My Dad – Forever He Will Be


Today on Father’s Day memories of Dad flood my heart and soul:

I remember Dad as a gentle, patient man. By example he quietly taught me life skills. He taught me to have good character and work ethics. I watched him work responsibly and diligently in taking care of his home and property. I watched him rise early in the morning to get to work on time. I admired him for his patience and tolerance.

When I was a little girl, Dad worked long hours as a freight conductor on the Pennsylvania Railroad. I don’t remember him being home, but I never thought of him not being home. It was just that Dad worked and that was life.

Dad would send us across the street to DeLock’s, a small corner grocery store, to purchase the afternoon newspaper for him but did not always ask for the change back from the

Dad gave me the necklace that I wore in my kindergarten picture. He also gave me a little yellow ring with flowers printed on it which I wore every day in kindergarten. Every year he gave me a Valentine’s Day card and gift. I still have all the cards he gave me.

Dad was a handy man. He could fix anything. He would work on his cars. He would work on the yard. Anything that needed to be fixed, he could do it.

Instead of sending me to school for drivers ed, Dad taught me how to drive when I was sixteen years old. He was a patient man. Behind our house we had a field with an alley that circled it. He had me drive back there until I got used to the feel of driving. Then he took me out on the streets to drive.

Fortunately, he was a quiet person and didn’t anger easily. For the number of his cars that I, and some siblings, damaged he never yelled at us.

Dad always changed the oil in his car himself and when I was a teenager, I asked him to teach me to do the same. He was willing to show me, however, I did not have to change it often as he did it for me.

I remember Dad at the Indiana Dunes racing up and down the steep sand dunes faster than us.

Dad passed in February 2007 making this my tenth Father’s Day without him. He’s physically gone but my memories of him keeps him close to me

Preserving the legacies of your father will prevent him from ever being forgotten and future descendants will be able to read his life story and understand their family heritage. Grab your laptop or paper and pen and start Keeping Your Memories of your father starting with the following questions:

  • In what ways are you like your father? And not like your father?
  • What did you enjoy doing with your father?
  • What was your proudest moment of your father?
  • What was the most valuable lesson you learned from your father?
  • What is the one thing you most want people to remember about your father?



Memorial Day – Straight from the Heart

This past Friday night my husband, daughter and soon to be son-in-law began the holiday weekend with shopping at Hunt & Gather. It is one of my favorite quarterly pop-up markets in our area featuring over 150 vintage/antique curators. I have gone to all but one of the thirteen scheduled markets since it originated a few years ago and every time I find something unique. This time what attracted my attention was a perfect fit for the holiday weekend.

My daughter and I stopped at the last table that we saw because the curator had a 1940 vintage suitcase that my daughter wanted to purchase and use at her wedding reception for wedding cards. While she was purchasing it, I noticed something else from the 1940’s. What attracted my attention were the stacks of personal letters written in 1943 and 1944 between a World War II sailor and his wife which the curator purchased at an estate sale. What better time to purchase them than Memorial Day weekend.

It really tugged at my heart and spirit when I saw these personal letters with intimate thoughts that were shared between two young people who were in love with each other. When these letters were written 73 years ago, did they ever imagine they would be sold at a market and a stranger would purchase them to read? There were multiple stacks, and I would have loved to have purchased them all but only purchased two stacks which totaled twenty letters.

In between my activities over the weekend, I read the letters and felt close to this World War II veteran and his wife. It appears he was stationed in the states in Norfolk, Virginia Beach and New York. His wife lived approximately twenty minutes from where I live. They had occasional phone calls but it appears their main communication was writing letters. And because of that, their experience and emotions have been preserved for history.

Below are a few excerpts from the letters sharing first-hand emotions of how a sailor and his wife felt during this time.

The wife in Crown Point, Indiana shared her loneliness to the husband, “I’m awfully anxious to see you again – every time I see a sailor around town. I get so lonesome for you. It’s a good thing you’ll be there to see me in Norfolk. I’d be lonesome so much, seeing so many sailors if you weren’t around. I love you and hurry up and write even if it’s only a little bit.” (postmarked Crown Point, Indiana on September 4, 1943 at 5:30 p.m.)

The sailor sent instructions to the wife, “I have a little news for you. I am going to start this schooling the 27th of September. When you get here, I will be able to spend the evenings with you so when you are figuring your trip, figure three to four dollars a day for meals. And also try to get a train that gets here early in the evening so I will be able to meet you. Whatever day you want to come down is ok. As I understand, we have Sundays off when we are going to school. I will tell you more about school when I get in there so don’t ask too many questions now. (postmarked Norfolk, Virginia on September 7, 1943 at 6:30 p.m.)

The unsettled sailor shared with the wife, “I don’t know what to do. I just can’t make up my mind the more I am in this life the more disgusted I get. If I knew where I would be shipped to it would be OK. I am working until 2 o’clock tonight so have this time to write you…

About going back to Norfolk, I am not really crazy about it. But I would get off the streets and that would be something. I don’t know if I would save more money. I guess I stay here until they ask me to move. They have some talk about the S.P. relieving the M.P. in this delivering prisoners to these prison camps. I don’t know much about it. It may be all talk like everything else.”  (postmarked Virginia Beach, Virginia on May 27, 1944 at 8:30 a.m.)

More excerpts will later be posted from this sailor. But for now if you have love letters exchanged between your parents or grandparents, now is the time to pull out your laptop or grab paper and pen and begin Keeping Your Memories of the letters and preserving them for future generations to read.

Letters are a first-hand record of the culture and lifestyle they were living at the time. Combine the letters with pictures of the people mentioned in the correspondence and the images in the picture will come to life when you understand what those folks were experiencing.

A Time I Can’t Remember


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!


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?



Thanksgiving Traditions

2014-11-27 Thanksgiving Day

I’m thankful for memories of Thanksgiving family traditions. My favorite part of Thanksgiving was the preparation for the big dinner. There was always excitement in the air the night before Thanksgiving while my mother, who was an excellent cook, was busy in the kitchen baking and preparing for the big dinner the next day.

Her kitchen counter tops were cluttered with pie pans, mixing bowls, utensils, spices and ingredients needed to make her delicious pumpkin, mincemeat, and lemon meringue pies, fruit cake, fudge, and rosette cookies filled with jellies and confectioner sugar. Her kitchen sink was piled high with pots and pans and every measuring spoon and measuring cup used.

She had an art of making her own flakiest pie crust. When I was much younger, I loved helping her make the pies because when she was finished, she would let me have the leftover pie dough. I would use her wooden rolling pin and roll out the dough multiple times to get it thin enough and just right. Next I would brush it with melted butter and then sprinkle a mixture of sugar and cinnamon on top and bake it. I always enjoyed putting together my creation and it tasted delicious!

She would always have a totally messy kitchen preparing the food, but when she was finished baking and cleaning up she would arrange everything attractively on the table showing the trophies of her cooking skill.

Keeping Your Memories of family traditions is important to future generations. This Thanksgiving after everyone has had their fill of turkey and desserts grab an audio recorder or a video camera and speak to those who aren’t watching the football games and record some of their Thanksgiving memories also. Here are some questions to get you started:

  • How was Thanksgiving celebrated when you were a child?
  • What were the favorite foods that family members prepared?
  • What was your most memorable Thanksgiving? Where was it? Who was there? What was happening?
  • How has Thanksgiving changed over the years?
  • What was your favorite Thanksgiving tradition?

Mesmerizing 1960’s Halloweens with Marie and Shorty on 165th Street in Hammond

2014-11-01 Halloween windy day

Marie was an intriguing lady. She was extremely thin with straight white shoulder length hair and long finger nails. As a child, I always thought she resembled a witch, but she was an extremely nice woman. Shorty was a short, gray haired, old man who always had quite an unpleasant smell of alcohol on his breath and would always be seen in the neighborhood scavenging for treasures to add to his piles in his backyard.

There was a spell about their house at Halloween time that would draw neighborhood children to them. They would recruit us to help set up their Halloween display. We would get to go in the backroom of their house where they stored frightening creatures and help carry them out to their fenced in front yard. They were technically savvy for the late 1960’s to have some of these creatures electrified to shake and light up.  They also had eerie music playing over the front yard.

Halloween night our block would have a mass turnout of approximately 500 trick-or-treaters coming to see this scary display, and Marie would let the neighborhood kids help tend to the crowd. It was an honor to be on her porch watching the trick-or-treaters who were mesmerized of the scary creatures. When the night was over, I would always walk home delighted for the fascinating evening spent at a haunted house!

Halloween…Marie and Shorty…best memories ever! If only I had a picture of their display! Now is the time for you to be Keeping Your Memories of how you celebrated Halloween as a child. Grab your pencil and paper or your laptop and start answering the following questions:

  • What was Halloween like for you growing up?
  • Did you play tricks on people?
  • What costumes do you remember wearing?
  • What kids did you go trick-or treating with?
  • What Halloween candy did you always hope to get?

Small Town Festivals, Parades and Fireworks


Enjoying my beautiful, peaceful early Sunday morning after a busy weekend of celebrating our independence watching parades, listening to fireworks, and eating butter soaked corn on the cob and sugary cinnamon elephant ears at small town festivals with my family.

It was fun meeting a friend for lunch and browsing through the quaint shops around the local town square and enjoying the statues the town is displaying for the summer. Another day I enjoyed driving the country back roads with my daughter to an outlet mall to take advantage of the 4th of July sales. I’m so thankful for GPS’s because the expressway was bumper to bumper.

Today is totally different as I spend my morning rocking on my porch swing listening to the doves, cardinals, wrens, and robins cooing and chirping their own language distinguishing themselves from one another. There are four or five birds that are flying high and chasing after each other. Even with the fly buzzing near my ear I can hear the chipmunk quickly dash under the porch.

I’ve heard very few cars pass by so far this morning which makes it even better. Perhaps with the fireworks blasting off even after 1:00 a.m. many people are sleeping in today.

I enjoy seeing the lilies, with various colors, in bloom. I’ve never been good at identifying flowers and it’s on my back burner to one day identify and create a journal of all my flowers. The previous owner was an awesome gardener and left a beautiful mixture of flowers leaving a serene setting.

Sadly, the weekend is coming to a close, and I have to prepare to get back to work tomorrow in the big city. Sitting here I’m making a mental checklist of all the work that needs to be done at home. The badminton net needs to be taken down that was put up from last weekend’s festivities, weeds need to be pulled in all the gardens, and the grass needs to be cut as the white flowers from the clover are accenting the high green grass. Despite all the endless work involved, I still love the peacefulness of living in the country.

This has been a 4th of July weekend of celebration for our country’s freedom. In the midst of the busyness of the holiday, I cherish the time I have to sit quietly and cherish this peaceful countryside. It gives me time to ponder and give thanks to God for the United States and for all those who served in previous wars to give us freedom and to protect our country. We must pray for our current armed forces and all government leaders as they continue to defend our country and freedom in the days ahead.  God bless the USA!

How do you celebrate the 4th of July? Now is the time for you to pull out your laptop or grab paper and pen and start Keeping Your Memories of your 4th of July traditions. If your parents or grandparents are still with you, interview and record their childhood memories for future generations.

  • Where did you watch fireworks on the 4th of July?
  • Who did you celebrate the holiday with?
  • If you had picnics, where did you go?
  • What food did you eat?
  • Tell a story of one of memorable 4th of July celebrations.