Musty Books and Salty Popcorn

2015-06-27Memories of my childhood public library were recently stirred. In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s my childhood best friend, Carol and I would walk or ride our bikes numerous times to the Hansen branch on Martha and Vine Street.

The musty smell of the library would immediately hit us when we opened the door of this brick building. The reception desk was immediately at the entrance. On the right side was the adult’s section and on the left was the children’s section. I can visualize the card catalog cabinets and the square benches topped with vinyl orange cushions. After perusing the books and choosing my picks for the week, I’d pull out my library card that had my name and address embossed on the bottom and the green stripe across the top with Hammond Public Library printed on it. At that time they used a pre-“post-it note” that would have the due date printed on it and placed on the pocket that held the card for that book.

Before going back home Carol and I would visit the Hessville Dime Store on Kennedy Avenue that was located across the street. The dime store was a fascinating place for us to shop when we were young.

I must have spent quite a bit of my allowance at the store because I could always find something to buy. On every visit I followed the ritual of walking to the last aisle to the right of the store to thoroughly examine all the inexpensive toys that were displayed on reachable cabinets. From there I would either go to the corner of the store where the large popcorn machine stood and buy the delicious salty popcorn or walk to the glass encased candy display across from the cash registers and sales ladies and wish I could buy it all.

Perhaps the candy was displayed there because the sales ladies were always suspicious of every child that walked in the store. Since they didn’t have security cameras then, they would follow us throughout the store to make sure we weren’t going to begin a life of shoplifting at the young age of ten.

Both the library and dime store have been closed for over twenty five years. I believe the library eventually became a police station post and the dime store building was razed and the site is now a parking lot. Although the buildings no longer physically exist, they will forever emotionally exist in the memories of my childhood as part of wonderful summer days spent inside both of these dream filled buildings.

What special childhood memories do you have? Now is the time for you to pull out your laptop or grab paper and pen and start Keeping Your Memories of your childhood and places that you regularly visited.

  • What locations did you regularly visit?
  • How did you commute to these locations?
  • Did you get to go to these places by yourself or did you have to go with a parent?
  • Describe the details of this location.
  • Describe the smell of this location


My Dad…Boot Camp, German Measles, U.S.S. Coral Sea


In honor of my father on this Father’s Day weekend I want to pay tribute to him with an excerpt from his story that took place seventy-one years ago. He wrote sharing his experiences as a 17-year-old enlistee in the Navy during World War II.

Reading his entire story shows me how Dad became the knowledgeable, discerning, patient and fearless man he was through the encounters he experienced on his own as a young man. Below is the beginning of his story:

“After graduating from Boot Camp we were allowed to leave the base and go into town. San Diego was a pretty town, and the weather was mild for wintertime. I enjoyed my first liberty in San Diego. I was like a child taking in all the new things.

I was asked if I wanted to train as an aerial gunner on airplanes or to serve on submarines. I chose to go into communications as a signalman and was assigned to a three-month signalman training class. After one month of training, I contacted German measles and was placed in the hospital for 11 days.

After departing the hospital, I was dropped from the class that I had been training with and had a month of leisure time waiting for the new class to be formed.

After going through three months of training as a signalman, I was sent to a receiving station to be assigned to a ship.  I was assigned to the U.S.S. Coral Sea CVE57.

When I saw the aircraft carrier that I was being assigned to, it looked so big, awesome and dangerous, and I realized for the first time what I had gotten myself into. This was real. The training and the fun I had been having was over, and I didn’t know what was ahead of me. As I walked up that gangplank with my sea bag on my shoulder (which I could hardly carry) for the first time it hit me, I was afraid.”

Dad passed eight years ago at the age of 80, but he is still with us because he recorded his life story that we can read again and again. On this Father’s Day weekend, pull out your laptop or grab a pen and paper and start Keeping Your Memories of your father. If he is still with you, start with asking him the questions below. You will definitely be glad you did.

  • Describe who you were as a little boy.
  • What is a favorite story from your childhood?
  • What did you learn from your parents?
  • How are you similar to and/or different from your Mother/Father?
  • As a young boy, what did you dream of being one day?

Dandelions, Hedge Clippers, Sweat and Iced Tea

Mom and Dad's Backyard in 2005

This beautiful warm morning I was outside watering my gardens and remembering year after year Mom and Dad (who are now deceased) spending hours in their backyard. They loved working back there painstakingly watering and maintaining the flower beds to keep them beautiful.

Back in the 1960’s it was a very tiring job as muscle was needed with the manual equipment they used. Sore knees came to Mom from endlessly being on the ground using the garden tool to individually dig up each dandelion by the root. Sore arms and hand blisters came with using the old fashioned manual hedge clippers after trimming all of the hedges that lined all sides of the yard.

Dad would be in his t-shirt and dark blue work pants with his blue railroad handkerchief hanging from his pocket ready to pull at a moment’s notice to wipe off the dripping sweat and grass clippings that flew up at him while pushing the manual lawnmower. With no air conditioning it would be too hot to go inside when the job was completed, so Mom and Dad would pour a glass of ice tea and sit under a shady tree to sit and admire their work.

Now my husband and I are doing the same as them. Of course, we have it much easier with battery operated clippers to use to cut back tree branches as we don’t have a single hedge in our yard. We attempt to use chemicals to cut back on our dandelions, the gas powered riding lawn mower makes the job much faster and after a minimal sweaty time outside, we come into our air conditioned house to cool off, open up a bottled water and admire our work looking out my window. Will be interesting for our children to read this in thirty years and see what they remember!

Are you Keeping Your Memories? If you haven’t been, purchase a journal or open up your laptop and start typing the answers to these questions:

  • When you were a child, did you have flower beds?
  • What kind of flowers did you grow?
  • What kind of yard/garden tools did your parents use?
  • What yard work chores, if any, did you have to do?