Stellie Pearl's Thoughts......

I Keep Hoping That My Tomorrows Will Catch Up With Yesterday

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Virginia Beach, VA

Virginia Beach, VA was sometimes a vacation stop for us for a week in the summers, then we would drive on to WV. We would psych ourselves up for the trek across and through the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel. The signs that read "Please check your gas tank" before we hit the bridge/tunnel always disturbed me. What if you ran out in the middle?
(ABOVE: The Seagull Motel)

Each year that we visited Virginia Beach, we always stayed at the same place; The Seagull Motel. It was a small oceanfront family motel, that only had 3 oceanfront rooms. The rest of the rooms were "ocean view". It was a pleasant little place, owned by a Greek family. The husband and wife were always in the office, along with their 2 white toy poodles. My brother and I loved to go into the office and play with the dogs.

Our favorite breakfast spot was a place called Peter Pancakes. Outside of the restaurant, there was a huge statue of Peter Pan. Their pancake menu was extensive....any type of pancake you could imagine! My father always ordered blueberry pancakes, my brother the silver dollars. My mom usually ordered an English Muffin and fruit. And me? I had to be exotic and order the Swedish Pancakes with Lingonberry Sauce....I hadn't a clue what Lingonberries were, but those pancakes were very good!

We spent our days at the beach and/or swimming pool. We would play and swim, and maybe stop briefly to have a sandwich in the room. My parents would round us up around 4:00 to start getting ready for dinner. We had a couple of favorite places to eat. One was a seafood place that had a huge fish tank full of fish, that always entertained me and my brother. My mother always ordered Filet of Sole with lemon. I would eat some of hers and share her salad with blue cheese dressing. After our meal, we would either play miniature golf, or walk on the boardwalk. There was a neat playground a few blocks back from the beach that had unique slicky slides shaped like rocket ships...sometimes we went there. The trip was not complete without the purchase of salt water taffy and Seafoam candy. When we would get back to the motel, I always begged to go for one more swim before bedtime. The pool looked so inviting with all of the lights on underwater. Then, sunburned and tired, I would fall asleep and sometimes feel the warm trickle of water come out of one my ears when I was almost asleep.

When I think back on it now, my parents always did so much to make sure that we had special family vacations each year. My mom didn't work, and my father was a teacher. He had the summers off, and he always made sure we went somewhere together as a family. I have so many good memories of the times that we spent together at the beach, and feel fortunate to have experienced them with my family.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Mom and Donnie; Me and Dawn

(Mom is 3rd from the left)

My granny, Stella Pearl, came from a big family. She had 3 brothers, Harry, Alvie and Cecil; and a baby sister, Ruth Virginia.

Stella Pearl had six children, Ruth Virginia had five. My mom grew up with one of Ruth Virginia's daughters...they were a year apart in age, and besides being cousins, they were best friends. Her name was Donnie Lou.

While growing up, Mom and Donnie Lou were inseparable. They spent nights over at each others houses, ran wild playing outside in the creeks and hills of Aarons Fork, in West Virginia where they lived. They smoked their first cigarettes together, went to cheerleading camp together and double-dated together.

(Donnie is far left, Mom is far right)

After they graduated from high school, Donnie married her high school sweetheart, Jack. They settled down in Charleston to start a family. My mother Katie went to business college, and worked for a CPA. She met my father at a New Years Eve party in 1959. They married, and moved to New York. Mom and Donnie lost touch....for a very long time.

Ruth Virginia and my granny lived just right around the hill from each other. When we would go to WV each summer to visit, we would go over to visit Ruth. It was amazing how Mom and Donnie never ran into each other over there. I had heard all about Donnie, and how she and mom played in the very yards and hills where my brother and I played every summer. Waded in the same creeks, played in the same woods...I wanted to meet her. More importantly, I wanted to meet her daughter, who I had heard was close to my age.

Then, in the summer of 1976, it happened. Donnie and her daughter, Dawn, came out to my granny's house for a visit. Dawn had a huge bandage on her leg. She had wrecked her bicycle over at Ruth's....ran off of the bridge into the creek below. Our mothers had done the same thing when they were little, in the same spot! Dawn was two years younger than I. We talked non-stop in my bedroom, while our mothers talked non-stop in the kitchen.

We liked the same music...the same clothes....the same tv shows. It was amazing. I had found a friend, a sister, a soul mate to visit with when I spent my vacations in WV. Donnie invited us to go with them the next summer to their beach house in North Myrtle Beach, SC. I couldn't wait!

From September of 1976 forward, Dawn and I wrote letters to each other. On rare occasions, our moms would let us call each other. We couldn't wait to see each other again.

It is amazing to me, still to this day, to think about how close Mom and Donnie were growing
up, and how close Dawn and I became, and how we played in the same yards that our moms played in. Ruth's other daughter Joyce, lives in a mobile home on the other side of the garden from Ruth's house. Joyce has three sons. They all played in those yards, up on the hill, in the Joyce's sons are grown. One lives in Ruth's old house, one built a home where the garden used to be. They have children, and those children play in the same yards and the hills and the creeks.....generation after is comforting in a way.

My granny's house sits empty, there on the other side of the hill. The ghosts of the past wander her yard, her garden and her home. Donnie and my mom have lost touch once again, because of where my mom is, and the state of mind that she is in. Donnie calls once a week to check on mom, and is so sad that she can't talk to her anymore.

Dawn and I have drifted apart a little...we talk maybe twice a month. She is a mother now. She's busy working, and raising her son.

I am thankful for what I had growing up; security, love, a cousin who was like a sister to me. I am thankful that we were able to follow in the same footsteps that our mothers did. I am sad that time must move forward, and, even though the love and the memories are still there, the time that we spend together is short and bittersweet.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

~The Birthday Month~

Both my brother and I have November birthdays. Mine is the 20th, his is the 15th.

When we were kids, I never understood why his birthday came first, when I was the older sibling. He had his party first, got presents annoyed me.

My aunt and uncle would come down from White Plains, bearing gifts. My brother would be tearing around the house, playing with new Matchbox Cars, or Tonka Trucks, while I sat in the corner, glaring at him and everyone else....I am sure that they found it to be comical. I mean, my birthday was only 5 days later, but I had to act like a brat anyway.

My poor mom had 2 cakes to make within the space of one week, but I never heard her complain. My brother and I each had parties, inviting the kids from our classrooms....little heathens running around the house, tearing things up, yelling, parents put up with it all.

One year I had a sleepover...10 girls crammed into our den, with sleeping bags, teddy bears and loud, squealing laughs. There was a door off of our den that led out to our back screened in porch. There was an alarm on this door that was nothing more than an air-horn (when the door was opened, the chain would disengage, and the horn would blast). We were playing some kind of game and one of the girls opened that door.....Lord, that was loud! All of us practically peed ourselves. Of course, we thought that it was the funniest thing in the world, so there we were, laughing, rolling all over the floor and here comes my dad. It's probably 2:00am, and he comes slogging downstairs to shut off the air nothing but his boxers. Gee, thanks dad. I had to hear about that forever! "Man, your dad has some hairy legs!" "OMG! He's in his UNDERWEAR!"

Me & My Best Friend Eleni

The following week was Thanksgiving....another fun holiday at home. Some years we ate at home. Those years, my mom would get up at the crack to put the turkey on, and start her stuffing. I would wake up smelling onions and celery being sauteed on the stove. We would turn the parade on, and it would just be a relaxing day for everyone. Mom always went all out....she made her own pumpkin pies and usually a cheese cake. In my high school years, I would have been out partying the night before Thanksgiving, so I would usually be hungover the next morning! One year on Thanksgiving night, a bunch of us went to a party. My friend Louise came home to spend the night with me after, and we had the munchies. We came home and started tearing the leftovers out of the fridge. My dad came in the kitchen and said "My, you girls are awfully hungry....." Louise and I stood there, our eyes totally red, laughing so hard.....

The day after Thanksgiving was The Shopping Day. My best friend Eleni and I would either go to Cross County Shopping Center in Yonkers, or The Galleria in White Plains. A whole day of shopping, laughing, and looking for cute guys.....

Yep....the memories all come flooding back. New York in November....the leaves yellow and red, raked into huge piles on the sides of the streets. The smell of the cold, crisp air. The secure feeling of having your family and your friends all around you. November in New York lives forever in my heart.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

"I Want My Mommy"

Sometimes I forget how close my mom and I really were. When I got into my late teens we argued more, but, she was and always has been my rock, my shoulder to lean on. When I left for college, the first semester I was so homesick, I kept getting sick; ear infections, sore throat. I had PE class at 8:00am, and about 7:15am, the pay phone out in the hallway in my dorm would start ringing. It would be mom, saying "Get your ass up and get to gym!" I found some old letters that I had written to her that semester, pleading with her....please....get me out of here. I tried everything....I told her I was starving. I told her that the school was making me physically sick. I told her that there were lesbians in my dorm, and they were after me (that was stretching it a bit...there WERE lesbians in my dorm, but they were all very nice). Mom never rescued me.

My parents marriage broke up in 1983. I missed my high school graduation because my granny died in 1983. I left for college in 1983, my parents put the house up for sale. Then in January 1984, my mom moved back to WV (where I was, in college). We had all been through a big upheaval. My mother and I seemed to argue more then. I moved back in with her, and stayed until 1989. When I moved out, and then moved to Florida, we got close again. I
guess that is what they mean by "Absence makes the heart grow fonder."

The years play back in my mind like a mom and I shopping on Saturdays, renting movies on Saturday nights, us going to a Christmas Tree Farm to cut our own tree, then trying to string cranberries while listening to Christmas music, cussing up a storm when the cranberries would fall apart (my mom has always been a big cusser). She and I would get tickled at something, and laugh until we would cry.

Now, my mom looks at me with absolutely no expression on her face. She doesn't respond to any of my questions, and will sometimes face the wall when I am trying to talk to her. I am so thankful that she and I were close while I was growing up, and really needed her, but I need her now, too. But she isn't here anymore. She knows who I am, but she is too angry to speak to me. She is blaming me for her being sick and in a nursing home. We used to talk so much ~ I told her everything. Now I can't tell her anything. I can't talk to her. And worst of all, I don't want to see her. I feel sadness and great amounts of guilt when I visit her. One day last week, I had such a bad day at work. Used to be, I would get home and pick up the phone to call her. I almost did that....then I remembered. I told this to my dad in a tearful conversation that I had with him later that evening. He said "You can always call me....." that made me cry even harder.

The holidays loom ahead. Thanksgiving was always spent with my mom. I don't want the holidays to come this year. I might be able to sleep through them. If I can just shut myself out, nothing can hurt me.

I watch the movies in my head, and cry. I look at pictures, listen to music, and grieve for my mom. She is still here. But yet, she is gone.
I miss you, mom.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Teenage Angst

My Gang Summer 1981

Today I got to thinking about my year in tenth grade. So much happened in that one year...things that would change who I was, and what I thought about myself...and o

It was 1980. The year started out well. I remember having seen the movie Urban Cowboy several times and loving it. My best friend bought the soundtrack and we listened to it a
lot. In early October we attended a church dance, and met a group of boys that went to another high school. They looked cool (leather jackets and all) compared to the nerds that we went to school with. We started meeting up with them on Friday and Saturday nights, after much pleading with our mothers. The first night we met them on our own, our mothers dropped us off at a Baskin Robbins, then continued to follow us slowly down the street in my moms about embarrassing! My best friend hooked up with Dave, and I began dating Mike. They were fun, like the same kind of music we did, and really were our "first" steady boyfriends that we had ever had.

Since they went to a different school than we did, the weeks seemed long...they called us every night. Friday and Saturday nights were spent with them, going to movies, bowling, or just hanging out. I was in first steady boyfriend!

1 week before Christmas, I came down with Mononucleosis. I don't know how I got it...Mike wasn't sick. There was some speculation that I might have been infected by sharing Pepsi's with my fellow cheerleaders during practices and games...who knows? I was sick for weeks...I missed almost 2 months of school. During that time, Mike would come to the house to visit, but I was not allowed out. (Me and Mike, above)

March rolled around, and I was allowed to go back to school for half days. In the time that I was out, a new girl came to our school - Trish. My best friend had become friends with her. Upon my return, we formed our little group. She was even able to join the cheer leading squad for the rest of the season. A new guy had also come to our school mid-year. I met him at a party in March...a party that I was at without Mike. Uh oh.

Jim was very nice, and I just fell right in love with him. I had to break it off with Mike, which was not an easy task. But...I just knew it was the right thing to do. Our little group of friends was quickly growing. We were all sixteen, and we thought that we were invincible. Me, Trish, Eleni.....Jim, Todd, Chris, Pete, Brian......there were more. Every weekend, like clockwork, we would gather at The was a park that was right next to the Bronx River Parkway in Bronxville, NY. We would have a boom box, and beer. We would party until curfew. REO Speedwagon's Hi Infidelity was huge tha
t year, and we rocked to Don't Let Him Go, Take It On The Run, and Keep On Lovin' You. We played air guitar to The Stroke by Billy Squier and Tom Sawyer by Rush. Nothing could touch us....

Of course, relationships began and ended. Our little group would have been considered incestuous if we had all been related, because we broke up and dated each others boyfriends/girlfriends. But it was ok....we were fine with it. As long as we were with who made us happy at the time, nothing else mattered.

My parents were extremely unhappy during this ti
me. They considered Trish "wild" and the group that I hung out with "uncontrollable". I was the only one with a curfew. My parents were "the enemy". They checked my eyes when I would arrive home, to see if they were red. Had I been smoking pot? Was I drunk?

There was one unfortunate evening that came about after my mother read my diary. She claims that I left it open, on my desk in my room, for her to purposely read (which is so far from the truth). In the meantime, I was out....with Trish, Brian and Peter at Peter's house. Peter was my boyfriend at the time. We were up in Peter's room, listening to Kansas's Leftoverture album (I will never forget it) and Trish looks out the window and said "Uh oh, Missy...its your dad!" My dad drove a bright yellow VW bug...everyone knew that car and who drove it. We went downstairs. My dad grabbed me by the arm and drug me to the car, threw me in, and drove home. Apparently, what I had written in the private pages of my diary angered my parents immensely. While the heated argument was going on, Trish called. I told her to come get me. My friends came...and I walked right out the front door to to them...they were more of a family to me at that time than my own parents.

Its funny how I can look back on that now, and think "What the hell were my parents trying to do?" I KNOW I didn't' leave my diary open. I loved my friends. Having them was so special to me...especially since I had spent my junior high years not being accepted by others at my school. I finally had a group of friends who accepted for who I was. I wasn't an outcast anymore. I felt that my parents were trying to take that away from me.

1981 was one of the best summers of my life. It was short-lived, but memorable.

Eleni, Me and Trish 1981

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Good Old Days Don't Last Forever

When you're young, you never think about what your life is going to be like when you are older. At least I didn't think about it. When you're young, and happy with your life, you tend to believe that things will ALWAYS be good...that is what I thought.

Throughout the different stages in my life, things have changed slowly. Sometimes for the good, sometimes for the not-so-good. Then, it is later on, that we reflect on those happy times and think "I can't believe that things are not the way that they used to be."

For instance, I lived at home with my mom until I was 24 years old. We both worked, and came home exhausted. We took turns cooking dinner. My aunt (my mom's sister) stopped by our house every evening on her way home from work and had dinner with us, and then we all had cups of hot tea, and talked.

My mom's other sister lived right down the road. On Saturday and Sunday mornings, we would go to her place and have coffee...sometimes spending the day together shopping. Every Christmas, she would host an Open House and fix tons of food and invited everyone. When I moved to Florida, I missed those Open Houses every year. But there was some comfort in knowing that she was still having other aunt was still stopping by my mom's every evening after work for dinner and hot tea....things were the same, only I was not there.

I think of the past now, and grow melancholy. The present is filled with harsh realities...some of which I never even dreamed that I would face; My mom is in a nursing home, with a broken hip and mild dementia. My aunt that came every night for dinner has multiple sclerosis, and lives in a nursing home in Kentucky. She and my mom haven't seen each other in years. My other aunt passed away in her sleep 6 years ago. She was there one day, and gone the next.

When we were young, my cousin Dawn and I used to lament about things changing. We hated change of any kind. If the radio station that we listened to changed their format, it was the end of the world for us. My dad used to always tell us "Things have to change. If things stayed the same all of the time, it would get boring." We used to stare at him as if he had three heads. He just didn't get it.

All I have now are photos and the memories of the past. It hurts my heart...especially at Christmastime, that my loved ones are no longer in close proximity; that some of them are sick or gone forever; It. Just. Hurts.

Aunt Jo, Aunt Jackie and Mom

Sunday, September 27, 2009

~My First Real Kiss~

I remember the exact date of my first real kiss. It was Sunday, August 19th, 1979. It was carefully documented in my diary from that year, and every 1979 day planner that I had at the time. It was written in the side margins of old notebooks. It was written in notes to my friends at school. Missy Loves Micky Forever!

The guy was "Micky." He was a friend of my cousin Dawn's brother, Jay. He kissed me on my granny's porch, while we sat on the glider. I got dizzy and lightheaded. I will never forget it.

As I got older, my visits to WV mainly consisted of staying at Dawn's house. There wasn't much for a 14 year old girl to do out in the country, with just a brother and younger boy cousin to play with. I was fortunate enough to have met Dawn, and our friendship bloomed instantly.

Dawn's granny and my granny were sisters. My mom and Dawn's mom played together and stayed close while they were growing up. They lost touch after my mom moved to NY. Then about 1976, they re-connected, and I met Dawn. She and I have been as close as sisters ever since.

Dawn's house was fun. First of all, it was air conditioned, had four bedrooms and a full basement with a pool table. And, it had her older brother, Jay, who had cute friends! That's how I met Micky.
During the school year, I had my crush on "The Boy". During the summers, I had Micky.

Me and Micky August 1979 Me and Micky August 1981

Saturday, September 26, 2009

~Junior High School Days - Part 2 - Seventh into Eighth Grade

Junior high was a confusing time! I just "didn't get" math and had to stay after school for extra help. I remember liking english and health class. Gym wasn't all that bad, either. Of course, any class that I had with "The Boy" that I had a crush on was a definite plus. I had such a crush on him! He didn't ask me out again after he had asked me to go to that party with him the previous year, which made me want to chase him more. There is nothing more fun or heartbreaking, than chasing a love interest in Junior High.

This is one of my favorite movie quotes of all time. It described me and my situation perfectly:

"School is still the same.. there's still that one guy that you get up and go to school for in the morning. The one with the mysterious confidence that every girl falls for. Those years of school wouldn't have been the same without him. I wouldn't have been the same without him."- Drew Barrymore in Never Been Kissed

He was the one person that when I passed him the hall, my heart would nearly jump out of my chest. On Friday nights, my school would open up the cafeteria and gym for teens to come hang out. They usually had a live band, and you could dance, or play ping pong. I loved going because "The Boy" was usually there. My friends and I would follow him around and giggle...I know that probably agravated him to no end. One Friday night when we were hanging out at the school, he spoke to me, and told me that "He would remember the day that he asked me out forever." Then he goes running off to hang out with these other 2 girls. How irritating....inside I was screaming "ME! LIKE ME, NOT THEM!" Oh, how my heart would just break!

He was such a pivotal part of my early teens. I remember being at a talent show at school, and he was sitting in front of me in the auditorium. I had my feet propped up on the chair in front of me and was wearing white painters pants. Little did I know that I had started my first period ever that night. It was not noticeable through my pants, thank goodness. The very next day I went to the drug store to buy pads for the exciting "first time life changing" event. I came bopping up the aisle with a huge box of Kotex in my arms and who do I run right into? "The Boy." I wished at that very moment that the floor would open up and swallow me. He just grinned at me and kept walking. That memory is a keeper!
Me and my buddies at a End Of School Year Picnic

~Junior High School Days - Part 1 - Sixth into Seventh Grade

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My School

Fall always brought on excitement and anxiety for me. Beginning a new school year was traumatic, to say the least. My mom always made sure I had some new clothes to start out the year. It didn't matter what I had, it never compared to what everyone else had.

My school was a very prestigious "college preparatory" school. It was K-12, so basically you were with the same kids from kindergarten until you graduated high school. The school was located in a pricey suburb. The families that lived there had money. There was one area of that particular suburb that was a little less desirable. It was located across the railroad tracks. Naturally, the kids that lived over there were thought of differently. The friends that I had lived over there. I didn't live in the pricey suburb at all, but in another town. I got "the priviledge" of going to that particular school because my father was a teacher there.

I can remember starting 7th grade. The night before the first day of school, it was warm in my bedroom, and I couldn't sleep. I had my window open, but no air was coming in. I had my clock radio on, and Heart's Barracuda was playing. I was filled with dread about the next day. The only catastrophic thing that happened on that first day of school, was that I broke out in one hive, on my face. ONE HIVE and I thought it was the end of the world. I wanted to go home.

There really was only one reason that I looked forward to school at all that year. It was a boy. This boy was someone that I had had no prior interest in in elementary school....until the end of sixth grade. Someone was having a boy-girl party, and everyone was pairing up to go. "The Boy" that sat in front of me turned around and said "Will you go to the party with me?" I can remember being ecstatic. You must know that I had not had any interaction with boys up until this point. Sure, I had crushes....on John Travolta, Andy Gibb...not people that I associated with on a daily basis. We did not end up going to the party together. He got a concussion the day of the party, so I went with my girlfriends. From that day forward, I developed a huge crush on "The Boy" that would last into our senior year!

There is a painful memory from that party that I will never forget. A game of spin the bottle was started. When the more popular girls were chosen to be the ones kissed, the boys who got to kiss them had big smiles on their faces and hi-fived each other. I got chosen to be the one kissed. I got up out of the circle and walked to the chair. I remember a few boys running out of the room. The boys that the bottle landed on were horrified at the thought of having to kiss me. They did all kiss me, but wiped their mouths and spit after they did so. What was wrong with me? I tried to act like I didn't care, but of course I did.

Right after that party, school ended for the year, and my family and I made our annual trek to West Virginia. That summer was pretty special; we got to watch my granny's cat give birth. It was also the summer that my cousin Dawn and I became best friends.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

~Elementary School - The Difficult Years~

Me & Mary 1969

I remember starting school. My mom tried to do the right thing, to ease me into the experience gently, instead of throwing me to the wolves. She started me too early, though, and I was held back in second grade. I don't remember it bothering me. Instead of being with a bunch of kids that were older than me, these kids were younger. I fell somewhere in the middle.

Mom sent me to nursery school first. It was at a church, and my best friend's mom ran the program. So of course, my best friend was right there with me. I remember playing outside...there were these huge sandboxes that we were never allowed to play in, because neighborhood cats used them as litterboxes.

We colored pictures, and took naps. We drank AM and PM juice. We rode tricycles out in the parking lot.

I can still remember a little about kindergarten....especially the naps...I was big on sleep, apparently. My dad always said that after I was born, any time family members came to the hospital to visit me, I was asleep.

School ceased being fun after kindergarten. I struggled with math, had stomach aches every morning, and cried....wanting to stay home. My parents dealt with this the best that they could. They decided to change schools, and I went to a school out of our district because my dad was a teacher there. It didn't make things any easier. If anything, it was more difficult. I felt that some of my teachers picked on me because they didn't like my dad.

In elementary school, I was friends with everyone. There were no cliques yet. I had lots of friends and went to many birthday parties....I was a social butterfly. Little did I know what loomed ahead...Everything changed in seventh grade. What happened? It was like I had been thrown into the middle of a hurricane. Why aren't Kitty and Allison speaking to me? We were best buddies in 5th grade. Now they won't speak to me!!! I cried many tears my seventh grade year. Other unexplained things began happening. I would have friends that I hung out with on the weekends. During the week we would pass notes to each other, eat lunch together in the cafeteria....then, for no apparent reason, they would just one day not speak to me anymore. This damaged my little psyche more than anyone could know. I had a friend named Susan...we went to the same orthodontist (we would write notes to him and send the notes to him by each other when we went for our brace tightening) we slept over each others houses, went to movies, talked on the morning I came to school and she wouldn't speak to me, wouldn't look at me. She wouldn't tell me what was wrong, she just shut me out, and started hanging out with other girls. I must say that broken friendships were the most painful part of my school years. To this day I am still haunted by some of them.....what had I done to these people? My mom dealt with a lot of tears and would tell me to forget about it...these people had not been my real friends. When would this change? When would I have real friends?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

~The Summers Of Our Youth~

Both of my parents were originally from West Virginia. That is where they met and got married. My grandparents on my Dad's side moved from West Virginia to New York in the late 1950's. My maternal grandmother lived in West Virginia all of her life. After my parents married, they moved to New York. I always have thought of myself as a West Virginia girl, though. We spent every single summer there, and every Easter break. Brother & I would count down the days until our trip down south to stay with Granny. Those summers were filled with so much love and laughter.

Dad & Mom 1958

Granny lived "out Aarons Fork Road" which was "up a holler" in Kanawha County, WV. It was about as country as you could get. She had a huge yard, complete with a dirt road driveway that led to her house. It was always enjoyable listening to my Dad rant as our over-loaded Country Squire Station Wagon (complete with wood paneling, I might add) would bottom out while crossing the creek that went across the driveway to her house. It was a 12 hour drive from NY. By the time we would arrive, it was usually dark and we were all tired, cranky and hungry. Granny would have her homemade vegetable soup and a pan of fresh corn bread waiting for us. Then, with full bellies, we would fall into beds smelling of bleached sheets that had been dried out on the clothesline. The windows were open, for there was no A/C, and we were lulled to sleep by the Night Sounds; crickets, frogs and God only knows what else was out there making all that racket. I always enjoyed it though. There was nothing else like it and I miss it to this day.

Everything would look different in the daylight. Granny was up by 6:00 AM, banging pots and pans in the kitchen, listening to her radio. As soon as our eyes opened, we smelled bacon. Every morning there would be a breakfast of biscuits and gravy, homemade. The closest thing I have found to Granny's biscuits and gravy is Hardee's...except they put sausage in their gravy. Granny used bacon grease and a little BV beef flavoring...and lots of black pepper.

All of us grandkids in Granny's front yard.

Days were always spent outside. Granny had outside pets, so there was usually a dog or two...and some cats. My brother and I would fill our days with playing with them, riding our bikes around the house, and usually trying to sneak down to the creek to play. Of course, the creek was off limits. We had heard all of the horror stories: If we played in the creek, we would get sick with some dreaded disease (I seem to remember it being hepatitis) and we were also told that under the bigger rocks at the edge of the creek there were nests of copperheads. We were rebels. We were invincible! Inch by inch, we would get closer and closer to that creek....until finally...we were there. I swear, as soon as one of our toes would touch that water, the front screen door would bust open and there was Granny, yelling "You fellers get outta that crick! Right now! I'll get a switch to you directly!" We would scramble up the bank and away from the water, madder than hornets. But you did not want to get switched by Granny. She got her switches from the willow tree that was in her yard. She would strip them of every leaf....then watch out....legs and butt be damned. Granny showed no mercy.

We would play all day out in the heat, until Mom would come outside and tell us that we were "all white around the mouth" and needed to come in and rest, drink something cold. Summers were filled with Kool Aid and Popsicles.The Popsicles were the kind that came in the long clear plastic wrappers. Granny always had Popsicles. She also always had big, thick slices of bologna, fresh tomatoes from her garden, and white bread. A bologna sandwich with a thick slice of tomato with Miracle Whip on it was our lunch. For dessert; Purity Maid Oatmeal Creme pies. My brother affectionately called them "Cakies". Granny always had those things....she loved us so much.

Granny & Brother 1969

Saturday, September 12, 2009



I started this blog because my memory is not as good as it used to be. I want to chronicle my life while I can still remember things. I am not totally senile - I used to pride myself on my great memory. Others were fascinated by it as well. My dear cousin Dawn would ask "What were you wearing on June 25th, 1983?" And I would tell her, astounding the others in our presence. Of course, it helps if you actually have photos of yourself on the day in question. Or kept a damn good diary, listing what outfit that you wore each day of your past....that is what kind of nerd I was growing up. Every day in my diary was a written inventory; what I wore, what I ate, who smiled at me. Ask me what I wore on August 6th, 1977...I can tell you!

This is me and Nono...Dad's side of the family is Italian. My Christening Day.

Well, there is no better place to start than the beginning, I suppose. My earliest memory...I was having a hissy fit in my crib when Mom put me down for a nap. I remember holding onto the bar, jumping up and down, screaming....watching my Mother's back retreat down the hallway. I still remember the bottoms of the boots she was wearing. They were some sort of snow boots, and the bottoms had deep ridges in them. I remember my tears, how hot my face felt. I am not quite sure of my age...I would guess maybe 2 or 3. My brother was born when I was 4, and this was definitely before he came along, because I was in the room that became his AND I was in a crib. Wild, huh?

~Me & Bro; his first birthday~
I had (kind of) accepted him by then.

Fast next memory is the day my brother came home from the hospital. I had stayed at a friend's house while Mom was in the hospital. I remember my Dad standing at my friend's front door. I came down their steep steps in black Mary Janes...I remember that because I was afraid I was going to slip and fall. Outside it was a beautiful fall day....sunny...lots of colored leaves. What I don't remember is my parents preparing me for this new person that was now in our lives. When we got home and I heard him make a small noise (I had not seen him yet) I perked up. "Was that a cat? Did you get me a cat?" I jumped up and down, excited beyond belief. "Say hi to your little brother..." I peered into the bassinet. "Can you take it back?" I asked. I do not remember their response. They probably laughed...I know that they thought it was hilarious as hell when he peed on me. Mom was changing his diaper...he peed straight up in the air and into my eye. From that day forward, I wanted him gone. My Mom still gets a kick out of remembering me watching her change his diaper for the first time. "What is that?" I pointed at his private part. "That is a penis," Mom said. "Do I have a penis?" I asked. "No, you have a vagina," she said. I thought about this for a minute, then in my most serious voice, with my most serious face told her "Penis and vagina....those sure are funny names for your bottom!"