Little Girls: Then and When

 

I invite you to click on the tab “Little Girls Then and When” for interviews with generations of the little girls that I meet throughout the week.  Oh, and I will be adding to my stories.  You can still find the most recent story below this post.

For those of you waiting for my novel, I’m almost finished!  I will attend my first writers conference this summer.  The tough job of getting the right publisher will begin.  The working title of my novel is A Land of Milk and Honey.

4-H for not quite 100 years.

The County Fair brings back a rush of memories for me.  It’s not the rides or the games or the food.  It’s 4-H.

The first time I got involved with 4-H is was sewing, with Mrs. Tymrack.  Her daughter, Cecilia was a super-good friend of mine.  Cecilia had a lot of sisters, all with names that the Dione quintuplets had.  Dad pointed that out to me.  Mrs. Tymrack was from Poland and Cecilia had to wear dresses below her knees and other old-fashioned stuff.  Still, Mrs. Tymrack made all sorts of Polish food from scratch, like pierogis and kolochkis, which I couldn’t even spell or say out-loud.

The first year of sewing, when I was ten, I made an apron and a tea-towel.  Two things I never wanted to make or wear.  I loved the part where I learned to model and strutted out on stage in an apron, with that silly tea-towel, like I was right out of Good Housekeeping.  Later I learned how to make a skirt and dresses, and a lining, and match plaids.  Always, always, always, the modeling was the best part.  One year I made matching outfits for Marcia and John.  I always got blue ribbons, except one year when accidentally cut a hole in the shirt I made.

Cooking was my favorite, next to showing my cow, Ladybird.  I almost went to the State Fair with my Congo Squares.  And the judges almost ate them all up before giving me my Rosette award.

Showing cows was the best, except for that year Bonita’s Blackeyes ran away and dragged her and she got so embarrassed that she just laid in the middle of the show ring, like she was dead and caused a commotion.  I had to go in and get Blackeyes and finish showing her.  I got so disgusted with Bonnie, cuz I knew she was faking it like she always did when she got hurt.

This year I got to interview a family who have been in 4-H for almost the whole official life of 4-H.  The McCullough family has more than 300 years worth of membership on the year that 4-H turns 100 years old.  Read more 4-H and the McCulloughs here.

I gotta talk to my kids about getting their kids involved.  It’s a great for building skills and confidence.  

I just want a Hoola-Hoop

When I was a little girl, Hula hoops were a new thing.  Everyone had one. Pretty soon everyone knew how to hoopla hoop.

I had to practice and practice.  My belly ached from trying, but I figured if Deanna could do it, so could I. I had to practice outside, cuz hula hoops are outside toys, not for crashing around inside with and knocking over precious things or decapitating stuff. Outdoors had lots of obstacles, too, like little kids underfoot, and mosquitoes buzzing and biting until whack, I gave them the death penalty.

I don’t even remember when we got hulaa hoops.  It wasn’t Christmas and it wasn’t a birthday.  Most toys come with a holiday.  We didn’t get toys just for no reason at all; unless you count inner tubes, which were for camping and were next to free at the gas station. Hula hoops cost something and even though they didn’t cost much, especially if there was a blue-light special at K-Mart,, multiplied by nine kids added up to expensive.  So ‘course we didn’t each have one.  We might have had three or maybe even four. For sure we had at least two, cuz we had contests, and cuz Nancy from across the road taught us hula hoop wars.

Me and Deanna and Bonita and Cathy and Tom from next door liked to have contests to see who could keep the hoop up the longest. Cathy had a fancy one with beads inside that swish-swished as she spun the around and around her waist.

 Nancy loved hula hoop wars a whole lot more than plain old keep-up contests.  For wars, you had to walk with the hula hoop spinning, and run into another Hoola-Hoop.  The winner was still spinning their hoop, while the other kid’s was down hanging dead as a door nail, around her ankles.  I could hardly walk with my Hoola-Hoop, let alone keep it spinning after running into something, so I usually lost at wars.

 Hula-hooping is easy as pie once you get the hang of it.  I could keep mine up for hours, if Mom didn’t have some chore or other for me to do.  Sometimes I got two or three going at once. I could even spin one starting at my neck and work it down to my knees.  I never did that for long, cuz for one thing, it’d be selfish to hog hula hoops all to myself and practice, and for another thing, every kind of play is more fun with someone else.  Even solitaire is better playing doubles.  Even reading is more fun when someone is sitting on the sofa reading along with you.  Especially if that one person is Mom, cuz she’s a super-duper reader and makes a story feel real.

Now that I’m grown, I still love to hula hoop.  I can’t make the K-Mart versions stay up.  I have a fancy, exercise hoop that’s weighted.  I can keep it up at least 3 minutes.  After that, I think of chores I need to do.  Besides, for whatever reason, my body doesn’t believe I can hula hoop for hours anymore. Still, I do have a lot of fun hula hooping with grandkids.

Recently, I got a chance to sit down and talk to Leela Mae, a professional Hooper.  She’s having the time of her life.  Read more about it Here.  I wonder if Leela Mae ever went up against Nancy at hula hoop wars.

Past Post-election scars

A long ago memory woke me a 4:15 a.m.

Me and My Big Sister

Deanna and me when we were little girls.

When I was a not such a little girl, one of my dearest friends ran for student council president. She was already destined to be the valedictorian, but I didn’t know that.  She was just my friend, Judy.  I hung out with Patti and Sandy and Judy, when I wasn’t practicing double-jumps or pom-pom routines with my sister-cheerleaders or trying to find quiet places to be with my boyfriend.  My real friends were “eggheads.”  Like me.

Judy was the obvious choice for President.  She already served as the Junior class representative.  She was dedicated, she was smart.  Judy was a Girl Scout, a drum majorette, a Daughter of the Revolution, and volunteered at the Red Cross.

Craig ran against Judy.  Craig was a nice enough fellow.  I had nothing against him, in fact I liked Craig.  He was cute. I might have even had a teensy crush on him.  Craig was not involved in any extra-curricular activities, he wasn’t on the student council, he was an average student.  He wasn’t one of the popular kids and he wasn’t one of the hoods either. Craig was the underdog in the election. Continue reading

The Naked Truth, From My Perpective

Sometimes memories are clear as a bell, sometimes cloudy.  Most the time memories are different depending on who’s they are.  One such memory as vivid as if it happened yesterday for me and two of my brothers.  Oh how different our memories are:  the facts are the same, but the emotion is completely different.  This is a summer story.  Still, it’s on my mind because both Loren and Frank shared their version with me this past year.

I told you before about our camping trips.  All eleven of us slept and changed in one big army tent with wooden poles and canvas army cots.  Man-o-man, those cots Continue reading

Fighting the Weasel Monster

I posted this back in 2010.  Yesterday, a small cat crossed in front of the car.  She had short little legs that made her almost slink.  If it weren’t for the slight calico markings on her dark coat, I might have thought she was a weasel.  Mom and  the weasel popped into my head and I started to laugh.  

When I was a little girl, I lived in a big house full of mysteries.  The windows had shutters operated by ropes inside the house, except paint made the ropes stick and there was one window which had shutters that never opened.  I could only see the shuttered window from the outside, so sometimes on rainy days, I searched the inside, looking for the secret window.  The basement floor was dirt, and sometimes animals like moles would make their way into the house.  Once a skunk got in there and got scared, and woke us all up in the middle of the night to a dreadful smell.   There always seemed to be places to explore and mysteries to contemplate in that house.

The bottom corner of each bedroom door had a half-circle of wood missing. Maybe  a hungry wood-eating monster took a bite out of each door.  Mom said squirrels lived in the house before we moved there because  the house was empty for a while.   I tried hard to imagine that house empty, no one there at all, and it seemed impossible, my house was a house that needed noise.   Continue reading

Rushing to save a minute

Dan McCaleb, a local writer for the Northwest Herald, wrote an editorial that threw me right back to when I was a little girl.  It seems Dan gets frustrated with people who drive at a relaxed pace, well-below the speed limit, along some of the winding roads in the our rural county.  If only he had my dad when he was a little boy.

Getting to church on time was quite the challenge, when I was a little girl.

For some reason, keeping track of the little kids’ shoes was next to impossible.  I looked in the toy box, cuz kids throw all sorts of non-toys in there, just to get the room cleaned up.  I found some tooth fairy money in there after Bonita waited a blue-moon and the tooth already got taken away by the fairy.  I figured it was a rotten tooth, until I found the money in the toy box.  I supposed the fairy had to high-tail it out of there before we saw her. Once Johnnie’s shoe got stuck on the underneath side of the stool he used to get close enough to the toilet and pee standing up like a big boy.  I thought we’d never find that shoe.

Anyways,  searching for shoes or hats and running out the door to get to church was the way we got there most Sundays.  We had a tin barrel of Sunday hats on account of six girls in the family.  But you had to remember Continue reading

Towing the Party Line of Yesterday

As soon as I turned 16, Mom said it was time for me to get a summer job.  She drove me around to restaurants near and far until I had my very first job.  The first job, I told you about already.  That was at M-76 Drive-In .

When I got a little older, Dad took me over to Bell Telephone, so I could take a test and maybe get a job as an operator. He introduced me to a bunch of people, like I was the best thing he ever made. Back when I was a little girl, and even since I’ve been grown up, operators were super-duper important.  Operators could save a person’s life.

Way back to the beginning of my memory and until I was somewhere around six, we had a crank phone and a party line. I could get my friend Betty with two longs and a short.  The operator was one ring.  It could be short or long. The operator got the call out to where it needed to go.  The operator could even find somebody’s dad if she needed to.

Later, when we got a phone with a dial, we used the operator if we needed to call long-distance or if we needed help, like an ambulance or a fire truck.  We never needed that kind of help, just the long distance kind.

We had a party-line back then.  Everybody did.  Maybe rich people could have a private-line.  I never knew anyone that rich.  A party-line wasn’t about having a party, it was about sharing.  Five or six families used the same line.  Everybody had a different ring, and you only picked up the phone and answered if you heard your ring.  You could pick up the phone and listen-in on neighbors, but that was rude and impolite and not nice, and nosey on top of that.  If I picked up the phone to call a friend and somebody else was talking, I had to hang up right away and not remember or tell who was on the line, let alone what they said.

party_line_telephone_etiquette

Monopolizing a party-line was rude, too.  You only said what you needed to say and got off, cuz maybe somebody else needed the phone.  If I heard a click while I was talking to Betty or Daylene, or Diann, or Connie, we said goodbye right away.  Dianne and Betty were on my party-line, but Daylene and Connie lived in town, so they had  different party-lines. A click meant somebody needed the line.  It was bad manners to keep on talking if somebody needed the line.  There could be an emergency, or something really important someone needed to know.

Dad sold extensions for Ma Bell.  Back then, people didn’t really own phones, they rented them.  It cost extra for extensions and even more if the family wanted something other than black or if they wanted a Princess phone, which was sleek and slim and came in lots of colors.  Dad talked people into new phones when he went to houses to fix  the phone or line.  Once he even sold a phone for a woman’s bedroom. That woman answered the door in a red nightie, and Dad was super-nervous and sweating about putting a Princess phone in her bedroom. That is, until he saw a “giant of a man, naked and smiling” in her bed.  I never knew whether that made Dad feel less nervous or more, but it sure made Mom laugh her guts out when he told that story.

1959_bremen2c_indiana2c_telephone_subscription_ratesWe still had a party line when I had my first high school boyfriend, Wayne.  I wasn’t allowed to call Wayne, because for one thing, girls weren’t supposed to call boys.  Besides, he was long-distance.  Long-distance cost extra money, and we had none of that.  Wayne called me, and we talked and talked and  talked.  Sometimes we ran out of things to say and just listened to each other breathe.  We only had one phone, so I stretched the cord up behind the stairway door, so I could get some privacy. Even in our house, people were supposed to be polite and never listen-in to phone conversations.

Of course, sometimes sisters can be mean. Deanna showed me how to lift the receiver really slow, putting my finger under to clicker, and letting it up so slow, nobody could hear the click. She covered the talking end of the receiver, so her breath wouldn’t give her away.  She could listen-in to anyone’s conversation that way Even mine.

If I heard the click, meaning someone wanted to use the phone, Wayne and I kept hanging out on the phone.  Once Diann’s mom, Mrs. C said, “Get off the phone,” in a super-aggravated voice.  I hung up without even saying goodbye. Good-golly, love can make a person do some really rude and impolite things, and can even drive a somebody else to be that way.  I felt my heart beat in my ears after Mrs. C got so bent out of shape.

I knew right away that I failed the operator test.  The whole thing required copying numbers from one page to the next.  I never did get the hang of remembering phone numbers.  I kept turning the page, writing, turning the page back, erasing, turning it back again.  Dad never told me the results.  I bet he was super-disappointed and maybe mystified, cuz I was a math whiz, so why in the devil couldn’t I remember phone numbers?

Dad got over his disappointment and I soon regained his pride.  I went on to other jobs, many requiring me to remember numbers.  I came up with tricks to help me remember and to catch my mistakes when I made them. I still have a difficult time remembering phone numbers, but I no longer need to.  Thanks to “favorites” and speed-dial, and a built-in phone directory, the only number I need to remember is my own.

phone etiquette 2 - 1 (1)

This is how bloggers communicate when they meet in person!

There’s no such thing party-lines, long-distance or phone etiquette anymore. People talk to anyone, anywhere.  And sometimes they don’t even talk. They message, and text, and Snap-Chat, and FaceBook.  Sometimes I find myself recalling “conversations” where no one utter a word.

Do you remember party-lines and phone etiquette?  Do you long for the good old days, or are you content with more efficient ways of communicating?  Or is it really more efficient?