Sunday, September 24, 2006

A Boy in Trees

Sunday, September 24, 2006

A Boy in Trees
There's a new show on T.V. this year called "Men in Trees". I watched it and discovered that they literally meant the men were in the trees. You know, lumberjack types overhead trimming the branches from the fir trees. Today would have been my parent's seventy-ninth wedding anniversary. I wanted to write about my dad and the unusual life he had. The first thing that popped into my head was the tree thing, so----

Dad was born December 3rd, 1897 in Jonesboro, Arkansas somewhere in the middle of eleven children. Being a very bright little boy, he finished elementary school at twelve and then quit. Quit? He left home and joined his father in the logging camps of Arkansas to help support the family. He was "A Boy in Trees" for four years, until the thirst for knowledge overcame him and he left for the big city. He stuck out his thumb and hitch hiked to Toledo, Ohio where he had cousins, who would allow him to live with them. Between sixteen and nineteen, he attended high school, played football and supported himself in assorted jobs. That was just the first step toward an education. After high school, he began college at the local university and worked for a small newspaper as a reporter, doing a little bit of everything. Also, he worked at the original Jeep production plant.
After getting a degree in education and he started law courses by mail from the University of Chicago and night classes at The University of Toledo. He met my mom and they married somewhere in the middle of law school. The five children arrived starting in 1928, ending in 1936. Great timing--have a whole brood of children during the "Great Depression"! I suppose they had it much better than most people, because as a public employee --- he was paid in script. He had started teaching high school classes in English, Economics, Sociology, Auto Mechanics and World History the day the doors opened to a brand new school and he was coaching football at another high school for free. Because of the children, his law degree was delayed to the point that he could not afford to open an office and give up the safety of the teaching job.
I know he had become a flaming liberal during his college years and yearned for a world where there was no poverty or inequality. He loved to teach about the problems of the world --- we were served history and English with every meal. It was a mistake to ask a question --- that led to a half hour of explaining the hows and whys of the subject. He was active in the union fight at the Autolite Company in Toledo during the depression. This fight made national news for it's bitter physical battles between union loyalists (imported thugs) and the company hierarchy (more hired thugs). About a year after I was born, his picture was all over the local papers and he was temporarily suspended from teaching for reported un-American activities. The problem was that he was now legally an attorney and was busily forming The Federation of Teachers locally. That was the first teacher's union to hit the scene. The fact that he was a card carrying Socialist didn't help a bit. I get the picture of a bunch of young men sitting about and dreaming of how they could make a utopian society where all would have equal status. I wonder how they could have desired to elevate people who did little to help themselves to the level of those who had worked so hard to educate and sustain themselves? He was reinstated to his teaching job after a few months, but still believed that somehow life should be made easier for the downtrodden.
Dad had his office at home and after dinner at night, there was a steady procession of people needing basic legal advice or just wanting to sit at the feet of the master of dreams. People came and went, but if they didn't ask how much for a legal service---- they never got a bill.I watched as he built our home with his own two hands, because he couldn't find anyone who would rent to a family with five kids after WWII. He cut down trees and put through two roads nearby for a share in selling the property. Funny, that sounds amazingly like capitalism at it's best --- diametrically opposed to his share and share alike philosophy.When he died at seventy-eight, this little Ozark boy held a Degree in Education and a Doctorate of Jurisprudence. He was a wonderful and caring man, who built a great life and a terrific family. His name was Clyde and he was "A Boy in Trees".
posted by Kacey @ 4:54 PM 1 comments

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Party on Down

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about my confusion regarding the marriage of my deceased brother's widow. How would I feel knowing that she is no longer related to me, but to a whole new family? The wedding was last weekend and we did travel a couple of hours to attend. Since they are an older couple with children and grandchildren, I thought it would be a simple affair with a bit of family present. Not in this world, Charlie! Two hundred and fifty guests at an exclusive club, with crudities and cocktails before a dinner of filet mignon, turkey, roast pork, a pasta buffet table, a salad table and fancy little dessert goodies followed by dancing the night away was their idea of a little wedding ceremony. It was a really nice affair and I only had a couple of hard moments. The first one was when she passed from my brother's last name to the new husband's last name. The second was as the couple sealed their vows with the marital kiss and I missed my brother terribly at that moment. The funny thing was that her maiden name was Elizabeth Stone and in marrying this man, she became Elizabeth Fieldstone (pseudonyms, but you get the idea). It really was a lovely wedding and must have cost an arm and a leg. Elizabeth looked radiant and very happy. I enjoyed seeing my nephews and their young families and am happy to report that the new husband is a really nice guy and good looking, too. I knew he would be, beause she has good taste. She married into our family, didn't she? We met her intended as he was entering the building to dress for the wedding. I shook hands and said, "I guess, if you are marrying my sister-in-law --- you will be my new brother-in -law!" My world remains unchanged and I sincerely hope that her world has changed for the better. God intended that man have a helpmate... life is meant to be lived in pairs.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Apnea Machine

Last week, the husband went to the Apnea Clinic and according to their standards --- he flunked! I've been hearing from friends in real life and in the blogashpere that many people are having this same testing done. Also, many people are getting hooked up to the machines every night for the rest of their lives. The thing is --- you might be saved from an early death from respiratory arrest, but you might never sleep again. Who had the bright idea to strap a moist air machine to your head with it's mask stuck up your nose and a hose leading to the machine? Can people really sleep like that? Maybe they can and thus arrive at the REM state of sleep, but their bed partner might never sleep another night. If it gets twisted or loosened or any other advent during the night --- it begins to sound like a circle saw bent on adding a new room onto your bed. Someone is getting rich! The husband is managing to sleep eight or nine hours, but the REM stage is elusive at best. I, on the other hand, have been hiding my head under my cuddle pillow to shut out the wooshing and squealing noises and after about four hours, am up and pacing the floor, flopping on the couch or watching T.V. in the LazyBoy. Last night, or rather at 4:00 this morning, I had a full blown panic attack. The only other one I ever had was over ten years ago and I recognized it immediately, this time. But, when you have been married forever, you don't want to start sleeping in another room. If I thought that this get rich quick machine would really keep him from dying, I would go quietly into that dark night and let the machine win. However, he doesn't feel any less sleepy in the daytime and his nose hurts from the strap and I am so tired! The newest feeling is atrial fib several times a night, because what he really needed in the first place was a pacemaker to speed up his old heart. I can't say anything to him about the pain in the arse machine, because it would look really tacky to stop him from using the machine and then have something happen to him. Now, he is saying that he wants to go to Florida and forget about the whole thing. How can doctors become such a force in your life without your permission? Stay tuned --- I might get out the sledge hammer and smash that thing!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Thanks for the Memories

Tonight, my darlin' husband is sleeping away from home. No, he's not messing around, he's sleeping at an apnea center to record why his heart rate drops to the low 30's during the night. I think he's just lazy and doesn't want to expend enough energy to get his ticker going any faster. The problem is --- we've been married so long that I can't sleep when he isn't home. I've been sitting here reading some wonderful blogs and looking through some of the pictures I have loaded into my folders. The picture on the left is one that was taken at my Junior Prom. The interesting thing is that the cute guy with me was not my boyfriend. He was my older sister's steady in high school until they both went to separate colleges. She met another dude at the local college and ditched this great guy. This wonderful young man was so sweet to me. I didn't have a date for the big prom and he was a fantastic dancer, so I wrote him a letter and asked if he would take me, providing I bought the bid and he would be home from Ohio University that weekend. He obliged me and we spent a super evening talking about my sister! (He still couldn't get her out of his mind)
His willingness to escort me was a great break for me. My classmates did not vote on a queen of the prom --- that was reserved for the Senior Prom. Instead, the dance band picked three Sweethearts of the Prom and surprise! They picked me to be one.
I know they noticed me because of this young man's dancing! He was really great on his feet and I was able to follow him(like a brother). I'm not writing about this to pat myself on the back, but for the big kicker of the whole deal. He took me to two big dances that year and I have pictures and nice memories of those times, but the big deal? He turned out to be a movie producer in Hollywood! My husband and I were invited to his wedding in Scotland, but could not attend because I was busily having babies every year for a while. It's fun to look at old pictures and think --- I dated a big wheel Hollywood type, even if he really had a thing for my sister. Thanks for the memories, Wayne.

Saturday, September 9, 2006

The Little Red Haired Girl

She arrived in the middle of my fourth grade year and I held my breath as she walked into the room. I had started into the new school at the beginning of the year and still felt like the odd man out. The other kids already had friendships going and I desperately needed a best friend to feel as though I were at home in this strange place. She was beautiful --- long red finger curls bobbed about her freckled face. I knew --- I just knew, she had to be the friend I needed. I, too, had finger curls, but I didn't have naturally curly bright red hair. She was a little Shirley Temple dropped right into our classroom. Perhaps she felt that she was the strange one in this new place, but somehow we gravitated towards each other and started a friendship that was to grow and continue through many decades of our lives. Our school was a little country school, without enough kids in any one grade to make up a class. The whole school, at that time, consisted of four classrooms with two grades in each room. There were empty rooms for want of children to fill them. The third/fourth grade teacher had a peculiar practice. Talking, gum chewing, fidgeting --- just about any infraction of her rules led to being summoned to the front of the room and being seated in the reading circle chairs. With the advent of "The Nanny", I like to think of those chairs as "The Naughty Chairs". Once six children were in the circle, she took us to an empty room and paddled us with a large wooden paddle. My only turn in the chairs came about when the person behind me asked me for the answer to a test question and I shook my head to keep the dreaded Miss Bourn's eyes from lighting upon me. The look and the nod came and I went to the reading circle, not knowing how long it would take to accumulate five more recalcitrant fourth graders. As we finally arrived in the empty room, she asked me if I had ever been spanked before. Are you kidding? I was the youngest of five kids! You betcha I had been spanked. Most of the children stumbled back into the classroom with tears streaking down their cheeks, but I gritted my teeth, set my jaw and willed myself not to cry. Instead, I waltzed back into the room and actually giggled out loud (because the teacher was still whipping the others in the spare room). Suddenly, I was a class bad girl and a folk hero among ten year olds. My little red haired girl stuck steadfastly by me, even if I were becoming not quite the model of decorum that her mother would have liked for her. I don't think Elaine ever met with the humiliation of that dreaded paddle, but I would have taken it for her. You can't hit a delicate little red haired girl with all those lovely freckles. We did all the things little girls do from the fourth grade through the eighth grade. We played jacks indoors at recess and baseball outdoors in the sunshine. There were wonderfully tall swings and tetter-totters for us in the younger grades. Sometimes, we just sat and talked through recess or the end of lunch hour. We stayed at each other's homes for overnights, but mostly it was at her house. I know her mom didn't trust me to keep her safe and innocent ---after all, I had all those older brothers and sisters. Her house was an absolute wonder to me. We (a family of seven) lived in a four bedroom, one bathroom home and I was the only child with a room to myself. But, her house had a little, narrow staircase leading upstairs, with only her room, her sister's room , a huge empty room, a bathroom and a storage room up there. I loved her room. The windows were low and seemed to me to be under the eaves and there were lots of them. Her parents never bothered us up there and we talked for hours, did homework, gossiped about the other kids and exchanged secrets never to be divulged to another soul. We told each other whom we liked and whom we hated. When we liked a boy, we practiced writing our names as they would be if we were to marry the boy. We had many crushes and did much speculating, but it was harmless fun. Her mother made the greatest chocolate cakes with marshmallow frosting in the world---oh, how loved them. She seemed to be the perfect mother, but I knew she didn't like me very much---- tough---we were best friends! Elaine seemed to have everything I every wanted. She actually had a huge collection of Nancy Drew books. I never knew until recently that Millie Benson from right here in Toledo, Ohio wrote those books and people came from all over to get them signed and have Nancy Drew gatherings. But, you can see how I loved her---red ringlets, chocolate cake and Nancy Drew books--- I hit the trifecta! Many teachers never understood what sort of problems I had. They were not big problems, but being the last of the Mohecians, my parents didn't pay much attention to my needs or lists of supplies needed for school. I just struggled along doing what I could. On the other hand, the little red haired girl had a mom who sewed and understood that children need help from their parents, if they are to succeed in life. By the eighth grade, we had sewing class from Miss Kitzmiller and I could tell that she thought me to be a total loss. We were to make a simple straight skirt or blouse. I picked a complicated pattern and my mom popped for some cheap colored cotton. Elaine's mom was a sewer and knew how to help her at home without making it look as though she had actually done the project for her, Our second item was to be of our own choosing. Elaine choose to make a stuffed lamb, so I made one, too. Why buy another pattern? Her's was adorable,(it was white with little flowers all over)---- mine was just okay. I had no sewing machine at home and had to make seams by hand with backstitch. The one thing I had going for me was an abiding interest in sewing that started in the sixth grade and continues to this day. (I can finally buy beautiful fabrics.) The thing I admired the most about my friend was her ability with the piano and the flute. She was good! Really good! I took one year of piano and gave it up ---I was tired of paying for the lessons out of my babysitting money. Armed with a bit of musical ability on my part and a bunch on her part, we started off to high school --- she to the marching band and I to the choir. This quickly changed when the band director asked who could actually read music. I raised my hand and he stuck a baritone horn in it. I was in the band with the little red haired girl!
This meant that I had to take a crash course in how to play a brass instrument, but I was in the band and on the band bus with some really cute guys. We each picked out people we thought were worth a second look and set about making them like us. Those band bus trips were so much fun ---singing ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall, munching apples, flirting, et cetera. We were freshman riding to football games on the bus with juniors and seniors! Woo Hoo!
High school meant sharing a locker with another person--- guess who? Right you are --- the little red haired girl. We kept this up all the way through high school, even as seniors when we were allowed to fly alone at long last. Staying together in a locker meant that we would be certain to see each other between classes and and at the beginning and ending of the day ---before we would go home and call each other. (Times when we could talk about how we felt we would die if that certain someone should notice us) Sometimes, we even liked the same guy and wanted at least one of us to be the chosen one. We took the same college prep classes and were in many of the same rooms at the same time. We always got to be in homeroom together.
Then, I did something that changed it all for a while, I ran away and got married. She loaned me her good navy blue suit to be married in, because I had nothing suitable. This was the worst I had ever felt about her mother. Even though I always wanted her to like me --- she wanted to burn that suit, because I had worn it for a nice legal Lutheran ceremony an illicit runaway ceremony. I always wanted her to know that I went down that aisle as pure as the driven snow and would never have done anything to hurt her daughter ---she was my Best friend!
Today, I drove from Northwestern Ohio to Southwestern Ohio to celebrate the little red haired girl's 70th birthday! I remember seeing it written on the mirror of her compact in the 9th grade in lipstick. 9/11 She had no way of knowing that her birthday would go down in infamy. I haven't mentioned a couple of things that are really important in her life. The first is her marriage to a great looking guy from our class after she had been to college. The second thing of importance are the births of her three babies,---Sandy, Bobby and Cheri. The third event was a devastating sadness that should never come to a mother. Their only son died a sudden and confusing death at an early age. (in his twenties) And, something that should never happen to a family---My Little Red Haired Girl developed Multiple Sclerosis when she was 28 and carrying her last baby. The progression of this disease put too much strain on the marriage and it broke up after many happy years together and now her daughter is devoted to the care of my Little Red Haired Girl. I wish you could have seen the many family members and others who gathered to share with her, a Happy Birthday. No one wishes her happiness more fervently then I. You go girl --- race along on your scooter, knowing that a lot of love goes with you. I still love you, Elaine.

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

And the Beat is Gone!

Electronics have gone too far. Technology has taken over our lives and I am going to take things into my own hands and stop the insanity. I have been sitting here...being a fairly normal blogaholic... checking e-mails, reading a few good blogs (see my beginners list above) and chatting with my husband in the other room, while he watches T.V. The strains of very tiny music have been tickling my ears for two hours. At first, I thought that there was a musical background to his movie, but it continued into the next program, so that wasn't it. Perhaps my asthma is wheezing with sibilant, I held my breath and still the very tiny music continued. I checked the boom box on my desk...nope, that was not it. I turned off the speakers on my computer... ditto... and the beat goes on. I moved further afield...not in the garage, not the bedroom T.V. (okay, I admit we are unclassy enough to have a T.V. in our bedroom), not the T.V. in the utility/sewing room. Possibly, the crazy lady who thinks that the government is leaking electricity out of her switchplates knows something after all. Could I be going crazy and marching to the tune of a different violin? Suddenly, I have a bright idea...a couple of years ago, I bought some greeting cards in one of those cutesy card shops in Florida. Little, old ladies do those sorts of things. Among my bargains were a couple of cards with the little musical discs inside that play the appropriate message...( like, I'm sorry to hear that the carpet layers accidentally covered your canary with the new broadloom, boom, boom). I searched through the pile of bills that I have tried to ignore,.... after all, I have a couple more days until the 10th of the month. There it was, in my trusty "Hallmark Monthly Card Planner" merrily playing an unrecognizable tune. The poor little disc has probably been on play since I sent a card to my grandson ten days ago. Therefore, I took matters into my own hands and wrung it's little neck... thereby putting the both of us out of our misery. If birthday cards are going to drive us round the bend, then technology has definitely gone too far.

Saturday, September 2, 2006

Quilt vs. Blog?

There are so many great writers in blogsville, that I am spending too much time reading their great posts. I have loved words since I started reading at four or five years old. I don't know how I knew to read, but it seems that it was always there. I had no kindergarten, but was reading years ahead of my class in the first grade. The reason was probably that I was the baby of a family of five children and the boys would hold me on their laps and have me read the newspaper.
So, here I am in the latter stages of life and hoping to leave quilts to each of my childred and grands and I am spending all my spare time reading blogs. Quit being so facinating, so I can get back to leaving a heritage for my descendents. In my sewing room I have two quilts sliced and diced and awaiting the sewing machine. One has almost 3000 pieces and has to be finished this month, because it matches our bedroom in Florida and it will be quilted by a big machine here in Ohio. I have one in the works that I am hand quilting, but the rules are--- piece in the summer and quilt in the winter. If you live six months in Ohio and 6 months in Florida--- when to you hand quilt? The quilt shown here is made from 1930's retro fabrics. Individually, they are sort of ugly prints, but they make a nice looking quilt. And so, my friendly bloggers ---please, stop being so good---go on vacation for a couple of weeks ---okay?

Friday, September 1, 2006

Uno Septembo

In my last post, I mentioned my puppy middle-aged son who is brilliant with computers. He also has a love affair with autumn and has started a new holiday in these parts. So, if you are reading this ---check out his site:
He would be thrilled to pieces if he had mail from all over the country. ( I can't believe that I am doing this, but "what's a mother to do?"