Saturday, June 8, 2013

Before Costco - There Was Daddy

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Long before there were the big box stores
Daddy bought in bulk.
He was the careful shopper and loved every minute of it.
(one of my boys is like this)

Mom did not drive, so, weekly we went down to the corner grocery store.
They did not ask you "paper or plastic".
Instead, purchases were loaded into cardboard boxes,
the flaps turned up to make more room and then when it was all packed in,
the "boy" would tied string around the top to hold the flaps and the groceries in.

Sometimes prices were marked on the items in a purple ink and
the checker would call out the price as he punched it into the register.
It was amazing to me that he knew every price without even looking for it.

It was not unlikely that if string beans were on sale that Daddy would
buy a case. Or tomato sauce, or crackers, or toilet paper and so on.

After he retired from bus driving at the age of 51, he scoured
grocery ads to get the very best deal on canned goods.
He was on a "fixed income" (I wish I had a nickle for every time I heard that)
and he made every cent count.
He also put in a very large garden and learned to operate a pressure
canner to "put up" the produce this huge garden produced.
Trips to the day-old bread store had us bring home bread and sometimes
a treat such as cupcakes (which we had to split in half to share)
Canning jars lines the shelves in the garage, and our home was always open to unexpected guests.
We were prepared in the food category anyway.

Our lunch sandwiches for school were usually Bologna.
Large slabs were bought and meticulously sliced. They
turned out about 1/4" thick. Nothing like those sandwiches.
There was always peanut butter if you preferred, but whatever you fixed,
it was the rule that you ate it - finished it down.

Beef was bought by the side or whole cow and we learned how to cook unlikely cuts by trial and error.

The newspaper was read from cover to cover and sometimes the "want ads" had him calling
to trade an item he had for something another was offering.
How about a 12 gauge shotgun for a 4 place set of sterling silverware?
(wish I had that silverware now)
Or a vehicle that needed just a little fixing up and sold for a profit?

I learned much from Daddy and a full "pantry" makes me smile.

Friday, June 7, 2013

John, The Lumber Jack and Helen, The Homemaker

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Part of a series of Family History and stories
John in the center, with his twin Fannie.

John was married to a woman I don't know her name,
but they had three children, Walter, Mabel, and John.
Mrs took ill and died with baby John being very young, perhaps under a year.

So, John met and married Ida Helen. (a family name)
Back row center
about 19

They, in turn had four children,
Helen Bernice, Harry, Ruth, and baby Fannie (who died in infancy)

Times in the early 1900's were tough.
John was a lumberjack, doing a job to feed his growing family.

I think this is baby Fannie with John and Helen

Cutting logs with cross-cut saws (huge things that had a man on each end), loading these
same logs onto horse drawn wagons and getting them out to rivers, was a hard job.
He worked in the California redwoods.
Somewhere I have a picture of the crew standing in front of a newly cut stump and tree.
The tree looks to be 40 feet higher than the men... redwoods.

Helen was ever helpful to keep the family fed.

in the desert

She cooked for the logging crew, canned meats and vegetables,
ran a sorta rooming house and moved to wherever there was work.
Sometimes it was camping for months on end.
She is highly regarded in my mind.

John and Helen did not always work with logging crews.
They were migratory fruit pickers.
That means that they traveled to where the fruit needed picking and worked long hours.
John, the son from the first marriage was sickly with some kind of lung complaint (as they used to say).
Winters the family would go to the desert for relief for John.
There, John the father started a lifelong hobby/business of rock collecting.
In later years he owned a "Rock Shop" in Oregon where he sold hand made items
such as jewelry, rings, pendants, and unique coffee tables with "slices" of
unusual rocks and minerals embedded in a clear resin.

My mother was Ruth, and she named me - Helen.

P.S. I have a grand daughter to carry on the name, too.

The Tail Gunner Meets the Country Lass

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Warning! This is a Family History Post and may be boring to you...

Way back in World War 2

My dad was a tail gunner in the U.S. Air Force

He was "older" than the others, in that he was 30
and they were maybe only 19-20.
They called him "Pop".

I recently learned, by looking up the squadron number,
that his plane flew weather recon out of England.
Why I didn't find that out until now... well, I guess I wasn't interested.
His was an important job. He was on the look out for enemy planes
that could take them down and compromise their mission of getting
information back to England for the next set of planes to go out.

There were no satellites to give weather reports.
The only way to relay back the information that would make or break a mission
was through experiencing it first hand.
Sorry for the poor quality, but who can argue with the only photo?
Look closely and you can see the mounted machine gun pointed out the open window in the rear of the plane.

Left to Right
Lt. Tom Teal - Pilot; Lt Nicholson - Co Pilot (he later became an illustrator for National Geographic); Lt Szopa - Navigator; Sgt. Williamson - Tail gunner; Sgt. Smith - radio operator; Sgt. Trepton - Engineer; Sgt. Boyington (?) - armor guard; T/Sgt. Peters - Meteorology (weather) observer.

Ruth was a young lady who lived with her parents until
she moved out on her own around her early twenties.
She wrote several service men friendly letters to keep up their spirits.
About 1930 or so

Down the road from where Ruth lived was a couple that sold
eggs and such to the outlying neighbors.
Ruth would walk down and buy eggs and got acquainted with the couple named "Wilson".
Mrs Wilson told Ruth about her son who sure needed encouraging letters, too.
So, my mom wrote "Warren", along with the other correspondence she did with other service men.
Ruth at about 19 - She would have been 92 this year...

Correspondence went on for some time,
and, like some of the other letters, marriage proposals were written also.
Warren never made it home on his visits. He would get "stuck" (read used up his leave)
before he could catch a bus home.
So, Ruth and Warren never met, until...

The war was over. Troops were sent home from overseas.
Warren made the trip home on the Queen Mary which was put into service to transport troops.
Warren asked Ruth to meet him - and she did.
They met on December 24, 1945, when he stepped off the bus.
They married a few weeks later on January 12, 1946.

They had three children.
They were married 25 years before Warren passed away in his sleep in May of 1972
two days before my wedding.
But that is another story in itself.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Take The Bus, And Leave the Driving To Us

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Quite a few of you will find this boring because it just some history of our family...
(#1 in a series)

So feel free to skip on to another blog.

My dad drove a Greyhound Bus.

Its the only job I ever remember him having.
Before he entered the military service for World War 2
he drove bus for Greyhound.

(His military service is another whole post...)
As a child, we were reminded quite often,
shhh - daddy's sleeping. 
His hours had him leaving sometimes mid-day, sometimes mid-evening.
My mother did not drive, so we were happily home-bound and we didn't even know we were "missing out".
We traveled sometimes by bus on a free "pass" because daddy was an employee of the company.
We went to Oklahoma one year to meet relatives we didn't even know we had until by accident contact was made. (this was before the internet and finding someone turned easy)
Oh, the days and nights of riding in a bus seat, breathing in the diesel smell and the tiny diners
along the way where the bus refueled or had short meal breaks.
And, then there was sitting next to a perfect stranger and waking up and finding your head resting on his shoulder!
Hamburgers - 5 for $1
Yep, that's right 5 hamburgers for one dollar!

Every so many years he would get a pin that recognized his
safe driving. After a while, those pins started building up and
he had a belt buckle made with all of them on it.

On his last driving trip, he had a bus load of customers
and was hit head-on by a drunk driver in a car with 5 occupants.
They all perished, but not one of dad's riders were injured.
As a result of holding the steering wheel steady, with
his arms locked to his side, he suffered several broken ribs.
That, in turn, caused a blood clot to travel up to his heart
and he suffered an injury caused heart attack a couple of days later.

Greyhound retired him from the driving force, he was only 51. (that seems so young now)
As a result of the heart attack, he took stock of his life and made sure
that he had asked the Lord Jesus Christ into his life for salvation.
The doctors gave him one year, 
he lived for 10.

What a blessing.

Now, when I see a bus - load of passengers reclining back in their seats
and the driver guiding them through the highways and byways,
I am reminded of my dad.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

8th Grade Graduation and a Trip Down Memory Lane

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One of my grandsons graduated from 8th Grade this year.

At a "Remembrance Ceremony" he sang the National Anthem

I 'thought' I was recording it, when I noticed this little red button...

anyway, it is partly there.

Which brings me to the part down the memory lane. You may want to skip this, it is just memories that came to mind when I thought of 8th grade.

Many years ago, 48...
I graduated from 8th grade.

At a little country school, we had about 20 students in the 8th grade. We shared a room with the 7th graders also. Our 2 teachers traded off on subjects. I remember our 'man' teacher the most. He had a sense of humor that would 'now-a-days' be considered so politically incorrect. He had "names" for most of the classmates. One of the girls, who was absent more than at school he named "The Visitor", another young man who was growing faster than his parents could keep him in pants enough to cover his ankles he named "The Flood Inspector" and so on. I can't remember the name he gave one young man who was in pure size and demeanor a bully, but he surprised us all.

Jimmy Tufts was larger than the teacher. His glare probably hid his frustration of being in a poor home with who knows what that went on there. At the night of the graduation, he appeared in a suit coat (!) and sang with a voice that had us all dropping our jaws. A kind teacher had seen the potential and coached him in singing "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning" (from Oklahoma). We were astounded. If this bully could be transformed into a singing canary, what could our future hold? It has been a life lesson for me. Not all that we see on the outside is what is going on inside.

There I am. And, sadly, 
I don't even remember the young man in the other class photo. Old age is coming on strongly.

P.S. to the grandchildren -- yes, that is how I wore my hair!