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Category Archives: memories

Shockingly Lame

I already used the title “Better Lame than Never,”  back in2011.  That is too bad, because it is almost 9 p.m. and I have not yet made my blog post for today.  It shall be lame.  It shall be late.  Shall I not make a blog post?  NEVER!

My husband and I are sitting on our deck.  Steven is attempting to turn on our party lights by plugging them in.  This is problematic, because the plug has a  cover that does not open all the way.  I understand that it is good to have a cover for outdoor lights.  There are things like rain and snow outdoors, after all.  But why put a cover on it that does not open all the way?  For heavens’ sake, just put a full hinge on it!

I feel  I must exercise caution in this, because of a thing that happened to me many years ago.  I was in junior high.  My family had a pop-up camper that my dad kept set up in the backyard most of the summer.  My sisters and I used it for sleepovers.  On this particular night, my friend Iris and I were sleeping there.

To turn on the lights, you had to plug them in.  It was quite dark by the time Iris and I made our way to the camper.  I found the cord.  I found where to plug it in.  I guided it carefully with one finger…

I screamed very loudly.

I recall having no control but being forced to make a very loud scream. I got  the light plugged in and learned a valuable lesson about completing a circuit.

Tonight, Steven got the string on party lights turned on with no physical pain other than whatever was occasioned by crouching down for an annoying length of time.

And that is the advantage of middle age over adolescence.

 

A Christmas Present I Once Bought

Yesterday I wrote about how I could not seem to write about a Christmas memory, because I got all bogged down in talking about how broke I was. Today I cut out all that stuff as well as a couple of paragraphs about some other presents I bought that year. Here is my story about a Christmas present I once bought.

So there I was with not much money to purchase Christmas presents. It was the early ’80s, later than five-and-dime stores but before Dollar Stores were ubiquitous. I was walking through Riverside Mall in North Utica with my sister Diane. I lacked a present for my sister Cheryl. A housewares place had a display of odd lot silverware out front, 50 cents a piece.

“I’ll get Cheryl a fork,” I said, just only kidding. Cheryl had just moved into an apartment of her own.

“That would be a good present,” Diane said, “because when I ate over there we used plastic forks.”

Of course my parents got Cheryl a full set of silverware, so I felt I had been properly cast into the shade. However, Cheryl was quite pleased with her gift. As she left our parents’ house Christmas evening, she said, “I’m going to go home and eat something with my new fork.”

I wonder if she still has it.

After Dinner Memory

For today’s Non-Sequitur Thursday post, I shall recount for you a memory which is not one I have shared many times in conversation. In fact, I don’t think I have ever shared it, although it is neither traumatic nor even particularly significant. Oh good job, Cindy, way to sell it. This is what I get for posting after dinner at Applebee’s during which I consumed a Perfect Margarita. Never mind. Just keep typing.

When I was in kindergarten, the teacher told us that when you get a cut, the skin grows back. This was news to me. I knew you got a scab and eventually the scab went away, but I had never really inquired into the biological aspect (especially since I believe I did not know the words “inquired,” “biological” or “aspect”).

Later that day or perhaps the next day (this was a long time ago; I can’t be exact about these things), the teacher cut her finger.

“Oh dear, I cut my finger,” she said. “That’s OK, it’ll grow back.”

I remember thinking that it was the stupidest thing to say. I knew she had only said it because we had just learned about skin growing back. I mean, who says a thing like that? Who even worries about the skin growing back? We all knew: you get a scab and the scab goes away eventually. When you cut yourself you are upset because (1) it hurts and (2) your mother might put that stuff on it that stings. Your other concern is that you might get a band-aid, which of course was considered cool, but that was rarely the first consideration.

My esteem for my teacher was not too seriously damaged (no, I didn’t know what “esteem” was at that time), because in general she was a pretty OK grown up. And yet, that is one of the few things I remember about the woman (I don’t even remember her name): that one time she said what I thought was a really dumb thing.

And speaking as a person who has said some really stupid things myself, I gotta worry about what others remember about me.

Faithful Memories

On my first visit to the Herkimer County Historical Society, several years ago, I was particularly struck by a portrait of a formidable-looking lady in masculine clothes. Our guide told us it was Margaret Tugor, a local educator of note. I wondered if anyone had written a biography of her. I had a vague thought of writing one myself but, as I don’t know how one goes about writing a biography, it came to nothing.

Flash forward to 2014 when I saw in the Herkimer Telegram that Bill Rosenfeld had written a book called Reminiscences of Margaret Tugor and would be giving a program on it at the society. I made immediate plans to attend.

Margaret Tugor was principal at South School in Herkimer NY in the early 20th century. In those days, the railroad tracks ran down what is now State Street, distinctly separating north and south Herkimer. Many poor immigrants lived in South Herkimer. South School was later renamed the Tugor School to honor Margaret Tugor.

Miss Tugor was a truly memorable character. Although she was a strict disciplinarian, she was very kind to her children and inspired them to do their best. She showed and demanded respect for all.

Mr. Rosenfeld had one prop to illustrate his program: Old Faithful. This was a wooden plank, a little larger than a ruler. It had been made at the Standard Desk Company by a former student. Old Faithful replaced a switch which had previously been used. Yes, Margaret Tugor ran South School at a time when corporal punishment was the accepted mode of discipline. Rosenfeld looked at Old Faithful speculatively and remarked that in memory it had seemed larger.

Mr. Rosenfeld’s program was very informal. He said he did not want to tell what was in the book, because, well, it was in the book. In fact a lot of the people attending had already purchased a copy. I was not one of them, but I am confidently expecting one on my birthday. Rosenfeld opened the floor to questions and said if anybody had any memories of Miss Tugor they could share them.

One man had been a student at South School during Tugor’s tenure and had felt the sting of Old Faithful. Another attendee had not known Tugor but had grown up hearing about her from his parents. A woman had taught at the school after it had been renamed the Tugor School. Many reminiscences were shared.

Rosenfeld said he hoped to inspire others to also record their memories of Margaret Tugor. He said he would like to see a whole shelf full of books about her. Judging from the memories and stories shared, this seems well within the realm of possibility.

I sat jotting notes about the various reminiscences in my notebook. Perhaps I shall write another blog post recounting some of the stories. Or perhaps I should seek out more people with more reminiscences and add to that shelf of books Mr. Rosenfeld would like to see.

Memory of Past Upsets

I was not going to write a Middle-aged Musings Monday this week. Then in going through my notebook looking for a blank back of a page, I came across something I wrote some months ago. I was upset (never mind about what) and could not write. As I often do, I wrote about how I could not write. It was not a usable post (some of my more sarcastic readers are shuddering at the thought there there is some stuff worse than what I actually publish) (you know who you are), except for a couple of paragraphs I share with you now:

Writing this out is not helping. That has almost always been the case for me. Some people swear by writing when they are upset. They get it all out of their system and feel better. I do not experience this effect. When I write about what is upsetting me, I usually get more upset. I see how completely justified I am in being upset. I wonder why I am not more upset. I marvel at my self-restraint in not killing the people that are making me upset.

One might think this is because I was such a persuasive writer. However, in my adolescent past, when I was ill-advised enough to show what I had written to the culprits causing the upset, it did not bring them to acknowledge the error of their ways. They actually refused to see the irrefutable logic of my position. Their self-delusion appalled me.

I rather liked those last two paragraphs. Then again, perhaps my self-delusion is not appalling others. No matter. It’s Monday. I deem that a short, silly post is acceptable. If anyone disagrees, well, that might upset me. But I probably won’t write a post about how upset I am.

Happy Father’s Day!

I know of at least two songs which posit a sentiment with which I strongly disagree. One lyric is, “Your daddy’s rich and your mama’s good looking.” The other is, “She’s got her dad’s money, her mama’s good looks.” I always get mad on Dad’s behalf. Of course one can also be indignant for Mom, and I am. But today is Father’s Day, so let’s talk about Dad.

Is money the only thing Dad can give you? Can’t you have your dad’s brains, sense of humor, work ethic, love of music, talent at any number of things, and, yes, good looks? Why doesn’t somebody write a song about that?

I suppose they have. In fact, I can think of a couple off the top of my head and I’m sure others can too. I could write a song about my dad and maybe I will one day. I’ll start with a blog post.

I would like to think I inherited my dad’s brains and work ethic. I’m quite sure (and I believe I’ve mentioned it in this blog) that I did NOT inherit his talent at painting. I’m pretty sure his way with cars eludes me as well. But his love of music and his sense of humor are well reflected in me, his number three daughter.

When I was a little girl, I thought my dad was the funniest person in the world. I thought he should be a comedian on TV. Of course, I would be one with him, only I couldn’t really think of any jokes of my own at that point.

I remember when we would watch Underdog on TV, the announcer would say, “Un-der-dog!” and my dad would say, “Un-der-wear!” I thought that was HILARIOUS! Of course it was funny just because it mentioned underwear. I also thought my dad was so clever for thinking of the Underdog/underwear connection.

So I say Happy Father’s Day, Dad. Thanks for your love, your guidance, your support, and perhaps most of all, thanks for the laughs.

Mid-Week Middle-Aged Memory

Alternative title: “When the Hand Dropped”

Last Sunday while watching It! The Terror from Beyond Space, I suddenly said, “I’ve seen this movie!”

A crew member is missing. The rest of the crew has not yet seen the monster, although the audience has seen its feet (which, come to think of it, look a little bit like the Creature of the Black Lagoon’s). One man is standing next to a ventilation grate, pondering. Suddenly, a lifeless hand drops down, inside the grate, right in front of him. EEEEEEEEEEE!

I remembered that hand dropping down. It is, in fact, the only thing in the entire picture I remember from that viewing. Do you suppose there are other sci-fi monster movies where a hand drops down in a grate? And what occurs to me now as I write this is why is that ventilation grate a great big square at eye level looking for all the world like a window? But that’s neither here nor there. I remember the hand.

It was the ’70s. My parents would go out for dinner and dancing on a Saturday night. These were more elegant times: my mom and her friends would wear long dresses, the men wore suits. I admit to being envious. My older sisters and I, once Victoria was deemed old enough to be the babysitter, got to stay up till Mom and Dad got home.

Oh, the joy and mystery of staying up late! These were the days when cable offered seven channels and some stations went off the air at midnight. It was a challenge to find something to watch. We loved it when one of the all night stations showed a scary movie. Who doesn’t want to see a scary movie? At least, who wants to admit to not wanting to seeing a scary movie? I seem to think I wanted to be scared, then didn’t necessarily like it so much when I was.

So there we were, ready to be scared. When the hand dropped, we jumped.

“I don’t think anything would have scared me more than that hand,” Victoria said.

“What if it was that things head?” I asked. I think the thing’s head would have been more scary.

I took all these fake monsters at face value. If I was meant to be scared, I was scared. I was scared of every monster on Lost In Space, even when I could see where they had recycled a monster from two episodes ago.

Well, maybe not as scared of the recycled ones. Then too, things are always scarier at night, especially when Mom and Dad aren’t home. Lost in Space re-runs were generally shown in the afternoon, so those monsters were automatically less nightmare-inducing.

Sometimes we could catch a scary movie on a Saturday afternoon. Didn’t there used to be a feature called Chiller? A six-fingered hand would rise up out of a swamp and a gravelly voice would say, “Chil-ler!” Those were the days.

I suppose now I could segue into a middle-aged musing about how I am trying to recapture my childhood by watching these old movies. I don’t think that’s it, though; I think I just enjoy writing about them. And, you know, really, what I’d like to recapture is my parents’ young adulthood and wear a long dress to go out dancing on a Saturday night.

A Stroll Down Memory Lame

I have Friday off, and you know what that means: Lame Post Thursday! Full disclosure: I’m actually writing this on Wednesday. I have absolutely no idea what to write for my Wednesday post, but I have some very silly ideas I feel like writing now. Ideas silly enough to only be used for a Lame Post.

(Anyways, I like to get a post ahead when I can, because then I can work on my novel during breaks at work. When you write in a notebook on break at work, someone often says, “Are you writing a book?” It’s fun to say yes once in a while.)

Today I have a couple of childhood memories I’d like to share. The other day, for reasons not worth mentioning, the following song started playing in my head:

Party Pooper!
Party Pooper!
Every party needs a pooper
that’s why we invited YOU!

You sing the last two lines really fast and shout the word YOU while pointing at whoever you are making fun of. We thought it was a very hilarious song, because we did not know what a party pooper was. We thought it was somebody who pooped at a party.

Like many small children, we thought poop was funny.

I think it was my sister Cheryl who earned the reputation as a first class wit for another song. We had heard the song, “I dream of Jeannie with the light brown hair.” That was, in fact, all we knew of it. I remember thinking it was odd, because I used to watch I Dream of Jeannie, and I knew Jeannie had blond hair. It was also strange to me to think there could be a girl named Jeannie who was not actually a genie. But I digress.

Cheryl’s version of the song went, “I dream of Jeannie with the light pooped pants.” It usually took two or three tries for any of us to sing it without breaking into uncontrollable giggles at the words “pooped pants.” I confess to having a smile on my face as I write this (let my co-workers in the break room make of that what they may).

Well, that was fun to write. Now whatever will I come up with for Wednesday? (As an aside: I did come up with something for Wednesday, and I did work on my novel on breaks at work today. Fun times.)