Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Fall Memories

Fall can be a treat to the senses:  The cool crispness of the air, the rustling sound of your feet shuffling through the leaves, the vibrant colors of the leaves and the smell of burning leaves in the air. It can also be a trick: Forty-five mile per hour winds, the sound of thunder, bleak gray days filled with rain, the stuffy smell of furnaces long unused. I have a love/hate relationship with Fall, it is so unpredictable.

Last Saturday we spent several hours out in the cold, windy weather watching a football game that started a hour late, encroached on my nap time and didn't end the way I wanted (Our team lost.) After school tonight I attended a soccer game. It didn't seem too awfully cold when it started, but by half time it was getting pretty chilly (And I was wearing my winter coat and had a blanket!) Again the sky was dark and gloomy. At least our team won this time!

I'm beginning to think Fall (And Winter for that matter) are for the young. I remember raking leaves into the shape of a house when I was young; playing for hours, only coming inside after the street lights came on and the bats started appearing. Other times we would rake the leaves into giant birds nests and jump in (Boy did we come home dirty.) Eventually the leaves would all get raked into a pile and burned. We would often run down the street and pick up a few chestnuts to throw into the fire. Chestnuts smell so wonderful when burning, something like the smell of baked potatoes.

Fall also brings one of childhoods favorite holidays, Halloween. I'm surprised I don't remember more of the costumes I wore for Halloween. I do remember being a zebra one year, it might have been kindergarten or first grade. Another year I was a table (Yes a table,) I wore a sheet for a table cloth, my mom glued a tray with dishes onto the table cloth, there were Smarties candies glued on there too. I'm pretty sure I was a witch at least once or twice. And I do remember, when I was a pre-teen, being Ellie Mae Clampet from The Beverly Hillbillies (Pig tails, jeans and a rope belt.) In High School, I attended a Future Secretaries Halloween party as an ancient (Not old) Greek woman.

The best part of Halloween was all the candy (My dentist got a lot of business after Halloween!) I always loved getting chocolate (I still do.) Sometimes we would get a can of pop or maybe some chips. I didn't like getting Milk Duds, I don't like them, but that didn't stop me from eating them (Only as a last resort.) We always got a lot of peanut butter kisses and Mary Janes (A harder, rectangular form of peanut butter kisses.)

We started Trick-or-Treating early at Grandma Seames' house. She always gave us a donut, an apple and I'm pretty sure a candy bar (Hershey?). Next came Grandma Taylor's house, I think she would often have popcorn balls (Not a real favorite of mine,) but she would dress like a witch with her long, floor length hair down, she looked pretty wicked. Then it was off with a group of friends to get to as many houses as possible. We didn't go with an adult and I always lived in fear of the older boys who would steal your bag of candy. I remember hearing about that happening over near The North End Store.

My sister, Patti, had the unfortunate luck of being born on Halloween. Like people born at Christmas, her birthday pretty much got lost in the holiday. I do remember we had a least one Halloween birthday party for her. We played some game that had an arrow you spun on an orange cardboard with black cats and other things on it.

Orange and black crepe paper were used to decorate. We had a cat decoration with a cardboard face and black honey-combed tissue legs and tail. Grandma Taylor had a paper mache pumpkin.  The black cats and orange pumpkins with human teeth, that were popular back when I was a kid, have seen a resurgence of popularity in recent years.

The games we played at Halloween parties when I was young would make most people nowadays queasy and worried about germs.  We dunked for apples; several apples were placed in a washtub of water, without using your hands, you had to get an apple out of the water by biting it.  Another game was to hang a donut by a string, without using your hands, you had to bite the donut.  This game could be made interesting for teenagers by having a boy and girl trying to bite the donut at the same time.  

Of course for teenagers, no Halloween was complete without a hayride down an old bumpy farm lane, the wagon being pulled by a tractor.  The stars and moon illuminating the night sky made it magical.  The colder the weather, the better (It gave you the excuse to keep each other warm.)  I was invited on one such hay ride put on by the Boy Scouts at Camp Holaka.

I usually made all of my children's Halloween costumes. We've had devils, pumpkins, ghosts, ballerinas, clowns, pirates, witches and a bunny. Right after school I would take the kids (Still wearing their costumes from school parties) Trick-or-Treating at Great-Grandma Marg's, Great-Grandma Taylor's and Grandpa and Grandma Seames' house. We didn't go to Grandpa and Grandma Garner's (It was too far to go and still get back in time for Trick-or-Treating.) After supper, Dad would take them (In the wagon when they were young) around the neighborhood while I stayed home and passed out the candy to all the little ghosts and goblins.

I've made a lot of the grandchildren's costumes as well (And reused some of the old ones.) Harry Potter and Hermione, Star Wars, pirates, ghosts, kitties, doggies, and pumpkins to name a few. They come to my house for dinner before Trick-or-Treating (More houses in my neighborhood.) I usually serve a shepherd's pie with potato ghosts on top and ghosts in the graveyard for dessert (A pudding dessert with crushed cookie dirt, Peeps ghosts, Vienna Cookie tombstones and gummy worms.) I'm still the one who passes out the candy (Unless the grandchildren finish early, then they like to help me out.)

For some reason the Fall trees now, don't seem to be as beautifully colored as I remember growing up. There was a beautiful sugar maple down on the corner that turned the most wonderful shade of red. Why is it everything always seems like it was so much better when we were kids? Maybe it is just that we didn't have all the cares and worries we have now as adults. I wonder if my grandchildren will have as many glorious Fall Memories as I have?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

I Finally Know What I Want to be When I Grow Up

When I was in school, I envied the kids who knew what they wanted to be when they grew up. They knew what classes to take and had college all planned out. I just couldn't think what I wanted to spend a lifetime doing. I let my friend talk me into taking secretarial classes, so that we could be in the Future Secretaries Club together. I didn't even think of college. I figured, I was just suppose to be a wife and mother. I did work as a secretary for several years (It gave me constant headaches.)

A few months ago I was reading a wonderful book. It was written about everyday life back in the thirties and forties, just a short book. A light bulb went off and I thought, I can write about my own life. Even though my life seems boring to me, I have lived for fifty-nine years and have seen a lot of changes in the world. I have always loved the Little House books by Laura Ingels Wilder (Even toured her last house in Missouri,) they were simple books about every day life.

As I sat and thought about it, I realized I have always been a writer. I still have the Barbie diary I started so many years ago. In the late 80's and early 90's I always kept beautiful calendar/journals which I still have. I even keep all my wall calendars, with their scribbled messages. Just one look at those messages and I am instantly brought back to that date and time.

Back when I was in high school, taking those secretarial classes, I always took another English class in addition to the Business English. Didn't that tell me anything?

When I did manage to take a college course (American History pre-1900,) my assignment was to be a newspaper reporter and report on the events leading up to the Civil War. My professor was so impressed with my work, he asked if I had thought about becoming a journalist.

I remember sitting at a little desk in my sister's room, painstakingly writing (In pencil) a family newspaper. As an adult, I wrote the newsletter for our Frontier Muzzleloaders club. Volunteering as a girl scout leader (Twice,) I insisted we have a troop newspaper, that I helped the girls write. Being Queen of my Red Hat group (The Lovelys of Lapeer) was another chance to write little newsletters. And I can't forget those Christmas newsletters I broke down and started writing a couple of years ago!

One year for my sister's birthday, I wrote and planned a murder mystery party for her The Cell Phone Murder. She said it was her best birthday ever. For my brother's birthday, I wrote a story for him about the cruise my dad had taken my brothers, sisters and I on. I gave that story a Peter Pan slant.

I can be a little dense sometimes. On my fiftieth birthday Gary took me for a ride to Port Huron. Halfway there, I said, “I don't really feel like going to Port Huron. Let's go home.” Turning down Maverick Lane, I noticed several cars parked on the street. “Somebodies having a party,” I commented. Even when we pulled into our driveway and I saw the garage filled with tables, chairs and people, it didn't dawn on me that it was a birthday party for me! Yes, I can be a little dense sometimes. Why didn't anybody tell me I was a writer?

Oh...A funny thing happened the day I published my first blog. I was going to contact friends and family about my blog (In case they wanted to read it,) when I noticed an e-mail from my aunt. She was e-mailing friends and family to let them know she had written and published a book! So at the ripe age of 80, she has discovered she is a writer. I guess I shouldn't feel so bad that I have just discovered my calling at the age of 59.

I may not be the best writer in the world, but I am a writer.