Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Birthday Party for My Quilt Friend Shirley, 91 Years Young

Our weekly 'sit and stitch' quilt group in Clawson was organized 16 years ago by several quilters who were told 'it will never work'. To prove the nay-sayers wrong, today 38 gals came out to wish one of our founders a happy 91st birthday!
Shirley Wiliams
Marilyn Brown (red shirt on left in photo below) organized the group to make Shirley Williams a signature quilt. Marilyn also put the quilt top together. She received enough blocks to make a double sided quilt! Barb Lusk, machine quilter extraordinaire, Set aside her Christmas rush jobs to get it quilted in record time.

 Many of us made blocks with Cardinals, Shirley's favorite bird. Each block is signed by the maker.

The flip side of the quilt includes a variety of blocks.

Esther Gadwa whipped up several of her fancy cakes, a cheesecake and a Lemon Curd cake, all made from scratch. She even makes ricotta cheese and lemon curd from scratch. We never lack for luscious deserts!

We had a lovely time.

Shirley has shared stories with me over the last two years. She had the most romantic story I have heard.

When she was a young woman she was engaged to be married. She was at a dance when she saw a handsome young man, returned from the service. She decided he was the man she was going to marry. She did not tell him she was engaged, broker off her engagement, and, well, married her guy!

He was a pilot and Shirley also earned a pilot license. They lived 'Up North' near Houghton Lake. She loved it there.

I love these quilters, and the quilt community.

Victoria the Queen: An Intimate Biography of the Woman who Ruled an Empire by Julia Baird

Julia Baird's new biography Victoria The Queen was revelatory, bringing the complex woman and queen Victoria to life. Baird has presented an engaging read with enough surprises and conflict to propel the reader.

This is the only biography of Victoria I have read. I knew many stories, such as how Charles Dickens had a crush on the teenage queen and how Victoria long mourned Prince Albert. I'd seen the movie Mrs. Brown and the PBS Masterpiece Theater series about Disraeli. I did not know much about her family life and the lives of her children.

Victoria's family life was complicated from birth; as a girl she chaffed against her overprotetive mother. As a teenage queen she revelled in her freedom and enjoyed dancing and flirtations, yet took her power seriously. The queen who wanted to avoid marriage fell into a lustful love for her cousin Albert and enjoyed 'fun in bed'. The queen lost her surity under Albert's insistent guidance; he did not believe women should rule. Albert was poor in health and after successfully usurping Victoria's governing role, partly by keeping her pregnant, he up and died on her.

The bereaved widow withdrew from society but found other men to lean on for emotional and personal support. First with ghilley John Brown, who became her trusted constant companion and helpmate, and after his death with the Indian charlatan Abdul Karim. The nature of her relationships has long been debated. Baird reveals health issues that likely prevented the queen from taking a lover.

She brought her personal likes and dislikes into her relaitonships with her Prime Ministers; she detested Gladstone's personality and his push for Irish Home Rule, but fell to Disraeli's charm and attention.

There are surprising moments revealing Victoria's rebellious, wild side and heartbreaking stories of her children who married badly or died young. Most surprising was how the Victorian Age mores and values reflected Albert's intellectual, high-minded personality more than Victoria, who was very open minded.

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

Victoria The Queen
Julia Baird
Random House
Publication Date November 29, 2016
$35 hard cover
ISBN: 9781400069880

Monday, November 28, 2016

My Regency Redwork Pattern is Featured in Willow and Thatch's Gift Guide!

Regency Redwork, inspired by Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice
I was contacted and told that my quilt pattern Regency Redwork is part of  the 30 Lovely Jane Austen Christmas Gifts guide of etsy items from Willow and Thatch. You can see the guide at http://ow.ly/rKbw306AMAw

Willow and Thatch is a website dedicated to period films and costume dramas including Materpiece Theater, BBC, and period movies.They love all things antique, vintage; farmhouse and country gardens; and traveling to places inspired by period film locations.

Elizabeth and Charlotte
I based my Regency Redwork quilt on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, using many of the same patterns developed for my Pride and Prejudice storybook applique quilt. I have been selling both patterns on Etsy for several years. Read more about my applique version at http://ow.ly/aV7T306AMuk
Mr Collins greets Darcy

Bingley asks Jane to dance

Darcy hands Elzabeth a letter of explanation

Lydia with soldiers
My patterns were taken from copyright free illustrations and art contemporary with Jane Austen, including dance manuals, illustrations, and drawings.

Other items in the gift guide include jewelry, wall hangings and textiles, cookie cutters and recipe cards, tote bags, dolls, paper products, cards and jumping jacks, shower curtain, Kindle cover, calenders, clothing, candles, and craft patterns.

My etsy store is found at http://ow.ly/jyas306AMXu
The name of my store is explained at http://ow.ly/dDSU306AMPs

I am honored that my pattern was chosen to be highlighted.

My Memories of Growing Up in Tonawanda: 1959

Wearing Mom's skirt and shoes for dress-up. 1959.
A reader informed me the car is a 1957 Ford Sunliner
which I believe belonged to Skip and Katie Marvin.
1959 was the first year I remember. The teacher told us America had a new state--Alaska. Learning there was a dated YEAR made a big impression on me. Suddenly time became linear, not a circle of revolving knowns.

1959 changed my life. The next few years were some of my happiest.

It was the year Disney released Sleeping Beauty. The year Barbie was born. I watched Bonanza, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, Twilight Zone, Rocky & His Friends, and 77 Sunset Strip. I have said that Twilight Zone taught me many of my core values.

My family went to the drive-in and watched Journey to the Center of the Earth. I adored that movie! 1959 movies that I later saw on television included On the Beach, Operation Petticoat, North by Northwest, The Diary of Anne Frank, Miracle on 34th Street, Ben Hur, and Anatomy of a Murder.*

It was the year my brother was born.

Here I am holding Tom
It was the year Mom bought her first new furniture, a hutch, a turquoise couch, matching chairs, and rock maple colonial tables.

And it was the year I met my best friend, Nancy Ensminger, in Girl Scouts. Our moms called us The Two Nancys, always together, and different as night and day.
Nancy Ensminger at my Military Road House

Nancy had a big brother, while my brother was born a month before I turned eight. Nancy was easy going, happy, cheerful. I was wound up, intense, and tended to be fearful. Nancy had long dark braids. I had artificially curled blond hair. We both were horse crazy, liked to read, wanted to write, and had vivid imaginations.

We spent hours pretending. We played with my Beyer model horses. Grandma Gochenour went to the Goodwill in Tonawanda and brought me home Auburn model animals: fox, bear, chickens, ducks, cows--every kind of critter.  Mom bought me plastic animals from the store: models of dogs, knights on horses, cowboys and Indians. Nancy and I created personas and story arcs with them. There was Red Scott Collie, our hero, and his girl Snowball the Poodle. Their buds were two huskies, Dusty and Goldy (gray and gold colored, of course!)
Gone Fishing Barbie outfit
We played Barbie dolls. My Midge doll became "Philip** the Boy From Mars" by dressing her in the Going Fishing set of jeans and a plaid shirt.

The dolls also acted out musicals. Nancy's brother Bruce had a record player and recordings of Camelot and Oklahoma! I memorized all the songs while our Barbies or plastic animals played the roles. "Poor Jud is dead, poor Jud Fry is dead..."

Nancy at the field behind her house in 1965. The open land went to
the railroad tracks and Sheridan Park housing.
Nancy's house was on Military Road. Behind her house were open fields, barren and hilly. We roamed there, acting out other favorite story arcs: we were orphans in Scotland who solved mysteries, riding our horses across the landscape.
The fields behind Nancy's house. 1965
We imagined turning the shed behind her house into an office where we would publish our newspaper. We would write the stories and sell the paper at school. Nancy wanted to grow up to write stories and become a missionary to Africa where she would tame a Zebra. I wanted to be an author.
Nancy and I in junior high and as juniors in high school
My world was now full of friends. My cousins, the scout troop, the Rosemont girls, Nancy, and the children of family friends.

The Randalls were family friends who lived on Rosemont. Their daughter Jackie babysat me. She was great! And her brother Mike, a year younger than I, sometimes came to play (likely when no boys were around) and we traded comic books and acted out astronaut fantasies. I was interested in the Space Age and Mike and I both believed in life on other planets. Once we walked to the store across from school to buy penny candy.

Mrs. Erickson, my third grade teacher, did not like me. She always had negative things to tell Mom. I remember she would not say 'Hitler',  or "helicopter' because she would have to say 'hell'. She liked boys better than girls.

Mrs. Erikson once took me out into the hall and shook me by the shoulders and told me to stay there. Why? because I had a 'lazy tongue' and did not articulate. (I learned to articulate in choral singing later.) Another time she sent me back to Second Grade, Miss Hurley's class. There sat Mike. I was so embarrassed. Mike grew up to be an actor, puppeteer, and weatherman, well known to Tonawanda folk.

Mom's best friend Doris would come over with her son, Tom. One time I was showing off, climbing over the railing of the porch. Tom said he could do that but I didn't want him to. I wanted to be the only one to do it, and besides I was older and thought he was too young. Well, he was accomplishing the feat when I tried to stop him. I grabbed him and managed to pull his pants down! Was I in trouble...again.

I liked to climb the willow tree. It had a nicely curved branch a few feet off the ground. I remember the girl across the street would climb it with me.

In 1959 Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty came out and Mom took me to Buffalo to see it. I was enthralled; a part of me always wanted to be a princess. Mom said I could look like Sleeping Beauty, if I lost weight.
Sleeping Beauty by Madame Alexander, 1959
Or, What the Dog Ate
My Great-grandmother Greenwood gave me a Madame Alexander Sleeping Beauty doll for my birthday. Mom said it wasn't to play with, it was too expensive. I couldn't undress her or comb her hair.

But I took the doll to Christine's house to show her. I set it on the ground while we played in her back yard. My Pepper had followed me; she found the doll and chewed on it and ruined it. I was devastated. Mom tossed the doll out. I took better care of the Little Women dolls Great-grandmother gave me, which I still have today. As an adult I bought myself a 1959 Sleeping Beauty doll to replace the one lost in childhood.

I started piano lessons when I was eight years old. I had enjoyed tinkling on the piano at the Kuhn's house when we visited. My Grandmother Ramer and Mom regretted giving up their piano lessons and since I showed an interest, they determined I was going to play! My grandmother bought me a used piano.

My teacher lived in the Sheridan Park project.**. I remember holding my two quarters in my hand as I walked down Ensminger Road to my lesson, and studying them while the previous student finished their lesson. I had John Thompson books which were geared toward teaching students classical music, basic theory, and offered brief biographies of the composers. Hence started my love affair with Classical Music.

My brother Tom and his godparents, Katie and Skip Marvin and Tom Richards
My brother Tom was born in August 1959. He was the cutest thing, with ruddy checks and blond hair and big eyes. Where I had been colicky as a baby, Tom was quiet and stoic. I liked him way better than any old Tiny Tears baby doll.

Me, Dad, Tom and Mom at Great-Grandma Greenwood's house in Kenmore
I have that student lamp on the table!
...Until he started teething and drooling all over. Yuck. And the he started crawling and walking, which meant I had to keep my crayons and scissors and paper dolls picked up.

Tom on Mom's brand new turquoise couch.
On the bright side I was the big sister and could boss him around, make him play school, and best of all I could read to him. I loved reading out loud. I loved sharing my favorite books.
Nancy 8 yrs, Tom 3.4 yr. Gramps wrote I was the
image of my mother.
Tom had vision issues just as I did as a girl, and it made him clumsy, too. We were watching Babes in Toyland on television, Tom sitting on the piano stool, when he fell off and hit his head. He had to be taken to the hospital for stitches. I was not blamed, but I felt guilty. I was the big sister and should have been watching out for him.
Nancy and Tom
Aunt Alice and Uncle Kenny lived in the upstairs apartment where I lived as a little girl before my family moved into the downstairs apartment. My cousin David was born in 1958 and Beverly in

Tom, David Ennis, and me. The pool was under the willow tree. Rosemont Ave is in
 the background. I remember I had come home from Day Camp on this day in 1960.

David and Beverly, Easter. Note Mom's starched frilly table doily.
Don't ask about the plant in the bird cage.
I have not a clue.
Cousin Beverly and I. Easter.
I loved roller skating but the sidewalks were uneven and I spent summers with scabbed knees, and yes, I picked at them. My Grandmother Gochenour and Aunt Alice went roller skating in Tonawanda**** and started taking me along. It took a while to learn how to stop while roller skating, but I loved it, especially when everyone gathered in a circle to do The Hokey Pokey.

Dad bought me a new Schwinn two wheel bicycle; the store was just next door, behind the Texaco gas station (which was next to my family's Ashland gas station on Military Rd.) It was blue and had streamers. I loved riding the bike. One time I was riding down a street several blocks away and saw a girl in her yard. We talked and made friends. I believe her name was Nancy Pritchard.

Grandma Gochenour bowled and took me along to watch. She went to the bowling alley across the street at Military and Ensminger Roads, built after the Ensminger house was burned down by the fire department. One time I met a boy who was also with his grandmother. He talked my ear off about baseball. I didn't know, or care, about baseball. I sat and listened politely, of course.
Mom, Me, Dad, Tom and Grandma Ramer. Easter.
Mom redecorated the house. The dark wood wainscot was painted turquoise, the wall paper was light brown, white, and turquoise. Dad made wood valances for the windows. Mom bought Colonial style furniture. I still have the hutch!
Mom's new furniture. 

Mom gave me that brown chair in 1972. The upholstery was still good.

I still have this hutch!
We went to Putt's farm in the spring in fall, went on group picnics with the guys from the garage, boated and fished on the Niagara River, took trips to Watkins Glen. It was a rich life. I loved the smell of mowed grass, the sight of the gas flame burning at the gas works along the Niagara River which I could see from my window, my school, my family.

Then my dad decided running a garage was strenuous, that we needed health insurance for Mom's health issues, and that Detroit was the answer. We would move near my Ramer grandparents and Dad would find work in the auto industry. It was spring, 1963.

* If you want to know the real important things that happened in 1959 check:

** I dont recall knowing that Philip was Nancy's father's name.

*** A reader reminded me the piano teacher's name was Mrs. Cota.

****The same reader reminded me it was the Rainbow skating rink.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Mortifications by Derek Palacio

In 1980, in response to a failing economy, Fidel Castro announced that Cubans were free to leave Cuba through the Mariel port. The Mariel Boatlift transported 125,000 Cubans in 1,700 boats.

Derek Palacio's first novel The Mortifications tells the story of Soledad Encarnacion, wife to a Cuban rebel, who decided to take her twin children Ulises and Isabel on the boatlift to America for a new life. They settle in Connecticut and seem to be adjusting to their new lives, but internally they drift apart into separate prisons, never really free of Cuba or the man they left behind, father and husband Uxbal.

"Know this above all: fate is family, and family is fate."
Uxbel wanted to change the world. Soledad's shorthand records it. Isabel takes a vow of silence to prevent altering what must be, her voice poison. Ulises delves into words, the Classics, especially Aeschylus' The Oresteia, finding catharsis and ecstasy. Each follows a lonely path until recalled to Cuba, where the family is finally reunited.

"Don't forget that forgetting is a sin."

The characters struggle with their inner demons, working out their own salvation.

The novel grapples with so many ideas and character insights I had to stop reading and think. Do words change lives, and can silence protect us? What is home? What do we owe our children, our parents, what promises must be kept? What is the nature of God, of Jesus, of faith? How should we die? How should we live? How should we love each other, ourselves?

Palacio has written an amazing first novel, taking readers on a journey, revealing how life can batter and burnish the human heart until it shines.
Thinking Deeper...

Catholic symbolism permeates the novel.

There is meaning behind the character's names:

  • Encarnacion, incarnation in English, refers the manifestation of God in human form as Jesus Christ through the Virgin Birth. 
  • Ulises, Ulysses in Latin or Odysseus in Greek, is the hero of Homer's The Odysseus, the poem about the Trojan War and the long journey home.
  •  Isabel shares a name, as Ulises learns, with the wife of the conquistador Hernando de Soto, who became the first female governor of Cuba during her husband's absence. 
  • Soledad is Spanish for solitude, a name given to Mary the mother of Jesus.

The tradition of mortification of the flesh is alien to me as I am from a Protestant heritage. I thought that understanding it better would shed light on the novel.

Humans live in a fallen state of grace; that is Adam decided to do what he desired instead of following God's command. Ever since, humans have needed to control their desires to be a child of God.

Self-denial is the killing of human desire which controls our emotions and enslaves us. Sometimes we use self-abuse to purge our human desire, such as wearing hair shirts or flagellation. Mortification ('mort' means death) is a way to controlling our desire, a discipline that brings freedom.

In Galatians 5 Paul writes that "the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealous, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like."

The Encarnacion family become mired by these fleshy addictions. Uxbal is an alcoholic, a factionalist who dissents against Castro's government. Soeldad has a relationship with a man not her husband, but who loves her; she loves the Uxbal she sees in Willems. As cancer ruins her body, Soledad insists on abusive sex. Isabel and Ulisesalso use sex for their own purposes, and they share jealousy over the other's parental relationships.

Isabel had listened to Uxbal's singular religious concepts, and inspired by her experience caring for the dying, decides to enter the convent.  She is asked to teach the deaf through sign language. Returning to Cuba, she plots to create her own fatherless child who might life a life unencumbered by the sins of a family. Ulises ends up choosing, Christ-like, to substitute for his father's sins.

I will be puzzling over this novel for a while.

I received a free book through a Twitter giveaway. It in no way impacts or influences my review.


Saturday, November 26, 2016

My Memories of Growing Up in Tonawanda: Early Elementary School Days

I want to thank everyone who visits my Saturday family history posts! I have a little more of Dad's memoirs to share, but wanted to pause and interject my own Tonawanda memories.

Today I will continue to share my childhood memories of growing up in Tonawanda, recalling my early elementary school days.

Philip Sheridan Elementary School. Unknown source.
I was excited to start Kindergarten at Philip Sheridan Elementary School. I couldn't wait to make the new friends that Mom promised I would meet in school. Of course, many of the girls I became friends with lived RIGHT DOWN THE STREET! It seems silly that I had to go to school to meet my neighbors. But I also meet people I would not have known if not for school, especially through Brownies.

Walking to School

To get to school I walked down Rosemont Avenue to Elmwood. The Rosemont houses had been built about the time I was born. The street had the coolest metal street lights, green painted fluted posts with lights like old fashioned lamps.

I was a daydreamer, always wrapped up in my imagination, making up stories and scenarios. Sometimes I scared myself thinking about sad things. This made me pokey, and I often got to school late. Mom couldn't figure it out, since she sent me out the door on time. If the flag was being raised when I got to school I would stand and pledge my allegiance which made me late to class! Otherwise we kids waited outside until the doors opened.

On my yard with Rosemont Avenue behind me.
My dog Pepper walked me to school. One day she hung around the school door and got inside. She came trotting into my classroom and right to me her tail in a lazy wag. The teacher was furious and I had to walk Pepper home again. Mom had to keep Pepper indoors when I left for school.

I hated trash day. People threw away perfectly good things, and it made me very sad. I come from a long line of folk who see the worth in things others toss away.

I was a very sensitive kid and little things drove me crazy. Like when my socks worked their way down my ankle until they were balled up under my foot! I was always pulling up those socks. And my shoe laces never stayed tied. Mom bought me Saddle shoes, which I hated. Later in life I was told I tied my shoes backwards, and it occured to me that Mom was left-handed. That's why I couldn't tie my laces to last.

I did not have a book bag or back pack like kids today. I had to carry the heavy books in my arms. I dreamt about having my own mini airplane for an easy school commute. I also dreamt I could fly. I had dreams about floating. I floated down the stairs, or above the streets. In my waking hours I was sure once I had really floated. I knew I had floated above Rosemont Avenue on the way home from school.
Winter at my Military Road house
Winters were harsh with heavy snowfall. There would be high banks of snow along the sidewalks and driveways. I remember walking along the deep snow at the curb, climbing up and down the banks...And likely knocking the snow back down on the sholved driveways! One winter I noted the boot tracks in the snow, and one pair of boy's boots made a pretty track. I tried to figure out who they belonged to, which house they led up to.

There was a boy who teased me for being fat. I started carrying an umbrella in case I needed to defend myself. I remember having that umbrella made me feel powerful.

I don't know why I was fat. I recall my folks telling me to settle down, calling me Antsy Nancy, so I know I was moving a lot as a kid. There are home movies showing me pretty hyper. Maybe it was the school lunches Mom packed: peanut butter sandwiches made with Wonder Bread; a piece of fruit; a whole package of Hostess cupcakes or Snowballs! Sometimes she put in a hard boiled egg with a little packet of salt, or leftover meatloaf in a sandwich with catsup, or a boloney and cheese sandwich. I bought chocolate milk at school. I hated milk and drained it off my cereal, but I would drink the chocolate milk.
I loved to swing. Dad built this swing set on our yard
along Rosemont Ave.

Philip Sheridan Elementary School

The school seemed huge. It had a playground for the Kindergarten and another for the older grades. I loved to swing and I loved to climb the monkey bars. I was pretty fearless. I loved to climb the willow tree at home, too.

There was a real gym. I remember learning to dance the cha-cha in gym!

I remember the display cases with the seasonal themes, including Hanukkah. The classrooms also had seasonal themes. Purple and yellow, tulips and eggs for Spring. Autumn leaves and pumpkins, gold and brown, turkeys with multi-colored tails for fall.

I loved the art hanging in the school hallway. I remember near the entrance hall was a painting of a blacksmith shop under a spreading tree. It may have been Paul Detlefsen's Horse and Buggy Days:
Another painting I remember was of three horses, perhaps Grazing Horses by Franz Marc,
My Kindergarten teachers were Miss Slawinski and Miss Kowal. We took naps after lunch, laying in rows on rugs, but I was always talking and got into trouble. I remember enhoying the kid's sized play kitchen in the classroom with its little dishes. I liked to play house then.

When the teacher asked where I lived I said, "Next to the biggest tree." Well, it was true did. The willow in my yard was huge. The teacher complained to Mom because I could not get my galoshes on, would not stop talking, and did not know my address. She concluded I was 'spoiled' because I was still an only child. I don't think Mom spoiled me at all. I was just inept, clueless, and well, lonely.

I was lousy at physical things and could not somersault or do cartwheels or tumble. Also, I couldn't see! I had bad astigmatism and didn't get glasses until the school identified the problem.

I loved school things: the notebook and paper, the pencil case and erasers, bulletin boards and chalkboards and books. It was a priviledge to be asked to clean the chalkboards at the end of the school day.

I liked to play teacher. For a long time I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up: first an art teacher, then a music teacher, then a junior high teacher.
Playing teacher to my cousins Sue and Mark
My first new friend was Christine M. who lived on Rosemont Ave. Christine had siblings and friends and knew a lot. She asked if I was Catholic or Protestant and I had to go home and ask Mom. I had no idea about denominations. She asked if my folks were voting for Nixon or Kennedy. I had no idea about presidential elections or political parties. I had to go home and ask Mom. Christine was a lot more savvy than I was!
I got a Brownie camera and this was one of my first photos!
There was a garden in Christine's back yard, and one time she pulled out carrots and we ate them. Her brother was watching King Kong one time I was there, a movie I had never seen. Scary, impressive, and exhilarating!

Christine introduced me to the girl across the road from her house, Janet L. She was a year younger than us. Janet had a sand box. I loved playing there, even if we found sometimes cat poop in the box. We would play there for hours.

Janet L. at my house
Janet and I played cowboys. I don't recall any Indians, but there were bad guys. We watched Gene Autry and Roy Rogers movies rerun on the television. I liked that Autry sang, but Rogers had the great Palomino horse. We would argue over who would be Autry and who would be Rogers. Neither of us wanted to be the cowgirl! That was just lame.

I did not always play nice. I wanted my own way, and one time when I was miffed I imitated what I'd seen on cartoons: Janet was bending over and I gave her a backside a kick. I got into big trouble, rightly so. I was lucky her mom still allowed me over.

I joined the Brownie troop, likely Mom's idea since I was pretty shy in groups. I loved Brownies, everything from the uniform to the songs and crafts. Mrs. Mildred Newhall was our troop leader.
Sporting 'pig tails' and my Brownie uniform.
I loved singing so I always remembered the songs, like the round "Make new friends, but keep the old; One is silver and the other gold." It taught me to hold on to friends, but always be open for new friends.

I also remember the silly songs:

Ooey Gooey was a worm, 
and a mighty worm was he; 
He sat upon the railroad track
--the train he did not see. 
Ooey Gooey!
A peanut sat on a railroad track
His heart was all aflutter.
Down came the 8:15
--choo-choo-choo-choo- Peanut butter!
Do your ears hang low,
do they wobble to and fro?
Can you tie them in a knot?
Can you tie them in a bow?
Can you throw them over your shoulder
like a Continental solider?
Do your ears hang low?

Another song I remember was Little Cabin in the Woods, which had hand motions:

In a cabin in the woods
Little man by the window stood;
Saw a rabbit hopping by,
Knocking at his door.
"Help me, help me, help me," he said
Or the hunter will shoot me dead."
"Little rabbit, come inside,
Safely to abide."

I think therein lies the root of my never wanting to shoot a gun. I was later a good shot with the B-B gun, but they held no appeal for me. I'd rather shelter the bunny than shoot it dead.

Earning Brownie and Girl Scout badges taught me skills like embroidery. We went hiking and camping, three to a pup tent. We each brought a can of SPAM to cook over a fire. I thought it was gross. Of course, the best part was the campfire and the singing and the S'Mores! We only got one each and it was hard eating just one.

Our troop had a girl, Mary, who was in a wheelchair. And for a very short while an African American girl.

The troop leaders gave us a book about a white, yellow, and brown bunny that learn to get along. And then before one meeting a woman in a pill box hat and heels came to the door, bringing her daughter to the meeting, her older son next to her. They were African American. I don't recall any problems, but sadly the girl did not stay very long. I didn't know about segregation and the fight for equal rights going on at the time. But that bunny book made its mark on me. I cherished that book, but at some point it was tossed out, perhaps when we moved.

Teachers & Classes

In First Grade I had Lucille Peterson, Miss Hurley for Second Grade, and Mrs. Erickson for Third Grade. Miss Hurley and Mrs. Erickson were not warm to me, but somehow it did not affect my love for learning. My Fourth Grade teacher was Miss Vanden Beukel, who Mom said was "prettier than Marilyn Monroe." My Fifth Grade teacher Miss Dozoretz was Jewish and taught us about Hanukkah. She gave us dreidels and taught us how to play. I loved Miss Dozoretz, who I remember as cheerful and upbeat. I felt she really loved us all. She married after school ended and we were all invited. Sadly, we moved that year and I couldn't attend.

My favorite subjects in school were music, art, and reading, science and social studies. So, yeah, like everything but math! I was lousy at math. Mom helped me memorize the multiplication tables, but spring break ended before I learned the x8 table. To this day I can't keep numbers in my working memory. But I can finally balance a check book and sometimes figure out the tip.

I liked the songs in Kindergarten, especially Do You Know the Muffin Man? Oh, to have a muffin man walking down the street! And we played the Hokey Pokey: "Put your right hand in, take your right hand out; put your right hand in and shake it all about."

In music class we learned American and world folk songs. A favorite was The Happy Wanderer. 

I love to go a-wandering
Along the mountain track,
And as I go, I love to sing,
My knapsack on my back.

I also loved The Erie Canal--since the canal was just down the road! And folk songs like I Ride An Old Paint and Drill, Ye Tarriers, Drill.

Art was my first school subject love. At home coloring was a favorite activity. My favorite Crayola colors were Periwinkle, Sea Green, Robin's Egg Blue, Aquamarine, Cornflower, Mulberry, Thistle, Salmon--clear bright pastels with lovely names. I still love playing with color, only today I use fabric.

I also loved paper dolls. My grandmother taught me how to cut with scissors, a skill I still use in quilting! I remember I had Dinah Shore paperdolls. She hosted the Dinah Shore Chevy Show which I watched with Mom. I pretended I had The Nancy Show. My acts included a trio of singing horses named Sugar, Coffee, and Cream. I believe the names were inspired by a song I liked, Sugartime, sung by the McGuire Sisters: "Sugar in the morning, sugar in the evening, sugar at super time./ Be my little sugar and love me all the time."

Learning to read came easy to me. I had grown up with Little Golden Books and illustrated books. When I was invited to join the school chorus the teacher scheduled reading while I was out of the classroom. I have sang Alto from third grade until today. We met in the school auditorium. I remember we learned the May Day Carol:

The moon shines bright, the stars give a light
A little before tis day
Our heavenly Father, he called to us
And bid us awake and pray.

Another song I remember learning was The Holly and the Ivy:

The holly and the ivy
When they are both full grown
Of all the trees that are in the wood
The holly bears the crown.

O, the rising of the sun,
And the running of the deer;
The playing of the merry organ
Sweet singing of the choir.

I was Martha in The Christmas Carol in the school play. Actually, I played Martha in one scene and another girl played Martha in the other scene. I memorized everyone's lines, and to this day I remember the lines. It remains a favorite story.

Teachers read out loud to class at school and I was transported by the books. Each class had its own mini-library. I read all the books after the teacher shared them: Mr. Popper' Penguins; Charlotte's Web; Ben and Me; Follow My Leader; Homer Price; Bed-knob and Broomsticks; Mrs Piggle Wiggle. Hence my love of fiction! I loved A Child's Garden of Verses and when I found a biography of Robert Louis Stevenson I read it. Such a romantic life! And so my interest in biographies began.

When I learned there was a public library I begged Mom to take me. My first visit to the Sheridan Park Public Library I brought home Follow My Leader, D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths, and a history of Australia. It was hard to choose, there were so many lovely books.

During the summer Mom sent me to Day Camp at Herbert Hoover Junior High. We meet in the gym for activities and crafts. I recall crafts making hand loom potholders, wood burning, etching on copper sheets, and painting plastic kits of parakeets.

We went swimming at Day Camp. I didn't know how to swim plus I hated it when my face went underwater. I got an ear infection one summer and was able to skip swimming.

Janet also went to Day Camp and her big sister drove us to Day Camp a few times. I heard Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Tiny Polka Dot Bikini on the radio one day when she drove us.

I went home and told my Grandmother Gochenour that I didn't like popular music, it was inane, and she approved. I told her I would only like classical music and musicals, and also that I would never like boys because girls acted silly over them. I kept that promise for a long time.
With Grandma Gochenour, who lived with us.
This photo is from about 1959, because that is when Mom bought
her turquoise couch!
My first awareness of time, other than as a reassuring cycle of the known, came in 1959. Next time, I will share my memories of my brother's birth and meeting the best friend I could have ever wanted.