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!

Would you like a cup of coffee?

In some ways, I was a late bloomer.  Coffee drinking is a good example.  My parents both drank coffee.  As a child, I was never interested in drinking it or even tasting it.  My parents never encouraged me to give it a try by offering me a cup with a lot of milk and a tablespoon or two of coffee.  But I loved hot tea.  Only my Nannie drank hot tea. She used Lipton tea bags–that was all.  She would pour hot water from the big whistling tea kettle over the bag and pull the bag up and down until the color of the tea pleased her.  Then she would put in a little bit of white sugar and a drop or two of canned milk.  It smelled wonderful to me and she encouraged me to like tea by giving me a little taste every time she made a cup.  I loved hot tea thanks to her.

When I became a grown-up, the no coffee drinking became more of an issue. For example in my Bible study group, I was the only tea drinker. Everyone else drank coffee.  So generally I just carried a tea bag with me and it was no problem.

Then I met JoAnn.  She was a great lady and taught me a number of things.  Her husband was a banker but a member of the Cattleman’s Association in our town. Really, almost every man was a member.  Either they had boys in 4-H or their father had farmed or they farmed.  JoAnn had the best recipes for everything.  She shared her pickled beets with me.  She played tennis with me.  She let my kids play in her creek.  Her poundcake was TO DIE FOR.

When she found that I didn’t drink coffee, she said–“You are an adult and you need to know how to drink coffee. I will teach you.”  I had no idea what she meant but the gleam in her eye make me agree with her.  Several days passed and I forgot what she said.  Life moves on-you know. One day right after lunch, she called and said to be at her house at 1:30. And she hung up. I arrived at her house and went in through the kitchen door.  She was taking a pound cake out of the oven.  It smelled marvelous! She sat me down at her kitchen table and cut me a slice.  Then she poured me a cup of coffee-black.  She said—Take a bite of cake, drink a sip of coffee.  Keep doing that until both the cake and coffee are gone.

And just like that, I became a coffee drinker! Over the years I have refined my coffee drinking a little.  I add a dab of creamer to mine and a little sugar. And I rarely start my day with coffee and hot pound cake!

Hay-ing Time is Here!

We have a friend who has a rather large farm in a small community near where we live.  We became acquainted many years ago when we became amateur radio operators.  He was a single man who still lived with his parents on the farm. And he was a ham, too.

Amateur radio operators, or hams for short, are big on helping others.  The Rome group put up antennas together, raised money to help others and had a lot of pot luck dinners together.  When we built our house, our farmer friend brought his tractor to our house to lift the shingles up on the roof.  If you have ever tried to carry shingles up a ladder, you know how hard that is.  We owed him big time.

Several months went by before he “called in” this favor.  He always baled hay and stored it for his cattle to eat during the winter.  He also sold hay to other farmers. The thing about hay is that it is cut and has to lay for a bit before it is baled.  It can’t get wet.  So sometimes you end up baling a lot of hay right before storms move in to the area.  So he asked for our help with the picking up of the bales.   In those days, the bales were those square hay bales like those you can purchase at the big box stores.  He did not have those gigantic round bales.  We set a time for the next afternoon about 5.  That meant that my husband would be done with work, I would be done with my 5th grade teaching for the day and both our kids would be done.  This sounded like a good plan to us.

So the next afternoon we put on our jeans and long sleeved shirts and boots and headed to the farm.  I was going to drive the tractor that pulled the long hay wagon.  Everyone else would pick up bales and toss them up on the wagon.  After we got a bunch on the wagon, one of the men would start stacking them up higher.  Sounded ok to us. Then we realized that our daughter was too short to get the hay bale up on the wagon.  So our friend gave our daughter a short lesson in tractor driving and she became the driver.  She was SO excited.  After all she was only in the 5th grade and got to drive!  I became a bale tosser.  It was hard work.  You would run ahead and grab a bale and throw it up over your shoulder to the wagon.  Then you ran ahead and grabbed another.  And threw.  And ran.  And grabbed.  And threw.  You couldn’t miss a bale.  I must say that I have never done such a physically demanding job in my life.

We finished about dark with that field.  Exhausted is not the word I would use to describe how I felt.  Then our friend had a surprise for us. His dad had made ice cream for us! Yum! Somehow everything just equaled out…………..

Another installment of “Life on the farm” coming soon!



The Artist and the Travelers

I recently framed an original  “canvas”  that I had received many years ago.  It is not your “normal” artwork.  My granddaughter was at my house tonight and I told her how I came to have it.  It’s a rather funny story so I am sharing it with you tonight.

Probably. fifteen or so years ago when I was still working, I attended a conference in Savannah.  I felt really lucky to have this chance to go there.  Savannah is a lovely city with so much history-so much art-such good food! Two others from my area attended and we traveled together and stayed together in a hotel. The last day of our conference was only a half day.  We planned to eat at a really nice restaurant and then head out of town for the long drive home.

We decided to eat at the Lady and Her Sons Restaurant.  We had heard that the restaurant was a renovated cotton building and the food was great.  Sounded good to the three of us! We were seated on the second floor.  We couldn’t help but look around at everything.  Then a waitress came up and offered us an appetizer while we were still trying to decide what to eat.  She was serving Hoe Cakes.  For those of you who have no idea what that is, it’s a fried cornmeal pancake.  We told her we were going to stick to real food.  She told us she had cooked them for us and to have one.  We did! HMMM! It was fantastic.  So we had a few more and looked around  some more.  Then we saw “her.”  And “them.”  It was Paula Deen and her sons with aprons sitting in a booth nearby and eating.  We all tried to look at her while pretending not to look at her.  Have you ever tried that?  It’s pretty hard to do.  Generally you look like you are having some sort of neck seizure!

Then our food arrived. YUM!  As we were chowing down, we noticed a man setting up an easel in the corner and starting to paint.  He noticed us and turned so we could watch.  It turned out to be a watercolor of a live oak with Spanish moss.  It was gorgeous. Then he put it down and started another.  He used different colors and a different setting.   And he painted the scene on a paper doily.  Yep-a paper doily!! In a manner of 30 or so minutes, he had done three of these small pictures.  He then asked us if we wanted one.  Of course, we said, “Yes!”  He gave each of us one and started another.  He said he comes to the restaurant and eats lunch and does watercolors for the guests.  By this time he had turned another direction and was talking to another guest at the restaurant. SO the three of us began to discuss whether we should give him a tip.  Did he do this for a living?  How much should we offer him? I think we only had like $5 in cash between the three of us.  We didn’t know what to do.

Then we saw him pack up his stuff and walk toward our table.  We had sweaty palms with a few bills in it.  He gave us his card, wished us safe travels home and turned to leave.  So we didn’t give him anything.  But we did notice that he was an artist with his own gallery! We drove by it as we left town.  We realized we had a darling scene from a well-known artist for nothing. I am SO glad we didn’t insult him with our $5!

I have had mine rolled up in a container for years.  I recently ran across it and found a frame for it.  Why didn’t I do this sooner?


The Miracle in a Sugar Cube

There is a lot of debate today about vaccinations.  You find parents in the pro group and parents in the con group.  Parents have the right to deny vaccinations to their children.  When I was growing up, no one even thought about not taking your vaccinations.  It was a given.

In the 1950’s, children had mumps, chicken pox and measles.  There were no shots to prevent them.  I had all three in first grade, one right after the other.  Since I was a big reader, I just read all day long.  Some days were not as pleasant and I slept. No big deal.  I had all the regular vaccinations-smallpox, tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough also known as pertussis. My parents remember how dangerous those diseases were and had friends or relatives who had died from these serious illnesses. They never considered refusing vaccinations for me or my younger sister.

We also had another disease in the 50’s that was pretty scary.  It was infantile paralysis or polio.  It was the “most” feared disease because nothing could be done.  Once someone contracted polio, doctors could only treat the symptoms.   In 1952 over 60,000 children had polio. More than 3000 died. Scary. Really scary. There was believed to be a link to public pools. Late summer was even called polio season.  Public pools were drained and closed.  It was a terrible time.

I had a friend who had polio.  She was lucky.  She spent time in the hospital in an iron lung.  It would breathe for her.  She laid in it all day for several weeks.  She also spent time at Warm Springs in rehab.  Franklin Roosevelt had also been there.  She gradually learned to walk again with braces on her legs and crutches to support her.  She was one of the happiest people I knew.  She had survived.  The fact that she would never run and play again was not important to her.  She was alive!

Then a miracle happened. Jonas Salk developed a vaccine for polio.  It was tested and found to be effective.  People everywhere wanted this vaccine for their children.  In our town, the first people vaccinated were the children.  And since there were so many, the city decided to set up a public vaccination center in a local high school.  It was a grey rainy day.  I remember it exactly.  We found a place to park and walked a few blocks to the high school and in the double front doors. Both my parents were with me.  We stood in line for a while. I am sure there was a form to sign but I don’t remember anything about that.  We inched closer to the nurses who were distributing the vaccine.  They were dressed in white dresses, white hose, white shoes and white nursing hats. Finally it was my turn.  The nurse handed me a little white cup with a sugar cube in it.  The vaccine was dropped on the cube.  I put it in my mouth and it melted and tasted just like sugar.  And just like that, polio left my present and my future.  It was a miracle on a sugar cube!

Yes, I ate that as a child!

Today many parents are greatly concerned with the food that they make or purchase for their children.  Even children know the words sugar-free, gluten free and organic-just to name a few.  In reality, these words are fairly new “inventions.” When I was a child, they had not even been invented. I had a blissful childhood, stuffing myself with good, home-cooked foods.  I also enjoyed some grocery items that today would be considered hazardous to my health. Yikes!

For example, Coca-Cola had been invented and no one thought that consuming a Coke as being bad for you.  They came in glass bottles and you had to use a “church-key” to pop off the top.  They were pretty strong and would almost take your breath away.  My doctor actually encouraged the drinking of a Coke by giving his “good” children patients a wooden nickel that could be used in the Coke  machine in the lobby for a “free” Coke.  I was always a good patient!

Moon Pies were very popular when I was a child.  They were chocolate and had a cracker and marshmallow inside.  I loved them and my mother thought they were a good snack. Yippee!

Bologna was pretty popular when I was a child.  I ate it on Colonial white bread with some Duke’s mayonnaise.  It was yummy with some red Kool-aid, dill pickles and Charles Potato Chips.  It was the “perfect” lunch and SO GOOD FOR YOU! Everyone ate this.  And when you took this for your lunch to school, it sat in your desk with mayonnaise and no refrigeration. I was not a fan of this but I knew kids who loved mayonnaise sandwiches.  Or mayonnaise and Kraft American cheese slices on white Colonial bread. It had additional “nutrients” added to make it healthier for you!  Yeah-right!!!

It was a real treat to eat some Vienna Sausages. They were best to pop off the lid, pour off the fatty liquid and then pull one out and pop it into your mouth. Heavenly! My grandchildren have even eaten these! But it was their other grandmother who provided them!  Ha-Ha!

One final item that everyone ate in those days was Spam.  You could pull of the lid, drain off the fatty liquid, and fry it in a skillet on the range top.  It took the place of a “meat” for the family.  It is also excellent with scrambled eggs. It’s almost like ham and eggs.  I never thought about what pieces and parts were ground together to form this meat.

If you come to my house today, you will not find these foods in my house.  Well, except for Duke’s mayonnaise…’s required in my famous potato salad!


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!

My Introduction to Flag Etiquette

The U.S. Flag or “Old Glory” was an important part of my childhood.  You see, children in the 1950’s didn’t have technology at their fingertips like children today.  Children had after school activities that were designed to build a strong foundation.  We were really citizens-in-training.  Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts were important after-school activities that were approved by  parents.

I  went to Brownie Camp every summer at Scout Haven in Acworth, Georgia.  Every morning we stood around the flag pole in a horseshoe while the American flag was raised for the day.  At the end of the day, we stood around the flag pole again as the “colors” were retired for the day.  Being in the Color Guard that performed this ritual was a special privilege.  You could not be in the Guard until your last year of Brownie day camp.  I was excited when I reached that year.  I wanted to have a “real” camp job—-and being in the Color Guard was what I wanted.

One person was the Color Bearer or Flag Bearer.  She carried the flag.  She walked ahead of the four or six girls who were the Color Guard.  Guess which one I wanted to be?  Yep. I wanted to be the Color Bearer. Another person-generally a counselor-was in charge and announced the commands.

When all the camp buses arrived, the campers came directly to  the flag area and formed a large horseshoe.  Once everyone was there, we would raise our hands in the quiet sign and all talking ceased.  Then the announcer would say, “Girl Scouts, attention.” That meant that we were ready to start.  Next we heard, “Color Guard, advance.” The Color Bearer and the Color Guard would march forward in perfect step. (We practiced to make sure we were in perfect step.) When we reached the pole, the announcer said , “Color Guard, post the colors.”  Now we were at the tricky part.  The Color Bearer would pass the flag back to the guard so they could unfold it and have it ready to put up the pole.  While this was happening, the Color Bearer would pull the grommets down and have the first one ready to attach to the flag.  She would pull the rope up a bit and attach the second grommet to the flag.  The Color Guards were to hold the flag so that it NEVER touched the ground.  The Color Bearer pulled the flag up as the Color Guard saluted the flag.  Then the announcer would say, “Please join us in saying the Pledge of Allegiance.” And we did.  All of us.  With respectful voices.  The final step was to dismiss those who had touched the flag. The announcer said, “Color Guard dismissed.” Then we would turn and in perfect step, march out of the horseshoe.

The “retiring” of the colors at the end of camp was pretty much so a reversal of the morning except for one thing.  The Color Guard had to fold the flag.  It had to be done  perfectly.  I can not tell you how many times we practiced the folding of the flag into the perfect triangle.  This was also the scariest time because the flag could not touch the ground.  Never.  Ever.

As a Girl Scout, I followed the same ceremony for our flag.  As a Senior camping in Idaho with 4000 other Senior Scouts, I still followed this same ceremony, always showing honor and respect for this emblem of our country.

Today some folks do not want to show respect for our flag or even our country.  As for me, I will continue to honor the flag of our country.

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  Proverbs 22:6


Welcome to Write 31 Days 2017!

Yep! It’s October again.  That means I will be pretending to be a writer for this month.  If you have read here before, you know I started doing this to tell my grandchildren what things were like when I was growing up.  I have found that I enjoy writing about my life.  I have also found that the more I write, the more I remember from my younger years.  So I hope you will join my train for this month.  In past years, I have written with a group of Christian writers called Write 31 Days.  This year I am venturing out alone because I know that I can be disciplined and do what I say I will do—that is write a post every day this month.  Hope you will join me and read a few posts!

Balls and Sweets

In the South, there are a few things that are standards.  Sweet tea is a standard drink.  Coca-Cola is a standard drink.  And Krispy Kreme doughnuts are a standard indulgence.  I have already reflected once on the KK theme-I know that.  But this is another little story of how this sweet became a favorite for me!

My Daddy like to go to baseball games.  Sometimes a group of men that he worked with at Lockheed would go together.  But sometimes, he took me with him.  I loved to go to the ball games.  Probably I didn’t understand all the rules but I had the basics down pretty ok.  Now in Georgia, we have the Atlanta Braves.  They have had excellent years.  Remember Dale Murphy?  I do!  And they have had pretty crummy years.  But this baseball team was the Crackers.  Yep-you heard me right-they were called the Crackers. Their “stadium” was on Ponce de Leon in Atlanta.  But it was not like the stadiums of today.  It would be more like a small high school ball field.  Wooden seats or benches.  Concrete floors. Vendors hawking their wares of peanuts, popcorn, hot dogs.  I can’t remember about beer.  I am not sure they sold that.  Back then lots of places were “dry” in those days. But they sold Coca-Cola in little green glass bottles.  The bottles would be packed in ice drums and be icy cold.  You couldn’t screw the lid off. You had to have the man use a church key to pop off the lid.  You would hold the icy bottle in your hand and the air would condense on it creating little cold drips that would run down your arm to your elbow.  The first swig (that’s a drink to you Yankees) would take your breath away.  Heavenly! Generally we would drive in our car down there.  I can remember that my Daddy would park in the Sears parking lot across the street. Sears was BIG.  I mean really BIG.  Perhaps 3 stories and a bargain basement.  So if my Daddy parked there, he would be obliged to walk into the store and perhaps look at a tool or two just to justify the parking thing.

After the game was over, we had one more standard stop to make before heading home.  On Ponce de Leon Street there was another famous place—-Krispy Kreme.  It was open 24 hours a day and churned out the yummiest hot glazed doughnuts ever.  We would generally get a dozen of them.  They were so cheap-like a dollar maybe.  But the best part was the smell and taste.  You could watch the bits of dough drop into lard (yes-LARD) and cook on both sides before running under the sugary glaze topping.  When you held it in your hand, it would be SO hot it would bend over.  Oh My,  it was good!!

So to this day, when I eat a KK, I think about my Daddy.  I am thankful for the time he spent with me sharing things he enjoyed-like ball games and Krispy Kreme doughnuts!