Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Vintage Patterns: Circus Elephants and Flowers

Blue Ribbon Patterns p-130 includes 23 quilt patterns. The pamphlet was published in 1974, based on patterns that appeared in previous Tower Press pulications.



The Circus Quilt contributed by Betty Nordwall has an adorable elephant border. Once elephants were associated with circuses; thankfully these intelligent creatures are being phased out of such servitude.
Circus parade coming into town, 1930s-early 1940s. Family photo.
"Finished quilt is 35" by 57". It is made of 11" blocks. It requires 1 2/3 yards of white or plain light colored fabric for the top, 1 yard gay stripe, 1 2/3 yards backing, 1 2/3 yards flannel for the middle layer.

"Cut 12 blocks 12"x12" of plain fabric (1/2" seam allowance). Cut a strip 12"x35" of the same fabric. Cut 12 elephants from various print scraps you have. Cut 24 ears and 12 blankets from various plain fabrics.

"Trim blankets with 2 rows of metallic rick-rack and applique on elephants.  Applique elephants on blocks, putting 8 on straight and 4 on diagonal for the corners. Chain sttich head decorations with 6 strand embroidery thread. Embroider star medallion.

"Sew ears together in pairs, leaving open bottoms; turn, and tuck in ear as indicated by arrow and sew in place at bottom and 1/2" up each side only, leaving ears to flop.

"For tents, cut two blocks 9" by 7" (allow 1/4" seams) from the stripe on the diagonal. Applique on center stip, rounding bottom and top curves slightly.

"To make a 1" deep scallop, cut two strips of plain material 1 1/2" x 9" on bias. Sew with right sides together along sides and bottom in a scalloping manner. Attach to tent along top only. Cut a triangle 9" along the base and 6" high on the diaonal stripe. Applique on tent top, curving all sides as needed. Embroider markings and flag staff. Add colorful flag, 2" x 1 1/4" (allowing for 1/4" seam).

"Sew blocks together and make washable yarn (cotton, nylon, or orlon) tails. Cut 3 strands of yarn 9" long, tie in center, fold and braid. Tie end and trim. Tack in place and also on next elephant's trunk. The tail on corer may not reach.

"Baste quilt top to backing and flannel middle layer. For the edging, but 4 yards of 3" stripe on biased, fold in half and iron down. Sew around with 1/2" seam. Quilt or tack as desired."

The Pansy Quilt applique pattern was submitted by Gertrude Riden, Rt. 3, Box 222, Rollin, Missouri. Instructions read, "Here is the pattern. Use your own color combinations. This quilt takes 32, 10 inch appliqued bloks. It is set together with 10 inch solid color blocks."

Hand appliqued, crayon and pen enchanced. by Nancy Bekofske

Next is Old Fashioned Rose, a pieced pattern submitted by Mrs. Rosa Anna Ratlff. "This bautiful quilt is rarely shown today ut if there should be any qult "addicts" among you who may want to tackle this pattern these are the instructions.

Quilt size- 82x108
No. of Blocks - 20
4 blocks wide and 5 blocks long

P-pink R-rose   LtG- light green   Dk. G-dark green  B-brown

Actual size with sean allowance chart for blocks
Four blocks assembled
Increase blcoks to 1 1/2"

Materials needed:
2 1/2 yds dark green
1 3/4 light green
1/3 dark brown
3/4 yd rose
2 1/4 yd pink
1/4 yard pink or green for square between blocks
7 yds white for blocks and strips

"This quilt is made up of 1 1/2 inch squares and at least a 1/4 inch seam allowance. However I suppose it could be made larger easier enough by the yardage would have to be re-estimated. Anyone with a rule and a block of the quilt could draft it!"

Last of all is the Rose Cross Quilt. Only the applique patterns were included.

I already shared the Bird of Friendship pattern from this issue; find it here.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Quilt Modern with Thomas Knauer's Design Coloring Book

Reproduction quilts have been popular since the early 20th c. In recent years we have made Amish quilts, 1930s quilts, Civil War era quilts, and British antique quilt reproductions. Today quilters are looking back 100 years to Modern Art for quilt inspiration.

It requires a real paradigm shift, a new fabric stash, and inventing new patterns.

Or you can make your own pattern.

What! How? We are used to traditional quilt blocks as the basis of pattern making. How can we make a quilt not based on a repeated set of blocks?
Thomas Knauer has written a book to help with the pesky problem of designing a modern quilt.

The Quilt Design Coloring Workbook: 91 Modern Art-Inspired Designs and Exercises has 90 ready-to-color pages and design prompts for creating your own modern quilt.

Knauer begins by introducing the history and attributes of modern art.

WWI toppled Europe and changed how people viewed history and life. The values and expectations of the past did not coincide with the experience of modern life.

In literature we call the writers of this time The Lost Generation. Hemingway's classic novel The Sun Also Rises  about veteran American expats wandering about Europe looking to drown their memories in thrills and liquor is the classic literary representation.

Knauer offers a concise tour of how artists responded to this upheaval. He begins with writing about 'Blending Traditions: Art, Quilts, and Novel Inspirations."

Along with WWI, other early 20th c influences include photography, scientific advances that opened new understandings of movement and vision, and shifting cultural and political issues.

Knauer also reviews basic color theory and his own starting point of finding a mid-tone color then introducing lighter and darker colors.

Chapters cover the use of space, balance, intuition and chance, simplicity, the grid layout, geometric, repetition in Modern Art, and how to adapt the concepts to quilts. Short essays with illustrations from Modern Art introduce each design concept with their influences.

The exercises can be completed with colored pencils or other medium after drawing the design with an erasable pencil.

Some of the exercises require determining line, others are based on his completed quilts which illustrate the design concept.

I was not able to copy or print the exercise pages to give it a try; my ebook galley did not allow it.

For those interested in art history the approach will be very interesting. For those who don't care but like the challenge of design the exercises will be useful.

Thomas Knauer's column Quilt Matters appears in the Quilter's Newsletter Magazine. He is the host of Design Studio with Thomas Knauer on QNNtv.com and author of Modern Quilt Perspectives. Find his blog at ThomasKnauerSews.com.

I received a free ebook through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

The Quilt Design Coloring Book
Thomas Knauer
Storey Publishing
Publication Date: August 23, 2016
$18.95 paperback
ISBN: 9781612127859

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Mini Reviews, Life Stories Real and Imagined

I read that A Whole Life was an international bestseller similar to John William's Stoner and Marilynne Robinson's Lila. And since I was very impressed with Stoner and have read Robinson's Gilead THREE times I put in my request at NetGalley.

I woke one night and couldn't get back to sleep so I got up and read this short novel in one sitting. It is the story of Andreas Egger, a woe-begotten man for whom life was one disappointment after another. Orphaned, beaten, suffered WWI in battle and in a Russian prison camp, tragically widowed, and then he dies. What he does have is a love for the landscape of his isolated village.

"Scars are like years", he said,"one follows another and it's all of them together that make a person who they are."

Andreas survived "his childhood, a war and an avalanche." He lead a clean life, turning from worldly temptations. And he had loved. He had no regrets. Andreas learned that "Every one of us limps alone."

This novel is far darker than Stoner. I felt more pity and felt a lack of affirmation. But thousands across the world have catapulted the book into an international best seller.

I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler
Translated from the German by Charlotte Collins
Picador
$23 hard cover
ISBN: 9780374289867

I bought John Muir and the Ice that Started a Fire on Kindle after watching Ken Burns' National Parks on PBS. I wanted to know more about Muir.

Although I read this ebook over many months, mostly in waiting rooms, I enjoyed it and found it informative, moving, and inspirational. Heacox offers a wonderful biography of a man who could have had a lucrative career but gave it up for his love of nature and the wild. Muir dared to stand against a country worshiping wealth, a nation that had lost it's vision of the sublimity of America's unique landscapes.

Dedicating himself to research, educating and writing and pushing for polity to protect his beloved lands, Muir had a mystical belief in the healing property of the environment which today is becoming recognized as truth.

The book's particular focus is on Muir's enraptured love of Alaska's glaciers. I appreciated that the book does not end with Muir's death, but continues to the present day, addressing how climate change is affecting the glaciers (which were already diminishing during Muir's lifetime.)

John Muir and the Ice that Started a Fire: How A Visionary and the Glaciers of Alaska Changed America
Kim Heacox
Lyons Press
Published 2014

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates won the National Book Award. I borrowed it from my public library. Written as a letter to his teenage son Coates offers an unvarnished and appalling condemnation of race in America and what it means to be born 'black' in a 'white' dominated culture. I have thought about this book for several weeks. I don't feel qualified to make a statement. Just read it.  Read the Atlantic Magazine article written by Coates here.

Between the World and Me
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Spiegel & Grau

Another book I borrowed through Overdrive was Mary Gaitskill's novel The Mare. The characterization and story is captivating and I read it in two days.

A woman with a troubled past and unable to ground herself hosts an inner city girl through the Fresh Air Fund, changing their lives and the lives of their families in complicated and unexpected ways. The girl Velvet connects with an abused mare; together they cobble together their redemption.

I loved the juxtaposition of the two worlds, the inner city and the suburbs, peeling back the pressures and stresses of each. My favorite ah-ha moment is when Velvet's host mom recognizes her own latent racism, the sad and horrible tragedy of American society that affects us all.

The Mare
Mary Gaitskill
Pantheon

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Eugene Gochenour Memoirs Part III

I have been sharing Dad's memoirs over the past weeks. Today's excerpt continues his childhood memories from the Depression.
Gochenour family in late 1930s; Eugene is front right; his mother back right,
sister Mary back left and to her right is Al Gochenour.
"Military Road was built centuries ago for armies to travel from Buffalo to Niagara Falls. The road was elevated at the location where the house we lived in was built. On each side of the house was a gully. The strip of land where the farm house was placed was filled [with dirt] to the level of the road.

"The foundation of the house was about three feet thick, built of stone that probably came from a nearby quarry. When we first moved there the house had a dirt floor in the basement but later Dad and some friends put in a concrete floor. Huge logs with one flat side supported the floor of the house. Wooden pegs held the logs together. A cistern was located under the rear porch but of course it had not been used for dozens of years.
1865 Military Rd in the 1940s after Al Gochenour bought the
property and fixed it up. 
"The house sat quite far back from the road and one day as we sat on our front porch, to our amazement, we saw elephants walking past on the road. The elephants led a parade of horse-drawn wagons filled with lions, tigers, and other animals. Now as children we had never seen elephants, and we were amazed to see the size of them. The circus had come to town and this was their way of advertising it.
Circus passes down Military Rd at Ensminger Rd; an Ensminger family house in the background.
"The first photo shows the elephants as they passed by. Across the street is the Ensminger farm house. It sat at the corner of Military and Ensminger Roads.

"When we first moved there Ensminger Road was just a dirt road leading into the fields. The barn that sat behind the house had already been torn down, and soon [about 1960-61] the house would be intentionally be burned down to make room for a bowling alley. A childhood friend, Ridgely Ware, had lived there with his mother and aunt. As a child I remember drinking water from a well with a hand pump that was on their side lawn. I drank it with cupped hands and it was cold and delicious. Before the barn was torn down, two old horse carriages were parked in it. Ridgely was about two years older than I, but occasionally we did things together. Sometimes we would go into the barn and sit in the carriages and make believe we were driving them. There was also a well with a hand pump in the barn, but I was told that the water in that well was bad, so I never tried it.

"During the ‘40s the Ensminger barn was torn down then during the ‘50s the house was sold. One
day early in the morning I looked out of my upstairs window and saw the Ensminger house burning. Rather than tear the house down the owners decided to have it burned down. So they got the firemen to set it afire and control it. It is an awesome sight to see a burning house with the flames reaching high into the sky. The heat was so intense it could be felt blocks away. A bowling alley was built on the lot next to where the house had been, and the house lot became a parking lot. Such is progress.
Circus parage with donkeys passing on Military Rd near Ensminger past
where a bowling alley would be built in the 1960s
"The next photo shows a donkey, pony, and horse. As you can see the previous animals had made their contribution to the highway and the fly population. Across the road is the field where there would soon be a bowling alley.
Circus parade traveling on Military Rd north towards City of Tonawanda;
field would later house the Erie County Highway Department garage; foreground
later had a Texaco gas station and Schwinn Bicycle shop.
"The third photo shows the parade as it travels north toward the city of Tonawanda. The field across the street is where the Erie County Highway Department garage would be built. The lot on this side of the street is where a Texaco gas station and a bicycle shop would be built. The lot had once been a town dump.

"The old farm house had a basement only under part of the house. When we first moved there, it had only a dirt floor. The kitchen area had a crawl space under it, and when the water pipes would freeze during the winter father would have to crawl under there with a blow torch to thaw them out. Rats and mice had chewed passages through the walls and ceilings for a hundred years, and during the fall and winter you could hear them scurrying around. Our kitchen cupboards had many holes covered with tin can patches that had been nailed on probably from the time when tin cans were first made. But the rats would just chew another hole. One night a rat got into the house, and we saw it. Well, everyone went chasing it through the house trying to whack it with a broom or stick. We finally cornered and killed it. That was our excitement for that evening! A few years later when I was older, it was my job to go into the crawl space and retrieve any dead smelly rats that had ate the rat poison bait that we had set out for them. We eventually hired an exterminator who treated the house monthly.
Emma Becker Gochernour with Mary and Alice on left,
Gene on right, and Emma's brother Lee in center. Open land on right
would eventually be where Rosemont Ave. was built.
"As kids we could always find something to eat. There was a house on Deleware Avenue that had a garage that sat quite far back from the street. There a person sat all day making the sugar cones used for ice cream cones. Broken cones were always left on the window sill for us to eat. They were like candy to us.

"Many people had fruit trees, strawberry patches, and grapevines in their yards, and we always knew when they were in season. We usually would raid them at night, but occasionally we would pull a daytime raid. The neighbors we took from probably did not even care, but to us it was exciting. We also had a Bartlet pear tree in our yard that had great pears.

"In the springtime, [my Uncle] Lee and I would pick and eat all the meadow mushrooms we would find in the fields. Eaten fresh and raw, they are very good. The second week of June is when the wild strawberries were usually ripe, and mother would spend hours in the fields picking them. She always took the dog along because she was afraid of snakes, and the dog would chase them away. Mother made jam from the strawberries. Mother would also pick dandelion leaves during the spring, and make a salad with it. Even I liked that salad.

"Near the airport and the dump was a golf driving range. During the late ‘30s some of us kids were hired to pick up golf balls from the field. We were paid ten cents for our work and we would give back five cents for our favorite candy bar, a Milky Way. We liked to go to the dump also. There we found what we thought was some neat stuff, and took it home. When our parents saw what we had hauled home, they made us put it out to the street so the rubbish man could haul it back to the dump. I often wonder if the rubbish man thought that some of those things seemed familiar!

"The Sheridan Park Golf Course had some nice hills where we could sled during the winter. One day I slid down the hill and ended in the creek. It was a long freezing walk home! There was also a pond where we ice skated on.

"When summer came, I would go to the fields next to the golf course to find golf balls that the golfers had lost. Then I would sell them back to them. One day I found and sold twelve dollars worth of balls, with which I bought a portable radio. Since they were new on the market at that time few people had them. The radio was large by today’s standards. I liked the smell of the plastic material that covered it. The plastic looked like leather, and the radio had large batteries. It was great to take anywhere and have music.

"During the '30s and '40s I had many ways to make money. I picked up pop and beer bottles from along the roadways and took them back to the store where I got two cents each for them. I had a paper route, cut lawns, worked in the field with John Kuhn, and got a weekly allowance of twenty five cents from mother for my home chores. During the fall and winter, I went to the housing project where I received a dollar for each ton of coal I could carry from the street to the customer’s coal bin. My friend Dale Thiel and I would usually do the coal jobs together. We would use the customer’s trash cans to haul the coal. It took about 20 to 23 cans for the ton of coal. Also during the winter I would shovel snow from people’s driveways and sidewalks, for two or three dollars.

"The nearby horse riding stables rented out horses to the public. They made many trails through the woods and fields that we would ride our bikes on. We literally had trail bikes in those days! Also in the woods we would build tree houses from scrap wood we found."

Sunday, August 14, 2016

A Victorian Police Officer in Petticoats: The Female Detective by Andrew Forrester

The Female Detective was published in 1864 when law enforcement organizations were cutting edge. Mike Ashley's introduction to The Female Detective notes the first British police agency was organized in 1829 and Scotland Yard was created in 1842. Edgar Allen Poe introduced the first detective in fiction in 1841. Alan Pinkerton employed the first woman detective in 1856. The character of 'Miss B', undercover police agent, was novel and original.

The Female Detective stories were written by Andrew Forrester, the pen name of writer and editor James Redding Ware. His unnamed heroine addresses the reader to explain the importance of her secretive work and justify the role of the female spy in society.

Who am I?It can matter little who I am.
I would have my readers at once accept my declaration that whatever may be the results of the practice of my profession in others, in me that profession has not led me towards hardheartedness. 
For what reason do I write this book?
...I may as well say at once I write in order to show, in a small way, that the profession to which I belong is so useful that it should not be despised.
Seven stories follow, some showing how our female detective operates, some are stories she has heard, and the last story is a comedic delight that is quite Dickensian in humor. Her purpose is to broadly illustrate the importance of the detective.

Miss B predates Sherlock Holmes but uses the same logical thinking to puzzle out her cases. She posses as a milliner or takes up local residence to gain access to her subject. She cross-examines in the guise of a friendly ear. Then she makes her deduction and sets out for proof.

Her powers of observation are astute. Boot marks "have sent more men to the gallows, as parts of circumstantial evidence than any other proof whatever," Miss B proclaims. She advises evildoers to carry a second pair of boots to wear while committing their crime! She explains what she calls the "audacity of hiding," that the safest hiding place is the most obvious, citing "the great enigma-novelist, Edgar Poe" who illustrated this when a man places a letter in a card-rack on the mantelpiece when he knows his house will be searched.
...the value of the detective lies not so much in discovering facts, as in putting them together and finding out what they mean.
Because our female detective is not heartless, but is committed to the law, she can find herself faced with perplexing moral choices. She places her duty above pity.
A man is your friend, but if he transgresses that law which it is your duty to see observed, you have no right to spare him...
She accuses the English police system as requiring "more intellect infused into it. Many of the men are extraordinarily acute and are able to seize facts as they rise to the surface. But they are unable to work out what is below the surface."

I enjoyed the sense of humor in the writing, often at the expense of her male coequals. "I found out the constable, and I am constrained to say--a greater fool I never indeed did meet. He was too stupid to be anything else than utterly, though idiotically, honest."

The stories are varied in subject and style; some are recognizable as traditional detective fiction, some more anecdotal and not directly related to Miss B. I enjoyed reading them all.

I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

The Female Detective
Andrew Forrester
Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date August, 2016
ISBN: 9781464206481 ebook

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Guilty Until Proven Innocent? Damaged by Lisa Scottoline

Mary DiNunzio, South Philly born and bred, has risen to partnership in Bennie Rosato's legendary Center City law firm. If Bennie is the strong and sure leader of her practice, Mary is all heart--and lots of righteous indignation.

Mary was the Neighborhood Girl Who Made Good, so she got her self-esteem from being universally beloved.
Mary has a big case and a wedding weeks away when an elderly grandfather comes into the office. His orphaned grandson, an engaging ten-year-old with Dyslexia, is accused of attacking a school aide and they are being sued. Patrick reveales that the aide molested him. Mary takes the case. Discovering the school has failed to offer Patrick the help he needs to learn to read and become successful she arranges for his admission into a private school.

That evening Mary stops by their house to find the grandfather has died and Patrick is in denial. Stepping in to help, Mary becomes emotionally attached and can't let go. She decides to become Patrick's foster parent to ensure he gets the help he needs.

But is Patrick as innocent as he appears? When a fraught Patrick holds a gun on the Department of Human Services case worker who wants to separate him from Mary he is classified as a threat. The police even suspect Patrick of causing his grandfather's death by an overdose of insulin.

Damaged is the newest Lisa Scottoline book in the best selling Rosato & DiNunzio series. It is geared to shed light on the complexities of child welfare, the intricacies of the foster system, and the challenges facing special needs children. Most of the novel revolves around Mary's fight to become Patrick's foster mom.

The subplot offers suspense and thrills after Mary starts piecing things together. Meanwhile, her fiancée is out of town and unaware of Mary's decisions. What will Anthony think when he returns to find Mary is committing to parenting a child without his input? Will their relationship end as they realize they are not operating as 'married', but as individuals make decisions alone, not jointly?

The issues Scottoline address in the novel are important and readers learn along with Mary. This does slow the book down, but the tension of what will happen--and what did happen--drives the reader's interest. Mary's delightful family and neighborhood friends are always fun and add lighthearted comic moments.

Read the first chapter at http://scottoline.com/book/damaged/

Read my review on Scottline's previous book Corrupted here

I received a free book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

Damaged
Lisa Scottoline
St Martin's Press
$27.99 hard cover, $14.99 ebook
Publication August 16, 2016

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Memoirs of Eugene Gochenour Part II

Today I am continuing to share from Dad's memoirs about his family and life growing up in Tonawanda, NY. Today is about his Depression era childhood.
Emma, Al, Mary and Gene Gochenour
The Depression was at its worst during 1935, the year we moved to Military Road when I was five years old.

One day some of us kids were over by the railroad tracks when we saw this huge monster coming down the tracks toward us. With black smoke billowing from its smokestack, the whistle screaming as it approached the road, and the ground shaking as it went by, my first sight of a steam engine was terrifying. But it did not take long before we were used to the ironwheeled monster.

Sometimes we would put pennies on the track to have the train flatten them out as it passed by. We would count the box cars, tankers, and gondola cars, and read the names on them. A really long train had about one hundred and fifty cars and one caboose.

A huge, deserted factory was near the tracks about four blocks away, the old Jewett Stove Company, and I guess it had closed a few years before we moved there. The building’s windows were broke out and the doors were open so us kids would run through the building playing games, and looking at the piles of paper and other things that had been left there. Years later the building would become the Lucidol Corporation, where a huge explosion would occur, causing many deaths.

There were other signs of the Depression. Basements were dug on Oakridge Street by Elmwood Avenue, and when the work stopped they filled with water and became a hazard. Near the railroad tracks by the airport was a field where a business had closed. There were some old trucks, and a deep pit where a mechanic could work on the underside of them. At all these places it looked as though the people had just dropped everything and left.

But one place that had stayed in business was the Eastern States Grain Company. Huge grain elevators, or silos, sat by the tracks just somewhat south of Sheridan Drive. Spilled grain lay on the tracks there, and many birds, mostly pigeons, lived off of it. Years later when I raised rabbits, I would take a bag and gather grain to feed to them.

There were four movie theaters within probably five miles from where we lived. Three were at the Tonawandas: the Star, the Rivera, and the Avondale. One more theater was in the city of Kenmore. To get to them we had to walk to Delaware Avenue and catch a bus. Years later there were also three drivein-theaters. One was on Ensminger Road, one on Delaware, and another on Niagara Falls Boulevard.

The entrance to the Erie Canal was at Buffalo, New York, about ten miles south of where we lived. It followed parallel and next to the Niagara River to Tonawanda. Many huge factories were built, supplied by the raw material that came through the Great Lakes. On many days when the wind blew from the west, you could smell the odors from the Semet Solvay plant, and when near the Niagara River the odor and see the soda ash that emanated from the International Paper Mill.

When we first moved to Military Road us kids would walk to Two Mile Creek by the golf course. The water was crystal clear, and many fish and frogs lived there. But during the Second World War, the creek became contaminated from all the factories, and filled with black silt, killing all the wildlife. In those days no one thought of pollution, but one place it was very visible was at the Niagara River by Wheeler Street in the city of Tonawanda. There was a drain pipe from the Spaulding Fiber Company that emptied into the river there, and every day the water that came out of it was a different color. It was a strange sight to see a bright red or green stream enter the river, then mix and slowly disappear.


This picture of my father and I was taken at the porch at our side of the house. Dad is in his work clothes, sitting on the rickety porch. We finally had a fuel oil furnace, and the oil tank that fed it stands behind him. My bike is leaning against the porch. It did not have a chain guard and the pants on my right leg were all chewed up from getting stuck in the chain. One day I decided to paint my bike silver. When Dad came home and saw what I had done, he gave me a spanking. He didn’t like my artistic flair I guess!

There were still some horse stables and farms then, and their manure piles created many flies and odors. The screen door of our house was often coated with flies during the summer. We used fly swatters and fly strips to control the houseflies and horseflies.
Gochenour Homestead in Woodstock, VA

The second trip we took to my father’s birthplace in Virginia was around 1940 or 1941. At that time my father, mother, Mary, Alice, Grandfather Becker, and I went in Dad’s 1937 Buick. The trip seemed to take forever. I remember Dad showing us the seven horseshoe turns of the Shenandoah River on the way.

When we got there we stayed at the farm. On the farm they had some turkeys. I had never seen turkeys, and when three went into the barnyard, they chased me. Everybody thought it was funny except me. I was terrified! Mother and father went into town, and when they came back, they bought us kids some Kazoos, an instrument you blow into to make a tune. It probably wasn’t long before they were sorry!

Since it was Christmas time Dad and I went out into the woods and found a tree. We cut it down and hauled it back to the house. It seemed strange to celebrate Christmas when there was no snow and it was not cold. Before we made the trip, mother had bought me a pair of high top boots. They were the latest thing, and they came with a jack knife, and a knife holder sewn onto one boot. I was so proud of them, and when we went to church that Sunday, I wore them. I was quite the envy of the boys there. Soon it was time to leave. The trip was uneventful until we got near home. Grandfather got car sick, and we had to stop the car so he could heave. Nice thing to remember, huh?

One summer night father heard men talking out at the road in front of the house. It was during the year of 1937, and I was seven years old. Military Road had a speed limit of 50 miles per hour, a pretty fast speed for those times. Dad got dressed, and went out to see what was going on and found some men attempting to change a flat tire. He offered to help and was kneeling down taking the tire off of the car when a drunk driver hit the vehicle. Dad was thrown down the road about 50 feet. A neighbor from down the street who was watching was killed, and the person who owned the car with the flat tire was killed. The driver of the car that hit them fled the scene, but was caught later. Dad went to the hospital and survived, but had back trouble for the rest of his life. The day after the accident, I walked out on the street, and saw car parts, and what I thought were human brains. The man that was driving the car that fled the scene, was never prosecuted, and no one ever received any compensation. 

Years later, after my father had died, our station had become a New York Inspection Station, and occasionally a state trooper would come in and inspect our station. When one trooper came in, he saw the name on the form, and asked if my father had been in an accident years ago at this location? I told him yes, and I was his son. He said the driver of the vehicle that was hit was his father, and that the man who drove the car that killed him was rich, and had found a way to avoid liability. He said he had always kept track of that man, and said the man was struck and killed by a car two years previous.

Near the airport and the dump was a golf driving range. During the late ‘30s, some of us kids were hired to pick up golf balls from the field. We were paid ten cents for our work and we would give back five cents for our favorite candy bar, a Milky Way. 

We liked to go to the dump also. There we found what we thought was some neat stuff and took it home. When our parents saw what we had hauled home they made us put it out to the street so the rubbish man could haul it back to the dump. I often wonder if the rubbish man thought that some of those things seemed familiar! 

The Sheridan Park Golf Course had some nice hills where we could sled during the winter. One day I slid down the hill and ended in the creek. It was a long freezing walk home! There was also a pond where we ice skated on. When summer came, I would go to the fields next to the golf course to find golf balls that the golfers had lost. Then I would sell them back to them. One day I found and sold twelve dollars worth of balls, with which I bought a portable radio. Since they were new on the market at that time, few people had them. The radio was large by today’s standards. I liked the smell of the plastic material that covered it. The plastic looked like leather, and the radio had large batteries. It was great to take anywhere and have music. 

During the ‘30s and ‘40s, I had many ways to make money. I picked up pop and beer bottles from along the roadways, and took them back to the store where I got two cents each for them. I had a paper route, cut lawns, worked in the field with John, and got a weekly allowance of twenty five cents from mother for my home chores. During the fall and winter, I went to the housing project where I received a dollar for each ton of coal I could carry from the street to the customer’s coal bin. My friend Dale Thiel and I would usually do the coal jobs together. We would use the customer’s trash cans to haul the coal. It took about 20 to 23 cans for the ton of coal. Also during the winter I would shovel snow from people’s driveways and sidewalks, for two or three dollars. The nearby horse riding stables rented out horses to the public. They made many trails through the woods and fields that we would ride our bikes on. We literally had trail bikes in those days! Also in the woods we would build tree houses from scrap wood we found.