FIFTY LIFE QUESTIONS

WHAT KIND OF HOUSE DID I LIVE IN AS A CHILD?

I was born in and grew up in a two bedroom white bungalow house.  There was a full attic and basement, both unfinished.

I was the fourth child born, we were all two to two and a half years apart.   The bedroom my sisters and  I shared was the larger of the two and was furnished with two iron frame double beds,a chest of drawers, a dresser and two night stands.   We each had our name on the side of which drawers were ours.  It was six and a half years after I was born that my youngest sister came into our lives.

The bedrooms with a bathroom between them and a small linen closet was on one side of the house.  The other side was kitchen and breakfast nook with a swinging door to formal dining room and  an archway connecting the living room.

There was a one car garage behind our house but we didn’t have a car.  That came many years later.  My sister and I used to play house in  the garage.  We marked rooms with chalk and even pretended it was a two story flat with her upstairs and myself down.  We even drew in stairs along one side. Curtains were hung in the window and door window and we used wagons, boxes and anything we could find to use as furniture.

Our basement had a large coal burning furnace with took up most of the floor space.  In each corner opposite the furnace were two rooms, one the coal bin and the other a fruit cellar.  On the other side of the furnace was my dad’s workshop outfitted with all hand tools.  The stairs were in the middle and my mother’s washing machine was on  the other side.  During the winter months a clothes line was stretched from the wall by her washer to the wall between the coal bin and pantry.  I always thought the basement to  be a scarier place and would run up the stairs as if someone was chasing me.

The attic with windows on every side was my favorite place to be.  Everything was stored there, such as my mother’s wedding gown, other old clothing in a cedar chest and the big black trunk from my father’s homeland.  It was a place to escape to and dream.  There were old books, pictures, always something to find and nooks to explore.

Many years later the basement was made into a rec room after the furnace was replaced with gas heat.   Of course there was no need for the coal bin and that gave more space.  Mom had an automatic washer and dryer and in place of old furnace area there was a ping pong table.

But the attic stayed the same.  When it was time to move my mother out I revisited the attic  and found myself back in time exploring nooks and crannies, rediscovering the past.  My favorite place.

 

 

FIFTY LIFE QUESTIONS

WHAT IS MY BEST ADVICE

As I have aged I have gone through many challenges and decisions.  I have made my mistakes but have always tried to learn from them, what would be called a “teachable moment”.

Be true to yourself.  Stand up for what you believe in, while respecting others.  Believe in yourself that you are worthy and love yourself for who you are, recognize your faults as well as your assets, own who you are.  Know that others may not always agree with you or like you, learn to be comfortable with that.

Be honest and trustworthy.  If you are not you are only cheating yourself.  This does not mean insulting others, always try to be diplomatic and respectful.  Do not have others lose their trust in you, it can be difficult to regain.

Be fair and consistent.  Treat others fairly,  this does not mean equally as each decision may require different outcomes.  Say what you mean and mean what you say.

 

 

 

FIFTY LIFE QUESTIONS

HOW WERE HOLIDAYS CELEBRATED IN YOUR FAMILY

As I am preparing for the Christmas holidays I always remember Christmas as the Four F’s; Family, Friends, Food and Festivity.  This was true of all the holidays we used to celebrate.  However, of all the holidays Christmas was by far the most elaborate.

We always had a fresh pine Christmas tree which was put up the week before Christmas.  There we no mini lights then so we had strings of the larger lights and very traditional ornaments, red rope and tinsel finished off the decorations.  My mother always bought five ropes of red cinnamon candy which was wrapped around the tree, sometimes popcorn balls and candy canes.  We would get these treats when the tree came down.  Something we kids looked forward to.

My sisters and I used to play games involving the Christmas tree, such as trying to guess which ornament we were looking at, sometimes when pointing out the ornament it would fall and break which brought a loud TSK from mom.  We all bought gifts for each other, they were wrapped and placed under the tree which always added to the excitement and anticipation for Christmas morning.

I remember Christmas Eve dinner as mom preparing all kinds of fish, we followed the Catholic tradition of no meat on the eve.  In later years meat was allowed on Christmas Eve and our menu changed with it.  Lasagne, chicken, ham, sausage, salads, cookies and chocolate pie.

Mom kept up the tradition of the Four F’s for decades ending when she announced she was not physically able to continue.  Then my siblings and myself picked up the celebration.  Today I prepare Christmas Eve celebration with my children and grandchildren with a modified menu my mother set and I hope my family will have the fond memories of Christmas that I still remember.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Healthy Happy New Year.

FIFTY LIFE QUESTIONS

DID YOU HAVE ANY CHORES GROWING UP?  WHAT WAS LEAST FAVORITE?

When I was as young as four my chore was to do dusting.  Mostly all the low areas, table legs, chair rungs, etc.  I couldn’t wait to move up to other chores like my sisters did such as changing sheets.

As I got older chores did change.  My sisters and I would rotate cleaning up after dinner; one would clear the table which included scrapping plates for garbage (no garbage disposals at that time) and sweeping the floor, another would wash the dishes, this included heating a large pot filled with water to wash the dishes as we did not have an automatic water heater.  The dishes were rinsed with cold running water and placed on sink counter for the next one to do their job of drying the dishes and putting them away.

We often fooled around during clean up time and were reminded by our parents to get busy.

So to answer the second part of question, to this day I’m not a fan of dusting, it just keeps coming back.  I also hated washing the dishes and pots and pans because the water cooled rapidly and I did not like the cold water rinse.  However, I remember fondly the time my sisters and I got silly, laughed and sometimes argued over whose turn it was to do a specific chore.

FIFTY LIFE QUESTIONS

DESCRIBE A TYPICAL FAMILY DINNER

We were a family of seven and we always ate dinner together.  Our dinner hour was based on my father’s work day.  He was a factory worker, rising at three or four each morning so our dinner hour was usually four in the afternoon.  Saturday and Sundays were different as we ate our dinner early afternoon.

Another factor in our dinner time was based on my mother’s work day.  She was a homemaker as were most of the mothers during that era.  As the rhyme goes. Monday she washed the clothes early and hung them up to dry, Tuesdays she ironed the clothes, (no drip dry), Wednesday’s she baked, Thursday’s she shopped and Friday’s she cleaned from top to bottom.  So four of those five days our meals were rather routine, we always knew what day of the week it was by our dinner that night.  But, the other three days of the week we knew we would have something different and  tasty.

Sunday dinners are the most memorable to me for many reasons.  For one thing my father was well rested as his work week was Monday through Friday.  Sunday’s were truly a day of rest and we looked forward to our largest meal of the week.  

Our Sunday menu started with pasta, usually spaghetti with red sauce;  a meat entree of either roast beef or pork with roasted carots and potatoes; or roasted  chicken with mashed potatoes and corn or peas; always a tossed salad; dessert of cake or jello with sliced bananas.

But what I remember most about our Sunday meal was my Dad’s stories.  As kids we were quick to eat, often just eating quickly, and like most children we wanted to hurry and go out to play.  My father, however, captured our interest with stories of his youth, or his voyage to America, or when he met my mother.  My father was not in any hurry to complete his meal, he started a story, paused to take a bite of his food, chewed slowly then gave us the next line or two of his story.  We were impatient to hear the story without all the pauses, but he kept us at the table to hear more and ask our questions.

I don’t know if his story telling style was by design or not but it worked in keeping us at the table until he was finished with his meal.  Each of us probably remember his stories a little differently, as my mother would sometimes interupt him with her take on how the story should go.  

This is one of the most memorable family times  I have, a good meal I took for granted, good stories I still remember and  precious family time I now appreciate more than ever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

50 LIFE QUESTIONS

 WHAT IS YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY

There are several outstanding things I remember.  My mother was a great baker, she baked twice a week Wednesdays and Saturdays. She made pies, cream puffs and light fluffy cakes.  The baking she did on Wednesdays were my favorite, it was just me and my mother, my three older siblings were all in school so I must have been three or four.

I didn’t help her bake but got to watch, I especially liked her cakes, maybe that’s why cake is my favorite dessert to this day.  Mom didn’t have an electric mixer, it was all done by hand.  She would sift the flour several times, the sifter had a hand crank on the side.  Sometimes she measured and other times she just knew how much to add.  Once all the ingredients were together in the bowl, then she would hand beat the batter, I remember her saying this was her exercise.  I’m sure the lightness of her cakes was the skill in which she could beat that batter.  Into the greased and floured cake pans then into the oven.  The cake pans had a narrow metal bar that lay flat from the center of the pan with a small tab along the rim of the pan.  This turned 360 degrees around the bottom of the pan once the cake was baked to help loosen it.  I was always fascinated by this.

My mother prepared the frosting pretty much the same way, sifting the sugar and beating by hand til it was the right consistency.

After the cake was cooled and frosted there was always some icing left in the bowl.  That’s what I waited for.  My mother always gave me the bowl and told me not to tell my sisters I got to lick the bowl.  I remember watching my sisters come home from school and probably thought it was a good idea to deny having licked the icing bowl, so I said, “I didn’t lick the bowl.”  

And that is one of my earliest memories.

50 LIFE QUESTIONS

Question:  What fads do you remember from your youth.

There were two specific fads I remember well.  Both were when I was in Junior High (Middle School).  One started with three girls who started to wear gray confederate caps.  They wore them throughout the day, in every class.  Within the week there were at least double the girls wearing these caps and soon just about everyone began buying and wearing these caps, boys as well as the girls.

I did not participate in this fad only because I didn’t have the $2.00 to buy the cap and my parents did not indulge me my giving me the $2.00.  There were a few of us who did not have this cap, probably for the same reason.

I don’t remember how long the fad lasted, probably only that semester but, to a young teenager it seemed to last forever of which I was not a part of  but, these many years later can appreciate not being a participant.

The other fad that I did participate in was having a lightweight white jacket.  I think I got one for my birthday and then with a permanent black ink pen, friends, classmates and anyone you could get signed your jacket.  It was cool to have your jacket covered with signatures.  I loved it, but my older sister thought I ruined a good jacket.