THOSE WERE THE DAYS continuing story….

Grandmother/Mom
Grandmother/Mom

Mom, who was our grandmother, but insisted that her grandchildren call her mom, was a major force in my mother’s family and therefore in our family as well.  As a result of having to call her mom, we had to call my mother, mother.

When we were children, we often went to visit Mom with my mother.  She lived several blocks away and since we did not have a car, walking would have to do.  Three of mom’s daughters, she had eight, lived with her at the time.  And a few had married and had their own homes and families.  Two became teachers and the rest worked in the silk mills in the area and turned in their pay to mom as long as they were living at home.  Mom used some of the money to send two of the youngest girls to Teacher’s College.  Mom was very progressive especially being she was from the “Old Country”.

We, my sisters and I, were shy and would hide behind my mother if we were asked any questions when we visited.  Mom would comment on how bashful we were and my mother would scoff and say, “They are not that way at home!  Can’t keep them quiet there.”  Which of course, made us more bashful when we were out..

We kids enjoyed playing in mom’s large backyard where she kept chickens and had a vegetable garden.  We made up our own games and were usually pretty tired when mother would call us in for a snack of lemonade and cookies that mom had made.  Usually oatmeal and raisin cookies and the lemonade was so cool and refreshing that we guzzled it down.

After all the playing and then walking home we kids were pretty tired and usually took a nap, giving mother a brief respite and maybe a visit with her friend and neighbor, Mrs. Kelly.  Mrs. Kelly lived right next door to us and had a large yard in which were planted all manner of vegetables.  She used to give us vegetables on a regular basis, anywhere from carrots to tomatoes and onions.  My mother would make wonderful stews with chunks of meat and always potatoes added.  My mother had a small garden and even some chickens but with four children, was always grateful for donations of food especially around the holidays.

Mrs. Kelly, in addition to being very helpful to us, was also a bad influence on my mother, teaching her to smoke and sometimes drink alcohol.  But mother never became a big drinker and she never became a heavy smoker either, in spite of Mrs. Kelly.  But they did have a good time when they got together.  They both loved hearing and telling a good story.  There was always a lot of laughing when they got together.

To be continued.

THE RETURN

Mother and Girls
Mother and Girls

 THE RETURN

I had not seen my father in years.  In fact, I really did not care if I ever saw him again.  He left so long ago I barely remembered what he looked like.  So the day he returned was more of a shock, than a surprise.

When I came home from school that day, the family was all excited about something.  Mother, who was usually in an old house dress, was in her Sunday best. She had on one of her two good dresses. This one had big pink roses splashed on a field of black. It was my favorite. My mother was a good-looking woman and since dad had left us several years ago, she had finally started dating again.  She said at that time that she considered him dead anyway.

So that day, when mother asked me to go upstairs and make the beds, I did not jump to do it.
“What’s with the cleaning”? I asked.  I was told more than once, that I had a smart mouth.  I never knew quite how to take that, whether I should be insulted or complimented.   But mother seemed worried about getting the house cleaned and right away.  It was not like her to be so concerned about the cleaning.  Her usual attitude about it  was, ‘It will get done when it gets done’, and it always got done.

“It is a surprise, will you please do what I asked?”  Mother’s voice was getting a bit shrill.
“Ok,  ok, but I don’t know what all the mystery is about.  Is someone important coming”?   I decided to go and do as she asked before she got mad and started yelling.  When she started yelling, it never ended good.

I ran upstairs and started making beds.  My two younger sisters were in their  bedroom giggling and they were not doing any cleaning. But then they never did any of the cleaning anyway.  I hoped maybe they could shed a little light on the situation but when I asked them, they just ignored me and kept on giggling. What can you expect from kids, I thought. I was fourteen and as second oldest in the family thought I was in control of things. I was blond and blue-eyed and rather scrawny yet the boys were beginning to notice me. My mother encouraged me in my independence, because she needed me to help at home while she was working.  Since Dad had left us high and dry when I was seven, with no money to speak of; mom needed every penny she could get to raise her four girls.

I finished making the beds and as I entered my room, which I shared with my older sister, the smell of Summer drifted in through the window. The lace curtains fluttered lazily on the warm breeze as I flopped on the bed and lit a cigarette that I had swiped from  Mother’s purse earlier.  She did let me light hers for her once in a while so I thought  it was okay to have one  once in a while.  I went off into a world of my own and saw  myself as a dancer. Myself and Gene Kelly, who was my favorite movie star, swayed back and forth to the music and as we swung out and came together, I was lost in the moment.

I seemed to be day-dreaming  more and more lately.  It was a way to close out the real world and go to my own special place. Ever since dad had deserted us, there never was enough money,  but now things were beginning to get better with myself and my older sister working.  I only worked part-time because I was still in school but it was enough to buy my clothes and give a little to my mother.  Dad had refused to send home any money to help support us from his Army allotment.  So the decision was taken out of his hands and the Army sent money to us anyway.  Yes, dad was a real nice guy.

Dad was drafted even though he was over forty because he was a deserter of his family and the Army needed all the men they could get. The second World War was in full progress at this time and that’s all that we  heard about on the radio. The war!  Rationing, black-outs, not enough sugar butter or gas. The sugar was what concerned me the most, I loved making candy, one thing dad had taught me.   Fudge with peanut butter was my favorite.

Whenever mother spoke of dad her voice was bitter and I learned to despise his memory even though I didn’t remember him all that much. Mother managed to fill in the blanks with, “We wouldn’t be in this shack with hardly enough to eat if he were any good.”  She called him “Mr. Rat” most of the time.  And he managed to live up to that name.

I often wondered if dad would come back and how she would feel if it ever came to that. I  knew however, with mother’s attitude, there was slim chance of that happening. As I stubbed out the cigarette, a train whistle blew in the distance and I wondered what it would be like to be on that train. I always dreamed of going to New York, which was not that far away and becoming an artist or a dancer.
“Are you finished yet?” Her mother’s voice broke her reverie.
“I’m all done.” I yelled back.

Mother worked hard trying to support the family. She did housework for several people. She was usually tired when she came home and so she put me in charge of watching the kids and cleaning the house in her absence. I liked being in charge. I could boss my younger sisters around whenever I felt like it. They rebelled of course and there was many an argument. They were eleven  and nine at that time. They clashed loudly with me over who was “in charge”. “We’re going to tell mother,” was the usual refrain when I pushed too hard to make them do anything like their homework or make their beds.

The house we rented was a two bedroom over a shoemaker shop.  Myself and my older sister, shared one bedroom and my two younger girls shared the other. Mother slept on the couch downstairs.  She said she had to keep an eye on the coal stoves anyway, so they wouldn’t go out and then we would freeze in the winter. Of course we had to have the stoves going in the Summer also to do our cooking. Which made for a very warm house in the summer.

My older sister was sixteen and as the oldest had to quit high school to work and help support the family. As a result of her bringing money in, she became very independent. She assumed no duties at home and paid little or no attention to mother. The younger girls didn’t really remember their dad or if they did, it was just a fuzzy outline. Their lives consisted of going to school and playing with their friends.

My reverie was interrupted again when I heard my mother’s voice coming from the bottom of the stairs.
“Come on down girls, there’s someone here to see you”, mother said.

My sisters ran down the stairs giggling to see who it was but for some reason I hung back. I had a strange feeling come over me. I really didn’t want to come down and see who was there.  I heard men’s voices that I did not recognize. So I stayed in my room until Mother finally came up and insisted that I come down and meet the visitors.

To be continued.

THE RETURN

Paddy Glennon circa 1943Word Press/Shaping Your Story

Week Two

Intros and Hooks

I had not seen my father in years.  In fact, I really did not care if I ever saw him again.  He left so long ago I barely remembered what he looked like.  So the day he returned was more of a shock, than a surprise.

When I came home from school that day, the family was all excited about something.  Mother, who was usually in an old house dress, was in her Sunday best. She had on one of her two good dresses. This one had big pink roses splashed on a field of black. It was my favorite. My mother was a good-looking woman and since dad had left us, she had started dating again.

So when mother asked me to go upstairs and make the beds, I did not jump to do it.
“What’s with the cleaning”? I asked.  I was told more than once, that I had a smart mouth.  I never knew quite how to take that, whether I should be insulted or complimented.   But mother seemed worried about getting the house cleaned and right away.  It was not like her to be so concerned about the cleaning.  Her usual attitude about it  was, ‘It will get done when it gets done’, and it always got done.

“It is a surprise, will you please do what I asked?”  Mother’s voice was getting a bit shrill.
“Ok,  ok, but I don’t know what all the mystery is about.  Is someone important coming”?   I decided to go and do as she asked before she got mad and started yelling.  When she started yelling, it never ended good.

I ran upstairs and started making beds.  My two younger sisters were in their  bedroom giggling and they were not doing any cleaning. But then they never did any of the cleaning anyway.  I hoped maybe they could shed a little light on the situation but when I asked them, they just ignored me and kept on giggling. What can you expect from kids, I thought. I was fourteen and as second oldest in the family thought I was in control of things. I was blond and blue-eyed and rather scrawny yet the boys were beginning to notice me. My mother encouraged me in my independence, because she needed me to help at home while she was working.  Since Dad had left us high and dry when I was seven, with no money to speak of; mom needed every penny she could get to raise her four girls.

I finished making the beds and as I entered my room, which I shared with my older sister, the smell of Summer drifted in through the window. The lace curtains fluttered lazily on the warm breeze as I flopped on the bed and lit a cigarette that I had swiped from  Mother’s purse earlier.  She did let me light hers for her once in a while so I thought  it was okay to have one  once in a while.  I went off into a world of my own and saw  myself as a dancer. Myself and Gene Kelly, who was my favorite movie star then, swayed back and forth to the music and as we swung out and came together, I was lost in the moment.

I seemed to be day-dreaming  more and more lately.  It was a way to close out the real world and go to my own special place. Ever since dad had deserted us, there never was enough money,  but now things were beginning to get better with myself and my older sister working.  Dad had refused to send home any money to help support us from his Army allotment.  So the decision was taken out of his hands and the Army sent money to us anyway.  Yes, dad was a real nice guy.

Dad was drafted even though he was over forty because he was a deserter of his family and the Army needed all the men they could get. The second World War was in full progress at this time and that’s all that we  heard about on the radio. The war!  Rationing, black-outs, not enough sugar butter or gas. The sugar was what concerned me the most, I loved making candy, one thing dad had taught me.   Fudge with peanut butter was my favorite.

Whenever mother spoke of dad her voice was bitter and I learned to despise his memory even though I didn’t remember him all that much. Mother managed to fill in the blanks with, “We wouldn’t be in this shack with hardly enough to eat if he were any good.”  She called him “Mr. Rat” most of the time.  And he managed to live up to that name.

I often wondered if dad would come back and how she would feel if it ever came to that. I  knew however, with mother’s attitude, there was slim chance of that happening. As I stubbed out the cigarette, a train whistle blew in the distance and I wondered what it would be like to be on that train. I always dreamed of going to New York, which was not that far away and becoming an artist or a dancer.
“Are you finished yet?” Her mother’s voice broke her reverie.
“I’m all done.” I yelled back.

Mother worked hard trying to support the family. She did housework for several people. She was usually tired when she came home and so she put me in charge of watching the kids and cleaning the house in her absence. I liked being in charge. I could boss my younger sisters around whenever I felt like it. They rebelled of course and there was many an argument. They were eleven  and nine at that time. They clashed loudly with me over who was “in charge”. “We’re going to tell mother,” was the usual refrain when I pushed too hard to make them do anything like their homework or make their beds.

The house we rented was a two bedroom over a shoemaker shop.  Myself and my older sister, shared one bedroom and my two younger girls shared the other. Mother slept on the couch downstairs.  She said she had to keep an eye on the coal stoves anyway, so they wouldn’t go out and then we would freeze in the winter. Of course we had to have the stoves going in the Summer also to do our cooking. Which made for a very warm house in the summer.

My older sister was sixteen and as the oldest had to quit high school to work and help support the family. As a result of her bringing money in, she became very independent. She assumed no duties at home and paid little or no attention to mother. The younger girls didn’t really remember their dad or if they did, it was just a fuzzy outline. Their lives consisted of going to school and playing with their friends.

I had a part-time job at a soda fountain not far from home in the summer when school was off. My mother knew the owners and helped me get the job.  I loved the job because I could meet different guys usually older than me, some of them were in the service and looked good in their uniforms.  I  was able to eat ice cream sundaes, cokes and burgers and made money besides. I made enough money to buy my clothes for school and even give some to my mother.  So between working at home and my part time job, I was kept quite busy.

My reverie was interrupted again when I heard my mother’s voice coming from the bottom of the stairs.
“Come on down girls, there’s someone here to see you”, mother said.

My sisters ran down the stairs giggling to see who it was but for some reason I hung back. I had a strange feeling come over me. I really didn’t want to come down and see who was there.  I heard men’s voices that I did not recognize. So I stayed in my room until Mother finally came up and insisted that I come down and meet the visitors.

To be continued.

MY MOTHER’S STORIES

 

My sister and I
My sister and I

Over the years as I was growing up and even as an adult, my mother was a great story-teller.  She also had some interesting, witty but profound sayings that have stayed with me even now.

I remember when I was in high school, my girlfriends would like to come to my house to hear mother tell her stories.  Sometimes I had to drag them away because they were so engaged with mother’s stories.

Her favorite stories usually included eerie, ghost-like entities appearing to people and scaring the “bejasus” out of her listeners.  My sisters and I always thought that she embellished these stories to make them more interesting.  But she would never admit to doing that.

One story I remember well was of a friend, who was driving past a cemetery late at night.  All of a sudden a woman appeared in front of his car waving her arms.  She was wearing a white dress which billowed around her.  She had long stringy, white hair and seemed to be in trouble.  So of course he stopped the car and let the woman into the front seat with him.  She was crying and she told him she had a message for him.  He started the car and turned to her but as she  started to speak, suddenly she vanished!  His hair at this point was standing on end!  The car was moving but she wasn’t there.  He thought he must be hallucinating  as he stopped the car to collect himself.   His attention was drawn to the cemetery as he saw the woman again walking among the graves as though looking for one in particular.  He decided it would be best if he just went home after that.

My sisters and I never knew whether to believe her because she had so many stories that involved the dead appearing to people and warning them about something or giving them messages.  But our girlfriends would always sit with rapt attention begging for more.  Then they would be afraid to walk home in the dark.

Later she was to keep my  kids engrossed with her stories, when they were old enough to understand.  My mother’s mother came from Ireland and I am sure that she and her sisters were brought up with story telling both real and imagined.

I wish now that I had recorded her stories for posterity.  It would be wonderful to hear her voice again, especially telling her stories.

Writing for Someone in Particular

Mother with my sister
Mother with my sister

This is about an “Ideal” Reader for today’s prompt.    It is a video of Engelbert Humperdinck singing “Please Release Me” which was one of my mother’s favorites both him and the song.  Enjoy!

 

While I don’t think I write for anyone in particular at least not that I am aware.  I know I don’t consciously think about it when I am writing but I suppose I want my mother to like and enjoy whatever I am writing.  She was an avid reader herself, becoming more so in her old age.  She was living with my sister when she was in her eighties and she started having health problems.

My sister did not have any children and she and her husband had a large home with plenty of room and time to take mother to her doctor’s appointments and out to lunch, which they both dearly loved.  The lunch part, not the doctors.

As my mother aged, she read more than ever, so my sister said it was easier going to the library, than buying all those books.  Mother also kept up with the politics of the day and could speak on almost any subject.  She had opinions on just about everything also, but she would only share them if someone was interested.

So I like to think that she would like my writing and be happy that I am sharing some of our family’s stories with the world at large.  My father would not be happy with a lot of my writing which included himself and was definitely not flattering.

Mother was a great storyteller herself and when she was in the mood and had an audience, she could hold people in rapt attention.  When I was in high school, my girlfriends would come to visit just to hear mother’s stories.

So I hope she’s enjoying my writing now and is happy that I am carrying on a tradition that she started.

 

 

THE DAY I SMASHED THE WINDOW!

Marion and Kay

THE DAY I SMASHED THE WINDOW

It was a bright snowy day as I trudged home from school that cold winter afternoon.  My older sister, who was usually with me as we walked to and from school, most if not all school days, was missing.  Today she had to stay later to practice for the upcoming play that she was starring in.   She was playing the part of Gabriel, the angel who announces to Mary that she was to be the Mother of God.  She had some singing in latin, which required not only a knowledge of latin but it helped if you had a pleasant singing voice.  We of course were attending Catholic school, so our plays mostly had a religious theme.  Of course two years of latin was required also in high school.  And the mass was in Latin at that time.  She qualified on all points, plus she was very pretty with long blond hair.  She made the perfect angel.

I approached the house which my mother called, “the shack,” ever since we had moved here from the nice house we had previously.  And it was a shack! The roof leaked, the wind whistled through the cracks in the house and the toilet was practically outside.  There was a lean to attached to the house and a roof and door that closed, so it wasn’t too bad.   It was cold though and the toilet seat would freeze over in winter.  I was starting to get chills from the wind which had picked up and my feet were soaked.   As I approached the house I was looking forward to sitting by the stove and warming myself.

I did not remember whether father was going to be home today or not.  He was supposed to be out looking for a job, which meant that mother would be home and I was happy about that.  I did not want to hear them quarreling again and mother usually had a snack for us after school, cookies and cocoa or tea always warmed me and made me feel good.

Mostly, I went around to the kitchen door and took my boots, if I had any, off and shook any snow off before coming into the house.  But I was so cold and miserable I decided to go in through the front door.  I tried the door and it didn’t budge, so I tried it again.  No luck.  Then I decided to knock because I knew someone was home, I could hear the radio.  I banged on the glass in the window.  There were six separate panes of glass in the top of the door, the bottom half was wood. No one was coming to the door.

I did have a temper and after knocking several times I was getting angry in addition to being cold and having wet feet, so I banged harder than I should have.  Just then, on the third bang, the glass shattered!  Some of the glass chips cut into my wrist and I started to bleed.  Now I could hear footsteps coming to the door and also yelling and cursing!  My wrist was bleeding pretty good at this point from the broken glass shards and I could feel myself being pulled inside!

“What the hell?”  Father was screaming as he dragged me inside.  The sound of his raised voice and his grip on my arms was starting to hurt.  The blood was getting all over my coat as I managed to get away from him.  I quickly ran upstairs and sat on the bed.  But he followed me upstairs and I knew I was in for it.

 

To Be Continued.

 

A 50 Word Story

4th Of July

The explosions were going off all around me!

The dogs were whining and the babies crying!

My head hurt and it was just starting.

But I did promise to come.

But now I am sorry for that promise.

Promise or not, think I am going home.

Sayonara!

WHY I WRITE

The prompt for Day One is:  Why I Write?

I write because I enjoy it so much and things seem to pop into my head as I am writing.  Things which I did not even know where in there and sometimes surprise even me.  I feel lighter after writing as though I have gotten something off my mind that needed to be put down in written form.  Even if I am not going to use the writings for anything, at least at that time, just the act of writing is comforting and relaxing.

It seems that after I have written something, it stays with me and I will go back at a later date and use something I have written in a poem or story,  I always have several tablets for my “Morning Notes, as I call them even though it is not always in the morning that I write.

Although, the morning is the best time for me to write.  The words seem to fly from my mind onto the page in the morning. My mind is  less cluttered before the cares of the day intrude and carry me off in so many different directions.

I, of course, have a cup of tea nearby to warm and comfort me as I am writing.  It just wouldn’t be the same without my steaming cup of tea.  And last, I write because as Sylvia Plath said, “I have a voice within me that will not be still.”

WHY DO I WRITE?

 

Lady
Lady

This is for the prompt for Writing 101 Commons, which is:  Why do I write?

I write because I feel better when I am writing and I could most times go on and on forever once I get started.  Of course there is that time when the blank page just stares at me in all its whiteness and dares me to put a word down!

I have developed a habit of doing what is called Morning Notes.  It is an idea from a book called, “The Artist’s Way.”  I purchased the book many years ago.  And while I do not follow all the instructions in the book, which are many and interesting, I have continued (mostly) on a regular basis with the ‘morning notes.’

You are supposed to free write first thing in the morning which I do with a cup of tea nearby which seems to help the writing process.  Mostly green tea.  It seems your mind is more open after just awakening and the thoughts flow more easily.  I have found this to be true because I have tried to do the notes in the afternoon and the writings do not flow as easily.  So even though I am not a morning person, I strive to do my writing in the morning.

It seems I get all the garbage out first, mostly what I had been worrying about the day before either heavy or minute details that bog us all down.  Once that’s out-of-the-way, I find myself actually writing creatively and I have mined quite a few ideas for stories.  In fact I have begun some stories, that I would go on to complete and then blog about.

Guess I have not answered why I write after all but let me just say, I write because I feel much better both while writing and after finishing writing.  Even if I do not get any ideas for a story or a story itself, I enjoy the actual writing process.  I have recently started setting the clock for one hour and I write non- stop for that hour, sometimes with my cat, Lady, sleeping on my lap.  I have to admit that I do not get around to writing every day, although I strive to do so.

Once I start writing, I have found that I am loath to stop even after the hour is up and I found myself writing for an extra half hour yesterday, finishing a story I started halfway before the hour was up.  Not sure I will be publishing the story, at least in its present form but I do have that option, to publish or not, as some of my writing is strictly for myself.  As I am sure we can all relate.

4th of July

50 WORD STORIES

The explosions were going off all around me!

The dogs were whining and the babies crying.

I do not have to be here but I could not refuse.

Can not hurt feelings.  Especially my best friend.

Thought it would be fun.

I am going home and taking my entourage.