Fandango’s Friday Flashback: June 26

Inspired by Fandango’s Friday Flashback: June 26

Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of your earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember? Each Friday I will publish a post I wrote on this exact date in a previous year….Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year?

~~~

This post was originally published on June 26, 2018. I am thrilled that this week’s flashback challenge coincides with the post I wrote in memory of my maternal grandfather.

Opa was a constant loving presence in my life…especially during childhood…and, as I remember it, always my biggest fan.

******

Happy Birthday Opa

Beefeater’s martini straight up. No ice. Lemon peel on the side – if I wanted lemonade I would have ordered it. 

That’s how Opa ordered his drink – the first order in the first round of drinks – when he took our family out to dinner when I was growing up. It sounds kind of rude, but I would imagine if time after time he got the lemon peel in the drink…well, he ran out of patience. I would wait with great curiosity to see what the waiter or waitress would bring. The fancy stemmed glass filled with a clear liquid served on a small plate…where a few slices of lemon peel hopefully (!) would rest. I don’t remember where the olive was supposed to go. Worst case scenario: a glass filled with ice AND lemon peel AND the gin. High drama for us kids.

Next up was ordering off the menu. We could all order what we wanted. No children’s menu. I always felt so grown up learning the fine art of “find out what goes with the dinner.”

Split and toasted!

When the inevitable basket of dinner rolls arrived to keep us fed while waiting for the meals to arrive, Opa would send it back to the kitchen. Please have these rolls split and toasted! And they did and they were amazing and warm and crunchy with butter melting all over.

The bunny!

While we crunched on warm, toasty rolls, Opa made magic happen with his white cloth napkin. He turned, napkin hidden, to the side – carefully rolled, then twisted the cloth and…turned back to face us. And there in the crook of his left arm was a napkin “bunny” – that kept “hopping” up his arm as he patted it with his right hand. All the while he would be talking to it and to us. We’d stare and stare. Wow. That’s entertainment.

The bra!

As we got a bit older, the bunny didn’t capture our attention like Opa’s napkin bra could. He’d quick fold up his napkin, pull the corners and briefly hold it up in front of his tie and pressed suit jacket. Ta Da! Opa had a bra! Hysterical and ridiculous every time. This napkin trick embarrassed my mother immensely but thoroughly entertained his grandchildren. How did he do this? Simple (but I didn’t figure it out for a long time):

  1. Fold napkin so that the 2 sides meet in the middle.
  2. Fold the opposite way so the open edges are on the outside.
  3. Grab left corners with left hand and right corners with right hand and pull.

 

Sparklers!

When it was someone’s birthday, there was a cake brought out to the birthday girl or boy. A cake with a lit sparkler! The cake could be seen from across the dining room shooting sparks into the air.  As it was set before you everybody sang Happy Birthday to You, You Belong in a Zoo….

***

I am honoring my Opa’s memory on June 26th – what would have been his 112th birthday – by sharing his restaurant tricks & talents. Valuable hints for grandparents everywhere. How to continue embarrassing your children and endearing you to your grandchildren forever.

Happy Birthday Opa!

opa&me

 

Fandango’s Friday Flashback: February 14

Inspired by Fandango’s Friday Flashback: February 14

Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of you earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember? …Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year?

~~~

This post is from February 14, 2019 in response to the photo a day challenge (which is the same this year: Hearts ) and Ragtag Daily Prompt: Intimate.

And, after all, it was Valentine’s Day.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

Love and Hearts and Grandparents

 

If we have someone who loves us — I don’t mean who indulges us, but who loves us enough to be on our side — then it’s easier to grow resilience, to grow belief in self, to grow self-esteem. And it’s self-esteem that allows a person to stand up.

Maya Angelou

 

from Grammy 1966

valentine's card 1967038
from Great Grandma 1967

I have much to be grateful for in my life. The love of family is at the top of the list. As a child…and then as an adult…I was well loved by my grandparents. Held up. Cherished. Accepted.

All four of my grandparents – and my one living great grandparent – took the time to write to me. Personal letters. Postcards. Valentines. Birthday cards….
I heard from them on a regular basis…knowing I was important in their lives. And not forgotten, even though we lived miles apart.

Treasured pages of handwritten news, stories, questions about my life and plans for the future….
Offering encouragement and understanding
And unconditional love.

 

Photo a day challenge – Hearts

RDP – Intimate

 

Helping hands

Nancy Merrill’s Photo a Week Challenge: Hands

IN A NEW POST CREATED FOR THIS CHALLENGE, SHARE A PHOTO (OR TWO OR THREE) THAT FEATURES HANDS.

~~~

helping grampa

 

Little hands on deck helping Grampa make pancakes.

The day before Christmas 2017.

 

helping hands
I got it Grampa!

 

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Fashion

Inspired by Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Fashion

 

I dug into my massive collection of family photos for this challenge…and immediately thought of my grandmother Oma. I remember her closet full of shoes – stacked high on shelves in carefully labeled shoeboxes. Coordinating purses piled nearby. Many with small matching coin purses. Mostly black. She once told me that her favorite color was black – because it matched everything…of course!

As a child I never saw her without makeup on. Hair styled. Stockings (or “hose” as she called them) and heels. Always a dress or skirt.

I used to be a flapper she once told me. It sounded so glamorous…and so cool…and so not the grandmother I knew. Mysterious yet thrilling.

One photo was taken in 1927 at a 4th of July picnic. Twenty year old Oma is in the middle with a girlfriend on either side. (Plus a guy trying shenanigans or photo bombing behind them)

All wearing the latest swimwear (?) fashion.

fashion swimwear 1927
1927

I admit to being curious about the shirt emblems. Perhaps the CAC stood for Cincinnati Athletic Club…since they all lived in Cincinnati. But I know that women were not allowed as members until over 75 years later (I spent too much time online looking that up…my inner Nancy Drew at work). So were they wearing their boyfriend’s shirts? Or suits? I know there’s a story there.

Apparently for whatever reason, Oma was stylin’ in something completely different.

Somehow I’m not surprised.

Another photo highlighting the fashion of the era is undated, but I would guess mid 1920s as well. My great grandmother and Oma showing off some festive hats…

fashion car circa 1927
circa 1920s

And not to leave out the men, I found a photo taken in 1923. A group of machine tool salesmen posing after a meeting. I think my great grandfather worked for this company, so he would be the man pointed out in the back row.

sales group 1923
1923

It doesn’t appear that men have veered too far from this suit and tie fashion combo in the years since then.

The hats were a nice finishing touch though.

Grandparents

Nancy Merrill is hosting a photo challenge. The prompt this week: Grandparents

IN A NEW POST CREATED FOR THIS CHALLENGE, SHARE A PHOTO OR TWO FEATURING GRANDPARENTS OF ANY KIND.

~~~

I think of my grandparents often. I have written about them in this blog many times. I miss them still. I have included links to their birthday posts for those who would like a peek at the lives of these exceptional grandparents. Two of my favorite photographs are posted below.

 
My four grandparents were the definition of unconditional love.

 

May 1957 opa oma 042 copy
Opa and Oma with me (age 3) and my sister

Opa – my mother’s father, wrote me countless letters (which I still have). I was his “Pen Pal.” He showered me with words of encouragement and support in all my childhood adventures. His sense of humor is family legend. He awakened my love of all things cards and games. Opa and I would sit across from each other playing Pinochle for hours on end…one of my last memories of him.

Oma – my mother’s mother, learned to drive a car so she could make the 45 minute trip from NY to visit me – her first grandchild. At the age of 47. She baked birthday cakes for her grandchildren and made a mean macaroni and cheese. She wrote to me at camp and sent postcards from her and Opa’s many trips around the USA. We became very close as she spent her last few years near my home.

 

grammypapa and me
Grammy & Papa and me (age 3)

Grammy – my father’s mother, lived many hours away from my family…but she wrote me countless letters – full of details of her life “down South” with her sisters. After Papa died, I got to know her better as she made extended visits to stay with us. She was a character and not afraid to speak her mind. An expert seamstress, she made dress-up outfits for my sister and me. Doll clothes too.

Papa – my father’s father, made an impression on me during the short time I knew him…as he died unexpectedly the year I turned 10. I still have a few of his letters. I remember him as a quiet, sweet and patient man who made me feel special.

 

[As a grandparent to a spectacular 3 year old, I now understand how much fun it is!]

Three

 

balloons

When you turn three, maybe you can count that high.

With your fingers. Grapes on your plate. Cheerios. Green beans.

My grandson turned 3 today.  I was lucky enough to travel to Washington, DC to spend the weekend with him, his parents and his dog.

And attend…two parties.
One with his friends yesterday.
One with family today.

Whew!

Two days filled with doing his favorite things…

Climbing. Running. Jumping. Giggling. Singing. Eating. Walking. Talking. Baseball. Basketball. Shouting…

Grandma Come!

 

park
Saturday Party at the Park

Backhoes. Dump Trucks. Front Loaders. Construction Cones…everywhere!

 

bday morning
Sunday morning

 

Birthday morning visit to the National Zoo.  Lions…no tigers or bears…but monkeys, alpacas, an orangutang, cows, goats, donkeys, elephants and a gorilla family…oh my.

zoo

 

Afternoon with family from near and far. Sharing a small boy’s celebration of a third year of living life. Joyfully. Playfully. With energy to spare.

Blue eyes full of fun, love and mischief. Hints of his mother long ago, but mostly just uniquely him.

birthday 9th

 

Grampa and I fly home tomorrow.

We will look through the hundreds of photos we took.

Smile.

And sleep.

 

 

 

Nostalgia

Nancy Merrill is hosting a photo challenge. The theme this week: Nostalgia

 

charm bracelet
When I was five years old, my Opa and Oma gave me a charm bracelet.

At least I think I was 5.

My clue?

A birthday cake charm with 5 candles that pop up if you push the lever underneath it. Pushing up with a just-the-right-size 5 year old finger. I especially remember the charms with the movable parts.

They added charms to the bracelet for many years. Birthday gifts or just because. Each charm meant something special. Several were souvenirs from their trips to Europe.

Such sweet memories…
A bicycle…I loved to ride.
A baby shoe…as I used to wear.
A mailbox…Opa and I were penpals.
Ballet shoes…my short lived stint taking lessons.
Piano…5 years of lessons and all I can still play is Chopsticks.

My favorite is the deck of cards charm. With actual cards inside – at one point I took them all out to check. And then put them all back.

It reminds me of O&O, as I called them. But especially Opa, who taught me everything I know about cards, game strategy and how much fun it is to play.

Although the 6 ½ inch bracelet no longer fits my wrist, it will always make me smile as I recall how it came to be.

 

 

 

(Photos taken with my new Canon EOS RP Mirrorless Full Frame DSLR. Canon RF 35mm F1.8 Macro IS STM lens)

 

Happy Birthday Papa

Chopsticks!

Papa showed me how to play the classic simple song. A waltz actually. On his piano.
Sitting right beside me. Just the 2 of us.
At his big old house in Cincinnati, Ohio. One warm day in the 1960’s during a rare family visit.
I was only 8 years old.  I wish it had been the first of many lessons.

Papa, my paternal grandfather, was born March 9, 1886 in Chicago, Illinois. The middle child of five.  I don’t know much about his early life except he met Grammy when passing through her small rural Tennessee town. He often traveled by train from Cincinnati, working as a lumber inspector for his brother’s company. He rented a room in my grandmother’s childhood home during stops in Graysville. He eventually won her over…and that was that!

Papa and Grammy married and raised my father and his older sister in Cincinnati, where Papa owned and operated a lumber company. No small feat for a man with only an 8th grade education.

I probably saw Papa maybe a dozen times before he died unexpectedly at the age of 78. Cincinnati was very far away from where I lived on the east coast. Visits did not happen often. The last one was a whirlwind car trip a few weeks before he died.

papa& me baby006
Papa and me

What do I remember about Papa?

He was a short quiet man with kind brown eyes. Papa loved to put on his cap and go for long walks. Sometimes he asked me – just me! – to join him. During one of those walks, he stopped, plucked a wide blade of grass from a nearby patch and carefully positioned it between the sides of his thumbs. He pressed his thumbs together…held them up to his mouth, took a deep breath, puffed out his cheeks…and blew out…. It whistled!
Was this magic?
He then plucked one for me. And waited calmly until I was able to make it whistle all by myself.
I’m (obviously) still impressed all these years later.

I learned how to play chopsticks on the piano during one long…patient…lesson with him. Later, in their sunny kitchen, we’d sit across from each other by the window and play double solitaire. Or a new card game he taught me called 7Up.  At the metal table with the shiny sides and checkered formica top.

papa and me
Papa and me
circa 1958-59

Sadly our connection was short lived, but fortunately he left his loving stamp on my memory…and my heart.

papa letter004 copy

Happy Birthday Papa!

papa fishing007
Fishing in Tennessee

 

[ps…Papa would be thrilled to know…that coincidentally…his middle name is the same as his great great grandson’s first name…and…also coincidentally…they were both born on the 9th day of the month…]

 

Love and Hearts and Grandparents

If we have someone who loves us — I don’t mean who indulges us, but who loves us enough to be on our side — then it’s easier to grow resilience, to grow belief in self, to grow self-esteem. And it’s self-esteem that allows a person to stand up.

Maya Angelou

 

 

from Grammy 1966

 

valentine's card 1967038
from Great Grandma 1967

 

I have much to be grateful for in my life. The love of family is at the top of the list. As a child…and then as an adult…I was well loved by my grandparents. Held up. Cherished. Accepted.

All four of my grandparents – and my one living great grandparent – took the time to write to me. Personal letters. Postcards. Valentines. Birthday cards….
I heard from them on a regular basis…knowing I was important in their lives. And not forgotten, even though we lived miles apart.

Treasured pages of handwritten news, stories, questions about my life and plans for the future….
Offering encouragement and understanding
And unconditional love.

 

Photo a day challenge – Hearts

RDP – Intimate