During WW2 Dad had to go up on a hill and put in some hours as an aircraft spotter. It was near a water tank. We had to collect all sorts of things for the war effort, including silver foil gum and cigarette wrappers. Items like sugar and gasoline were rationed. I was told that Uncle Fred collapsed while in line to buy food that was rationed.
Elseth, Joe, Ray Frederick and I drove to Pennsylvania during gas rationing. Dad let us borrow his car. Joe would totally shut off the ignition and coast down the mountainous roads to save on gas.
Miss Brace, the high school art teacher, had asked me to send her 12 in. x 18 in. water color scenes of WW2 airplanes that I had sketched and painted for her to give to her nephew. She didn't know I was arriving, since it wasn't a C.S. holiday. When I visited her classroom, I was shocked to see my paintings encompassing the entire room. When I questioned her, she said that she just wasn't quite ready to part with them!
Mom seemed to stay busy. In the evenings, her hands were never idle. She would mend socks, knit mittens, crochet, tat, etc. She went without a lot for herself to make certain that we had a nice Christmas, and new outfits for Easter.
Basically, Dad let Mom
do all of the worrying as to how to make ends meet. I remember one Christmas
when there was no money for the believers in Santa Claus. Someone
had refused to pay Dad for the work he did in a new
Dad played 'Fish' and
'War' card games with us. His big thing was solitaire. He would
fold up two legs of a card table and pull that end up on the arms of an
easy chair. In winter he would make oatmeal, but we all preferred
hot chocolate and peanut butter toast. The latter was made in our
new, manually operated four- slice toaster. In nice weather Dad had
a ritual whereby he would crush an array of dry cereals in a bowl.
His paring knife was ground
Besides growing dahlias, Dad had an eye for other unusual things. He grew delphinium one year that must have been at least 5-6 feet tall, and the blossoms were as wide across as a wooden match stick. He also used to boast that he "grew" daughters -- he liked to tell everyone he grew daughters, dahlias and delphiniums!
He propagated his own
dahlia tubers, and created new varieties to sell and to show in the Northeastern
Dahlia Society shows. He made his own wrought iron display stands
to showcase the individual flowers, and also a folding table with an electric
lazy susan for displays. He published his own tuber price list, and
was featured on the cover when she was 5 years old with a big mop of
curly hair. As the years went on and the grandkids came
Mom always went out of her way to make our holidays as nice as she financially could. Each fall she baked a big batch of fruitcakes, poured brandy over them and wrapped them in cloth. These were stored in the back of the kitchen pantry until it was time to eat them. She always made a lot of cookies at the same time.
We used to go to Sunday School, and one year I think we kids were to sing at the Christmas service. So we were dressed in our best outfits, and Mom painfully curled our hair with an iron that was heated over the gas flame. I guess I was last in line, and things were running late -- because she forgot she had the iron in the fire so long. It burned off a big clump of my hair!
Mom played the piano by ear, but always felt it was substandard so really didn't like people to hear her. But she would sometimes play for us and sing in a high falsetto voice, which, in later years, drove Marilyn nuts! She was very prim and proper, and for the most part, reserved. We all cracked up when in later years and they lived in New Jersey she picked up a real Jersey accent and lingo!
I don't remember much
about my siblings living at home, as most were out of the house before
I was 6 years old. I do remember trailing Ellen all the time.. much
to her dismay! She called me "The Brat" and Dad called me "The Caboose".
Whenever Mom wanted Dad to go somewhere it was my job to con him into it
by calling him the cutest Daddy in the world. It worked every time!!
I also went to every dahlia show that Dad was in. Twice at these events I made my self sick; once by eating an entire bowl of sugar cubes, and once by eating a jar of peanut butter. (Can't look at either any more without feeling nauseous.)
We kids loved building
a snow slide between 2 garages in Paterson, and then had fun jumping off
the garage roof.
Yearly picnics on the Hudson River boat were fun with Uncle Lyle's family as were the annual leaf peeping trips to the Poconos.
I also have very fond memories of visits to Aunt Madelyn & Uncles Bob's, when we awakened to the delicious odors of home made apple sauce or fresh baked pies & cakes.
Yes, I remember building the igloo with the Ely boys, and sledding when Mom came out with us -- either down Parker St. to Crestwood Avenue, or from the top of Crestwood by Betty Maynard's house. Remember trying to ski on old barrel staves?
The grown ups had corn roasts. Uncle Lyle was staying with us and working for Dad for some time, and he tended the fire pit. I remember Uncle Orrin taking us (in turn) on outings with them. I remember pushing Dad's truck on cold mornings when it wouldn't start. I remember long underwear that never would fold nicely to pull the long cotton stockings up over; the pantywaists with garters to attach the stockings to; the one pair of bathing shoes we took turns wearing on the rare occasions we got anywhere to "swim."
in the kitchen to the music of Lois' Victrola that Don had given her?
I also remember getting Hank to go with me to a parade in Scranton that Lois was going to be in. We were able to ride down with Ron, but we had no way home. So we walked the whole 8 miles! And so Mom and Dad wouldn't suspect we'd done wrong, we danced in the kitchen that night -- my legs were killing me!! I remember Daddy sarcastically suggesting that Hank bring his suitcase and move in when he found us in his greenhouse after school one day. He didn't know that I'd worn new shoes to school and it had rained, not to mention Hank thought it was cute to splash all the water he could on my shoes. I had decided to dry them out in the warm greenhouse!
Mom loved to have her hair combed. While she sat darning socks, etc. we would be delegated to take turns combing. It seemed like hours!! Jeane would pretend she was picking "cooties" out of Mom's hair and would have everyone giggling. Mom always washed up and put on a clean apron just before Daddy would come home. She wore stockings every day -- not anklets, and for years she wore a girdle (with bones and stays.) Daddy had a few fatty tumors that he thought were unsightly and never went around with his shirt sleeves rolled up; he also never went around with just an undershirt. Unlike guys today, eh?
Mom belonged to the Eastern Star. Mom and Daddy often had friends in for an evening of cards. And Daddy loved the eleven hundred dahlias he planted each year (and dug up and nursed through the winters.) I truly believe he knew them all by name!!
Do you girls remember learning to embroider, and having thread tangle like crazy? Mom would say "Let's put it away until tomorrow." She taught me to knit, crochet and sew. She also went out to sleigh ride with us.
I can remember Daddy doing handstands in the front yard. And I remember him boasting to "Uncle" George Saar when he reached 50 years old that "he could still put his pants on standing up!" Daddy also played dominoes with us, and at Christmas time we'd play "I See Something" (on the tree). He sure had patience with that game!
If we approached Dad in the garden when he was entertaining his "dahlia" friends, sometimes we could (I suppose) embarrass him into giving us a penny or two that we could go to Pop Sweet's store, or Hill's, and get candy!
I remember all the Parker Street kids sitting on our front porch steps on July 4th to watch the Dad set off the pin wheels and rockets by the telephone pole across the street. And trying to be the first one up that morning to shoot off our cap pistols (little six shooters with rolls of paper repeaters!)
Ellen, I remember picking strawberries! Mom would clean them and Mrs. Webb
bought them from us for .25 cents a quart!! I also remember picking violets
-- bouquets so large you could hardly hold them in one hand. I had
My night at the movies was usually after school Fridays, and I'd usually stay to see it all over the second time! Mom always saved me some supper, and it was always fish and peas!! Saturday nights I'd go to the square dances (and usually walk the 3 miles) in Glenburn. Sunday I'd go roller skating in Scranton.
I recall when Mom was away as an Eastern Star (was it?) Grand Matron. One of the Dalton boys asked me to a dance, but Lois (our "bossy" sister!) said I couldn't go because Mom wasn't home to OK it! So I asked Daddy, and he said I could go! Loved that Daddy!!
I remember picking cherries in someone's orchard --- going through the woods up on the left of Crestwood Avenue to get there. We got paid for that, and we argued all the way home about who'd get to use the bathtub first, as we sure got dirty!!
Yes, times were tough for Mom and Dad, and we knew we didn't have as much as other kids, but, I never felt we were poor. We did sell some of our surplus vegetables from our garden to a few neighbors, too. We all had turns at weeding the garden and all the flower beds, just as we did with the ironing. We were expected to do our own and sometimes some of the other things. In those days, you ironed underwear and bras, sheets and pillowcases, even the towels. So there was always plenty to do!
I remember the candy store next to Division Street School. Leo and I would take a quarter to the candy store in Ashland and select the many varieties long after we were married! Even then, it was an expensive treat.
we picked beech nuts in the school's back yard. That's the only place I
ever saw a beech tree ... or it's fruits!