Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Little brothers

Thanks to everyone looking at the old movie clips, and commenting.  I think they’re charming in their innocence.  My grandfather with a new toy, a movie camera, marching his cast of characters to show off the technology.  The images are soft, both on the film and in our perception of an older time.  Grandmothers, and mothers, no longer look like the image of my mother and grandmother on the film.  Grandmothers wear jeans and sneakers, not corsets and house dresses.

Babies are more in focus these days than seventy years ago. They are the focus.  Parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles could let children struggle to understand and learn.  I remember doted upon, but not smothered.  When at a year and a half I carried a Lionel locomotive across the living room to my grandfather and father, I wasn’t told to stop, or conversely praised for being a little girl with a heavy load.  Nothing was said until I arrived with my prize; then I was told to put it back.

We certainly were set loose in a minimum of clothing.  Underpants were the uniform to age three or four, when I grew up in the early forties.  Kids would get dirty anyway, so save the clothes.  And how about those big, floppy diapers.

Here are my little brothers, Walt and Mel.  In another clip Aunt Flo reminisces that Melvin was the cuddly baby.  Walt was the brave bouncer.  Mel is the blond, curly haired cherub sporting the flapping diaper.  Melvin was born in 1948, so this clip is 1949.  I recall two birthday presents.  My bicycle and my brother Mel.  Actually, he wanted his own birthday, and took April 1st, the day after mine.

We lost Mel many, many years ago.  He’ll always be twenty eight, with piercing blue eyes, blond curls and an impish smile.  Walt is still Jan’s big brother, the one who picked her up, dusted her off and put her back on her bike. And here they are at a picnic. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Devil with the blue dress on

Joanne 1944

Maybe.  Maybe not.    The dress certainly is a beautiful little blue dress.  I do wonder where the rocking chair went; it’s a beauty,too.  Google Earth took me right over there yesterday morning, to 4214 West 21st, in Cleveland.  The closed in front porch where the rocking chair rocked and Grandpa Rolf’s W.E. Rolf, Watchmaker hung in the window, has been restored to an open porch.  It appears to have the same garage as housed his shop.

 The road is still paved with bricks, although the horse drawn milk wagon isn’t using them now.  Brick pavement seems such a time consuming undertaking………

Just back from a side venture into brick road paving, which may be making a comeback.   Jane Street Clayworks says a brick road lasts fifty years, as does concrete, but does not have concrete’s pothole problems.  Asphalt needs resurfaced every fifteen years.  And, only specific failing bricks need to be replaced.  Learn something every day!

Our neighbor has lived here all his life, up on the corner of the main street.  Actually, it is many years past “main,” having been replaced by a freeway bearing its old route number.  When Skip was a boy the road was brick.  The sub-road still is brick, we could see it when the asphalt was ground up and re-laid last year.  Skip says on really, really hot summer days, when it had been ninety plus several days in a row, he and his grandmother sat on the front porch and watched bricks shoot up out of the road.  Occasionally they shot a radiator.  Our town historian doesn’t really believe that, but I do.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A psychology class

When I started college, I went year round, and graduated in three years.  I fitted a number of “core requirements” into summers, to get them over in six weeks.  Buildings were not air conditioned way back then, and in retrospect I believe every summer course I took was held in the hot, hot garret of an old, old building.  These abbreviated classes generally were two to three hours in duration, depending on the credit hours.

A psychology class I took one summer was held in an amphitheater style class room on top of the chemistry building.  The room was hot, stuffy, somewhat malodorous; the sun glinted on brass railings from windows high under the eaves, the professor droned, a tiny figure telescoped down there on the stage, writing his points on the board, occasionally turning to face us.

Every student in the class showed up the day of the anticipated mid-term examination, and learned the exam would be the following day, as the professor had another topic to cover.  He ignored the collective groan and ploughed on.  As he droned and pens scratched, subdued whispering and some rustling commenced in the upper rows.  A young man was using the opportunity of the prof’s turned back to descend a few rows, ducking adroitly into an end seat or behind the back of a seat when the professor turned toward us.  We knew he was heading for the fire escape door, open wide for any hint of breeze.  We all were rooting for his perfect escape, repressing the urge to cheer, or even breathe loudly.

The professor caught the mood, and the rustling and surveyed the class between writing bouts. It became a cat and mouse game.  The professor wrote, then whipped around.  Nothing.  He asked “Is something the matter?”  Nervous titters.  The next time around he checked his fly.  The class still hung on, with difficulty.  The escapee was a few rows from his goal, which included a few feet across the edge of the stage occupied by the professor. Dead silence except for chalk and the voice talking to the blackboard.  The student went through the door and down the stairs.  The room burst into laughter and applause.

This time the professor tugged his zipper to be sure it was firmly in place before demanding “What is so funny!?”  We didn’t tell him. Social Psychology in action.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Statistics and other proven facts

Apropos of nothing, my dad would drop statistics into a conversation.

You can rely on luck—half the time.

Half the married people in the world are women.  That probably remains true.

If you invite 400 people to your wedding, at least 35 of them will have been born on the same day.  He had variations on this, like the probability of 100 people in a room having the same birthday. Odds increased dramatically for days of the week. 

Nine of ten people turn right when then enter a store.  Having exhibited in many large expo centers, this is absolutely true. 

A pint’s a pound the world around.

A drip a second is eight gallons a year.

Eating raw vegetables consumes more calories than are contained in the celery stick, carrot, etc.

Janice and I each read a book once and wish we could remember the title.  It was light reading; its heroine solved mysteries and often used “proven facts” to reach her conclusions.  Thanks to my dad I knew facts were proven.

But, one “proven fact” I learned in the book whose title I cannot remember is:  If you put your heel in your elbow, your big toe will reach the end of your wrist.  There was a time I could actually prove this fact.  It’s from Michelangelo’s perfect body measurements and comes in very handy when I’ve wanted to make socks for someone as a surprise.  I’ve just had to steer the conversation around.  Although I know a Marine whose toe ends almost at his fingers.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Missed opportunity

The Cuyahoga Valley National Park put on a Heritage Festival, years ago, and we were fortunate enough to be invited the three years it was held.  The headliner the first year was Pete Seeger.  Second year, Arlo Guthrie.  Third year Joan Baez.  These were fairly small events, not the crowds I encountered years later at SPAC.  There was acoustical music and beautiful weather all three years.

I knew Beth would enjoy the music, and be a help, so we asked her along.  We had to demonstrate and Jan brought a loom for Pete Seeger.  We took spinning wheels for Arlo Guthrie, and a loom again for Joan Baez.  Beth also brought her boyfriend de jour for Pete Seeger.

The morning pace was peaceful, with plenty of patrons on the grounds, wandering between break out stages with local and some national folk groups.  Sales were steady, but not heavy until later in the day, when more patrons were arriving for the headliner shows.  Jan was weaving, Beth and boyfriend were wandering, with instructions to be back to help before the anticipated afternoon rush.  When that came it was far more than I anticipated.  People who browsed in the morning were suddenly in line with purchases.  I looked around, no Beth.  I heard Jan talking to someone who had stopped to watch her weave.  I worked through the customers, writing them up, bagging them up, probably for twenty or thirty minutes until I was done with the last customer and could turn around to Jan and bust her for not coming to help me. 

I saw a retreating back.  I’m here to tell you, Pete Seeger is as recognizable from the back as from the front.  “Oh My God.  You have been talking to Pete Seeger all this time!”  My sister said “Oh, is that who he was.”  I’ve not forgiven her.

The Arlo Guthrie year was pleasant, but no adventures.  He didn’t wander around to see what he could see, although we could see him holding several little break out sessions.  The third year we heard Joan Baez, but didn’t see her at all, although the husband of a fellow artist told us they had been invited to meet her back stage after her performance.  La de dah.

Celebrities notwithstanding, the Joan Baez year was the best.    I wanted to get kids involved that year, so Beth and I took a loom dressed in every left over tube of carpet warp we had in the studio.  It was the best rainbow warp ever! We took several shuttles, a basket of rags, a bottle of white glue and a roll of masking tape.  And a big sign that said Weave a Placemat.  Before the show opened we practiced on a couple of exhibitor kids, and knew we had a hit on our hands.  With basic instruction kids wove their place mats, glued the headers, stuck a strip of masking tape with their name on their placemat. Kids in line wound the shuttle for their turn.  We took the finished mats off the take up beam when three or four were done, cut them apart and set them aside.  When the kids came back they learned how to knot the fringe and then left with their mat. 

We went through an entire warp each day and re-warped each night.  A lot of placemats went home with a lot of kids.  My favorite was a little tike, maybe four.  Feet didn’t reach the treadles.  A lot of feet didn’t reach; Beth or I stood behind the loom and operated the treadles from the back.  This little girl had a hovering mother.  We got her started and mom immediately offered advice.  Little tyke said she could do it herself.  Mother pressed on.  Little tyke laid down her shuttle and told mother she would do nothing until mother left the tent.  Mother backed up.  Little tyke said “I can still see you.”  Mother stepped out.  Little tyke sighed and said “I have to assure her I can weave by myself.”  And, she made a placemat.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Pasha and the goose

There always were multiple cats at our house.  Even when we swore to NoToe there would be no other cats in his life time, there was Purrl, the reason NoToe ran away (the last time) and stayed away several months. 

Pasha was the cat who was not a cat.  Quiet and demure.  Scotty was the patriarch when she arrived.  He fostered her, tutored her in mouse and chipmunk.  Unlike Scotty, Pash was tidy.  She left her evidence in the woods, not at the back door.  If questioned she would have denied any rodent encounters.

Other cats came and went over Pasha’s eighteen years of looking down on, over and past the other cats who ate from the same bowl.  I believe she fostered Xena, Warrior Princess just as Scotty had done for her.  But Pasha befriended no cat and certainly claimed no place in the hierarchy.  She was a free spirit who occupied my chair and let me sit in it with her come evening.

Pasha’s humiliation was Willie, a foundling cat determined to claw her way to the top and completely unable to deal with the cat who was not a cat.  Willie ambushed and attacked Pasha at every opportunity.  Pasha disentangled herself and walked away.  To her dismay, occasionally Pasha had to find a human to separate the Willie cat from the Pasha cat in order for Pasha to walk away.

Pasha’s joy was the goose.  She was only four or five when I bought a goose down comforter.  When she came to bed that night her eyes were wide with delight.  She couldn’t snuggle enough.  Thereafter she abandoned the chair in order to sink and luxuriate in goose depths.  When I took it off late spring her dismay was evident.  She only came to bed at night, not during the day.  She slept at my feet, not my shoulders.

The next fall I opened the cedar chest lid and pulled out the goose.  Pasha appeared from nowhere, running, and was on the bed on the goose as I shook it out and spread it out.  Pasha never ran, Pasha glided.  Except when she ran to greet the goose.  It was our late fall ritual for many years.

The comforter is as warm as it ever was, but it’s been a long time since I looked around for Pasha when the goose comes out.  Purrl sleeps there now, during the day. He doesn’t even know it’s goose time until he shows up.  Just not the same.

Angus, Joanne, Pasha, the goose.  February, 2001

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Old cemeteries and schoolhouses

I’ve fielded a couple of cemetery calls at the township recently.  One was a call to the wrong cemetery, so I redirected it, and the other call was to ask permission to tour our cemetery.  I’m only the person who answers the phone, so I directed that call to a cemetery trustee, but, be still my heart.  They asked permission.  Unlike young hooligans who think a township cemetery is a fine place to push over old headstones and burn frogs alive.  I tell myself the universe answers that kind of disrespect with swift and sure vengeance we just don’t know about.  Their cup won’t be on the bus, times infinity.

A publically dedicated cemetery is an important piece of becoming a community.  In the beginning there were family plots on farms, but as populations grew and fledgling governments formed and land changed hands, there might be no one left to maintain family plots, or even know who rested there.   Communities came together, formed governments under the laws of their state or territory, made arrangements to take care of the poor, the schooling of children, the burial places of their dead, the grazing lands of their cows and sheep. The symbols of these achievements, the old cemeteries with barely legible markers, the old school houses, the town square or village green I see as markers to the future.     Respect for the past and present are paving stones for the future.

When I visit Ann in Wisconsin, I have a view of two old symbols.  A township cemetery and a one room schoolhouse, directly across.  The cemetery is always neatly mowed and trimmed, just like the cemeteries cared for in my township.  I talked to the mowers one day and learned that cemetery had ceased being used when a larger one was built in a nearby city. The township continues to mow it, but is not responsible for further care.  Witness to this is the long row of headstones separated from their foundation, but stacked in a neat line against the trees.  It’s not important the stones and the bases are separated; it’s important the markers are still displayed and trimmed about.  The fellow told me they’re pretty sure each fall which markers will fall to the next winter or the next storm.

On the other side of the drive is an old, brick one room school house.  Ann is close to her goal of beginning restoration of the school house this summer and turning it into a one room home.  I suppose there will be a bathroom with a door.  It’s probably eight or nine hundred square feet and has potential oozing from every brick.  I suggested a bedroom loft at the back, which would give over the entire first floor to living.  I think it will make a great little home for a young couple starting out.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Stories from our office

I was at a pretty little show at an upscale mall in an upscale Pennsylvania suburb.  All the exhibitor vans were parked in the designated area of the underground lot.  One lovely old woman I’d noticed come into the mall shopped in my booth on her way out.  As she was leaving she patted my hand and said “I want you to be very careful, my dear.”  Indicating some vans she could see through the doors she added “There seem to be gypsies in town.”

I asked Jan if she remembered any funny stories.  She only remembers the horror stories.  Like the time I came back from smoking a cigarette and announced forty school buses arriving in the parking lot.  That could only spell trouble.  We mentioned it to the exhibitor with porcelain dolls, which she put under the counter in anticipation.  The juvenile hoards did appear, loosely supervised, many sporting pop guns from the wooden toy fellow.  It was our last appearance at the Algonquin Mill Festival.  Those were the really old days, when we were feeling our way. 

Jan did remember a Pittsburgh show.  I went to a deli for sandwiches for lunch and brought back pre-wrapped hero genre sandwiches from the refrigerator case.  She began perusing the list of ingredients.  “Jumbo!  It says Jumbo.  This sandwich has Jumbo.  What’s Jumbo?  I’m not eating Jumbo!”  The woman in the next booth was doubled over.  Jumbo, she informed us, is colloquial for boloney in Pittsburgh.  Her name, Jan recalls, was Darrellene.

Early on we divvied up.  Jan stayed in the studio, I went on the road.  I exhibited alone at most shows, but for venues I was not confident of handling alone, I’d ask Beth or Ann to climb in the van.  The several years I exhibited in an art show at Lincoln Center I had both Beth and Ann along.  One rode in the jump seat—a folding chair we made room for in the back of the van.  Lincoln Center produced a wonderful sour grapes story.  A potter friend we hadn’t seen in years called and asked if we could fill a booth at a Mother’s Day show she put on.  I declined; it was the date of the Lincoln Center show.  “Lincoln Center?”  Long pause.  “You must have had VERY good slides.”

Lincoln Center

One more story from the early days.  We were carding wool at a show, as well as spinning.  The wool had more than an ordinary amount of debris (we were still learning everything), and a good deal of chaff was accumulating on our laps.  I stood up to brush it away and a young woman who had been watching for an hour or more held her hands out to catch the seeds and stems.  I asked what she would do with the handful she lovingly clutched.  “I’m going to plant it and grow my own sheep.”

Very early booth.  Jan at the wheel you can't see.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Containing the chaos

One hundred eighty odd quilt tops (just crib sized tops!), I am down to the dregs in my drawer and no scraps have been quietly abandoned behind my chair.  Now that I am so close to scrap eradication, I can divulge my secret.  Jan told people I had a secret formula for assembling the colors.  Here it is.  Lay out thirteen piles of five inch squares.  Use one square from each pile.  When one pile is gone, replace it with another.  Genius, eh?

She laid out the latest twin size quilt using one of the crib size centers and said she just loved how the borders contain the chaos.  How apt.  Look at all the pin wheels blowing the chaos back, and a sturdy brown fence around the pin wheels.  Now we need a plan to contain world chaos.

Quilted and ready to be trimmed.

Containing the chair.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Old stories, old things

I like to listen to stories, especially stories of older folks about their experiences.  Jan and I took our spinning wheels to shows and the spinning brought out so many old stories.  Old men telling how they had unloaded cotton bales to spinning mills in the south.  The adult children saying “Nobody wants to hear those old stories, Dad.”  But I did want to hear them.  One lovely afternoon a frail old woman stopped and then in heavily accented English described her job in a silk mill in France during the war.  This time the children and grandchildren were as entranced as I as the old woman showed how they reeled the silk from the cocoons.   I asked how old she had been and she said from age 14 to age 18.  It was not hard, she said, but very tedious and the days were very long.  The war, of course, was the Great War, the first world war.

My hands down favorite old story came from a paratrooper.   Spinning puts the spinner about belt level of everyone passing by or stopping, and one older fellow had been watching in total silence for some time.  I commented that my brother-in-law also wore an 85th paratrooper buckle.  Yes, he’d been in the 85th during the war.  Back to silence, so I just kept spinning. 

Suddenly he asked if he could see if he could still spin. He was quite intense, as was the question, and I wrapped the very fine sock yarn I was spinning around the knob, stood up and gave him the chair.  He unwrapped the strand, drafted a little fiber, flicked the wheel and commenced to produce yarn equal to what I had on the wheel.  He spun to the end of the rolag, twisted his end around the knob, stood up, said “Thank you,” and was two steps into leaving before I could gather my thoughts.

“Wait, wait.  Please tell me how you learned to spin.”

He was a paratrooper in the second world war.  He jumped with several other men on some mission behind the lines, in Belgium.  All the men who jumped were separated in the air.  He landed alone in a field and was found by Belgian resistance, who took him to a farm.  He had been hurt in the jump and was of little practical use to the men, so the women put him in a cap, a skirt, a blouse, a shawl and put him in front of a spinning wheel, with instructions to make it look good. 

As all spinners know, it only looks difficult.  He learned the technique, and having nothing else to do, mastered the technique.  Until he was liberated he made yarn the old women were proud to knit into socks and balaclavas for the men.  He said he’d spun on a chair wheel similar to mine, and the wheel style had caught his attention.  Before he left he told me I had a very nice wheel.

A chair wheel simply means a wheel with four legs on the ground and stretchers between the legs to provide stability and immobility.  It’s a tough Google, but here is a Shaker style chair wheel and its web site.  When I have to get mine out of the closet, I’ll take its picture.  Except for four legs, it doesn’t resemble this one.

I was hoping to find a picture of the chair wheel I once saw in the Museum of the Appalachia’s.   it also was a chair.  The seat lifted up to reveal a horizontal wheel, the treadle was underneath.  I don’t remember the placement of the flyer.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Grandma Bear

In the beginning, when Jan and I started our weaving (and spinning) business and then worked on ways to make a living at it, we had help, encouragement and ideas from old hands in show business.  We were befriended by a sewer named Carol who was always ready to help us figure out a 10x10 booth that actually was 6 feet wide and 17 feet long.  She was full of great stories, too, like how to kill your husband and get away with it.  She’d already divorced hers, so she seemed to be past that stage.  She was chronically low on stock and sewed in her motel at night.  She made a sheep door stop that was filled with sand.  When she filled the body she would thump it on the table to settle the sand and flatten the bottom.  A fellow exhibitor complained bitterly about being wakened all night by someone who knocked on his door but wasn’t there when the door was opened.  Carol never fessed up. 

This bear was one of Carol’s products.  She bought used quilts at auctions and antique stores and turned them into teddy bears.  This was in the great long ago when shabby was chic, country was in and old quilts were cheap.  Ten years later we had reason to turn a quilt into teddy bears ourselves, and an acquaintance who wanted to make quilt teddy bears to sell got quite a dose of reality on finding old quilt value had rightfully soared in the market.

When our mom died, almost without giving us any notice, and we started sorting out we pulled so many of her old quilts out of her cupboard.  We reminisced about the beds they had been on.  We came upon one that had been through the wash so often that in many places Grandmother’s Flower Garden flowers were worn through to the 120 thread count sheet Mom frequently used for backing.  We thought of Carol’s quilt bears and decided to use this quilt for Grandma Bears to give to the grandchildren and others who loved mom.  This bear is Jan’s, and lives in her quilt studio.

Grandma Bear's poor old arms and legs only get a feather duster on them:

I think she's pleased with all she surveys.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Memorable words

Dad taught us a couple of songs.  I actually remember three, but one is too politically incorrect to pass my lips.  I’m sorry I still remember it.  He also knew all the words to

A capital ship for an ocean trip
was the "Walloping Window Blind."
No wind that blew dismayed her crew
or troubled the Captain’s mind.
The man at the wheel was made to feel
contempt for the wildest blo-o-ow,
Tho' it often appeared when the weather had cleared,
That he'd been in his bunk below.

I think our childhood favorite, the one all three of us still recite by memory, is

We had a cow down on our farm

Golly ain’t that queer.

She gave milk without alarm

Golly ain’t that queer.

One day she drank from a frozen stream,

Froze her tail like an iron beam.

And ever since she gives ice cream.

Golly ain’t that queer.

To the tune of Old MacDonald.

I was looking through Jan’s stash of Em and Laura’s art work the other day, and found Em’s attempt to get an Uncle Tom ditty down on paper before she forgot the words.  What a girl.  I should have written out what I heard from my elders.  So much less remembering, so much more writing.

Thinking about an eight year old reciting this over and over between the wood pile and the house, desparate to get to the note book and write it out, makes me smile.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My gym

I used to go to a wellness center.  It’s part of a fine medical complex near me, staffed by courteous and knowledgeable trainers who assess fitness and establish and monitor programs to make members more fit.  Sounds good, but it didn’t work for me.  I began there in physical therapy to alleviate my near debilitating back pain.  PT didn’t help, but I liked the facility so much I signed on for physical fitness.

In some feng shui moment, the parking area of this large medical complex was laid out in concentric circles so the closest parking is a small half circle, a little more in the next circle and so on out.  Four handicap spots are allotted near the building, but still a fair hike in.  So, my first stop generally was at the suggestion box, explaining how management could facilitate handicap parking.  I would get a phone call from a bright young thing explaining they alloted more spaces than the federal guidelines required.   I switched my tactics to leaving the number of handicap placards I’d counted on the walk in from the outfield on my suggestion box note.  No one was impressed; I did not prevail.  I went looking for another place to work out, and found my gym.

I made an appointment with a pleasant young man to look at the nearby gym.  He is a fitness instructor, working on his master’s degree in the subject.  I recognized all the equipment, quizzed the young man on his credentials.  It was a downsize version of the wellness center, sans pool, locker rooms, showers and towels.  Like the wellness center, it did not smell like a gym.  Unlike the wellness center, there were no bottles of disinfectant and wipe down cloths hanging from each piece of equipment.  But, there was a paper towel dispenser with a bottle of disinfectant on top. 

I went to the desk and asked about signing up.  It was about two in the afternoon and there was only one person there, using the equipment.  The two year, one year and month to month contracts were explained.  I figured a gym this quiet might be on the shaky side of financially stable, so I opted for month to month, still almost two thirds less cost than the fitness center!   I came back the next day for specific instruction on various pieces of equipment and I now I show up three times a week.

There usually are two or three young men in there, working with huge weights when the old lady shows up.  I had to ask them to lower the certainly illegal decibel level of their music so I could hear my book while I work out, so the first thing I see when I pull to the curb is someone scurrying to the source of the music.  The doors definitely do not vibrate when I reach them.

They all say hello and I find out how their college classes are progressing.  Then we go our separate ways.  They grunt and groan with the free weights and I do the same with my ten pounders.  The first time they shook the floor I looked up and saw two of them bringing in a tire from a piece of construction equipment.  They flipped it flat side to flat side around the entire room.  Later I heard a rhythmic sound and looked up to see a couple of them swinging sledge hammers against it, regular Paul Bunyons. 

One young fellow sat down on the next piece of equipment and chatted about his grandmother; he wished she would do something “like you do” instead of sitting on the sofa and complaining.  Another one got to chatting about his grandmother one day. He said he dropped in on her unannounced one afternoon. Her neighbor came out of her door and went back to his assisted living quarters before his grandmother let him in.  He hoped that wasn’t too much information, but he liked to see older people happy and busy.

My gym isn't going to fold.  It’s packed in the evenings and on weekends. That’s a relief; I’d miss those kids.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Not too old to figure it out


Well, the video issues are over.  With apologies to Blogger, it was a Joanne issue, not a Blogger issue.  The last post about my grandfather making movies is worth the look; it’s just charming.  Here’s one more of my brother Walt and his bouncing.  So happy my girls didn’t do this.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Making movies

What do you do with a moving picture camera?  Take pictures of moving things, it seems.  How simple.  How fun.  Here are two clips I can replay and replay and smile at their charming simplicity.  I have no idea who is the old man in the first clip.  A neighbor?  A friend?  The universal sweet old man.

This clip is another production of Grandpa Rolf.  Two little girls on tricycles.  No, not enough action.  Call out the neighbor across the street.  How about half the neighborhood, like clowns coming out of a tiny car.  A car leaves, an aeroplane flys.  That’s my Uncle Hank, a young man, strolling down the side walk, then Grandpa Rolf pacing.  That’s my mom, waving and going around the corner.  Probably leaving for work.  Just ahead of the milkman.  Making movies, 1936.

She thought about this all night--for two nights

Jan has been quilting for a couple of days on a customer's quilt featuring pine trees.  I happened by today and was struck down.

"Like those pine boughs?  I laid awake for two nights figuring them out."

 Her right brain isn't half of her brain, it's probably seven eights.  Wish I could do this justice with my camera. 

Here's a picture Jan put on her Facebook page:

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Dad used to have a joke or a quip about fascinators.  I don’t remember, but I thought it a bit silly that women’s scarves would be called fascinators.  I was going to post another clip of bouncing Walter tonight, but the clip I had made is too big to upload. Not because Walt bounced for six minutes (and eats dirt!), but because there actually are three separate short clips that I was too bleary to designate as separate when I went through the DVD.  It’s back at the shop to be broken up.  It’s worth the wait.

As I looked over the clips I have I paused at the file I called Ohio Turnpike and wondered why men are  fascinated enough with progress to do something like take a movie of the Ohio Turnpike the day it opens.  And then, as noted by Aunt Flo, spend an extra nickel to get off and film from the overpass.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The last vacation with dad

Family vacations continued even after my brothers and I grew up, went off, were married.  Mom compensated for her dwindling number of children by incorporating the friends of children.  There were no trips the several years dad was hospitalized several times, being treated for histoplasmosis.  The “cure” took much of dad’s stamina, as one could only imagine loss of a lung and one set of ribs would do.  He recovered enough, by the mid ‘60’s, to be back on the bus.  Or in the driver’s seat.  His campsite responsibilities dwindled to picture taking;  mom, remaining children, friends, married children and spouses took up the slack.

The last year dad vacationed was 1975, 18 months before he died.  It turned into an adventure packed two weeks for everyone, from the youngest to the oldest.  There was only one borrowed kid that year, Adrea, the three year old daughter of a friend.  Walt’s youngest, Mark, was slightly younger than Adrea.  So, six grandchildren, Adrea, my parents, Walt and I set out for St. Louis.

Mom securing the camper

Walt wanted to ride his bike, with a bike buddy.  I agreed, not wholeheartedly.  I’d been bike buddy with my husband, and lost all enthusiasm in short order.  But, Walt’s my brother……   He would ride our brother Mel’s Honda 750 and I would ride Walt’s Honda 500.  Mom and dad drove the Dodge Polaris mobile living room.  When the weather was decent, Walt and I each had a kid on back.  The kids who rode behind ranged from 8 to 10.  The rest rode in the Polaris and were entertained by Adrea’s stories of her purple foxes.  When my sister-in-law Helyn (Mel’s wife) and I reminisced years later, we could only say we were young, confident, spunky……and stupid.

Drinks for the kids

We camped our way to St. Louis.  When we took side trips, Dad stayed at the camp with a newspaper, and occasionally the little ones, Mark and Adrea.  Adrea came flying back from the playground one day yelling “Grandpa! Grandpa! Mark fell off the swing!”  Dad got slowly from the chair, straightened up, ready to go to the problem.  “It’s OK, Grandpa.  Someone’s mother picked him up.”

Before bedtime, on Walt's lap

I learned shortly into the trip there was little possibility of eating enough calories each day to replace those pounded off by the wind and the road. By the end of the first week I was tying my jeans up with a piece of rope, since I didn’t have a belt.  The trip was interesting, but I was looking forward to seeing the arch and starting home.

Yea, coffee

Somewhere on a mountain road in Missouri I blew the back tire of the bike.  Beth was behind me.  I yelled “Hang On” and rode it down from about 50 mph to a stop, using every biking skill I had.  The pegs scraped pavement several times before I got stopped.  Beth never moved.  What a champ!  Mom pulled over behind me on the berm.  Walt, who had been ahead, rode into the distance.  Here I am beside the road, waiting for him to come back.  Beth put that picture on an invitation to a surprise 60th birthday party.

Young, confident, spunky...and stupid

When Walt missed us and came back he whistled.  Said something like “Good job.”  I said I was glad I’d been strong enough to keep the bike up and Beth had the good sense not to fight anything. I could not have controlled a front tire blow out.  We fixed the tire and went on our way.

Days later we were on our way home, on I69 through Indiana, due home that night.  The Polaris and Walt and I were in good formation.  For miles and miles we passed an Army reserve convoy of men and equipment.  The kids waved and all the soldiers waved back.  We weren’t long past them when Walt blew the front tire of the bike.  His oldest, Roy was behind.  As he fought the bike, I cut back and forth behind him trying to warn off oncoming traffic.  He’d be almost down, get it up….  He fought it into the inside lane, then reached behind himself, secured Roy with one arm, stood up on the pegs, jumped and rolled.  He rolled the two of them off the road.  I pulled in, jumped off.  He sat up and said, “We’re OK, get my bike.”  I walked into the lane, picked up the Honda 750 and walked it off the road.  So, we all sat along the road, waiting for the police, and waved at the Army convoy as it passed us.  “How did you do that?”  “I was a paratrooper, remember.”

From there on we were in the hands of the Indiana State Highway Patrol.  When it was over, Walt and I each wrote to the governor of Indiana to commend these officers.  One took Walt and Roy to a hospital and stayed while they were checked and treated for the mother of all road rash and dislocated shoulders.  Someone else took mom and dad and a load of kids to a camp ground, then got Walt and Roy there when they were released.  Another officer came for me at a repair shop where they were able to put the bike back in running order.  He would lead me to the camp ground.  I started the 750, which I had never driven in my life, released the clutch and realized I didn’t have 1st gear.  I revved, tried second.  Nothing.  No third.  No fourth.  I engaged in 5th.  The patrolman was already ahead of me.  I headed off behind him and drove that 750 through Terre Haute in rush hour in 5th gear.  My brothers were in awe.

When I got to the campground, Jan and Mel, who had been called to bail us out, were there.  Mel found the missing link and got all the gears of the bike back.  We set out for home next day.  Walt couldn’t drive a car, so Mel drove.  Jan rode the 500.  I got the 750.  When I stopped the bike I could only put one tip toe on the ground. Mom and Dad got home way ahead of us; they took the turnpike across Ohio, but Mel took the scenic route.  He enjoyed every minute of his two sisters on motorcycles.  One of whom knew she would never leave home again without four tires on the pavement.  The other already knew that.