Thursday, October 30, 2014

Lemonade - redone

When was the last time you bought a glass of lemonade? How about from children selling it by the cups on the corner?
With a little table, a pitcher of ice cold lemonade, cups, and a little box to hold the change ,the children holding up signs saying lemonade - 25 cents.
They were all excited, jumping up and down, trying to get the attention of the people driving in their cars. Some had short hair, some braided, or long and curly or just straight. Glasses or not, these little girls were trying to grab our attention, and they sure grabbed mine with their impish smiles.

As I pulled over they all tripped over each others feet trying to get to me. Did I want a glass of lemonade? Did I just want one glass? Looking around to the back of my jeep confirmed what I knew, no one else was in my Jeep but me.
These little girls must of thought I was really thirsty! I just bought one glass of lemonade, it was so cold and refreshing.

Seeing the happiness and excitement on their faces made me think I should of bought two glasses even though I paid more then the asking price of a quarter, and that made them laugh and smile even more while saying thank yous.

This lazy hot day of summer and lemonade made me think of how fortuante these little girls were. They could stay at home instead of going to a day care center, or a babysitter, as is the norm these days, because it takes 2 paychecks to make it work for most families.

Those of us who grew up in the Fifties were fortunate to have our mom's at home, to be able to walk to the local pool, or ride our bikes to the end of town and back.
After dinner we would take baths, get clean clothes on,and take long leisurely walks in the evening, We would walk down to the " Honor Role" where the water fountain changed colors.
There we would meet other kids and sit around and talk kid stuff. Like, what time are we meeting at the pool, did you see so and so take that dive off the diving board? Her name was Phyllis and she did double twists off the high dive. Everyone was in awe, mostly the rest of us just held our nose and jumped off!

I think back on how all of us took that for granted, just like we took for granted the high tower Isaly's ice-cream cones that we were able to buy for ten cents. It was for sure living in the Happy Days or Mayberry, USA.

From the time I was 4 I lived in a alley. When I looked out my bedroom window I saw the house next door, If I reached out the window far enough I could touch it with my hand. Growing up in an alley was fun. Our friends lived right next door or just a couple of doors down, So close we did not have to call them on the phone, but just holler their name from the porch.

Dodge ball, Hopscotch, Hide n Seek, riding our bikes, playing Mumbly Peg,(I had my own pen-knife!) catching fire fly, playing cowboys and indians, were just some of the games that I played with the kids.

We did not have air-conditioning in those days .When it was really hot and humid, my dad would sleep downstairs, and when he would, I would. Sometimes he would sleep on the recliner on the porch, I did not want to get bit by bugs , so I stayed in our living room and slept on the floor. Doors wide open, windows too and not a one was ever locked. 

The back entrance to the fresh meat market "Darling's Market" was across the alley from our house.
My mom would send me to the store and I entered through the back entrance where Mr. Darling and his son, Saul would be butchering the meat. Mr. Darling would always have a old stogie hanging out of his mouth, while Saul would have a cigarette hanging out of his. It always smelled of fresh blood but once you got into the main store it smelled good. 

My mom would send me to the store with her grocery list, and I always hoped I would have to buy from the meat counter, where a guy named Jim worked, he was a bit older then me, but that didn't stop me from falling madly in love with him. My heart would do flip flops when he would wait on me, even though I was about 13 or 14 and he was about 20 or 21. he left the store and entered the service.( Before he left we had a sweet goodbye kiss, He probably forgot it right after, but I remembered it .)

I thought nothing of eating fresh steaks & lamb chops a couple times a week. We had Orlando's a fresh produce store across the street from Darling's Market, where I also shopped for my mom. Then there was the chicken store, they had fresh killed chickens that they cleaned, and you could buy chicken hearts also.
I loved how my mom made chicken hearts. She got her frying pan out and put some olive oil in it and after it was hot she would put in the chicken hearts and season them with salt and pepper - DELICIOUS! I can't find them anywhere except sometimes in a whole chicken. Of course it is an organ meat which is supposed to be bad for your cholesterol. But we ate Liver worst back then also and it was not suppose to be good for our health, it was delicious though.

Back then the doctor made house calls, and our doctor was Dr. Cibrick, He came to our house much to often. My mother and I had Hepatitis together, I had pneumonia. My mom always got bronchitis from smoking. His back door opened into the alley, katty corner from our home, so he did not have to go far. When I married , we got a beautiful lace tablecloth as a gift from them that I have to this day. 47 years later, (now 51 as I once again critique this) I still have a lot of wedding gifts, the people are gone who gave them to us, but the gifts are remembrance of them.

Sunday's we would travel to Swissvale or Greensburg to visit my grandmothers. We would visit my aunts and uncles or else they would visit us. On my mom's side no matter who you were visiting or if you had them at your home, there would always be a game of ,"Check-Check" (poker} being played while polka's played on the radio and cousins running in and out of the house. They played after we all ate a good home made Italian dinner.

Holidays my dad and mom would make pizzals by hand on the stove,. my mom would make the dough, and my dad would take care of the iron, knowing just when to turn it. It was a long tedious job, but they made dozens and dozens of them. I think they enjoyed doing it together.To be able to taste one of theirs again would be heaven sent. Today of course, people make them with an electric iron and it goes so much faster.

My mother and her best friend Clara would get together and make the Italian Bow Knots, Nut and Apricot rolls, and other Italian Cookies. When my Grandmothers were still able to bake, the CHEGETS and other originals delicacies would be made. I am ashamed to say, except for very few traditional cookies, I do not carry on the traditions. I do make the Christmas Eve Italian Spaghetti and Erika, my one daughter-in-law now carries on that tradition.

I was 8 years old when my brother Dominic was born, and from that day on till I married, I shared a bedroom with him. I did a lot of babysitting back then, I baby sat whenever I should of had a babysitter!  He was such a cute little boy with his curly dark hair and impish smile, everyone loved him.

Going to Catholic grade school meant that we had to go to 8 o'clock mass every morning. We had to sing and sing the songs in Latin. We did the Mass of the dead - Requem Eterna - the Mass was not only song but said in Latin at that time, and the priest always had his back towards us except when he said the gospel. We girls wore babushkas to Mass, at that time no girl or woman could go without a hat on or wear a babushka.  If we were going to go to Communion, we had to fast all night up until we received Communion. we packed our breakfast and ate it in class after Mass. I don't think anyone at all fasts before taking Communion today, I know I don't but again I don't eat anything in the morning.

A couple of times in the winter when the snow was heavy, a few of us girlfriends would skip morning Mass and go down to the football field where we would goof around and make snow angels in the snow, then we would go back to church when we thought Mass was over, of course we always got in trouble with the nuns because either we were late or got back early and that told them we were not at Mass.

On Wednesday nights at seven o'clock, our class was to sing at Adoration Services. I always had to babysit my brother, because my dad had a firemen's meeting and my mom went to a poker game. If my mom won she always gave me a tip!. Well, anyhow the kids that I hung out with knew that I babysat on that night and they would all come to my house. My brother would be in bed and us kids would have such fun playing Spin the Bottle. I fell in love with Tom then, he was so cute and kissed good and long, (lol). It was all innocent, We were just young kids having fun. Who ever spun the bottle and who ever it landed on would go into our kitchen and up on the landing that went upstairs, that is where we would kiss, and when we were done, we went back in the living room where the game would start up again!
They all had to leave at the time when Adoration services would be finished at church, so they could get home on time. We would write excuses for each other and give them to the nuns the next day. 
I was the only one with a true excuse, and my parents never found out what went on at our house on Wednesday nights from 6th grade till we graduated grade school in 8th grade!

Father O'Hara was our pastor, He baptized me, Gave me First Holy Communion, Confirmation and Married me.

My grade school years were fun and innocent, no day cares existed, neither did pre-school or kindergarten. Today is so different, most mothers have to work, kids are in day care, and doors are locked. Some children like the Lemonade girls are lucky to stay home but they are far and in between.

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Monday, October 13, 2014

Memories on Clark's Summit

The Kitchen

Growing up I loved our kitchen. I especially loved our table. The table was where everything happened. Pie dough was rolled, Christmas cookies made, homemade bread and rolls made. When my Grandmother came to stay she would make homemade Gnocchi’s or Ravioli’s. Mom would make her Stuff Cabbage; I played with my doll house, did my homework, sat and read my book. Dad would read the paper while having his after dinner coffee. I can still picture it in my mind just like it was yesterday. There was one window in the kitchen, under the window was a roll cart to hold the toaster, deep fryer, mixer and blender. In the summer my dad would put a double fan in it, one side took the hot air out while the other brought the cold air in. I don't think that fan did anything it was suppose to as I never felt cold air at all! The porcelain sink was on the left of the window. The sink had a homemade skirt around it to hide the plumbing, and a place to keep the dish soap and cleansers. The one thing I don’t remember is what kind of flooring we had.

 The kitchen was the largest room in our house. Back in the day we did not have beautiful wood kitchen cabinets, we had one large built in cupboard that was over on the far left wall of the kitchen. White wood framed glass panels. I remember that glass always sparkling. Mom lined the shelves with shelf paper that folded over to look like a little awning hanging. The paper was changed for holidays, and spring cleaning. When that time came around, everything had to be removed, along with what was now considered the old shelf paper. Mom would wash the inside and after it dried she would line the shelves with the new paper, putting everything back in.  It was an all day job.

Besides the dishes, cups, glasses, etc. kept inside, there on the bottom shelf, on the right hand side, sat a round small white glass bowl filled with pennies, dimes, quarters,  and nickels. Pennies' were just as important as the other coins back then. I never remember that bowl being empty. That was the bowl that everyone went to if they wanted to buy something small.  Mom would tell me to take money from the bowl to go buy a bottle of Pepsi, when I asked if I could buy a comic book, I was told to take the money from the bowl. My dad told me to take money from it to buy the daily paper. The bowl was always full every time I went to it!

 We didn't have walk in closets back then - we didn't have a lot of clothes either!  It was nothing if we wore the same dress or skirt twice in one week. I am not sure of this, but I think we hung our coats on hooks on the wall where the landing led to the  cellar steps.   We had a coal furnace back then that my dad took care of- that part was located towards the back, I never had to do this, but I remember my dad shoveling the coal off the cellar floor into the furnace and then using the poker to stir up the fire. Oh, the mess of black coal!   In the front part of the cellar was the wringer washer and tubs. Later on after I graduated from Beauty School, my dad fixed up a working area for me so I could work on people’s hair.

I really miss having table and chairs in our kitchen today. When we first built our home, we had an eat in kitchen, my sons all sat around and did as I did when I was a child. We had dinner at the table and prayed before meals every night - I loved it. I did as my mother did too, made my pie dough, bread, rolls and dinners. I also sat there and do counted cross stitch, rewrite recipes or write letters to friends.

When the boys grew older, Ron wanted to redo our kitchen and make it into a Gallery kitchen so I would have more storing space. That’s when we lost the heart of our home – now it is the dining room where everyone gathers but it is just not the same - - -


Friday, August 29, 2014

Me and My Shadow

I have known Dee all of her life. I could start this assignment from when she was a baby, but I am going to fast forward to the last couple of years.
   Dee is a very compassionate woman, she truly feels your pain, and is a good listener. If you need her, she will do anything she can to help you. Dee is a loyal and dependent person. Another good quality of hers is, if you tell her something in confidence, she will not repeat it.
   She loves her job of working in the library, because she is a people person. She enjoys helping the patrons and doing the adult programs. She does have a fault and that is that she worries if the programs will go well and be a success.
 The more people around her, the happier she is. She also likes the quietness, but she would go crazy if it was quiet all of the time. It would be a depressing week if she did not see or talk to anyone. Lately she is having depressed days.
  Why, well this is her third time she has had cancer, and the third operation to remove it. This time is the worse because the breast cancer traveled to her lung on the same side as the cancer of the breast was.      The second time. in 2013 and this time, 2014 - no one calls, or visits.   Her brother was down the day after she got home from the hospital which was over a week ago, he came down to bring her mother in law down or else she would not of seen him either. Her mother in law brought the family dinner and home made pies, she is a thoughtful lady and very active for being 94 years old.
    It is heartbreaking to her that her own children don't call to check on her daily. Yes daily- what does it take to make a phone call - it takes time, and far be it that they have time for Dee to make that call. She bets that she does not even cross their mind during the day, they are too busy with their own. She is thankful and blessed that she has a good husband who calls her a couple of times a day. 
    Dee remembers that she always called her parents and her husband called his, that is what you did back then, you called to see how they were and if they needed anything. The guys call their dad whenever they need to know something or is they need something, they never need to ask Dee anything. She feels all that she was good for was giving birth and being a good mom during the early infant and toddler years.
     She is aware of her faults, she knows that she is not good at crafts, and she moves slowly because of her illness, hernia and weight. She is very self conscious of all. Dee is a very sensitive person and tries to let things roll off her back, but then people have told her that she is too outspoken. She says things in such a way that the person takes it wrong, and Dee is not even aware of hurting someone's feelings.
     She has always been a thin person, very much into exercising, personal trainer and all. Towards 2004 she started to let herself go, and in 2006 she had her first bout with breast cancer and stopped exercising all together, that is when the weight started to pile on. Dee longs to be thin but is over whelmed with her fight against breast cancer.
      I think what Dee has done best in her life is being a young mother taking care of her young children, baking for her family and making sure they were well and happy. 
      Today - She would do anything for her husband, children and her grand-children. They are her life - the reason for her existence - even though she knows they could very well get along with out her and would not miss her as much as she would like, and she know she would become just a distant memory.


As I sit here this morning my mind is turning in one hundred different directions. On the 17th of this month of October it will be 7 years since my first diagnoses of Breast Cancer, November 20, of the same year, 2006,  I had a lumpectomy and they found it was the Triple Negative kind.
The one type every one dreads. But what did I know back then, I was a newbie and I was going to conquer this and be a true survivor, be an advocate and do everything else that was possible to bring awareness to the women who had no history of breast cancer in their family that they knew of .
So that's what I did, Get your mammogram I posted on face-book. I sent e-mails out because it did save my life. Yes, this is definitely true. If it were not for that mammogram I would of never known that I had breast cancer.
Not one of my oncologist told me that the type of breast cancer I had was a very aggressive type and usually came back in the early years after being treated. . It had been almost 7 years of being clean, and the doctors told me I was out of the woods. I had my mammogram in August and had my visit with my chemo oncologist in December. Everything was good, finally I was starting to let my guard down.
That was a huge mistake because in January of 2013 I found  lump in the same area as the first and yes it was cancer. I had to have a mastectomy - I had it on Feb 27 of 2013 and went through Chemo again, I had more problems with that this time since I was on a blood thinner and caused bleeding in the bladder. The doc lowered the dose so I could get through all 6 treatments, which I did in August of 2013, that same month the kids had a fantastic surprise 50th Anniversary party on us with all our friends and relatives there - what a great time it was - God has truly blessed us.


Christmas 2013

  As I go into the brightly cheerful stores and when I drive by the houses so nicely decorated, I can't help but wonder how the people really are that I passed in the stores and who live in those homes.
  The young families with children running around have to be the happiest, or maybe it's the son or daughter who came home from the service to their family, it could be the family who found out that their loved ones medical tests came back all clear. Or how about the couple whose adoption papers were approved and they will have a new son or daughter to celebrate the holidays with.
    I can think of all kind of happy situations that might be happening, but then I can also think of so much sadness people must be going through at this "happy" time of year. There is the man who lost his wife a few months back, his heart is hurting and he is missing her terribly, then there is the woman who just recently lost her husband and is trying very bravely to carry on with the same traditions this holiday season for her children, even though her heart is broken. The dad who lost his job and wondering how he will feed his family for Christmas plus keep his children happy and healthy. The family who loves their son who is paralyzed from the chest down and wants to die, but they want him to want to live. People who are awaiting tests results and are afraid of what they will find out,
     So much goes on in this world of ours, but all of us are totally wrapped up in our own little world. I should not say all of us, as there are so many wonderful volunteers and organizations out there that are doing their best to make it a warm, fulfilled holiday season for the homeless, the unemployed, the people who are disabled and many more. 
     I feel sorry for people who are still carrying grudges from years ago, unable to forgive, and how could I forget the people who are alone for Christmas. Either they don't have family left, are newly divorced with out family around, or are orphaned. Maybe they are in a nursing home with no one to visit at any time not just during the holiday season.
     The fact is, this is life, the whole journey of life. Man's inhumanity to man. The third world country's are truly not thinking about the Christmas traditions right now. A lot of them are just trying to survive from being shot at, or everything including human life washed away from terrible floods. 
   Actually this can apply to right here, in our world also and does.
     Let us be thankful for what we have, and somehow be able to help people less fortunate. I know that Springdale Library has a Santa Helpers tree for a couple of family's less fortunate then some of us. If you want to pick a snowman, stop in and do so.
     Wishing you all good health, peace of mind and quiet of day.
     Let us remember the true meaning of Christmas is the birth of our Lord, Jesus.

The Ideal Road

The ideal road would be smooth, with no surprises of pot holes, unseen dips or broken twigs that manage to get up under the vehicle. Alas, that doesn't exist in the real world, unless we developed our own.
   It would be amazing if our life would be as smooth as that perfect road. The perfect family, the perfect house, the perfect job, the perfect dog - I think you reading this get the drift.
   In my perfect world everyone would be free of all serious illness and Cancer would be curable.
Families would love and respect each other. take time to keep in touch & children would be well mannered.
    But unfortunately there are no perfect roads, every one has a flaw just like there is not a perfect life.

Those Were The Days

 As I age I find myself thinking of my childhood and teen years. Just little things, but little things mean a lot as the song of old goes.
    When I was a young mother, going through the infant stage, toddlers, childhood, & as a teen mom, I barely thought of my childhood memories, we were too busy making our own. We were enjoying raising our family. I did write a page here and there of what was happening in our lives, but they were few and far between. I can say that those were truly the best days of our lives.
     The boys were involved in so many activities, cub scouts, baseball, basketball, &  football at all different ages and games were at all different times and  different fields. I sometimes would have to go to two baseball games in one evening. Half the game
to see Ron J, and the other to see Brian play, because Ron was coaching the others.
   I remember one time Ron called and asked me to go to the baseball field and line it. I had no clue what he was talking about but he thought I did. He said "the liner and chalk is in the dug out in the back, all you have to do is put the chalk in the liner and make a straight line".  Oh lordy I thought as I drove to the field. what am I getting myself into. 
   I parked and walked to the dug out and start pulling out the equipment I thought I would need, I had just started to understand what to do when the assistant coach came and took over. I was so relieved to see him and have him do it. He made it look like a piece of cake! I know that I would of really screwed up if I had to do it.
     I hated when Jeff &  Ron played football, I thought it was too physical but they loved it, so what is a mother to do when their dad is all for it also? I put my game face on and went. I was always happy when the season was over. I found it hard living in a household of men. They are seemed to gel together in every sport and I was out in left field somewhere just trying to catch what was going on.
     Baseball was a sport all the boys excelled in. Doug's nickname was Scoops, because he always could scoop up the ball. Doug and Jeff were good at pitching and hitting also and got many home runs. Ron was a left handed pitcher and a good one, Brian did not pitch but hit a lot, He always managed to hurt his ankle and was never able to play in the all star game. Every year he was picked and every year he hurt his ankle and could not play. I bet he felt bad inside though he never complained.
    I liked to watch them play, but I watched for fly balls more then I watched the game. A lot of those balls came our way, one guy had his jaw broken. After that happened I could not relax, so after many, many times of going to the games, I finally wised up and sat on the other side of the field by myself. I didn't care that I was by myself, all I cared about was the fact that I knew no ball could reach that far and I could enjoy watching. Of course my boys and husband thought I was crazy but that didn't change my mind and my anxiety level went to zero.
    One of our favorite times as parents was when the boys and Ron & I would all gather in the living room and watch Happy Days and Lavern & Shirley. We would make popcorn and drinks and do a lot of laughing at the funny antics on the shows. That was truly family time together and we all enjoyed it. Afterwards it was bath time and bed. We had a good feeling of peace in side of us when the boys were in bed safe at night - all was right with the world, our world.
   But now in the twilight of my life (which I hate to write, but why pretend, is what it is) I find myself remembering so much.
           For instance If I had an upset stomach the remedy in our home was to drink a half of glass of Brioche. My dad would put a couple of teaspoons of the little snow crystals (that's what they looked like) in a glass, then add water, I would watch it start too fizz and had to drink it fizzing. It's still on the market as I still see it in the little Italian stores. I have a bottle, not to use because it is way to old, but just to "remember." I keep telling myself to replenish the old bottle so I can use the new one.
           I was left alone to babysit my brother a lot. It never came to pass, but I always worried how I would get upstairs to his crib in case of fire or burglars. I hated to babysit, I was always so scared and jumped at every noise I heard. At that time the radio and tv went off the air at 11 o'clock p.m. and the house was too dang quiet except for all these strange noises I would hear. I think my parents should have hired a babysitter for both of us.
           I remember having the measles around the time ofmy birthday, the party was already planned and it was too late to cancel.  So she had it at the neighbors house while I stayed on the couch at home. She would come over at times and show me what the kids gave me for presents, but I felt sad to miss out on my own party. I know one gift was a pretty colorful umbrella she twirled it around so I could see the pretty colors. I don't remember the other gifts just that one.

Dee's shared items


This time of year makes me think of all of those things I have to be thankful for - - - -
my husband
my children
my grandchildren
my health
my freedom
always thankful for friends made