Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Gingham Dresses

I lived in a neighborhood full of kids.  
I was one of five.  
The Shipae's had six. 
The Vershouskie's had four, 
and there were several other families on the block that  with only two or three. 
There were no only children!

Most of the kids were girls.  I was one of the youngest.

All of our mothers stayed home,  and it seemed they were pretty good friends.
One summer my mother somehow acquired a large amount of red gingham fabric.

And she began to sew.

And sew, and sew.


Dresses that all looked the same for all of the neighborhood girls.
I remember they had several sections  on the very full skirt, and each section was separated by a ruffle and row of red rickrack.  

 Miles of red rickrack!

One of the reasons I remember those dresses so well was that I got to wear them for years! 

 I wore mine.
 I wore my big sister, Ellen's.
 I wore my bigger sister, Lenore's, 
and the hand-me-downs of a few other older neighbor girls.

I think I was in Junior High before I finally grew out of the last of those gingham dresses!  

And boy, was I glad.

Audio Version: Merikay tells the Story

My favorite pastime as a child

A question from the book "A Mothers Legacy" What was your favorite pastime as a child?

That is a hard question, because I enjoyed many things.

One thing I do remember is  many happy hours spent drawing.

 I loved to draw horses.
When I was about ten I got a big Walter Foster " Basic Drawing" book for Christmas, and I copied the pictures of the horses over and over until I could draw them from memory.

We didn't have very many books in our home.  

We had an "Encyclopedia Brittanica" and a set of "Book of Knowledge" books that had some  pictures in them. 

I would scour them for any horse pictures I could find to copy.

I can also remember walking a long way to the Library with my older sister in the summer.  I was very excited to be able to check out books about and with pictures of horses.

I liked to draw many other animals, but horses were always my very favorite subject!

Audio Version: Merikay tells the Story

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Night I Saw the Boogieman

One night when I was very young I saw the Boogieman in my bedroom.   

True . . . I think it has to be one of my earliest memories.

I must have been about three because I clearly remember the bars on my crib. 

 I shared the room with my two older sisters, Ellen and Lenore. As older sisters thru the ages they loved to tease the younger one.
 As we were falling asleep they would tell me the Boogieman lived in the big walk-in closet that was next to my bed.
I remember It had a flowered curtain for a door, and if the window was open it would move in the breeze.

My sisters said it was the Boogieman waking up, and that he would "get" me in my sleep!  Then they would laugh.

I had a very good imagination and would often see monsters in the folds of the blankets at the end of the bed. I remember scaring myself quite often. 

 If I heard a noise from the closet I would try not to move or breathe.

One night I woke when I heard something moving around in the closet. 

 Something pulled the on the chain to turn on the small overhead light bulb in the closet.  I could see the shadow of a large creature on the other side of the curtain.  Moving around.

The light went out. 

 I froze.  

It was coming out to "get" me!

I squeezed my eyes tight shut and wished I had thought to pull the cover up over my head.  
To late.  If I moved it would see me.

I felt it move toward my crib.  It paused and then drifted quietly toward the hall door.

I peaked, and saw the back of the large fluffy white creature.  

I never forgot, and believed my sisters.

Years later I realized exactly what I had seen.  
My mother!  
She had a big white fluffy bathrobe. 

 I didn't see her in it very often.  She was always up with my father at the break of dawn. And of course she was fully dressed when we went to bed at night.

But that big old robe probably became the boogieman's coat in the dark bedroom.

Maybe not . . .

        Maybe he was real ...
Audio Version: Merikay tells the Story

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Grape Jelly

There were five kids in our family, so you know mother had to try to stretch every dollar she had. 

One of the ways she did this was to can and preserve many things. 

One of our  relatives had a big line of Concord grape vines growing at the back of their property.

I remember one year we were able to pick more than one bushel of the big juicy  grapes.

I don't recall all of the steps involved in jelly making, probably because we were shooed out of the kitchen so as not to get in the way.

I do remember the big bubbling cauldron of hot mashed grapes.  And the odd aluminum cone strainer that she used to separate out the skins and seeds.

It was a messy process. After running the grapes thru the mill she would strain it thru cheese cloth.   
Some people use special small matching jars for jelly.  Mom just saved whatever jars she could during the year. 

The jars were boiled in hot water to sterilize them. 
After being filled, she poured hot wax onto the top of the jelly to seal the jars.

Some of the best jars were saved for gifts or exchanges, but most of the jelly was used on our toast or peanut butter sandwiches. 

Smucker's might make pretty good jams and jellies, but my Mom's was the best.

Audio Version: Merikay tells the Story

Friday, November 19, 2010

Little Black Stallion

I must have been about seven or eight.  
I was in second or third grade.  
I know I was old enough to walk home from school by myself, and yet I was still a little bit afraid.

But, I had a secret friend.  
Someone who could keep me safe.  
Someone who I could talk to if I wanted.  

I kept him in my desk at school during the day, and in my hand or pocket when I walked to school and back. (We didn't have backpacks.)

He was a small, black, plastic horse.

He was magnificent,  strong and brave. 
He was mine.

One day my teacher caught me talking to him.  
She took him away.  
We were not allowed to bring toys to school. 

I don't remember how long she kept him.  It probably was only for the rest of that day, but I was devastated.  

He was my magic. My Black.

I remember she told me to leave him at home, or I she would take him away for the rest of the year!

I did. 
 School was not safe anymore.

Audio Version: Merikay tells the Story

Birthday (age four or five)

I Remember:

Being a very little girl.
Maybe four or five.
Waiting for my Birthday.

Hoping to get a horse.

I was dark when I woke that morning.  My sisters were both still asleep.  I felt something stiff next to me.  A paper wrapped something.  The package was almost as big as I was.  It was not in a box.  What could it be.

A doll. A big soft stuffed doll that was as tall as I was.  She had elastic on her feet and hands that I could slip MY feet and hands into, so we could dance.

I loved her for a long time.

But, I really wanted a horse!

Well, one could always hope,
       Christmas was only a few weeks away!

Audio Version Merikay tells the story:

Start Here

How do I start?  I thought this would be easy.  I have  stories to tell about my childhood and my family, but it is not easy to get started. 

I dedicate the stories in this blog to my grandsons Jeremy and Dylan.   And to their children. 

When my mother was alive I helped her write a book of stories about her life.  I sent her  a book  that was full of questions to help her remember.  She answered them in many long hand written letters.

My part was easy.  I took what she wrote and organized it a bit. I entered it onto the computer, had some family pictures scanned and added. I used "quick pics" as illustrations, and had the books printed and bound. 

After they were done, we went back to Wisconsin and had a family picnic where we celebrated Mom's book and had her sign a copy for each of her children and grandchildren.

Now I am doing the same for myself.  I'm using the blog format because I am comfortable with it.
I will be using  "labels" to organize the posts.  

I'm also going to play with making audio tracks of the posts. 

So, lets get started!

Audio version : Merikay tells the story