Friday, September 30, 2011


I only participated in a few football games before seventh grade, even though that's all you would hear on a Saturday afternoon during a home game. Our stadium didn't have lights until after I was married and then the team started winning games.
One good thing with my father not working is he attended the football games with us. Mom came along, too. Dad got so involved in the game, cheering and mostly yelling at the team. Even using a few choice swear words. Mom embarrassingly said, "Jerry." She really didn't like emotionalism.
Dad even drove us to away games, filling the back seat with my friends. In seventh grade, you would think I'd have been self-conscious about being with my parents, but I loved it. My friends all loved him and it was a way to a football game to see our other friends and enjoy the band. He usually treated us after the game as well. Away games also proved to be fun because they were under the lights, a different experience than our afternoon games to which we could walk, just over the hill.
Dad relaxed on Sunday afternoons with football on TV. In the cold weather, he'd build a fire in the living room and we all camped out there. Mom watching some, but sleeping on the couch. I curled up in a chair reading a book. I could read to football because it was the same tone, not much change in the TV screen. Mom and I relished watching half time. Commercials provided entertainment, as well. Either we ordered Matsko's pizza or cooked hot dogs  and s'mores over the fire. Cocooning before the trend made popular.
Dad also watched evening football. I had some interest in the bowl games, seeing the on location show. The bands were fascinating because of the aerial  views. How do they learn to march like that, who can envision that and get kids to do that? Great band directors.
I loved the coziness of our living room. Once in a while, Dad agreed for Mom and I to watch a Shirley Temple movie or other old movie. But I am glad we only had one TV. We stayed together by the fire.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Not All Negative

I also had wonderful worship in sixth grade, too. We had junior choir on Thursdays after school. This, too, started in  third grade. We practiced and performed contemporary songs, like Pass it On, He's Everything to Me, Golden Slippers, Down by the Riverside. Well, contemporary for 1970-75. I love to sing. I'm a chorus singer though. Tried the solo career, but my voice is too weak.
The members that came, also loved to sing. Being a volunteer endeavor helped in the enthusiasm.  A fourth grade boy and I were sweet on each other in a very nonsexual way. And he came to the practices, so we got to see each other. We kept up this special friendship, until right before I entered seventh grade. His grandmother and my mother were friends, which was often the case in my friendships. Most mothers were about 12 to 14 years younger than my mother.
I relished this time to sing. The director and piano player were in their late teens or early twenties.  Our choir sang once a month. My favorite anthem at the end of sixth grade was on Memorial Day weekend.  We combined with the adult choir in the Battle Hymn of the Republic. Shivers up and down my spine, I felt the moment powerful. I still love how the generations worked together for this offering of worship. I think we need more of the intergenerational effort.
As I was thinking of my blog yesterday about Release time, I was also trying to remember positive things, because I never, ever in my rebellion rejected God. I always loved church. I loved to be in His house.  I cannot remember my sixth grade Sunday school teacher. Pretty sad, considering I attended at least 50 Sundays that year. Patty Williams got engaged during our fourth grade class, I goggled her ring while she sat at the desk in the corner room. In fifth grade, we had Barb Hettrick and Marilyn Edeburn. Maybe they taught sixth grade, too. I only know my church experience remained positive, even with my worry about my dad and the lack of his presence in church due to his multiple hospitalizations.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Release Time

From third to sixth grade, after about a month into the school, release time started. This was an option for religious study outside of school. The protestant kids were together and the Roman Catholic students chose to go to Good Shepherd Church over the hill by the oak tree. For me, I was protestant, the first two years my church sponsored the classes. Fifth grade I went to the United Methodist Church and then in sixth grade, we traveled to the Wesleyan Methodist Church.
We left school an hour early, walking to the churches assigned to our grade, in all weather. I suppose  a bad snow storm canceled it, sometimes. No buses for this event. The students who didn't go, studied in the cafeteria. One of my friends stayed and now, I'm sure she was Orthodox, but I never asked why she didn't go. Parents decided those choices then.
West Middlesex didn't have a Jewish population. My mom growing up in Sharon, PA had Jewish friends. Years later when I was a senior and went to a reunion of sorts for Washington Workshops, in Harrison, NY, a boy had a crush on me. I told my mom I discouraged it because he was Jewish and she told me that it would have been OK. But I stray from the story. Maybe I'll blog about that another time and that I wasn't prejudiced, but knew from Bridget Loves Bernie mixed religions in romantic relationships are hard.
I totally enjoyed my first two years of release time. I had pride in my church. I thought it was the best in town. It had that great Fellowship Hall and education wing. It was the biggest. And children are definitely ego, ethno, church centric. I got high grades on the tests, especially in fourth grade. We had memorization cards with a picture depicting the scripture. That wasn't my favorite part, feeling a little shaky on recitation in front of the class. I never wanted to be first.
Fifth grade at the Methodist Church was pleasant enough. We sang fun songs in the sanctuary. We learned about Queen Esther this year. I loved that golden crown in the flannel graphs as well as the purple robe.
Sixth grade we spent the whole time in their sanctuary and sang slow songs. I'm not sure if I felt the leaders looks were disapproving because of rebellion rising in my spirit or if they really were judging us. Even though sixth grade was only the second year to be allowed to wear pants, we had digressed to donning jeans, T-shirts and maybe generally appearing heathen to these very conservative people. Their women never cut their hair and after a certain age, never wore it down, always in a bun. Their dresses, although modern, had to be to their ankles. Not like the Amish, but like the 30's.  The men wore black pants and dress shirts, no long hair.
I knew a Wesleyan family on Chestnut Street and they showed Christ's love in all they did. The mother was a nurse. April, a few years older than I, showed kindness. An older sister did mission work on a Native American Reservation. So I was not against this denomination. I believe in freedom of religion, that is what our nation was founded on.
I do think back that rebellion had taken a root in me and I expected resistance. This time on the roller coaster of preadolescence proved to be the start of a dip. I do wonder if I used this experience as fuel for rejecting good behavior and attitudes. God, though, has put that struggle for independence in us. A child has to form her own ideas, beliefs and parents need to be there for questions. The basic information should have been put there, it was for me. Then through these years up until almost a person has their own children, the personal style of belief crystallizes. This is free will. Parents need to guide, but not panic through these years and pray, pray, pray.

I'm Stealing

 My girlfriend, Ginny Stewart Pierson on facebook writes about her aunt. I graduated not only from high school with Ginny, but also from Jameson Hospital School of Nursing. Her aunt Donna that she writes about was at Jameson when we were there. I just agree with Ginny, these people who lived through the Depression and World War II are different stock than the majority of people today. I don't want to put down the next generations, but I believe there a lot of lessons to be learned from this generation that is fading fast.
If you have any stories of how people overcame great difficulties, please share. Let's encourage everyone.
Spent the weekend in New Wilmington helping Aunt Donna move from her apartment, she will not be able to return. The amazing part was listening and learning about her amazing life. She was a trailblazer for women and for nursing. Also learning more about their childhood, sure wasn't easy, no government dependency. What I learned is struggle can make you stronger and evermore determined. What I fear is that today if people have any hardship they look to someone else to get them out of it. If my grandmother would have done the same we could have turned into a family of government dependents. I think I now realize what the greatest gift is I have received from my family. Well I think I may have always known it but it is good to have some reminders. Truly why they will always be known, for me at least, as the greatest generation
Ginny Stewart Pierson
She is doing well mentally,her back has failed her, but she doesn't complain.She remembers where EVERYTHING she owns came from and the story that brought it to her. She remembers conversations from when she was a student to her time at Pitt and Duquesne(sp) and when she was came back to Jameson, it was for the first NLN accreditation, either get accredition or close the school, she believed strongly in the diploma program even though she had received her BSN and 2 Masters. She knows many if not all of the graduates, names, year and where they went off to. She remembers what table cloth I borrowed for my wedding. I wish there were more people like her. I should have paid alittle more attention. The only time she cried was when she read a letter her mother wrote to her father who had abandoned them when she was 2 and Dad was 3. At 80 yrs old that's where her pain lies.
She was Director of Nursing when we were there, then she became Sr. Vice President, which is the position she retired from. When we were there her office was on the first floor in the Pediatric Dept. Then she moved up to the 4th floor. It's funny because if she hears news about someone in our class she tells me about it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

How He Loves! I prayed for Mary Ellen just before  dropping her at school, I turned the radio on this morning. I tuned it to 107.1- KLOVE and this song came over the air waves.
I stumbled upon this song last year during the Fine Arts trip to Detroit on You-Tube. We were using Katie's lap top, making listening to this song very intimate. Sometimes I think we forget that Jesus really loves us. It is all through the Bible. He sings over us. He doesn't look at us as a big blob of  humanity.
One time talking praise from WCRF, reading the Psalms spurred my delight. The reading proclaimed God's mightiness in making the heavens, how He stretched His hands and made the stars- He knows them by name, too. Then the thought popped into my mind, He also knows the intricacy of my hand and not only my hand. How mighty He is and yet how detailed He is. Great things and small, the Lord God made them all- I know that is a quote or near quote from someone, but I don't know who. Forgive me.
I want to just remind you  today that Jesus loves you. He is waiting to forgive you. Only His blood can cleanse you from that dirty feeling sin gives us. Open up to His love, whether this is your first time or you're a seasoned Christian, a little dry, who needs to feel Jesus. How He Loves!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Mr.'s and Mrs.'s

The rest of the neighbors, I tended to call Mr. and Mrs., except for the Rev.s. On the other side of Grundy's were the Grimms. These kids were a bit older than I, yet younger than my brother or sisters. I used the excuse for not coming in one time, "I thought that was Mr. Grimm calling for Paula." I loved being outside. They all watched me during my grandpa's funeral. Swimming at Grundy's pool, I watched the funeral procession of cars roll to the cemetery.
On down Haywood, the Garmans lived. I laugh now, because they seemed ancient when I was a child. Then as I grew up and we celebrated Mrs. Garman's 95th birthday, I realized she was only in her late 60's when I was growing up. She had a small Chihuahua, (I guess there aren't any other kind) Bootsy.  She walked him every morning, just outside their porch. He liked to sit in the outstretched paws of Rags, the neighborhood Lab. They just chilled together. Mrs. Garman wore her hair in a bun, with wire rim glasses and long dresses. They allowed us to play on their porch, a very kind couple.
Next to them were the Winters. They babysat me one night and I had a good time. Mrs. Winters sometimes babysat the Powell kids. One day, a fire started in their home. I saw Mr. Winters laying on the couch afterwards, I suppose from smoke inhalation. Later they put a trailer down in their back yard. My husband still wonders how they lowered it down that steep hill. I believe the answer is carefully.
The first ones I met were Mr. and Mrs. Boal. I ran across our yard to their small green house. I think I must have thought it was so cute. I bounded up the porch and peered in their screen door. I could see straight through the living room and dining room to their kitchen and spied the clear glass cookie jar. Immediately, I asked for a cookie. Dan must have been on Mollie-patrol because he was right behind me to try to corral me.
I wiggled my way into their hearts and they mine. I ate often with them and even stole Mr. Boal's meat one time. I thought he said he was finished. I still have a scar on the back of my head when Mr. Boal tried to bring me in from my swing set. He always had a cigar hanging from his mouth. As I bucked my head back, it hit that cigar. I also didn't leave it alone, picking at it.
The Boals wanted to take me to a fancy restaurant, the Oak Room, on RT 62 across from the Hickory Plaza. Mom had to put my fanciest dress on me and I really behaved myself. They were like grandparents. Another time I flew into the Youngstown Airport by myself, they drove over to see me get off the plane.
In 1971, they celebrated their golden wedding anniversary. They seemed so old. The affair in their home, proved to be quite elegant. She wore a gold and white dress, he a white suit coat. Her hair done up in silver. He had no hair.
Mr. Boal died in winter of 1973, while I was in sixth grade. I cried almost uncontrollably, more from guilt, I believe because I hadn't spent much time with them as before  I went through my early sixth grade growing pains. Diane and Danny also attended, giving me glances, like get it together, you're embarrassing us. But they never stole meat from his plate, sat for hours on summer evenings listening to talk, played on their kitchen floor with their daughter's old metal kitchen tool toys, or had a fancy evening with this couple. Regret that I was growing up, he had been sick and I ignored him.
Mrs. Boal asked me to spend  a few nights in the house, as she grew used to being alone. I wore an old granny gown of my sister's. I slept in Mr. Boal's room. They didn't share bedrooms, the only couple I knew who officially did that. I felt a little funny, but I wasn't scared or overly disturbed.  I helped Mrs. Boal get through a rough time.
The Boals had their problems. We heard them fight at times. Mr. Boal looked after his burn barrel too much where a bottle was stashed.  This happened before counseling was encouraged. They coped in their way. Mrs. Boal loved him and missed him when he was gone. Sometime in my high school years, she went to live with her daughter. She said nasty things about my parents later, but I think again, dementia had set in. I have good memories of this couple.

Sledding with the Grimms. I'm the 2nd one in. Karen is the leader. She was the oldest of the Grimms.

Mr. Boal

My Comment on Poor Enough

JoAnn Butrin was at our church this weekend. I bought her book,”From the Roots Up” I think any mission minded person should read this. JoAnn is the director of International Ministries for the Assemblies of God World Missions. I’m only on chapter 3, but she has already addressed the superiority complex we get when we help that can even hinder the souls we want to see saved. First, we need to know what people really want and need, by 1. Establishing Trust, 2. Listening, 3. Assessment, 4. Participation in Solutions.
I have tried over the years(19) as a home health nurse to incorporate these in my practice. My main goal always is the golden rule- love people as myself, treat them the way I’d want my parents treated. Not patting myself on my back, but I have been told I am different than most of the nurses. I always pray it is the Holy Spirit in me, that helps me respect their dignity. Not all are poor- in fact, sometimes they are the easy ones for which to care. Some are very rich, materially- they are the tougher nuts to crack as it were. They have already put me in the subservient role. But with God’s help, I love on them anyway.
I think it is important to not lose sight that all are created in the image of God, God loves them all and His desire is that “none shall perish” He is no respecter of persons and neither should we. I guess that is why I love what I do. I am privileged to go into so many different homes and bring God’s presence with me. I have been in Muslim, Jehovah Witness, pagan, and atheist homes. I have had “Church” in some homes. Did you ever pray for blood and urine? And then sing praises when God answered that prayer?
Well, now that I pep talked myself into my Monday, I pray others are as eager as I am to meet God’s heart and desire for the lost world.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


I've mentioned some neighbors from when I was growing up before in my blog. I thought I would elaborate on some of them.  We called some by their first names and others Mr. and Mrs.  I'll write about those I called by their first name. Not really sure why we were allowed to do so, but we did.
Jane and Bill Thompson were in the small white ranch across the street. Bill and my dad were 2nd cousins. Bill's mother, I wrote about before, Myrtle Lewis Thompson was first cousin with Frank, my dad's father. So, this relationship was a closer one. Billy and Dan were the same age and friends, too. One morning, the teen boys had planned on fishing, but Billy didn't know where Dan  slept. No one locked doors then and Billy, a big guy, ended up wandering around upstairs looking for Dan. My father noticed him while he was still in bed and decided he better keep still, because in the the shadows, he just wasn't sure.
Billy married Francine in Austintown, OH. They lived over in the Valley. They had the Yum, Yum Tree for a while in the Hickory Plaza. The three couples and myself were in a weight loss club. We weighed in, talked about the how the weight loss was going or not, then ate. Dad did the best. He was a disciplined person. The plan involved apple cider vinegar before you ate, lecithin pills, and some other vitamins. I also believe men can lose the pounds, just thinking about it, and cutting out their pop.
Jane tutored reading students. She talked interestingly and involved me, which as a kid, brings delight. I loved their screened porch, sitting there on hot summer evenings when no one even thought of having air conditioning and joining in the conversation.
An old lady, Myra lived in the Cape between the Thompsons and Garretts. I believe she rented from the Garretts. She wore her gray/white soft hair longer and as all women then, longer dresses. She was quiet, but she didn't scare me. When she died, they had a sale at the house, because I believe she had no surviving relatives. My mom walked through the house. She came home bothered that strange people even pawed through Myra's underwear drawer. Mom bought a photo of a girl with a velvet cast, the Victorian style or 20's, with wavy hair and big eyes.
Dutch and Janet lived in the red brick Italianate style home. Dutch was a tall, broad man and I swear everyone was related to him. They enjoyed their front porch. He always said something to me when I walked out the door. When their son moved to Janet's mother's home two houses down on Haywood from us, they often passed through our yard. Janet seemed to be as small as Dutch was big. She was soft-spoken and listened to me. She also was a secretary at the high school. She always had to go back sooner than I.
I mentioned the preachers in the manse beside us before.
Across Haywood on the same side of Main St. in a red brick ranch, lived Dan and Sara Grundy. They owned a pool that was always opened if the neighbors followed the rules. First, Sara, a Red Cross instructor, gave us all swimming lessons. She made them very fun. 7 feet at it's deepest with a diving board, as a three or four old standing at the end, Sara, in the water, gave me the courage to jump. Then you couldn't stop me. After lessons, we practiced diving for coins and then got to keep what we brought to the surface. The other condition of swimming in their pool required having an adult with you, as well as always saying hello and thanks when you were done- Wait, I think those last two came from my mother. The girls and boys, with long hair, had to wear bathing caps- oh, what a pain. We also always had to rinse our feet in the pan at the gate door. Then when I got home, I had to sit on the porch to drip off, more.
I enjoyed the summers when Sara's daughter came home with her children. Dianne, a few years older than I had a million more brilliant ideas than I. A brother was my brother's age. I think they were a blended family. We played in the Sara's basement during summer storms and scared ourselves with stories of electrocution from lightning. Sara and Dan live in a red brick ranch. In the summer they slept downstairs because it was too hot upstairs.
Their daughter, Pam, was friends with my sister, Gerri Lee. Pam loved to sunbathe and before her wedding, Sara panicked that Pam would be very dark walking down that isle. Both of their kids were whizzes with math. Danny, their son, would talk Dad's ear off if we filled up at their gas station in town. He wanted to know how all us kids were doing.
Tomorrow I'll talk about the Mr's and Mrs's in  my neighborhood. I look back and I am so thankful for not only the nurturing from my family, but the town on whole. Everyone seemed to watch out for our safety, but as I mentioned in this post, the women, especially, listened to us. I often visited with these women. I do think we are missing a lot these days between generations.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Another Death

My daughter came home from the football game with a purple ribbon on her red hoodie. A classmate's mother had died today. I skipped the football game to go to calling hours for my friends(sisters from church) mother.  Two very different ages, but families grieving. Cancer is the culprit.
Pastor Ken shared about his week on Wednesday night prayer meeting. Melody with her cancer returning, a young woman of 40. An older man, who may not make it home. First it was bladder cancer, now it is in his pancreas. Pastor talked about Elizabeth, who if she had lived, would have suffered for two months to two years, the doctors predicted. The cancer had ripped through her stomach, and other organs.  She was a quiet woman with a fierce love for her Savior. He saved her on Wednesday from a painful, lingering death. It is still hard to say good-bye, I thought as I listened to Sandy describe her mother's death this evening, as I have so many times in funeral homes, even this one.
I had such an oppressive feeling this morning. Such sadness in this world. I wasn't even sure what I would find when I came home from work today with my dog. He shook it off, whatever it was. I thank God. No, not to even compare the death of an animal to a person, but death stalks us at all turns it seems sometimes. 
I think of other young girls, high school or college age, who lost their mothers to cancer. I won't swear this time, but I'm thinking it. I feel for them because I almost lost my mother at that age. God healed her and we had her for 26 more years. I didn't know that at age 20, when the hospital called at night, my father rushing out the door to be with her, and still not home in the morning. I drove on to nursing school, distraught. The instructors encouraged me to take a leave, but I knew I couldn't quit or change my plans because my mother would give up, if she thought I had given up on her. She told me during this time, she was ready to go, but I looked at her and told her I wasn't ready for her to die. I was too young. She came to my wedding in a wheelchair. She didn't walk for another year, but walk she did with physical therapy and my father's faith in her. He wouldn't let her give up, either.
I think of Christina losing her mother, Wendy; of Rachel, Robin, Joy, Kristy losing their mother, Nancy. I think and pray for another of Mary Ellen's friends, who's mother has cancer.
A girl always misses her mother. I'm a girl of 50 and miss my mother these last three years. A girl misses her during her wedding, her children's births, her heartaches and happiness. In big events and small little moments, in twilight before evening activities start, an ache can grab her lungs with a hard sigh.
My prayers are with these daughters. I don't know why these mothers have to leave their young daughters. But I know my Savior said He would never leave or forsake His followers. We live in a fallen world and Death thinks he rules, but Jesus stole his keys. There is victory in knowing Jesus. Like the tapestry in a poem I heard, it's all knots and snags here, with a glimpse of beauty, but above, we will see the majestic tapestry.
Let Jesus love surround the sorrowing.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Old Houses with a Story

My family joined the Hermitage Historical Society again after too long a break. I love sitting in that living room. Much work has been done, old photos and new paintings have been added. Mt. Hickory Farm on one side and the Locus Grove Home that houses the Society on the other, with Bob Lark's donated painting of Hermitage in TN, Andrew Jackson home in the middle.  Old furniture that is new to the home has been added.
I spent many Tuesday afternoons in that house with Mairy Jayne Woge researching Hermitage, or Hickory Township history for my ancestors. Ten years ago  the idea to write about David and Mary Thompson germinated before I started working full time. At the meeting ten years ago in September, right after the 9/11 attacks, I gave the program on Mt. Hickory and my family. How it all started with Diane many years ago as an adolescent rubbed the tombstone of David and Mary's son, Edward, a Civil War veteran. She sent it in to Washington, D.C. and his war records were sent to us. But we never knew much before that, until one day at Buhl Day, I met up with Mairy Jayne selling calenders. Mt. Hickory acknowledged David Thompson as the builder of the back part of that home. She had done copious research on the homes and families. We knew David's widow, Mary, married Charles Koonce and lived in Tara, but that was sketchy. Grandma Evans remembered playing on the lawn of that magnificent home.
This night the program was on World War II, showing quilts that reflected the times. The first one she showed, the Roosevelt quilt with Fala, FDR's Scotty. I looked at the girls. My mother loved Fala and had cartoons in a scrapbook. Then she talked about the women joining the work force, and mentioned Westinghouse. Mom had a job there until my father came stateside to Georgia in 1945 and she just quit to go live with her husband. The boss wanted her to take a two week vacation, but she said, "NO!"
They made torpedoes at  Westinghouse and tested them at Westinghouse Bay in Pymatuning. That was news to me. I wonder why no one had told me that, as much as we had gone to Pymatuning. It was near the Jamestown Marina. I have a picture of me "ice skating" on that area years ago during Winter Festival.
I'm so excited to be involved in the Historical Society again. Ten years is too long of a wait. And after the program, there is food. This night provided by Maxine Patterson, who lives in the other Italianate home built around the same time as Locust Grove. I am thankful my girls show interest in history, too. Plus the house is so opulent. They have done much renovation.  The next meeting is the third Tuesday of the month at 7PM.
I grew up across the street from this house, which is an example of the architecture of Locust Grove. I always admired Locust Grove on US 62,when it was privately owned and had horses in the field by it. Now a beautiful park graces it surroundings. My mother went to a birthday party there when she was in high school.
Wonderful old homes with stories I love.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Peaks and Valleys

Dad being sick as I entered adolescence created a strange feeling. Being sure of myself, my mouth found a lot of trouble. My mother often heard the sassing since we were often alone with Dad being in the hospital. Our feelings were taunt, ready to spring into orbit. Mom more likely worried what she would do without a husband that provided well, as well as loved her exorbitantly. She truly depended on him.  No driving, no job skills had been needed when she married him.
I was a self absorbed pre-teen scratching my way to significance. One morning, on a leave from the hospital, the three of us sat at the kitchen table after breakfast. Mom probably asked me to do the dishes, which I already knew I was going to do. My mouth opened fire as I sauntered to the sink. Out of the side of my eye, I glanced Dad attempting to get up, in the old days to slap my mouth, but he suddenly sat back down. With the headaches he got, he must have been dizzy. I'm telling you, just seeing that gesture made me realize I had overstep the bonds of my status. I was still the child.
I tried to tow the line, as they say, but that mouth often blurted out words, attitudes and sarcasm. Sometimes the mood came over me like a little storm cloud and I had no umbrella to shield myself from those feelings. And saying,"I'm sorry." was so hard, like Mom would make me feel guilty all over again.
Then other times, we could get along comfortably like when I was younger. As I was reaching for teen hood, I still got dolls in sixth grade Christmas. Thumbelina, my last baby doll, didn't wear out. She was sweet, but not in my heart as all my other dolls. I think I also got a Barbie doll, too.
I'm sure having my dad gone a lot didn't help this brooding, groping dance to adulthood. I so wanted to be grown-up and important. Sometimes, don't you wish you could go back and say, "Relax." I know I want to smooth some girls in this similar stage, now. I feel for some girls who have to grow up more quickly today than I ever did. I was still protected by loving parents; the TV and culture didn't shout,"Be this, be sexy, be adult." 
Sometimes, I seem quiet, I don't speak up, but I had learned self control. Lately, in this stage of my life, I think I act like that 11-12 year old, blurting out  mean things to the drivers in other cars, or after I hang up the phone. I wonder what happened to self control and pray for it more. Life is a journey of peaks and valleys.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Kindness and Faith

Dad began a long series of tests and hospital stays. Before open visiting hours, when hospitals were not businesses, we were limited when we could see him. My mother depended on rides. Like the first day, Rev. Hatch drove her to the Farrell hospital. By the next day, Beverly Tomer volunteered to take me in the evening to see my dad. Mom must have stayed, because it was just me with Beverly. With closed visiting, an age limit was strictly enforced at age 14. I was 11, but looked 14. Poor Beverly had to lie, it shocked her in a way, although I think she knew that would have to happen. The lady in the coral jacket asked her if I was 14. "Oh, yes!" she breathed out. But only two were allowed in the room, so Bev stayed in the lobby.
I entered the small elevator, pushing the button to the floor. Not too hard as Farrell is a small hospital, only two floors. I found the room and rushed at my dad. I don't remember seeing him sick before in a hospital bed. Dad always managed to have the biggest smile for me. Mom looked worried and exhausted. Life changed in that instant when the man rear ended our car.
With all those restrictions, I never really had been on a hospital floor before. It smelled sterile, or like betadine.  When my mom had her gallbladder out, I was seven. I stood on State St of Sharon and waved at a pink form in the window. She had a room on the street side. Later the scene reminded me of Yours, Mine and Ours when all those kids wave at their new sibling. Only I had no new sibling, just a bottle of gall stones that hung around in the china closet for years.
I think the nurses got to know me. Mom knew some of the supervisors. Norma Bobby was her first cousin on her dad's side, his oldest sister, Edith. Sue was Sara Grundy's sister.
One of the diagnosis for my dad was whiplashed. He spent some time in Cleveland Clinic, months at St. Elizabeth's in Youngstown, OH.
Because of my age, I spent days at Marge and Weed Williams farm. Kathleen baked biscuits from scratch. I told Mom  the food tastes better in the country. Marge taught me how to ride her horse, Dusty. I had such freedom again on a horse, singing through their orchard.
Danny stationed in Quantico, VA, carpooled home every weekend. I'm sure a young Jody, a high school senior, proved to be an attraction as well. Jody waitressed at different restaurants, Perkins, A&W, until the weather changed to cold. If Gerri Lee came home for the weekend, we managed to have dinner at Perkins at Jody's table.
Dad, Mom and I ate our Thanksgiving dinner that year as a family in the solar room on the second floor of Farrell hospital. The food lived up to be hospital food, but we were together. We dressed up as always for dinner, Dad in a new housecoat. Uncle Dale(or someone from that family) picked Mom and I up to have a later meal at his house. Uncle Dale cooked and made the best pecan pie. Grandma must have been there, too. Uncle Dale perceived my idea of the best part of Thanksgiving is the leftovers, especially turkey, as we left, he handed me a baggie of turkey meat.
Sara Grundy drove us to St.Elizabeth's in the  spring. She didn't drive over I-80, but took OH 304.
One time I hadn't seen Dad for awhile. I sat on his bed. Actually, I think I was already in seventh grade, near 13 or already turned 13. I sat on the bed beside him and he told me I was beautiful, he'd date me if he was younger. The implied being if he were not my dad. He proudly loved his children, letting us know.
I know there were so many people who helped, were willing to drive us, sent cards, kept on an eye on me. What a wonderful time, even with the suffering. 
And faith. I remember reading James about how the elders were to pray over a ill person. Dad was home, in his traction set up in his bedroom, cheeks looking like a chipmunk's as I read the passage. I cried, praying a prayer of faith, knowing he was going to be healed from this.
As I said this changed our lives. Dad used up his sick time and we waited a year before he could retire from Sharon Steel. Danny paid our bills. We lived on food stamps. Yet somehow in this time, the house was paid off. We celebrated by putting a jewel Mom bought years ago at James Buchanan's home Wheatland in Lancaster on one of our many marvelous trips, in our newel post. The jewel represented a house with no more mortgage.
On one trip to Pittsburgh with a medical purpose, I believe to the VA, Dad managed to let us shop in  Gimbel's. We couldn't buy much, not like years before. Mom did want me to get Earth shoes, but that was it that day. I never complained, but missed getting new clothes. My cousin, Carol, in her first year after high school and living on her own, shrunk clothes. She gave them to me, which was so great, since I loved her style. God answered a prayer, I didn't even think to pray.
The director of the Children's Aid Society, knowing my parents' character, chose Dad, retired from Sharon Steel, and Mom to be house parents in 1975.
We missed Dad's second 13 week vacation, when we were going to go to England. Dad missed my joining the church due to his being in the hospital. I waited till December to get my ears pierced the year I turned 13.Then I think of all the things we would have missed otherwise had that man had not hit my dad, with no insurance. I didn't learn bitterness, but thankfulness, due to kindness and faith.


I walked to and from school almost every day. The school lay across the street and over the hill. We had to travel to the cross walk where the police ladies stopped traffic. No crossing anywhere else. When I started at the Oakview building, we tried to go over in front of our house on the crest of the hill, but the cop lady blew her whistle at us or if we got away with it, they always asked us the next day if we had done that.
Sometimes on rainy days a car showed up to gather all the kids. Maybe it was my dad's car, or Mr. Clarke,  Wencil's or Puhl's. I'm sure the parents had a network of a schedule. Mr. Clarke attended college, so he was free in mornings, sometimes. Mothers drove, too, but not mine. We scurried to the car and climbed in where we could. No seat belts then. And we always had a ride home in rainy weather, too.
My favorite time to walk home was in the late summer, early fall hot afternoons. I wandered through the back yards, sweater or jacket wrapped around my waist. Our neighbors, Jane and Bill Thompson, had a grape arbor. They were also my dad's cousins, so I never felt guilty, in fact, I think I had permission, to steal away some of those Concord grapes, warm and fleshy from the afternoon sun. That bright light filtering through the lumpy grape leaves, shadows flickering as I sucked the sweet purple skin to look at the clear green inside.
Being a privileged sixth grader, staying to help Mrs. M., I often started home after the police ladies left for the day. Sometimes I crossed Main Street, on the flat near the east entrance to town. That saved a few minutes and many yards out of the walk home.  
In the fall, after I got home, if Dad had worked day turn, he'd gather up whatever kids wanted to go for a ride and we venture over to Hartford apple orchard. He took some back way, probably up Yankee Run Road, past my Aunt Jim's house. The Hartford apple orchard was farther south on OH RT. 7 then, almost into Yankee Lake. I think sometimes we came out the Thompson-Sharpsville Rd. A quiet man, but always listening to the kids chatter, didn't say much unless needed. The evenings evolved quickly into a crisp cool night.
One day in late September I walked home and Dad came in shortly after me. An odd occurrence as we had breakfast together. On his way to work around 230 that afternoon, as he waited to turn onto Swamp Road to Farrell, an old man, talking to the three ladies in his car, rear ended my dad. Dad got out to make sure they were all OK and then went on to work his afternoon shift. His head throbbed like never before and he left work, highly unusual for him.
He quickly told my mother and me this story. It was a shock, but we felt he would get over it and continue to work. Just shook up this day.
A week later Dad had an appointment with the mill doctor, "stark naked" before the doctor, who gave the OK to go back to work.
This day, I crossed at the cross walk because I was walking past the church and manse. My mom called out to me from the side door of the manse. Rev. Hatch's car stood, the motor running. I ran up the little hill to them. Mom said,"Your dad had to go to the emergency room from work. Rev. Hatch will take me to the hospital." I was to stay with  Gail at the manse.    
I think from the sketchy, non medical method my parents had and plus being only 11, I can't be certain, but my father had a big blood clot("the size of a grape cluster") in his leg, that the mill doctor missed and I believe it was a mini stroke or some kind of blood clot that caused my dad to leave work for the emergency room that October day in 1972.   
The first of the major outside changes sixth grade was to bring.                                       

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Life Coaching

I met up with a mentor in life, Jeanne McAdams, the other day. Jolly Jeanne we sometimes called her. She is positive, understanding and an encourager and motivator.
Jeanne and I started home health at the same time. She is ten years older than I, but I had tens years experience in nursing over her. Sitting at our desks on opposite ends of a long row, early in the dark mornings, trying to catch up on the paper work. I believe it was 530AM or 6, bleary eye, but so wanting to get this new experience correct. All we wrote in the home folders had to match  the charts in the office, much documentation on teaching from care plans and medication teaching. All us nurses in that office on the Shenango Valley Freeway were rookies at home health. Then  we all met up again after 5PM to try to catch up with doctors, they didn't appreciate calls during their office hours- Thank God that has changed and so glad for fax machines. Now, some patients think all we input into our lap tops goes directly to their doctor...if only.
Over the years and working for two different companies together,doing Mary Kay together, swimming at the Radison, having her daughter baby sit my girls, a deep relationship developed. We even worked at a third home health, but not together. She did evening visits at Sharon, while I took my first foray to Senior Independence. We phone each other often about our different experiences.  She ventured into travel nursing just before I went to work for Sharon Regional Home Health.
Jeanne has a granddaughter in the Valley, so she makes sure she gets back her to see the baby. Now that child is three, Jeanne doesn't want to travel anymore. Bedside nursing has become such a business. Hospitals operate on customer satisfaction anymore. No patient teaching, may make them feel bad. Can't tell them what to do. Jeanne tells me that Medicare reimburses with patient satisfaction, now. I know we have to meet outcomes.
I told Jeanne how excited I was about writing and wished I could do more. She gathered my enthusiasm and motive, brainstormed some ideas for making it happen. I feel she could be a life coach and as we conversed, I believe that was the conclusion.
Now, I'm in her smart phone, I hope we keep closer in touch. Everyone needs a friend/mentor like Jeanne.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Maybe We Should Have Had Plaza Pizza Tonight!

Why was I so excited to see Plaza Pizza on the table the other night? What is it and why is it so great to me? Because of the other story I didn't really explain Plaza Pizza, so now I will.
Plaza Pizza is in the Hermitage Towne Plaza, for years known as Hickory Plaza. Before the mall was built in 1969, the Plaza contained the shopping events, like Santa coming to town. Penney's, Sears(Mr. Powell worked there part time), a bakery,(the name has escaped me!), Stambaugh Thompson's, the best hardware store, ever. Over the years, Bantam Cinema, Cinema 3, our neighbors, Billy and Francine Thompson operated The Yum, Yum Tree that sold magnificent pies, Zayer's, Jamesway and I'm sure a million other names you could add. Plaza Pizza survived the years.
Plaza Pizza sells large trays, so we always had it at any parties. Youth group in the gym or in someone's rec room in their basement. If you had a group coming, you had Plaza Pizza. And played pool while listening to Y-103.
I love it because of the yeasty doughy thick crust and the sweet pepper sauce, thick mozzarella cheese, especially if someone ordered extra cheese. That long white box screamed party time. Slumber parties with girls eating all night.
Katie showed surprise at my delight at seeing Plaza Pizza. The owner of Pizza Joe's goes to our church so for any event there, boxes of Pizza Joe line the tables. We had Pizza Joe's at her graduation open house. I think I had forgotten Plaza Pizza. The last time I ordered it, my old Bible study came to my house for a party. Warren and Tracy Sullivan picked it up for me, since my girls were young, and I couldn't leave them to get it. Plaza Pizza doesn't deliver.
This pizza on the table and bottles of pop, with a bowl of ice, along with chips and a cake or dessert thrown in has "Party" written all over it.
Everyone seemed to order it for their get togethers.
Maybe we should have all had Plaza Pizza tonight!

Thursday, September 15, 2011


The best thing about sixth grade was being the oldest students in the building. I walked to school and soon Sherri(I looked at yearbooks and saw that's how she signed her name)also joined us. We stayed after school to help our fourth grade teacher with her room, cleaning the blackboards, actually green, and talking. We talked and talked.
She commented on the mix up of the abilities of the students this year. When we were in fourth grade, she stood at the front of the room and called out figures and functions, as she finished, someone had to blurt out the answer. I think Greg Morrison always answered it first or Nancy Nych. Well, all the kids were pretty quick. I think I was first once in a while. Now, we were mature sixth graders, former students, allowing more freedom.
This was the time I think teachers had more freedom. I visited a woman today, who taught third grade around this time-1972. She first described her display the scholars made for the ocean, then she showed me three faded pictures of the "aquarium" they fashioned, "all to scale," mackerels, whales, dolphins, sea plants. I thought of how Mr. Oakes always had a forest in his room, as we slipped by in the hall, peeking in his window. Sometimes we got to go into his room for movies together.
One comment on my sixth grade blog talked about another sixth grade teacher. I didn't have her, although I got to know her later in high school because she was friends with the school nurse and we gathered in the nurse's office. Mrs. E gave the author of the comment a book at the end of the year. She remembered all her students, even years later after I was an adult, she recalled our names.
Back to my fourth grade teacher who was upset at not having the brightest kids, years later, on orientation for a home health company with my friend, Jeanne, a trip to house was planned. Jeanne told me the name of the patient and some medical history and I exclaimed, "Oh, she was my fourth grade teacher! She didn't like having the slower kids."
As soon as we walked into the door, she hadn't even noticed who I was, she said,"I had the worst nightmare last night. I was in hell with these kids who wouldn't listen or try to learn." I glanced at Jeanne and slightly smiled,"Didn't I tell you?" We laughed afterwards in the car.
This teacher introduced my sister to Laura Ingalls Wilder and so, me, too. Diane wrote a letter to me on my first month in fourth grade reveling in the joy of the Little House books. She didn't read them to our class, but I read them and still love Laura's simple style of writing. As I saw where Mrs. M. lived, I thought she lives in a little house book. A stove took up the dining/eating room, a galley really for the kitchen, and this is where they spent their time. She had a modest living room, that looked seldom used. A bedroom on the ground floor where she and her husband slept because stairs were too hard, as they got older. A son lived on the homestead, they had dairy cows. It was just how I imagined Laura's home to look.
What heritage these teachers passed on to us. They taught us so much more than the basics. We sang fun songs to help us learn history and danced the Virginia Reel, that was in the fifth grade. They inspired us.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Eat My Plaza Pizza, Too

Katie and I visited a "coffee house" in the basement of an old church in Sharon last evening, Bethlehem Presbyterian Church. I told her of the last time I was there. My cousin Paula sang on Christmas Eve while I was in high school. We skipped our own Christmas Eve service to support Paula. Paula really trusted the minister at that time. But I couldn't remember how Paula got started at this church. She was married to Fred at the time, an ex-priest.
A man with gray hair still styled like the 70's, like Tony Orlando, unloaded a flat box of Plaza Pizza from his car when we pulled into the parking lot. When my mom was a little girl she lived in this neighborhood, we were next to the Wengler school, which is abandoned now. Telling Katie all these stories. Like Aunt June being in a school play because this school had a stage, she sang about where did her puppy dog go? at the end, shouted out, "Here, Tippy" The name of their dog. Everyone called the dogs by their first name with family surnames. Mom felt it was a big hit. Pride filled her as her dad was one of the few fathers who attended on his lunch break.
I looked at the man and thought, I know him. I'm also relating to Katie how Elaine and Paula lived not too far from this area and as kids we just walked around while parents visited on Sunday afternoons. The man is rushing around, but says,"Come on in." We were early because of being bored at home, waiting to go.
The red haired young man, Dave, from our church who is performing, of course, is there. Katie is in Bible study with him and his friend, Nick, also at the table. We pull up chairs, then I jump up to look at old pictures. I saw my friend's step dad in one of the photos on the wall and I'm pretty sure I pick out the pastor with whom Paula felt so comfortable relating. Back at the table, Katie asked me about the pictures, then the gray hair man invited the people to get pizza while it is hot.
I'm so excited because it is Plaza Pizza. I love the doughy crust and sweet pepper sauce. I grabbed a piece and I asked the man, if he remembered me. It is Albert, who was married to Elaine and it all came back to me why Paula came to this church.
Albert and Elaine married in this church. It was a quiet wedding, since Aunt Eleanor was dying from cancer, lung cancer, never smoking, but working in her parents' bar all her life. We didn't go. Just the immediate family.
Al with a constant smile on his face exclaimed,"Wow, that was another world!" At first I was shy to say anything because of the divorce, yet that has been so long. Elaine actually lived with another man longer than she was married to Al. Al and Elaine had a girl together, Audra. She followed her dream of being a marine biologist, working in Charleston, SC at the aquarium. She keeps in touch with Patrick, Paula's son, who still lives in Dunwoody,Georgia, near Atlanta.
Al performed and sung with a woman who got this coffee house started. Then the main performer's uncle, also from our church, accompanied himself on guitar for four songs.
The young man then is set to sing with his guitar. Several from our church arrived to support Dave.
Al told me on Sunday, attendance was eleven.The coffee house is to reach out to the neighborhood. One man walked and stayed the whole time for the event. The congregation is waiting for their money to run out, in a year or two. The presbytery owns the building. A plan is evolving to allow another congregation that is meeting in Masury, Ohio, but still in the Shenango Presbytery to have the building. Al actually is excited. This congregation is the first new church in the presbytery in over one hundred years, the church before that? Yes, Bethlehem.
Bethlehem had previously been the Hungarian Reformed Church, Al told me. The old building is still in Farrell on the corner of Fruit and Darr. When the Hungarian men, the grandfathers from off the boat, decided to name this new church, they chose Bethlehem- no Hungarian in the new name. Al felt that was saying they wanted it to be an American church. The congregation that will move into this building is multicultural. I may also add they are pentecostal, as well. Animation, excitement filled Al's continence as he asked, "Dare I say this is Divine?"
I affirmed Al, he had the right audience with me.
Before talking to Al about this merger, I sat at the table, mourning another fading branch of the Lord's Body. My heart goes to dying fellowships. "Lord," I asked in my heart,"how can Your Body grow? I want to help, somehow."
Now, I know, a plan is in place and I can support Cana(that is how it is spelled on their flyer) Coffee House. The basement is opened every second and fourth Tuesday evening at seven PM. I may not make it every time, but I hope to experience the different music and fellowship at least once a month. I can eat up my Plaza Pizza, too.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


I just finished reading a shot book written in 2001, shortly after 9/11 by Jim Cymbala, "God's Grace-From Ground Zero" He put many of the questions posed almost immediately after this tragedy that was literally in his front yard. He is the pastor of Brooklyn Tabernacle.
Reading this book brought back the uncertainty of those days after the evil attacks. I remember I couldn't turn off the TV in the days following. What would happen next?
Speculation as to why this happened on our soil flooded our minds. Was the devil's picture in those clouds? Was this God's judgment on our nation? Why did God let this all happen?
Jim answers this and other wondering in a calm, practical and Truth centered fashion, with Truth being Jesus. My favorite line is actually a quote from Warren Wiersby, "When you have problems with theology, try doxology" We need to worship the God who is always in control, even when those waves crash over our heads. No this is not a simplistic answer. There are no simplistic solutions to the evil in this world. Evil men do evil acts. I think this is the hardest fact of all of 9/11 for me to accept. A hatred beyond any sane understanding motivated these men to sacrifice all.
I have a hard time understanding animal abuse, let alone all the other abuses. I'm not elevating animal abuse to anything. I'm just saying, I don't understand evil. Yet, as in another book I just read, "For this we were made: that we might know the mind of God and let that mind dwell in us. This is the Word that calls us to reason together with God so that the evil within us may stir us more than the evil around us. It is only in that sequence that the soul of an individual and the soul of a nation can be recovered." Deliver Us from Evil by Ravi Zacharias.
As we reflect this day, we must never forget the positive. Unity reigned. People sought God. The world sorrowed with us and as Bono said, "We were all Americans for one day." Let the love for humankind fill our hearts not just then and not just now, but always.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Happy Birthday, Tracy! Where Are You?

The Powells lived on the other side of the church property. A three year old Tracy started coming to my house. I, as a much older and bolder five year old, took her into my heart. Being so shy, she whispered to me to tell my mom something. One of the first times she visited, I got a pink plastic piece of a doll house sink stuck on my finger. My sister, Gerri Lee, frustrated, had me in the bathroom under the running water and soap to get it off my finger. After that ordeal, Tracy whispered to me, "Your mother is real pretty." I laughed, correcting her to my family dynamics. Her sisters were closer in age. In fact, Janine's friendwas only a year older than I, but Tracy and I hit it off better.
Tracy and I visited each day. I guess she was the little sister I never got. Her parents were teachers and when we first became friends, a babysitter was in their home, usually an older lady. After Tracy's baby brother was born, Mrs. Powell stayed home, and that wasn't long after our friendship developed. We had much fun watching diapers changed and discovering differences. Mrs. Powell calmly continued the task with no remarks, never producing shame at our curiosity.
One time, I tried to stay away from their home for a day. I inched to their back yard, but I never entered. I met the challenge.

Their back yard divided into two areas with trees and bushes. Farther from the house stood the swing set. We pumped for hours trying to reach the tree branches with our feet. If we got into rhythm with the girl beside us, we chanted, "How's your baby?" The pine trees along the alley way provided a play house. In the closest yard, a sandbox set the scene for roads and castle building.
The back porch looked like a stage. One of the older girls in the neighborhood looked like Samantha from "Bewitched!" setting up a TV show. We had Larry Tate and Darin, too, played by girls.
This was time of kool-aid and ice pops. Often we ate at each others house for supper. I always wished I liked mustard because you could draw with it in its container. Ketchup only came in a bottle. Tracy's birthday parties were always in the first back yard.
They had a shed, too, we could go in. One time I cared for a peep in that shed while the Powells vacationed. It bit me and that really hurt.
Tracy being 2 years younger didn't start school with me. In first grade, my mom let me stay home one day, probably after one of those nights of vomiting. I called Tracy on the phone,and got reprimanded by her mom. I just wanted to talk to my best friend.
Tracy is the one I mentioned in my Niagara Falls posting.
Mr. Powell first taught at WMHS. My sister was in his math class when she was a senior. Sometime he moved on to Grove City high school, commuting for a few years. By the time I was in sixth to seventh grade, I guess he tired of the drive and the family moved. We were sad, yet already, Tracy and I were growing apart.
My aunt and uncle lived in Grove City. We visited them often, so I walked to Tracy's new home. One time I went to her slumber party for her birthday to meet her new friends. I had a pleasant time. One summer I believe I spent two nights there, but by then our separate ways became evident. No hard feelings, just maybe a busyness of lives lived apart.
My senior year, we went cross-country skiing at a place in Liberty, south of Grove City. I felt it was a magical time. I loved the clear crisp winter day and rigorous exercise from the skis. Tracy showed enjoyment, too.
Hard to believe how fast I was married after that, just a little over three years. After college for Tracy, she moved to New Jersey, near my sister, the one she thought was my beautiful mother. I lived in Connecticut then, a short three hour ride away. I traveled to my sister's, visited Tracy in her apartment,then dining at Branigan's. As the evening ended, we just both naturally closed with, "See ya." our good-bye all those years ago. We never said good bye. We counted on tomorrow when we were kids.
Tracy had planned to visit me in CT, but that weekend her sisters surprised her with a visit. I have never seen Tracy since. She moved to Texas with her company, I believed married. I sent a sympathy card when her dad died after mine. I used to run into her sister, whose daughter had the very same features as Tracy. I haven't even seen Laurie lately.
Funny how people are so in your lives then it

seems they are gone. Maybe I'll happen to meet a Powell soon. I hope so.

2013, and thanks to Facebook, I have found Tracy and see updated pictures of all the Powells, even little brother, who is taller than all of us, now.
2014, Laurie appeared at my booth at the sesquicentennial. I made her take off her sunglasses and then I knew immediately.   Another Laurie was the Samantha. She died a while back and her sister died on Laurie's birthday. But I got to connect with three of the siblings. I was touched to see them and visit with them all.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Sixth Grade- Oakview Elementary 1972

The day came after a restless night of dreams where everything bad happens on the first day of school. My teacher, Mrs. Janosko, a tall, imposing dark hair and eyed woman, informed us that sixth grade was to prepare us for seventh grade and high school. My class did not have all my comforting friends who had been with me since first and second grade, we were mixed up. They would be in my reading and math classes, but these new people would be in all the other classes. Unease invaded my day. Some of these kids already smoked which in my sheltered world meant really bad. One girl had a bosom that made her looked like she would tip over. I think she should have been in ninth grade, and she wore make up.
I was afraid of changing classes in my familiar hall that was to get me ready for high school the next year. I was afraid of the cool kids that I didn't know. I was relieved to be in my classes with my old familiar people.
These kids were not strangers, except for the girl with the big breasts, they were just not in my group.
By the end of the day of staring at each other and feeling out the sixth grade hierarchy of social status, a new friendship bloomed. Sherry in a month would move to town and we attached to each other. A friendship in this new stage. We would never have played make believe of Peter Pan and Oliver, Indians, princesses and mermaids. No hidden fear of outgrowing each other, since we met in the new life of sixth grade. We only played dolls once when my parents sent her to my best friend's house where we were playing dolls. Sherry jumped right in, but an awkwardness overcame me. Did she think I was immature? But that year, Tracy moved to Grove City and that friendship then changed forever.
A bright hot day in Oakview Elementary where life changed like the leaves outside. Sixth grade stretched me in many directions. Life changes aiding my growth.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Mix Twist

I met a lady today who showed me pictures of her parents. The oval framed a beautiful black woman and the square held a white man. This woman was almost 89, and she was one of the younger of the eight children. I asked her did the families accept her and the other children? She lived in Mississippi as a child. Her father's home in Little Rock, Arkansas. At first her mother's father was about to kill the man, but the mother pleaded,"Papa, we're married now. We didn't have to get married, there's no baby yet. We waited. Put your gun down, you a preacher." And I guess since the white man hadn't violated his daughter, he then accepted the marriage. The first time they rode the train to Little Rock, they couldn't sit together and she had a baby in her arms. The conductor commented, not kindly, on the black baby and the father told him to shut up. After that he bought new cars for the trip, but finding a place that would sell them gas was hard. Usually black people would bring them get gas. The white family hugged them and accepted them, too.
Another time around St. Patrick's Day, I visited a house. When people hear my name, Mollie, they always ask, "Are you Irish?" In this home, the husband and wife were both black. The husband said, "I'm Irish, too." He sorted of laughed when I didn't hide my puzzlement too well. "My dad was Irish. Yes, I grew up in a mixed home." This also would have been the 20's and 30's in Youngstown. Maybe not as hard as Mississippi, but still difficult.
I cared for a lovely woman in Campbell years ago. I also assumed she was all black. Later she showed me pictures of her great grandparents in the 1880's. One a black woman and the husband a white man. They both sacrificed family and social standing with this marriage. One of their sons married a Native American,and she knew this grandmother. Often they were harassed when they went shopping with the more obvious black mother. This lady said,"I really don't know what I am." I told her she was wonderfully kind American and Christian, which she was. I counted her as a friend.
One of my misconceptions I believe from growing up in the 60's and 70's is mixed couples were unique in number to that time and that it was mostly black men with white women. Thanks to "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" and "A Patch of Blue." What is on the surface is not always as it seems. These couples in the past risked status, family, life for the love they felt for each other. And they stuck together despite the odds.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

More Buhl Day

Yesterday's Buhl Day was drizzly, as some others have been. My haluska was perfection. I savored peachy Paterno ice cream and shared fresh elephant ear with Katie. I love how the days are the same and different. This year I saw my high school girlfriend who lives in Kent, OH, now. I glimpsed and thought,"Now, that looks like Gloria, but it's not." Then I realized it was Gloria's sister, Judy. She comes from a family like mine, you can't mistake to whom we belong. She was one of four who also had sisters in the class of 1966. We talked so long, I missed most of the art show.
One year, I determined to be there as they honored the honorees. One of them had just died of cancer. He was on my floor as I was exiting hospital nursing for home health. I worked double those two weeks. Five hours orientation for home health and then my regular afternoon shift for the hospital. I gave two weeks, but the requirement was four weeks resignation. The secretary for the director of nursing liked me, advising me to work out my full notice. The other evening nurse and I bonded with Jim and his family. Such a kind, Christian family man, the factor in the success of the brothers business. His wife and children, who were late teens and early twenties, along with his brothers, shared stories and feelings. We cried as he sunk into unconsciousness and finally death. Yet, when a person knows the Lord, it is a homecoming. I grieve more for the widow and the children as we saw in months and years that after the anchor of their life was severed, their lives unraveled and the brothers couldn't keep the business together. But we didn't know that on Buhl Day as accolades pronounced on a sunny day lifted my spirit because I knew the man.
Ten years at least since fireworks, I bet it's been longer. Each year, we neighbors gathered our chairs in the intersection on my corner and watched the show of crackles and light. I usually had the girls bathed and in pajamas, as the next day was school. Summer was and is over. They start the school year two weeks earlier now and Buhl Day we just "run down to". Listening to the bands from home is like the radio being on in the other room, but I will miss it now that fall is here, if not officially on the calender.
Fall activities soon fill our schedule. Football games on Fri. nights. The Mercer County band show next week. Homecoming in less than a month now. We'll get our warm days, but they will be short and nights will cool off. Leaves will fall. Buhl Day is over for yet another year.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Buhl Day

Frank Buhl, an industrialist, steel man, developed Buhl Farm Park for the working man at the beginning of the last century. Many rail roads had made up amusement parks at the end of their lines so people would ride the trains and spend money at a beautiful man made area of fun. Mr. Buhl didn't agree with that, so he bought the acreage outside of the city of Sharon, set up a trust to care for it, and no admission to enjoy its wonder. Buhl Farm Park is still delighting people to this day.
In the early days, Buhl Day was started on Labor Day. What better day for laborers to relax in the free park set up especially for them? Somewhere down the road of time, Buhl Day didn't appeal to people anymore. I know growing up, I never heard of it. It wasn't until after I was married and returned home in 1987 that I attended my first Buhl Day. I have not missed one since.
I think they started it up again in 1981, but that was the year my mom first discovered her cancer, so we were caring for her at home. She came home for a short time before she went back to hospital for treatment.
By 1987, my parents had participated in many Buhl Days, as my mother had recovered. So they knew all about it and of course, sold David and I on the idea. Didn't take much, since I already loved the park so from the time I was in high school and I could drive there easily.
My parents planted themselves at the Performing Arts Center for all the entertainment. David and I walked all over the park, meeting a million people, well, maybe a thousand, that we knew. You stop a few minutes and chat with everyone. It's a real life Facebook! Many organizations have food booths, so you scout out your favorite food and who does it best- Greek food from the Greek church, the Church of the Redeemer has wonderful BBQ pork sandwiches, now we have Seeds of Faith for our ribs and french fries, Penn State Creamery comes with a limited variety of ice cream- the best. Lemon shakes, elephant ears, funnel cakes. One year, I guess the Penn State crew wasn't there, I got a homemade ice cream drumstick, the best I ever had.
The first year we lived in our house the four of us walked to the park, plus Katie, a baby, in a stroller. Mom turned to me,"I thought you lived near the park?" She thought the five short blocks was a bit much.
The next year, when Katie was just over a year old, I strolled her down to Buhl Blvd. to see the parade. It wasn't as long then. I wanted to show my little girl off.
David can never grasp the idea of Buhl Park and Buhl Day, it is being seen and seeing people. The Shenango Valley is a big community, why the parade is now 3 hours long. Buhl Day isn't just Sharon or Hermitage, it is the Valley. I love my home area. Being from West Middlesex, I pushed my way into the rest of the area, where the action was. As soon as I was able to drive on my own, I packed up my dog and we walked at the park. Then usually visited my grandmother in Sharon or get a hamburger at the old Red Barn. Some other day, I'll talk about the Casino Dances, when my girls are older! Oh, wait, they are. Well, you still have to wait.
Today is overcast. I didn't look at the weather report, yet. I heard only 69 degrees today. We are going to meet my niece Lori at the end of her street for the parade, as another generation enjoys Buhl Day. Mary Ellen marches the 3 miles with the band. Bring your bag for candy! Money for fantastic food! Sit awhile to take in local entertainment. Congratulate the honorees. Be moved by the art show. I love Buhl Day and Buhl Farm Park, I even have a mug that says so!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Presque Isle, Erie, PA!

We finally made our yearly trip to Presque Isle yesterday. My journeys there began when I worked for 1st American Home Health, now defunct. The company family picnic was at Waldameer Park, which is at the base of the peninsula. With Mary Ellen being just a baby and David working seven days a week, I invited my friend, Linda and her son along. This began our years of fun.
I really had never experienced this part of Erie before. David, Diane and Herman and I rode around it one time when David was applying for a job in Erie, when he was first out of the Navy. A sunny, green and blue day, just driving around the state park. I fell in love with this northern Pennsylvania gem.
Linda introduced us to Sara's. Oh, heaven, again. I love chili dogs and for fixin's, sliced dill pickles I placed on my hot dog. The hamburgers are great, too. French fries used to be like fair fries, now they are curly fries. The best, best part is the orange sherbet, vanilla twist ice cream cone. I live for those all year. I can't eat them anywhere else. I love the Coca Cola and 50's motif, with the old fashion coke bottles. Bought so many of those bottles, but three years ago I finally got rid of the physical memories.
Our greatest year, the five of us stayed at the Riviera, because it was the only motel in town where the pool passed health inspection. We planned on one night in mid-July, but ended up relaxing two nights. We had to go later that summer, also, because our discount tickets for Waldameer were only good in June or Aug. This was not a hardship for us. I could have gone every week. I could live there all summer.
Yesterday was no disappointment. So hot and humid, what else could be more enjoyable? The sand burning my feet as we scurried to the water. Floating in the water, singing all kinds of songs. My girls are so lively as we did water aerobics. No waves was the only damper.
One year the water was churning up the bottom of the inland sea. Mary Ellen's long hair became entangled with shells and pebbles giving her a mermaid appearance. Later in the shower, the debris wouldn't come out, until I thought,"Conditioner!" It was like oil removing grease. All that lake gravel down the drain!
An amusement park at night, little Waldameer didn't let us down. The artificial light illuminating tired adventurers. Riding the sky patrol, watching the revelers below was relaxing. Late night ride on the roller coaster with a short line provided fun.
We also loved the water park there. One time, we did lose 2 1/2 year old Mary Ellen, I thought Linda had her and she thought I did, while I treasured the lazy river with Katie before school started. Linda, dripping wet off a slide,"No, I don't have her!" Frantic search, praying continually, trying to keep my cool, as tears were about to begin, another dear mother asked if I was missing a child. I shook my head, afraid to answer yes. "She's at the life guard station."
"Oh, thank you, thank you and thank You, Jesus!!" I rushed to that area.
A toddler girl in her blue tank swimming suit sitting on the half door, looking around and laughing. Oh, the tears of relief as I folded her into my arms. Linda and I developed better communication that day, believe me.
I'm so looking forward to more time in Erie as Katie will join the city in the winter clime this coming January. I've never seen the ice on Lake Erie in the winter and have always wanted to since hearing about it in fourth grade. I think I'll become quite familiar with more than the fake island paradise of summertime Presque Isle in Erie.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

That Bastard Cancer

First, I want to explain that my mother discovered her thyroid cancer with mets when I was twenty. My father died of leukemia when I was 28. The shadow of cancer covered our lives since my mother's baby sister died of uterine cancer when she was 33. The big C was all you needed to hear for fear and dread and despair to grab your heart.
In the 70's all the movies had someone dying of cancer. It was vague sometimes what type it was. And who looked more beautiful in death than Ali McGraw, maybe she was secretly a vampire. It was some blood type of cancer in the script.
By my senior year of nursing school, so many of our patients battled cancer. We hypothesized the cause came from all the steel mills in our region. I can remember the sky turning black at noon on Broadway in Farrell, PA when the slag was dumped. The first time it woke me at night, I thought the Second Coming happened. I was told stories of how black the window sills were. Before all the scrubbers were imposed, those pollutants permeated the air, water and dirt.
Wonderful people, strong men reduced to skin and bones, Amish woman unknowing about breast cancer and begging me to teach her breast self exam, so her daughters could have knowledge to fight it early, dear mothers, all were victims. Education was the key. We taught the 7 warning signs. Chemo and radiation savaged the body. One day after class, in a group of students rounding the corner from the education wing to the dorms, one of them screamed, "I hate that Bastard!" Farther down the hall, teachers and the director of our school for some reason were on the floor. The director turned around, with a stern voice, asked, "What did you say?" Remember in the early 80's we didn't hear swearing everywhere, like we do now. Saying Bastard in a public place, even though it was our home, produced a stir. The senior nurse, emboldened with frustrated anger, shouted back, "Cancer, I hate Cancer!" Mrs. Jenkins quietly returned, "Well, we can't argue with that."
All that to say, I take cancer seriously. After many years, though, praise God, I know more survivors than losers. So in a way, I'm weary now of the trivialization of cancer awareness. What does it really mean to put on a ribbon, wear pink, write sexual innuendo on your facebook status? Yet to even question in this climate creates a distrust that somehow I don't care. Or we are making fun of cancer and that is not cool. No, I wonder about people following the latest trend like sheep is one more example of the dumbing down of our culture.
To even write this though is I'm sure perceived as somehow making light of cancer, not the insipid way of Raising Cancer Awareness.My favorite PSA against cancer was Yul Brenner's urging us not to smoke. That was powerful.
Many things do prevent cancer. Yet, how do you explain the 8 month old baby that died the day Mary Ellen was born? Why at 3 months did Michael develop kidney cancer? There are mysteries. Guilt kept me away from that mother. I felt Mary Ellen's newborn beauty would be a constant reminder of her loss. I'm sure I was wrong, but I avoided her. The church prayed all the time for that little guy, yet cancer consumed him.
Cancer is a bastard. We are making progress. We need to support research. I ran for Miss Hope of Lawrence County in my junior year of nursing school. I've sat in the American Cancer Society office stuffing envelopes. I've sold daffodils. I could do more. I could give more. But putting a sexual innuendo on my Face book status does nothing for me and I'm sorry if this offends you. That Bastard Cancer offends me.
We must remember though, someday, even he will have to bend his knee at the name of Jesus. That is the real day of cure.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Canfield Fair

Unless you are blind in the Youngstown area, these five days with Labor Day are the Canfield Fair, starting on Wednesday. At least 4 to 5 stories in the Vindicator are on the fair. The TV and radio stations broadcast from the fairgrounds. Big white signs with red letters inform you of the best route to the fair on all the country roads around this area.
I try to think how we came when I was just a real young girl. Most likely the back way through southwest West Midddlesex country, Poland, OH and US 224 when it was so long with few businesses. My little girl heart was thrilled for some reason to see cars drive on grass and lots of it- the fields of Can? The town of Canfield was always quaint, with well to do homes like in magazines. The first time at the fair for me was an especially long day, very tired, fell asleep on the way home.
In elementary school, Mom never went on the rides, but Dad rode with me. They loved the hot sausage sandwiches. I ate corn dogs. Fair fries are always the best, so greasy and potato flavor. Always cotton candy to take home.
One year we invited Karen Mays along. That is the year we wore almost the same outfit, but not planned. We were the same height, with long blond hair. People stared, thinking we were twins.
In junior high, older friends of my mother, but my sister's age-funny how that happens sometimes, asked me along. A very wet year ruined a pair of chukka boots as we tramped in the mud. The wife took me through the side shows. The dimly lit tents holding the lobster boy, the man/woman, or woman with a beard. I recoiled that these pictures became flesh and didn't look like the advertisement. My parents always steered me away from this extra attraction and I never had curiosity about the "freaks" before. Darlene talked me into it.
As adults we took Katie once as a toddler, mostly for the animals. I enjoyed the food. No corn dogs this time. I wondered at the draft horses. Mostly though, I relished my daughter's reactions and seeing all the sights that hadn't changed, like the floating faucet, or under the Grandstand and all the broadcasting tents. The boulevards go on in infinity, food booths upon food booths.
We prefer Buhl Day here in Hermitage, a more quiet, family, community day. Buy all the fair food without the freak shows and rides. We have gone a few years to the Great Stoneboro Fair in northern Mercer County.
But Wednesday and today I've been on those back roads around the fair ground. Reading the Vidicator about the fair as in any advertising whets that appetite for an elephant ear, looking at barn loads of animals and Pioneer Village. Yet, the humidity is a drawback. Not sure if we'll make it to Canfield or not. I am sure I'll get an elephant ear,or funnel cake and Penn State Creamery ice cream cone at Buhl Day.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Publisher's Clearing House didn't show up at my door. What was I worried about? That my worn out yard and front door would be on national television. But if I won the $5000 a week for life, I could clean my house!
Yesterday, I met a woman again who had a wonderful life. Yes, she and her husband worked hard building a business, yet they traveled much,too. She's 97, living alone, in a modest home that had an air of the clean 60's. Her breakfast nook where we sat cozily for my nursing visit was all paneled with a telephone nook. I thought, now you don't see that in new homes. The window opened to her 3 acres of countryside scenery on a perfect late summer day, sun playing with the leaves.
She had money, she had comfort, she had a son who did modest chores around her house. She missed her husband of 70 years. She missed people who visited them as a couple, but quit coming around now that he was gone three years. She ached for the great granddaughter in Australia the last 6 years, but she would see her soon. She had dusted pictures of family in her living room and albums upon albums since 1939.
She doesn't drive much, but will have lunch with the office girls at her doctor's. She is giving, insisted on giving me a cup of coffee and sandwich. Everything she had but the companionship of her life time friend. I glimpsed the two recliners side by side in her living room and imagined them holding hands in the evening.
She told me stories of her parents' grocery store in the 20's and 30's until she married where she could still speak Italian assisting the immigrants in the store. Her husband was German and many years later they took her father-in-law back to Germany where the police knocked on their door during dinner because they hadn't registered.
She spoke of hard work, and hard play. Picnics that somehow lasted till 3 in the morning. She talked, I listened. I thought how rich her life was, yet how lonely she was now. Kind to strangers and people are kind to her in return.
Money isn't everything we are told and it is true. The granddaughter in Australia, who's husband is a CEO for an oil company, still had to hide out a hurricane. Jesus said,"Where your heart is, so is your treasure." This lady's heart was with her husband and he in the grave. Healthy for a 97 year old, yet lonely. It's not health, earthly riches or even family, it's knowing Jesus.