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.