Easter Time

Today is Easter Sunday.

In 2020, it almost seems like any other day. Being on the inside looking out.

In the interest – and satisfying the desire – of connecting to the familiar, I am re-posting an edited version of a 2018 blog post about Easter traditions and memories…

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When I was growing up, the Easter Bunny always left baskets for me – and my sisters and brothers – to hunt for on Easter morning. We each got straw baskets complete with the requisite Easter “grass” which ended up…everywhere.

Inside we’d find jelly beans, foil covered chocolate eggs, a chocolate bunny and those marshmallow peeps – which were just as bright neon colored then as they are now.

easter baskets

My younger sister and I often wore matching dresses and Easter hats. I actually got a kick out of the hat – I remember one had small red fake flowers around the brim. Patent leather shoes completed the look. It worked for my sister much more than me, as I’d just as soon run around the backyard and scoot up the jungle gym, Easter finery and all.

 

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A few days before Easter we dyed hardboiled eggs different colors using the wire holders, still stained, from previous years. The kitchen table was covered in newspapers to limit the mess we’d make and the smell of vinegar permeated the air. When I was older I was allowed to drop a different color pellet into each cup and watch it dissolve.  Sometimes we used wax crayons to draw designs on the eggs before coloring them. We were each allowed about 6 eggs to decorate and we took our time.

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TV dinner containers…recycling in the ’60’s

My best childhood Easter memories were when my grandparents came for the day (or sometimes the night before and slept over). We’d play cards…Parcheesi…Sorry…checkers. We always saved the black jelly beans for Opa. Those were his favorite.

One last thing…

Easter is the subject of my most treasured book from childhood.

It has the sweetest illustrations and I love the comforting story. Nobody is perfect – not even the Easter Bunny. And sometimes things don’t go as planned…and it’s okay.

This book made the cut when we downsized. The paper jacket has long since disappeared and the binding is loose and fragile.

But precious all the same……

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To all who celebrate…Happy Easter!

Morning Moments

Inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #87: Morning

What do mornings mean to you?

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My soul never thinks of beginning to wake up for other people till lunch-time, and never does so completely till it has been taken out of doors and aired in the sunshine. Who can begin conventional amiability the first thing in the morning? It is the hour of savage instincts and natural tendencies

Countess Van Arnim

Amen!

There’s a reason I have no photographs of sunrises. I am still asleep – or not yet fully conscious – that early in the day. My mornings need to evolve. I shift into fully awake mode after drinking an oversize mug of coffee. Plus finishing breakfast and the morning newspaper’s mix of news…both happy and not.

Empty nest retirement definitely has its pluses.

When I was growing up, however, my weekdays began at high speed. School day mornings…a blur…

Get Ready For School Hurry Up You’ll Miss The Bus! Finish your breakfast! Come Back You Forgot Your Lunch! Hurry! The Bus Is Coming! The Bus Is Coming!

Childhood weekends – thankfully – were a different story…

Early on a Saturday morning…the year I was 9: my 7 ½ year old sister, 6 year old brother and I would tiptoe down the hall of our small ranch style home. Careful not to disturb our sleeping parents.

If our 2+ year old baby sister was awake and willing to be quiet, she joined us.

SHHHHH!

A carpeted hallway covered the short distance from our bedrooms to the living/dining room. After just a few quick trips we had gathered all the toys we needed. Since the black & white television was in my parents’ room at the time, we were on our own to entertain ourselves.

And entertain we did.

The Barbies – (with friend Midge) – strutted around straight legged showing off their tiny don’t-step-on-them-with-your-bare-feet shoes and stretchy outfits. Ken made an appearance, but usually as an afterthought. My sister’s pink Barbie car transported B&K in a circular route under the dining room table…often without their clothes on. Sometimes Ken’s arm was removed and inserted in his torso backwards. Creativity on the loose. I’ll admit those adventures were mostly my idea. My sister loved Barbie like crazy, but I was quickly bored. Hence the unusual Saturday morning escapades. Which we all considered quite clever and hysterical.

My brother brought to the excitement an assortment of small green plastic army men, a GI Joe and an array of stuffed animals – many based on cartoon characters. Yogi Bear. Huckleberry Hound. Barney Rubble. Bugs Bunny – with a string…which when pulled…gave voice to What’s Up Doc?

Despite the differences in size and species, plush bunnies & bears interacted with dolls without a single problem. In whispers and hushed tones. Barbie to Yogi: Where’s the pic-a-nic basket?. Bugs to Ken: Got any carrots?. And so on.

Miraculously the 3 (or 4) of us played seamlessly together during those early childhood mornings. We didn’t argue. Or poke each other. We took turns. It was quite remarkable. And unusual.

Our common goal: Don’t wake up mommy and daddy! 

Those Saturday hours with my sisters and brother are precious in memory. They represent moments of our best times together.

Reality and its rivalries shifted back to normal when my parents woke up. And the day started for real.

Until the next weekend…when the crowd gathered once again.

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Saturday Morning – circa 1963

Peace Blues

This post inspired by Becky’s Blue July Squares

 

Back in “The Day” – my teenage years – I covered my bedroom wall with posters. Of all shapes and sizes. Random subject matter. Raggedy Ann & Andy. Laurel & Hardy. Don Quixote plodding along under an orange moon. Psychedelic quotes. “LifeIsAGas” swirled in green and pink was one. “WarIsNotHealthyForChildren…” was another.

However, one poster was just a simple black square…with a green peace sign filling the space. No text.

A small symbol of protest.

Along with peace necklaces. Buttons. Pins. Rings. Denim patches. To end the war we saw raging on the evening news. A war which continued until I was in college…and heard shouts down the hall of my dormitory one night…The War Is Over!! The War Is Over!!

In our youth and naïveté, perhaps my friends and I somehow believed these small symbols made a difference.

Several years ago, I noticed this pin for sale at a local novelty store. The kind of place that sells off color bumper stickers, fart joke books and notepads with the F word in their titles.

It gave me pause.

Way past time to start my collection again.

peace button
Button For Sale
2017

 

Twisted

Inspired by Nancy Merrill’s Photo a Week Challenge. The prompt: Twisted

 

All it takes is a simple twist. Or two. Or three. Of wire, silk and nylon.

Six strings stretched tight. But not too tight. The ends threaded into post holes. Then twisted…little by little…with the turn of a peg. Carefully. Adjusting the tension.

Until each one – when plucked – sounds…just right.

On a simple guitar made of wood.

twisted strings

 

My first – and only – no-name guitar shows its age. As do I.

Bought with saved up allowance for $28 on September 29, 1967.

I headed to guitar lessons taught by a local folk singer. For weekly group lessons with other aspiring young guitarists…struggling together to strum chords…

G  and D7…to play through Ain’t Gonna Study War No More.

C, F, Am and G7…for Blowin’ in the Wind.

Added Em and B7…and we managed to make it through Cruel War.

By that point the fingertips on my left hand were sore and complaining. From pressing down on those strings…especially strings 4, 5 & 6…the thickest ones.

three strings

Those twisted strings were replaced many times. As I sang and played through a thick looseleaf binder of mimeographed folk songs assigned by my teacher. To which I added my carefully typed copies of Homeward Bound, Hey Jude, It Was a Very Good Year, Leaving on a Jet Plane…among many others. Guitar chords written or typed in red above the words.

I did not sing or strum with much finesse, but it was the 60’s after all – and it was fun.
It never occurred to me to take it more seriously. I never saw any female guitarists on Ed Sullivan or American Bandstand, heard any on AM radio or in my stack of 45s.

This guitar went to camps and college with me. It was then retired to a closet…until my son tried it out after his college days. It traveled up and down the east coast with him for a few years…until he had a guitar of his own. Like his dad…and his sister.

And now it is back here with me.

my guitar

Ready for its next chapter.

 

 

Pupil

Inspiration: Ragtag Daily Prompt: Pupil

 

5th grade
Public School Fifth Grade
New Jersey
1964

I rarely hear the term pupil anymore. At least as it applies to schoolchildren.

However, back in the olden days – the 1960s – I was a pupil. One of many pupils in my 5th grade class. A large class by today’s standards…after all we were the babyboomers.  Schools would be scrambling to accommodate us for years to come.

Bizarre at it sounds, I still recognize those classmates – and can name almost all of them. Perhaps not always for the best reasons.

Fifth grade – when I turned 11 – remains sharp in my memory.  There is Andy, twin brother of Ellen, who I had a mad crush on. Probably because he complimented me on my kickball skills at recess. Debby…whose house I visited to play games and sleep over. Patti Ann, Judy and Dianne…the mean girl trio who took turns making my life miserable. Except when they didn’t and I thought we were friends. Kathy…the girl who was taller than me…a rare occurrence. Johnny…whose science experiment once blew up. Meredith…bullied because she was overweight. Eric…the boy who I think had a crush on me…although I was as clueless as they came. So who knows.

The only dress code of sorts applied to girls. We had to wear dresses or skirts. Except on once-a-week gym days. My favorite day of the week…pants!…sneakers!

Boys could wear whatever they wanted. Neckties only came out on school picture day.

In addition to Math, Science, Reading, etc., we were also graded on Penmanship, Behavior and Effort. Girls had gym and health class separate from the boys. Often a pupil…like me…stood in front of her class and gave the Spelling tests. And missed Social Studies to correct them for the teacher.

I wonder what happened to those kids. Now in their 60’s. The mean girls do not look as mean as I remember. I see no angry faces…or narrowed eyes…or…evidence of what happened. I also look happier than I was. It’s an odd perspective.

My family moved to another town when I started sixth grade.

I never saw those kids again.

Tales of Terror: Times Past

Irene Waters’ “Times Past” prompt challenge topic for February is: Tales of Terror

Can you remember any tales of fear that your parents used to stop you going out of bounds. Please join in giving your location at the time of your memory and your generation. 

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jungle gym
on top of the world circa 1962

 

As a baby boomer growing up in the USA suburbs, I basically roamed the tree lined streets of my working class neighborhood. On foot. On my bike. On my skateboard. On roller skates. I specifically remember the house I lived in from the age of 4 to 11. There were woods to explore at one end of the street before it curved uphill to circle around to the next block. Houses lined up close together and near to the street.

 

My mother issued two clear directives to keep me safe:

 Don’t take candy from strangers.

This was in the context of a stranger driving around the block, who might stop, open the door and try to lure me into his car with a Nestle’s Crunch. I would then never be seen again. And terrible things would happen…which were never spelled out in any detail, but an implied tale of terror just the same.

I will admit I considered possibly grabbing the candy and making a run for it. However the opportunity never presented itself.

Being the immortal child that I was, I was unafraid to ride my bike for hours at a time…for long distances that perhaps would have been prohibited if I had advertised my adventures. Which I didn’t.

A favorite trip: to “the little store” on the other side of town…saved my allowance and bought my own candy. Smarties, Mary Janes, Mounds, tiny wax bottles (remember those? argh), button candy, Bazooka Bubble Gum. No strangers needed. Sometimes I let my younger sister tag along, swearing her to secrecy.

Interesting side note: when we first moved there, my sister was 3 years old. One day she packed a lunchbox with napkins, hopped on her tricycle and took off…without telling anyone. Her destination: where we used to live…a long car ride away. A dozen houses later – almost a quarter mile – she arrived at the far end of our road, about to pedal down the cross street. A dangerous intersection at the crest of a hill. The neighbor on the corner stopped her in time and called the police.

So my sister got a ride in a police car…which is where she was eventually spotted by my frantic mother. Who had grabbed me and my infant brother and probably went looking for strangers with candy. An actual tale of terror thankfully averted.

Don’t go near Tony M.

Tony was a mentally challenged teenager who lived a couple of blocks away. At least I think he was a teenager…to my young eyes he could have been in his twenties. He lived with his parents and sometimes wandered around looking somewhat disheveled.  It was never explained to me what he might do. Or say. But the look in my mother’s eyes spoke fear. My questions about why went unanswered. I rarely saw him, but when I did he mostly looked lonely and sad.  I wonder what happened to him.

 

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Family gathered safely on the front porch – 1958

 

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Orange and Pink

Cee’s Challenge topic this week is Orange and Pink

Orange and pink together?
Yes!
It was back in the 1960’s…amidst the blinding landscape often referred to as psychedelic. The term coined to describe what was visualized during an LSD “acid trip.”

No acid trips for me, but as a young teenager I was drawn to the colors shouting out from Teen magazine and the “mod” outfits popping up from television’s Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In. Or album covers…The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Magical Mystery Tour, among others. Wild “peace and love” posters covered my bedroom walls. And the jewelry…

One artifact from that time period: a “Mod Watch” complete with 4 interchangeable bright colored wristbands. Made of authentic patent leather. A vintage set now over 50 years old. Well worn. Well loved.

It was one of my favorite “accessories”… being the practical person I have always been, it also served a very useful purpose. I always knew what time it was.

Practicality always topped fashion. But with this watch, I had both.

 

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Orange or Pink?

 

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The complete vintage set

 

Pass That Note

This post inspired by Ragtag Daily Prompt: Note

 

I saw a note that Gail wrote
& it says she hates me…

I don’t know if you’re mad at Gail but I am…

 

Notes.
When did I first run headlong into notes?
At that awkward will-I-fit-in-say-the-right-thing-avoid-exclusion-at-all-cost stage that characterized my middle school years in the 1960’s.

When successfully passing notes was a prized achievement. A right of passage. If you didn’t get caught.

Notes directed the intense undercurrent of a girl’s ever shifting social hierarchy. They could make or break your day at school.

Scrawled on lined notebook paper. Ripped out of 3-ring binders. Torn into halves. Or quarters. Hastily folded as small as possible. Then..slipped to a friend. Or potential friend. Or some kid sitting at a desk on the way to the note’s intended recipient.

With one eye on the teacher, who with chalk in hand might not turn towards the blackboard as quickly as you think. Who might snatch the wrinkled piece of paper. Which held the potential key to your social future. And then, horror of horrors, read it out loud. So everyone would hear…

Are you mad at me?
Write down yes or no.
Check next to these names…
Do you like them or not?

Or worse, if the note was for you…
From the girlfriends you just had a sleepover with…

We have decided that you are not our type.
Please don’t hang around with us that much. 
You can if you want….Every time
we look at you you are reading. I know you
like to but not every second. Don’t hang around
that much anymore.

 

 

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Elaborate codes were devised

I’ve always wondered…why? Why did girls jostle for position in such cut throat ways? Which is probably why I saved a few notes for 50 years. Thinking I’d figure it out. I have not. I still have no clue.

Except I am grateful there was no Facebook when I was struggling to fit in. No Instagram. No social media.
Notes would have followed me everywhere.
Day and night.
I can’t imagine.

Notes on wrinkled paper were thrown away. Or stuffed in a drawer.
Only public for an agonizing minute if the teacher recited them in front of snickering classmates.

Then the bell would ring.
And out the door I’d go.

swing

 

 

Bologna Pie

Thanksgiving = Turkey
Christmas = Roast Beef
New Year’s Day = Bologna Pie….say what?

When I was a kid, my parents often hosted an Open House on New Year’s Day. Neighbors and friends streamed in and out all day long. Eating, drinking, laughing, talking, smoking.
Lots of drinking. Eggnog (2 pitchers: labeled “with” and “without”). Punch with fancy shaped ice floating in the center.
Conversations morphing into a dull roar.
Alongside music from my dad’s hi-fi.

My younger sister and I helped prepare the party food the day before…
…and that’s where the bologna pie comes in.
It was (and still is?) slices of bologna with cream cheese spread between each slice.
The higher the stack, the better. Cut into pie shaped wedges – hence the pie label. And there it was.
We always sampled the greasy concoction as we made the pies…and I hate to admit we really liked it.
How times change.

Loaves of miniature rye bread were transformed into chicken or tuna salad mini sandwiches. Sometimes toasted french bread topped with canned crab & cheese dip was on the menu.
Always delicious.

One memorable January 1st Open House was worth an entire diary entry:

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January 1, 1967

 

I have no photographs of these Open Houses.
Which is probably just as well.

Happy New Year!