THOSE WERE THE DAYS continued

Grandmother/Mom
Grandmother/Mom

My grandmother, even being from the old country, Ireland, quickly took on some new ideas from her adopted country.  Although she kept many of the customs of her past, like wearing long dresses to her ankles and these were mostly  dark colors in paisley prints.  Her shoes were always black with low heels, like nurses used to wear.

The one thing she insisted on was that we, her grandchildren call her “Mom” and not “Grandmother”.  She did not want to be considered old, so as a result, we had to call my mother, “Mother”, not realizing how different that was, especially in the United States, where most people call their mom, “mom”.

We, of course, thought nothing of it at the time but as we got older, it seemed a bit odd.  Not that we ever objected to it or even said anything about it.  Until we were adults and friends would sometimes remark about it being a little strange.

Mom’s husband, my grandfather, was called “Pop” by both his children and his grandchildren.  That always seemed odd to me, even as a child.  But I do not remember ever questioning anyone about it but I do not think he cared one way or the other what we called him.  Mom usually set down the rules about these things in her house and among her family.  You disagreed with her at your own peril.  My mother took it all with a grain of salt and I followed in her footsteps.

To Be Continued.

THOSE WERE THE DAYS

Grandmother/Mom
Grandmother/Mom

My grandmother on my mother’s side was an old-fashioned woman.  I remember as a kid going to visit her and my aunts, who still lived at home. My aunts were Anna, Wynne and Alice, the youngest.  They were working girls, staying at home to take care of my grandmother and going out to work.  Anna and Wynne worked in the silk mill and hard work it was, so I’ve been told by my mother, who also worked there when she lived at home.

My grandfather, died as a result of the “Black Lung”, as it was called, from working in the coal mines.  So Grandmother was left as a single mother at an early age with eight children.  That was a time before there were any Unions in the mines or any union benefits.  Grandmother had to struggle to keep the family together.  So the older children were taken out of school when they graduated from eighth grade and sent out to work.  Then they helped the younger children to finish school and some of them even went to college.

Aunt Cecelia and Aunt Alice being among the youngest, were sent to Teacher’s College to become teachers. The both got a good jobs teaching at a local Junior High School.  They of course, made more money than the other children.   Aunt Alice also had handsome boyfriends courting her on a continuing basis, as she was a good-looking woman with a sparkling personality.  I think she was the tallest one in the family also, at least by my calculations.  I think she was about five foot, nine inches in her bare feet.

Mother took us many times to visit my grandmother, especially in the Summer it seemed, and we usually enjoyed ourselves.  We kids always got treats and were allowed to go out in the big backyard and run around with our cookies and lemonade.  My grandmother always wore long dresses to her ankles and the colors were always dark.  She wore her hair in a bun, so she always seemed older even when she was not that old.

She was from the Old Country, Ireland.  She lived in County Mayo, southern Ireland and was a staunch Catholic.  She came to the U.S. when she was fourteen with her mother and her sisters and brothers.  Her father had come first and got a good job and settled into a nice house in Northeastern Pennsylvania, coal country, before sending for his family.  The Coal Mines were to play a large part in both my grandparents and my parents lives.

TO BE CONTINUED.

The Lady in the Mirror.

Mother at Christmas
Mother at Christmas

Today’s post is one that I originally published a while ago.  I changed it a bit hopefully for the better.  So here it is again.  Hope you like it!

Today’s post is supposed to be about an overheard conversation, wherever you may have heard it. Could have been anywhere, at home, in a coffee shop, a restaurant, etc. Not sure that this qualifies as an overheard conversation but it’s certainly a story that has been told and repeated many times in our family. And it bears repeating I think but I will let you be the judge of that.

My Mother was a great story-teller.  She kept my girlfriends interest when they would come over to visit.  Sometime the stories were about the supernatural and graveyards at midnight and would scare my friends so much that they were afraid to walk home in the dark of night.  But they would always come back for more.

When Mother got older, she moved in with my youngest sister and her husband.  My sister would take mother to all her doctor’s appointments and they usually stopped at a coffee shop on the way home.

This particular day when they went to a coffee shop they had frequented, they were seated at a table facing each other and there was a large mirror all around the restaurant taking up most of the wall, which mother was facing.

They had finished their sandwiches and were just enjoying their coffee and chatting.  Mother said that she noticed these two women sitting nearby, who had their heads together and were chattering away.

“Don’t look now but those two women haven’t stopped to take a breadth since they came in, especially the older one,”  mother said.

“No, don’t look, the older woman is really taking over the conversation.  What a chatter box.  The younger one can’t get a word in edgewise.  Poor thing.”

“She is still at it!  Going a mile a minute.  Haven’t seen her stop flapping her lips since they got here,”  mother  said in an irritated voice.

Now my sister was going to turn around to see these two, who were annoying mother so much. “No, don’t turn or they’ll know we are watching them,” mother insisted.

But by this time, my sister was too curious and had to get a look at these two gossips especially the older one.  So she turned slowly, pretending to pick up her dropped napkin and get a look at the women. When she turned back to mother, she was laughing so hard that tears were in her eyes. “Well I’m glad you think it’s so funny,” Mother said with a frown on her face.

“Mother, those two women you have been watching in the mirror are us!  And here you are getting annoyed at yourself.  Because you are that older woman.”

Well, mother’s face was red as a beet for a few minutes.  When she thought about it, she had to laugh at herself.  But then she said, “Oh, I guess you are going to tell everyone about it now!”

 The story was passed around the family for years after, along with a lot of other stories about mother that were just too good to keep to ourselves.

A Sudden Downpour

Main St. (during a parade)
Main St. (during a parade)

 

I was out walking along Main Street, as I try to do most days, usually for the exercise and sometimes to buy a few things I need.  Main Street  has quite a few stores within the several  blocks I walk.   Several banks, and a Post Office are in the area also which it makes it convenient.  Of course a coffee shop or two just happen to be located on Main Street also,which I have been known to frequent on more than one occasion.

As I was walking along deciding where to go next,  suddenly  a  flash of lightning followed by a great noise of thunder struck, making me jump!    I decided to duck into the library as it was the closest building at hand.  More than a few people had the same idea it seemed as the library was crowded.  Of course I did not have an umbrella with me at the time, so I decided to stay for a while.  I found an empty chair at one of the long tables  and draped my jacket over the back.  The library was one of my favorite places so I decided I would pick out a few books and peruse them while I waited for the storm to abate.

I hadn’t planned on getting any more books because I had several  at home waiting to be read.  It did not take me long to find books by a few authors I enjoy and before long I was deep into the first book I had picked up.  When I really get into a book I sometimes lose all track of time.  So I did not realize how late it was until the lights flickered and a voice announced that the library would be closing soon.  Sure enough it was closing time and a line formed at the take out counter.

As I stood in line, I debated whether I should get any more books at this time.  I decided to take the book and check it out since it was so very interesting to me.  When I left the library with my book in tow, it was still drizzling but the book was nestled in a plastic bag I brought with me; so I decided to go into the coffee shop which was right next to the library.  Maybe the rain would completely stop before I left.

I did manage to finish my latte and also a biscotti before I left the coffee shop  and sure enough the rain had stopped! After my experience first with the storm, then the library and lastly a delicious latte with a pastry, I could not have planned such a pleasant day if I tried!

 

 

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

Sister Winifred
Sister Winifred

 

While posting and commenting recently with a blogger I follow, she mentioned that her mother’s name was Marion.  Not too many of us out there spelling it with an “o” instead of an “a.”  Those who spell it with an “o” are usually men.  One in particular, John Wayne, whose name was Marion!  He was one of my favorite actors even when I was a youngster.  So I was reminded of how I came to be named Marion.  There was a story connected to the baptism,  mother tells the story like this.

My family grew up Catholic and my sisters and I also went to Catholic school, graduating from there.  So of course we were baptized in the Catholic Church.  A few weeks after I was born, mother planned a Christening for me, which she did for each one of us kids.  A Christening was a party with food, drinks, the works and all the relatives attending, or at least the ones that mother was speaking to at the time.  The baby was usually taken to the church by the Godparents, both Godfather and Godmother, with the mother also going if she was up to it and as an afterthought, the father.

Well,  mother had a two-year old at home and she was not completely recovered from the childbirth.  So only the Godparents and father went to the church with the baby to be baptized.  The party would be held later in the day, lasting sometimes into the wee hours, depending how long the keg lasted.  Mother and baby would be asleep long before the party ended. As little group arrived at the church, the Godmother, who was one of my mother’s sisters, yelled out;

“I don’t remember what her name is to be,”  she shouted.

“What?”  gasped the Godfather and  father in unison.

“Do you know?” she yelled at father.

“No,” he yelled back.  “I am only  the father, how should I know?  She was supposed to be a boy anyway.”

So the Godparents and father went into a huddle to try to figure out what to do as the priest waited nervously at the church door.

Most people in those days did not have phones and we were numbered among them.  So calling mother was out.  The baby started fussing and everyone was getting agitated.

Out of nowhere the Godmother came up with an idea.  She said, “Well I like Marion Davies, how about we call her Marion?  I don’t think Kate will mind.  What do you both think?”  The two men agreed.  Anything to get the show on the road.

Kate was my mother and as it turns out she did mind but by the time she found out, it was too late.  Marion Davies was a famous movie star of the day and also a mistress to Wm. Randolph Hearst, the newspaper publisher and big shot of that time.  So the little group went into the church and proceeded to get the baptism over with.  So “Marion” it was!

When we arrived home and broke the news to mother, she told everyone that I was to be named Rita, which was my father’s sister’s name.  She also told father in no uncertain terms that she was not happy about the mix up.  However, as far as I was concerned, I certainly did not like the name Rita, much preferring Marion and can’t imagine having any other name.

 

MINING FOR GOLD

While I was brainstorming, trying to think of something I could write for today’s assignment. That something was to include mining a nugget in your old posts, your tweets, your Facebook site and on and on.

Well, I just had a sparkling thought after seeing this picture of myself several years ago as I was standing outside of the apartment complex by the beach. I was Assistant Manager at the complex and it was only myself or the manager in the office at any given time.

It was a one person office if you will. We, along with a maintenance man, had to handle everything that happened for the day. Could be people coming in to look for an apartment, a complaint by a tenant, or tenants coming in to pay rent or writing a lease agreement.

Of course many other things happened during the day, a flood in an apartment from a toilet overflowing to a sink in the kitchen blocked to someone screaming at you because you had their car towed for being in the wrong parking place.

One day as I was speaking to someone who had come into the office to look at an apartment, the phone rang. Now, at that time I was new to the office, having just started working a few months before. I did not know a lot of the tenants as there was thirty-four apartments and most units had at least two people or more. We had one and two bedroom apartments. There was quite a few people to get to know and they were coming and going on a fairly regular basis.

I picked up the phone and the woman identified herself as a tenant. She went on to tell me about her problem, which I was only half listening to because I had a person in front of me who was anxious to look at an apartment. The conversation on the phone went something like this:
“Hello,” the caller said.
After identifying myself, I said, “How can I help you?”
“Where’s Marlene?” caller.
“She is off today, can I help you with anything?”
The caller went on and on about some perceived problem, which I knew I was not going to be able to do anything about.
The person in front of me was getting antsy and I held my finger up in the ‘wait a moment’ signal.
The caller was still going on when I finally said, “Do you want to bottom line it for me.”
Now unbeknownst to me the caller was a long time resident at the apartments.  She was ninety-five years old, and her name was Mary. The manager had always treated Mary with the utmost respect, even driving her to the bank, and the grocery store on occasion.
“The bottom line is,” the caller went on without losing a beat. She told me her problem in a few short words and I told her what I could do to help.
I also took care of the person in front of me and all was well.

After that day though, whenever Mary, who I’d told to “bottom line” it, would, when she came into the office, say to me, “You are not Marlene!”
Whereupon, I would retort, “Very perceptive of you Mary.”  She always got a laugh out of that.
She had a good sense of humor and we went on to become, if not friends, then friendly.

Both she and her husband, who lived to be over a hundred years old, lived in the beachfront apartments until the end of both of their lives.  It had been their dream, they said to live at the beachfront until the end.

A DAY LIKE ANY OTHER

California St.-looking down towards the ocean.

 

A Day Like Any Other

It was a day like any other, a Sunday, only different because everyone was off work and it was quieter than usual out on the street.  Traffic noise was at a standstill, nothing was going on because a lot of people go to church or to brunch or just out for coffee at local coffee-shops.  I arose at my usual time and staggered to the kitchen to put on the tea kettle.  Can’t do much without my tea in the morning.  I usual have about three cups before the old brain waves kick in.

My favorite tea being green tea and now they have so many flavors of green tea, it is hard to pick one.  So every time I go to the store, I pick up a different flavor.  Sometimes its green tea with white tea added, which has a very smooth taste and I like it a bit better than the others.  Others have a fruity flavor added to the green, like mango or peach and then there’s green with jasmine.  It’s always a decision for me in the morning.  Sometimes I reserve the chamomile for the evening, it is so soothing.

After breakfast this morning I go to the computer and check out the news of the day, which of course is never good and sure enough there’s been another school shooting.  I don’t know why I even check the news at that time but it is pretty much in your face when you turn the computer on and I tell myself that I need to have a news free day at least once a week.

My family is usually busy with other things on the weekends, so it is just Lady and myself and she enjoys the extra lap time, while I write my morning notes.  My morning’s writings can be just anything that happened the day before or plans for the day or if I remember a dream I had, I try to jot more of it down and figure it out.  If I am really feeling creative I start a story, short or otherwise, maybe a poem.

By the time I am finished with the notes, it is usually time for lunch and today I am feeling very hungry.  On Sunday I sometimes have a muffin with cream cheese, one that I got at the Farmers Market on Saturday or a scone I got at the same place.  Mostly I buy veggies at the Market but a few local bakeries have stands there and are hard to resist.

When I am done with lunch, Lady usually gets on the bed on the pillows of course, in the sun and she’s off into dreamland for several hours.  Today I have elected to go for a walk downtown for some much-needed exercise.  So armed with sunscreen, a light jacket and a hat I take off.  I take a few dollars with me in case I see something I may like in the several thrift stores on the way.

It is really sunny when I get outside and the hat and sunglasses come in handy.  I go in a few thrift stores but do not find anything I like or need.  Oh well, next time, I tell myself.

About an hour later I find myself back in my apartment and ready for a nap myself.   So I find my book and lie down on the couch where after reading for a while, I fall asleep for at least an hour. When I wake up, it is time for dinner, so I fix myself a light salad and after I am finished it is time to watch a movie.  Time is sure flying by today, I think.  As I am just getting into the movie, the phone rings.  It is my daughter.

Her voice sounds funny and it dawns on me that she has been crying.

“What is it?” I ask.

“It’s Kay,”  she chokes.

“What’s the matter?”  I am really concerned now.

My mind races with all kinds of scenarios, Kay, my sister had just emailed me a few days before and everything was fine.

“She had a heart attack.”

“What,” I gasp.

“Kay had a heart attack and died.”

 

Story about what happened on one day in your life.

For Writing 101

 

Growing Up continues…….

Mother and girls
Mother and girls

 

GROWING UP continues……..

Father or Paddy as I thought of him, because that’s what my mother called him, when she was in a good mood, was devouring his burger and fries, although  he was not drinking the stale coffee I served him.  I had to laugh to myself over that, because he thought he was an expert on coffee.  He had to have the best brand and it had to be ground just so and brewed so many minutes.  I wondered  how he liked the lukewarm coffee I served him that had been sitting there for a few hours?  I thought he wouldn’t be coming here anymore, which was of course my purpose in being so obnoxious to him.  That and I was really angry at him for leaving us again with out so much as a goodby.

He had quit the job he had as a night-watchman at a plant not far from where we lived.  He went home to his mother to live then.  He could never stay at a job very long after he lost his position as a school teacher.  That was all politics he told us.  He felt that any manual labor was beneath him, after he went to college to become a teacher.  The only other jobs to be had in the area were in the coal mines and he swore he would never work in the mines.

I was angry and at the same time I was relieved that he was gone, because he was making mother miserable and they were always arguing.  Also my sister and I had a lot more freedom when he wasn’t there.  Not that we got into trouble but we did like to be able to go wherever and whenever we wanted and mother was pretty easygoing now that we were older.

We were Catholic school girls for crying out loud and we had so many guilt trips laid on us, mostly by the priests and nuns, that we wouldn’t know how to be “wild,” which was the phrase of the day for young people, even if we wanted to.  Our idea of a good time was to go to the library, the movies or to a school dance.  At this time we really hadn’t started dating, so we just got together with our friends at school or at the school dances and go for a coke afterwards.  Those times we were  with our friends from school, whose company we enjoyed.

As I was waiting on people, I saw that Paddy was trying to get my attention but I pretended not to notice and kept my back turned.  A few minutes later  Trudy went over to see if he wanted anything else and they spoke for a few minutes before he got up and headed for the door.  I happened to be waiting on several people at the soda fountain so my attention was diverted and I did not see him leave.

I don’t know what he expected of me, he is the one who left us so many times that I couldn’t remember.  And the last time was the last time!  Mother had it with him and she swore she would never take him back.  Don’t know what he thought I could do about the situation, if anything.  Sure, I sat with him and his buddies while they played poker and told stories about the war and drank beer.  Sometimes I was allowed to have a sip of their beer.  Most of them were too old to be in the war anyway but it didn’t stop them from telling the stories.  The only reason Paddy was drafted at forty-two was because he had deserted his family!  Then he didn’t want his allotment sent to us until he had to, because the Army took that decision out of his hands.  So we really owed him nothing, except maybe our contempt.

If it were up to him we would be still living in the shack with the rain coming through the holes in the roof.  Why Mother had taken him back at all, I didn’t know, he was never a help to us.  I suppose he thought now that my sister and I were getting older, we would be working and bringing in money to the family and he wouldn’t have to work much, if at all.

After he left, Trudy came over and said, “He left this for you,” as she handed me two dollars.

I took the money and put it in my uniform pocket and noticing the look on her face, I said, “What’s with you?”

“How could you treat your Father like that?”  she said.

“Don’t question me unless you know what you are talking about!”   I snapped back.

She let it drop then and we went back to our respective duties.

I did not know it then but that was to be the last time I saw my father.  I was fourteen.

 The End (of this part)

 

THE CONTINUING SAGA OF GROWING UP.

mother and girlsThis story is from my archives.  It is a continuing story, memoir or autobiography of my life as I remember it.  I am repeating a section of it here today, because I can’t think of anything for today’s assignment, even though I have wracked by brain to think of something close to what we are supposed to do. 

So, hope you enjoy it and I will do the next in the series of, “Growing Up” just to close this particular section.  And I will also do tomorrow’s assignment on time or at least try to.

GROWING UP

I was fourteen years old when my father left for the last time, at least we hoped it was the last time. Life resumed its normal rhythm and we managed to get through that Summer in much the same way that we were used to. Although my sister, who was sixteen now, had quit school in tenth grade to work full-time. She then changed her mind after working in a factory for a while and decided to go back to school and graduate.
My mother was glad even though there would be less money coming in now; she thought it was more important to graduate. I was a freshman now and considered myself quite grown up and should be able to do whatever I wanted. My mother, easygoing as she was most times, had other ideas about that. I was not a problem in my teens like some other of my peers and since I was responsible and helped out at home, my mother trusted me.

I was still working at the coke and jukebox place for the rest of that Summer and paying for my expenses at school, so I was pretty independent. One day as I was working with the one other waitress who was also on duty, guess who walks into the place with a big smile on his face? My father! I hadn’t seen him since the big blow up between himself and my mother a few months ago, when he stormed out with my mother’s encouragement. That was over my sister having her sixteenth birthday party in our basement, which he was adamantly against. We hadn’t heard from him since that time and he had never even said goodby when he left and here he was waltzing in here to see me. Not sure what he was after but I was having none of it.

He sat down at the counter and I anxiously tried to get Trudy, the other waitress, to wait on him but she said she was too busy. So I, against my better judgement, walked over to where he was sitting. He was sitting at the counter in spite of several empty booths and without even saying hello, I asked what he wanted. He had a funny smile on his face as though he knew I wanted to slap him, now that I was big enough. He was only about five feet six, with a slight build although he had a lot more muscle tone than I did. He was always exercising and lifting weights and I am sure even though I was five feet five at the time, not much shorter than he, I was in no shape to be challenging him. My mouth was another story.

He said he would have a hamburger and french fries. “Oh crap” I thought, “he wants me to cook for him. Damn!” I really was angry at him and now I had to cook something and serve him. I went into the kitchen and started banging around and making a lot of noise. First of course I had to pour him a cup of coffee, which had been sitting there for hours and I knew how he liked it freshly made or he wouldn’t drink it. So I got some satisfaction from that. He didn’t say anything about it though. He just sat there with that sickening smile. I continued banging around in the kitchen and finally I came out and slammed the plate down in front of him. I walked away and went over to Trudy and she was looking at me with a, “What’s the matter with you,” look on her face. I couldn’t explain who he was to her, not while he was still sitting there.

 

Mining for gold

While I was brainstorming, trying to think of something I could write for today’s assignment. That something was to include mining a nugget in your old posts, your tweets, your Facebook site and on and on.

Well, I just had a sparkling thought after seeing this picture of myself several years ago as I was standing outside of the apartment complex by the beach. I was Assistant Manager at the complex and it was only myself or the manager in the office at any given time.

It was a one person office if you will. We, along with a maintenance man, had to handle everything that happened for the day. Could be people coming in to look for an apartment, a complaint by a tenant, or tenants coming in to pay rent or writing a lease agreement.

Of course many other things happened during the day, a flood in an apartment from a toilet overflowing to a sink in the kitchen blocked to someone screaming at you because you had their car towed for being in the wrong parking place.

One day as I was speaking to someone who had come into the office to look at an apartment, the phone rang. Now, at that time I was new to the office, having just started working a few months before. I did not know a lot of the tenants as there was thirty-four apartments and most units had at least two people or more. We had one and two bedroom apartments. So a lot of people to get to know and they were coming and going on a fairly regular basis.

I picked up the phone and the woman identified herself as a tenant. She went on to tell me about her problem, which I was only half listening to because I had a person in front of me who was anxious to look at an apartment. The conversation on the phone went something like this:
“Hello,” the caller said.
After identifying myself, I said, “How can I help you?”
“Where’s Marlene?” caller.
“She is off today, can I help you with anything?”
The caller then went on and on about some perceived problem, which I knew I was not going to be able to do anything about.
The person in front of me was getting antsy and I held my finger up in the ‘wait a moment’ signal.
The caller was still going on when I finally said, “Do you want to bottom line it for me.”
Now unbeknownst to me the caller was a long time resident of ninety-five years old, whose name was Mary. The manager had always treated Mary with the utmost respect.
“The bottom line is,” the caller went on without losing a beat. She told me her problem in a few short words and I told her what I could do to help.
I also took care of the person in front of me and all was well.
After that day though, whenever Mary, who I’d told to “bottom line” it, would, when she came into the office, say to me, “You are not Marlene!”
Whereupon, I would retort, “Very perceptive of you Mary.”
She had a good sense of humor and we went on to become, if not friends, then friendly.