Good Old Summer Time

2014-06-21 (2)

It’s summer! And every year we welcome it with open arms! Many of us live busy lives and in between work, home, travel and scheduled events the summer passes by too quickly. Often times I wish for the long, lazy days of summer past.

I remember the long summer days back in the 1960’s when it seemed like summer lasted forever. Life was easy and days were long. As children, we didn’t have as many structured activities, and we took it upon ourselves to find things for us to do.

We didn’t sleep late and rarely stayed inside the house. There were many days we left the house in the morning to meet up with friends to ride bikes or go to the park. We came back for lunch and then would head back out again until dinner time.

We had hot days with no air conditioning. I remember endless hours reading in front of an installed window fan trying to cool off with the hot air blowing on me.

There were times, however, that we had absolutely nothing to do and that forced us to lay in our backyards looking up miles into the sky at the clouds thinking and dreaming. We didn’t have technological devices or any social media so there were days spent sitting in my backyard reading or drawing.

On Dad’s day off we took day trips to Chicago to sight see and visit museums and zoos. We spent quite a bit of time relaxing on Indiana beaches and hiking trails at the Dunes.

Perhaps this summer I will set aside my busy schedule and limited time and force myself to experience again a long, summer day relaxing, reading and sitting back to stare up into the clouds.

Pull out your laptop or grab paper and pen and start Keeping Your Memories of your childhood summer days by starting with the questions below:

  • What is your favorite childhood summer memory?
  • What did you do to entertain yourself when you were bored?
  • After chores were finished did you meet up with friends and hang out with them until dinner time? What games did you and your friends play?
  • What were your family’s traditional summertime events and/or vacations?
  • Did you ride your bicycle during the summertime? Were you allowed to ride your bike long distances from home?

http://www.keepingyourmemories.com

Moms and Bandages…Even in Spirit

1968 - Mom and Nancy in kitchen

Happy Mother’s Day! Today is a day to celebrate our mother, and we will celebrate her whether she is with us or not. Today is a day with mixed emotions spanning from my 25 year old daughter-in-law who has a fresh open wound of losing her mother only two weeks ago to me, a 57 year old who lost my mother eight years ago, to an 80 year old friend who lost her mother thirty years ago.

The 80 year old friend said she still misses her mother. When my mother passed, a co-worker told me that she had lost her mother years before. She said not a day will go by that I don’t think of her. She was right.

The first year that I was without her was difficult because I missed the daily chats we had in the past and the quick phone calls I would make to her when I had a cooking question. With time I became accustom to her being gone. Her spirit and teachings live in me, and I think of her daily and cherish the precious memories we shared together.

This picture of my mother and me in her domain…the kitchen…depicts her so well and everything in this picture stirs memories of the mother that I love dearly. My mother was happy to be a full-time housewife and mother. She spent hours and hours working in her kitchen using her Magic Chef oven to her electric Sunbeam mixer, to her metal flour and sugar canisters, to her coffee percolator, to her Sunbeam blender and to the knives she has hanging on her wall. She was also a seamstress and had sewn together the aprons that we have wrapped around us in this picture.

When I was young and had scraped, bloody knees my mom swept me up, cleaned the wound, bandaged it and then held me tight to ease the pain. I like to think that perhaps my mom continues to care for me like that even after she is gone. Her spirit dwells inside of me and continues to comfort. She eased my open wound and pain from losing her with a bandage of love that can still be felt. Every year the excruciating pain of loss lessened and the love increased.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom…Jean Belle! I’ll love you forever!

What memories of your mom come to mind when you think of her on this special day? Answering these questions below about your mother will be a start to Keeping Your Memories of her preserved in writing so that she will forever be remembered. If you’re fortunate that your mother is still with you, ask her to answer these questions about her mother also.

  • What do you remember most about your mother’s appearance?
  • What sounds do you associate with your mother?
  • What was your favorite food that your mother cooked for you?
  • What pleasant smells do you associate with your mother?
  • What special touch do you associate with your mother?

http://www.keepingyourmemories.com

I Write. He Paints. We Preserve History.

I write. My brother paints. We are both preserving history.

Since the early 1960’s our parents took us to the Indiana Dunes State Park in Chesterton, Indiana to play in the water and waves of Lake Michigan. We hiked the trails, explored the blow outs, climbed the sand dunes and conquered Mount Tom and Mount Baldy.

It was a place for us to roam freely with acres and acres of sand dunes vs our suburban neighborhood with houses built side-by-side.

On a cold day in 1967 while we explored the beach, my brother, Jacob, sat in the sand and made sketches of an abandoned cottage that still stood on the lakefront. He later created this painting. Shortly after, the cottage was demolished. All of the cottages that once stood are gone.

However, fifty years later the memory of this cottage remains as the picture hangs in my living room. And it preserves an era of cottages that were built one hundred years ago by owners who, like us today, relished their hours spent on this beautiful lakefront.

We don’t know the original owners or history of this specific cottage, but in the early 1900’s many folks from Chicago traveled to the Indiana side of Lake Michigan to enjoy a time of recreation at the Indiana Dunes.

It was so well-liked that eventually a group of Chicagoans incorporated the Prairie Club in 1911 and two years later built a beach house for members. Members would come to spend weekends and the summer and slept in tents.

Later in the 1910’s and 1920’s landowners began renting small parcels to these Chicago folks. Simple, inexpensive one story wooden cottages along the lakefront would be built on the rented parcels.

Alarmed by industrial sand mining destroying large areas of duneland and steel company land purchased, the Prairie Club members and others began a campaign to create a state park. The cause to preserve the Dunes began in 1916 and that campaign finally came to fruition in 1926 when the Dunes opened to the public as the Indiana Dunes State Park.

In 1966 with the drive of Illinois Senator Paul Douglas to save the dunes, the park was authorized as the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. With perseverance from multiple groups the preservation of more land was granted.

The Indiana Dunes today stands at 15,000 acres. What I will remember of that extensive amount of land, because of my brother’s sketches and painting, is the small portion of land where a cottage was built and an unknown family or individual’s memories were made.

I have over fifty years of good memories made of experiences at the Indiana Dunes from my childhood and with my children and eventually with my grandchildren, and I have recorded my memories on paper.

Pull out your laptop or grab paper and pen and start Keeping Your Memories of the Indiana Dunes or of your nature preserves for your descendants to read.

http://www.keepingyourmemories.com

 

 

 

Home Sweet Home

July 2002 160

Growing up in the 1960’s in this industrial area of Northwest Indiana we were accustomed to living in the smaller homes that were built within close proximity to neighbors. The busy stay-at-home moms and hardworking dads worked daily on the upkeep of these homes along with their children who were assigned weekly indoor and outdoor chores to help maintain their homes.

Being from the generation of baby boomers it was not unusual for families in our area to have large families ranging from two to twelve children while the majority of families that I knew had at least five children. In these small homes multiple siblings shared bedrooms and one bathroom. It was a matter of taking turns or squabbling over who was in line next to use the bathroom.

The gray home – my home – had four bedrooms, one and a half baths, mom and dad, four brothers, one sister and two dogs. The white house – my best friend’s house where I spent many days and nights – had four bedrooms, two baths, mom and dad, four brothers, three sisters and one dog.

We often reminisce how back in those days after our chores were completed, we were not kept inside the house but expected to go outside. Reflecting on it I imagine it was for the sanity of the stay at home moms to have some peace and quiet!

We were sent outside and told to be back home in time for lunch. In the afternoon we met up with our friends again and rode our bikes, jumped rope, played Hopscotch, Hide and Seek or Simon Says. My brothers and their friends often knew where to meet up to play sandlot baseball or football.

We always knew when to come back home for dinner. And in the summertime we were back outside again until dusk catching fireflies and playing Ding Dong Ditch or Kick the Can.

Even though the home I grew up in was small, the good memories created there were immeasurable. What do you remember about your childhood home? Pull out your laptop or grab paper and pen and start Keeping Your Memories of the home or homes that you grew up in for your descendants to read of your childhood experiences.

  • What was the size of your home?
  • Did you have to share your bedroom?
  • Did you play at your homes, or mostly in the streets and playgrounds and fields?
  • Did you have chores around your house?
  • What was the proximity to your neighbors?

http://www.keepingyourmemories.com

Young Love

2016-01-10

Today my childhood best friend’s family hosted a 90th birthday celebration for their father. I’ve been fortunate to be a part of this family for over 50 years and to share in today’s celebration. Mulling over what birthday gift to give to him, I decided a matted picture frame with a copy of their wedding picture and a condensed version of the love story that his wife, Margaret, had shared with me when I recorded her life story would be priceless…and it was! Next month they will celebrate their 66th anniversary and as shown in pictures from today, they are still in love!

Margaret’s recollection shared on June 11, 2011 of how she met and fell in love with a young man named Ed:

“It was 1949, about four years after the war ended, when a family with three girls and a boy moved just across the street from where we lived. They treated me nice, very nice …all of them. One of the sisters married somebody that knew this young man. Her husband had been in the service. But he had lived with his family in Hammond and lived close to where Ed had lived.

I and two of the sisters belonged to a Bunco Club and one night one of the ladies in the club started telling us about this guy who came back from service. She talked about his beautiful blue eyes.

At that time of my life I was a roller skater and often went roller skating with these sisters. I really enjoyed it very much. Several of the kids that roller skated often stopped to get a drink and would go home. And one night that’s how I happened to meet him.

I watched Ed, and I could tell what she meant about him and his beautiful blue eyes. She introduced us to each other, and we went on our first date to Teibel’s which was at that time in North Hammond.

He got a ring and gave it to me. I don’t think it was a whole lot of money. We were really wanting to get married, however, he wanted to make the last payment on his car before we got married. So we planned it that he made the last payment on the car, and I paid for the wedding license. We were married on February 11, 1950.”

A Time I Can’t Remember

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I have been an adult orphan for the past seven years. Yesterday Mom (who passed in January 2009) and Dad (who passed in 2007) were on my heart and in my thoughts while spending a wonderful day celebrating my birthday with my husband, daughter and sons. I especially missed my mom. Even yesterday, with her passing almost seven years ago, I cried and I missed her.

I was mulling over how Mom must have felt the day that she was in labor and gave birth to me. I wish she had recorded in writing when she started having her contractions and the entire experience. Was Dad home to take her to the hospital? What did it feel like at that time to give birth and not have Dad with her during the delivery as was the typical case at that time? How did she feel delivering her fifth child? I would have loved reading today what her dreams for me were that day.

As a mother myself, I can easily envision my thirty-one year old mother holding me, kissing me, and loving me. Being born two days after Christmas Mom always told me that I was the best Christmas present she ever received. They were delighted to have a daughter added to their family of four sons.

I do have pictures (and Dad bought colored film for these pictures) of Mom and Dad holding me when I was an infant fifty-six years ago. And I’m also fortunate to have a copy of our silent 8 mm home movie (converted to a DVD) that my dad taped on Christmas Eve of Mom when she was nine months pregnant with me. She looked young and slim, other than her stomach, and she was admiring the homemade gifts that her sons (ten, eight, six and three years old) had made for her.

With the holiday season we miss our loved ones even more. And I felt it yesterday on my birthday. But I still had a terrific day because I feel my mom is with me wherever I go. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about her. With the cycle of life I also had a new generation, my adult children, to spend time with and enjoy life.

Now is the time to start Keeping Your Memories of the day that your child was born because that is one day that he or she will not remember! Pull out your laptop or grab paper and pen and record in writing the emotional experience you had that day. One day your child and his or her descendants will cherish reading your memories you have on this special day.

  • When did you start having contractions?
  • Did you deliver the infant at home or at a hospital?
  • Who took you to the hospital and what was the story behind the transportation?
  • Share the emotional feelings you felt when you saw your infant for the first time.
  • What prayers or wishes did you have for this newborn child?

 

 

Write a Gift…It’s Priceless!

2015-12-05

Every Christmas I faithfully bake the fruitcake that Mom and Grandma baked. I religiously buy the ribbon candy and mixed nuts that were holiday treats for Mom and Dad. These traditional foods make us feel like Mom and Dad are still with us even though it has already been almost seven and nine years that they have been gone.

I am also fortunate to have the story of her childhood Christmas memories towards the end of the Great Depression that she wrote in 2001 for my son’s classroom project. To this day she feels close to me as I carry on some of these family traditions and read the story she wrote for my son:

“My mother was a great cook and everything always tasted good. When I was a young girl, many years ago, I remember the sight of beautiful deep red cranberries popping and spitting in a tall pan on a wood-burning stove. I can hear the popping of the cranberries as the hot syrup caused the berries to make small explosions that splattered and spit at us as I watched by the stove. I remember you had to jump back quickly. The burn from the cranberry syrup was tiny but intense. My memory of this is vivid to this day.

I liked the colors of Christmas. We went to the Nativity play at the First Baptist Church on the corner of Broad and Rhone in Webb City to see the Nativity play where the birth of Christ was retold. The children dressed in costumes and they used a doll for the Baby Jesus. I remember the pretty blue of Mary’s dress. Afterwards the children got paper sacks filled with colorful Christmas candy, an apple and an orange. This was a real treat. The colors were important for me. This was a time when we were all coming out of the Great Depression. Most of us had little and the items called for worn things and drab colors. You cannot imagine how brown everything was in our homes. At Christmas my world became brighter.

The colors made me feel thankful and there were so many colors to absorb. Christmas would not be Christmas without seeing lights on a fir tree in our house. We did not always have a tree each year because some years Pop couldn’t always afford one. One year when I was ten, my Mom let me have my heart’s desire having all blue lights on our Christmas tree. I think now she must have understood how much I loved the beauty of this holiday. This tree was my favorite. It calmed me and gave me peace. My appreciation and happiness of that moment has never been forgotten.

Christmas brings back memories of ribbon candy, the hard Christmas candy each with its own special flavor, and the candied orange peel my Aunt Jessie always made. She also brought minced meat pie. We were not crazy about the pie because it had real meat in it, but it was part of our Christmas tradition. I remember applesauce cake made from a seventy-five year old recipe. It was always so good. Mama only made her special cake twice a year – at Thanksgiving and Christmas. It had black walnuts in it – ones we gathered off the ground after the first frost in the fall.

I remember the fun of making paper chains, stringing popcorn and singing Christmas carols. We sang the same songs you sing today – “Silent Night,” “Jingle Bells,” and “Deck the Halls.”

The stories, including “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” reading about Santa Claus and his reindeer filled my imagination. I remember laying in bed on Christmas Eve waiting to see him fly through the sky and land on the housetop. I always fell asleep before it happened. I wrote a letter to Santa Claus about my wish list. My brothers and sisters and I would go through Montgomery Ward and Sears catalogs to figure out what we wanted. My list was not so grand. Skates. Dolls. Play dishes. Yet we knew, and without resentment, there might not be any present waiting for us on Christmas morning. It did not matter because I loved the wonder of what might be. It’s like watching a Christmas parade. You’re not a part of it but you still find it enjoyable.”

This Christmas give your family members the priceless gift of sharing your Christmas childhood memories with your children or grandchildren. You can write about your most memorable Christmas and add some of your childhood pictures to your story. One day your descendants will enjoy reading how you and your family celebrated the holidays and will cherish the stories that you left them.

If you are blessed to be with your parents and/or grandparents this holiday season, sit down with them and use the voice memo on your cell phone to record their stories .

Today, grab a paper and pen or open up your laptop and start Keeping Your Memories of your traditions.

  • What Christmas decorations did you put up every year?
  • What did you do on Christmas Eve?
  • What was your Christmas dinner and whom did you share it with?
  • Describe your favorite Christmas present .
  • What did Christmas morning feel like when you were a child?

http://www.keepingyourmemories.com