Janice Williams Loves Austin And sometimes I write about it.

December 4, 2015

Lost Day

Filed under: Childhood Memories,Family,Food — Janice @ 6:11 pm

I had every intention of writing EVERY DAMN DAY, so I can’t say where yesterday went to. I think it was the combination of having been at the computer all day long, doing my late night wrap-up work I have to do, and having the pull of a good football game distract me. Then the football game was such an amazing finale that I forgot about coming back to type. Oh well. It’s only a goal, not a law.

I saw a post today about what Christmas was like in the 1970s. I related very much to some of the items on the list, like receiving the Montgomery Wards, Penney’s, and Sears Christmas catalogues in October and poring through them circling everything we wanted or making long elaborate lists, making sure to note the full name and page number and letter so it would make it easier for mother to write on the order form and order them all for us. You had to order, ON PAPER, and mail it to someone to take out of the envelope and, for all I know, walk into their warehouse and pick out the items from the shelves themselves.  It was a little bit slower than our process of clicking one-button on the computer and then wondering why UPS didn’t have it with them the next day when they delivered.

Christmas at our house involved a lot of foods throughout the season. We always had Chex mix close at hand. Fudge, too. Mom would make divinity (if she had a bright sunshiny day to make it on because it wouldn’t work otherwise was what she always said), peanut patties, peanut brittle, or other Christmas candies. We usually had a fruitcake that someone made or gave to us and I never went near it. Now that I am older and LOVE fruitcake I wonder what I missed out on. We also had some eggnog close at hand. I think I liked it earlier rather than later, but there was probably a time I wasn’t sure about it.

I can remember lots of Christmas Eve’s at my grandmother’s or there were a couple of trips to see the out-of-town grandparents at Christmas. Some holidays had cousins or grandparents visiting us. But if I listed the favorite Christmases in the 70s, I am quite certain that I’d start with the Christmases where it was just our little family of four, Mom, Daddy, my sister, and me. I think we laughed and had more fun when it was just our little group than any other time. The others were memorable in many ways, but if I could go back, I’d pick one with just us.

September 13, 2015

Winter in Texas

Filed under: Childhood Memories — Janice @ 11:54 pm

There’s no good reason for this post except I found this picture tonight. This is for anyone who thinks it doesn’t get cold in Texas. It gets beyond cold in the Panhandle of Texas. It can get cold anywhere in the state (remember the white Christmas in the Valley maybe 10 years ago?). But it was cold that drove me away from Amarillo. If the winters hadn’t been so brutal or maybe if I hadn’t been in radio where you HAD to get to the station and work, even on the most treacherous days that the whole city shut down, I might still live there, who knows. This was 1973 (according to the date on the side). This is the orchard beside our house, a peach tree. I actually think this was a little unusual or we wouldn’t have been out taking pictures. I can’t remember the name of the dog I am holding, but it must have been one of J.J.’s puppies because J.J. is jumping up on me (kind of hard to see her among all the brown).

jjsnow

I zoomed in to see what puppy it was. I know it wasn’t Freckles, but other than that, I can’t say. We had a LOT of puppies over the years. I guess this was before the days that we were told to spay and neuter!

jj

And for the record, I was probably 13, almost 14 here.

August 18, 2015

I Miss Letter Writing

Filed under: Childhood Memories,Family,Writing — Janice @ 12:40 am

I was at the grocery tonight and I wanted to by a letter-writing tablet. My mother probably had to buy one every time we went to the store when I was growing up. A letter-writing tablet is the half-page size tablet with NO lines, but it does have the one page with lines so you can put it under the page and write straight. And these are the plain white pages, no butterflies or fancy designs. I’m glad they still sell them. Mother used to use up a tablet every couple of weeks. The letters flew between her and her mother, her dad, and her three sisters. Mom’s regular routine, as far as I could tell, was to get us fed and off to school and then she could enjoy her coffee, her cereal, and writing her letters.

I still enjoy getting letters. I don’t enjoy writing them as much. But even if I did, the letters just don’t seem as special when we have email and phones and Facebook to keep up with one another all of the time. There is little I can put into a letter that won’t be old by the time it gets to someone.

I did send a card to my friend Beth in Canton, Ohio, recently. I don’t even remember what the card was for, but after a month or so, it was back in my box, stamped NO SUCH ADDRESS-UNDELIVERABLE. (I am hearing Elvis singing in my head, Return to sender…) I emailed Beth to clarify her address. Her address is exactly what I wrote on the envelope. I am kind of stumped. If you write a letter and address it correctly, what else can you do? Well, this time I got Beth’s work address so when I get around to sending it again, I’ll try sending it there.

Back in my teenage years, some of the letters Mom received were read aloud or we might all just read them when we got home from school or work and looked at the mail. But there were some letters, I know, that were just between sisters and they would write “Advertisement” on the envelope, which meant, “Keep this one to yourself.” You could have a little more confidence in your words being kept private when it was a letter. With an email it can be forwarded so easily, or mistakenly sent to everyone when it was supposed to only go to one.

Now I am in possession of hundreds of these letters to and from Mother and her sisters. They are interesting to read to see what day-to-day life was like back in ancient times (the 70s). The mundane becomes the most fascinating.

I love the letters, but I wouldn’t want to return to only having the letters. My mother and her sisters (ages 84 to 92) are all adept at email and Facebook and keep in even more constant touch now. Their travel and communication was limited 40 years ago, but the travel is even more restricted now. It’s comforting to know they still have the open and instant lines of communication.

February 8, 2015

My Aunt Billie’s Birthday

Filed under: Childhood Memories,Family,Genealogy,Travel — Janice @ 4:34 pm

Several years ago I wrote about my Aunt Dorothy for her birthday instead of giving a gift. In January we celebrated my Aunt Billie’s 90th birthday and I decided to do it again. Writing about Aunt Billie is a little more challenging because she was always the most elusive aunt, the one I didn’t know as well. Aunt Billie and her family lived in Tyler when I was a child and then moved to Fort Smith, Arkansas before I was a teenager. We would see their family on the rare occasion that they came on a vacation to see us or we went to see them (it did happen a few times) or at family events somewhere in the middle, like Eastland, Texas, or Eldorado, Oklahoma.

Aunt Billie acknowledging the throngs of well-wishers at her 90th in January in Fort Smith:

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I never had the ability to just drop in on Aunt Billie. I have crashed all the other aunt’s homes to eat, shower, sleep, visit, or just take a break from the road, but never at Aunt Billie’s. We haven’t had much of a correspondence over the years either, but that would be because I didn’t write her. She is definitely a letter writer and there’s no way a correspondence would wither from her end.

If I wanted to help you envision my Aunt Billie, I would have you think of Lady Bird Johnson. It’s not that they really look alike, but I somehow got them intertwined when I was a kid and still see some of Billie in Lady Bird and vice versa. Lady Bird’s dark hair and her sweet laughing face are only part of it. They really do share an accent. That part is critical for you to hear in your mind to hear Aunt Billie. She has a very different accent from the rest of the family. I guess we are all West Texas and she is very East Texas. It’s not a lazy Southern talk, sometimes she talks very fast, but then there will be a long languid vowel just before the sentence finds its conclusion. “So-I-said-I’d-be-there-on-Sat-ur-daaaaaaaay?” There’s always that lilting upward inflection at the end, too. Not “uptalk” like the teen girls in America, but a gentle inquisition that seems to be asking politely, “Do I need to slow down for ya’ll to understaaaaand meeee?”

What do I know about Aunt Billie? Whenever I ask that question about a relative or ancestor, the glaring omissions of what I don’t know starts jumping out at me rather than the part I do. But I’ll try to stick with the facts as I know them.

Aunt Billie was the second child of my grandparents. Aunt Dorothy was only about 18 months old when Aunt Billie was born so my grandmother had her hands full at only 22 years old. Billie was born in Newburg, Texas, the same place her father and her grandmother had been born. She was born in 1925 and the family had lived in that neighborhood for 70 years, stretching back to the times of Indian raids and depredations.

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She grew up in Grosvenor (north of Brownwood) where her father, Arla Hallford, was the superintendent of the school there. She had 2 younger sisters, my mother, Patsy, and the baby, Lou Helen. There are great adventures to tell of the family living in Grosvenor. One frightening story was when the four daughters were left at home when their parents chaperoned a school bus full of kids going to the Fort Worth Stock Show. They were bundled up in their bed when a man entered their house and they could see him by the firelight. He caught sight of them and asked, “Has that bus already gone?” or some other question, made up on the spot. The girls nodded in fright and he left. When the family returned and authorities were notified, they brought several men from the community into the lights of a car for the girls to try to identify who it had been, but it was none of these men. And then there was the time the family was all almost washed away when the new dam that formed Lake Brownwood—and stood between them and their home in Grosvenor as they returned from Brownwood—collapsed during a deluge of rain.

The family moved to Quanah when Aunt Billie was in high school. Her dad was no longer her school superintendent; he had gone to work for the State Welfare Office. She graduated from high school in Quanah and was very active, as she would be all her life, in the First Baptist Church.

Aunt Billie went all the way to Kingsville to attend Texas A&I College. It was a long way from Quanah, but Aunt Billie had developed a close relationship with the pastor and he and his wife were moving to Kingsville and encouraged her to come with them and go to school. My mother remembers the adventure of getting to visit her there (while Mother was still in high school) and passing kids at the Baptist Student Union and have them say, “Hi Billie.” She had never known that she looked that much like her sister.

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Aunt Billie had office jobs before she married. She worked at the Western Union office and at the National Farm Loan Association in Quanah as assistant manager to Mr. Silas Mitchel. Then she took the job of secretary to the Vice President and General Manager Quin Baker of the Quanah, Acme, and Pacific Railroad. She stepped into that job when her older sister Dorothy had had before she married. I’m sure Mr. Baker knew quality workers when he found them.

Aunt Billie had many jobs through the years, but her main job was always mother to her four kids, my cousins Hank, Patsy Lee, Jo, and Becky. We have always marveled at their large family and how they would pile in the car and go on their vacations without a fuss or a fight (it seemed to us anyway). Still to this day this is the closest family you’ve ever seen. It seems like there is a birthday in their family at least once a week and a family celebration at someone’s home.

Aunt Billie is the only sister of the Hallford family that has traveled the world so extensively. She visited Israel, The Philippines, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Germany, and other countries in Europe. Sometimes she was there visiting her children who lived there. Jo and her husband Dru were missionaries in Israel for a while. Hank and his family were in Germany while he was in the Army. Many of her trips were related to Aunt Billie’s church work or her desire to know more about the Bible and expand her education. Of all the children in the Hallford family, Aunt Billie is the most like Papa Hallford in her desire to be a constant student. She makes the effort to not just read, but to study and absorb and seek out people to discuss topics with. There’s no doubt she could step into a Sunday School room, a Bible study, or even the pulpit and be ready to go at a moment’s notice.

Aunt Billie has her quirks, there’s no doubt about it. But I love that she is perfectly content with who she is. We should all be so confident and self-assured. While MOST in our family have a need to look “proper” to the outside world, Aunt Billie does things her own way and you can take it or leave it. One time she and I shared a motel room on our way to the Cunningham reunion. Aunt Billie brought her own sheets, pillow, and blankets with her and made her own bed on the couch of the hotel room because she didn’t trust sleeping on the hotel sheets. She also had her house shoes and wouldn’t cross the room and the carpet with bare feet. I was amused, too, because her “luggage” was grocery sacks because they were convenient for her. That was 20 years ago and I find myself traveling with grocery sacks more and more. I have learned a lot from my Aunt Billie.

Aunt Billie is a writer. That’s kind of a thing in this family. I have a story she wrote many years ago about “The Church Pan.” It’s a story you can relate to if you ever took foods to the church for funerals or Wednesday night prayer meeting (… I would assume. I can’t say I’ve done it.). She accidentally took home a church pan along with her own and then failed to get it back to the church in a timely manner. As the time stretches further, her guilt grows and she is certain the church brotherhood is going to ask her to come before the church to confess her sin of coveting and stealing the church pan. She has a way of making you laugh and feel the guilt she felt, all at the same time.

Aunt Billie became a widow young. She married Uncle Glendon when they were in their 20s. They had a church wedding after church on a Sunday at the First Baptist in Quanah. He had been a bombardier in World War II and was shot down over Germany and was held in a German POW camp for over a year when he was just 21 years old. Aunt Billie hadn’t met him at that point. He came home, they fell in love, and started their life together. He sold car parts, like Delco batteries, to parts stores and auto dealerships. They lived all over Texas… Abilene, Corsicana, Roame, Emhouse, Crowell, Tyler, and then they finally settled for good in Fort Smith Arkansas. Glendon died when he was only 61 and is buried in the National Cemetery in Fort Smith. Aunt Billie has been an active and self-sufficient single woman for almost 30 years now.

Aunt Billie and Uncle Glendon and the first 6 of their 12 grandchildren:

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Aunt Billie has a very close and special relationship with God. While I was there for her birthday, I heard a great story that illustrates that. Her daughter Jo had come to visit her for an afternoon. Before she left Aunt Billie got her purse and said she was “convicted by God” to give Jo some money. Jo said she didn’t need any, but Aunt Billie pulled out a checkbook and wrote a check for $2500 and was insistent that Jo take it. Jo complied and took it, but said she didn’t need it and wouldn’t be cashing it. When Jo got home, it wasn’t long until her husband had a heart attack and was rushed to the hospital. He made a full recovery, thank goodness. Their out-of-pocket portion of the hospital stay was $2500. Jo hadn’t known that she would need that money soon.

I’ve always loved Aunt Billie’s personal library and her ability to catalogue and file her books and papers and notes. If you bring up a subject, she can pull files and sources and be ready for a discussion in minutes. Her cataloging goes beyond her intellectual pursuits. She has also saved every family letter and photo she has ever received. A few years back she divided her stash and returned the letters and photos to those who sent them. I inherited the ones that my mother got back from her. There were letters from me when I was a kid, my high school and college graduation announcements, photos. She had even created a scrapbook of the school pictures of me and my sister. All in all, she may have had more of my school pictures than I did!

One wonderful discovery in her files showed up in time for her birthday celebration. Her daughter Becky found a song Aunt Billie had written to accompany a poem her father, my Papa Hallford, had written for her many years before. It was a complete piece of sheet music with words and music. Her creativity still surprises me. I knew she played piano, but didn’t know how much she did with her music. I learned she had majored in music in college.

Aunt Billie, like her sisters, is a great cook. I didn’t get to enjoy as many meals at her house as I did the others, but I have seen what wonderful cooks her daughters are and I know where they got it from.

Aunt Billie has been a staunch supporter of me and my genealogy efforts through the years. She has always supplied the information I’ve requested and has passed along photos and books and anything I’ve needed, asked for, or that she thought would be helpful. She has come to lots of the Cunningham reunions (even though Comanche is a very long way from Fort Smith) and I appreciate her children for being willing to jump in the car with her at a moment’s notice to go to a reunion.

Tenacity, faith, humor, creativity. Aunt Billie got a big portion of great traits in our family. I love that she is still living in her home, doing what she has always done, and sees no reason to change anything now.

____________________________________________________________

The four sisters:  Lou Helen (holding Nathaniel), Dorothy, Billie, and (my mother) Patsy.

old box from Mackies house scanned 9 10 2011 001 sisters with Nathaniel tight crop

December 10, 2014

Appliances

Filed under: At home,Childhood Memories,Food — Janice @ 11:09 pm

Amazon knows me all too well. I have an email touting all the latest kitchen equipment. No, I am not much of a cook, but I am drawn to the kitchen gadgets. I recently did order a “tiny pie making kit” with little tiny pie pans made of silicone (or is it silicon?). Plastic. It is practically plastic, but it doesn’t melt. I have, so far, not made a tiny pie, but I am eagerly anticipating feeling the pie-making urge come upon me so I can test out my new tiny pie pans.

I suppose Amazon also kept track of the juicer I bought a few months ago. I thought I would give that juicing fad a try and see if I could become incredibly healthy AND slim by drinking delicious green concoctions. I really did like the juice, but the process and the clean up became a drag. I am proud of myself that I did not just put the juicer on a shelf or in the back of a cabinet to sit. I bundled it up and gave it to someone else to try.

Well, now that I think about it, I also have been keeping an eye on immersible blenders on Amazon, too. I was watching the prices and yearning for one, but ended up buying one cheap in a big box store one day. It was really neat to have for the four or five pots of soup I made before it fell to pieces in my hands.

I look back on the appliances that my mother had as I was growing up and it is a little bit different than what I use today. At work, the subject of “percolators” came up. Most of the “kids” I work with had no idea what that meant at all. I grew up with a percolator preparing my parents’ coffee every morning. I loved the sound of the steam gurgling and struggling and then heating enough to push that gush of water up through the glass piece on the top to percolate down through the coffee nestled in the metal basket around the tube up the middle. The percolating coffee was a sweet sound to wake up to and the smell meant “home.”  We were always warned about that glass top, to be careful with it. You could get a replacement if it broke, but that would mean a trip to town and no coffee until it was replaced. I think Mom mostly handled the coffee pot and that delicate piece, but I do remember shaking out the grounds from that metal basket into the trash can. My folks switched to a Mr. Coffee after I left home, I think, but that must ahave been invented in the late 70s because I never owned a percolator. They were old-fashioned by the time I lived on my own.

Mother had a Sunbeam mixer on the countertop. I have a mixer of some type on my countertop, too. Mine is used mostly for cookies, though I always THINK I am going to use the bread hooks more than I do. Mom’s didn’t have the lock down feature mine has to keep the beaters from riding up on the dough, but hers had the nifty knob to slide back and forth to change where the bowl was in relation to the beaters. On mine the beaters move around the bowl, the bowl doesn’t move around the beaters. I miss how we could scrape down the sides of Mom’s mixer as we mixed. My current one is built so that you have to turn the mixer off before you can really get in to scrape the bowl sides. I’m sure less fingers go into the cake batter this way. That was a warning we always heard from Mother, to never reach into the bowl if you dropped your spatula or something. I seem to remember a scary tale of my aunt getting caught in the beaters. But she still has 10 fingers so maybe it was just a good fable to warn us.

We had the typical pop-up toaster from time-to-time in my life, but mostly we had the slide in broiler-type toaster. I would love to have one of those again. There was nothing better than a batch of Texas toast, slathered with butter on both sides and toasted good in that broiler, on top and then turned over. Yum. And cinnamon-sugar toast, or just sugar toast, was perfect from that broiler. And cheese toast (we called it grilled cheese, but I think that is something different to most people). Or maybe these were all just better from Mom’s toaster because they were prepared by Mom. In my kitchen I have a toaster oven that is fancy enough to bake in it, it says. I have never ever baked something in it. I toast. And maybe I melt some cheese on something. But I haven’t had cinnamon-sugar toast in years. Sigh.

We never had a microwave when I was growing up. I had my first one when I was already out on my own. We managed to get by. I think I could get by without a microwave again, but my poor husband would starve.

Oh, and crock pots! Those were invented somewhere along in the 70s and I’m sure Mom’s first one must have been harvest gold, like our kitchen, or avocado, the other ubiquitous color of the 70s. For those that don’t remember, except for a few VERY modern pink and blue stoves and refrigerators in the 50s and then the classy copper color that showed up in the nicest homes in the 60s, harvest gold and avocado were the first colors for appliances. We bought a harvest gold stove when we moved from Colorado back to Texas and we thought we were really uptown.

I can’t remember anything Mom made in a crock pot back in those days, but I would miss mine a lot if I didn’t have them now (I have a “regular” one and a big BIG one).

When we moved from Colorado back to Texas and had ordered the stove, but didn’t have it yet, we had a kitchen with appliances, but no stove for a period of time. I don’t know how long it was, probably not more than a week, but I remember the ingenuity my mother used to cook our meals. I felt like it was “Little House on the Prairie” to not have a stove and oven, but Mom did quite a job. She had an electric frying pan, so really that was suitable for most of the things she would have cooked on the stove. We had the toaster oven, too, and we had a little mini-coffeepot that could easily boil water. We used it to boil the water to make tea (we always drank iced tea with dinner) and we boiled eggs in it, too.

Amazon may succeed in selling me a new immersible blender and maybe even a new coffee pot in this holiday season. Now that I’ve gotten all nostalgic, I may have to see if they sell percolators and toaster ovens.

December 8, 2014

Yesterday’s Genealogy and Cameras

Filed under: Childhood Memories,Family,Genealogy — Janice @ 8:51 pm

This display was up a couple of years ago at the Austin Genealogical Society holiday dinner:

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This was the old days of genealogy. I could relate to a whole lot here. I typed a lot of family trees on a computer that wasn’t much newer than this one. Ours was a big heavy Royal. I don’t see the silver handle on the left on the typewriter above. How did they return the carriage and move it to the next line? I think it would be a fun experiment to put a computer savvy teenager or young adult down with a typewriter like this and ask them to reproduce a letter. I think they would think it was easy, but would have no idea how it operates:  how you could change the color of the ink or even cut a stencil for the mimeograph machine, how you set tab stops with little metal pieces around the backside, how you could make it space one, two, or three lines, and how you used the small L for a 1 and to make an exclamation you had to use the apostrophe and backspace and put a period under it. We used a lot fewer exclamation points when they took that much effort!!! And I would bet young people don’t know how you put the paper in to get it in straight, how you straighten it if it isn’t, and then how you WHISK the page away from the platen when the page was done.

Fortunately, our family “inherited” a nicer Selectric typewriter before I had to start writing a lot of papers in high school and college. I use “inherited” because I’m not certain the statute of limitations has run out.

The camera in the box above is a great example of a Kodak when the word “Kodak” meant camera to most of us. My grandmother had a Kodak like this one. The little blue bulbs fit into the top so you could take a flash picture. She must have been an early adopter because she had the only flash camera I ever saw until the revolving 4-flashes flash cubes came along. I don’t remember Mamma taking LOTS of pictures, but she always carefully took a few with her precious camera. Then she would carefully put it back into the box (like above) and put it away after every use. She did love that camera and I have many of the square format pictures it took. I don’t know that Mamma ever had a NEWER camera than that one. She might have been like I am: as long as it still works, why would you replace it? I remember her using it less and less (when others had plenty of cameras to record the moments and give her copies). Now I also recall that she always said “make a picture” instead of “take a picture.” As in, “Let’s get everybody together and make a picture.”

The camera on the right is like no camera I ever experienced until I took photography in college. Mark recently inherited several cameras of that era that belonged to his grandfather and his father. He really did inherit them, it was legit. No quotation marks. These were cameras he loved to hold when he was a boy while his grandfather explained all the rings and settings.

I am definitely coming down on the side of NOW IS BETTER when it comes to typewriters versus computers and cameras with film versus digital cameras. But I’m glad I experienced the old kind so I can appreciate the new kind.

The fact that you are reading this possibly moments after I have typed it is still astonishing to me.

October 8, 2014

Bluing

Filed under: At home,Childhood Memories — Janice @ 10:07 pm

Times change. Sometimes they change and we don’t even realize it. I visited my nephew and his wife at their home this past weekend. Mark was at a gig and we were going to go see him play. He called with a splinter so he asked that we bring a needle or a safety pin so he could try to get the splinter out. I asked my nephew’s wife for a needle and she didn’t have one. I didn’t know that needles were old-fashioned and something people don’t need now. I admit I don’t use one very often, but I do sew a button back on from time to time. My mother sewed all the time when I was growing up so we had plenty of needles. She sewed on her sewing machine and she did plenty of hemming with needles. Plus, my sister and mother and I all embroidered from time to time.

I was looking at something tonight in an old 1961 newspaper online and saw this at the end of the article:

Valley_Morning_Star_Sun__Jul_9__1961_

There used to be all sorts of little household hints, pieces of trivia, and little jokes inserted in newspapers to fill out the column. Now we just don’t have newspapers and, if we do, their computers can stretch the copy to fill the columns without it looking stretched, I suppose.

But I read this little hint and thought about how I have never owned a bottle of bluing, but it was something I grew up with. I think I only grew up with one single bottle though. I don’t remember that we ever bought it or used it very much. Once in a great while Mother would need to really clean some white sheets or white towels and she would use some of Mrs. Stewart’s bluing. And it seems like the bottle always sat up on the window sill on the “back porch” which was really an enclosed laundry room. I’ll have to get verification from my sister or mother on whether or not it sat on the windowsill.

This is sort of close to what our bottle of bluing looked like:

bluing

Bluing usually is down the sides and on the label, from what I remember. This one is for sale on eBay. I am not sure if our bottle was blue either. But Mrs. Stewart looks just like she always did.

Of course, when I saw the ad, I realized that I don’t use bluing and I would expect that most people younger than me don’t even know what bluing is. The world hasn’t ended because they don’t know. I guess the world won’t end if they don’t own needles either.

September 15, 2014

My Nose

Filed under: Childhood Memories — Janice @ 9:07 pm

This week I am having my nose fixed. I am not getting it fixed cosmetically (at least I hope my nose doesn’t appear changed); I am having the septum fixed so maybe I can breathe again.

I have a vivid memory of the day I broke my nose when I was about 8. Our neighbor boys, Danny and David, were at the house one evening. Mom and Dad were outside with me and my sister and all the kids were on bikes. Danny challenged me to a race and I jumped on my pedals and started around the back drive of the house. At that point I looked back to see how far in the lead I was. Danny hadn’t even started to race, obviously sending me off on a fool’s errand. At that point I hit something and it sent me flying over the handlebars and face first into the gravel drive.

I was wearing one of my favorite dresses at the time. This was back when girls still wore dresses on a regular basis and even played in them, especially after school. I remember Mother and Daddy on each side of me, holding an arm and helping me back to the house. Our playing for the day was over.

But the nosebleeds had just begun. It seems to me I was home from school a week and Mother and I were up ALL NIGHT LONG every night with my nose bleeding. I probably am remembering that part wrong, but I do remember a lot of blood. My nose was also swollen at the time. I remember thinking I was particularly funny when I said that Daddy and I looked more alike than we had before because now my nose was as big as his. I even wrote that clever observation in a letter to my grandparents where I told them about the bike wreck. I recently inherited that letter. I remember writing it very clearly and I know I was “grown up” and in my head I am exactly the same person I was then. But, now, re-reading that letter and seeing the scrawled writing, it is obvious it was written by a little bitty girl.

I think it was a full 10 days before we finally went to the doctor to have him look at my nose. This was the 60s, remember. We didn’t run off to emergency clinics for every scrape. We didn’t even HAVE emergency clinics for those things.

I remember the doctor examining my nose and saying that it was crooked and that if I wanted to, I could have it straightened out when I was 18. He said if we had come in as soon as it had happened he would have stuck a rod up my nose and straightened it out, but it was too late at this point. The way he described how he would have straightened it out, I was VERY glad we had not come in earlier.

For a good long time as a kid I was prone to having nosebleeds. My nose never looked crooked so I didn’t worry about what the inside might be like. When we moved to Austin, Mark’s doctor suggested he get his nose fixed and help him to breathe better. It did wonders. I officially had a doctor tell me that I had a deviated septum and I began thinking about having it fixed.

But, boy, making the decision to have a surgery that a doctor doesn’t tell you you have to have is not easy. But I have met my medical deductible this year so it makes this surgery a bargain for me and I decided I couldn’t pass that up.

In the 3 weeks since I saw the doctor for the initial visit, I have not been able to use Afrin. I was not an Afrin addict and didn’t use it ALL the time, but during some seasons I used it regularly (and way more than the 3 days you are supposed to use it) and quite often I do use it at night just so I can breathe and go to sleep. I have done without for almost 3 full weeks now and it has not been easy. I quite often am not breathing through one side of my nose. I am hoping that the surgery is fast and easy and any swelling goes away fast and I’m breathing deeply by this weekend.

Here’s a picture from about the time I broke my nose. There were no child labor laws yet either.

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September 6, 2014

Great-Grandmothers

Filed under: Childhood Memories,Family,Genealogy — Janice @ 11:13 pm

I just saw this picture in my computer;

2005 Cunningham reunion 08

This was taken 9 years ago in 2005 at the Cunningham family reunion. It is my little cousin Annabeth (Susannah Elizabeth… named after ancestors on both sides of her family) with her great-grandmother Dorothy. They are standing beside the gravestone in the Newburg Cemetery of Dorothy’s great-grandmother Trissia Moore, who died in 1940.

Dorothy remembers Trissia, Annabeth will remember Dorothy. I love the connections from generation to generation.

My only memory of my great-grandmother from this side of the family is of Henrietta Hallford, who is also buried nearby in the Newburg Cemetery. I don’t think I ever met her when she was alive. If I did, I was a baby or an infant. I do remember her from her funeral. I remember my mother and Aunt Dorothy (the one in the photo) standing by her casket and commenting on how she looked like she had in life, and there was a mole or facial imperfection on her face that they commented on. This was the first dead body I had ever seen. I don’t remember being particularly scared or having emotion. But I remember the sadness of my mother and aunt for their grandmother.

I did know my great-grandmother from my father’s side well before her death in 1978. I wish I had been more mature and spent more time paying attention to her while I had the chance. But, as it was, I knew her from many visits she made to our house and my grandfather’s house and a visit or two that we made to her house in Cleburne. She died when I was in college. I wish I had been at her funeral. She died when I was on the road with my friend Sandy. I didn’t have “funeral clothes” with me and I wanted to go on home to Amarillo and then return to Winters for the funeral. My parents told me to stay put and not come back down. I obeyed them because it really was a long distance to try to come back across. I feel bad that I wasn’t there, though. But she and I did have SOME communication and a relationship, maybe more than any other of the great-grandkids. I have many letters she wrote to me before she died.

I never knew my great-grandfathers or my other great-grandmothers, but I know the grandparents were very special to my parents. As I do my genealogy I love to see the connections and figure out who knew who. When I visit a grave I am thinking not only of the person buried in the grave, but who was standing on this ground as that casket was lowered. There is always another generation. There is always life. It doesn’t make me sad, it makes me glad that life goes on.

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This is my sister and me with my great-grandmother Williams when she was probably in her 80s.

January 19, 2014

Cross-stitch

Filed under: At home,Childhood Memories — Janice @ 11:31 am

I got an email from the Old Farmer’s Almanac today (yes, I get emails from the Old Farmer’s Almanac). It was advertising cross-stitch kits and patterns. I couldn’t help but click on it. And I couldn’t help but think how “fun” it would be to order one and work some cross stitch again. Fun isn’t really the right word. Challenging, maybe? Satisfying? It is certainly an art form and I have felt artistic and creative (along with frustrated and destructive) when I’ve cross-stitched in the past. It set me to thinking…

No, I didn’t order anything and I really don’t want to do any sewing and I know it would be a waste. I might do cross stitch again if I were a.) single, b.) catless, and c.) had someone who could be the recipient because I really don’t want any cross-stitch samplers on my walls.

Cross stitch, though, is one of my many talents. One that I would think that few girls learn anymore and few women under 50 see as something interesting.

Does it show that I am from a whole different generation that I learned to cross stitch at my grandmother’s side when I was a very little girl? Maybe not only a different generation, but a different/unique part of the country. Both of my grandmothers cross-stitched, but Mamma Williams, the one I lived closest to, did a LOT more cross-stitching. She also sewed some clothes, knitted, crocheted, and quilted. She cooked and gardened and wrote letters and kept house, too, but when I think about her, I’m usually thinking of her in her living room chair with her “bad leg” propped up on a footstool, with “handwork” in her hands, watching Johnny Carson. Beside her chair was a sewing box with legs where all of her threads and scissors and work stayed when she wasn’t working on it.

I still have the first embroidery I ever did. It is a cup towel with a design of a anthropomorphic head of lettuce digging in the garden. It is probably all pretty simple stitches, but it is colorful and cute and I’m sure Mamma had to cut out stitches and knots a lot and have me redo things. I am quite sure I did it before I was 6 years old. I remember participating in a in-class school play in first grade where I played a bunny child and the bunny children were all doing various household chores. I took my embroidery hoop and a piece I was working on then and was quite pleased that I was not just acting, I knew how to embroidery. I also remember no one else caring one whit that I could do it. And I remember many many knots and tangles as I tried to be a bunny and sew at the same time.

Over the years, I embroidered a lot. Mother worked on a big bedspread/quilt with cross stitch (for years and years) and I think I helped on it some. There was also a large blue tablecloth that either she or I started and worked on for years and years and YEARS. It became such a millstone (you can’t throw away something that has so much work in it) that I eventually had Mamma finish it for me. We had to buy new thread because I’d somehow lost all the thread it came with (it was a kit) and the new thread didn’t quite match the old thread. So I now have that blue tablecloth with two distinct threads (and with her stiches being much better than mine) that sits in my china cabinet and possibly has never even been used.

I have several sets of embroidered pillow cases. They rarely get put into service. I am actually using one set right now, though, because during the bad pollen seasons in Austin (generally January through December), I try to change the pillow cases more often than the sheets so our faces aren’t pressed up to pillowcases full of pollen from our hair. I think the ones I’m using were embroidered by Mamma, but I have others that were either Mom or my other grandmother. I’m not even sure.

I think somewhere in the house or the attic I have a counted cross-stitch sampler I made for Mamma with some quote about how wonderful grandchildren are and it has the names of her five grandkids around the sides. I inherited it because I did it and I like that family stuff… but what do you do with something like that? I had another kit just like it that I was going to make for the other grandmother with her 11 grandkids, but never even started it.

I sometimes have that thought “Why don’t I ____ anymore?” and you can fill the blank in with cross-stitching or quilting or the other things I used to do while watching TV. Then I remember that I have 3 cats that LOVE ribbons and strings. And I remember that TV watching comes far behind working on the computer. And I remember that Mark absolutely hates watching TV with me when I’m sewing because of the frequent “OWWW!” that he hears when my fingers get stuck with the needle (that happens a lot in quilting). I also don’t paint, bake cakes, work crosswords, or play piano like I used to. If I had 10 more hours a day at my disposal, I know I STILL wouldn’t do any of those things. Knowing that, I need to divest myself of some of the tools of those hobbies, but that is very very hard. It is part of my identity. I am a person who owns a piano. I am a person who owns a sewing machine and knows how to use it. I am a person who has a big box of material because I like to quilt. I’m trying to change my self-identification to “I am a person that doesn’t cling to old hobbies” and “I am a _____” (whatever the opposite of hoarder is). Since I can’t even come up with the WORD, it is hard to live up to the image.

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