Priceless Time

March 24, 2011

When I posted this picture a few days ago, I noticed something.

See the clock, partially hidden by things stacked in front of it, on the buffet by the kitchen door?

I now have that clock.

I remember Mama telling me that this clock was a wedding present.  I wonder who gave it to them? If you’ve read the story of my parent’s lunch-time marriage here, you know that there was no formal church wedding and almost certainly no wedding reception where gifts were given.  So, I would guess this was one of the few wedding presents they received.

I’m honored that the wedding clock now lives with us.  It still keeps excellent time while at the same time evoking memories that are priceless.

A “Magic” Cure from My Childhood

August 18, 2010

In an advice column in the morning paper there was a discussion of remedies for car sickness, but the one Mama used on me wasn’t listed.

Gross alert here.  If you’re eating, come back later.

When I was very little I threw up regularly when we took car trips.  My family got very efficient at, after Daddy brought the car to a screeching halt, getting me out of the car and into the roadside ditch before the “event” occurred.

I don’t know why I was the only one in my family who had this problem.  All I know is is that at the time cars were biiiiig, and wiiiiiiide and had loosy goosy suspension.  So I think there was lots of sway in car rides, especially in the back seat where I rode.  I can practically make myself sick right now, just thinking about how that felt.  I have one memory of going up a mountain out west and as we would go around a curve I felt like the back part of the car where I was, would swing wayyyy out over the edge of the mountain.  I know, I know, that couldn’t be literally true, but try convincing a 5 or 6 year old of that!

Even though by my teens I had grown out of the throwing up reaction (thank goodness — sooo not “cool”), for most of my life I have had a “delicate stomach” when riding in the car.  I would mainly notice a little uneasiness or vertigo if I tried to read while riding.  Things whizzing by outside the car that I saw out of the corner of my eye would make me queasy even though I had long ago graduated to the front seat.  So, it is somewhat ironic that because you tend to lose your peripheral vision as you age, I have in just the last few years been able to feel comfortable reading while riding in the car.

But when I was little, at some point Mama arrived at her own idea for a remedy that worked for my queasy stomach.  She always carried room temperature 7-up (I don’t think most people had thought about carrying coolers in their cars when they traveled back then anyway) and the second part of the  “cure” was unfrosted orange cupcakes.  If I would say that I felt sick to my stomach she would pour me a little 7-up in a paper cup and give me an orange cupcake to nibble on.  Voila!  I would feel better.  I have no idea how or why that worked.  Maybe it was actually just putting something in my stomach, but you would have had trouble convincing me of that because to me the combination of warm 7-up and orange cupcake was “magic”!

Feel free to try Mama’s car sickness “cure”.  It’s not patented — it’s hard to patent “magic”

Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard that before!

August 16, 2010

I read something one time that I try to remember whenever I am having a conversation with someone and they start to tell me something they’ve told me before.

What I read was especially in regard to older people and their fond memories.  The writer said something I had never thought about before … that you are giving a person a gift each time you listen to one of their stories, when it is obviously one they enjoy telling.

I don’t know about you, but for me, there has always been a trigger in my brain that is tripped every time I begin to hear something I’ve heard before.  And my automatic response is to say, “Yes, I’ve heard that.”  And that’s fine, if what the person is telling you is the weather forecast or what day school will start this year.

But I really do try to remember not to stop  someone who is obviously enjoying the re-telling of a favorite story.

And since I am 64 years old with not only a disorganized but poor memory and have written 737 posts, which aren’t terribly well-organized in my blog either, I guess I’m fortunate that I can’t hear you saying, “Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard that before!”  if I re-tell a story here.

In fact, I guess we’re both blessed that way … you can just skip that post without worrying about hurting my feelings … and I can enjoy retelling the story without ever knowing that you weren’t listening!

This post was inspired by my frequent attempts to remember if I’ve posted about a subject before … and by my own fond memories of sitting at my father’s bedside the many times he was in the hospital and listening to his great, often funny stories of his childhood.

In the blink of an eye …

May 15, 2010

Sixty-four years ago today, I was born into a family that already had four half-grown kids!  But, luckily for me, bedrooms, lives and hearts were rearranged to make room for one more.  I know how fortunate I am that I was wanted and loved, even though I was a surprise.

The “big kids” crowd around to get a look at the “new kid on the block”.

I was 4 months old in this picture and Daddy had me standing on the hood of the car!  Maybe that early experience is the reason I’ve never had much fear of standing on a stage to speak?

And then he sat me on the fender of the car.  Makes me look kind of “fast” doesn’t it?  Maybe that’s the root of my life-long “need for speed” when driving?

Seriously, sixty-four years have gone by so fast.  And if I have any regrets they are the times I didn’t slow down and savor important moments that were only going to happen once.  And, conversely, I truly treasure the times I really did “take it all in” and enjoy a special moment.

I know it’s easy for me to say and, especially if you are very young, it may be very hard for you to believe, but in some ways sixty-four years have been like the blink of an eye.

So if you would like to give me a birthday present, my sincere wish is that you remember what I have just said, and truly “stop to smell the roses” on your life’s journey.  I promise you, you will never regret it.  And it would be a wonderful gift for me if I felt I had helped you remember to do that.

God has blessed me in so many ways, and those of you who visit this blog are an important part of those blessings.  Thank you.


May 9, 2010

Mama holding a copy of her book, I Remember.

Mama had a hard childhood.  She didn’t feel loved by her mother.  She did have a loving relationship with her father, but he wasn’t a very good provider for his family, so even though he may have loved his family that didn’t stop them from being very poor!  And because they moved often, Mama never felt like she had “roots”.

What Mama learned from that was that she wanted a more stable home as an adult for herself and her family.  And she worked very hard to make that happen.

Mama married hard-working Daddy, who also had had a less than perfect childhood because his father, even though he had a good job on the railroad, was an alcoholic and spent most of his money in a bar.

I don’t know if Mama and Daddy ever actually talked about having a “plan” to make a more secure, stable life for their children than what they had had, but I do know that that is what they created, and I’m eternally thankful for that.

And Mama didn’t just want to provide security for us, she wanted to make life fun for us too.  So she made it part of her job to make sure that her children had happy memories.  Picnics, church, parades, big family dinners especially at holidays, fishing trips — all things that I’m guessing Mama saw other children’s families doing when she was growing up, but that seemed unattainable to her at the time.

And I think part of her plan for good memories for us included all the albums of her photos.  I know as one of her “subjects” that we certainly didn’t always appreciate what she was doing while she was doing it.  It was a little bit of an interruption to what was going on when Mama wanted to take pictures.  But, boy, am I glad now that she did!  And she achieved exactly what I think she intended — she not only worked at making good memories for us, but she left us photos that help us more vividly recall those memories.

And, of course, her book has done the same thing — many events are written down that evoke memories that might otherwise have been totally forgotten by now.

And even while working at making life more interesting and fun for her kids, Mama also made sure her and Daddy had fun too.  By the time I, their late-life baby, was 5 or 6 years old we started taking yearly 2 and later 3-week driving vacations (even if we could have afforded it, Mama would never set foot on an airplane) — every other year to Georgia to visit my oldest sister, and the alternate years to California to visit a large number of family and friends who lived there, including my only brother.

So my childhood was the polar opposite of what Mama’s was, and that’s all because she (and Daddy) worked hard at giving their children what they hadn’t had themselves.

Mama taught me to love and be faithful to God and my husband and children.  She taught me songs and poems and how to cook.  She inspired me to try new things, because of all the hobbies she obviously enjoyed.  And she insisted I take shorthand and typing in high school, even though I planned on going to college, but when college didn’t work out, those classes were my entree into the business world where I ultimately made a very good living.

And, if I thought she was a great mother, boy was she a great GRANDmother!  She gave me (and my sisters) a wonderful example of how to do that.

So, today I honor Mama.  She had her faults, just like the rest of us.  But she worked hard to be the very best Mama she could be and I always knew she loved me. That is all anyone can ask.

Happy Mother’s Day to every “mama” out there.  May God bless your calling to be a mother.

But, that’s what you TOLD me to do!!

March 5, 2010


One of the pictures in my post yesterday showed the dining room table in our house in Springfield.  And my friend Mary left a comment asking if that table was still in the family.

I answered her something like this:

Sadly, when we moved here in ’56, Mama always quoted Daddy as telling her (he was already here, so she was left to sell the house) to SELL EVERYTHING! 

She took him at his word and we pretty much arrived here with just our clothes.  Daddy was SHOCKED when he realized that Mama had “done what she was told” and he (famously) said, “I didn’t mean sell EVERYTHING!!!”  So, no, the table is no longer in the family — along with just about everything else we owned!

I do want to make an explanation in Mama’s defense.  Daddy had written her that the housing market here was very tight and he couldn’t find a suitable house for sale, so he had rented a furnished home for us to live in.  It was January when we arrived and we would be able to live there until the owners returned in May.  There were no self-storage units back then, so I can see that Mama would assume that there would be no place to store much for those five months, sooooo, she sold everything!  But while Daddy understood that she wouldn’t be bringing much, I think he was just shocked at how literally she had taken his words!

The upside is that it was fun (at least I saw it that way) when we finally moved into a house in May — and we had to buy all new furniture! 

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Is that success I smell? Or is it dust!

February 23, 2010


   The first album is done!

    As I went, I found that the pictures were loosely grouped by when they were taken.  But if Mama had put them directly into albums as the pictures were developed, I would think they would have been very specifically grouped.  So, I’m guessing that Mama collected her photos in a box or drawer (as I have done!) for possibly years before she started putting them in albums.  So, I did try to rearrange them a little and group them as I went.  And I did some random labeling with a white pen when I thought it was appropriate.

There is one page I am a little worried about because I did a little editorializing with my white pen.

   Rusty was my sister Jean Marie’s first husband and the father of her two oldest children.  And there was this group of photos of them with a group of friends when they were dating.   But there were several pictures of Jean Marie with another guy in the group too — so I speculated that she might have dated both Rusty and him! 

   (Of course, it’s pretty obvious that Rusty would have won out in any competition for Jean Marie’s affections anyway, if nothing else because of his cool new car!)

However, I have since talked to my sister Betty Rose and she said the other guy was just another member of the group (which included her and her boyfriend/future husband too).  So I may have to go back and put another picture of something over my speculation.

Anyway, it’s done.  And I did my best.  I hope future generations enjoy looking at these photos half as much as I enjoyed looking at them as I put them on their new pages!

   Now, on to the next one!  Ahhh-choo!  (I sneeze alot while I’m doing this.  I don’t really notice any dust, but I suppose the old, crumbling pages do create some.)

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My first (and only) bike!

January 1, 2010


   Christmas 1952.  It looks like I got alot of nice gifts, including a new bike.  But I’m not smiling.  Maybe I had just gotten up and didn’t have my “game face” on yet.

Orrrrr maybe . . .

   I wasn’t as excited about getting a bike as my parents were!  I think that’s my sister Martha Lou steadying the bike while Daddy tries to convince Mama to ride on the handlebars.

    Well, I see why he wanted her to sit on the handlebars — they aren’t going to get very far with her riding “side saddle”! 

By the way, we called the flat piece that she’s sitting on the “toter” because if someone rode on it, you were “toting” them!  But when we moved north to Indiana I was told by the kids here (besides that I had a funny accent) that it was called the “carrier”.  They had never heard of a “toter”.  But, I still always thought of it as the toter.     

From my first memories, I don’t remember any of my older siblings having bikes.  I guess as teens maybe they were already “too old” for them by then.  So, this was the first bike that had been around for a while, and it looks like it was a hit — at least with Mama and Daddy!  (and at least for one afternoon when the weather got warmer!)

I do remember wanting to have a bike, for the times when the other kids in the neighborhood wanted to ride bikes together.  But, I just don’t remember using it all that much.  Maybe because I was never allowed to go very far from home, so I didn’t need it for transportation.  All of my friends were within close walking distance.

It was baby blue and white and it really was a pretty bike.

Call me Nana

November 16, 2009


When I was a little girl almost every grandmother I knew was called “Grandma something“.  I say almost because Mama’s mother chose to be called Mom Browning by everyone, including her grandchildren.  I remember asking why that was the case and being told that she didn’t want to be called “Grandma” because it made her feel old.  I don’t know if that was really her reason, but I do know that it was considered unusual to not call her “Grandma”, at least in our family.

But then I met someone who widened my view of the world by letting me see a totally different way of life than my own Midwestern one, giving me many new experiences that I would remember for the rest of my life, and changing many of my notions along the way about “how things are done” … including what grandmas are called.

 I was 7 or 8 years old when I met the fascinating Page who was marrying my brother.  She dazzled this little Midwestern girl in many ways, not the least of which was that she was pretty … slim and tan with dark hair and eyes and a soft, husky voice that always sounded like she was smiling.   (Can you hear a smile?  I thought I could.)  She was 19 or 20 years old when I met her and she lived with her family in a big house in California, with a swimming pool in the back yard!  I had never known anyone with their own swimming pool.  And I even got to swim in it! 

And she took me for my first ride in a convertible on a California freeway.  The combination of riding in a convertible for the first time and on a multiple lane highway with lots of cars whizzing by, all done with the (in my eyes) glamorous Page doing the driving in a very chic big straw hat with a scarf-like attachment to tie under the chin and big sunglasses (very 50’s chic, ala Audrey Hepburn), is all indelibly etched into my memory. 

Even her name charmed me.  To me, Page just sounded so sophisticated and so different than all the Peggy’s and Barbara’s and Susie’s I knew!

The other thing I loved about Page was that she talked to me.  Remember when you were a little kid?  Aren’t the people you remember the best the ones who looked you in the eye and actually talked to you, rather than at you?  I remember Page was one of the people who did that with me.  And in one of our conversations, she told me about her beloved “Nana”, her grandmother who had died a few years earlier.  I decided right then and there that when I was a grandmother, I was going to tell my grandchildren to call me “Nana”.

Years later after Page and my brother divorced, she continued to deal with circumstances in her own unique way.  She and her three girls and her new husband lived in California and my parents lived here in Indiana.  After the divorce, that would have been a great excuse for Page to lessen contact with my parents, but she didn’t.  She kept in contact with them herself and made sure that her girls did too.  And, when she and her new husband and the girls would travel in their motor home around the country, they would always come by to see my parents.  Many, many times Mama said how much she appreciated that Page made sure, even with the distance and the divorce, that her girls had as close a relationship as possible with their Indiana Grandma and Grandpa.

When Page’s daughters started having their own families, it didn’t surprise me at all that she came up with a very unique name for her grandchildren to call her, Star.  I don’t remember exactly what the story was about why she picked that name, but it was certainly an original and I’m sure she never had to worry about identifying which “Star” she was, as some grandmothers have to do, ala Grandma Smith as opposed to Grandma Jones.

Since then, I have heard many names that grandmother’s have their grandchildren call them other than Grandma, like Mimi, Memaa and Mame.  And DD’s Italian mother-in-law used the traditional Italian name, Noni.  But there was never any question that when I had grandchildren, I wanted to be called “Nana”.

I was inspired to write this post about names for grandmothers because last Friday, Page’s oldest daughter became a grandmother for the first time, and I was wondering what she would have her new grandson call her

But, in the end, it really doesn’t make any difference what we are called.  Grandma, “Mom”, Nana, Star, Mimi, Memaa, Mame, Noni and all the other names … are all just identifiers for women in a very special “club” who have the honor of being someone special in their grandchildren’s lives.

Mama Remembered: Jimmy’s Speeding Fine

October 16, 2009


  Brother Jimmy at 18   My brother Jimmy at 18.

Brother Jimmy and his car 3   and with his “speedy” car.


An excerpt from Mama’s book I remember:

Our son Jimmy had a Model A Ford that he drove back and forth to school when he was a freshman at Southwest Missouri State.  We lived on the north side of town and SMS was way out south.

One morning when I was looking at the newspaper, I glanced through the list of traffic violations and there was his name, followed by ” $5 – for speeding”.

I waited a day or so to see if he would mention it.  He didn’t.  So I said, “I see you were fined for speeding the other morning.”

He looked at me, disgusted like, and said, “You don’t missing anything, do you?”


I enjoy this story Mama wrote because, even though I was only six or seven at the time, I remember riding in that car when my brother Jimmy owned it because I was fascinated by the fact that there was a hole in the floorboards so that the passenger could look down and see the street through the hole.  That must have been quite the conversation starter on a date!

The year would have been 1952 and, even though I’m not car-saavy enough to be able to tell what year that car was, I’m pretty sure it was o.l.d .  (Update:  Hubby has since told me he thinks it is a 1937.)  So, I’m kind of impressed it was able to go fast enough to deserve a ticket.  Maybe the air flow through the hole in the floor made it more aero-dynamic!