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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Book Entry 18: 1958 My Busy Mom

I remember my mom making jellies and canning peaches in our old kitchen.  It had a special fragrance.  I’m not sure exactly what but it was more than the sweetness of the fruit.  I think the smell of the lids boiling on the stove added to the fragrance.  Mom would let me pick the lids out of the scalding water and line them up to dry on a towel.  Then I’d wait for the right time when the jars were full to put them on and screw them tight. Mom showed me how to hold both the hot jar and the lid in damp washcloths so the lid would turn on, I wouldn’t get burned, and the sticky syrup would get wiped off the jars all at the same time.     
I remember the proud look on mom’s face when dad would come in the kitchen at the end of the day.  She’d have all her jars of peaches or strawberry jam or whatever she’d spent her day making lined up across the table in neat rows.  Mom told me she lined the jars up like that because it made them easy to count but I think she did it to show dad how hard we’d worked during the day.  Dad would always hold up several jars and boast how beautiful the fruit was or how clear the jellies.  He’d search the pots and pans for extra fruit or spoons to lick clean.  He’d look at me and grin then ask mom if that was all she had managed to do with her day.
          Mom and dad laughed a lot.  They played a lot with one another.  I remember him coming up behind and gently rubbing her back or pinching her on the fanny.  She’d turn to him and many times he’d do the big sweeping hug where he’d practically lay her down hugging her then swoop her up again.  I always knew they loved one another a lot by the way they played.

Book Entry 17: 1957 Talking "Turkey"

Talking “Turkey”

I would ride “shotgun” with my dad when he delivered the loads of peaches from the field to the docks in Hughson.  Dad was just sure the fellow pulling the peaches was giving our crop some undeserved bad grades.  He told mom on our way out of the driveway he was going to talk "turkey” to the grader when we delivered the next load. 
 I remember snuggling up to him on our ride to town, then standing right beside him as he talked with the fellow grading our load of peaches.  After a few minutes I grew impatient and blurted out loud enough for everyone to hear, “When are you going to talk like a turkey to this man daddy?”  I guess I embarrassed dad.  His face turned red and everyone laughed.  He must not have been mad because when we got home he couldn’t wait to tell mom what I’d done.  He laughed the whole time he was telling her. 
Years later when I was a Freshman in High School some of the Seniors, including David Hedrick and Vernon Tucker, started the "Gobble."  They took turns running up and down the outside halls gobbling like turkeys.  One by one other kids would join in and soon all the students were "gobbling."  It was hilarious to everyone but especially to those of us who lived on farms.  We knew that is exactly the way a barn full of turkeys really acts!
I often wondered if when my dad said he was going to talk "turkey" he meant he was going to make a lot of noise complaining and the grader was going to make a lot of noise with excuses and nothing was really going to change.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Book Entry 16: 1957 My Friend Barbara

My Friend Barbara

Barbara Hawkins has been a friend of mine my entire life.  When we grew up and got married our husbands became friends.   This picture is not of Barbara but is typical of the brace she wore.  She wore one brace and used crutches.
           I had a little playhouse in our backyard.  Barbara and I spent many days in that playhouse or in my treehouse making “wine” out of mulberries.  We were happy to make it and smart enough never to taste it.  As I remember the recipe was mulberry juice, salt, and pepper.  It sure doesn’t sound very good now but then… we really thought we were something.  I don’t remember just how we got Barbara up to and down from that tree house but as I recall there wasn’t much she couldn’t do.  
Barbara was one of the last kids in Hughson to get Polio in the epidemic that passed through our nation when we were babies.  She said when her mother put her to bed one night she was fine and when she went to check on her in the morning she could no longer stand.  By the time we got into school I think Barbara had already had her spine fused.  It didn’t matter to most of us, in fact, more than once I’d stiffen my leg and limp like she did.  It was different so it was fun.   I never thought she was different, she just had to figure out how to do some things that were easy for everyone else.
There were a couple of little bullies in our class.  One was Billy Ray Bell and one was Larry Dunn.  They would poke fun at anyone for anything and they were merciless towards Barbara and her crutches. 
Barbara walked to school.  Many days her first stop at school would be the bathroom where she would unbuckle her brace and leave it in a corner.  She’d come into class with just her crutches.  I know it was harder for her without her brace.   I know sometimes her leg hurt a lot. 
When the bell rang at the end of the day all of us who rode the buses would run one direction and the kids who walked to school would use the other hall.  Barbara would retrieve her brace and buckle it back on hoping her mom wouldn’t find out she’d gone all day without using it.  One day while she was waiting to cross Main Street Billy came up beside her and began to tease her.  She lifted up one of her crutches and gave him a good wallop to the head.  He recoiled in tears.  The bully had received justice.  He didn’t come around Barbara much after that and when he did he didn’t tease her.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Book Entry 15: 1957 The Peach Box Fort and the Yellow Jackets

The Peach Box Fort and the Yellow Jackets

          Before the days of peach bins there were peach boxes.  We would get huge deliveries of empty boxes which would remain for two to three days waiting to be used in the fields.  David and I would build forts with them.  I remember how they smelled.  They had a fragrance of wet wood, sometimes new wood, and sometimes fruit. 
Pear orchards were the harvest before peaches.  Sometimes while building our forts we would find pears in the boxes.  It would only be one or two.  They were pears that had bounced back or not fallen out when the boxes had been emptied.  They were a day or two past the perfect picking ripeness.  They were plump and sweet and delicious.  The first bite into one of those beauties would send streams of juice trickling down my chin.  We were in trouble more than once for taking those stacks of boxes apart looking for those wonderful treats!
We had been playing in our fort for a long time.  It was hot and dusty.  I was just finishing up my third pear when I noticed it began to get dark.  I licked my chin as far as I could reach and wiped my hands on the sleeves of my shirt.  I headed for the house thinking I must have played longer than I realized. 
I was almost to the door when mom came out to greet me.  She looked at me with a puzzled expression on her face and asked me if I needed something.  I told her since it was getting dark I thought it was time to come inside.  Not taking her eyes off my face she placed her hands on my shoulders and pulled me a little closer.  “So you think its dark enough for dinner?  Did something happen in your fort you want to tell me about?”  I confessed to the bounty of pears I’d eaten.
Mom took me into the house and into the bathroom.  She had me stand on the toilet and look into the mirror.  I could barely see and it wasn’t any lighter in the house than it had been outside.  There in the mirror I saw me, or at least a reflection that looked like it could be me.   It had blond hair pulled into pigtails.  It had my mouth and it had my blouse on but something was really wrong!  Where I should have had eyes I had two tiny slits barely open enough to see the mirror.  My eyes were nearly swollen shut!  On my forehead were two huge bumps with tiny red spots in their middles.
Very calmly mom began to chuckle.  She ran some cool water on a washcloth and gently placed it on my forehead.  Next she took my hand and placed it on the washcloth to keep it in place.  “Well, it looks like you weren’t the only one that wanted those pears!  Did you see any Yellow Jacket nests when you were going through the boxes?” she asked.  I hadn’t noticed any Yellow Jackets or bees or bugs of any type.
Mom left me in the living room and walked out to my fort.  When she came inside dad was with her.  They both laughed when they looked at me.  I can only guess how I looked by then because I could no longer see at all.  Dad took my free hand and placed something in it.  I remember it felt like an empty grapefruit peel.  Dad said it was the biggest Yellow Jackets’ nest he’d ever seen.  He said there were at least a dozen Yellow Jackets right next to the fort.
Mom fixed sandwiches for lunch and dad bar-b-qued hamburgers for dinner.  They said they were eating with their eyes closed too but I’m not sure if they were or not.  It was fun eating without being able to see.  I remember they took such care to be sure our food was all things we could eat using our hands.  For desert that evening dad placed one last huge pear in my hands.  Even without seeing it I knew it was perfect! 
Dad kept the nest and the next day when I could see again he opened it up and showed me the Yellow Jacket larva inside.  Growing up on the farm was great!  Those forts were great!  The huge sweet pears were great!  I can't say the Yellow Jackets were great but they are certainly what made this day a memory so I guess I'm even grateful for them!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Book Entry 14: 1957 Sharing My Lunch

Sharing My Lunch

In my second grade class there was a girl named Katie Flemming.  Katie was extremely thin.  She looked like skin on bones to me.  Her eyes were dark and sunken.  I got in trouble several times that year for giving her part of my lunch.  It kind of happened accidentally one day while we were talking in the lunch line.  When we took our plates she didn’t get one but she went to the table and sat with me.  I remember a scared look on her face at the table.  When I offered her part of my lunch she took it immediately, gulping it down, constantly looking from side to side as she ate.
The next few days when the lunch line formed she made sure she was next to me.  She continued sharing my lunch as the lunch lady watched.  This continued for about three weeks at which time Katie and I were called into the principle’s office.  We skipped down the hall to the meeting not thinking we’d done anything wrong.  When we got to his office the principle, my mom, Katie’s mom and the lunch lady were all there.
While we weren’t in trouble I was told from that day forward I could not let Katie or anyone have food from my tray.  The principle said arrangements had been made for Katie to have her own tray.  We giggled as though we’d won a prize.  I will never forget the look on my mom’s face as the lunch lady shared with the group what I had done in sharing my lunch.  I will never forget the smile of gratitude Katie’s mom gave me.
          Katie and I remained lunch mates.  Katie was so proud to lift her hands up to receive her very own tray at the end of the line.  I’m not sure who, either my mom or the principle, but someone paid for Katie’s lunch for the rest of her time at Hughson.  She moved away the summer after second grade.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Book Entry 13: 1957 My Lima Bean Crop

My Lima Bean Crop

           I remember mom in the kitchen.  She must have been making soup.  She had several bags of different types of beans and peas and noodles on the counter.  I asked if I could help.  Mom said I could choose some beans and plant them if I wanted to.  I guess that was her way of getting me out of the kitchen and from underfoot.  I chose a handful of lima beans because they were the biggest.  I took my beans outside and found a nice spot in the garden to plant them.      
There was sort of an overhang on our house where our piano fit in the living room.  The outside of the overhang was in the garden.  Dad had the weeds pulled and there was a perfect spot for my little crop.  I remembered watching dad plant seeds and did everything I'd seen him do.  I made a little trench with a stick and put the beans in very carefully.  I took a little board and used it to gently push dirt into the little trench covering the seeds.  Dad told me to lay a piece of cloth over the area where the beans were planted.  We drizzled water over the cloth to dampen it.  I left the cloth for a couple of days keeping it damp all the while.  I didn’t know why I did it then but now I realize it forced the beans to sprout. 
Once the cloth was removed it took just a couple more days to see tiny green sprouts begin to break the ground.  I was so excited.  I took my dad to see what the tiny sprouts when he came in from the field.  He said I was a good farmer and praised my little plants.  Every day when he’d come in after work he would call to me and we’d go check on my little beans.  Every day they were taller and taller.  In about a week they were so top heavy they all drooped over to the ground.  I think they must have drooped because the place in the garden under the overhang was shady.  Dad said they might have grown too tall too fast trying to get to the sun.  I was in tears.  I don’t know what I thought those beans were supposed to do but to me they seemed to have failed. 
Dad picked up on my thoughts right away.  He didn’t say anything about failure, but instead, without hesitation he ran his big hands across the rows and quickly plucked them all up.  He held them sort of like a little bouquet while a smile covered his whole face.  Now I know the smile was his satisfaction in saving his little girl’s hurt feelings.  He told me we were going to have the best dinner ever and it would be because of my beans! 
We went into the house where dad proceeded to call mom in a very excited voice and tell her to gather tomatoes and lettuce.  He told her we had a surprise for her.  Mom cut the lettuce and tomatoes into our salad bowl.  Dad carefully washed my little bean sprouts being careful not to break them.  Then he handed them to me.  He showed me how to pinch off the tiny roots and helped me break them into pieces about as long as my little finger.  Dad took a few in his fingers and held them high above the bowl.  He slowly opened his fingers and let the sprouts sprinkle down onto the salad.  When he looked at me I knew it was my turn.  I copied dad and when the sprouts began to drop onto the salad he smiled at me and told mom I would be a good cook and Betty Crocker had better just watch out!
            Dad had been right.  It was one of the best dinners ever! I don’t particularly remember how that salad tasted but I do know I’d never seen sprouts on one of our salads before that and I never saw them on one after that either!  To this day I don’t care for sprouts but I sure do treasure the memory of growing those and helping mom and dad make that salad!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Book Entry 12: 1957 My Trees

My Trees
The Magnolia Trees in the Front Yard:

I'm sure it was about this time that I discovered a wonderful spot in the Magnolia tree in our front yard.  We had two, one was for climbing because it had a wonderful  trunk that divided into two strong branches perfect for sitting, thinking, snacking, hunting birds, looking at books, or spying on our house and the neighbors.  There was another branch just an arms length higher up where I could hide secret things of importance that I'd want again the next time I came out to play.  I spent many hours in that tree until I was about ten or eleven, when for some sad reason, it seemed to loose it's magic.  The other Magnolia tree had a single long trunk with a branch perfect for the swing dad hung there for us. 
I remember sitting in our front yard.  I had a big blanket spread out to lie on.  I was drawing pictures on the petals of the Magnolia blossoms with a small twig.  The blossoms have a very strong fragrance.  You can draw on the petals and nothing happens for a minute or two, then the picture shows.  I used to give my cats magic shows drawing pictures on those petals.
The Magnolia trees dropped cones throughout the year.  Sometimes the cones are filled with red seeds.  I don’t think we ever ate them but Barbara Hawkins (Morey) and I used to crush them and make paint to paint each others faces.  I remember the pungent odor of those red seeds.  I swear sometimes when we are at Tequila CafĂ© there is something in the red salsa they serve that tastes like those red seeds smelled! 
Dad and I would rake leaves under the Magnolia trees.  We’d rake them out to the edge of the gravel driveway where he would light them on fire.  We'd stand there together and watch as the pile of leafs quickly burned away.  Sometimes before he lit them he would throw me into the pile.  Sometimes dad would clip the bigger leaves to my bicycle tires with clothes pins to make them sound like a motorcycle.  Later when mom and dad had an old deck of cards he used cards instead.  The cards worked a lot better.  They lasted longer and made a better sound.  When mom caught us she scolded us for using the clothes pins off the laundry line but she scolded us with a smile.

The Almond Tree in the Driveway:

         We had the biggest almond tree in the whole world in our driveway!  I have never seen another almond tree as big as that one!  I had a dozen places to sit and play in that old tree.  I would play for hours with my cats dressing them in doll clothes.  I remember one day trying out the rule that cats always land on their feet.  I loved my cats…I didn’t drop them too far!          
         I would crawl out the bigger limbs to pick the almonds to eat.  Oh boy, were those almonds ever sweet and delicious.  I learned to ride my bike on the gravel driveway under that old tree.  Dad gave me a dime for each time I made it to the road and back the day I learned to ride.  He said I made $1.10 that day.  Those were the years it was drilled into us to always tithe at Sunday School.  When dad paid me my $1.10 he made sure I understood $.11 should be headed for the offering on Sunday morning.

          I learned to fly my ten cent kites between the almond tree and the barn.  I still love flying kites.
I had a little play house by the butane tank under the almond tree.  Barbara Hawkins (Morey) and I spent many summer days in that little house.
I find it interesting I loved an old almond tree so much.  Later Larry and I farmed almonds for over thirty years.  I moved from a peach farm to an almond farm.  Fresh peaches and fresh almonds are still two of my favorite things to eat.  I think they taste their best when eaten in the field.

The Mulberry Tree in the Back Yard:

           My Mulberry tree overlooked our back yard.  It stood just on the outside of the fence.  It had three main branches where I could sit and swing my legs if I held on.  When mom told be not to go out of the yard I would sneak out the gate to climb my tree and sit on the branch hanging inside the yard!  It was not as comfortable as my Magnolia tree but it was a great place to sit and watch clouds.  I remember when I sat there with shorts on I had to sit on a towel or my legs would get all scratched.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Book Entry 11: 1956 The Red Ryder Incident

The Red Ryder Incident

Dad was working in the field and mom had gone on a quick trip into Hughson.  I was perched up in the magnolia tree and David was hunting for a bird to shoot with his BB gun.  He wasn’t having any luck so he called me down from the tree and told me to hold an almond while he shot it from my fingers.  I was seven years old and he was ten.  We were bored and I thought it sounded like a pretty good idea.  I climbed down from the tree and stood by the front porch as he took aim.
I don’t remember if he ever had a successful shot but I know he shot three or four times.  The last time the BB wedged under my fingernail.  David started bragging about his aim because he had barely missed the almond.  He neglected to think he had indeed missed the almond and gotten the bb stuck under my nail.  I started screaming as if I'd been mortally wounded. 
In those days just about the only cars that used our road were people who lived on it.  When we heard a car coming David looked and saw it was mom.  She was about half way between our house and the neighbors.  He pushed me down into the bushes and told me not to say a word.  Mom was getting closer.  David picked up a tiny stick and told me to get the BB out and threatened not to tell what we’d done. 
As mom pulled into the driveway he ran to the garage.  I thought it was going to be the old “first one to tell is the innocent one trick” but he didn’t tell her what had happened.  Taking advantage of him being there in the garage she started him carrying in bags of groceries from the car.  I think he made three trips to the house and back.  Each time he passed the bush where I was hiding he’d glare at me and I knew I was to shut up and not cry. 
I heard mom ask where I was and he answered I was in the barn playing with the cats.  All I could think was he’d nearly shot me to death and now he was lying about it.  By the time I managed to pry the BB out my finger was throbbing.   It wasn’t bleeding and I’m sure I hurt it poking it more than the BB. 
I came out of the bush to sit on the front step.  A couple of my cats came to me and started rubbing on my legs.  I petted them and waited for mom to call me to dinner.  Finally dad came to the house.  I went in when he did.  We washed our hands together in the big grey sink on the back porch.  When he noticed I was favoring my finger he asked what had happened.  I truthfully told him I’d poked it with a stick in the front yard. 
        When David came to the table he gave me one last harsh look.  He never did ask how my finger was.  He never did tell mom or dad what he’d done.  Neither did I!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

43 Years is Not Enough

June 22, 1968

It was a record setting day for heat in Hughson, California.
Our ceremony was at 8:00 in the evening allowing for farmers to finish their day, clean up, and join us at the church. The church did have a new air conditioner but in an attempt to save money it wasn't turned on until just before the guests started to arrive.
The church was full, the balcony was full, the foyer was full, even the steps outside were lined with guests.

When my dad was walking me into the church one of my slippers came off. A friend giggled as she slipped it back onto my foot saying, "You look just like Cinderella." I felt just like her too, like a bride should feel, like that day was just for me and all my friends were there to enjoy it with me.

When we were taking our vows I noticed the long tapered candles were are so hot they were bending. There were about twenty candles and they were bending in all directions. Sweat beads were dripping from our faces. I remember the butterflies in my stomach, the squeek in my voice, and our first kiss.

We've had many struggles in our life together. Lots of wonderful memories and lots not so wonderful as life has thrown some hard obstacles our way. I used to think it must surely be an unmentioned sin to love someone as much as I loved Larry when we were dating and first married. I've never changed. I love him more every day. 43 years is not nearly long enough.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Book Entry 10: 1956 Bob and Elnora

Bob and Elnora

The first black people I ever met were Bob and Elnora Jackson.  They were wonderful people.  They picked peaches for us one summer.  Dad let them live in a small portion of our barn for the picking season.  I spent several days sitting at their makeshift table watching Elnora can peaches.  It smelled so good.  She let me “test” every batch.  I remember the rows of canned peaches lined up on the table.  Until I met them the only black people I’d ever seen were on Disney movies or Shirley Temple films.  I remember Elnora was heavy and wore a bun in her hair and Bob was short looking a lot like the character “Uncle Remus.”
I found my little black baby doll and showed it to Elnora.  She smiled and cradled it as if were her child.  I had made the comment that I’d never seen a black person before, how beautiful Elnora's skin was, and how funny Bob’s curly little beard was. I was a little girl and it was an innocent observation.  I remember Bob holding my hand in one of his and Elnora’s hand in the other.  He made a comment something like, “See, we are all different and God loves us all.”   With great care and gentleness Bob began telling me a story about how no two people are alike inside or outside.  Even he and his wife were different colors of black. 
We sat just inside the barn watching the other workers in the yard.  Bob pointed out all the different colors the people were.  There was one very sun-burned kid chasing a chicken.  Bob laughed and said in all his life he’d never seen another person as red as that kid.  He laughed in his deep voice, a long loud laugh, making me giggle. 
Later when I told mom about our conversation she was afraid I’d hurt their feelings but when she spoke to them they assured her my comment was taken kindly and they were sure I had said what I did in innocence.  Elnora paid mom for the peaches by helping put wallpaper up in my bedroom.  It was yellow daisy wallpaper.  I had that wallpaper for years.  It always reminded me of my wonderful summer with Bob and Elnora.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Book Entry 9: 1956 My Jenny


My Jenny

My uncle Raymond was in the Air force. He traveled a lot. He would bring my cousin Ellen and me dolls from some of the places he went. The spring of 1956 he brought us black baby dolls. I immediately named mine Jenny. Jenny had a rubber head and rubber arms and legs. She had tiny fingers and toes. She even had fingernail and toenail indentions. She had a cloth body and cried “mama” when I’d turn her onto her back. I loved that doll instantly! She was my first best friend.

I took Jenny everywhere. I sat her on the chair by our front door when I went to school in the morning and grabbed her as soon as I came home after school. I had a bed for her next to my bed. She had a dress and a nightgown.

About a week after we got our dolls my uncle Thomas found out about them. He didn’t think his nieces should be playing with black dolls. I distinctly remember my mom’s agitated voice growing louder and louder as she spoke to Ellen’s mom on the phone. When she hung up the phone she looked at me with a disturbed look on her face. We heard the familiar crunch of our gravel driveway and she ran to look out the window.

Uncle Thomas was sliding to a stop in our driveway. Dust was flying from under his car. He started running up to our back door. Mom and I were now on our porch. Mom said hello to Thomas as I heard the familiar “click” of the door latch. She had locked her brother out! Mom turned to me and told me to go hide Jenny and lock the inner door. I did. I pulled a chair to the door, which was wooden on the bottom and window on the top, and watched mom’s conversation with Thomas.

I can’t remember the words used but Thomas told her he was there to get rid of the doll Raymond had given me. He said he’d destroyed Ellen’s and he had come to do the same thing to mine. What he’d done was get rid of Ellen’s doll by cutting it to shreds. When Kathleen had called it was to warn mom that Thomas was on his way to our house. There were lots of heated words. Thomas said little white girls should play with little white dolls. I felt my eyes hurt and tears began running down my cheeks. Mom told him to leave and she would take care of her own children. She didn’t raise her voice often but she was raising it plenty during that conversation.

The argument only lasted a minute or two but I remember being really scared. I don’t know if I was scared of Thomas or of my mother yelling. After the second or third time she told him to leave Thomas stomped back to his car and sped out of the driveway with gravel flying in all directions behind him. It left marks in our driveway dad had to rake level when he came in from the field. Mom was my hero. She had fought her brother and saved Jenny. Dad was my hero too because he backed up her actions. I remember rescuing Jenny from behind my parents shoes in our closet, holding her tight the rest of the day and taking her to bed with me that night.

I didn’t understand such hatred then and I don’t understand it now. I still have Jenny. Years ago Adam asked me if he could have her. I told him he could have her someday. When I leave this world he will find her still in the drawer next to my bed.

I loved her long detailed fingers and fingernails.

I loved her pretty toes and dimpled knees.

I loved her ears and her eyelashes.

I made her this outfit a few years ago when we had her cloth body replaced.

It includes socks, shoes, knickers, an underdress and a pinefore.

Mom called this Jenny's "Mammy Hat."

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day Daddy...I Sure Miss You!

Dad at 18 in 1942

Thanks Dad…

For sitting with me under the old orange tree and eating oranges
There with me after school…..
For letting me help you irrigate the rows of roses by our old
House and not getting mad when I’d get in the way…
For walking with me to the ice cream store at Mission Springs
And listening to my silly thoughts and dreams….
For all the sacrifices you made for me I don’t even know about….
For making me feel special and important….
For being proud of me…..
For all the times you held me on your lap and just loved me….
For letting me steer the car while I sat on your lap….
For putting up with all my little girl friends and all night parties….
For all the summers we spent at Yosemite and at the beach…
For making me work out in the heat over the peach grader when
I’d rather have been swimming, and then for going to swim with me
When we were finished….
For liking me and the music I played for you….
For the gentleness of your discipline…..
For crying with me in the hospital the day my baby girl Cari died….
For loving Larry and our children……
For making sure right from the beginning that I knew Christ should
Be first in my life….
For a thousand little memories you made with me while I was
Growing up, and still make me today….
For being a terrific model as a parent, my prayer is that I may
Be that same type of parent and that I may help build memories
With my children like you have built with me…..
For being my dad, I love you happy Fathers Day!


Dad and Mom at 50 Years Together

Friday, June 17, 2011

Book Entry 7: 1955 The Rose Garden

The Rose Garden

I’m assuming it was around this time I fell in love with my mom’s rose garden.  I remember my dad weeding, fertilizing, watering, and tenderly pruning the rose bushes in the garden.  There were 4-5 rows of roses more than half the length of our house.  We had yellow, red, orange, white, and pink roses.  We had roses that were stripped and one that had shapes of different colors on the petals.   One year we even had a lavender rose but mom or dad didn’t like it so it disappeared after the first year. 
Later, when I was 9 or 10 dad “let me” take over the irrigating for the summer.  Boy did I feel important!  Dad had perfect little furrows for each row.  He showed me how to put the end of the garden hose in a folded burlap bag so it wouldn’t dig a hole into the ground and let the water run until it got to the opposite end of the row.  When dad sprinkled the fertilizer beside the bushes each month, he’d take a little rake and scratch the ground so the fertilizer could “get in.” 
Dad loved to care for the roses, in fact, as far as I can remember dad did all maintenance in the garden.  I remember getting up very early one morning to use the bathroom.  On my way back to bed I looked out of the kitchen window and saw dad pulling weeds from the roses before he went into the fields to work.  Later when I got up there was a huge fresh bouquet of roses on the kitchen table.  Mom was sitting right in front of the bouquet sipping her coffee with a most peaceful look on her face. 
My mom planted flowers all the time but dad is the one who kept the weeds away.  I never knew for sure why he called it “Mom’s garden” except that he did all the work in it so she could enjoy it.  I think the garden was a gift from my dad to my mom.  Our house always had roses and other fresh flowers inside as well as outside during the blooming seasons.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Book Entry 6: 1955 Our First Trip to Disneyland

Our First Trip to Disneyland

Disneyland opened in Anaheim in 1955.  We went with Ruby and Ben Bergman and their kids.  It poured rain all day long the day we traveled to southern California.  I was so excited to be going and so scared the weather was going to ruin everything.  I remember we ate at an Italian restaurant.  I had spaghetti.  The gutters were full and the water was up on the sidewalks.  Dad had to carry me to the door so my shoes wouldn’t get wet.
The next day was not raining.  It was magical indeed.  All the characters were at the entrance, along with Walt Disney, to welcome us to the park.  I had never seen so much excitement, so many things to look at, such rides, such treats, and such blisters!  I remember Abe Lincoln, the little cars we got to drive, the Matterhorn, the Dumbo ride, and the submarine ride.  We bought ticket books when we entered the park.  The tickets were labeled A, B, C, or D.  Certain tickets paid for certain rides.
We also went to Knotts Berry Farm on that trip.  I remember the jailer who could tell me what my name was, where I lived, my favorite color, the name of our dog, the hotel we were staying in, etc.  He knew everything about me.  What I didn’t know was mom was at the other end of the jail telling him all that stuff through an earpiece.  It made me have such an odd feeling I almost got sick!  I remember the girls dressed like barmaids when we went into the saloon!  Most of all, I remember the chicken who could play the toy piano!  I don’t know why but that really impressed me.
I went to Disneyland with my parents several times while growing up.  When Larry and I got married we continued going with our children.  We went in 2005 for the 50th year celebration.  I think I always loved it as much as the first time!

Book Entry 5: 1955 A Cloud of a Different Type

A Cloud of a Different Type

I can remember many days, when the sky was just right, watching clouds with my mom or dad.  We’d spread out a blanket on the front lawn, lie on our backs, and pick out different clouds as they’d float by.  We could find Mickey Mouse, cats, trees, and a hundred other objects.  My favorite would always be some type of ship.  Ships looked so majestic moving across the sky.  Torpedo ships, sail boats, or pirate ships, it didn’t matter.  We searched spring skies with the little wispy clouds and we searched autumn skies with the big powerful displays of blue and black and grey clouds. Dad would look for animals and I would look for ships.
One morning dad came busting through the kitchen door all excited.  I was at the kitchen table having breakfast.  Dad announced a soft little cloud had gotten stuck in our garage.  I was a five year old kid.  I believed every word that came out of my dad’s mouth.  I could not understand how a cloud could even get into our garage and sure couldn’t understand how it got stuck there, but if my daddy said it was there it had to be there!   I can remember dad taking me by the hand, with a huge smile covering his face, and running with me to the garage. 
Once in the garage he put his finger to his lips to shush me.  He told me not to make a sound.  Together we tip-toed to his work bench,  “Here is the little cloud.” He said.  There in my doll buggy was our momma cat with six brand new  kittens.  I jumped up and down with excitement.  Dad calmed me down and took my hand.  Gently he pushed my hand into the buggy and over the tiny heads counting out loud.  One, two, three, four, five, six he said.  I can remember how incredibly small and soft their heads were.  I remember how the momma cat purred and how the little family looked so cozy snuggled in that buggy on my doll blanket. 
I was allowed to go into the garage any time to look at the kittens but dad would take me on an official “touching” visit every day after he came in from work.  I learned a lot about kittens that summer.  I thought it was gross they were born with their eyes shut but I thought it was a miracle on the 10th day when they opened them. 
Dad let me hold them from the first day.  I remember feeling how very small they were.  I remember their tiny little toe nails and stubby little tails.  I remember how after just one or two days their little tummies looked swollen with all the milk they drank.  I remember holding them up to my face and rubbing them on my cheeks.   They were so soft.  I remember their smell.  I remember how the momma cat would allow us to pick up her babies but meow the whole time, never taking her eyes off the baby we were holding, until we’d put it back in with her.  I remember dad’s hands, as big as mitts and as rough as sandpaper, gently taking a kitten from its mother and placing it into my tiny hands.  I remember the kittens lying in my hands and my hands lying in my dads.  I felt so secure and surrounded by his love.
I loved lying in the yard with mom and dad watching clouds.  Any time we’d get bored at the beach or at Yosemite we would find ourselves challenging one another to a cloud watching session.  It was always fascinating.  The items we’d find in the sky were only limited by our imagination so there was no limit!  I still watch clouds and find hidden treasures in them.  I used to do it with my kids, now I do it with my grandkids.  I always loved it but I think this memory of the kittens is my favorite cloud memory even though it is a cloud of a different type. 

Book Entry 4: 1955 Kindergarten


        I only remember a few things about kindergarten.  I remember an awful feeling in my stomach, the same feeling I get now when I’m in the waiting room of my dentist.  I remember our class waiting in line to get on a train at the Hughson station, sitting next to Mina Moore for a short ride, and getting off the train in Merced. 
          I remember the smell of paste.  I remember the teacher standing in front of the class with a box of huge red pencils and a box of brand new two inch pink erasers.  As she came closer to me I remember my heart pounding with excitement.  As I look back now it is a wonder we ever did learn to write with those pencils they were so big and so heavy.  That’s it! It seems funny…those few things gave me memories for a lifetime but nothing else from kindergarten stuck with me.  The photo shows me, Mina Moore, and Pam Aldrich at the Merced train station.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Book Entry 3: 1954 Waiting for My Party

Waiting for My Party

I'm standing in the rose garden at the side of our house.  I'm wearing a white (with red dots) Dotted-Swiss dress with a red (with white dots) Dotted-Swiss top.  I'm waiting for guests to arrive for my birthday party.  I remember being excited and watching the road for cars.  I remember watching mom make frosting for my cake by cooking it and beating it with the electric mixer at the same time.  I learned years later that particular frosting is called 7-minute frosting because you make it using a double boiler and whipping it on the stove for 7-minutes.  I remember the taste and the feel of the icing on the cake but I don't remember what the cake looked like. I don't remember the party but I managed to find this photo which backs up my memory.   I can identify Shirly Rush, myself, and Danny Baptista.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Book Entry 2: 1953 Floor Furnace Burns

Floor Furnace Burns

I don’t know exactly how it happened but I fell on our floor furnace.  I fell with my right leg bent and got some pretty good burns on the inside of my right calf and on the inside of my right thigh where the lower and upper leg touched when it bent.
I remember sitting on the kitchen counter by the sink.  Mom ran cold water over the leg that didn’t have the burn in an attempt to take my mind off the leg that was burned.  She rubbed butter onto her hands and then gently onto my burns.  We learned years later the theory of butter helping burns was wrong and it actually made the burns hurt and scar more. 
The next day mom got some kind of salve from the doctor to put on my leg.  I remember sitting and crying while mom tried so hard to apply that salve without making me scream.  Once they were covered with salve she bound them with long strips of gauze. 
I remember my leg hurt terribly.  Mom did everything she could to comfort me.  Dad stood by coaxing her on what to do and not to do but he was too scared to touch me.  He would gasp with my every scream.  At one point he told me to look at him.  He made funny faces to make me laugh.  When I saw he had tears in his eyes I only cried harder. 
For years I watched the scars on my legs grow as I grew.  Every summer they would look like brown tic-tac-toe marks on my tanned legs and every winter they would all but disappear.  When I was writing this I looked and couldn’t find any signs of the scars anymore.  Some time in the last thirty years they disappeared. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

My Night for Desert!

We have a great couple we enjoy having dinner with every Monday night at our favorite restaurant here in Turlock.  We eat at Mundo's Latin Grill.  The owner lets us bring our own desert!  We trade off, each bringing desert every other Monday.  Four Mondays ago I took chocolate covered straberries.  Yummmm!

Two weeks ago I took chocolate cake balls....ooooooh...do you see a pattern here?
Next week I'm taking Hershey Pie....aaaaaaah.... yes....c h o c o l a t e...how do I love thee...let me bake the ways!