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Dinosaur Tales

Before going to my garden to pick tomatoes, Niki put her cell phone on the dining room table. Blaise, my four-year-old grandson saw his opportunity and snatched the device. His small fingers flew this way and that to bring up the You Tube videos he wanted to watch.

Although I didn’t grow up with computers, I’m not a total ‘slouch’ when it comes to technology. Seeing his expertise though, impressed me.

Ben, age thirteen, was sitting in the living room staring intently down at an iPad. The curtains were closed, so the room was shadowed. Ghostly blue-green light from the flickering game screen reflected on his face. Next to him, nine-year-old Jacob complained about having to wait for his turn and finally demanded, “You’re hogging the iPad. It’s my turn to use it. Hand it over!”

Gemma, my six-year-old granddaughter, was sitting at the dining room table drawing. She looked up from her picture and told me, “Last night we watched a You Tube video…” In great detail described what she had seen.

I’ve always considered myself to be a modern woman and looked in awe at how primitive the world had been when my mother was born in 1906. Few people had electricity, indoor plumbing or motor vehicles at that time, nor for many years after.

On the other hand, when I was born in 1950, most people had in-door plumbing, electricity, radios, cars and some even flew in airplanes. Television was introduced to our household when I was eleven. When I was eighteen, NASA sent men to the moon and brought them back. Continue reading

Little Sister

I gazed with admiration at my big sister. She was as beautiful as a princess. We were almost in different generations with my being eight-years of age to her twenty-two. She was grown-up and I was a little kid watching her dress for a date. Agnes’ clothing accented her slim feminine form. Her eyebrows arched beautifully and her dark hair curled smoothly under in the popular page-boy style.

Jim, Agnes’ boyfriend arrived driving a 1956 white and blue-green two-tone Chevrolet. Pulling to a stop in the driveway near the sidewalk, he pressed the car’s horn. Instead of a simple honk, it blared out a musical series of toots. He stepped out of the car laughing. Jim worked at one of the grocery stores in Stratford. Once, when I was there with Mom, he checked us out at the cash register. He joked and teased as he rang-up each item.

I liked Jim. He was tall and had broad shoulders with dark, extremely curly hair. Instead of ignoring me as many adults ignore children, he seemed to enjoy talking to and playing with me as he waited for Agnes to finish getting ready for their date.

Whenever Agnes was home from college during the year that followed, Jim came around to visit. By the time he asked my sister to marry him, I already considered him a part of our family. It made me happy that their first apartments were close to our home. I looked forward to visiting them. Continue reading

Colors of Sophistication

I stared sadly at my reflection in the mirror. Why didn’t I look normal, like other people? A huge pimple on my chin positively glowed. It didn’t help that I’d been pinching it. Guiltily, I remembered Mom telling me not to do that.

My wispy, baby-soft hair laid flat against my scalp. How I hated my hair!

What I hated the most about my appearance, though, was my body. I felt fat, awkward and overly-developed. When I was 12 years-old and in the sixth grade, I developed the body of a middle-aged lady. Mom told me that it would stream-line as I got older. I wondered when that was going to happen. Here I was, 15 years-of-age and still looking like a circus-side-show misfit.

All six of my siblings were older than me. Each one was good-looking and had style. I admired how they dressed, the colors they each seemed to prefer. Mom told me to stop comparing myself to them, to be patient. She seemed to expect her ugly-duckling daughter would soon transform into a swan. Continue reading

Coming of Age

When Mom said to my brother Casper, “They’re going to live in the top floor apartment of the old convent,” I suddenly became aware of the conversation at the table. Putting down the huge hamburger I’d been about to bite into, I waited to hear more.

When nothing more was said, I frowned and blurted, “What? Who’s going to live there?” Self-absorbed at fourteen-years of age, I often missed a lot of what was going on around me.

Mom prompted, “Riet and her two boys…” Seeing my puzzled expression she explained, “Fritz and Riet are friends of Agnes and Jim. They met when Jim and Fritz were stationed together in Germany.”

I nodded. When the Berlin wall crisis began five years before, my brother-in-law Jim joined the army and was deployed to Augsburg, Germany. My sister Agnes and one-year-old nephew went with him. Although both Fritz and his wife Riet were born in the Netherlands, Fritz was in the US army with Jim. Riet and Agnes became good friends.

Once I realized who we were talking about, I questioned with surprise, “Just Riet and her two boys? Where will Fritz be?”

My brother Billy said grimly, “In Vietnam. There’s a war being fought there, you know. Riet and their children can’t go with him because of that.” Continue reading

Stratford Convent

I loved the smell of coffee. To my seven-year-old nose it smelled rich and exotic. I’d come to recognize that when the scent of coffee was in the air, it meant that Mom and Daddy were in the kitchen having breakfast, or that company was visiting. Tasting it was out of the question, though, so I never tried. Mom said coffee was for grownups and, “Besides, it’s bitter and you wouldn’t like it.”

Daddy had milked our herd of cows before I’d even slid out of bed that morning, so he needed a good breakfast. Why he drank bitter coffee with it, I just wasn’t sure. There had to be something wonderful about it other than its great smell.

After having his breakfast, Daddy backed the family car out of the garage and patiently waited for us children to get in so he could drive us to school. I was in first grade that spring.

Our school and church were together in one big brick building. Next to it, looking for all the world like a very large farmhouse, was a three-story convent where the sisters who taught us lived. Continue reading

Harvest Gold

After slathering a slice of Mom’s homemade bread with butter, I lifted a freshly poached egg out of its pan and dropped it in the middle of the bread’s buttery field. Poking the egg made thick, yellow yolk ooze out. Sighing with satisfaction at having such a delicious breakfast, I lifted the bread and took a bite.

Some of the yellow yolk dribbled down my chin and landed on my top. Trying to scoop-up the runaway drop with my fingertip made it smear. I guiltily wondered where Mom was, then as I passed the basement door on my way out of the farmhouse’s back door, I remembered. I heard the chug-chug of the wringer washing machine. It was Monday, so Mom was washing clothes, of course.

Popping the last of the egg and bread into my mouth, I headed toward the barn. During my summer vacation from school, my daily routine was visiting several spots on the farm, riding my bike, visiting my neighborhood cousins and reading or re-reading our extensive collection of Dell Comic books. While a boring routine, I preferred it over attending school. I stopped at the well pump to run cold water over my arms. Although early, the day was already hot.

Adolph the milk man had parked his truck next to the milk house. I heard him talking to Daddy. Walking around to the back of the large vehicle, I watched as Adolph lifted a full milk can up into the truck as if it was light as air. He closed the cargo door and said, “I better get going.” Continue reading

Whip Poor Will

I sat back on my heels to rest for a moment while weeding my lawn-turned-garden. Gazing at the stand of oats behind our farmhouse, I noticed shimmers of heat rising from the field. Each plant was busy forming beautiful, small grains. A breeze swept past, cooling my skin. The invisible force gently teased and tussled the crop, making the blue-green plants dip and sway like waves in an ocean.

Eight-year-old Niki and four-year-old Tammie sat nearby on the grass in the cool shade of our farmhouse. Thankful they were happily playing together, I went back to weeding the ground cherries, tomatoes and cabbage. As I worked, I thought about my childhood growing up on a farm.

Having a campfire in the woods was one of the summer highlights for me as a child. Once my neighborhood cousins and I reached a certain age, we were allowed to occasionally go to the woods in the evening by ourselves to have a campfire picnic. We brought foil-wrapped potatoes to bake in the fire, butter, salt and pepper. Other goodies, if there were some in our kitchens, included hot dogs and marshmallows.

When the cows were milked and let out of the barn, they came to the woods. The nosey beasts stood in a semi-circle around the gully where we had a campfire ring next to a boulder. Snorting, mooing, making waterfall and plop-plop sounds, they watched us as the sky grew dark and their eyes glowed iridescent blue-silver in the firelight. Continue reading