Category Archives: Childhood

Grandma’s Lilacs

Our sense of smell is our most powerful sense and smell and memory are closely linked, probably more so than any of our other senses. Those with full olfactory function may be able to think of smells that evoke particular memories; the scent of an orchard in blossom conjuring up recollections of a childhood picnic, for example. This can often happen spontaneously, with a smell acting as a trigger in recalling a long-forgotten event or experience. This is because the olfactory nerve is located very close to the area of the brain that is connected to the experience of emotion as well as emotional memory. In addition, the olfactory nerve is very close to the hippocampus, which is associated with memory; thus, the experience of the sense of smell evoking a memory. In addition to being the sense most closely linked to memory, smell is also highly emotive. The perfume industry is built around this connection, with perfumers developing fragrances that seek to convey a vast array of emotions and feelings; from desire to power, vitality to relaxation.

lilacs

As for myself, whenever I catch the scent of lilacs blooming in the spring, it reminds me of my Grandma Kramlinger. Grandma kept a beautiful garden, and her lilac bushes were her pride and joy. She not only had lilac-colored bushes, but also white, blue, dark purple, lavender, and pink. The blossoms were fragrant and cheerful, and as soon as you came upon her house, the aroma would drift all around you, assailing your senses with the sweet smell of springtime.

I have such lovely childhood memories of Sundays when she would arrive at our house for Sunday dinner. Her arms would be laden with lilac blossoms, and she’d say to my mother, “Here’s something to grace the table.” Mom would take the lilac flowers and fashion them into a lovely bouquet, put them into a vase filled with water and place them in the center of our dinner table. And there they would stay throughout the week, a reminder of Grandma, until the next Sunday when she came to visit again with fresh lilacs to replace them.

Now whenever I catch the scent of lilacs in the springtime, I wonder if the lilac bushes still bloom in her garden, and if the people who live in her house now are still appreciating their cheerful blossoms and simple beauty and enjoying their sweet fragrance.

 

Writing 101- Day Eleven: “Size Matters”

Day Eleven – Size Matters:

* Today’s Prompt:  Tell us about the home where you lived when you were twelve.

* Today’s Twist:  Pay attention to your sentence lengths and use short, medium, and long sentences as you compose your response about the home you lived in when you were twelve.

I grew up as the middle child of seven children. I was the middle child, and there were seven years between my only brother and me. I had three younger sisters, so even though I was the middle child, I was also like the oldest of the youngest children. My father was very ill and bedridden, so we were forced to live on welfare. My mother certainly had family_mcdonoughher hands full, taking care of a sick husband and seven children. We lived in a housing project in St. Paul, Minnesota.

When you hear the words “project,” you often think of a slum, right? Well, this was not a slum. Everyone who lived in our neighborhood mowed their yards, planted flowers in their gardens, and made sure that their children were well-behaved. It was a nice neighborhood to grow up in. To tell you the truth, I wasn’t even aware that we were “poor” until I entered middle school. Yes, I was naïve. But I was happy.

In our neighborhood, each apartment building looked exactly same. There were four apartments to each building, all on the ground floor, wash 300labeled with the same number but from A to D. We lived on Timberlake Road in Apartment A. Our apartment had two levels with one downstairs bedroom, three upstairs bedrooms and two bathrooms. We also had a kitchen, living room, and basement.

One of my fondest memories of growing up was wash day. My mother always did the laundry on Mondays. As a matter of fact, it seemed that Monday was the big laundry day for most of the neighborhood. As you walked through the backyards, all the clothes lines were filled with laundry swaying in the wind. And since we couldn’t afford a dryer, she’d also hang our wash out to dry. As I lie in my bed on Monday nights, I would revel in the smell of those fresh sheets.garden

Another wonderful memory is also associated with my dear mother, God rest her soul. She loved to plant flowers and every spring she would lovingly plant her flower garden, taking care to water them and weed them. She took such pride in her garden. As I stated before, many of our neighbors did the same. It was a lovely sight to see – gardens full of flowers, plants, and rose bushes. It was as though they wanted the world to know that even though they were poor, they were still hopeful that tomorrow would be a better day.

I enjoyed my childhood – it was a happy one. And even though we didn’t have much, we had what we needed, and that’s the most important thing of all – the love and support of each other. And what more can you ask for?

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Writing 101- Day Ten: “Happy Leftovers Day”

Day Ten – Happy Leftovers Day:

* Today’s Tell us something about your favorite childhood meal.

* Today’s Twist:  Tell the story in your own distinct voice.

To me one of the best things in life is to sit down and enjoy a wonderful meal, and the best part of a wonderful meal is if you are sharing it with family.

I grew up as the middle child of seven children, and we never failed to sit down to dinner together as an entire family every single day. It was an expectation. As a matter of fact, it was a rule that if the telephone rang during the dinner hour, it was never answered so that we could eat our meal uninterrupted by the outside world. And we never ate our meals in front of the television set. That would be absolutely unthinkable! Instead, we shared the details of our lives, which later became the model for me and my husband’s dinner rules when raising our own children.

We shared many special meals, especially those during the holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, but when I consider what my favorite meal is, it’s one that my mother used to prepare as part of leftovers: chicken and dumplings. My mom made the best chicken and dumplings I’ve ever had the pleasure to taste (naturally, I’m probably biased). And my favorite part of the meal were the potato dumplings.

My mother was full-blooded German, and her mother taught her how to make those delicious potato dumplings that I loved so much. I remember that whenever I learned that we were going to have chicken and dumplings for supper, I’d look forward to it for the rest of the day, and could hardly wait for supper to arrive, just so I could eat those dumplings! And eventually I figured out that whenever we had leftover mashed potatoes after Sunday dinner that the next night was the time we’d have the potato dumplings, because the mashed potatoes were the main ingredient for the dumplings. She’d mix the mashed potatoes with flour and I think she used milk and then she’d dumplingsdrop them into the boiling water. Now these dumplings weren’t your spoon-sized dumplings. They were indeed the size of potatoes, and once they had chicken gravy ladled over them, they were so tasty.

After I was married, I tried to make those potato dumplings, but they’d never turn out the same as my mother’s. I’d call her and say, “Mom, the dumplings didn’t turn out the way they were supposed to. What did I do wrong?” She’d just laugh and say, “Cindy, it just takes practice, that’s all.” Of course, she didn’t have a “recipe” for them. She just made them the way any good cook does – by memory and instinct. I never have been able to duplicate them to this very day.

And her baked chicken was always the juiciest, moistest, most tender chicken you’ve ever had. It makes my mouth water to think of it. Those two things, (the chicken and dumplings) together with some corn on the cob and hot rolls and butter makes the perfect meal.

I only wish my mom were still here to share a meal with our entire family, but knowing that she’s watching over us and that some day we will see her again makes me smile.

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My Little Blossom

Stephanie and Sarah as little girls

“My Little Blossom”

A daughter is a gift from God.
There cannot be a finer thing
Than watching while she’s growing up.
Her growth reminds me of the Spring.

She’s just like a little blossom.
A tiny bud in bloom is she.
It seems she grows a bit each day,
Like a flowering apple tree.

She’s such a darling little girl.
Her personality is sweet.
She can’t help but be so charming,
And when she smiles, it’s quite a treat.

In her world, her dolls are babies
And all of her stuffed toys are real.
She plays her games of make-believe,
While playing dress-up with such zeal.

Her hugs and kisses are precious.
I melt when she says, “I love you.”
She drapes her arms around my neck,
And then I know her love is true.

I wish that my little blossom
Could remain forever with me.
But I know that she must grow up
To become her own apple tree.

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Essence of Reminiscence – Week 3 – Siblings & Childhood Friends: “A Friend for Life”

I believe that everyone should have the pleasure of knowing that they have a best friend, at least at one time or another in their life, and I’m so fortunate that I can say that I have. As a matter of fact, I have a friend who has been a lifelong friend. Her name is Laurie. I met her in 1960 and we are still friends to this very day! We were only five at the time, and she was my very first friend.

There have been periods throughout these many years in which we have not had a chance to communicate with each other for two to three years at a stretch, but when we do, it’s as though we had just seen each other the day before. The fact that we can do this is a testimony to our friendship. It shows that the sands of time have not broken our bond of friendship, and I am forever grateful for this blessing. There’s a song make new friends 10that the Brownie Girl Scouts sing which summarizes how old friendships should be compared to new friendships, and it’s called: Make New Friends: 

Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other is gold. A circle is round, it has no end. That’s how long I will be your friend. A fire burns bright, it warms the heart. We’ve been friends from the very start. You have one hand, I have the other. Put them together, we have each other. Silver is precious, gold is too. I am precious and so are you. You help me, and I’ll help you, and together we’ll see it through. Across the land, across the sea, friends forever we will always be.

And speaking of Brownies, I will tell you my favorite story about the two of us when we were six years old and in the first grade together. Laurie belonged to the local Brownie troop. Every Tuesday she would wear her Brownie uniform to school. I was so jealous of her. I wanted to be in the Brownies, but my parents could not afford the cost of the uniform. So I had to settle for Laurie’s accounts of every meeting. One day she came home with her Brownie handbook and showed me a story about Brownies. Now these Brownies were good deed-doers, and in the middle of the night when everyone was fast asleep, the Brownies would come out in secret and go  forth to do good deeds. When the people arose in the morning the good deed would be apparent, but of course, no one knew who did the good deed. The most important part of doing a good deed was to never reveal your identity. If you told anyone that it was you who did the good deed, then the good deed would be erased out of the Book of Good Deeds.

Of course Laurie and I, being six years old, were quite impressionable and wanted to be Brownies and do a good deed. So Laurie arranged for me to sleep over at her house one Friday night. Laurie knew that her parents went to bed at eleven o’clock every night so this was the perfect opportunity for us to do a good deed. The plan was that at midnight we would sneak down the stairs and into the kitchen at which time we would set out breakfast for everyone – bowls, spoons, glasses, cereal boxes, orange juice and milk. Since we were only six years old, we didn’t think about the milk spoiling or the orange juice getting warm. We were just concerned with the task at hand – to be Brownies.

So that evening, I went to Laurie’s house at suppertime. I remember we had tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. I can still smell of the fresh tomatoes and the toasting cheese sandwiches. Naturally, the meal which I ate at my friend’s house tasted so much better than it did when I ate the same meal at my house. Mrs. Larson even brought out an apple pie for dessert. Mrs. Larson made the best apple pie. I can still taste the sweetness of the brownie dollsugar and cinnamon mixed with the perfectly baked apples and the flaky light brown pie crust. It makes my mouth water just  to remember it.

After dinner, Laurie and I played the usual game we always played: make-believe. We took turns playing teacher. We even managed to have her brother David and her baby sister Valerie sit in as students. We were allowed to stay up until nine o’clock since it was not a school night. But at nine o’clock we raced up the stairs to Laurie’s bedroom. We were so excited that we were going to be Brownies in just three hours.

Now Laurie’s parents had this beautiful wooden cuckoo clock hanging on the wall in their living room. Every hour on the hour the little cuckoo bird inside would come out and announce the hour by his cuckoo. If it was nine o’clock he would cuckoo nine times.  If it was nine-thirty he would cuckoo only once. This was the way we were going to know when midnight came. We decided that once we could hear the little bird cuckoo twelve times, the coast would be clear, and we would be free to sneak down the stairs and into the kitchen.

To pass the time, we whispered to each other so her parents wouldn’t know we were still awake. We whispered all kinds of things that little girls whisper about. And Laurie had a flashlight which she used to show me how to read underneath the blankets. This was a new trick to me. So we read stories. I remember our favorite book at this point was a book that Laurie owned: The Big Book of Mother Goose. There was one more book which Laurie owned and was also a favorite of ours: The Fairy Tales of Grimm.

I remember listening for the cuckoo clock and sure enough, just as Laurie had promised, we could hear it in her bedroom. The time seemed to drag by. We were so anxious to do our good deed that there was no way we would fall asleep.

Then finally, the time came. Midnight. We crept out of the bedroom, tiptoeing past the other bedrooms, hoping the wooden floor would not creak. We reached the top of the stairs. We had decided beforehand that the best way to get down the stairs quietly was if we sat on each step and then slip down to the next one, using our backsides instead of our feet. I remember counting those stairs as we slowly descended the staircase – there were thirteen steps exactly. I remember sitting side by side with Laurie, sliding down those steps. Because of the darkness it was difficult to see, but we managed by holding on to each other’s hand. When we reached the bottom of the stairs we tiptoed quietly into the kitchen, trying hard not to giggle. Of course, we had to do our good deed in the dark because Laurie’s mom and dad slept in the downstairs bedroom.brownies 6

Into the kitchen we tiptoed, as slowly and as carefully as we could. Finally we reached our destination and started whispering in each other’s ear about what to put out on the table. We set about our work, knowing that one day perhaps our good deed would be rewarded. I admit that it was hard not to giggle as we set out the bowls and glasses. We were having a wonderful time being Brownies.

As a matter of fact, we were having such a wonderful time that at first we didn’t notice Laurie’s mom when she entered the kitchen. Laurie saw her mother first and darted underneath the sink. There was no cupboard under the sink, so it was the perfect place to go. When I noticed my friend hiding beneath the sink, I knew something was up. I turned around and there she was – Mrs. Larson in her pink nightgown with her big fuzzy slippers. She was standing there looking at me with her hands on her hips. Now when I think about it, I know she was suppressing a smile. As soon as I saw her, I hurried to where Laurie was, but it was no use; the jig was up. Mrs. Larson flipped on the kitchen light and said, “Girls, it’s not time for breakfast yet. You still have about eight hours of sleep time left. Go on now. I’ll finish up in here; you two get to bed.”

We scurried out of the kitchen and upon passing the cuckoo clock in the living room, Laurie pointed it out to me. It showed the time to be only 11:15. I guess we had miscounted the cuckoos! We giggled all the way up the stairs and into Laurie’s bedroom.  We never tried to be Brownies again. But I think our good deed counted, anyway!

QUOTE OF THE DAY:  “It takes a long time to grow an old friend.”   ~ John Leonard

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This post is presented as part of the Essence of Reminiscence series. which is a weekly event presented by the WordPress Daily Post. If you’d like more information about this event, please click here:

Siblings & Childhood Friends

There’s Nothing Like Mom’s Home Cooking

To me one of the best things in life is to sit down and enjoy a wonderful meal, and the best part of a wonderful meal is if you are sharing it with family.

family eating 10I grew up as the middle child of seven children, and we never failed to sit down to dinner together as an entire family every single day. It was an expectation. As a matter of fact, it was a rule that if the telephone rang during the dinner hour, it was never answered so that we could eat our meal uninterrupted by the outside world. And we never ate our meals in front of the television set. That would be absolutely unthinkable! Instead, we shared the details of our lives, which later became the model for me and my husband’s dinner rules when raising our own children.

When I consider what my favorite meal is, it’s one that my mother used to prepare as I was growing up: chicken and dumplings. My mom made the best chicken and dumplings I’ve ever had the pleasure to taste (naturally, I’m probably biased). And my favorite part of the meal were the potato dumplings.

My mother was full-blooded German, and her mother taught her how to make those delicious potato dumplings that I loved so much. I remember that whenever I learned that we were going to have chicken and dumplings for supper, I’d look forward to it for the rest of the day, and could hardly wait for supper to arrive, just so I could eat those dumplings! And eventually I figured out that whenever we had leftover mashed potatoes after Sunday dinner that the next night was the time we’d have the potato dumplings, because the mashed potatoes were the main ingredient for the dumplings. She’d mix the mashed potatoes with flour and I think she used milk and then she’d dumplingsdrop them into the boiling water. Now these dumplings weren’t your spoon-sized dumplings. They were indeed the size of potatoes, and once they had chicken gravy ladled over them, they were so tasty.

After I was married, I tried to make those potato dumplings, but they’d never turn out the same as my mother’s. I’d call her and say, “Mom, the dumplings didn’t turn out the way they were supposed to. What did I do wrong?” She’d just laugh and say, “Cindy, it just takes practice, that’s all.” Of course, she didn’t have a “recipe” for them. She just made them the way any good cook does – by memory and instinct. I never have been able to duplicate them to this very day.

And her baked chicken was always the juiciest, moistest, most tender chicken you’ve ever had. It makes my mouth water to think of it. Those two things, (the chicken and dumplings) together with some corn on the cob and hot rolls and butter makes the perfect meal.

I only wish my mom were still here to share a meal with our entire family, but knowing that she’s watching over us and that some day we will see her again makes me smile.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:  “What is patriotism but the love of the food one ate as a child?”   ~ Lin Yutang

 

Essence of Reminiscence – Week 1 – That Unforgettable Journey: “A Dream Come True”

As we sat down to supper the night that my husband, Michael, gave us the news, I could tell he had a special announcement for us. There was a twinkle in his eyes as we said grace, and he was rushing us through the prayer so fast that we could barely keep up. We had hardly spoken the word “Amen” when he began to speak.

“Okay, everyone, listen. I’ve got some really exciting news to tell you!” Then he paused, deciding he would keep us in suspense.

“What is it, Dad?” inquired twelve-year-old Sarah.

“Well. . . we’re going on vacation. . .  to a very special place.” cabins-on-a-lake

“Ooh, Daddy,” gushed ten-year-old Stephanie, “are we going to the cabin again — the one where your boat got blown away?”

“Nope,” laughed Mike,”that’s not it.”

????????????????????????????????????????“Are we going to see the mountain where the presidents are?” guessed Sarah.”

“Mount Rushmore? Nope. That’s not it, either.”

Everyone became silent, out of guesses as to where it might be.

“Okay, dear,” I said, “we give up. Why don’t you tell us, for goodness’ sake?”

“Alright. We’re going to some place that you’ve always wanted to go, some place that they call the happiest place on earth.”

“Where, Daddy? Where?” Stephanie was pulling at her father’s arm.

I gasped, looking at my husband with wonder. “Are you kidding? Disneyworld? We’re going to disney world image 5Disneyworld?”

“Yep, Disneyworld.” He grinned at me, nodding his head.

By now both the girls were out of their chairs, jumping up and down with excitement. My husband told us the story. His sister Diane had won four tickets for a trip to Disneyworld with all the accommodations which she had no use for. She offered them to Mike. He offered to buy them at half-price (which is a steal, to say the least). He couldn’t say no to such a fortuitous deal that practically fell into his lap.

Disneyworld! It was the place where I had dreamed of going to as a young girl and I had always longed to bring our children there, but we could never afford it. Now fate was handing us the chance to make my dreams come true at last. It was July and our vacation was scheduled for November. As a matter of fact, we would be in Florida on Thanksgiving Day. But we were comforted by the fact that the hurricane season would be over by then. Our son Joe, was in college, so he didn’t want to take the time off to come with us.

airplaneThe months flew by, and before long we were on the airplane, landing in Orlando, Florida. We had been fortunate with our plane tickets, also. We actually were supposed to land in Texas and then take another flight to Florida, but the airline made a mistake with our seating assignments by not giving us four seats together. When I telephoned to confirm our flight, I discovered the error and complained about the mix-up, at which time they ended up giving us a direct flight to Orlando, and not only that, we were given first-class tickets and landed twelve hours sooner than we would have originally. So Providence was on our side from the beginning.

After we rented a car and checked into our hotel room, we decided we would spend the rest of the day just relaxing by the pool at the hotel. The next day we decided to go to see the Magic Kingdom first.

“Look, girls,” I pointed out, as we came closer to the amusement park. “We’ll have to take the big paddlemonorail boat across the lake to the Magic Kingdom, or we can take the monorail that goes over the tracks high above the trees. Which one should we take?”

“The paddle boat,” shouted Stephanie.

“The train,” shouted Sarah.

“Well, Mom, I guess it’s up to you,” said my husband, as we were pulling into the parking lot.

I knew which one I wanted to take. The big paddle boat was painted white, and it looked just like the river boat right out of the movie Showboat.

“Let’s take the paddle boat.”

“Mom wants to take the paddle boat, girls, so that’s what we’ll do.”

We parked the car and walked over to where we had to pay for the park tickets. We had already bought four-day passes for a discount price at the hotel, so we showed our passes there and were each given bracelets to wear. Then we went to the dock and waited with all the other tourists for the paddle boat to come and pick us up.

When it finally arrived, the girls were so excited they could barely contain themselves.

“It’s a double-decker, Mom. Can we go on the top deck, please?” begged Sarah, pulling at my arm.

paddle boat 10“Sure, Honey, I think we could manage that. What do you think, dear?” I looked at my husband, expecting a positive answer.

“Yep, let’s go.

I grabbed Stephanie’s hand, not wanting her to get lost in the crowd, and began to climb the steps to the top deck. magic kingdom 500We had no sooner arrived on the second deck when the whistle blew and the paddle boat began to move through the water toward the other side of the lake where the Magic Kingdom was located.

After five minutes of traveling on the water, the Magic Kingdom came into view and it was so beautiful. It was even more beautiful than I had ever imagined it would be. Then some music began to play from some hidden speakers located all around us. After a few bars, I recognized the tune immediately and a lump formed in my throat, while tears threatened to spill from my eyes. The music was “When You Wish Upon A Star.”

In that moment, I thought, “I finally made it here. My childhood dream has come true at last, and I’m able to share it with my daughters, and I know they’ll remember it forever.”

I was so happy. All I wanted to do was relish the experience because I knew that this particular moment in time would never return again and I would never feel exactly the same way again. For very seldom is one able to experience their dream vacation of a lifetime —  even though it happens forty years later than it was wished for — and sometimes dreams really do come true.

wish star


When you wish upon a star

Makes no difference who you are

Anything your heart desires

Will come to you

 

If your heart is in your dream

No request is too extreme

When you wish upon a star

As dreamers do

 

Fate is kind

She brings to those to love

The sweet fulfillment of

Their secret longing

 

Like a bolt out of the blue

Fate steps in and sees you through

When you wish upon a star

Your dreams come true

 

(Lyrics by Ned Washington)

QUOTE OF THE DAY:  “You have to dream before your dreams can come true.”  ~ A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

 

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This post is presented as part of the Essence of Reminiscence series. which is a weekly event presented by the WordPress Daily Post. If you’d like more information about this event, please click here:

That Unforgettable Journey

Essence of Reminiscence – Week 4 – Random: “Every Time I See Candy Dots on Paper . . . “

 

I was the middle child of seven children. As you can well imagine, growing up in such a big family meant that we didn’t exactly live in the lap of luxury. As a matter of fact, we spent most of our childhood living in a housing project in St. Paul, Minnesota, due to the fact that our father was very ill, and our mother not only had to take care of a sick husband, but seven children as well. But when you grow up not knowing what you’re missing, wearing the hand-me-downs from two cousins and two sisters before you seemed to be the normal way of life, and you didn’t even mind it when your mother patched over the already-there patches on your favorite pair of jeans. It’s just the way it was. We made do with what we had, and if we went to bed with our tummies not quite full enough, we didn’t mind so much, because at least we had each other to commiserate with. Not that we ever starved — but let’s just say that we never had leftovers!

But the day of the week that we all lived for was Sunday, because Sunday was the day that Grandma and Grandpa came to visit.

german folk songThese were my mom’s parents, and they were German through and through, having immigrated from Germany when they were both in their teens. Anyway, I remember how my Grandma and Grandpa would always speak a smattering of German words, and especially I remember how my Grandma would always call me “Liebchen.” She even taught me how to sing the German folk song, “Du, du liegst mir im Herzen,” but the only thing that I can remember about it is that the first phrase means: “You, you are in my heart,” and she would sing it with me all the time. Ah, how I loved singing that song with Grandma!

My Grandpa was such a trickster and we loved him so. He loved to chew snuff, and whenever Sunday rolled around, Mom would always take out the coffee can which she stored underneath the sink, and place it on the floor next to his favorite chair so he could spit out his snuff into it. He copenhagen snuffused to hold out his snuff-box to us kids and say, “Here, here, want some? It’s candy.” And then this sly grin would come across his face while he waited for one of us to try some. And if perchance one of us kids would actually try to take him up on his offer by trying to take some snuff out his box, he would gently slap their fingers, pull the box away, and say, “Too late! Too late!” as he chuckled, shaking his head, and then he’d hobble away on his cane with a wicked little grin on his face. It’s funny. We always knew what he was going to do, but it never failed – someone always tried to take snuff out of the box. I think we all just wanted to play this little game with him.

But I think one of the reasons that we kids loved Sunday the most was because after Sunday dinner, when all the dishes were washed, dried, and put away, Grandpa would give each of us a dime. Now I know that today a dime won’t buy much, but fifty years ago, a dime bought plenty. So Mom and Grandma would take us children for a stroll down to the local candy store. And yes, that’s what it was called back then. It was then that we were each able to spend the precious money that Grandpa had given. I think Mom went just because she was happy to get out of the house, but we kids definitely went solely for the candy! After all, kids will be kids, right?

When we arrived at our destination, each of us would carefully looked over all of the candies displayed on the shelves lined up behind the glass showcase they were in. There were so many choices, so many ways to mix and match! I was always very thrifty with my dime and tried to get the kinds of candy where you could buy two or three pieces for a penny, thereby ending up with more than just ten pieces of candy by the time I had spent the entire dime.

candy dotsRemember the little sugary dots of candy that were stuck to the paper? That was my favorite kind of candy to buy. It just seemed so economical to buy that candy. I mean, you could get an entire long strip of paper with so many dots of candy on it for only one cent! It just made so much sense to me to buy that candy, right? And it was so delicious!

So now, whenever I come across those little sugary dots of candy on strips of paper, it brings me back to those carefree days of my childhood; to a time when all I had to worry about was how I was going to spend ten pennies. And it makes me long for those days that I spent with my Grandma and Grandpa. How I wish I had them back again. How I wish they could have known my husband and children and that they, in turn, could have known them.

If I had only known back then how precious those days would be to me now, perhaps I would have savored them even more. I tell my children, who are amazing and wonderful young adults – live life to the fullest; don’t rush so much; remember that tomorrow may never come; etc. etc. etc. But I don’t know if they hear me. After all, they have a full life ahead of them. And maybe I didn’t listen to my mother at that age, either.

But there is one thing that I do know — memories are forever and they will live on inside each of us. And my heart warms, smiling as I remember each precious one.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:  “Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children. ~ Alex Haley

 

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This post is presented as part of the Essence of Reminiscence series. which is a weekly event presented by the WordPress Daily Post.

Random

A Matter of Honor

appleHave you ever felt as though you were truly cheated out of something that you had worked hard to earn, something that you felt you rightly deserved to have, but were nonetheless denied? I had this experience when I was in the ninth grade, and whenever I look back on it, I still have bitter feelings about it.

I had always been an excellent student, ever since the first grade. I loved learning, and it showed because I had a 4.0 grade point average. I was one of those students who hardly ever needed to study; learning just came naturally to me, and I also enjoyed helping others with their studies. I wrote excellent papers and always came out on top when exam time rolled around. I never minded going to school; as a matter of fact, I looked forward to going to school each day. I enjoyed being with my friends and I enjoyed learning new things. I was one of seven children, so I suppose that going to school each day was almost a welcome respite from a crowded household!

One day in home room I received a notice stating that because of my grade point average, I was being considered for the National Honor Society. I had never even heard of the National Honor Society before, but I began to do some research, and I discovered what a prestigious organization it was. I also began to realize what an honor it would be to become a member of such an organization. I was excited about the possibility that I could become one of its members.

Along with the notice, I had received some standard paperwork which I filled out, had my mother sign, and then promptly returned to the school office. Then I waited. A few weeks passed and I had almost forgotten about the whole incident until one day when I received another notice in home room. My application for membership had been denied. I couldn’t understand the reason for their denial. I had a 4.0 grade point average. What more could they want? Then I read that I was denied because I was not involved in any extracurricular activities.

I was incensed. The reason I was not involved in extracurricular activities was because I worked a part-time job after school. My family was on welfare, we lived in a housing project, and we couldn’t afford for me to be in any extracurricular activities!

Didn’t it count that I helped out at Sunday school? Didn’t it count that I volunteered at the Brownie Girl Scout meetings? Didn’t it count that I volunteered by visiting the local nursing home? Just because I wasn’t a cheerleader or a dancer or involved in any sports, why should that be counted against me? And what about helping my classmates with their schoolwork? I was like a tutor for many of them. Doesn’t that count for anything?

I appealed their decision. I made my case, just as I made it above. But it didn’t matter. I still was not accepted into the National Honor Society.

And I decided that maybe it was for the best. Maybe they weren’t so honorable after all.

 

 

 

 

 

Red-Letter Saturday #4: “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”

RED-LETTER SATURDAY #4:alice in wonderland book 1

On this day, August 2, 1865, Lewis Carroll published Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The story was written by Lewis Carroll (Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) three years after he and Reverend Robinson Duckworth rowed in a boat up the River Thames on July 4, 1862. They accompanied three young daughters of Henry Liddell: Lorina, Edith, and Alice. During the trip, they told the girls a story about a bored little girl named Alice who goes looking for an adventure. The girls loved it, and Alice Liddell asked Dodgson to write it down for her. He began writing the manuscript of the story the next day (under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll), although that earliest version no longer exists. The girls and Dodgson took another boat trip a month later when he elaborated the plot to the story of Alice. In November he began working on the manuscript in earnest.

 


 

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, or Alice in Wonderland, has been delighting children all over the world for decades. As a matter of fact, besides English, the book has been translated into 60 different languages. Indeed, this is a testament to the popularity of this classic tale. And it really is no wonder (no pun intended, but isn’t it wonderful how nicely that worked out) when you take into consideration the fact that the tale plays with logic, giving the story lasting popularity with adults as well as with children. It is considered to be one of the best examples of the literary nonsense genre.

bookmobile8I remember the first time that I read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I was twelve, and the librarian who was in charge of our bookmobile, Miss Marge, had recommended that I read this book. Miss Marge always knew which books I would enjoy reading, and she was never wrong. I can even recall hurrying home from the bookmobile with my new book, anxious to begin a new adventure. I was the ultimate bookworm in those days. As a matter of fact, that’s exactly what my mother used to call me – a bookworm. I was proud of that title because I loved to read. Reading opened the doors to a whole new world filled with exciting adventures and amazing characters. I could never get enough of reading, and to this very day, I am still an avid reader.alice in wonderland

So I began to read the story about a girl named Alice sitting on the river bank with her sister. Alice was described by Lewis Carroll as “loving and gentle,” “courteous to all,” “trustful,” and “wildly curious.” She was constantly correcting the rude characters of Wonderland when it came to matters of manners and etiquette. Soon this girl named Alice was growing bored and beginning to lose interest in reading her sister’s book. As soon as I read the part about Alice encountering the White Rabbit who was obsessing about being late and eventually following him down the rabbit hole, I was hooked!  

white rabbit 1And the White Rabbit really intrigued me. I’m really not sure why, but perhaps it was because he was the first character whom Alice encountered, so he immediately piqued my curiosity. I also loved the description of him. He had pink eyes, was wearing a waistcoat, and holding a pocket watch. He is so frantic, so panicked and so worried about the time, exclaiming: “Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be late!” and this reminds me of myself, actually. Oh, it’s not because I’m late all the time – quite the contrary – I’m usually always early. I’m such a stickler for punctuality, so I guess I can relate to him.

So Alice follows the White Rabbit down the rabbit hole, and before she knows it, the strangest things begin to happen to her. After drinking mysterious concoctions, eating cake, picking up a fan, and eating parts of a mushroom, she shrinks, then grows bigger, shrinks, then grows bigger again. In my opinion, I thought she was terribly brave to do all those things. Oh, the wonder of it all! Oops – I guess that’s another pun, isn’t it? Funny how that word keeps popping up. Anyway, that’s when Alice’s adventures in Wonderland really begins.

There were so many other delightful characters that Alice meets along the way during her journey through Wonderland. I remember how fascinated I was by each one of them because every single one was special in their own unique way.
 
As I read through the story for the first time, I tried to conjure up an image of them in my imagination, marveling at the wonderful (another pun – sorry, just can’t seem to help it) plot, images, and storylines.alice in wonderland characters stripWho could forget the Caterpillar who sits on top of a mushroom while smoking his hookah? I didn’t even know what a hookah was until I read this story. He’s a very rude caterpillar and treats Alice with contempt.
 
Then she meets the Mad Hatter who’s very impolite and who’s always having tea. It seems as though there’s nothing he enjoys more than frustrating Alice.
 
One of my favorite characters is the Cheshire Cat. I think I enjoyed him because he was always grinning and because he seemed to be a bit mysterious, disappearing at will.  He’s the one who tried to explain the madness of Wonderland to Alice. At least he tried to be helpful.
 
And let’s not forget the infamous Queen of Hearts. She is the ruler of Wonderland, and is continually screaming for her subjects to be beheaded. To be entirely truthful, she sort of gave me the chills. I was always afraid for Alice because of her – afraid that Alice might lose her life because of the Queen.
 
Oh, yes. The day that Lewis Carroll published Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, he was in fact providing generations of children with the pleasure of entering into their own wonderland full of amazing characters and marvelous adventures. All you need to do to enter into that wonderland is to open the book and begin reading.
 
What a wonderful gift he gave us! Thank you, Lewis.

 QUOTE OF THE DAY:  Alice: “Where should I go?” The Cheshire Cat: “That depends on where you want to end up.” ~ Lewis Carroll from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

 

red letter saturday 2

 

 

This post is presented as part of my special weekly feature, Red-Letter Saturday. If you’d like to to know more information about Red-Letter Saturday, click here:

Red-Letter Saturday

 

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