Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Scared? Who? Me?

When I grew up I was not acquainted with carnivals or county fairs. Carnivals were sin and as to why I don’t know but it was a no-no. When I left home at 17 to go to Chicago to college it was among the many things I had never been allowed to do or see. North Park was a life changer for me in that I was able to do things I had never been able to do before and threw off the bondage that had held me all my life in many areas.

Chicago, of course, had many sights and places, museums and such that had to be seen and we freshmen were introduced to a world we had never envisioned before. One of the places was the Riverview Amusement Park which had been a popular spot for Chicagoans since 1904 and was billed as the “The World’s Largest Amusement Park." Therefore, one of the requirements when one came to college in Chicago in 1943 was to spend a wild time at the famous park. For some people a trip to Riverview was a rite of passage; for others it became a significant memory and I belong to the latter group.

When the group of students was planning this excursion, I immediately joined in the planning, as I had with all the other rules I had broken. I thought this might be one more notch in my belt of individualism and rebellion. The night finally arrived when we hopped the Foster Avenue bus to go to the corner of Western and Belmont avenues to the exciting brightly lit den of iniquity.

The rest of the group knew that I had never been on any rides before, not even a merry-go-round, so after we had bought our tickets, they all clustered around me and agreed that we all should go on the roller coaster first and then after that none of the rides would faze me at all. I thought that sounded logical and fun so we all went over to the “the Bobs” and were all seated two by two on the ride. I was still so innocently unaware of what I was in for and laughed and joked as we waited for the ride to begin.

It started out going up an incline first and was going rather slowly when it suddenly almost stopped and I took a look and I said, “Oh my God” and I wasn’t taking the Lord's name in vain. We suddenly swooped downward at 100 miles an hour I swear and my stomach was left up on the top of the hill and I was hanging on for dear life. The sound was deafening and I kept telling myself that thousands rode this thing every day and nothing happened but the other voice kept intruding, the one that yelled in my ear, “there is something wrong with this thing now and it must be broken and running out of control and we are all going to die.” The world as I knew it had disappeared and my head was spinning in a wide kaleidoscope of color and I knew I was dying.
Then we hit a low place and we slowed and it looked straight for a while ahead and I thought that I might just live. It must be ending. All of a sudden it started going faster again, almost straight perpendicularly up, and we were upside down and up again and down again and up again and I knew I was in hell.

The ride did finally end and my friends all got off the train and I sat there in my seat not moving. They all said, “Come on, Bernie. Get up.” And when I didn’t they came and helped me off the train and stood me up on the platform and I crumpled to the ground. I did not ride any other rides at the famed Riverview Amusement Park that night. Nor any other night.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


The other day at the Health Center where my husband is living, they had a beautiful concert for the inmates. There was a violinist there from the Symphony Orchestra accompanied by a pianist and she was very good. I wheeled my husband into the activity room and stood behind his chair with my hands on his shoulders. He was holding my hands tightly. How I wish he could stand so I could get closer to him and lay my head upon his shoulder and feel his big 6ft. 2" frame again.

He loves classical music of all kinds and when he was young he had Public Radio on in his car all the time. We belonged to the Symphony and enjoyed some of the many wonderful concerts that came over Public TV. Football and basketball were his other favorites. Good thing I liked them too.

She began to play Memory from Cats and all of sudden my mind began whirling with a lot of memories of when we were young and different things that had happened in our 59 years together. I kept biting my lip so the tears would not spill. They were so vivid. And the feeling of loss was overwhelming. You see, my husband has Alzheimer's and all that is gone from his life now. But we have been blessed in that he is in his 7th year and still has not had some of the really bad things this disease can bring.

I remembered particularly when he used to come home from work. When he walked into the house, the whole building lit up. He always came in smiling and laughing and full of fun and the dog and the children loved it, as did I. He always smelled so good. The aftershave which he always put on so lavishly in the morning had worn off so that, combined with the faint cigar smoke and the outdoors, it was just right.

I remembered the bend of his head as he lit his pipe, the hand he put under his chin when he lay on the sofa or in bed on his back, how often he practiced making smoke rings when smoking his cigar. He never could get the second one to get inside the first one.

He was adept at throwing his voice and loved to use this talent whenever we were near a restroom somewhere. "Help! Help! Get me out of here". He had people scurrying around looking everywhere. He would confuse a salesperson or even a person at a cocktail party. He was so good at it, even his friends would never catch on at first.

I remembered his infatuation with trains. His dad was an engineer and so was his uncle and his grandfather. He would have been one too, but his father insisted he go to college. But we visited the train yards often, in the early years , to get Jon a ride into the station. Later he could hear the whistle of any train coming in and tell if it was his dad or his Uncle Art or some of the other engineers he knew so well. If we ever got lost while traveling he would find the nearest railroad tracks and follow them into town. Trains magazine was always by the throne in the bathroom --completely necessary he would say.

The music stopped and she went on to other themes but I had been on a trip-- to the past.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Bill Moyers again tonight provided me with a wonderful conversation with Jane Goodall, you know the woman who lived with the chimpanzees in Tanzania, Africa and studied them and intrigued the world with the knowledge that these animals have a great deal in common with us humans. What a wonderful lady she is. She now devotes her time to going around the world talking to young people about the environment and what they can do to preserve it. They treat her like a rock star and really honor her where ever she goes.
She talked about the extinction of her beloved Chimpanzees and elephants as well and admits there have been extinctions like the dinosaurs and many other species that have gradually disappeared. But she maintains that the industrial revolution and our human impact on the planet has had a tremendously damaging effect. Many people say that it is just a trend and that it is just happening. But she believes each and every one of us can do something to stem the tide. And that these young people can do whatever they set their minds to just as she did. She was a girl - wrong sex--but her mother fostered her interest in animals and in science. Makes you wonder what each one of us can do as well.

Afterward, Wisconsin Public Television showed The Great American Songbook. It told our history during the middle of the century--the 30's. the 40's, and the 50's with examples of the music America produced then. Music started in this time with sheet music that was passed from one to another with singers like Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald. And then Edison invented the phonograph and a way of spreading the music to everyone. Soon we imported some writers from Europe and we had George M. Cohan, Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern and others writing musicals and music we all were humming like As Time Goes By, Night and Day, In the Mood---many many great songs. We were in WW II with all the big bands and singers and big productions out of Hollywood and the sad songs like Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and White Cliffs of Dover, and Sentimental Journey. And Bill's and my favorite song, I Only Have Eyes For You.

When the local station came on with its spiel about donations to the station etc. this one volunteer said how much she had been enthralled by this music even though she had not been born yet. It gave me a new feeling that I have never felt before. I felt grateful for the fact that I had been there. That I had lived during all those times. Except for the 30's music, I could sing along and knew all the words to all of them. And I thought that so many times when we are older, we don't appreciate the fact that we lived through that history. We were there. And it was a privilege to have been there. We may envy the young, but we have something they will never have . Memories of a part of the history of this country.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Golden Memories

Whether it was when I was growing up or with my own family, we have always had a dog. A dog was an integral part of my life, until now. I am dogless. And I miss it.

In my growing up family, we had a dog named Spot. Original, yes? Spot was a mutt but she was attractive enough to get a thoroughbred Boston Bull Terrier as her mate and had thirteen little ones that looked just like him. But what I remember most was my mom feeding that dog like you wouldn't believe. I can still see her filling up her dish with everything she could find, piled high and mumbling in Swedish under her breath about the poor thing having to feed all those pups. Didn't buy dog food in those days. At least, we didn't. (Remember this was during or just after the depression.) Just table scraps tho I saw Mom give her lots of her homemade bread to fill her up with leftover gravy over all.

I kept one of the pups and called him Pepper. He died of distemper. You see, we didn't have all the shots and stuff like that in those days either. I wrote what I think was my first poem in my grief over his death.

In almost 60 years of marriage, we've had numerous dogs. I remember Flicka, a sort of black golden retriever looking dog who was a renegade and always running away from home. I would be teaching school at St. Edward's Catholic School about two blocks from our house and I would see Flicka running by. I was in my midlife years then--famous for running to the window and opening them to pant and the kids would all yell," Mrs. S is having a hot flash again." That's where I would yell out the window for Flicka to go home also.

When we lived in Denver we finally bought our"Lassie," only she was a tricolor fullblooded collie. Our children were still young enough to really bond with MaryAnn. Yes, her name was MaryAnn. There had been a collie across the street in Minnesota named MaryAnn and they would settle for nothing else. I can still see her chasing a neighbor's rabbit with the over six footer owner chasing her round and round. It was hilarious. When we moved to Michigan, she survived her first and only airplane ride. She too was a part of our family for about 10 or 11 years. A very beautiful dog.

Shyre was our first Golden. We had her for 12 years and loved her so much. Never saw my youngest son cry like he did after he took her to be put down. He wanted her to be looking at him with her last breath. Tough on him.
Then we got another Golden named Kate, because she was the ruler of the litter and spunky like Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew. We had her for about 10 years when one day when she was visiting some people in the country, she was hit by a truck and killed. She was such a pretty girl. I used to tell her that all the time. I miss her.

And then there was George. I tried to have another Golden Retriever puppy while I was still taking care of my husband, but I could not handle it. George had to be given to another home. He was a blonde Golden and loved to pee all over the house and I could not devote the time to train him properly. The guy that took him told me he just peed in their house once. I figure either I was on the cusp of getting him trained or this guy had a better method than I.

But I want to get another dog--another Golden, and I may one of these days. My children say not to for they fear I cannot chase it if it should take off, and they are right. This may be reality but sometimes reality is hard to take. Especially if it interferes with one's dreams. A smaller dog or an older dog would not do it for me. There is nothing cuter than a Golden Retriever puppy. And when they grow up, there is no dog so easy to live with.

I just might get it yet!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Welcome To My World

I guess that it is about time for me to write another post. Heaven knows there has been such an explosion from the last one that I haven't really had time to soak it all in. I cannot understand who or why anyone would choose me for this Google Blog of Note recognition. I have read so many beautiful ones with gorgeous pictures and art work and great discussions that I was very surprised. I think my age intrigued them as it did a lot of you. But I thank whoever the powers that be who did pick me. It has been a great ride.

I'd like to give a warm welcome to all you newbies that have read my last post and some of you who have read further into my blog. Your comments have all been appreciated . I thought it was interesting that some of the first responses commented on the books and they each picked different ones! A lot of you share my love of Susan Boyle's story and many of you had read some of the books as well. Some expressed the wish that their mothers and fathers or grandparents would blog. I second that idea. It has been a great blessing to me. I shall try to get back with as many of you as I can. I am interested in reading your blogs as well.

I received this lovely award from Truestarr at Prospero's Cellphone and though I don't usually do these sorts of things, I thought I would just do one. Thank you again, pal. Please visit Prospero's blog - she writes from Greece and I enjoy reading her.

Ten Things that Make Me Happy:

The feel of a gladiola petal

Seeing fishermen out on the bay for the first time this Spring

A good cup of tea

Seeing Susan Boyle launch the socks off someone

One of my children coming home to visit

Going swimming in Green Lake, Minnesota

Driving my Bayliner all over the Green Lake

Seeing my husband smile when he sees Matilda

Hugs from my grandchildren - even the big ones

When a procedure at the hospital is over.

My friend, Cindy tagged me with a list of questions I could answer, and I don't have them anymore. Sorry, Cindy. But please go visit her. Thank you so much again.

My son Jim took his dad out of the resthome for ride yesterday and Bill was so appreciative to be sprung as we say when we take him. We have had beautiful weather for several days now. Snow is still on the ground but it is melting each day very rapidly. Course we here in Wisconsin know we will see more snow and cold before summer arrives, but it does give us hope that it is coming! Nice to go out and not worry about falling on your butt.

And I shall end by thanking Midlife Jobhunter for all her help. I could not have even started without her. Now there's an entertaining blog to visit, believe me. She rocks.


Related Posts with Thumbnails