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My Blog

August 2013

Time to Stop Wearing White After Labor Day?

Well, good morning to all.  If you have been in the Chicago land area, I hope that you weathered well after the storms that rolled through yesterday.  The winds were over 60 mph and hail was panging against the homes.  Trees knocked down and power lines knocked out.  Oh Mother nature!!  She must have been heated up yesterday!
Well, today is another day.  temperatures are much cooler, but humidity is high.  Big day ahead for me...teaching art with the topic of Labor Day to Alzheimer patients.  The question for me is what do you teach...brings to mind....what exactly is Labor day?  I had promised that I would touch on these subjects...so here goes.
Todays blog is on the OLD belief that you begin wearing white after Memorial Day and stop wearing white after Labor day.  I pondered where in the world that idea came from.  It was the golden rule when I was growing up.  But today...I am wondering where it started and why. 
In my investigations...it seems that it started around the 19th Century.  It all had to do with the types of textiles that clothes were made of.  We all have learned that through the years, wearing certain colors can be hotter than others.  Black for instance is always been associated with taking in the sun and being much warmer.  Color therapist will tell you that the color red is the warmest color and will actually keep you warmer.  Well, back in the early 1800's, the textiles used were limited.  There were cottons, linens, silks and satins and then there were wools predominantly.  The types of colors were limited as well.  The lighter fabrics tended to be lighter in color.  The wools darker.  Well, the clothing options were not the same as they are now, they were not able to run around in tank tops and shorts back then, so the wisest choices were lighter clothes, which meant light colors.  When the season of fall came near...about Labor Day...Which had not yet been established, the heavy and darker clothing began being the clothing of choice.  Therefore light clothing was put away until the end of Spring...which turned out later to be Memorial Day. 
Now, this is a regional thing that occurred due to the fashion industry being in New York.  So then it began as a fashion statement.  If the industry would have had a Southern location, fashion statements might have been a whole lot different. 
I remember growing up, these were the rules that we abided to.  I remember at one point the fashion industry came out with a color called WINTER WHITE.  That gave way to abolishing the idea of only wearing white for the summer seasons.  Now a days, if you asked anyone from todays generation about the proper use of wearing white, they would more than likely have no idea of what we were referring to.  Today, anything goes.  The only time was permissible in the old days was on a girls wedding day...and today...that has even changed.  Brides are opting for other colors on their special day. 
With all the options we have for clothing these days along with air conditioning, the old saying or mode of fashion has become extinct.  White is no longer just white. As a painter I have a bevy of whites to choose from.  There is snow white, cool white, warm white, vanilla milkshake, cloud white, cotton cover, winter white, white dove, and the list goes on and on. 
There is a book called Fifty shades of Grey....Perhaps I will write one on the shades of White.  I have an idea in mind.  Let me copy right this....Fifty Shades of White...Pure and Simple. 
So, if the question ever ran through your mind where the seasonal fashion statement came from.  I hope that this answers your question.  Times have changed, but for the older generations...we still think of white as the color that end on Labor Day.   I think that Labor means some hard and dirty work..and maybe that is why you don't wear white once the labor begins.  Whatever the reasons, it is nice to look back and know why we did things.  Funny how I never questioned it before today!
 

Celebrating Life with a Party

Good morning all my cyber friends.  hope this up and coming holiday weekend will be full of joy and fun.  Be safe!  Be careful.  Be smart.  Last week while I was teaching at the Alzheimer center...I asked the residents what Labor Day means to them.  What is it for?  One answered....it is when people go back to work....she was a teacher!  LOL....others had no idea.  Some said it is time to put away your white shoes. 
I will touch on Labor day over the next few days.  I would love to know your particular thoughts on the holiday! There is a space to comment at the end of each blog...I would love hearing from you...perhaps you will be my muse....and perhaps I will make it amusing.  Sorry...just had to do that....it has been stuck in my head all morning.
Now, on to todays blog. 
Celebrating Life!  Now I have done this every year since birth with a birthday party.  Some wonderful....some I could cry about.  But I love the idea of celebrating one's life.  I have no idea why they ever came up with the silly over the hill stuff.  I suppose it is funny to some...but when you reach that point...shouldn't it be even more of a celebration? 
Well, when my husband turned 50, I wanted to have a party that celebrated his life up to that point, so no black, no over the hill, I decided that since he had changed his life at the ripe age of 48 and became a teacher...we would have a back to school party. 
Now keeping this a secret was no easy task since it was going to be in our home.  I worked on this party for months!  I sent invitations out WAY in advance and asked each person to share a picture of themselves with me from when they were in school.  I promised to return the picture!  I scanned the photos and put the totally opposite of what they might have been attached to it, ex..the person scared  of bugs was most likely to become an Exterminator. 
I did everyone's page and put it into a book form to resemble a yearbook.  I made copies for everyone attending so that they could get it autographed by everyone there.  They were all asked to dress like a student in school.  It was quite funny to see what they looked like.  One gentleman friend wore shorts, black socks with sandals, a printed shirt and had a camera hanging from his neck.  Some of the girls wore plaid skirts rolled up with white blouses.  I rented a nun's costume, since my husband attended Catholic school.  When he came in, at first he had no idea who I was.  I really did surprise him. 
I had boxes hidden all over filled with decorations for each room.  I turned every room into a subject area.  The living room was History...filled with History books, , little plastic soldiers to represent wartime.  The Dining room was done in Geography with maps of the world and the Us.  I had Geography books and National Geographic's spread around.  I had globes and even a small one that wound up and walked across the table.  The Bathroom was the Reading Room with all types of school bulletin board words and expression and comic books to read.  I had put black paper around the rooms on the walls and trimmed it with the trims that teacher use on their bulletin boards.  I had sent with the invitations a report card for every one to fill out and had them hanging in the hallways along with his school pictures through the years. 
The menu was simple...Soup Bar and Sub Sandwiches Pickles of course..  A Twinkie cake and trays of old time candies from the  50's.  It was all written on a chalkboard.   I had a girl and a boy go pass out the milk...I had bought small carton of chocolate and white milk and had a box of straws for them.  I had then in the old time crate like we used to pass them out in Parochial School.  We played silly games.  We had a Bazooka Bubble blowing contest.  A spelling Bee.  It was a blast from the past for sure.  It was hopefully a day to remember for my husband!  It celebrated where he had gone in life at that point.  Not that his life was over the hill and going downward.  There are a lot of traditions associated with birthdays and one of them is that everyone must have a piece of Birthday Cake.  To refuse a piece of cake is symbolic of refusing to share in that person's life.  Well, needless to say, there was no cake left that day.  They all wanted to share in his special day and in his life.  What a tribute!  I think all birthdays should be a Life celebration. We should encourage
the accomplishments that are made.  They are what make us who we are!

The Red Headed Disaster

Good morning to all .  Hope life is treating everyone well.  Beautiful day once again, although the temperature is on another climb.  I guess I shouldn't complain, since before I know it...the winter will blow it's winds upon us.
Today's blog goes back a very long time ago.  All the way back to when I was 17 years of age.  Theater has always been my passion in life.  Till this very day, nothing soothes this savage beast like a good play.  Not only did I enjoy going to plays, I loved being in them as well.  Back when I was younger, there were so many more theater options to go to than today.  One of my very favorites was the Candlelight Dinner Play House on Harlem Ave on the South side of Chicago.  You could eat your dinner and then watch a play all in the same room.  It was one of the dates that I deemed a favorite.  It is long gone now, but the memories linger on.  I think I saw Man of LaMancha there 4 times.  It was during a time when I was playing the female lead of Aldonza/Dulcinia and just loved watching it over and over again.  Lee Pelty and Delores Rothenberger did a wonderful job in those roles back then.  Well, the reason I have brought up that particular play was because while in rehearsals, I needed to use a very rough and gruff voice for Aldonza.  Even when I sang, the voice that I needed to use had to be rather gruff as well.  While I was in rehearsal for that play, I was auditioning for the lead to Camelot.  I auditioned for Gwenevere.  I remember being on stage for the audition and the director knew that I was in rehearsals for Man of LaMancha and reminded me that the character of Gwenevere was soft and tender.  Tough transitioning for the voice box...but I got the lead.  
I was soon done with Man of LaMancha and had moved onto Camelot.  Now, I remember watching the movie of Camelot with Lynne Redgrave starring as Gwenevere.  I remember how beautiful she was in her long, luxurious red hair and for the life of me, decided that Gwenevere had to be a redhead. 
I had this beautiful long blonde hair at the time and decided that I would color it red.  At the time I bought some sort of hair color that said it would rinse in and rinse out.  Well, I must have been the stereotypical blonde, because I thought that meant one day on and the next day off.  So I took it home and colored my hair.  It was Bright red....let me tell you...Lucille Ball had competition now.  
Now that evening, I couldn't wait until my mother came home from work to see my new hair color.  I was so excited.  I was sure that I now captured the real essence of Gwenevere.  I remember like it was yesterday.  There I stood I the kitchen in my Kelly Green baby Doll pajamas in this flaming red, long flowing hair.  When my mother walked in, I thought she would pass out.  The yelling and screaming that went on.  This was not the reaction I thought I was going to get at all!  She was so upset!  She sat down at the kitchen table and actually started to cry.  I had no idea why...I thought it was gorgeous!  Then the Mother genes kicked in and she insisted that I change it back to blonde.  I was scared at that point.  I had never scene my mother that angry before.  I reassured her that it was only a rinse.  The box said it rinsed in and rinsed out.  I would rinse it out in the morning.  Well, I hate to tell you that it didn't rinse out!  I didn't strip out or bleach out either.  My cousin and I tried everything we could to get the stuff out of my hair...and the only thing that happened was that my hair turned more colors.  I now had bright red on the bottom, Bozo red on the middle section and something closer to a strawberry blonde on the top.  We had done so many chemical treatments to my hair that it was starting to fry.  At that point the only option left was to put a REAL rinse of light brown on my head and continue to do daily hot oil treatments to recondition my hair.  What eventually happened was that I had to have my hair cut off.  I was devastated.  I wore all sort of falls and attachments during the play.  With shorter hair I was able to dye it back to blonde and match it up with the hair pieces. 
 I have through the years still wished that I could have red hair.  There is that inner red headed diva in me...I have dyed it red a number of times, but I always seem to come back to being a blonde...although now a days, it is mostly to cover life's destined color of grey.     

Someone's Lurking at the Window

Well, it is another hot day in the Chicago land area.  I cannot imagine how we all managed  these sort of days back in the days without air conditioning.  I recall as a child not having one.  I remember how hot the house was and the houses were so close together that no breeze could ever get through the gangways to your bedroom window.  I can remember that in those days I would put my pillow onto the sill of the window in the room...my bed was right up against the window.  I would attempt to sleep, although it didn't always work that well. 
Growing up, I lived in a 2 story home in the city of Chicago with my grandparents and mom. Hot days were always the worst, because there was really nothing you could do about it.  Back in those days, we never seemed to fear anything either.  It seems that back then we never had the fear factor.  Well, at least it was that way until one particular night. 
I had spent the evening over at the church's carnival.  I had come home that blistering hot night and went into my bedroom to get my nightgown and clean underwear to go take a bath and try to cool down.  Now, the bi-fold doors to my room faced directly across from the window.  Now when you walk into a room, you are not necessarily gazing at the window to see something.  I was on a mission to gather up my night clothes and out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw a person standing at my window.  When I turned again, there was nothing there.  I thought it had to have been my imagination, since the person seemed to be standing at the window from their waist up.  The window was at least 8 feet from the ground.  That would mean that the person had to have been at least 10 feet tall and of course that was impossible.  It had to had been some odd reflection that made it look like a person.  I just dismissed it...I was only 15 years old and didn't think twice about it. 
I gathered my things and off to the bathroom I went to a nice bath.  In those days, we didn't have showers, only the bathtub.  In fact, when I grew up, in our bathroom, we didn't even have a sink.  The toilet sat right next to the tub.  Well, I took a nice refreshing bath and put on my light cotton baby doll pajamas and got into bed for the night.  It was a real scorcher.  I took my pillow and scrunched it up on the sill and got as close to the screen as possible to try to breathe.  While I lied there, I noticed the movement of shadows on the next door house.  There was a huge Catalpa tree on in the front and when there was any sort of breeze the leave cast their shadows in the gangway.  It made me contemplate what I thought I had seen and it made me a little nervous, although my head told me that it was impossible.  I finally fell asleep. 
The next morning, I was at the kitchen table eating breakfast.  Grandma was perched in her usual rocking chair at the other end of the kitchen table.  As I was enjoying the eggs in a basket breakfast she had made me, I began to tell her what I had imagined I had seen last night when I had come home and went into the bedroom.  I noticed as I was laughing about the possibility of a 10 foot man at my window...Grandma's face began to ashen.  She had this sort of pensive look on her face.  I asked her what was wrong.  Grandma proceeded to tell me that when she went outside in the morning to water, she found the picnic table bench underneath my bedroom window.  I almost choked on my eggs and bread.  Then I wasn't imagining it!  I really did see someone standing at my window.  The thought made me shudder as I thought about the ramifications.  There WAS someone there.  The shadows....were they cast by the tree or by the person standing there?  How close did that person come to me while I was sleeping.  Then the "Oh my God....he could have killed me kicked in".  Was it just what they called a peeping Tom?  To think someone was that close to me and I had no idea!  Fortunately, nothing happened because of it. 
I don't even think that we called the police or anything.  It was just an odd occurrence.  It certainly made me check the window before going to sleep, but I have to admit, it never stopped me from sleeping on the window sill.  I sit and look back now and wonder why my bedroom window?  My room was at the backend of the house.  How would someone know who slept there?  Was it just a by chance attempt or was someone watching, or did someone know?  I guess I will never know for sure. I am glad that at 15, I didn't take the time to ponder over it.  So I guess when we think of all the things that go on today and all the reasons to be afraid were valid even back then.  The only difference was that in the old days, we just never heard much about it. We didn't have the news coverage or the radio coverage like we have today.  And even if we did...I was 15.  I wouldn't have paid any attention to it anyway.   We  were never given any reasons to be afraid.  My Grandmother, God rest her soul, used to say.... "Never be afraid....if someone took you, they would give you back after 5 minutes".  I know that it might sound terrible...my Grandmother loved me like crazy.  I think it was just her way of telling me not to be afraid of anything.  And to be truthful, I have really never been afraid of anything in my life. Well, that's not entirely true...I am afraid of heights, but that is another story! 

Summertime on a Budget

Good morning...another scorcher today here in the Chicago land area.  I am staying indoors definitely today.  Heat and I are like oil and vinegar.  I saw the weeks forecast and see there is no relief in the near future, so painting it is!
I was thinking about the heat and so many years ago when my children were young.  I know that summers are the hardest part for moms.  Keeping those children amused in the heat. 
Years ago, when money was sparse, there were usually not a lot of options as to what to do.  The one nice thing about summer and the heat is that going to the pools were an option.  Now, in the city, the pools were jammed packed and you could barely more.  Back in the eighty's, the suburban pools were less crowded, but you needed to be a resident or pay an exorbitant amount to get in each day...and that adds up when you are on a budget. 
Now God was watching over me when he gave me a particular friend.  She lived in a nearby Suburb called Norridge.  She managed to get me a pass to the Norridge pool for me and my children.  So each day, we would plan the day at the pool.  I would pack a lunch and some juice and off we would head for a day of fun in the sun.  The girls loved swimming, I even had them take swimming lessons there.  We would spend the entire morning and afternoon there and when they took the afternoon break...if I recall correctly it was at 4, we would leave, stop off at the library, and get home for dinner, clean up and return. Now as for dinners, It was not easy being at the pool with the kids all day and trying to make the 30 minute drive home and have enough time for dinner, so I needed to be creative.  My mother had this old rotisserie oven that she had given me...so many night there was chicken on the spit.  It never heated up the house, or there were lots of BLT's or Omelets.  Whatever the budget would allow to do and whatever didn't heat up the kitchen.  Back then we didn't have air conditioning in the kitchen, We only had one unit and it was in the living room window.  I used to hand a sheet on the door of the Dining Room to keep the living room and dining room cool.  At least we had someplace to go to keep cool.   
Now, the Eisenhower Library in Norridge was great.  Now remember, this was the eighties.  I was able to reserve a projector and a movie and take it home.  At night, we would set up a white sheet in the lining room, set up the projector on the dinning room table and play the movie for the girls.  We always made popcorn and just enjoyed the evening.  It never cost me anything to get the movies.  What a nice way to enjoy the summer days.  I know that now, we can easily turn on the TV and pop in a dvd and enjoy, but back then, there were not a whole lot of options like that.
One day during the summer, the pool had an event where you could purchase tickets very reasonably for an evening of synchronized swimming.  The performance was outstanding.  My absolute favorite was when the did it to the music called the Conga.  I can still remember the way the girls stood at the end of the pool and diving in to the water to the beat of the music.  It was fantastic.  I remember my girls wanting to be able to do that.  I recall them being spellbound. 
We were very lucky to have this particular friend.  She made summers something to remember when there were not a lot of options.  The children never thought they were on any budget, they were happy, cool and content. 
We spent any extra time that we had at the library reading books and choosing places we wanted to learn about.  It was our dream about vacations!  We traveled to Africa, Asia, Europe all for free at the library.  We saw places we never dreamed imaginable. 
There may be something to having a summer on a budget!  I got to spend some of the most memorable moments with my girls. 
All I can say is thank Jeanni! 

The Wedding on AM Chicago TV

Well good morning to all.  Back to the workweek.  Hope everyone enjoyed the weekend.  Hard to believe that summer is in it's winding down mode.  The temperatures thought these past few days have been hotter than most of the summer...go figure!
Well, todays topic for the blog is an interesting one to me, mostly because I was supposed to be part of it...and missed it!  Well, at least part of it.  You see 37  year ago, the team on AM Chicago TV were joking about a wedding on TV,  They spoke of how one hadn't been done in good taste...the last one was Tiny Tim's and his was no tiptoeing through any tulips.  Well, they announced that if anyone wanted to get married on TV to write in.  They were joking and the general public had something else in mind.  The TV station were bombarded with letters from prospective engaged couples.  It just so happen that the couple chosen were best friends of ours. 
Well, it was amazing as to what the television station had done to prepare our friends for the wedding. We were to stand up to the wedding and be on TV.  I remember being picked up at my friends home in a Limo and driven to House of Brides for our gowns.  The bride and all of the attendees got their gowns completely paid for.  The men were taken to Seno tuxedo where there tuxes were takes care of as well.  There was a jeweler names Gia from downtown Chicago that designed their wedding rings.  Chef Louise would make the wedding cake, the receptions was to be at the Ambassador West hotel downtown.  They had absolutely everything taken care of from flowers to honeymoon.
Now in addition to the wedding, all the stores from downtown Chicago were throwing her a Bridal Shower on the show.  Her mother was quite camera shy, so they informed her that she could choose someone else to be there with her.,..well, that would be me.  It was all set that we would be at the TV studios at 6 AM on Monday, May 17th.  Now what I have not disclosed as of yet is the fact that I, at this point was 8 1/2 months pregnant.  I had seen the OB/GYN on Friday and he informed me that I had at least 2 more weeks to go...not to worry about anything.  Well, that morning upon awaking, I went to the bathroom and had the show...the first sign of ensuing labor.  I panicked.  What should I do?  I quickly put in a call to my doctor and he told me that a show could happen up to 2 weeks before a delivery...he assured me it was nothing to worry about.  That had not reassured me at all.  I was not convinced.  I called the studio and had them explain to my friend what was going on and that if all was well, I would be there the next day for the wedding.  I didn't want to chance going on National TV and having my water break. 
I was so disappointed on 2 counts.  First that she had to be alone and secondly, that I missed such an opportunity.  Well, watching her on TV that morning, they announced my name and that the reason I wasn't there was because I was on the way to the hospital.  It was really funny...everyone was calling me at home asking me where I was and what was going on.  I thought really...you call me at home, I answer the phone and you are wondering where I am?  Well, I talked with her later...explained what had happened and relayed the doctors remark and assured her nothing else indicated I was in labor all day long...so willing..we would be a the TV station in the morning for the wedding. 
Now, all day long nothing happened but I was afraid to eat, thinking of what my Lamaze teacher had warned us about eating during labor...well by midnight I was starved.  So I had  a Bing cherry Jello mold in the frig left over from the bridal shower I had thrown her on that Saturday, so I had some of that.  I got into bed and within 10 minutes, I felt this pressure like I needed to go to the bathroom.  I got up and went to the bathroom...but nothing happened.  I returned to bed.  Five minutes later....I had to repeat the trip, again with no results.  Soon after, The labor pains began.  I waited and timed them.  Called the doctor and was now on my way to the 40 minute trip to the hospital.  We were excited, this was to be our first child.  Momentarily, I had forgotten all about the wedding.  Halfway to the hospital, all the pains stopped.  We had raced around like chicken with our heads cut off and now I didn't know how to tell my husband that everything stopped.  We arrived at the hospital and I thought, well, as long as we were there, they could check me out and when I stepped out of the car and stood up...my water broke.  We were going to have that baby now for sure. 
The problem for me at that moment was that my pants were all wet and I was embarrassed.  When we reached the entrance door...the security guard was waiting with a wheel chair.  I asked where the ladies room was instead.  When directed to it, I went into the stall, removed my wet underwear and pants.  Put the wet pants back on and proceeded to dry the underwear off with the hand dryer.  When they were dry, I switched pants and then dried my  regular pants in the same manner.  Now, as time went by, my husband kept knocking on the bathroom door to make sure I was all right!  Once I was dry, I was ready to move on.  Silly, how crazy I was  thinking and acting. 
Well the next 10 hours were crazy.  Pain was horrible.  I had all back labor.  Difficult to say the least...oh, and remember the Jello?  All over my husband.  He was a real sight, between the red Jello and small pieces of cherries all over him! He had made the call to the TV studios to inform them that we were not coming and that the baby was!  They would use theircamera lenses to compensate for our non appearance.  We had a TV in the labor room, and the time for AM Chicago to be on came and we were watching it on TV.  The first part of the show was with Miss Vanderbilt and a discussion about etiquette.  I was so happy that at least I wouldn't miss seeing them get married.  They broke for commercial and the wedding would begin right after....and just at that time they came in and wheeled me to the delivery room.  Our daughter was born at precisely the time that our friends took their vows on National TV. 
What a day for everyone involved.  The sweetest part was that later in the day, my friend took time out of her wedding day...with all the excitement going on and called me to see how we were all doing.  That was a day, May 18th, 1976, that goes down in history for all of us

Rolling down the River

Good morning to all my blogging friends,  I hope the last day of the weekend is just waiting to be filled with some fun by everyone. 
Today's topic is about some fun on the River.  It was quite a while back....25 years or so when I decided to have some fun on the River.  It seems to me, unless there is someone who is willing to organize an event of some sort, the event just doesn't seem to roll around. 
We all tend to have good intentions, we all want to be adventurous, but often can't seem to find the proper motivation to get out there and do something about it.
I remember when I was younger and my children were young, driving out to the Geneva/St. Charles area, just southwest of Chicago, was a fun and pleasurable day to spend.  the shops were great to go in and out of and see all the newest trends, Nice place to stop and eat and enjoy a day away from home.  One day, while in St. Charles, we noticed a paddleboat on the Fox River.  the girls and I went over to check it out.  there was a quaint park there and even a miniature golf course that we got to go and shoot the balls around. 
I went over the t small house near the boat to check it out.  I got some information on the boat rides and rental opportunities. 
When I got home that evening, I sat down with some coffee on the deck and began to read the information packet.  It sounded pretty interesting.  A 3 hour cruise...I was beginning to question Gilligan's Island at that point, but just laughed it off.  I took the cost of how much it would run to rent the entire boat out for the evening into what I thought would be an affordable cost.  When I got it to $12.00 per person amount, I knew I could plan something. This was a pretty reasonable amount to pay, even at the time. Since they allowed food on board...you could either bring your own or cater from them,  I pulled out a tablet and drew up a menu.  I decided that if everyone brought something.  We could make this a dinner cruise.  I divided it up into categories like salads, sides, bread, meats, drinks, ice, and pulled out my phone book and began the calls.  Everyone I knew was excited to join in on the fun.  The singles got to bring the easy things like ice, bread and the plates, napkins and cups.  Everyone had sent me there money and I booked the boat of September 28th.  We met at the park along the Fox River at 6:30.  
I had arranged with the Paddleboat company to have table set up on the first level and as soon as I boarded the boat, covered it with tablecloths.  Everyone quickly placed their dishes on the tables and the cruise began.  Now because of the Dam on the River the boat just went back and forth along 3 miles...but no one really cared.  There was a  place to pop in our cassette tapes and it got piped through the entire boat, both lower and upper decks.  We ate on the enclosed lower deck.  Chatting and have a great time just being together.   The upper deck was open and once we were done eating, we ascending to the upper level to look up at the beautiful autumn night sky, twinkling with stars and soft enjoyable music that wafted through the air.  Some of us danced, others just sat along the side rails and watch the quaint city go past.  The lights in the homes along the lake seems like glowing embers in the distance. 
When the 3 hours were up, we were all quite happy and willed with peace and contentment.  We had had an amazing night out on the River, the food was more that enjoyable. For a very nominal fee, we had had an amazing adventure rolling down the river with friends and acquaintances.  This adventure was the beginning of many prompt due adventures that I had organized for a night out on a small budget.  It was always me that did the organizing.  I guess that is a common occurrence.  Someone has to do it and I didn't mind.  I am still the organizer some 20-30 years later.  I am still on that quest to get out, discover something, create a memory.  That's what life is all about.  The paddleboat still rolls down the river.  If you are ever in that area in St. Charles, follow the river and find the boat and enjoy a ride.  You won't regret it. 

Picnics in the house

Good morning to all.  Hope that the weekend has started for you and that you have some amazing things planned for it.  Picnics have always been one of the most enjoyable things through the years for me.  Now, I grant you, most picnics are done outdoors.  Sometimes along the roadsides, somethimes on the beach, sometimes in the forest preserves and for me...sometimes in the house. 
It is funny, how no matter how and when you plan a picnic, it is special.  I can remember when I first got married and had children.  Often, I would pack up a picnic basket and we would all jump into the car and hear in whatever direction the car pointed to.  We were on an adventure.  We had found some amazing sights along the way, sometimes it would just be us and nature and of course our picnic basket of goodies. 
Being from a polish background, Polish Sausage was always a safe bet in the basket...Being smoked it with stood the heat.  I would always boil a dozen or so eggs, throw in a large bag of cheese cubes, a bowl of cut up fresh fruit and some bread.  We were good to go. I also included muffins and coffee cakes and cookies for snacks.  Often, we would find a picnic table and just enjoy.  We would pull out the Frisbee or the ball and bat and play. 
It was always fun to get out and enjoy the day, but I have to admit, some of the best picnics that I remember were in my backyard or in my house. 
When the girls were young and we would have an overnighter....often we would spread out a blanket on the floor and pretend we were on a picnic.  Once the picnic was over, the blanket then became our tent over the table and we would be camping.  We would use our flashlights to read comics or books under the table and tell ghost stories. 
As years went by, and my first grandchild arrived, her and I would picnic in the family room.  I would start a fire in the fireplace and we would spread out the blanket on the floor and pull out the hot dog sticks and toast hotdogs on the flames.  I finally bought a grilled cheese maker for the fire place and that was always a nice alternative.  And of course there was always the popcorn popper made especially for an open flame.  We would read books and tell stories by the glow of the fire.  Sometimes we would play outdoor music and pretend that we were picnicking by a babbling brook. 
Now, I have picnicked indoors with friends as well, when the weather was not conducive to being in the great outdoors. 
It really doesn't seem to matter exactly where the location of the picnic needs to be, just that we take the time out to enjoy one.   So take the time, pack a basket and go on an adventure.  Go with your significant other, your children, grandchildren or friends and share in the fun.  Pick a spot.  It won't matter where it is....as long as you share it with someone you love. 

Cougar is in Town

Good morning to all...Sorry that I missed yesterday's blog...hopefully some of you missed me!!  LOL...life sometimes just gets in the way! 
Today's blog's title might leave you wondering what the story is about.  Now a day's Cougar has a whole different meaning. 
My cougar is the real, four paw variety.  It is interesting to me how us city folk are perceived as fools or unreliable sources of information.  Here is the story.
One evening I was out doing some chores.  It was around 8 in the evening.  The weather was horrible outside.  It was a real downpour of rain as I traveled westward bound on Dempster Ave. in Morton Grove, Illinois.  I had just crossed over some railroad tracks and began to approach the area where the forest preserves stood on each side of the street....when lo and behold, there in front of me ran this creature.  I had to slow down and take a double look as the- animal stretched it's body across the road.  In three long leaps it was back into the woods.  At first, I couldn't believe my eyes.  It definitely was large.  It definitely was not something familiar.  It was no deer which is the type of animal one might expect in that area.  Too big for a dog.  Way too big for a fox or a coyote.  It's paws were massive and in the dark it was too difficult to really say what it was, but being an artist, and being accustomed to drawing some animals, my first impression was some sort of large predatory cat...lioness or cougar.  I shook my head all the way home. 
When I arrived at home, I called a friend of mine that works at a Natural historic landmark and explained what I had seen.  Her first question to me was whether I had called the authorities.  I paused a moment and questioned what exactly I would say...I thought they would think I was crazy or drunk! 
But I did call and they really did ignore it.  they said that there was no way that such an animal would be in this area.  Perhaps I was mistaken in it's size.  It was probably a large dog.  Well, when the police ignore you, what do you do...I wasn't about to go out hunting to disprove them!
The next day, my friend had told some of the employees where she worked and one in turned later came to show her a newspaper article about a Cougar that had been tracked up near Milton Wisconsin.  The article was quite intensive about this Cougar and its tracking and that it looked as though it was heading in this direction.  I immediately looked up the article and the name of the person responsible for writing it.  I instantly sent an email to that individual, unfortunately with not much luck in return.  He recommended that I contact the DNR.  Well that was the next step on my to do list.  So I contacted someone at the DNR office.  I got the person's voice mail.  I left a very detailed message about what I was reporting that I saw, where it was seen and the date and time.  I left my phone number and name and awaited a call.  Well, I am sure glad I didn't hold my breath.  The call never came. 
I had been dismissed again.  It was amazing to me that these authorities dismissed my report.  I am a very sane individual who could come up with all types of wonderful stories about what I could see in the forest.  Perhaps if I spoke of Leprechauns or fairies, I might be thought loony...but really why and how would I choose a Cougar?
Well, it goes to show you how wrong authorities can be, because later, a few weeks later.  Not far from the location, someone else reported the cougar.  It has since been reported all over the area from Schaumberg to Glencoe and the Skokie areas.  I was just the first and was ignored.  I guess my vision wasn't so blurred after all.  They seem to be migrating in this area and are looking for deer, which is quite plentiful here.  
With this type of predator traipsing through our forest, I don't think I will be taking any walks through the woodlands soon. A warning for us all.  You never know what you might see in the dark, and the shame of it is...the authorities are in the dark about it as well.

The Tastee Freeze Truck

Good morning everyone.  Hope all is going well.  Hope you are able to enjoy what is left of summer...it seems as though it just whizzed by.  
Today's story goes back years and years.  When I was a child, we of course had various types of ice cream trucks go through the neighborhood.   The most recognizable was the good humor truck.   But it was my personal favorite when the Tastee Freeze truck went by.
It was one huge White van with blue writing all over it.  The absolute best part was that it was like an actual ice cream store pulling right up to your front door.  The music rang about a block away, giving you plenty of time to run into the house and ask for money. 
As time went by, I began to notice that the driver of the truck pretty much had his timing down.  He would come about 7 in the evening.  Just after supper had settled down in everyone's stomachs, including the adults.   You could get a swirled cone with both chocolate and vanilla ice cream, an ice cream sundae or banana split, or my personal favorite...a chocolate dipped cone that after the cone had been dipped, the chocolate hardened. 
I remember one Sunday in particular when my cousins were all over and we were outside playing.  We heard the music start to play and ran into the house to ask our grandmother if we could get some ice cream when the truck came.  My grandmother was the sweetest white haired lady you would have ever wanted to meet...she hardly ever said no to anything.  Not because she couldn't....just because she didn't want to.  I understand that so much better these days.   Well, she went into her room and returned to the living room carrying her old brown leather change purse and clicked it open.  She reached inside and pulled out a 50 cent piece.  Now that was not a coin you didn't got to see very often and as kids....that was a lot of money.  She handed it to my eldest cousin and told him that he was in charge of the money to buy us ice cream cones.  We went to sit on the stairs of the front porch to wait for the ice cream truck to arrive in front of our house.
While we were sitting there, my cousin started playing around with the coin.  Twirling it on the sidewalk and tossing it up in the air, and then boom...it fell and he couldn't find it.  A 50 cent piece!  We were all crawling around on our hands and knees looking for the coin as the music from the ice cream truck got louder and louder.  We searched everywhere and couldn't find the coin.  My cousin insisted that it must have rolled underneath the stairs of the house where we couldn't see it.  While we were searching, Grandma came out and questioned what we were all doing on our hands and knees.  With the most pitiful look on my eldest cousins face, he told Grandma what had happened and that we couldn't find the coin.  Bless my grandmothers sweet heart.  She could have easily said that was too bad and taught him a lesson, but that wasn't the type of woman that she was.  She hurriedly went back into the house and returned with another 50 cent piece just as the truck pulled up in front of the house.  I ran up and got the coin and gave her a kiss on her cheek and quickly ran down the stairs to the truck where my cousins were already in line and ordering what they wanted.  I got there with the coin and ordered my chocolate dipped cone and one for grandma too.  I ran back with the cone for her and her change and if you could have seen the smile on her face.  I guess she didn't think she would get something. 
Later, after we were done eating our treats, we went off to play ghosts in the graveyard.  A personal favorite of ours.  And at one point, my cousin had to wipe the sweat off his head from running, and pulled out his handkerchief and something hard hit the ground.  When I looked down, there was the missing coin.  My cousin threated me not to tell anyone or he'd break my arm!  He really scared me, but I knew that what he had done was so wrong.  I couldn't believe he could do something like that to our own Grandmother.  When they went home, I got into bed and was thinking about what had happened and started to cry.  While I was crying, Grandma came in to the room and asked what was happening?  I poured my little heart out even though I knew that the next time my cousins would come over I would get into so much trouble because of it.  Grandma just sat down on the bed and took her violet scented handkerchief out of her pocket and wiped away my tears.  She stroked my blonde hair and told me that it was all right.  She knew that I would never do that to her and that I had just learned a valuable lesson.  I was puzzled by her remark and just gave her a look that she understood...I had no idea what that meant!  But Grandma did....she explained to me that some people, even children can be greedy and steal and cheat...even their own family.  I remember what she told me, and never become one of them.  She then said that she felt sorry for him.  I thought....why would she feel sorry for him...he was 50 cents richer!  But later on, I understood.  Grandma never did question him about that so called lost 50 cent piece....but from then on, I was always the one in charge of any money when the Tastee Freeze truck came along.  I not only got treated with ice cream from time to time, but I was always treated with respect by my Grandmother...and that was worth all the money in the world.

Awoken By a Stranger

It was in the middle of the night.  The room was pitch black and only a light shone through one window from the street light in the street from out front.  Silence permeated the room.  We had just moved into this home not more than a month before.  Everything still seemed new to us.  When we choose the room, I was dissatisfied with the feeling or the energy that the room gave off.  I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but there was something disturbing about it.  That night, I was about to find out why the room seemed so different. 
I had fallen asleep and was in a deep, sound slumber, when suddenly, someone was pushing at my shoulder to wake me up.  My first thought was that it was one of my daughters needed something.  When I turned around, I expected to see a blonde teenager, but instead...there stood an elderly gentleman in a white tee shirt.  He appeared to be about 70 years old or so.  His hair was grey and he was somewhat balding.  I looked at this person....or thing standing at my bed....and believe it or not, I was not in the least bit afraid.  Now in  hind sight it a great thing, because later when I had thought about it...why was I not afraid of a man in the middle of the night waking me up in my own home. 
Now here is where you get to laugh...I looked at him, very causally and told him, please don't bother me tonight, I am too tired.  I then proceeded to turn around and go back to sleep. 
The next morning, as I sat in my dining room drinking my morning coffee, I sat and pondered over what had transpired the night before.  I had wondered whether it was a dream.  Well, I had convinced myself that it must be a dream.  Where was this man?  Who was the mam?  Nothing was missing in the house. All the doors were still locked up tight.  It was a dream, I was sure of it.  Then from down the hallway, I could hear voices coming from my eldest daughters room.  It was my two girls chatting,  and I could hear their conversation.  Very loudly, I could hear the eldest child yell..."You've  got to be kidding?  What did you do?"  Well, that is enough to perk up a mother's ears..I walked toward the bedroom door...and began to hear my youngest daughter speak of this elderly gentleman who had woken her up in the middle of the night.  By this time, I was at the door of the room and now joined in on the conversation.  I asked if she could please repeat her story.  She proceeded to tell me about this elderly gentleman that had shaken her awake duing the night.  I asked her if she could describe him.  She described the exacxt same man I had seen that night as well.  I was now flabbergasted and excited to hear the rest of the story.  When asked what she did, her reply was that she had done exactly the same as I had done. Like mother like daughter! 
That left me to wondering who and what it was.  A ghost?  Hmmm.  At least he wasn't scary like one might perceive.  He was totally visible to both of us.  We wondered who he might have been and what he wanted. 
We live in between the river and a cemetery.  Originally the home we are in was the original farm of this area.  I know that the river was  great for travel as was the street where the cemetery lies.   
I know that he wasn't the only caller that we have had in this house.  He was just the most visible. 
We have had children and women in misty floating gowns.  We all thought perhaps we were seeing and hearing things that just a bump in the night, or perhaps, a figment of our imaginations. But just last week we got a new neighbor.  While we were hanging out talking over the fence...we managed to get into a conversation about the land.  He questioned whether we have had any paranormal experiences because just days before... while he was gardening, the lady in white swooshed past him....he thought that perhaps it was me and questioned his father about it.  His father told him no, that he could hear me speaking in the house.  When we described our lady in a white in her flowing gown...his face almost went white. 
We don't understand who they are or what it is that they may want, but we do know that they are friendly.  I know that I say a prayer for them.  I often wonder about their story.  Did they die on this land?  That is a question that will perhaps never receive an answer...but who knows...maybe someday it will.

The Adventures With Christmas Trees

Good morning to everyone.  You probably looked at the title of today's story and wondered why Christmas trees...tight?  Well, there is no telling where my mind goes in the morning.  today I pondered over what to write about and it just popped into my head. 
Now, I remember as a young child growing up that the last day of school, I would run home because I knew that it was the day that we would decorate the Christmas Tree.  I never really thought about how it got there...just that when I would walk in the door, it would magically be there waiting for me to decorate it with my grandparents.  I never recall ever going for a Christmas tree until much later in life.
When I got married...one of the things I really wanted to do was to go to the woods and chop down a tree.  I can remember one year, we all bundled up and I had organized a group of friends who all thought it would be a great idea to do the same.  We planned on meeting at an IHOP for breakfast and then head out.  I remember arriving there about 6:30 A.M.  and spending almost the entire time in the bathroom.  I was three months pregnant and sicker than a dog.  In fact, I was so sick, I couldn't go on the outing that I had planned.  My husband took me home and had a cousin stay with me.  I insisted he go back to the group and go get us a tree.  I felt terrible that I couldn't go, and since I had planned the whole thing...I felt that one of us needed to be there.  Well, the trip was planned to a farm out in Woodstock, Illinois. The group had a caravan of cars that made the trip out, only the weather was not conducive for cutting down a tree.  It was pouring rain.  Cold, but not cold enough for snow.  My husband caught pneumonia and refused to go chop a tree down ever again. 
Well, two years later, I had convinced him to go again.  this time it was my mother, 2 daughters, my husband and myself.  We trudged through the snow, around and around, until I found the perfect tree. My husband chopped it down and we dragged it to the little shack that was there to warm up in.  I remember that they had these beautiful porcelain Christmas ornaments that I purchased while my husband and the tree keeper tied up the tree to the car. 
That was the last time that we ever went out to chop down a tree.  My husband refused to do it again.  Now, even though I was disappointed that he didn't want the adventure, each year we would find a local vendor on a nearby lot to purchase our Christmas tree..and then would string the popcorn and decorate it.  Each time hanging those porcelain ornaments and fondly remembering that day in the snow. 
Now years went by and one year we had what you could call the Charlie Brown Tree.  Now it didn't start out that way, but on a daily basis...you could hear the sound of rain falling...we would look out the window and nothing. Eventually, we discovered that it was the tree pouring its needles down on the ground.  By the time Christmas came...our tree branches were almost bare.  We never could figure out what was wrong, but that was the last time we had a live tree in the house for Christmas...or so my husband thought. 
It really bothered me that my girls wouldn't know what the smell of the Christmas tree was all about.  So one year, I purchased a 3 foot live Christmas tree and hid it in the outdoor shed until Christmas Eve.  It was customary for us to go out for Christmas Eve and once we returned home, tuck the children into bed and pull out all the wrapped gifts from Santa to place under the tree.  Well, that year, after the children were asleep, my husband got a Christmas surprise.  I told him I had a live tree that I wanted to decorate to surprise the girls with.  I thought he was going to kill me....but he obligingly went to the shed and got the tree.  We quietly decorated it and had it placed in the hallway between the girls bedroom and the dining room.  I had placed a presents under the tree and then created a trail from the small tree through the dining room and into the living room up to the large tree.  I attaching a note on the live tree from Santa to the girls that he thought they deserved a special tree that year from the north pole.  Oh the sound of their squeals when they opened their bedroom door, mad my eyes pop open the next morning.   It took everything I had to not show any expression on my face when they ran into our room and leaped onto the bed with that amazing Christmas excitement.  It was the Christmas tree I will always remember with joy.  They asked if they could keep it in their bedroom.  I told them I am sure that Santa would be pleased.  It was so fun to watch them go from gift to gift through the maze that I had created through the rooms, under the dining room table and around the coffee table, reading whose name was on which gift.  We only once since then had a live Christmas tree, which after 2 hours had to return because I had become severely allergic to it.  I don't believe I was allergic to the tree as much as I was allergic to the chemicals that they sprayed on the tree to preserve it.  Well, we have had our share of trees and now, this year, I have decided to keep a Christmas tree up all year.  I have been decorating it with new things for each month.  For January it was filled with horns and new years hats, for Feb.  it's décor was hearts and red and pink glittered spokes.  For Presidents day it hosted  red white and blue items along with pictures of all the presidents. For March St. Patty items were it's decorations.  At the end of March it changed into bunnies and eggs for Easter.  May it donned hats and flowers for Mothers Day.  In June, it was filled with butterflies and dragonflies.  In July, well the 4th of July was its theme with flags and stars in the traditional colors. Now in August it has flip flop of various colors and red and yellow flowers.  September looks like it may hold apples and leaves and October may bring more leaves and pumpkins and spooks.  November will surely display some pumpkins and pilgrims along with corn.   I will enjoy  the fun for December as I place the holiday mice upon its branches.  It has given me joy throughout the year. 
There is one song that I love that Bing Crosby sings...it is when you trim your Christmas tree...think of me...beside you. It makes me remember the years of trimming the tree with my grandparents, my mother, my children, and my grandchildren  It takes me to place that is filled with love and joy.  There was a time in my life when I would put up 5 trees in my home.  They were all specially decorated....but the most enjoyable one was the one we called the Memory tree.  It was filled with ornaments from all of our lives.  It told a story of each of us and of those who are no longer with us.  It brought such pleasure to look at those ornaments and share the memories of days gone by.   What joy and laughter a Christmas tree can give...that is why I left mine up all year, as a reminder of all that joy.

What It is like working with Alzheimer Patients

Good afternoon,  Sorry that it took so long to get to the blog today.  Lots on my plate and trying to deal with Shingles...really no fun. 
So, today I thought I would touch  on the subject of Alzheimer's.   If you have never encountered someone with this disease, you are fortunate.   This disease robs a person of their Quality of life. 
Now, when I walked in to work today.  I teach art to the residents.  I was met with a very upset resident.  Screaming and yelling that they had no right to keep her there...She has a home and she wanted to leave.  She accused everyone and anyone who would listen of being taken from her home and wanted to back right then and there.  It was so sad to see her so confused.  She yelled and yelled that her son needed to come and take he home.  I assured her that we would call him, but in the mean time, perhaps she would want to do some art with me and the other residents. 
Now I am just the storyteller and art teacher there and have no authority whatsoever...but at one point she came and sat down with me.  Slowly she began to become involved with the clay and stories.  She shared stories about making bread, and stories about her gardening.  This went along quite well.  I was 1uite pleased with her turn around.  She was in such a frenzy in the beginning that I wasn't sure what would happen. 
This seems to be a common occurrence with the residents.  But the moments when you can connect with them is most rewarding.  Something as simple as talking about worms and night crawlers brought back memories for one woman and when she was a child.  The smile and joy on her face was amazing.  She could identify and remember a moment in her life and share it with us.  Another woman remembered have numerous boats in her lifetime and it returned memories of her husband and children. 
They are living in a world where everything current is unidentifiable to them.  They are satisfied with sitting and watching life go by, the leaves on the trees and how gently they move when the wind moved through them.   They are disregarded by some as void, and yet I see them as such innocent angels. 
They can become frustrated with not remembering how to hold a pencil or color an object, yet can at times stand up and recite in entirety a poem from 80 years ago. 
Not all things trigger the same in each resident.  Each one have there own memory triggers, but when you find one, you cannot help but be thrilled with the excitement in their faces.  It is like it is all new to them...as though it just happened yesterday.  It is like finding a hidden treasure chest, only these treasures are their life memories. 
I talk to them while we work, I ask questions about what we are doing.  I ask them about their favorite colors, flowers, trips.  We go back in time with song and movies.  Actors and actresses.  Their hobbies and crafts.  Their parents and grandparents.  It is such an honor to be part of their lives even if tomorrow it is all a blur...in that single moment...they experience a special moment. 
Sometimes I am so elated with the moments and sometimes so sad to see their sadness or disappointments.  I know that God watches over us all...and I pray for them.  For those precious moments that make them feel alive again. 
It is hard when the disease progresses and they can no longer recognize their loved ones.  They longer know where they are.  Their lives are lost somewhere is space. When you think of them...think fondly of the moments they gave in this life.  Some where teachers, lawyers, nurses, moms, dads, accountants and almost every profession you can think of.  They made a difference in many peoples lives.  they were vital, invested human beings who loved and need to be loved back...especially now in this time of fear and forgetfulness.  If you have a moment, volunteer to read, play a game, they may only remember it for the moment you are there, but every moment in life is important.  They are our past...maybe you can be their present, in more ways than one.

Discovering My Voice

Good morning to everyone.  I am enjoying the day so far.  the weather is what I consider perfect here in Chicago Land area.  Sun is shining brightly.  Temps are in the 70's. It couldn't be more perfect!
Well, today's story is discovering my voice.  Now, this could go in a lot of directions.  I will begin with my singing voice.  It all started back when I was in 3rd grade.  I went to Parochial School in Chicago.  Usually we had nuns as our teachers, but in third grade I had a lady teacher.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  She had us lined up in the room...boys on one size and girls on the other.  I am not quite sure why they did this when we were in elementary school...Most of the time, I think so that the girls and boys didn't fraternize.  Silly when I think about it...because as a girl, it only made you want to be by them even more.  But anyway, in this particular time it made sense to divide up the singing voices.  We were being taught a song for Christmas time called "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen".  Now the teacher needed to distinguish the levels of voices.  She determined who was alto, tenor and baritone with the boys, and then determined which of the girls were sopranos, 2nd sopranos and contralto.  Once she had determined who was who she grouped them together.  She considered me a Soprano and placed me in that group.  Now we had practiced the song for quite a bit.  This was one tenacious music teacher.  The reason she was so tenacious was that we were to perform this at the nearby high school called Weber!  Well, my voice has more than one purpose and chatting with friends while she was busy with the boys was one of them.  To my chagrin, she caught me talking and ousted me in front of the class.  She called my name and told mw that if I had enough time to chitty chat that I must know the song and didn't need to pay attention, and perhaps I would like to come up to the front of the class and sing it for everyone.  Well, this teacher had no idea who she was meddling with...even at the tender age of 8, I feared nothing...so I walked straight up to the front of the room and sang the song.  I wish you could have seen her jaw drop.   The class just sort of smirking with that sort of grin that was thrilled it shut her up.  I knew every word and according to the teacher was amazing.  It turned out because of that little stint...I was made the soloist for the song.  She had to rework the music for the class to sing the background.  We performed at Weber High School just a few blocks away from our school and for the first time, I stood up in front of my very first huge audience.  I had finally found my calling.  
It was no strange thing for me to sing.  I did it daily at home.  Even in the summer, I would open the window in the living room and sit on the front porch and sing along with my Shirley Temple albums.  Any one else have them.  Oh, I wish I still had them.  I remember the white clouds on the blue sky in the center of them.  I was sure I would be the next Shirley Temple.  Well, it didn't quite turn out that way, but I did have my days in the spotlight.
I continued to use my voice in Elementary school, I was in the Choir in Church, which when you went to Parochial school was a daily requirement.  I sang more solo's of Ave Maria than I ever cared to.  I was always the soloist when it came to school productions.   When I was a child, I lived with my mom and grandparents, and when my grandfather Joe was dying of cancer, he was at home and went in for treatments.  He had a favorite green chair in the living room where he sat.  As a child I used to sit on the floor next to him as he and I would chat about school and life and when he would get really tired, you could see his coloring in his face start to drain, he would ask me to sing for him.  I remember him always requesting Ave Maria.  I would place my head next to his knee and as he gently stroked my long blonde hair, I sang to him till he fell asleep.  It still makes me cry to even think of those days.  My grandfather was a big, burly type of man and not many people knew how much he loved the opera, and I was able to give him those bits and pieces.  Ave Maria was a significant song in my family.  It was always their requests for funerals.  In fact, I sang it at a candlelight memorial for her. 
When I graduated, I moved on to a Parochial High school.  There I took choral, semi private voice lessons and private voice lessons as well.  This was the only concession to the art that my mother would allow.  I wanted so desperately to take drama and art...but my to my mother, that was a  no no. I was to take business and that was it.  I managed to convince her to let me at least do some outside activities which meant auditioning for plays.  I was able to acquire the leads in all the plays I auditioned for.  In high school plays were always musicals.  I was in heaven.  I not only got to sing, but now I got to act as well. It caused quite a stir in my high school when I got the lead to the school play, becase it was a first that someone who didn't take drama got a lead.  Needless to say, I was not the favorite of co-students.   I was going to move my way up the ladder.  I had always wished that my mother could have seen me in my element, unfortunately her jobs kept her from being able to do that.  I put on my happy face, so as not to let anyone know how disappointed I was after all those performances. 
I went on to becoming an actress..and then got engaged to a man who said I needed to choose one or the other.  So, just when I was going to join the Union, I decided to quit the theater to marry....unfortunately the engagement didn't last, my life moved on and I never went back.  I sang my heart out to my babies, and while I cleaned the house and when I went to church...although that always made every one in the church uncomfortable....because I always sang me heart out.  I think it made them feel like they were supposed to do the same!  I then sang to my grandchildren, one of my favorite joys.  I even wrote a song for the first granddaughter that drove everyone crazy because I sang it to her all the time. I sang it so much that the tune continued to ring through everyone's head long after I was done singing.  I remember singing to a couple of children who were disabled as babies...I used to put their little hands to my throat as I sang to allow them to feel the vibrations.  Years later, when I sang to them, they immediately placed their little hands at my throat.  They remembered! 
Well the years floated by and finally I became a storyteller.  I was now able to include singing into some of the programs.  Acting was second nature as was being on stage.  I had finally found my home.  I loved to look into the eyes of those that I am able to sing to.  I know that I have touched their hearts in some way.  I remember asking God what it is I am supposed to do with this voice He gave me.  I didn't want to squander it away by not using it.  I guess God's plans aren't always what we think they should be.   God manages to always keep me guessing.  And I guess for now...I am using my voice in a variety of ways. I am able to use my voice in storytelling and in singing as well.  I managed to get the best of both worlds. 
So thanks to that 3rd grade teacher.  I bet she never knew how that single moment changed my life. 
  

Comic Books in the Good Old Days

Good morning to everyone.  Today promises to be a great day.   Once again in the Chicago land area...Sun is shining and the temperatures are going to be in the mid 70's.  Happy to have this type of weather.  What a relief from last year. 
Well, today's story is about comic books.  I can remember being a child back in the 50' and into the 60's and reading comic books.  Now.  somehow, I didn't connect comic books with reading.  For me it was the entertainment factor.  I can remember sitting on the front porch on the swing, using them on a long drive in the car, or laying in my bed as my companion for the evening. 
In my early days, it was Little Lulu,  Dot, Richie Rich, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Sad Sack and then came Archie.    Now I  know that there were many more.  And when Superman came out that was all the rage...which began the comic books about all the superhero's. 
I remember living in the Cragin area of Chicago.  That was near Fullerton and Laramie,  Chicago is so big that that it  named sections of it with a name to identify the spot.  Well, on Fullerton Ave.  there was a store that bought the old comics.  I remember after having read them about a zillion times, walking down to the store to sell them, and then I would cross over Fullerton Ave. to the Drug Store called Rudzinski's to buy a new one with the money I got from selling the old ones.  I remember walking into the store and heading straight for the magazine aisle.  I then would spend time searching through the variety of comics, wishing I could buy more, making my selection and headed to the counter to pay. 
I would be so excited with my new purchase it seemed like the longest walk home ever.    I remember that when I got sick, my mom or grandmother would buy me a comic book as a present while I was recuperating.
As time progressed on I continued with the Archie comics.  they seemed to be the comic book that never went out of style.  It eventually went from the standard size comic book to small compact versions.  I still find them on the magazine racks in the grocery stores.  But that is the only one I see.  I still buy them from time to time.  I have stacks and stacks of them.  We actually keep them in the bathroom as a pickup and quick read sort of thing.  I keep them in the bathroom cabinet.  Funny how someone in their 50's and 60's still find enjoyment with a teen comic book. 
The one thing I know is, Archie seems to be identifiable.  How many girls out there can identify with Betty.  She  is the all American girl who wants the boy....but the other girl wins over.  Veronica, is the rich girl who from time to time gets taught lessons from Betty.  Her Father may lavish her with money and gifts, but still wishes she would learn the values of life. 
And then they put in Jughead...well now there is a character who everyone can identify with.  The odd one.  The guy who walks to the beat of his own drum, yet everyone likes him.  Dillon is the smart one who everyone acknowledges as the brains.  There is Moose...the big dumb jock...who has a temper about his girlfriend Midge and makes no bones about protecting his territory.  There is also Reggie who is the planner, the blackmailer, the guy who always wants to get the girl and get the guys in trouble.  My goodness...in life each character is identifiable.  The story lines change, the clothes become updated, but the basic personalities are all so identifiable to us all. 
The thing I look back on today is that while the comic books were our form of entertainment, it did another thing for me, and I would imagine everyone else in those times, was that it taught us the enjoyment of reading.  It taught us about story plots. 
I look around today, and seeing a child ask for a comic book is not the standard any more.  I think that it is a shame that more children don't use comics as a form of entertainment.  Life has be taken over by Electronics.  That is their entertainment.  In my day, it was the tool to learning to read.  It was the catalyst that beckoned you to sit down and turn the pages.   
When I look back in time, I think that reading began early in a child's life because of comics.  I have spoken to a number of educators and they feel that reading skills have declined.  There are still classic books, and even new series that might entice a child to read...but the skills and desire need to be there first.  I  know that for me...my reading advanced to Nancy Drew books and Classics.  I then moved on and continued to read all genres of books.  But still Archie will beckon me and I will take a comic book, read it and still enjoy it like those days of long ago.  It is a shame that when I walk down the aisle of a drugstore or a magazine area of a store and there are a hundreds of magazines on everything know to man, but no longer anything to draw a child there.  No longer do you see a comic book. 
You need to go to a bookstore and you may find one or two...but not for the young children.  Something to be said about the good old days! Were comics a big part in your childhood?  What comics did you read?  share them with me and my readers.  I would love to hear about them!

A Trip to House on the Rock

Good morning to all my friends out there.  Hope you are enjoying this cooler weather if you are here in the Chicago land area.
Well, todays story begins many years ago.  I believe 35 years ago, in fact. 
I had decided to take a trip with my husband and daughters to the House on the Rock in Wisconsin.  When I told my mother about what I had heard about the place she asked if we wouldn't mind going on a Monday...her day off, and if she could come and bring a friend.  We of course said yes. 
Well, since it is about a 3 1/2 hour drive from where we lived, we left at 6 in the  morning with plans to stop for breakfast on the way.  My mother also decided to bring a grand-nephew along.  He was 5 years old and so with that many people, we drove 2 cars.  Now, once we had reached Wisconsin, my mother decided that she needed to stop for a bathroom break, so we pulled into a gas station.  My mother and her friend got out of the car and went in to get the key...her friend went in first and returned to the car while my mother was using the facilities.  The next thing we knew...my mother came flying out of the bathroom straight to her car and motioned for us to hurry and leave.  We couldn't imagine what in the world was wrong.  Never thinking she had not returned back into the gas station to return the key...we just started the engine and followed her.  We got about a mile down the road and motioned for her to pull over.  When she pulled over, I got out of the car to find out what was wrong.  She was laughing so hard I could barely understand her.  She said that she had put the key on the top of the toilet and upon turning and flushing, her purse hit the key and it flushed down the toilet.  Only my mother!  Her and her gigantic purse!  It was like a cartoon at times. 
Well, we continued onto the House on the Rock.  If you have never visited it...it truly is a spectacular outing.  There is the house that was built into a boulder using nature as its inspiration.  Truly an amazing tour.  As much as the house was a spectacular sight, it's museum was even more amazing.  What a magical journey.  From room to room you were dazzled with the most amazing sites from butterfly collections, to walks of yesteryear, to an orchestra all played by electronics.  Doll collections and hand carved carousel was just a few of its wonders. 
We spent the entire day there.  When it was time to return home, we decided to stop and eat dinner along the way. 
We pulled into a quaint little family type restaurant.  We all started to look through the menus when my mother turned to her great nephew and began to read off the children's menu to him...he just kept saying no to everything. 
He just didn't seem to be hungry...which was no surprise to me since he had been eating junk all day long. 
My mother finally turned to him and asked whether he would like an ice cream sundae...he responded "can't I have one today?"  It was Monday you see...and he got a little confused.  We never let him forget that cute remark. 
Well, we finally arrived home about 10 P.M.  that evening, exhausted of course. 
But we retuned with a bevy of stories, beautiful memories and laughter from a day of mishaps and comical occurrences. 

Are You My Mother?

Well, good morning to you all.  Hope your day is great.  I want to thank you for visiting and taking time to read my blog.  Blogging is an interesting way of journaling, meditating, reflecting and getting inspiration.  I use it for all of those reasons.  Hopefully, my writing skills will grow and I will finally write the books that I would like to pen.  Funny how we would use that phraseology to writing, since these days everything is on a computer. 
Anyway, on to my story.  If you haven't guessed...it is a story about my mother and myself.  Growing up in the city of Chicago, I was the only child of a so-called divorced family.  My mother and I lived with my Grandparents.  Now my mother had to go to work to support me and herself.  She and I were very fortunate to have had a roof over our heads and food on the table, not to forget to mention, live in baby sitters. 
It was often confusing recognizing my mother as actually my mother.  She worked so many hours, that I hardly ever got to see her.  The Big trips were the memories that stuck in my head, the moments that I got to work with her for her job were the others.  But the everyday, mundane moments, which in actuality were not all that mundane...belonged to my grandparents, especially my grandmother.  She was really who I considered my mom.  It was the day in and day out sort of life that makes that feeling occur in a child.  It isn't the gifts or the good times.  It was the lessons learned, the tasks assigned, the skinned knees that got washed and got Band-Aids put on.  The sharing of meals, etiquette, stories shared, nighttime monsters chased away.  It was the days of illnesses, the comfort of someone who listened to the boy that broke your heart.   For me, unfortunately, my mother was not part of that equation.  She was the one who paid for the private schools, paid for the singing lessons, paid for the pretty clothes and shoes.  My mother made sure that I never lacked for anything...except for the ability to be there for the times a child needed a mom!  Now, don't misunderstand, I don't fault her now for her lack of appearances, but while I was growing up...I sure did! 
I even used to look at pictures of myself and my aunt and think that somehow perhaps something happened and I was really my aunts daughter.  We even had the same sort of health issues. When I got married, even my mother -in-law used to question whether I really came from my family, because my demeanor was so different.  I really questioned it...Are you really my mother?
But today, many years later, it is obvious that she indeed was my mother. I look just like her know...it is that..."oh my, is that my mother in the mirror" sort of thing! 
I always felt different from all the rest of the children.  They all seem to have what appeared to be normal families.  I on the other hand didn't!  I missed out a lot on special events, because I either didn't have a father, or my mother was at work for the mother - daughter events.  But I was grateful for my grandmother.  She was a very important part of my growing up.  I often sit back today and ponder back on how different it really was.  I listened to Dean Martin, Perry Como and Bing Crosby...just some of grandma's favorites.  My own record albums were handed down from my 10 year older cousin...so I listened to Doris Day, Paul Anka, Ricky Nelson instead of the Beatles, Herman's Hermits and whoever else was popular at the time.  Instead of going to concerts, I went to the theater and saw musicals.  My life was very different, but at the same time...so wonderful.  I got to experience so much more because of it. 
As years went by and I married, my children grew and a daughter had a little girl and well, history somewhat repeated itself.  There I was raising this wonderful, precious small child.  She may have been my granddaughter, but truly was my child in every sense of the word.  I finally began to understand how my mother and grandmother must have felt.  I know that this little girl looked up to me as her mom.  I was there for those first few years...and my being older...gave me such an advantage!  I understood that cleaning the house wasn't as important as sitting on a swing and reading a book.  I knew the importance of working with her everyday and building skills that she would carry through for the rest of her life.  And my poor daughter...for those years, she worked hard at trying to secure a life for herself and her daughter as my mother did for me.  Now let me tell you...there were many tense moments that occurred because of this relationship, as I am sure now there must have been between my own mother and grandmother. 
What I do know is that as I have grown older, I understand the sacrifices. 
When my mother passed away...I was on the other side of the country.  My mother was in the hospital in Nevada and I was in South Carolina with my daughter who had just had a baby and her life was in danger for the next 6 weeks due to complications with the pregnancy and birth.  My mother passed away the same week my granddaughter was born.  It was a horrible time for everyone.  I know that one night I went out on the porch of my daughter's home and sat on the rocking chair.  I cried my heart out.  It wasn't because of my mother having died, but because I couldn't recall any memories of her.  Not the real, deep, intimate kind. My grandmother just kept coming to my mind.  I was so angry and mad all over again.  My heart was so broken.  My mother's wishes were to be cremated, and since she had already passed, I didn't need to rush across the country.  I planned a memorial for her much later in the year. 
What I did do is ask for her friends to write me a letter or note about my mother.  I had months to contemplate what they had shared and re-evaluate our lives together as mother and daughter.  I was grateful  for the time to reflect on the things I had written...It was a real revelation to me.  My mother was human after all.  I finally began to understand why she did all those things that I disliked her for.  She was a scared, frightened woman.  She seemed so tough on the exterior, but was a mess inside.  She had dreams just like we all do, but hers tuned into nightmares and she was trying to make sure my life didn't turn out the same.  She was protecting me.  It wasn't until her death that I found out who my mother really was.  I have looked back every day since she is gone, finding more and more answers about her. 
Four years later, I received a few of her belongings.  It was like opening a diary.  It told so much about her.  The colors of her costume  jewelry told me her favorite colors. this was one of the things I lamented over not knowing,   Not to mention her style!  The women's earrings were all hoops..wide and big hoops!  But the thing that really shocked me was all the things that she had held onto through the years that I had made for her.  It was almost like a Hallmark commercial, you might know the one...where the parents are moving and the girls find their fathers cards that he kept through the years.  That was how it felt to see all the things my mother kept.  It spoke volumes to me.  She never verbalized any feelings about anything.  She kept it all wrapped up inside.
The hardest thing I had to face in my mothers death was that when she was cremated...her so called husband never even gave her a proper container.  I received her ashes in a plastic bag.  So, as decorative painter, I painted her a final resting place.  I painted a wooden jewelry box with a special golden heart with a rose in the middle. This rose was significant because the last conversation I had with her was that she was a great grandmother again and that my daughter had given her daughter the middle name of Rose, the same as my mothers.  
When my mother and I spoke, I always questioned her about coming home.  Her response was always....someday!  Even when we looked for a house, I always looked for one with an extra room on the main floor so that when the time came, she would have an easily accessible room.  Well, the someday...finally arrived.  My mother now has a place of honor in my home.  I get to know that she is finally at peace. 
I didn't realize how much she really had done for me...oh not in the things that she bought through the years, but her actions had made me into the woman I have become.  I am strong!  Stronger than I ever thought I could be.  It has helped me to get through some pretty tough times, on many levels. But it also taught me to share who I am.  She taught me to open the doors for others to see.  I don't ever want my family or friends to not know the real me.  My favorite color or my favorite flower.  I want them to know the whole me, both the strong and the weak.   
So in the end, I suppose that even though I didn't think she had played a big part in my life, I realize now, that she truly did.  It is hard to accept that it took this many years to sit down and be able to appreciate it.  All I can say now is Thanks MOM and pray that she hears it. 
So, if I were to give any advice to anyone..it would be to try to take a moment and look at your mom, and then look at yourself.  Ask the question...Are you my MOM?  and then find the true answers.

Kiddie Land...Thanks for the Memories

Good morning to all my wonderful followers and all you new readers.
Today's blog I thought would take us back to childhood.  If you lived in the Chicago Land area like I did, you would probably by familiar with Kiddie Land in Melrose Park on North Ave and First.   
I remember going there as a very young child.  Kiddie Land was the ultimate in amusement parks for young children.  The rides were geared to the younger children.  I remember going there with my mother.  What a wonderful treat that was.  When you drove near the huge candy striped pole with the kids hanging  on it,  it just about made me jump out of my skin with excitement.   I remember the first thing that I always wanted to do was to ride the train.  It was big enough that an adult could sit in it.  It took you all around the park.  You went around and there were different things for you to see, but the biggest excitement came towards the end of the ride when you would go through this long aluminum tunnel and everyone would yell or scream.  The sound reverberated and it was such a thrill  just being part of it.  Then it was onto the merry go round.   I remember making sure to get on the horse that would go up and down.  It was surrounded by a metal spiral gate.  As you went around and around , you anxiously looked for you parent to wave to.   The one vivid memory I had of the park was the boats...it is sort of funny when I think back on it now, but back then, I was a child, I was  afraid of getting into the boat for fear that I might fall into the water.  When I became an adult, I would look at the water which might have been about 8 inches deep...made me laugh like crazy.  I remember riding around and around in the boat and pulling on the rope to ring the bell.   It sure didn't take a lot to amuse us...now did it.  I remember back then, in the 50's, you needed to purchase tickets to be able to ride anything.  there were the games to play and of course the treat of cotton candy. 
I remember years later when I became a teenager...I used to be taken there on dates.  We would go into the arcades room and play the skeet ball for the tickets and of course my dates would try to win the stuffed animals for me. We would ride the Bumper cars and of course, the tilt a whirl.  After we went there, we would go near by and go-carting!  It was a real different experience to go there when I was a teenager. 
Years had gone by and when I had children of my own, we returned for days at Kiddie Land.  We would take the girls on all the rides from the rocket ships that you could face each other and shoot away with the attached guns or the mini roller coaster just for kids.  As they grew older they advanced to the Ferris Wheel and bumper cars as well...but their favorite was the roller coaster named the Little Dipper.  They would ride that over and over.  They extended the ride section by then and put in this rocking ship that took you way up into the air from one side to the other.  I remember the first time going on with them...I literally thought we might fall out.  I wouldn't believe there was even such a ride, non the less that children could ride it.  I looked over at my daughters who were in the middle and they were just laughing and having a grand old time!  Next to that ride was the old time jalopies that ran on a course.  It was always fun to watch them ride that with their father.  There was the octopus...that was one ride that I really avoided like the plague, but my girls loved it.  It was never just a couple of hour visit to Kiddie Land...It was an all day adventure. 
I even recall taking the Girl Scouts there as an outing.  It was a real test in stamina on that day. 
More years had passed and now Kiddie Land had wrist bands that you could purchase so that the kids could ride all day long.  That was an expensive entrance..Entry was $23 for adults and $20 for children ages 3-5 before 5pm, $3 less after 5pm.  This seemed a little steep to me until I noticed that children under 3 are free, you could get $3-off coupons at Jewel and beverages were FREE!  What a nice touch, especially on a hot day!  And how refreshing to not spend an arm-and-a-leg to get in, only to be nickel-and-dimed-to-death on consumables while inside.
.   It was amazing to sit on the same train with my granddaughters some 40 years later as we went around the circle on tracks.  As I rode the train with them, I could view all the changes....The building around there had grown 3 times the size.  They were packed in next to each other.  You could now view the malls around the area.  So different than when I was a child.  But the excitement was the same.  By now they had added a gym-like area.  The children could climb on these army like ropes and play.  I faced the boat ride now with laughter as I placed them into them and instructed them to ring the bell.  Life at Kiddie Land had made a complete circle.  From me to my daughters to my granddaughters.  If that property could talk...it would speak of much happiness and joy, laughter and occasional tears.  It was a comfortable place to be.  It was the highlight of the summer to go there and see the smiles on the children's faces.  We walked every inch of that land many times over.  We met Clifford the Dog there with our grandchildren.  We experienced it all.  I awaited the time that perhaps I would be able to take Great Grandchildren there...but alas, Kiddie Land was closed.  We hoped that it would be bought and reopened, but unfortunately, it was bulldozed to the ground in 2010.  A Costco now stands where this historic amusement park once stood and entertained children for decades.  I feel like Bob Hope in the end here when I say...Kiddie Land...Thanks for the Memories".

The Day My Daughter Disappeared

Good morning to all.  Hope the weekend was great. It is  hard waking up to a Monday and know that the work week begins.  Today, my granddaughter begins her first day of school...preschool...but non the less, school.  A special day!
Well, onto my blog for the day.  As I sat and pondered what to write about today, one particular late afternoon came to mind.
This happened many moons ago.  My children were 7 and 8 years old at the time.  My 7 year old daughter was going to make her Holy Communion.  It was the day before. 
I was busy cleaning house and cooking.  Getting all the preparations ready for the next day.  My mother was over and helping we with every thing.  When I have a party, you can guarantee, it has always been a big thing!  This day in particular, was going to be a long day!   I would begin with coffee and coffee cakes, then move into appetizers and then into a lunch which later would turn into a dinner.  I had always prepared all the food myself...working days before the event.  
Now, at one point in the late afternoon, my daughter had her friend from a couple of houses down over to play.  Well, when it got closer to dinner time, my mother offered to take us out to dinner.  She said that I had worked so hard that I deserved a break.  I was ecstatic to have the time out, so I told my daughter it was time that the neighbor girl went home. 
Now as crazy as this may sound, the kids were in the habit of walking the other kid home.  My daughter said she would walk her home and be right back.  Let me remind you the girl lived 2 doors away.  Well, 10 minutes went by, then 20 minutes went by, and I began to get aggravated with my daughter, thinking she was dilly dallying around.  I sent my other daughter there to bring her home.  Well, my eldest daughter went and returned saying she wasn't there.  Now, that is not what any parent wants to hear. 
I thought the kids must be playing a joke of some sort, so I ran out of the house, angrier than a bull dog, and right to the house.  To my surprise that mother and I checked all of her house and she was nowhere to be found.  Now the pure panic set in.  Could she have been grabbed walking home?  It was only 2 doors away.  I frantically started my way back home looking into each parked car on the street.  Horrible thoughts began to cloud my mind as I raced up the front steps yelling for my husband and mother.  I quickly explained the situation...simply....my daughter had disappeared.  We frantically each took off, down the streets each taking a direction and screaming out her name.  I was sick to my stomach.  How could something like this happen.?  You hear things like this but it could never happen to me.!  But there I was searching frantically for my child.  I knew that the next step was to call the police.  As I raced back home to use the phone I opened the front door and ran through the living room, through the dining room and mid run, I heard something!  A small giggle.  I stopped dead in my tracks to find my daughter under the dining room table between the chairs.  The table cloth had somewhat been a shield for her "Joke".  I was so ecstatic to see her...to be honest, I didn't know what to do...spank her or hug her!!  I called my family back in off the streets.  I am not quite sure how long of a lecture she was given, and the next day was her Communion, so I couldn't enforce a punishment for then, but the day after and for the next week, she was grounded!  The girls were never allowed to walk each other back to their homes.  I learned to watch them walk themselves down to their house.  It was a lesson for me.   My racing thoughts and pounding heart was enough to know that I never wanted to go through that sort of fear ever again. 
I am sure for years when we tell stories about our children and they want to cringe because we are telling the story....well, this was the story of all times for this daughter.  She heard it many times over.  Although I must admit there were many times more that caused my heart to stop or break over her...but this was the one that was the lesson of a lifetime for me.   

Garfield Goose

Good morning to all.  Hope all is well with everyone. 
Today's story is about Garfield Goose.  How many of you in cyber land remember that show?  I believe, if I am correct, it came on at about 4:30 in the afternoon here in Chicago land area on WGN TV. 
The host of the show was Frazier Thomas  and of course Garfield Goose.  Now, for those of you who may not know of Garfield Goose...he was a puppet.  It was the show that gave me an interest in puppetry.  I had a suitcase full of every kind of puppets.   Well, there was a castle like wall set up between Frazier Thomas and Garfield and they would do a routine.  Sometimes Garfield would get so flustered and upset.  It was hilarious.  Now, the whole show wasn't just about a puppet...their routines  were the lead into cartoons.  Cartoons like Mighty Mouse, The funny company, Clutch Cargo, Frosty the Snowman, Susie Snowflake, Hardrock, Cocoa and Joe, along with so many more.  They are still so vivid in my mind.  The Susie Snowflake song has been handed down through the years as a soft, sweet memory, and I'm Hardrock, I'm  Cocoa, I'm Joe song had rung through my head on numerous occasion.  At the craft faire where I am Mrs. Claus, these are  3 employees who  dress up from time to time as the characters and even had Tshirts made with the individual characters on them.  It is a song that has managed to survive through the years.  A classic.  A Christmas time memory that keeps on giving. 
There were other character puppets on the show as well.  There was Romberg Rabbit,  with an occasional "guest"  Macintosh Mouse, Christmas Goose who was Garfield's nephew who seemed to show up during the holidays, Beauregard Burnside III, chief of the Secret Service he was usually awoken by yelling into his ear "Hot Dogs! Hamburgers! Spaghetti and Meatballs!, and Mama Goose, who hailed from Goose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada and held a purple belt in karate. On occasion, Ali Gator would show up to scare everyone .At times, Frasier Thomas would have phone conversation with the unseen and unheard Mrs. McGillicuddy.  There was also Thomas' Jaw's harp which drove Garfield crazy whenever he heard it.
I later found out that Garfield was the creation of Frasier Thomas and had gotten his name of Garfield from an area telephone prefix.  Remember those?
Now a goose didn't speak...so Garfield would tap his beak on a typewriter to tell Frasier what he was trying to convey.  Sometimes, Romberg Rabbit would whisper into Frazier's ear to help him out as well. 
Whatever and whoever the case may have been.  The Garfield Goose show was a staple in almost everyone's home.  It was a show that at least in my day, sparked the imagination.  It lead me to collect puppets.  It inspired me to have puppet shows.  I remember putting up a curtain on a curtain rod between the doors and having carefully laid our all those puppets on the floor, I would devise a show for my family and friends to watch.  Sometimes I did it for the pure pleasure of playing. 
Years went by and when my cousin had children, I gave the puppets to them.  I never got them back.  I think about them often.  I regret not having held onto them. 
Now even more years have gone by, and being a storyteller...I now have puppets again.  Each time I get to use them, all those old memories flood back to me.  Only now, I use a rooster with a piece of Velcro in its mouth with a large fake diamond button to help me tell a story.  I have a great big red dragon, a spider hand puppet that I use as well as a tiny chipmunk.  I love to incorporate these into my telling when I am doing stories for the young children.  I often wonder when there are parents and especially grandparents there...how much memories it brings back to them. 
It was a sad day when Garfield goose went off the air.  I miss the shows that invoke the imagination.  There are plenty of cartoons today for kids to view, but Garfield was like a touchable friend that came into your home each afternoon.  Unfortunately, there are not even copies of the show to see.  The only ones that are available are the ones from the 80's.  I guess the only place Garfield will remain for those of us lucky enough to have seen them, is in our hearts and  in our memories. 
 
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