• Tag Archives Memories
  • Labor Day Memories

    Labor Day was always a big deal for our family. Back when I was a teen and on until very recently, most of our family went to the beach for the entire week. The rest of the extended family joined us for a big reunion the Saturday before Labor Day.

    In those days my father was still with us. He and my mother hosted my Great Aunt Estella and her husband, Uncle John for the week. Aunt “Estelle” and Uncle John traveled from Jefferson, NC every year in their 1960 Plymouth Galaxy, always arriving on the Friday of the weekend before Labor Day weekend and then departing for home at 4 am on the Sunday before Labor Day Monday.

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    Amy, Baby Lori Ann (deceased) and me in 1970

    My mother and father, my Mom’s sister Aunt Betty and their brother Uncle Jim all had mobile homes in the same campground at that time. (We are still there). My sister and I and our cousins were lucky; we had my father at our disposal to tote us back and forth to the beach and boardwalk.

    What a wonderful man my father was.  I never knew any other man to work as hard. He was barely still, except for an hour or two in the evenings which he spent watching TV if there was something on that interested him. (He and my mother watched an hour of PBS every week. The show was called Washington Week in Review, and back then my father referred to the announcer (whoever he was) as “Mush-Mouth.” I never could understand why the man was called Mush-Mouth because I ran away to my room to get away from a boring news show before I heard him utter a word. Still, the name Mush-Mouth stuck. I’m pretty sure my parents watched Mush-Mouth for years.

    Dad liked variety shows. He watched Laugh-In, Hee-Haw, Sonny and Cher and Donny and Marie, along with  The Three Stooges if he could catch them. (When I was a little younger, right before my parents moved us from Toughkenamon to Landenberg, we lived next door to my PopPop. PopPop–retired and mostly deaf–watched The Three Stooges each afternoon at 3 in his old fashioned parlor. The TV was so loud that you could almost hear it from our house next door). If there were no variety shows to be found, my father would settle for a detective show, like Kojack. He couldn’t stand anything else on TV. Comedies were out; he couldn’t stand them & made fun of the characters, especially Fonzie. The Waltons was deemed a “cry-baby show.” Yes, I know my father sounds short tempered. He was. But still, he was a sucker if we asked him to do anything for us. In addition to carting us back and forth to the beach he would drive us to the roller skating rink and anywhere else we asked.

    After the TV was turned off for the night, Dad always went to the cupboard above the kitchen sink for a shot of Calvert or Four Roses, his favorite brands of whiskey. Then he went to bed, slept and got up the next morning ready for another day of work. After his day job was finished he worked on projects such as building an addition onto our home, and later a garage. He grew fruit and vegetables, and he and my mother canned tomatoes and homemade tomato sauce every summer. After I married my husband, Dad fixed up a little apartment for us. We’re still here–the apartment is now a house thanks to Dad.

    My father wasn’t a tall man, but he was still a big man, someone to look up to. My husband lost his father at age 18, the year before he and I were married, so my father became his father by default. Tom helped my dad build our house and later another garage. There were too many other major building projects to count.

    Dad also cleaned gutters, put on a new roof, cut his large yard and kept the lawnmower in good repair. He changed the oil in cars, trucks, lawnmowers, tractors and his rototiller. He always ran the mower over the fall leaves around my house and my sister’s, since we live on the edge of the woods. That way there were no leaves to rake.

    In addition to all of these jobs, my father helped clean our parish Church each week for many years. He usually vacuumed. He also burned the Palm each year for Ash Wednesday. He drove my nieces to preschool and picked them up, took each of his grandchildren to the bus stop every morning and met the bus each afternoon until they were old enough to wait alone.

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    I could go on and on. Dad loved his family and liked to work. He was a Jack of all Trades. That’s why Labor Day makes me think about him.

    My little granddaughter, pictured above, only met Dad once, right before he passed away. Tomorrow is her first day of school–Pre-K. I feel sorry for her and her little brother. They will grow up not knowing their Great Granddad, who would have done anything for them.

    But he’s in a better place now.

     

    I’ll mow your lawn, clean the leaves out your drain
    I’ll mend your roof to keep out the rain
    I’ll take the work that God provides
    I’m a Jack of all trades, honey, we’ll be alright

    I’ll hammer the nails, and I’ll set the stone
    I’ll harvest your crops when they’re ripe and grown
    I’ll pull that engine apart and patch her up ’til she’s running right
    I’m a Jack of all trades, we’ll be alright

    A hurricane blows, brings a hard rain
    When the blue sky breaks, feels like the world’s gonna change
    We’ll start caring for each other like Jesus said that we might
    I’m a Jack of all trades, we’ll be alright.


  • Crushed By Comedy

    Yesterday I saw the trailer for ABC Family’s (Disney), new sitcom, The Real O’Neals. (Please click link to watch. For added context, read the comments on You Tube.)

    Now, if you watched, you will know what I am about to discuss. So right off the bat, I’ll say this: If you’re reading this, and you’re one of those people who think “Christians & Catholics are way too sensitive. They’re always claiming they’re persecuted, when they’re the ones who are always persecuting other groups,” here’s a warning:  I’m going to write my thoughts here. If you typically laugh when religions are mocked, this probably isn’t the best place for you, unless you have a thick skin.

     

    I intend to write TO the people I’ve just described, you understand. I’m just trying to minimize any hurt I might inflict on the folks who might be offended at the following post. If you can’t take what you love to dish out, you might want to quit reading this. Go put your jammies on and get your mom to make you a cup of cocoa instead.

    I’ve given you fair warning.

    First, a few photos:  My Rosary was given to me as a birthday gift by my sister and her family about ten years ago.  It’s a big part of my life. At one point in my life I prayed it every single day without fail. These days I don’t always manage to say it every day. Last night, after  watching this sitcom trailer, I immediately turned to this prayer, though, for comfort.

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    My Rosary. I try to pray it everyday. Sometimes I miss a day.

     

    (My statue of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is in the dining room of my home. She is not, nor has she ever been perched above my toilet.)

     

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    My Statue of Mary, Mother Of Jesus.

     

     

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    Above  is the china cabinet in my dining room. The photo of the little girls in the white dress is me. It was taken on the day of my First Holy Communion.

    Inside the homes of my mother and sister are similar statues and photos, along with crucifixes, Bibles and Catholic reading material. So, In at least three families in America (probably more, but these are the homes that I frequent) the Virgin Mary is not placed in the room where people go to take a shit. Who knew?

    When my friends and I do charity work in our church, we never keep the money. (Just so ya know.) There are at least a few Catholics who actually collect money and other supplies for the needy, and then ……actually GIVE THE COLLECTION TO THOSE IT IS INTENDED FOR. Now I know this may be difficult for some people to believe. After all, ABC and Disney would NEVER lie! They made a sitcom out of the goodness of their hearts to inform non Catholics about the way Catholics conduct their affairs at home, at work, and at church.

    However, before you sit down to enjoy family time with your children while watching The Real O’Neal’s, you might want to say, (to yourself only, of course): “I seriously doubt it, because I get all my informashun about the fools who believe in Jeeezus from TV shows, but there may be a few Catholics who don’t act like the O’Neals. I mean, even a broken clock is right twice a day. Maybe they’re all not like that.”

    Now, please. I don’t mean that you faithful folks who learn everything you know about religious people from the boob tube should mention this to your children. Never, ever do that! They are getting their education on Catholicism in an entertaining and fun way. Best that they never consider that Christians might actually be decent people. That would be heretical. Don’t do it!

    You must sit with them in your living room, and laugh when the laugh track prompts you. That way, your kids can learn the truth without you having to say a word about what you know: That Catholics are all slimy hateful fools who know nothing about compassion or acceptance of others. You, as parents, are being given a gift by Disney. Don’t blow it! Even if you know of a Catholic here and there who acts in the exact opposite way than that of the O’Neals, do not tell your children. They need to know what’s what. Make sure you start them young. Progress, you know…

    Okay. Enough snark. Now I will admit my true feelings. Ever since I watched that trailer, I have felt beaten and crushed. Not physically, of course. Only mentally. I was terribly upset after watching it. I almost cried. I slept last night, only because I took a sleeping pill. In fact, I will admit that I am crying, right now. This is my blog. I pay a fee for my website and blog, and this is what I decided to write about.

    Following is the creator of this sitcom, Dan Savage, an anti-bullying advocate, speaking to a group of high schoolers. Please watch.

     

    The girl who walked out of the auditorium crying reminds me of me. I simply can’t help myself. It’s difficult to watch your entire life and what you believe be trashed in a hateful manner by someone claiming to be an expert on the damages bullying can do. Especially when the expert bullies others, wishing them to be stricken with cancer, and then admits that he, himself engaged in bullying.

    I refuse to sign a petition demanding The Real O’Neals show be cancelled, though. This is because I know that there’s another one lurking in the mind of some sadistic hater just waiting in the wings. This is going to get worse before it gets better, if it ever does.

    Christ tells us to love and pray for our enemies:

     

     

    However, I hope He’ll for give me if I put it off until tomorrow. I already put it off until today, but I simply cannot bring myself to say a prayer for Dan Savage and the people who created this sitcom. I’ll try again tomorrow. Perhaps, at Mass this evening, I will look at the beautiful stained glass windows depicting the Saints, and find it in my heart to ask God to give me the words I should use to pray for Dan Savage.

    Again, I must admit that I’m ready to cry. I hope to feel better later.

    Since I’m one of those people who simply can’t learn the lesson progressives are teaching: (You, as a Catholic, are a hateful bigot. Your entire life is based on lies in an old book. You play with beads while chanting, like some throwback to medieval times. You follow an old man in Rome. You pray to a magical sky God who doesn’t exist. You are stupid. You are backward. You deserve to be ridiculed, mocked, hated and shunned. You deserve this. You deserve it, and you need to just accept it. Your feelings do not matter, because one thousand years ago, the crusades happened. You are a freak, your parents were freaks and your children are freaks. They will always be freaks. Your grandchildren, if they are lucky, will learn from we the tolerant and enlightened that you are a freak. They will laugh at you, too, behind their hands. It does not matter how hard you pray to your fake and hateful God. You are NOTHING. Nothing. You need to understand this. Learn your freaking lesson, now, or else).

    I guess I’m finished my rant. I will probably spend this day crying to Our Lord and His Mother. People may say, “Why would you allow others to make you feel as though you are a piece of shit? Why should they ruin your day?”

    I don’t know the answer. I only know that, today, that’s exactly how I feel. I have learned to deal with hurt of this kind over the years. I don’t know why this particular episode hurt me so much. I only know that it hurts.

     


  • Welcome Beach Season

    This weekend I went to the beach with my mother, sister and brother-in-law. My husband works on Sundays, and decided to skip this beach weekend. He stayed home to work on our garden and other spring chores that can’t wait.

    It’s always sort of sad to say hello to our beach place, because so much of my father is there. He bought the place for us in 1978. It’s just a little mobile home, but perfectly fine for vacations. My parents kept up the place so well that you’d hardly know it’s almost 40 years old. Now the upkeep falls to my husband and brother-in-law.

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    My brother-in-law, Jerry, on the porch my father built.

    My father built the porch and the huge picnic table inside it. The table was constructed inside the actual porch, because it would have been too big to fit through the door. My BIL fixed some leaky pipes this weekend, and my mother pointed out that the roof will need to be tarred sometime this summer. My sister and I just cleaned up some.

    When Dad was alive, we barely did any upkeep. He loved to keep busy, and he retired early from DuPont, so he had time for all sorts of projects. Back in the day, before my parents bought the present mobile home, we had a tiny camper in the same park. My cousins had a place next door. We had too many fun times to count back then.

    My sister Amy and I, and our cousins, who were also sisters, were driven to Rehoboth Beach around 11:00 am by my father and dropped off. I was the oldest. My cousin Dawn was the youngest. Our ages ranged from 12 to 16. We spent the day laying on the beach, swimming, walking the boards, playing skee-ball in the arcades, stuffing ourselves with pizza and getting sunburned if we weren’t careful. My cousin Wendy had a radio. We took it to the beach each day, and listened to hits in between riding the waves.

    My father arrived at the U in the center of the boardwalk between Dolle’s and Candy Kitchen at 4:00 pm, sharp. We were always waiting, because we didn’t want to incur his wrath if he had to drive around and come back. (He didn’t like to sit and wait by the curb).

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    My father pulled up in his 1976 Chevy Van, which he bought for the express purpose of toting us girls to the beach. It had only a driver’s seat and a passenger seat, so, my father, not wanting us to be forced to sit on the floor, installed two discarded school bus seats, face to face in the back of the van.

    We would climb in, hauling our towels and other junk, pile it all on the floor and grab a seat. My cousin Wendy and my sister always got the best seats. Dawn and I never argued. Once on a trip to North Carolina, my sister brought two old couch cushions along. She and Wendy fought over who got to sleep on  the cushions. Dawn and I mostly sat in the school bus seats and kept our mouths shut. If we wanted to nap, we just found a way to do it without bothering the couch cushion queens. We didn’t want to incur their wrath, either.

    The cushion wars came to an end in a McDonald’s bathroom somewhere in Virginia. Dawn and I were keeping a low profile. We stood quietly next to the sinks and watched the catfight. It didn’t come to blows, but the whole restaurant must have heard the shrieking. After Wendy stomped back to the van, Amy, Dawn and I watched a tiny oriental lady emerge quietly from a stall where she’d been hiding, listening to the howling. We were too embarrassed to say a word. We stood silently as the lady hurried out of the bathroom. Then we walked quickly back to the van. Dawn and I scrambled into the bus seats. After Amy informed Wendy that they had frightened an innocent restroom user, they decided to share. (With each other). They each took a 3 foot cushion.

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    My sister Amy (long straight hair) and cousin Dawn around 1977

     

    But back to our beach days. My father hauled us and our sandy beach gear back to camp. We hurried to the shower house. My uncle’s place had a bathroom with a shower, and our tiny camper also had a shower, but there were beach rules. The showers in our campers were reserved for the adults. No kids allowed. So, we grabbed clean towels, washcloths, soap, Lemon Up shampoo, Long and Silky conditioner, hair brushes and hair dryers, and clean clothes, and trudged to the shower house. We had to yank a chain and hold it for water. After we finished, we walked back to camp, and sat down to eat a meal prepared by my mother. My uncle Jim, Wendy and Dawn’s dad, and my cousin Jimmy were usually there, too.

    After the meal, we piled back into the van. My father got behind the wheel, and drove us all the way back to the boardwalk. We usually arrived around 7:00. He dropped us off at the U, and told us to be back there at ten sharp before driving away.

    Nights at the boardwalk were different than days. We walked the boards, but we also rode rides. Sometimes we walked on the beach. We usually had a pack of cigarettes. Most kids smoked right out in the open back then. (I only smoked sporadically, never in school, and only for about a year). Back then people hung out under the boardwalk, but we were strictly forbidden to ever venture under the boardwalk. We never broke that particular rule, having been forced to listen to horror stories of kidnappings and other atrocities that might befall us if we went under there.

    My parents may or may not have known about the smoking. Smoking was also strictly forbidden, but almost everyone smoked on that boardwalk.

    At ten o’clock we were back at Dolle’s. My father would pull up and we’d pile back into the van. He drove us back to camp, and then he went to bed. We kids walked around the campground or listened to LPs at my uncle’s place until about midnight. My uncle was single at the time, and he was usually out at the DeBraak, a bar in Lewes. (The DeBraak was named for a shipwreck off the coast of Lewes. I’m pretty sure the bar burned down. At any rate, it’s no longer there.)  On Sundays we went to the beach, but after dinner we had to drive home so my parents could be at work on Monday morning.

    Some days my father just didn’t want to deal with Rehoboth traffic, so he dropped us off at Lewes beach. (Not a cool place, according to Wendy). I think she refused to go to Lewes once or twice, and sulked at the campground instead.

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    View of canal from Lewes Marina

     

    What great times. We weren’t angels back then, but we certainly survived. I’m glad we kept my parents’ beach place, even though times are hard right now. We don’t have the income we used to, on account of Obama’s economy. Still we all agree we will keep the place for as long as possible. Why shouldn’t we? My father worked hard for that place. He wanted us to enjoy it.


  • Holiday Memories

    This is the time of year to be nostalgic. No matter your traditions or religion, we all have memories (from childhood on) of this time of year.

    I visited my mother this morning. It’s always fun to visit mom, (at Christmas or any other time of year), for too many reasons to count, but here are the top four reasons. One: She’s always glad to see me, no matter what happens to be going on in her life. Two: She always gives me food. Three: She lives next door, so I can walk to her house in my pajamas. Four: She loves me.

    Today mom and I discussed my father, and the fact that I don’t want to continue our traditional Seven Fishes Christmas Eve dinner tradition anymore. I hope to feel differently next year, but as of now, I simply can’t imagine eating the fishes without Dad. Dad was the cook. No one could cook smelts, dried cod, anchovies and the rest of the fish like he could. He also made the best eggnog.  Maybe someday our family can resume this tradition, but as of now, I’m not ready. I will, of course, consider everyone else’s feelings on the matter, but I hope they agree with me this year. I would rather simply remember my Dad, alive and vibrant as he fried fish in his basement.

    This brings me to the point of this post. When we lose a loved one, Holidays can be difficult. Please, if you’re struggling, know that in time your heart will heal, allowing you to remember the happy and funny times.

    Today Mom showed me this year’s version of her Christmas tree. Rather than hauling her little tree upstairs and setting it up without my father, she decided to decorate her rubber plant, which was already in her family room.

     

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    Mom killed two birds with one stone. She decorated this cute plant with treasured ornaments from her years with my father, including this porcelain santa. This ornament is part of a set my parents bought for their first Christmas as a married couple in 1956. I don’t remember a time when these ornaments weren’t around.

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    Mom likes Christmas trees, unlike my father, when he lived on earth. Dad’s relationship with Christmas trees went two ways. If the tree could be moved upstairs from the basement fully decorated each year, he loved the tree. (True story–my father built a special storage cabinet in the basement just for the tree. It saved him a lot of headaches). If Dad was forced to fool with a cut evergreen tree purchased at a tree lot, it was a different story. Dad and tree stands did not get along, especially if the tree trunk was crooked. We found that out one year when the tree would not stand straight, and Dad, (in a typical fashion for him), pitched the tree off the porch and into the backyard, stand and all. Luckily, his anger was short lived. We decorated the tree with no comment later that night.

    We’ve had plenty of Christmas tree fiascos. One year I left my three-year-old son alone with my husband while I took our nine year old daughter to see The Nutcracker. I assumed my husband would know that a three year old could not be trusted alone with a tree, but I was wrong. I found this out when I returned home to find that my son had been trapped under the tree for ten minutes. Seemed his father decided to take a shower, and failed to hear the crash because the water was running.

    Parents these days are smarter. My daughter, for instance. Instead of worrying about her kids and their dog, and what might happen to a tree while her back is turned, she simply fenced off the tree. Problem solved.

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    Speaking of dogs…they are another source of amusement or frustration, depending on your outlook. Example: The tiny retro elf, pictured below.

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    This pink elf is mine. Back in the late 1960s, my grandmother gave each of her grandchildren one of these elves. I got a pink one, my sister got a blue one, and my other tiny sister received a white elf from Granny. My mother keeps the tiny white elf in a safe place, since my baby sister is in Heaven with my father. Somehow, my elf is also still around, despite my children and their shenanigans with decorations over the years.

    My sister, however, wasn’t so lucky. Her blue elf was treasured too, and displayed with pride each year. Then, one Christmas season about ten years ago, she was walking through her basement and found the remains of the blue elf on the floor. The blue elf was barely recognizable. Bits and pieces of him were scattered under the workbench. Their dog, Darby, was the culprit. Lucky for Darby, she was a fast runner.

    My sister was inconsolable. I think she cried. She lamented the blue elf’s fate all winter long, and finally, she couldn’t stand it anymore, so she began looking for a replacement. She eventually found a retro blue elf exactly like her old one in an antique shop, and paid twenty bucks for the little blue elf made of styrofoam and pipe cleaners. She said it was worth it.

    How many old and perhaps chipped or broken ornaments and decorations do we hang onto, just because of the memories associated with them? Too many to count. No matter our differences, religious or otherwise, I bet this is one thing we can agree on. 🙂

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