Happy Easter, Hallelujah

God Bless America on this sunny but cold Easter morning. I fully intended to attend 7:30 mass this morning, and set my opportunity alarm to wake me at 6:15. It did the job, but instead Grumpa shut it off and talked himself ( 2 nano-seconds) into letting the snooze alarm give him ten minutes more. (HINT! The snooze doesn’t work if you turn off the alarm.) It was 7:15 when I opened my eyes again from a really wonderful sleep, I momentarily panicked. Not to worry I told myself, Catholics invented 9:00 o’clock mass for those who miss 7:30.

After not attending mass for two years because of the COVID-19 shut down, it was heartening to see so many families back to meet their yearly obligation. Actually, the obligation is to attend every Sunday, but many of us stretch that into twice a year, Christmas and Easter. On those two holidays Catholic churches swell with attendance. Most Sundays are well attended, but our fellow Christians do not fill every pew and spill over into the atrium like they do on the two holiest days of the Church calendar.

Nine o’clock is the children’s mass, and as I said, there were a lot of kids there. I sat in a pew behind a family, Grandma, Grandpa, Son, Daughter, in-laws and three kids between ages 18 months and four years. A little distracting, but nice because it reminded me of the days when wife Barbara and I had to corral three kids in that same age range. I remember once during mass, Barb was holding our youngest son Mike over her shoulder while he swilled a bottle of formula. When he finished, he did his best impression of Joe Montana by passing the bottle over the heads of several pews into the Sanctuary. This kid was great at sports, but never played football, even though he had a great throwing arm at eighteen months.

It is funny how seeing kids opens one’s mind to memories that have been locked up for fifty years. Someday, I will write a book full of those memories just so my kids can have a laugh about their own antics. In fact, that is such a great idea I will begin by logging the incidents the way I did for my childhood auto-biography titled Jun-e-or.

It Is Time

This evening I spent some time reading blogs of fellow bloggers. One in particular got my juices flowing. The Blog is NUTSROK. Author Mary Beth a retired nurse who writes amusing stories about her family and friends. What I didn’t realize immediately that the last post I read was from 2020. When I see gaps like that I am puzzled. I tried contacting her but it seems the blog is shut down. My greatest fear is that we have lost her. She amazed me with the stories she told about her family and friends. Each one was genuine and her writing told me that. They were poignant, reminiscent, and humorous, mostly humorous.

Then it occurred to me that I had visited my brother yesterday and I thought to myself how many more times will I be able to say that? Next week I will turn 83 and in two weeks he turns ninety. We can’t both be living much longer. Although neither of us thinks about dying, we are just as busy and active as we can be. He showed us around his facility and pointed out the tower of tomatoes that he planted with a group of ladies he went to the nursery with to shop for tomato plants. He wanted four, and planted twenty-four. Each of them wanted to plant, but he was the only one with a designated plot at the residence. From his room it looked like a six by six plot with a six foot high center point. The plants were all headed for the sky and the contest was to see who had the first fruit, who had the best fruit, etc. Then he walked us past his flower garden. Another small plot hidden behind a fence but he had it blooming in bold colors. What every square inch the maintenance crew spares him he keeps on planting, and successfully too.

On the way home I asked myself why do I not visit him more often? He is the only one I know who knows more about my parents than I do. He is the resident guru of the family history. We share the same stories about our mother and father, except his begin seven years sooner than mine. That means he can teach me a lot about my genealogy. Another thing I thought about today was what did he do for me as a kid growing up? At first, I thought, nothing. Then I began to remember the letters he sent me from Germany while he was stationed there and I was recovering from my polio. They were a Godsend. I wish I had them now to recall how positive he was and how encouraging he was to keep me going forward. I’ve also heard stories about how he was in charge of me in the buggy when Mom needed some time alone. He was charged with watching me and Sis.

Although that was sixty-eight years ago, I think it may be time to say thank you.

Brother Bill and Mom

Waxing Nostalgic

HOW’S THIS FOR NOSTALGIA?

It took three minutes for the TV to warm up
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Nobody owned a purebred dog
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When a quarter was a decent allowance? And made with real Silver!
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You’d reach into a muddy gutter for a penny?  Made with real copper! Looking to see if it was a 1943 copper penny!

Your Mom wore nylons that came in two pieces?

And the ad photo was considered risqué.

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You got your windshield cleaned, oil checked, and gas pumped, without asking, all for free, every time
And you didn’t pay for air And, you got trading stamps to boot

and gas was eighteen cents a gallon.
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Laundry detergent had free glasses, dishes or towels hidden inside the box?

Not to mention Cracker Jacks!
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It was considered a great privilege to be taken out to dinner at a real restaurant with your parents. 

I treated my parents to their first restaurant meal at my college graduation. My Mom’s reaction? “I could have fed the family for the whole month for what you just paid for lunch.”
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They threatened to keep kids back a grade if they failed…and they did it!

That was a sure cure for Attention Deficit Disorder.
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When a 57 Chevy was everyone’s dream car…
to cruise, peel out, lay rubber or watch submarine races, and people went steady

It still is.

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No one ever asked where the car keys were because they were always in the car, in the

ignition, and the doors were never locked?
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Definitely not recommended today. Nine out of ten cars stolen in Frankfort, IL are left unlocked in the drive with the keys in them.

Lying on your back in the grass with your friends and saying things like,

‘That cloud looks like a…’?
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Playing baseball with no adults to help kids with the rules of the game?
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Stuff from the store came without safety caps and hermetic seals because no one had

yet tried to poison a perfect stranger?
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And with all our progress, don’t you just wish, just once, you could slip back in time

and savor the slower pace, and share it with the children of today.
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When being sent to the principal’s office was nothing compared to the fate that awaited the

student at home?

Today, the neighbors will report you to DCFS for spanking your kid.
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Basically, we were in fear for our lives, but it wasn’t because of drive-by shootings,

drugs, gangs, etc Our parents and grandparents were a much bigger threat!

But we survived because their love was greater than the threat.
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as well as summers filled with bike rides, Hula hoops, and visits to the pool, and

eating Kool-Aid powder with sugar.
   
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Didn’t that feel good, just to go back and say,
‘Yeah, I remember that’?
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I am sharing this with you today because it ended with a Double Dog Dare to pass it on. To remember what a Double Dog Dare is, read on. And remember that the perfect age is somewhere between old enough to know better and too young to care.

Send this on to someone who can still remember Howdy Doody and The Peanut Gallery, the Lone Ranger, The Shadow knows, Nellie Bell , Roy and Dale, Trigger and Buttermilk.
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Candy cigarettes
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Wax Coke-shaped bottles with colored sugar water inside.
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Soda pop machines that dispensed glass bottles.
Coffee shops with Table Side Jukeboxes.
Blackjack, Clove and Teaberry chewing gum.

Home milk delivery in glass bottles with cardboard stoppers.
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Newsreels before the movie.
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Telephone numbers with a word prefix…( Yukon 2-601).   Or, some of us remember when there were just 4 numbers with no word prefix at all.  And, nearly everyone had a party line.

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Peashooters
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Hi-Fi’s & 45 RPM records.
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78 RPM records!
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S&H Green Stamps.
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Mimeograph paper.
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The Fort Apache Play Set.  
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Do You Remember a Time When…

Decisions were made by going ‘eeny-meeny-miney-moe’?  
Mistakes were corrected by simply exclaiming, ‘Do Over!’?  
‘Race issue’ meant arguing about who ran the fastest?  
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Catching The Fireflies Could Happily Occupy An Entire Evening?  
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It wasn’t odd to have two or three ‘Best Friends’?  
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Having a Weapon in School meant being caught with a Slingshot? 

Except it wasn’t a polished wood model like the one shown. It was home made out of a tree branch and a slice of rubber from a car inner tube.  
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Saturday morning cartoons weren’t 30-minute commercials for action figures?

‘Oly-oly-oxen-free’ made perfect sense?

Spinning around, getting dizzy, and falling down was cause for giggles?  
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The Worst Embarrassment was being picked last for a team?

Uniforms were for sissies.   
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War was a card game?

Baseball cards in the spokes transformed any bike into a motorcycle?  
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Taking drugs meant orange – flavored chewable aspirin?

Milligrams were still a European term.   
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Water balloons were the ultimate weapon?  
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If you can remember most or all of these, Then You Have Lived!!!!!!!  
   
Pass this on to anyone who may need a break

from their ‘Grown-Up’ Life.

I Double-Dog-Dare-Ya!

Those Were The Days

One of my most favorite times was the nineteen fifties. Those were the years I went to high school, and college. This video represents everything we loved and hold sacred to this day. I remember listening to Elvis’ big hit “You Ain’t Nothin’ but A Hound Dog” on my first day in college.  The  iconic Chevy and Ford car designs are still loved and most recently are being popularized by the car companies with updated 2016 looks. Those days all predated cell phones, computers, and video games. Heck, we were just getting used to black and white TV. Girls were still pure, and boys were just as horny as ever. If you wanted sex you got married. Religion was still a big thing, and most of us are still active believers. Democrats and Republicans fought like cats and dogs, but somehow managed to agree on issues that were good for the country. Foul language was not tolerated although it existed in private. Women were respected, could cook, could raise babies, and clean, and work too.  The one thing women were not, was educated like they are today. doctors still made house calls, and accepted payment in installments. Emergency rooms, if they existed, were for the mortally wounded. Jobs were plentiful, but did not always require brainpower, rather common sense ability to talk to people and to sell. Most of our fathers were laborers or tradesman. Mothers stayed home to babysit us as did every woman in the neighborhood. There was no need for surveillance cameras everywhere because our mother’s eyes and ears were everywhere. They even had eyes in the back of their heads. Telephones were just coming into homes, some even had private lines. TV broadcast from six in the morning until midnight, and the stations signed off with a prayer, or the Star Spangled Banner. Political conventions were not televised, but were covered extensively by reporters. Newspapers were everywhere. Men made a living selling news, and magazines on busy street corners. Milk, and ice were still being delivered to the front door. Vendors sold fresh fruits and vegetables out of the back of a truck by stopping at several places along a street to shout out their wares. Coal was still a big way to heat homes, and was delivered at your curb. Some people even had the coal company shovel it into the house. My dad shoveled and hauled the coal from the street to the back of the house down the steps into the basement and back through the house to the bin at the front. When I was thirteen I began helping by shoveling, and by fifteen I got the job done by the time dad came home from work. Mother saved and collected old clothes to send to her niece in Yugoslavia, a communist country. Their small two acre farm was confiscated for the good of the common people. They went hungry in Yugoslavia. My Dad did the same for his parents in Czechoslovakia, another communist heaven.

Those were the days, my friends, I would relive them without any complaint.

Memories of Memorial Day

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When I was a ten, my parents visited the cemetery almost weekly. Their mission was to decorate my oldest brother Joe’s grave. Joe died when he was seven years old. The last Sunday in May was always special because it was so hard to get into the cemetery.  World War Two had ended just a few years earlier, and Saint Mary’s in Evergreen Park celebrated like most Catholic Cemeteries did, they had an outdoor mass. Most times Dad had to park outside the cemetery, and we had to walk to my brother’s grave. The place crawled with VFW and American Legion Honor Guards dressed in the uniforms of their service, Navy, Army, Marines, etc. Gun shots were heard for miles away, as each post honored its member at the gravesite with a seven-gun salute.

Mom and Dad never called this holiday Memorial Day, It was always Decoration Day. It was the day when people who had loved ones at Saint Mary’s came to clean off the winter grave blankets and to replace it with live flowers. Mom spent a few minutes at the local nursery studying the floral grave designs, picked one, and bought the plants. It just occurred to me that she never had a blue print for the design, but always planted the flowers exactly as she remembered them at the nursery display. It was my job to run back and forth with a watering can to get water for the new plants.The funny thing is that in her later years she couldn’t remember my name or who I was; time does that to us.

After Mom finished Joe’s grave she went to my Aunt’s next. Dad and Mom knelt at each grave they visited and said a prayer of remembrance

Decoration Day was always sunny and warm, usually one of the first good days of Spring. It made spending a day honoring the dead a sorrowful, but joyous occasion. By the time we left it was near lunch. Dad drove us home in the big Buick, and Mom made lunch. The rest of the day caught us lazing around on a full stomach watching the grass grow.

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