The season that is upon us now, the Christmas season, makes us all long for the old days, when our parents decorated the house and got a huge tree.
They bought us presents to the best of their ability and all in all tried to make us as happy as possible
No wonder we all would like to return to those days. But we can’t all be in that state of bliss. Someone has to do the buying, cleaning, decorating, etc. So it’s usually only the kids that are the happy ones around the holidays. We are left to fret and wonder how we are ever gonna do it? Buy the presents, do the cleaning and decorate the houses. But we seem to be happy if only for a day.
On the other hand our government seems to be plunging us into another war which we evidently, have nothing to say about! So no matter how happy we are, there’s always that boogeyman right around the corner waiting to pounce. So don’t get too comfortable!
We were enjoying our new house and it was great except for facing Main St. with the traffic out there, and in the back of the house there were railroad tracks. And since Anna and I had the back bedroom, we were awakened every night in the wee hours when the train came by with the blinding light on the front of the train. It shined right in our eyes as it went by. Of course they always blew the horn as they were passing. We got to know the engineers on the train though and they waved whenever they passed in the daytime.
Time seemed to fly by after we moved into the new house. It seemed no time before I was eleven years old and Anna was thirteen and Anna at least, began noticing boys. They still weren’t that interesting to me. But other things were going on in our lives and in the world.
We were getting the newspaper now and Mother always read the paper and listened to the news on the radio. It was 1941 and we, in this country, were completely unaware that Japan was planning an attack on us! So when the attack came, we were so unprepared it was tragic, with massive loss of lives, and ships and planes in and around Pearl Harbor. All the young men in the country were anxious to join the Armed Services and go to fight for their country.
Our family’s lives were not interrupted that much if at all, mostly because there were no boys in the family. The rationing however was another story; it affected us greatly and it was put in place for the duration of the war. Gasoline was of course rationed but since we didn’t own a car, it didn’t bother us. The thing that did bother us was the sugar and butter rationing. We did a lot of candy making, fudge mostly, and we were good at it. Paddy taught us how to make fudge, of all things; it was his favorite and he usually added peanut butter to it. So good! And Mother made cakes and cookies and pies and they were also very good, especially the huckleberry pies. We would go into the woods near our house, with Mother leading the way and pick as many berries as we could without passing out from the sun. And depending on how many berries were left when we got home, Mother would make one or two berry pies.
So of course we would run out of the ration stamps for sugar and butter very fast and then we would have to wait until the next month to get another book of ration stamps. Well, we weren’t too happy about having to go without our goodies for that long a time. So Mrs. D., our friend in need, came up with a plan to stretch those ration stamps. And while it wasn’t exactly kosher, we didn’t think it was that bad. After all, we had to have our sweets. They actually made life worth living especially for us kids.
I am not sure exactly how we managed fixing the ration books but I know glue and scissors were involved and a “C’est la vie” attitude, which we certainly had. At least Mrs. D. and I had that attitude. My Mother washed her hands of us when she found out what we were doing.
There was another benefit about to come our way because of the war but it didn’t come about until a few years later.
We lived in our nice big house with the big backyard for several years. Anna and I played with a few children from the neighborhood and were constantly in and out of each others homes. There wasn’t much traffic in the area just the occasional car and that belonging to someone who lived close by, so our parents were not worried about us running back and forth across the street.
One day Anna and I were playing with our friends across the street, and Anna said she was hot and thirsty. We were in Anna’s best friend Grace’s house when she spotted a glass of water sitting on a counter in the kitchen. Being really thirsty, she grabbed it and gulped it down. All of a sudden she started screaming and waving her arms around! Grace’s Mother ran into the kitchen and knew immediately what was wrong. Anna had taken the glass of bleach that she had left on the counter. She was going to put it into the washer with the laundry but was waiting for the right cycle. Anna kept screaming and no one seemed to know what to do!
I ran home to get my Mother who usually knew what to do in an emergency. Mother came running back with myself right behind her. Grace’s Mom and Mother went right to work, one calling the doctor and the other giving Anna a milky substance to drink. Anna stopped screaming but the tears were streaming down her face as the mothers hovered around her. The doctor got there soon thereafter, and said that they had done the right thing. He said to continue having her drink the milk and prescribed something else for her to take. He also assured Mother that Anna had done no permanent damage as she had only taken a few sips before realizing it was not water. After thanking the doctor, Mother took Anna and I and headed home, to where Joan was sleeping peacefully in her crib. Mother sank into the couch and sighed wishing she could just go to bed and pull the covers over her head. But there was dinner to prepare and three children to look after.
Things seemed to calm down after that and they settled nicely into their new home and except for some tension between Mother and Father about him and his friends doing the Charleston on the dining room table at the Christening, things were back to normal. Paddy was working on a regular basis, the children were doing well and as for Mother, well, she had her hands full.
They enjoyed the peace and quiet right up until it wasn’t there anymore! Paddy came home one day and said there was talk of layoffs at work. He was afraid he would be one of the first to go since he really had no seniority, meaning tenure. Also, he told Mother that he was expected by the powers that be, to vote Republican in the coming election. And being that he was a staunch Democrat, he had told them where to go! So he thought his chances of being among those laid off to be pretty good.
Over the next few years my Father managed to lose his job as a teacher. He always blamed the Republicans for that. He told everyone that he had refused to vote Republican and since the School Administration officials were all Republican and Pennsylvania was a Republican state in those days from the Governor on down the line, they only wanted teachers who towed the party line. He would not work in the coal mines and since that was where the jobs were in the small coal mining town where we lived, he was pretty much out of luck as far as jobs were concerned.
Paddy’s father had been killed in a coal mining accident a few years after the Christening for Joan and he went down hill after that. Between losing his teaching job and then his father in a few years, he was never the same after. He even threatened suicide one time and my Mother had to call his Mother to come and try to talk to him. I suppose he was in a depression for awhile then although no one ever heard about that then or at least no one talked about it.
So while there were reasons for his not working it still did not pay the bills and put food on the table, especially if you have several kids to feed. My Mother did go out and find a few jobs cleaning houses and cooking for wealthy people. Sometimes she had to stay overnight because her employer was having a party. She made extra money then. He was happy to stay home and watch the kids. He would sit on his rocker and hold the latest baby on his lap and sing all the songs he knew. He could cook but mostly he would make a big pitcher of lemonade and a package of cookies for us to eat. But Mother’s pay was not enough to take care of all the bills even after we moved into the shack and the rent was less.
So the fighting and arguing was beginning to be a constant thing until one day Paddy came up behind my Mother and tried to strangle her! She was pretty feisty and managed to get out of his grip and picked up the nearest thing and threw it at him, which happened to be a clock. He ducked and started to come after her again. Then she started to scream and I think he got scared that the neighbors would hear. By this time all of us kids were crying and wailing and we ran outside. She yelled at him to get out and never come back. And fortunately he did just that!
The word for this week’s Illustration Friday is “Opinion.”
“THE ONLY THING WE HAVE TO FEAR IS FEAR ITSELF.”
I did this graphite “Photo Realistic” drawing a few years ago of President Roosevelt. A great man and President. I haven’t heard his name mentioned so much as during this latest financial crisis.
This is a quote by Roosevelt during one of the most trying times in American history. The Great Depression. I submit it now to give us all something to think about and hopefully take heart. Seems like we will need to remember these words for quite awhile and hope our politicians will get up on their hind legs and do the right thing for the American people.
Is anyone paying to what the third party candidates, Ralph Nader and Bob Barr are saying? Certainly not the big media outlets. The only thing they are reporting on is the gaffes by Joe Biden or the lies of Sarah Palin and John McCain. Of course there is the comments of Obama and McCain saying what they would do about everything from “lipstick on a pig” to the financial collapse in this country. And not much in the way of intelligent input at that.
Of course the big media, owned and operated by the billionaires, who most likely were part of the reason for the financial collapse in this country are doing all they can to bolster the view that the government should bail the large financial institutions and insurance companies who created this mess in the first place. No wonder the public at large does not know what to think of the latest “news” we are being force fed by the media and the politicians.
Maybe we should listen to the Third Party candidates who really don’t have a prayer of getting elected, therefore they are probably trying to tell us a closer version of the truth than the candidates or the large media outlets and the radical radio commentators.
It seems that John McCain may have a more than passing interest in the Georgian crisis than may be apparent. There seems to be a lack of information coming from the press/media coverage in the U.S. of the crisis and the fact that apparently Georgia was responsible for the starting the conflict. An article in the Anchorage Daily News recently suggests a connection to the many phone calls from Senator John McCain to Georgian officials and the outbreak of “war” in the area.
An “October Surprise” which has affected the U.S. presidential election in the past and may or may not affect the 2008 election. Vice President Cheney has just made a visit to Georgia to assure that country that the United States is standing by in case they need our help. In the news today, the U.S. is giving Georgia one Billion dollars to help rebuild their country. I wonder who we borrowed the money from to give it to Georgia?
Here is another link to an interesting story on Cindy McCain’s visit to Georgia recently: 9NEWS.com