sky, the stars are quite clear and bright, and yet it is raining. The climate in the north of Europe is really dreadful. The Reed used to like the rain, but that was merely her selfishness.'
     Then another drop fell.
     'What is the use of a statue if it cannot keep the rain off?' he said; 'I must look for a good chimney-pot,' and he determined to fly away.
     But before he had opened his wings, a third drop fell, and he looked up, and saw - Ah! what did he see?
     The eyes of the Happy Prince were filled with tears, and tears were running down his golden cheeks. His face was so beautiful in the moonlight that the little Swallow was filled with pity.
     'Who are you?' he said.
     'I am the Happy Prince.'
     'Why are you weeping then?' asked the Swallow; 'you have quite drenched me.'
     'When I was alive and had a human heart,' answered the statue, 'I did not know what tears were, for I lived in the Palace of Sans-Souci where sorrow is not allowed to enter. In the daytime I played with my companions in the garden, and in the evening I led the dance in the Great Hall. Round the garden ran a very lofty wall, but I never cared to ask what lay beyond it, everything about me was so beautiful. My courtiers called me the Happy Prince, and happy indeed I was, if pleasure be happiness. So I lived, and so I died. And now that I am dead they have set me up here so high that I can see all the ugliness and all the misery of my city, and though my heart is made of lead yet I cannot choose but weep.'
     'What, is he not solid gold?' said the Swallow to himself. He was too polite to make any personal remarks out loud.
     'Far away,' continued the statue in a low musical voice,'far away in a little street there is a poor house. One of the windows is open, and through it I can see a woman seated at a table. Her face is thin and worn, and she has coarse, red hands, all pricked by the needle, for she is a seamstress. She is embroidering passion-fowers on a satin gown for the loveliest of the Queen's maids-of-honour to wear at the next Court-ball. In a bed in the corner of the room her little boy is lying ill. He has a fever, and is asking for oranges. His mother has nothing to give him but river water, so he is crying. Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow, will you not bring her the ruby out of my sword-hilt? My feet are fastened to this pedestal and I cannot move.'
     'I am waited for in Egypt,' said the Swallow. 'My friends are flying up and down the Nile, and talking to the large lotus flowers. Soon they will go to sleep in the tomb of the great King. The King is there himself in his painted coffin. He is wrapped in yellow linen, and embalmed with spices. Round his neck is a chain of pale green jade, and his hands are like withered leaves.'
     'Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow,' said the Prince,'will you not stay with me for one night, and be my messenger? The boy is so thirsty, and the mother so sad.
     'I don't think I like boys,' answered the Swallow. 'Last summer, when I was staying on the river, there were two rude boys, the miller's sons, who were always throwing stones at me. They never hit me, of course; we swallows fly far too well for that, and besides, I come of a family famous for its agility; but still, it was a mark of disrespect.'
     But the Happy Prince looked so sad that the little Swallow was sorry. 'It is very cold here,' he said 'but I will stay with you for one night, and be your messenger.'
     'Thank you, little Swallow,' said the Prince.
     So the Swallow picked out the great ruby from the Prince's sword, and flew away with it in his beak over the roofs of the town.
     He passed by the cathedral tower, where the white marble angels were sculptured. He passed by the palace and heard the sound of dancing. A beautiful girl came out on the balcony with her lover. 'How wonderful the stars are,' he said to her,'and how wonderful is the power of love!' 'I hope my dress will be ready in time for the State-ball,' she answered; 'I have ordered passion-flowers to be embroidered on it; but the seamstresses are so lazy.'
     He passed over the river, and saw the lanterns hanging to the masts of the ships. He passed over the Ghetto, and saw the old Jews bargaining with each other, and weighing out money in copper scales. At last he came to the poor house and looked in. The boy was tossing feverishly on his bed, and the mother had fallen asleep, she was so tired. In he hopped, and laid the great ruby on the table beside the woman's thimble. Then he flew gently round the bed, fanning the boy's forehead with his wings. 'How cool I feel,' said the boy, 'I must be getting better;' and he sank into a delicious slumber.
     Then the Swallow flew back to the Happy Prince, and told him what he had done. 'It is curious,' he remarked, 'but I feel quite warm now, although it is so cold.'
     'That is because you have done a good action,' said the Prince. And the little Swallow began to think, and then he fell asleep. Thinking always made him sleepy.
     When day broke he flew down to the river and had a bath.
     'What a remarkable phenomenon,' said the Professor of Omithology as he was passing over the bridge. 'A swallow in winter!' And he wrote a long letter about it to the local newspaper. Every one quoted it, it was full of so many words that they could not understand.
     'To-night I go to Egypt,' said the Swallow, and he was in high spirits at the prospect. He visited all the public monuments, and sat a long time on top of the church steeple. Wherever he went the Sparrows chirruped, and said to each other, 'What a distinguished stranger!' so he enjoyed himself very much.
     When the moon rose he flew back to the Happy Prince. 'Have you any commissions for Egypt?' he cried; 'I am just starting.'
     'Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow,' said the Prince, 'will you not stay with me one night longer?'
     'I am waited for in Egypt,' answered the Swallow. To-morrow my friends will fly up to the Second Cataract. The river-horse couches there among the bulrushes, and on a great granite throne sits the God Memnon. All night long he watches the stars, and when the morning star shines he utters one cry of joy, and then he is silent. At noon the yellow lions come down to the water's edge to drink. They have eyes like green beryls, and their roar is louder than the roar of the cataract.'
     'Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow,' said the Prince,'far away across the city I see a young man in a garret. He is leaning over a desk covered with papers, and in a tumbler by his side there is a bunch of withered violets. His hair is brown and crisp, and his lips are red as a pomegranate, and he has large and dreamy eyes. He is trying to finish a play for the Director of the Theatre, but he is too cold to write any more. There is no fire in the grate, and hunger has made him faint.'
     'I will wait with you one night longer,' said the Swallow, who really had a good heart. 'Shall I take him another ruby?'
     'Alas! I have no ruby now,' said the Prince; 'my eyes are all that I have left. They are made of rare sapphires, which were brought out of India a thousand years ago. Pluck out one of them and take it to him. He will sell it to the jeweller, and buy food and firewood, and finish his play.'
     'Dear Prince,' said the Swallow,'I cannot do that;' and he began to weep.
     'Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow,' said the Prince, 'do as I command you.'
     So the Swallow plucked out the Prince's eye, and flew away to the student's garret. It was easy enough to get in, as there was a hole in the roof. Through this he darted, and came into the room. The young man had his head buried in his hands, so he did not hear the flutter of the bird's wings, and when he looked up he found the beautiful sapphire lying on the withered violets.
     'I am beginning to be appreciated,' he cried; 'this is from some great admirer. Now I can finish my play,' and he looked quite happy.
     The next day the Swallow flew down to the harbour. He sat on the mast of a large vessel and watched the sailors hauling big chests out of the hold with ropes. 'Heave a-hoy!' they shouted as each chest came up. 'I am going to Egypt!' cried the Swallow, but nobody minded, and when the moon rose he flew back to the Happy Prince.
     'I am come to bid you good-bye,' he cried.
     'Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow,' said the Prince,'will you not stay with me one night longer?'
     'It is winter,' answered the Swallow, and the chill snow will soon be here. In Egypt the sun is warm on the green palm-trees, and the crocodiles lie in the mud and look lazily about them. My companions are building a nest in the Temple of Baalbec, and the pink and white doves are watching them, and cooing to each other. Dear Prince, I must leave you, but I will never forget you, and next spring I will bring you back two beautiful jewels in place of those you have given away. The ruby shall be redder than a red rose, and the sapphire shall be as blue as the great sea.
     'In the square below,' said the Happy Prince, 'there stands a little match-girl. She has let her matches fall in the gutter, and they are all spoiled. Her father will beat her if she does not bring home some money, and she is crying. She has no shoes or stockings, and her little head is bare. Pluck out my other eye, and give it to her, and her father will not beat her.
     'I will stay with you one night longer,' said the Swallow,'but I cannot pluck out your eye. You would be quite blind then.'
     'Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow,' said the Prince, 'do as I command you.'
     So he plucked out the Prince's other eye, and darted down with it. He swooped past the match-girl, and slipped the jewel into the palm of her hand. 'What a lovely bit of glass,' cried the little girl; and she ran home, laughing.
     Then the Swallow came back to the Prince. 'You are blind now,' he said, 'so I will stay with you always.'
     'No, little Swallow,' said the poor Prince, 'you must go away to Egypt.'
     'I will stay with you always,' said the Swallow, and he slept at the Prince's feet.
     All the next day he sat on the Prince's shoulder, and told him stories of what he had seen in strange lands. He told him of the red ibises, who stand in long rows on the banks of the Nile, and catch gold fish in their beaks; of the Sphinx, who is as old as the world itself, and lives in the desert, and knows everything; of the merchants, who walk slowly by the side of their camels, and carry amber beads in their hands; of the King of the Mountains of the Moon, who is as black as ebony, and worships a large crystal; of the great green snake that sleeps in a palm-tree, and has twenty priests to feed it with honey-cakes; and of the pygmies who sail over a big lake on large flat leaves, and are always at war with the butterflies.
     'Dear little Swallow,' said the Prince, 'you tell me of marvellous things, but more marvellous than anything is the suffering of men and of women. There is no Mystery so great as Misery. Fly over my city, little Swallow, and tell me what you see there.'
     So the Swallow flew over the great city, and saw the rich making merry in their beautiful houses, while the beggars were sitting at the gates. He flew into dark lanes, and saw the white faces of starving children looking out listlessly at the black streets. Under the archway of a bridge two little boys were lying in one another's arms to try and keep themselves warm. 'How hungry we are' they said. 'You must not lie here,' shouted the Watchman, and they wandered out into the rain.
     Then he flew back and told the Prince what he had seen.
     'I am covered with fine gold,' said the Prince, 'you must take it off, leaf by leaf, and give it to my poor; the living always think that gold can make them happy.'
     Leaf after leaf of the fine gold the Swallow picked off, till the Happy Prince looked quite dull and grey. Leaf after leaf of the fine gold he brought to the poor, and the children's faces grew rosier, and they laughed and played games in the street. 'We have bread nod' they cried.
     Then the snow came, and after the snow came the frost. The streets looked as if they were made of silver, they were so bright and glistening; long icicles like crystal daggers hung down from the eaves of the houses, everybody went about in furs, and the little boys wore scarlet caps and skated on the ice.
     The poor little Swallow grew colder and colder, but he would not leave the Prince, he loved him too well. He picked up crumbs outside the baker's door when the baker was not looking, and tried to keep himself warm by flapping his wings.
     But at last he knew that he was going to die. He had just strength to fly up to the Prince's shoulder once more.'Good-bye, dear Prince!' he murmured, 'will you let me kiss your hand?'
     'I am glad that you are going to Egypt at last, little Swallow,' said the Prince, 'you have stayed too long here; but you must kiss me on the lips, for I love you.'
     'It is not to Egypt that I am going,' said the Swallow. I am going to the House of Death. Death is the brother of Sleep, is he not?'
     And he kissed the Happy Prince on the lips, and fell down dead at his feet.
     At that moment a curious crack sounded inside the statue, as if something had broken. The fact is that the leaden heart had snapped right in two. It certainly was a dreadfully hard frost.
     Early the next morning the Mayor was walking in the square below in company with the Town Councillors. As they passed the column he looked up at the statue: 'Dear me! how shabby the Happy Prince looks!' he said.
     'How shabby indeed!' cried the Town Councillors, who always agreed with the Mayor, and they went up to look at it.
     'The ruby has fallen out of his sword, his eyes are gone, and he is golden no longer,' said the Mayor; 'in fact, he is little better than a beggar!'
     'Little better than a beggar,' said the Town Councillors.
     'And there is actually a dead bird at his feet,' continued the Mayor. 'We must really issue a proclamation that birds are not to be allowed to die here.' And the Town Clerk made a note of the suggestion.
     So they pulled down the statue of the Happy Prince. 'As he is no longer beautiful he is no longer useful,' said the Art Professor at the University.
     Then they melted the statue in a furnace, and the Mayor held a meeting of the Corporation to decide what was to be done with the metal. 'We must have another statue, of course,' he said, 'and it shall be a statue of myself.'
     'Of myself,' said each of the Town Councillors, and they quarrelled. When I last heard of them they were quarrelling still.
     'What a strange thing!' said the overseer of the workmen at the foundry.'This broken lead heart will not melt in the furnace. We must throw it away.' So they threw it on a dust-heap where the dead Swallow was also lying.
     'Bring me the two most precious things in the city,' said God to one of His Angels; and the Angel brought Him the leaden heart and the dead bird.
     'You have rightly chosen,' said God,'for in my garden of Paradise this little bird shall sing for evermore, and in my city of gold the Happy Prince shall praise me.'

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Kitchen Remodel: Day 4

We have now entered the doldrums of the remodel. Today the electrician installed outlets and switches and upgraded the electric system.
That's all there is folks. New wiring.
The old overhead light switch is being replaced in a new location. The old switch wall will be behind the utility cabinet. I asked the electrician to turn it into an electric socket where we can plug in the hand vac or stick vac for recharging, all while inside the cabinet. I am so brilliant.


When the house was built in 1964 they used fiber wrapped copper wire! That is now gone. We are to code.

Nothing more will happen until the inspectors have approved all the plumbing, electric, HVAC, and carpentry work completed so far.

On the bright side we have cobbled together a semblance of order! Our Suki has her family room corner back, the television is reconnected, and there is a table in the kitchen.

In five days it will be back to plastic over the doors and dust and disorder with the drywall installation.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Kitchen Update: Day 3

This used to be our family room. 
Today HVAC installed the vent for the range hood and the plumber changed the plumbing to accommodate the new sink. Its pretty boring stuff visually.
An exciting photo. The little piece of PVC will go to the sink.
Making a hole in my house for the range hood vent
Up on the Housetop, cutting another hole in my roof.
This is my new floor.
The tools
Meantime, the truck, a 2004 Dodge Ram which was my dad's, has been in the shop getting spark plugs and oxygen sensors. I guess after 11 years they need replacing.

Tonight we get away from it all, eating dinner in downtown Royal Oak with a book club. We will discuss The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. More about that....later...


Pumpkin Pie Update

 I got away from the kitchen remodel today. A group of quilters meet weekly at the Senior Center. We have a great time. We work on our own projecypts.

I am working on Pumpkin Pie from Bunny Hill Designs.
I am quilting leaves in the background.

You can find the pattern here:
https://bunnyhilldesigns.com/index.php/pumpkin-pie.html