Archive for November 2007

Maureen Sharon – Berkenau and Auschwitz, 2007

November 25, 2007

The tour bus drove us right up to the entrance to the Berkenau Death Camp.  The train tracks leading through the wooden gates were very clean, and pea gravel filled the space between the wooden slats connecting the metal tracks.  The sound of tourists chatting could be heard, along with the laughter of small children.  There were many large signs complete with photographic “proof” that the holocaust indeed took place.  These were posted to illustrate and explain the history of this place and the role it played during WWII. 

I wondered how many of those “touring” this site really understood the gravity of what they were seeing. Our group was given time to wander about; but we were scheduled to have a formal tour of the neighboring camp – Auschwitz, rather than of Berkenau.  I picked up a few stones from Berkenau to take with me.  In the Jewish tradition, one leaves a stone or rock on top of a gravestone after visiting a loved one or ancestor.  I thought it would be quite fitting to use a stone from the death camp for that purpose. 

 At Auschwitz the black gates with their harsh signage still managed to shock.  “Arbeit Macht Frei.”  Such a cruel lie.  Walking through that gate gave me an eerie feeling that I wasn’t really there; it must be a dream; it couldn’t be true that each step I took was on the very ground that brought countless Jews towards torture, starvation, unspeakable cruelty, and merciful death.  The sound of birds chirping in the trees seemed very loud.  I heard insects buzzing.  Ants crawled in the dirt.  A tiny piece of dandelion fluff wafted near my nose, carried aloft on a tiny breeze.  Were those actual butterflies flitting by lawns and landscaping?  How could such innocent creatures exist here? 

 I felt emotionally overwhelmed, and I swear I felt the presence of those whose lives ended in this place.  There were souls all around me; I thought that I was walking right through their protoplasm.  I did not feel them to be unhappy…not crying, nor moaning, nor particularly sad.  They were simply there to witness those individuals who came on this day to walk these pathways, sidewalks, corridors, dormitories, museums.  As I did so, I felt numb. 

 In this unemotional state, I walked robot-like wherever our tour guide led.  A young, very pretty woman with sparkling blue eyes, dark brown short hair, simple shirt and tailored blouse managed to convey the nature of each part of this horrid “work and death” camp. She did no in a matter-of-fact voice, not passing judgment or dramatizing the events of the past.  Images of the women and children who were part of holocaust history decorated walls of rooms. 

 In other buildings cases filled with shoes taken from prisoners stretched from one end of the barracks to the other – many hundreds of feet of glass-enclosed corridors.  Imagine the number of people (from infants to the aged) who wore those shoes – new, old, dainty, or durable; well-worn or barely-worn; black, brown white, red, and navy; belonging to scholars, doctors, housewives, shopkeepers, librarians, and perhaps one or two shoemakers?  Then there were cases with eyeglasses, human hair, clothing, remnants of the treasured belongings brought by people who had hoped to survive. 

I didn’t want to walk into a reproduction of one of the many crematoria, but walk I did.  Those who died insisted that I see everything.  Grass-covered beams opened onto the lawns surrounding the paths.  Were those openings used to release the gas once it had done its job?  The trees had been planted by prisoners.  The “gardeners”, of course, did not survive – but the trees are strong, healthy, and thriving today.  They will live for hundreds more years.

 As we came through the exit doors from the crematorium, I fell into the arms of another Jewish woman in our group, and we cried on one another’s shoulders, holding tight to each other.  The photos I took that day at Auschwitz show the people in our tour group.  There are only serious, sad, disbelieving expressions on all the faces. 

 It was eerily quiet on the bus as we headed to the Qubus Hotel in Krakow.   After our return home, looking at some of the numerous photographs I took, one of them stood out for its incongruity.  It was a picture of Barry R sitting on his cane/chair right in the center of the train tracks.  He is wearing a baseball cap on his head.  It is a terrific reminder that “that was then – this is now.”  We are merely tourists looking at harmless remains of the events that occurred in the 1930’s.

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Jo Anne Milburn – Thanksgiving Disasters

November 19, 2007

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Cooking is not one of the things I think I do best, but through the years I have managed to put on some acceptable dinner parties, and some friends have even told me they consider me a good cook.  There have been some exceptions, however.

 

 

Some of these exceptions have involved Thanksgiving dinners.  One Thanksgiving I planned a big gathering which included our daughter, two sons home from college, a friend of theirs, the family next door and their three young people, and a colleague of my husband’s.  There were 12 in all.  While I worked on the dinner, the group was outside playing touch football, just like the Kennedys.  The turkey was in the oven browning nicely, the meat thermometer registered almost done, so I put the other things on to cook.  When I thought it was time, I lifted the turkey out and discovered that it was still uncooked underneath.  Evidently the bottom elements on the electric oven were out.  I was totally dismayed. 

 

By that time the football players had come in and were provided with drinks.  All I could think of to do was to turn the turkey over and pour more drinks.  Somehow I managed to keep other things warm, and a few drinks later dinner was on the table.  It wasn’t the greatest Thankgiving dinner, but  at least the adult guests couldn’t care less.  The only real mishap was that my husband’s colleague had gotten kicked in the shins during the football activity and was feeling extremely put upon.  Fortunately he did not sue.

 

 

Undaunted by that near disaster, a year or two later I planned another Thanksgiving dinner with a number of guests, making sure the oven was working.  Three days before Thanksgiving I bought a frozen turkey and put it  to thaw in the extra refrigerator we had in the basement.  Thanksgiving morning I rose early and went to the basement to get the turkey so I could stuff it and get it ready to roast.  When I opened the refrigerator door the turkey was not there.  I started looking around frantically, and I spotted the turkey some distance away on the basement floor.  It had definitely thawed out.  I calmed down enough to figure out what must have happened.

 Two days before, my cleaning lady had come to render the house in good shape for the Thanksgiving guests.  She had apparently taken it upon herself to defrost the basement refrigerator, taken the turkey out, and forgotten to put it back,  It had sat on the basement floor for two days.   After discarding the possibility that it might still be edible, I decided I had to try to find another turkey rather than take a chance on giving the guests food poisoning.  Yellow Pages in hand, I started calling poultry dealers.  None of them was open on Thanksgiving.  I finally gave up on answering machines and began thinking of other sources of turkeys.  I remembered a twenty-four-hour supermarket not far away, and yes, they did have fresh turkeys, lots of them.  So another near-disaster was averted, but I lost my enthusiasm for cooking Thanksgiving dinners.

There was one more incident which put the cap on any desire I might have had to entertain at Thanksgiving.  Shortly after we moved to Los Osos, I invited my brother and his family, which included my niece and her family, to come up from Ojai for Thanksgiving dinner.  They all brought things to contribute, and I said I would provide the turkey.  This time, however, I determined to get one already cooked, and all I would have to do is warm it up. 

 At that time, about ten years ago, there was a wine and cheese shop on Garden Street in San Luis Obispo which also had gourmet deli foods.  They advertised smoked turkeys prepared for Thanksgiving.  I ordered one, picked it up a day before, and kept it in the refrigerator.  When everyone arrived, I put it in the oven to heat up.  It looked very good on the outside, crusty and golden, but – you guessed it – when it was cut into, it was not done, only partially cooked.  Back into the oven, drinks all around, and dinner was a little late.  I complained to the shop owners and got my  money back.  I have not cooked a Thanksgiving turkey since or tried to entertain at Thanksgiving, and I never intend to again.

Shirley Palmer – A New Motorhome

November 11, 2007

shirley-palmer.jpgIn 1986 the decision was made to upgrade from our truck and camper we’d been using since 1971 to a Motorhome. My Mother who had lived with us for eight years had passed away and our “nest” had been empty for several years, so now was the time for us to start enjoying our free time with a nice new Motorhome with all the conveniences – shower – large refrigerator & freezer, microwave, etc. plus the freedom of being able to walk around. We were done taking that camper off every time we returned home, as that was my vehicle to drive to work. We went down to the big Motorhome show in Long Beach and talked with a Komfort M/H representative and picked out exactly what we wanted – style, colors inside and out etc. We were told it would be made according to our specifications and delivered to the dealer we were dealing with in Orange County. We drove home on cloud 9 – just think – The Palmers – were going to be the proud owners of a 27 foot Komfort Motorhome. And best of all my days of having to crawl through that little window into the camper would be over!!!

Around July 1st we got the call to come & pick it up, but we had to stay for a one hour demonstration of how to work everything. I was working in Newhall at the time, which meant at least an hours drive down into Orange County. I told my girls I’d be gone about 3 hours (figuring 1 hour drive each way and 1 hour demonstration). My husband was in North Hollywood, so I had to stop and pick him up, so we’d only have 1 vehicle and he could drive the Motorhome back to our home.

Traffic was terrible, it took us at least an hour and a half to get there. When we arrived the demonstrator had left for lunch, so we had to wait on him. It was an extremely hot day, I was looking for anywhere to sit down that had an air-conditioner. Finally our demonstration began and he was going from one end of the coach to the other showing us this switch and that and how to work this and that – I was totally confused and getting hotter by the minute. I was fanning myself and finally I told them I was going to have to step outside and get some air – I couldn’t breathe I was so hot. Sweat was dripping off my bangs. It was then our demonstrator discovered that while showing how to turn the furnace on, it had remained on and we were not only getting the air-conditioning, but it was being offset by the heat coming out of the furnace. The demonstration lasted over 2 hours. I kept calling my office & checking in – finally I told them, “I don’t think I’m going to make it back, you guys lock the vaults and the office and go home!”

We started out up I-5 from Orange County and around L.A./USC’s County Hospital we came to a complete halt. It was literally stop and go for miles! Ofcourse it was a Friday, and what more did we expect – we had expected to be home by the time we finally left Orange County. Arriving home we parked the Motorhome in the street, came into the house to have something cool to drink and calm our very ragged nerves.

Finally – the big moment to bring the Big Rig into our back yard. The dealer had placed a bottle of champagne in the refrigerator for us to celebrate. Celebrations would come later when we were all parked in the back yard. At first my husband tried to back it in, but that didn’t work – he couldn’t see well enough, so he decided to drive it in, and then backing it out would be easier. We had a narrow route to negotiate, but he had measured and was certain there would be no problem. I was the director – pointing left, right, whatever – watching sides, top etc etc – and by this time it was dark. He was driving in when I yelled “Stop!” He rolled down his window and said “what’s the matter”?? I explained that the awning which was on the passenger’s side was stuck on the back porch roof.

My husband reminded me how much that awning had cost – $200. (which I was well aware of) and then he asked what my suggestion might be. If he backed up – or came forward the awning would tear. So I said to him, “I guess your only choice will be to get out and saw off that first portion of the back porch roof”!! Now tempers began to flare – he jumped out of the driver’s seat – came around & surveyed the situation and amongst many comments headed to the garage & got his saw, climbed up on the roof of the Motorhome and sawed off the first board of the roof, which was about 6” wide. He got back into the coach and slowly started up again & once again I yelled “STOP!!!!” Now what???? Well, my suggestion infuriated him – he needed to saw off one more board in order to get through. After at least 2 hours and with a much smaller back porch roof, the Motorhome was in our back yard. Needless to say we were in no mood for celebrating or champagne!!

Our next big exciting time was trying to get the Motorhome back out of the back yard. We found in the daylight that we had 2 inches to spare – give or take an inch on either side. We had a signal between us. It seems every time he backed it out, the driver’s side mirror would catch our neighbors bathroom screen and pull it out. So I would watch him going out – it was a struggle and when he caught the screen, I’d clap my hands and he’s stop, roll down his driver’s window – push the screen back into place and we’d be out!! The closeness to the neighbors was to negotiate around our smaller back porch roof! We did that maneuver for 7 years – before relocating to Los Osos. We got to be quite proficient at it, after years of practice.

We joined the Motorhome Club sponsored by the Dealer who had sold us all the Komforts – we were called the Komfort Kruisers. On our first outing with them we all sat around the campfire telling of our first night bringing our Motorhomes home. Nobody drank the champagne – except one woman from Sunland – they got stuck over a big ditch in the front of their home and were hung up – had to be towed off the next day. She took the champagne in and drank the whole bottle herself, while her husband slept outside in the Motorhome. It was fun listening and learning that we weren’t the only ones who had encountered an unforeseen problem. Everyone had some kind of problem, maybe not as dramatic as ours, but there were many! Sharing our first night experiences broughtus close together & we had a club that we enjoyed for 20 years. .

The only complaint I had was that on a rainy day – while either leaving for work or returning from work, getting in or out of our back door – all the rain went right down the back of my neck into my coat – that little short roof just didn’t make the grade in the rain.

And thus began our life with a Motorhome. In later years we decided we might want to trade in for a longer coach. We went over to Galpin Ford on Sepulveda and Roscoe Blvd. as they were selling coaches at that time. We were just looking, but got entangled with one of the famous “hot-shot” salesmen. He wanted us to sign on the dotted line right then. My husband said, “I tell you what – if you can get this coach in my back yard, you’ve got a deal” – boy the guy was elated!! I drove our car home and just watched.

First he tried to back it in – hit the neighbors bars around their gas meter and dented the rear end. Then he tried to drive it in – hit our back porch and put a big dent in the front end – finally he gave up and had to take the damaged coach back and explain to his boss. His comment – “Your driveway is impossible – too many hazards!” My husband just smiled – wish he could have seen it before we made the roof reduction!!

Julie Nordquist, Artist – My Favorite Houses

November 10, 2007

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The first house I can remember was at 1823 Berkeley Way, Berkeley California. I was born at home in a house on 23rd Ave, in Oakland and have no idea how many times my parents moved. The Berkeley house was big , old , comfortable and happy. We lived there when I started Kindergarten at Whittier Elementary school. A lot of kids lived in this neighborhood and we walked to school together. My best friend , Amy Ruth Walker lived just down the street.

This house had no central heating system, after all we did live in California! There was a small cast iron stove in what I guess we would now call the family room. There was also a front parlor, which could be closed off by sliding  doors. That is where the Christmas tree stood in all it’s glory. Then the landlord raised the rent! “ We are not going to pay twenty five dollars a month , ”my mama declared.

We moved to 1912 Hearst Ave. I thought I would loose all my old friends. What a miracle! We were still in the same neighborhood. Still at the same school. Same friends. A new kid came to school once in and while, and usually moved soon somewhere else. I was sure they were gypsies. They often had pierced ears- something evil ! About 50 years later I had my own ears pierced and nothing sinister occured.

This is also where we lived when my parents bought a piano. They believed every home should contain a piano. It was an old upright, What fun. I could take off part of the front under the keyboard and watch the hammers hit the strings..  But, I had to take piano lessons. The teacher., a neighbor  and a refugee from some European country. She occasionally treated me to some wonderful pancakes (crepes really ) filled with strawberries, whipped cream and dusted with powdered sugar. 

 I have listed most of the places I have lived. I did not move from Berkeley until Eric and I were married. Where was a favorite home for me? The place I called home at the moment. I learned it was possible to change almost anywhere into home. Unpack a few of my favorite things, and make a cup of coffee.  

The cup of coffee symbolizes ongoing traditions of family and friends. The smell of freshly brewed coffee surrounds me with happy memories. The ritual of grinding  the beans is important to the start of each day. I never mastered the old Swedish tradition of boiling the grounds and water then throwing in an egg shell to settle the grounds before the coffee  is poured.  

When Eric retired we moved to  Heritage Ranch, thirteen miles northwest Of  Paso Robles. Eric assumed the duties of making coffee. He ground the beans the night before, put them in the automatic coffee maker and coffee was ready when we woke the next morning. 

 What do I like  about this home? I am out of the wet cold coastal fog. The house is small but has a guest room and bath. I have a small studio that houses my etching  press and lots of drawing and painting supplies, I used to have to store them at the back of the closet or under the bed.

Eric  had  his own space too, we called it The Shop.  The house has lots of windows and my favorite view is of  a big old Oak tree, probably more than 200 years old. It’s branches hang over the deck, a favorite place to eat along with a futon for sleeping under the stars. 

The kitchen is an important room and large enough for more than one cook. Everyone in my family likes to cook.   I live there with a fourteen year old black lab mix named Sarah.  She bosses me around a lot. The yard is fenced and still pretty much in its native state- good for a dog. She must weigh about 75 pounds and my press weighs about a ton. Two reasons I am not ready to move again. My weight is unimportant here.  

JoAnne Milburn – Memories of Halloween

November 2, 2007

From an early age until relatively recently, I have participated in Halloween. As a child my usual costume was a sheet with holes for the eyes and nose, or perhaps a paper bag over the head with holes. It was usually very hard to breath inside the costume. I don’t remember anything approximating the ornate costumes available now. Back then it was perfectly safe for my siblings and me to go around the neighborhood by ourselves doing “trick or treat.” It was also safe to eat the things people put in our bags. There were often oranges or apples, cookies, cupcakes, and unwrapped candy. I think it was not until the 50’s or 60’s when we had to sort through the trick or treat treasures to make sure that needles or some other dangerous substance had not been added.

I have noticed changes over the years. Now children have a parent, sometimes in costume, lurking in the background, and candy is always wrapped. I have always over-prepared for trick or treaters.. Heaven forbid that one would run out of goodies and have to turn out the porch light and pretend to go to bed so no one else would ring the doorbell. Of course one benefit of having too much is that there were left-overs if you miscalculated. Over recent years I have tended toward small Snickers bars, my favorite, and it has not bothered me at all to have some left over. I recall one Halloween I was not feeling well and did not want to have to answer the doorball repeatedly. I experimented with putting a large bowl of wrapped candy on the front porch with a sign that said “Help yourself but leave some for others.” Interestingly there was still some left at the end of the evening, even though I knew there had been quite a few visitors.

My children were always dressed up for Halloween and could go out by themselves, but when they got back with the loot, we usually spread a towel or something on the living floor and examined their booty before they could eat it. And then there was the question as to how much they could be allowed to eat before making themselves sick. Since my eight granddaughters have all lived in the East, I have had to content myself with sending them Halloween cards and candy and inquiring over the telephone about their plans and their costumes. There is now only one granddaughter, a nine-year-old living in Iowa, who is young enough to go all-out for Halloween. This year she dressed as Little Orphan Annie with a curly red wig. It might have been a little strange, because she is Chinese, one of the abandonned Chinese baby girls who was adopted by my daughter and huer husband when she was 18 months old. My son-in-law went trick or treating with her this year dressed in a Dame Edna wig, glasses, and a dress, while my daughter stayed home to pass out the candy.

I think my major contribution to Halloween celebrations took place in Columbus, Ohio. From 1975 to 1989, I was director of a residential treatment center for troubled children. These were boys and girls from six to 13 who were mainly wards of the court due to abuse and/or neglect. The first Halloween there, I discovered that it was the practice for the staff to load the children into various vehicles and transport them to an affluent suburb. They were then turned loose, all 30 of them, on the unsuspecting householders, hopefully with at least some staff supervision. I was somewhat dismayed by this but let it go, not wanting to destroy too many traditions my first year. I came up with an idea for the next year, however, a Halloween party at the facility rather than taking the children out. That became the new custom, and it was highly successful. We decorated with jack-o-lanterns and lots of orange and black crepe paper, set up stations with candy and other prizes, gave the children trick or treat bags, and let them go. We had activities like bobbing for apples, games with prizes, and a lottery where the winner could throw a pie made of shaving cream in the face of a staff member. We finished off with cake and ice cream, and the staff had to wrestle with the problem of how much candy the kids would be allowed to eat that night.

My claim-to-fame at those parties was to assume the identity of “Milburna”, a fortune-telling witch. I acquired a black robe from somewhere, a witch mask and hat, and thanks to a basic book on palmistry, I read palms. I sort of knew where the life line was, the head line, the heart line, and a couple of other simple things. Needless to say, the kids were fascinated and took what I said for the gospel truth. I realized quickly that I had to be as positive as possible. I would often take what I already knew about a child’s problems and turn it into something which I hoped would help the child. For a bright child with learning problems who was disruptive in class, I could say something like “I see by your head line that you are pretty smart. It says in your hand that you can do a lot better in school.“ Or if I knew that a child had been ill at some earlier time, I could point to a jag in the life line as evidence of a past illness and predict future good health.

I often predicted wild things like getting married and having ten children, or finding an “M” in their hand and suggesting it meant lots of money in their future life. I heard that they would repeat these predictions to the staff and other kids, so I knew they regarded them as important. Children who might have missed my palm reading would come up to me later and beg to have their palm read. I did my Milburna shtick for about 13 of my 14 years there, and I always looked forward to it. I have sometimes thought that I would like to learn how really to read palms. I have also wondered if anyone has done empirical research on palmistry to find out, for example, if a long life line would really predict a long life.

Now living at a mobile home park inhabited only by seniors, there is no trick-or-treating. I have lost my excuse for stocking large quantities of Snickers bars.

Shirley Palmer – A Marriage Crisis

November 1, 2007

My husband and I just celebrated our 55th Anniversary – some might say it’s a “miracle”, other close friends knew we’d be together forever. We both are pretty even tempered, not screamers or shouters – through out the years when a problem arose, it was usually silence that took over our abode. However, we learned early on not to hold grudges and how to kiss and make-up. A few problems with kids etc, but other than that things went along rather smoothly for about 14 years.

I am pretty sure it was in our fourteenth year that our life took a sudden turn – and not for the good!! We bought a boat so that we could take our kids water skiing for our vacations and long week-ends!! What a perfect plan. But let me be the first to tell you, if you want to break-up a happy marriage, bring a trailer into their life.

We picked up our boat which we had purchased used from some friends, drove home and my husband backed it down the driveway and put the boat in the back yard. We worked on it after work at night and on week-ends – it was in need of some T.L.C. I cut up an old terrycloth bathrobe and took some beach towels and made seat covers – they looked really neat and I was so proud.

We decided to make our first outing up to Big Bear Lake as it was close and we were familiar with the lake. We hauled the boat behind our station wagon and when we got to the boat launching ramp I was given a choice of backing down the ramp, then we’d release the boat & the other person would move the boat out of the way of other launchers and the driver would take the trailer up and find a parking place.

I tried backing down the ramp and my husband (the outside guide) was YELLING – not that way – go the other way and I’d change my steering and all of a sudden I’d hear NO – NO. – you are going all wrong. So I put the brake on – got out of the car and told my husband – with a smile on my face, “Fine – you back it down – I’ll take the boat off the trailer!” We switched and he backed it down with ease, we got it off the trailer and luckily I was able to hold it by the rope on the bow. Car and trailer parked we all jumped into the boat – husband (Bud), me, son and daughter (who was caring her favorite doll). We had our picnic lunch and buzzed up and down the lake like real professionals. By late afternoon the wind started to come up, so we decided it was time to get off the lake and head home.

Since I had already failed my backing up skills with a trailer, my husband said he would get out – go get the trailer and back it down and I was left with the kids in the boat to drive it into shore – supposedly landing perfectly onto the trailer bed, we’d attach and then get out of the way of others and make our final tie downs and be on our way. Bud backed the trailer down while I was just cruising out from the launching area. All of a sudden my daughter’s doll’s head fell off and almost fell overboard – I jumped to save the head and when I got back into the driver’s seat the engine had gone dead. I tried & tried to get it started – ofcourse both kids were giving me advise about what I was doing wrong – FINALLY that engine took hold and we were off heading toward Bud and our trailer waiting for us on the launching ramp!

Well I’d be aiming right for the trailer and just before we’d hit it a gust of wind would come and we’d be way out of line. Finally after about 5 attempts my husband was standing on the beach yelling “I’m RIGHT HERE” – and I was in the boat yelling just as loud – ‘I CAN SEE YOU – I’M NOT BLIND” I think it took about a dozen tries and finally Bud and two other men (who felt sorry for Bud I’m sure) waded out and when we came in – still not perfect they grabbed the boat and physically forced it onto the trailer.

We’d learned a very important lesson about our marriage. I had just proven I couldn’t back up the trailer and I didn’t do that well driving the boat, so the only solution, if we were to continue with this activity, we must find another couple to join us and let the men do the launching and backing up of trailers. In later years I became a good boat driver, but the sight of a trailer still makes me ill!!

So we found friends to join us and things went pretty smoothly after that. Then we got a bigger and heavier boat – to heavy for me to hold by a rope alone any longer. I needed a dock, wherein I could kneel down and hold the boat in until Bud came to take over the driver’s seat. One day we went up to Castiac Lake on the Ridge Route. Our friends were to meet us up there and Bud backed the boat down and there were lots of boats launching that day – it was very crowded. I couldn’t hold the boat by myself, so he asked me if I could drive the truck and trailer up and park it.

I knew I could do that – driving forward was not the problem, it was backing up the trailer. So I got in the truck and I had to drive way up to the top of the hill to park, which was a very steep and long. I drove up and had to turn left to get into the parking lane. I cut it a little short and low and behold the trailer hit one of those big huge trash drums. It was knocked over and it started rolling down the hill, gaining speed the further it went – all the way spewing it’s contents all over the parking lot.

I got out of the truck to lock it – unaware of what had happened. I saw this barrel rolling down the hill, but I didn’t have a clue that I was involved! I was locking our truck when the Park Ranger came up to me and said, “Nice job little lady!!” I said “excuse me – for what?” Perhaps I was getting a compliment on my good parking job, was going thru my mind! He went on to explain that I had clipped the trash barrel and it was now my responsibility to go down to the waters edge, get the barrel and pick up all the trash along the way and bring it back up to the top where it had been.

By this time our friends had arrived and they knew I was in trouble. I couldn’t even lift the damn barrel – but bless Bart’s heart, he said, ‘come on – I’ll help you’ – we went down and it took us almost an hour to get that sucker refilled and back up on top. Most of the contents had been dirty diapers, which absolutely finished my day.
And so – we learned how to cope with our (I should say my) inefficiencies, stay friends and save our marriage. I’ve been told many times to back up a trailer just turn the wheel the opposite way, however I thought I was doing that and it just didn’t work for me. The secret to a long and happy marriage – always have friends around that can help you out of those “tough spots”.

Through the years we’ve had hours of entertainment just sitting in our lawn chairs in a campground watching husbands & wives trying to park a motorhome or trailer. Likewise sitting on the shore watching others launch their boats. The most sedate people will be drawn into this “yelling mode” – it’s unbelievable, but you just can’t help it. Sometimes they are not only yelling and screaming they are swearing at each other. I often thought, “Oh, but by the Grace of God, there go I”!! Take it from a quiet one whose been there – done that!!!

P.S. The doll head that I saved from being decapitated was one of my dolls that I’d given my daughter to play with, and it was by far her favorite. It was one of the Dionne Quintuplet babies – I think I had Marie, but Teri had named her Julie!. We still have her, and now they are quite valuable, I’m told!!

Alma Shisler – Undecided

November 1, 2007

Remember the Roaring 20’s? Country dance halls, the Charleston, bobbed hair, bathtub gin and the popular phrase “Oh, you kid! If you do, you will remember how important it was to have a tall, dark, handsome, charming beau to dance with. I was the envy of all my girl friends, as Tom was such a charmer and good dancer. He knew all the right moves to make a girl feel and look good. He had the approval of my father and that was pretty special as my dad had certain guidelines the guys to had to meet. He also had a bright shiny car all of his own and this was another plus. We danced many a night away through the dawn.

He did have one annoying habit of excusing himself periodically. He would be gone a short while but when he returned, all went well. The last time it happened, his best friend, Jim, asked me to dance and calmly announced “Tom will be detained for a while.”
“What do you mean, detained?” I said. Jim replied, “The sheriff has confiscated Tom’s car and all the distilled spirits they found in it.
Since the county sheriff, who was my grandfather, had announced he had a vendetta to catch every bootlegger in his jurisdiction, I was and still am, undecided about whether Tom was dating me as a witty, charming dancing partner or as a protection from the LAW.