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Sealed with a Kiss!

We recently purchased a new car and it came with six months of XM Sirius.  I told the dealer that I was not really interested in that at all.  Well, as things happen, I realized within a week that I was quite interested in XM!  First of all, you can pick exactly what you want to listen to while in the car and deal with no commercials.  Having hundreds (?)  of stations might be excessive but I am enjoying the ride a lot.  A whole lot! Of course I am a fan of the music of my youth as well as country which was NOT a music of my youth.  I think I didn’t discover country music until later in life.  I also like that I can listen to old radio programs such as Dragnet or the Whistler.  Pretty cool!

Today my husband and I were in the car together and playing was a song from the 1960’s called “Sealed with a Kiss.”  It’s about writing every day to your true love and sealing the letter with a kiss.  Sounds rather romantic to me!  And I actually have participated in that activity as an adult.  You see when I was a child, we wrote letters.  If you had a boyfriend who was away,  you would write letters to him everyday.  When you licked the envelope, and then sealed the letter, you would do one of several “sealing” procedures.  You could, of course, put X0X0X0 across where the envelope was sealed.  That was a less sophisticated way to “seal your letter with a kiss.”  If I had actually had a boyfriend when I was in elementary school and then he went to visit his grandmother, I could write him a letter.  If I thought NO other ADULT might see the back of the letter, I would have put the X0X0X0 on it.  Chances are good that I would not have done the XO thing.  Girls that I went to school and church with did not have boyfriends.  And we didn’t talk about boys either.  We had never held hands with a boy.  Or danced with one. Elementary schools had NO dances and parents didn’t have dancing at their houses either.  We lived in a “Leave it to Beaver” kind of time warp and that was fine!

The more advanced sealed with a kiss would be for upper high school or college age girls.  After sealing the envelope, you would put on red lipstick and actually kiss the back of the letter! Gutsy, I know! So when your “boyfriend” received your letter, he could tell you had actually kissed the envelope.  Sweet!  And he could touch his lips to the kiss, too! Actually that is rather gross.  Just think where that letter had been laying around!

The final and most advanced “sealing” method was a combination of two activities.  First the young lady would write the letter.  Then she would carefully spray the letter with her favorite perfume and allow it to dry.  Next she would carefully fold it up and seal it in the envelope.  And then, of course, apply the red lipstick and kiss the back of the envelope.  When the boyfriend received the letter, he could have that whiff of perfume from opening the letter and the red lip kiss.

I was a married woman before I actually did the “sealed with a kiss” thing.  My husband was in the army and we spent more time apart the first year than together.  So we did a lot of writing.  And yes, his letters were sealed with a kiss!  And scented!

Ahhhh-romance in the 1960’s

 

So do you have plans for tonight?

“So do you have plans for tonight” might be some interesting words.  If you say “yes” or if you say “no” you might end up with a humdinger of an evening.  Let me explain.

Years ago I taught with a very interesting lady.  She was the one who encouraged me to let our students build a log cabin inside our classroom.  M had a lot of good ideas although some folks may have considered some of the ideas slightly wacky.  It was summer.  It was HOT!  It was humid.  It was Friday evening about 7pm when our phone rang (This was before cell phones!). I answered.  It was M and she was getting some folks together for the evening at her home to watch their Cereus bloom.  I had heard about her plant.  Her husband had been babying it along all winter.  And it had one bloom and he was pretty sure that TONIGHT would be THE night that it would bloom.  So I said “Yes” and the four of us hopped into the car and headed to her house.  I had not been there before but knew where it was located.  No problem.

Once at her house, we looked at the Cereus.  It was not a spectacular plant by any means. But it had a HUGE bloom that looked like it was about ready to make its appearance. While we waited, we made fudge and popcorn and talked about a zillion things.  Then the “Time” arrived.  It was midnight.  We anxiously  watched the plant.  Slowly the bloom began to open.  We almost held our breath. Then we decided to really hold our breath.  The bloom was gorgeous but it was also STINKY.  I mean rotten meat stinky!!!!! The husband carefully pollinated the appropriate parts.  And it was over for another year.

Our kids were invited to have a sleepover and they stayed.  They loved the quirkiness of both M and Dr. G.  Where else can you go and  watch a plant bloom at midnight.  Or where can you spend the arrival of dawn hunting bugs in the front yard?  Dr. G always tried to get them to eat them but my kids always told him that they didn’t know where that bug had been!

And my husband’s final words on the matter were—-“I can’t believe we spend half the night on a porch  watching a plant bloom!”

And this is why I “love” chemistry

I think I have insinuated briefly that my best teachers were those I had prior to the 9th grade.  High school was more a blur of larger classes where teachers rarely interacted with individual students.  I did not enjoy high school.  There were too many people trying to “be” too many things.

It was my junior year.  I had a year of high school under my belt.  I had finished Latin the previous year. Hooray! I had geometry, American history, some English course (you can see I was excited there!), typing (on a “Selectric” typewriter), government and chemistry.  Frankly, chemistry sounded interesting.  I suppose I had some romantic visions of a mad scientist mixing up potions that would let me escape from high school.  Boy was I off base!

The first day I was able to find my classroom in the mere 5 minutes that I had between classes.  It was a room I had never entered.  I guess that today you would call it an auditorium classroom.  The front had the usual blackboards.  Then there  was a large island with a sink where the teacher could perform experiments for the students to observe.  The remainder of the room was composed of platforms that continued to set-up about 12 inches.  So the front row was closer to the floor than say the fifth platform.  Anyway-everyone could see just fine! My schedule card had no teacher listed.

The students began to gather in the room and find a seat.  The bell rang.  No teacher.  I began to look around and noticed that there were several girls that I knew from the Beta Club. But I really didn’t know any of the guys at all.  None of them.  None.  Hmmmm…..

Then into the room marched the teacher.  I didn’t know him either but he could be new.  Then he started to talk.  Guess what. He was the head football coach.  I am not sure I had gone to a single game so I didn’t know him.  The guys in the room were members of the football team.  The tackles.  The linebackers.  The “big” ones.  Although there was not a”no pass, no play” rule,  I began to feel nervous.  This was not going to be a regular chemistry class.

The coach divided us into groups.  Several football players and one girl from the Beta Club was the basic organizational plan.  We sat together.  We worked on every assignment together.  Of course, that is not exactly true.  The girl worked on every assignment and the football players watched.  Every class period began with a 10 minute football play discussion.  I learned a lot about football! Fridays before a game, the 10 minutes crept into longer periods of time.  Sometimes on Monday, a rehash of the game was the starting point for the lesson.

Can you believe this?  The ONE class that I thought I might like was basically a tutoring session for the players who had to pass to play or graduate or get a college scholarship—or—-or! Fill the blanks in with anything you want!

And this is why I “love” chemistry!

 

 

 

I need the corn!

As you get older many interesting things can (and do) happen to you. You forget where you left your glasses.  You misplace your car keys.  And then you hit the ripe old age of —50! Ha! But seriously your short term memory is not as sharp as it was at age 20.

Probably 10 years ago, I heard a woman speak at a Women’s Conference and found she had the perfect solution for that short term memory.  She accidentally discovered this solution in her own home.  So I am sharing it with you for free! It works like a champ!

The next time you go grocery shopping, purchase as many small cans of whole kernel corn as you have rooms in your house.  Doesn’t matter the brand–any old can of corn will do.  When you get home, put your groceries away but save out the  cans of corn.  Then move through your house, leaving a can of corn in every room of your house. The corn needs to be in plain sight.

Now for the magic!!!!  When you go into a room in your house and CAN NOT REMEMBER WHY you went into the room, walk directly to the can of corn and pick it up.  Then say aloud, “I need this can of corn for a few minutes.” If no one is in the room, still say the sentence out loud.  Finally walk out with the can of corn and go to another room-say the kitchen and leave the can on the counter.

Isn’t that simple?  You now have a reason for going into the room and the visible item in your hand. You are off the hook about feeling “bad” that you can’t remember. You have the corn!

One year I gifted the teachers that I worked with a can of corn and told them the story.  What started out as a kind of joke became a tool to not feel foolish when you could not remember.  You just took the corn! Problem solved!

 

The Fine Art of Frog Gigging

If you live in the country, you may recognize the term frog gigging.  If you are from the city and have no idea what a gig is—-well, just read on!

Several days ago, I wrote about how we provided assistance to a farmer friend of ours when he needed help hauling hay.  That was a real shock to me.  It was flat out manual labor.  And you did it until you were finished–not until you were tired.  All four of us helped.  My daughter had the best job-she drove the tractor and was only in 5th grade!    But there was an unexpected bonus to the hauling hay.  It was frog gigging.

Our farmer friend asked our kids if they would like to go frog gigging with him.  Of course, they had no “real” idea what it was but went anyway.  One at a time…… Of course, I really didn’t have a good idea of what it was either…….yikes!  The first time, both went together.  M came by our house and picked them up  about dark:thirty.  You know what dark:thirty is, right? Then they took his flat-bottom boat down Big Cedar and they looked for frogs.  You listen for their croak, shine a light on them and wham! stick the three-pronged gig into their body.  Gross!  After you get a “passel” of them, you are done for the night-except for cleaning them.  Only the legs are tasty so most of the big old frog is a toss-away.  Both of my kids loved frog legs.  They loved the excitement of hunting in the dark on the creek.  Generally they would be gone for three or four hours before they had enough to make a meal.  My kids generally came home and cooked theirs immediately.  They never shared a single one with me or their Dad.

Only later-much later, did I find out how they really decided when to stop for the night.  They stopped when——they ran out of ammunition to shoot the snakes on the creek!

Sometimes, it is better to not know the whole picture!

 

The New Kid on the Block!

When I started my teaching career, I was fresh out of college but I was not the average 22 year old graduate.  I was married and had not gone to college until my children went to school.  So I was older.  My first year, I taught fourth grade for 10 days.  Then I was transferred to a fifth grade position.  Any Georgia teacher can tell you about the ten day transfers.  I had not worked very much in elementary school but I really liked working there.  During the spring of my first year, the principal who had originally hired me asked me to move to middle school and I did.  I really loved middle schoolers.  I found that teachers either really loved them or hated them. There was no middle ground.

Anyway-the position the principal offered me was not a typical language arts classroom.  It was as a teacher in a Humanities block.  The Humanities Block was a fairly “new” idea.  The community was nervous , fearing their children would be exposed to some radical new-fangled ideas.  I just saw it as a chance to teach language arts.  The block teachers would be planning together and providing more intensive studies.  I suppose I also looked like a “safe” teacher-not some crazy radical hippie! We also had a social studies teacher.  She was a mother and her husband was a pastor in the area and counselor.  Our lead teacher was the wife of a college professor and had 4 children. I have to say that M was very interesting.  She was the most different person I had ever met. She raised chickens in the backyard of her house long before anyone else did.  She recycled everything.  She cared nothing about fashions or make-up or what people thought of her.  She had a wood stove in her kitchen and she would not let you waste a single drop of water.  Ever.  She was a FREE spirit.

School started and things were going well when M thought it would be a good idea for kids to learn more about pioneer life.  One thing led to another and we decided to build a log cabin.  Not outside in a field.  We decided to build it inside the school.  We happened to share a very large, windowless central room in our pod of the school.  We decided to move out our furniture and build it there.  M knew someone who would give us the outside slice of pine logs for free.  So we had materials.  The children read about cabin building and drew plans for the cabin.  Then we built it.  By “we” I mean the 8th grade students in our Humanities block.  We only had the morning so it took several weeks to build it.  M would not let the children use electric saws so they  cut the wood and built the walls only using hand saws.  When finished, the cabin seemed huge! It took up most of one side of the pod.  Then they made furnishings that were used during that period of time.  I must say that the kids loved this activity.  They researched history, drew plans, did physical labor, and even dressed like settlers.  I am really glad the fire marshal never came to the school.  We would have been in big trouble for having a cabin inside a double classroom in the school.

At Christmas time, we talked to the children about taking down the cabin.  They voted no.  They wanted it to stay up so it did.  We meet inside the cabin for class.  Students worked in small groups in the cabin.  It was an academic success!

What did I learn from this? I learned that stepping outside the box was sometimes a very good thing.  I also learned that it is easier to ask for  forgiveness than to ask permission.  M taught me about being a free spirit and about nurturing the mind of a child.  I must say that these ideas served me well during the rest of my teaching career!

 

Stroller Etiquette–(Tongue in Cheek!)

Several times I have considered making a few comments about the use of strollers in today’s family life.  Then I start a post and delete the whole thing.  Strollers in the 1960’s were quite different than the strollers of today.  Let me explain.

We had a stroller for our son and daughter.  It had four wheels and a detachable sunshade and a small basket behind the baby seat for carrying needed items.  We bought ours second hand because they were fabulously expensive and we lived on a budget.  I think we may have paid $20.00 for it.  The seat was somewhat adjustable and made from a  vinyl material that could be cleaned.  That is about all you could say about it.  It was rather heavy and awkward to get into the trunk of the car.

Today’s strollers are  lighter, carry more, and have added devices that make stroller use easier for both the mom and child.  They are also expensive.  I bet that some have wifi built into the stroller for the working Mom on the go!

My big deal (or big gripe) with strollers doesn’t come from my day to day contact with them.  My main encounters come from strollers in large entertainment parks, such as Disney World and Disney Land. These are only suggestions regarding stroller use.  Please just read and consider a few suggestions:

*If your child is over 5 feet tall, he/she probably doesn’t need to ride in a stroller in the park.  This is due to the fact that his/her feet stick out a long way ahead of the actual stroller.

*Allowing a child who can not see over the stroller top to push another child (or children) in the stroller is dangerous to the people ahead of the stroller.

*Allowing children in the stroller to have ninja swords and poke nearby people is not being  courteous of others.

*Please do not suddenly stop in the middle of the pathway with your stroller.  Pull over to the side please.

*Put your cell phone away and watch where you are pushing your stroller.

 

Something that is not a suggestion but just something I have noticed is that guests with strollers at Disney Land are much more courteous of others than guests  at Disney World. The Disney World stroller folks will flat run you over!

As for me, I practice a lot of technical walking skills at parks now!

Do you remember gym uniforms?

I was talking with two ladies at church on Sunday and we were laughing about how clothing was so different when we were children.  It was a rainy Sunday so first we talked about boots and how they were a necessity while now they are a fashion statement.  Then we talked about always wearing dresses because that is what even public schools required in their unwritten dress code.  Finally we talked about the most awful garment of all times-the required gym uniform!

I was lucky (?) enough to only have two years of gym class-ninth grade and tenth grade.   Before I tell you about the  uniforms, I need to remind you that society expected young ladies in the 1960’s to be more modest.  The gym uniform was a one piece kind of romper garment.  It snapped up the front from the crotch area to the neck. And you snapped every snap—not a bit of body skin could show.  There were puckers between every snap.  It had short sleeves that almost reached your elbow.  It had a collar. It had a waist band in the front and elastic in the back.  The bottom was almost Bermuda short length.  The legs were weird.  One leg might be tight and the other leg might be baggy.   It was the roughest cotton material that had ever touched my body!  It immediately chaffed your skin upon contact. No amount of washing ever softened the material.  We couldn’t add Downey because it wasn’t invented yet.  But seriously, I am not sure anything could soften the material.  It was the ugliest shade of royal blue that was ever made.  When washed, it had to be ironed.  Gym uniforms were ironed. Period.  No matter the amount of steam you used, the material still looked wrinkled.  Some even starched their uniforms but that didn’t help either with the wrinkles.  And once you put the uniform on, the gym teacher checked you over to make sure you were dressed properly.  And heaven forbid, you could not sweat in it!

Today I don’t wear an ugly romper when I exercise.  I wear a swimsuit, or running tights and a T-shirt.  Times have changed for the better!

 

 

 

The Lady at the Top of the Pedestal

Quick! Can you name a teacher that you had that made an incredibly big difference in you? I have written about  a few of my teachers that I had in elementary school.  They were wonderful for a variety of reasons.  But one teacher that I had was super awesome and I plan to talk about her.

I hated going to 9th grade even before the school doors opened that year.  You see, there was a brand new high school in my area that was opening and I had been looking forward to going there.  Then the community found out that the high school was already too small for the numbers of students headed there.  So the county came up with a plan where part of the students would go to the “old” high school for one year in order to reduce the freshman class at the new school.  Well, guess who had to go to the old school? If you said—-me, you were right.  Grrrr.

I had attended the “old” school in first grade.  So I knew where it was and all about some of the buildings.  And it was old-really old.  It had desks that were hooked together, oiled wooden floors and cloakrooms.

I am sure that the teachers who were transferred from the new school to the old school were not happy either.  As a teacher, I can just imagine moving from a new, modern school to an old, old one. I am sure they felt punished.

But then, a miracle happened.  I was assigned to a Mrs. C for advanced English.  What the school told my parents was that they were offering special advanced classes for some students and I was in the advanced English class.  The first day she gave us a little taste of what we were headed for that year.  She had planned probably two years worth of English because she planned to “fly” along with this special class.

So, what did we do? Well, first of all we read novels-not stories from a literature book.  We read Pride and Prejudice first-every word of it.  We had essay questions on our tests and we learned to write proper answers. We learned to do a term paper. We diagramed sentences that took two pieces of Blue Horse notebook paper taped together! She read to us in class.  She became the character in the novel.  She read Chaucer’s Cantebury Tales aloud to us.  She played classical music in our room.  She was the FIRST English/Reading teacher that I had where I DID NOT HIDE a book behind a book so I could read something else.

And she invited students to her home.  She divided us into small groups of three or four and we had dinner with her at her home during that year.  During dinner she would talk to us about world events, great novels, whatever.  We learned how to have  adult conversations about poetry and art and world events.  She was amazing.

I had three more years of English and I must say that I never learned anything new in English after I spent that year with Mrs. C.  Thank You So Much!

Car Seats and other Safety Gizmos

I realize that I probably write this phrase too much—When I was a child, we didn’t have—–.  Just fill in the blank with almost anything!  Today I am venturing into safety gizmos.  When I was a child, my Dad drove a Ford station wagon.  It had a bench seat in front and back.  And it had a big cage area behind the back seat.  Generally, I sat in the middle of the front seat between my Dad and Mom.  Cars were not made with seat belts.  So the most important safety feature in our station wagon was “the arm”.  When Dad had to slam on his brakes, he threw his arm across my chest to keep me from being thrown forward. Sometimes both my parents would practice “the arm” safety feature at the same time.  Then I would have two adult arms thrown across my chest.  It was not exactly gentle but it worked just fine.  At that time, all the dashboards in cars were made with real metal.  It was painted to match the interior of the car but not padded.  If the driver didn’t practice “the arm” you would be thrown forward into the dash.  This would result in a hen egg on your forehead that would last for days.  No one ever asked what happened, they knew you hit the dash.  The “arm” was also practiced by car riders in  the back seat sometimes.  Generally, the quick stop just threw you into the back of the front seat.  It didn’t hurt that much!

We also did not have car seats like we have today.  When I was a child, no one had them.  When I was a new mother in the 1960’s, we did have a car seat.  Of course, a baby could not use it.  The car seats were made for toddlers who could crawl in and out all by themselves.  The seat had two hooks on the back that you would hook over your seat.  Then a thin metal bar could be pulled over the toddler.  The thing that children liked the most was the steering wheel.  Car seats generally had a steering wheel so the child could steer just like the driver and some even had a horn that could be tooted! Of course, they were the most expensive!

Looking back over my childhood and seeing the safety features that were unavailable  sometimes gives me pause.  How in the world did any of us manage to survive?  Of course in those days, parents just drove the car and if they were lucky-listened to the radio.  No one was texting, talking on the phone, putting on makeup or eating Chinese food as they drove 90 mph down a eight lane highway!