Flashback Friday ~ Here Comes the Bride

Welcome to the
Here Comes the Bride Edition
of Flashback Friday.

Flashback Friday is the brain child of Linda from Mocha With Linda. This is the meme that takes us back in time to the days of our youth. Linda says, This meme’s purpose is to have us take a look back and share about a specific time or event in our lives. It will be fun to see how similar – or different – our experiences have been! This week Linda wants to know:

What is the earliest family wedding you remember attending? Did your family attend many weddings when you were growing up? What do you remember of them? What was typical of weddings you attended? Were you ever in a wedding as a child? As you became a young adult were you in lots of weddings? What roles did you have? Did you catch the bouquet (or garter)? What “royal” or news-making weddings do you remember and how old were you? For the gals, were you one who planned your wedding repeatedly as you were growing up or was it not a big deal to you? What have you noticed that is different about weddings today, and do you consider it for better or for worse?

Kate Middleton Wedding Dress

My sister Jean got married when I was nine years old. She wasn’t marrying royalty but you would never have known it by the way she carried on.   I was very excited about my new dress and I drug her into my bedroom to show it to her.  It was a pretty blue,  “grown up” straight sheath with a detachable flower print neck scarf.  I thought it was lovely.  Jean pointed out that her dress was much prettier and as the bride all eyes would be on her and no one would care what I was wearing.  I knew that.  That’s why I wanted to show her the dress before the wedding.  Oh well.  I still loved my dress best and thought it prettier than her fussy, lacy, frilly, impractical gown.

Shortly thereafter Jean had further reason to be annoyed.  Somehow a fire started in our back yard — it was an accident, honest! — and threatened the house.  I tried to convince Jean to come outside and she declared, “Don’t be silly, the house can’t burn down.  I am getting married tomorrow!”

Unfortunately, those are the only two things I remember about Jean’s wedding!  I remember even less about my sister Caryl’s wedding — in fact, I don’t even know if I attended it!  My cousin Tommy married when I was a teenager and I remember quite a bit about that ceremony.

Tommy’s brothers — Jimmy and Scotty — wrote “help” on the bottom of one of  Tommy’s shoes and “me” on the other, so the entire congregation giggled every time the couple knelt at the altar.   Karen, Tommy’s bride, had the most incredible wedding dress I have ever seen.  There was lace and lace and more lace with an impossibly long lace train trimmed with lace daisies.    It had a detachable train and another ring of lace daisies circled the flowing skirt.  Plus, the skirt lifted and the daisy trim hooked on the bottom of the pearled  bodice converting the gown from floor length to knee length.

I also recall that when we stepped out of the church there was a gorgeous sunset.  I took a photo of Tommy and Karen kissing on the church steps before they descended to the limousine.   I caught the couple in their bridal finery against that gorgeous crimson sunset and despite there being a professional photographer at the wedding, Tommy declared my shot his favorite.

I have never been a wedding attendant.  That’s probably for the best.  When my childhood friend Lorii married I cried black mascara all over her and I look absolutely horrid in the photos!

Despite being female, I have never had the big fancy wedding dream.  I haven’t bothered to watch any celebrity weddings on TV, though I do recall Gram watching and sniffling through Tiny Tim’s.  Personally I think a couple’s energy should be more focused on their marriage than their wedding.

Flashback Friday ~ National Poetry Month

Welcome to the
Childhood Poetry Edition
of Flashback Friday.

Flashback Friday is the brain child of Linda from Mocha With Linda. This is the meme that takes us back in time to the days of our youth. Linda says, This meme’s purpose is to have us take a look back and share about a specific time or event in our lives. It will be fun to see how similar – or different – our experiences have been! This week Linda wants to know:

What poems do you remember from your childhood? Did you have to memorize many poems for school when you were growing up? Did you learn any just for fun? Do you remember which ones they were–and can you still recite them? Did you have a poetry book that you liked to read? Do you enjoy poetry today? Do you prefer rhyming poetry or free verse? Whimsical poetry or epic poems that tell a story? Do you have a favorite poem or poet? Have you ever written any poems?

The first form of poetry I remember is Nursery Rhymes. I loved them!  In fact, I still do.  One of my favorite silly ditties, which I learned in first or second grade, is made up of a combination of Nursery Rhyme and song bits:

My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I
Sing a song of six pence, pocket full of rye,
Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.
When the pie was opened the birds began to sing
Oh where, oh where has my little dog gone?
Where oh where can he be?
He’s in the corner with Little Jack Horner
Eating his one-a-penny, two-a-penny, hot crossed buns!

In the third grade we studied a unit on weather and had to learn to spell whether and weather. We were also asked to memorize the following poem:

Whether the weather be cold
Or whether the weather be hot,
Whether the weather be warm
Or whether the weather be not,
What ever the weather
We’ll weather the weather,
Whether we like it or not!

That was also the year we learned:

Thirty days has September,
April, June and November.
All the rest have thirty-one;
Except that quite contrary, February,
Which has twenty-eight most of the time,
But in leap year twenty-nine!

From 5th to 7th grade I carried around a volume of Ogden Nash. One day I put it down and it simply disappeared. I don’t know if I left it somewhere or if it grew legs and walked off. You’d think as many times as I read the book I would have something memorized, but I don’t.

In the 7th grade I memorized all of Hiawatha. Every word! I had to recite it aloud as my semester final. Today I remember only the first line, just like most everybody else in the world. I have no idea why memorizing that was supposed to be a vital part of my education.

I still remember one of the first poems I ever wrote — I don’t know why I couldn’t remember one of the better ones instead of something silly, but silly rather fits who I am. [shrug] The poem was written in response to a lot of ribbing. I won a huge purple teddy bear at the fair and lugged it home (three mile walk) right through the middle of town where, apparently, everybody and their Aunt Velma saw me. So:

I resent people saying I’m stupid.
I’m not. I’m really quite smart.
But when it comes to reality
With my teddy bear I won’t part!

I guess, given all that I’ve already written,you won’t be at all surprised to learn that Shel Silverstein is one of my all time favorite poets.  I own all of his books, and have memorized a number of his poems.  One of my favorites became my teaching motto:


Listen to the MUSTN’TS, child
Listen to the DON’TS
Listen to the SHOULDN’TS
Listen to the NEVER HAVES
Then listen close to me–
Anything can happen, child,
ANYTHING can be.

-Shel Silverstein
1932 – 1999

Flashback Friday ~ Discipline at Home

Welcome to the
Discipline Edition
of Flashback Friday.

Flashback Friday is the brain child of Linda from Mocha With Linda. This is the meme that takes us back in time to the days of our youth. Linda says, This meme’s purpose is to have us take a look back and share about a specific time or event in our lives. It will be fun to see how similar – or different – our experiences have been! This week Linda wants to know:

Were your parents strict, permissive, or somewhere in-between when you were growing up? Did you tend to be compliant or rebellious? What did you tend to get in trouble for doing? How did your parents discipline/punish you – spankings (and what did they use when spanking), revoking privileges, grounding, time-outs or some other manner? Did both parents handle punishment or did one tend to do it more than the other? (And which one was it?) Is there anything that you have admitted doing since you’ve been an adult that you got away with as a child? Or is there anything you were punished for that you have since learned your parents had to try hard not to laugh while they were meting out your discipline? If you are a parent, what is something you have done or not done (or vowed you would never do) as a result of your growing-up experiences with discipline?

Okay, I am going to surprise you all by not talking about my step-mothers.  I’m going to tell you about the way I was disciplined, not the way I was tortured. When I was a kid just about anybody in the neighborhood was free to pass out discipline.  I only remember one spanking given to me by a neighbor — Mr. Jenson.  He spanked all of his kids and me, too.  We’d done some trespassing and stolen grapes from a neighbor’s yard.  Mr. Jenson used the razor strap on our hind ends.  When I got home Gram spanked me with a wooden spoon.

My Gram was really pretty lenient.  With me she could be.  I would have rather had a dozen spankings then to be told once that I had disappointed her.  Gram favored making me sit in a chair and think about what I had done.  And she talked  to me and made certain I processed what I had done and why it was wrong. Being forced to admit I was naughty was horrible!

I recall very few spankings from Gram.  Once she gave me a swat with her hand when she told me not to stand in front of the fire in my night gown and I ignored her.  Once was when Marlene and I skipped school (first grade!) together.  We pretended to leave for school, but slipped around the house and came back in the basement door.  After Gram left for work we had the house to ourselves, unfortunately we used the telephone and the neighbor (party line) overheard us and let Gram know we were home and calling people on the phone to ask them if their refrigerator was running. I think she used the wooden spoon that time.

The third spanking Gram gave me, also with a wooden spoon, I still to this day don’t think I deserved.  She scolded me for throwing rocks and told me I was never to throw a rock again.  I heard her and I understood.  That’s why the next time Marlene threw one of her tantrums and ran off, I threw a pine cone at her instead of a rock.  Gram didn’t get the distinction and spanked me anyway.

I don’t think Gram ever grounded me.  For one thing, sending me out to play was about the only way she got any peace and quiet.  Grounding me would have been punishment to her.  If I was given time out I was expected to sit on the stool in the kitchen or go to my room.  The kitchen stool was for short time outs.  When I was sent to my bedroom I was usually there for at least an hour before Gram called me to talk to me about what I had done.

Gram was rational and explained why I was being disciplined and made me think about my actions.  My dad just said, “Because I told you so!”  That was one thing I swore I would never say to a child and I never did.  I always processed with them, like Gram did me.  My goal was to teach, not control.  I wanted the child to learn to control him/her self!

As for getting away with something and owning up to it years after the fact:

Fiery Lesson

Grownups lie to children. They tell them about the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, and the Tooth Fairy. They tell them about leprechauns, happily-ever-after, and wishing on falling stars. They also tell them wet matches won’t strike. Then the kid burns down the house and everybody is upset.

A brief summer rain swept past, wetting the grass, cooling the air and leaving the street full of perfect splashing puddles. My friend Kathy and I were gleefully skipping up and down the road hopping in every puddle we could find. After one such leap we found ourselves, side-by-side, looking down at a matchbook.

We were scandalized. It was a very bad and careless thing to just leave a matchbook lying about. Why some little kid could find it and start a horrible fire. Being six, and not little kids at all, we decided we had better pick it up before someone less responsible found it.

Kathy picked up the matchbook. She opened it. It was full, but mortally wounded. The match heads bled red where the water had soaked the sulfur tips.

“They won’t light.” I said.

“I know!” Kathy answered scornfully. She pried a match from the pack and scraped it across the striker. The match head disintegrated.

“Stop!” I made a grab for the matches. “They’re not to play with!”

“They don’t work anyway,” Kathy said. She shoved the matchbook into my hands. “Try it. You’ll see.”

I pried a match from the pack and scraped it across the striker. The match head disintegrated. I handed the packet back to Kathy.

While we were “testing” the matches and talking, we were also walking. We’d left the street, crossed the lawn and jumped the bank into Gram’s backyard. We were standing at the trail into the gully.

Gram’s backyard wasn’t really a backyard. It was just a wide strip of grass around the edge of the house to keep it from sliding into the gully. The grass was wild, seed-topped and hadn’t been mowed all summer. Kathy struck another match. It lit.

“What do I do with it?!” She screamed.

“Get rid of it!” I screamed back.

She tried to hand it to me. I slapped it away. We both watched the match arc into the air and disappear into the tall grass. We stood frozen. Holding our breaths. Nothing happened.


“That was close!”

We laughed. Kathy tossed the matchbook away and we stepped onto the path to the gully. A noise made us look over our shoulders.

“Fire!” We both squealed at once. I was trying to climb out of the gully. Kathy was trying to climb through me to get in. We were both screaming. Gram came around the side of the house.

“What on earth are you two …! Fire!” She yelled for us both to go to the front yard. Then she grabbed the garden hose.

I crossed the front yard and went straight into the house. My eldest sister, Jean, was at the kitchen table eating Campbell’s Chicken Noodle soup and reading a novel. “Jean! Jean!” I yelled, “The house is going to burn down. You need to come outside.”

“Don’t be silly, “ Jean answered. “The house isn’t going to burn down. I am getting married tomorrow.” Even at six I knew her logic was flawed. I grabbed her arm and pulled. She moved, but only to the kitchen window.

She glanced out, dropped her novel and trampled me on her way to the telephone. The window was above a utility cart too big for me to see over, but whatever she saw, it prompted her to call the fire department. Then she grabbed her wedding dress and drug it and me outside. She kept muttering, “The damned house had better not burn down. I’m getting married tomorrow!”

Outside the whole neighborhood had arrived to watch the show. My brother and two of his friends were trying to push an old car out of the garage, which was already burning. They were struggling because the driveway had an uphill slope. My grandmother yelled, “Leave it! It doesn’t run anyway!” And my brother yelled back, “It’s full of gas!”

Mrs. Jacobson came and pulled me across the street into her yard. Kathy was there, too. We looked at each other wide-eyed, but didn’t say a word.

Soon the fire trucks came. Three of them. And big men in rubber suits with huge hoses were running around, shouting back and forth and spraying barrels of water into the air. One hose soaked the garage. One soaked the house, three poured water into the gully, which was completely engulfed in flames.

Handsome and Grumble Jays grumbled because their tree fort was burning. They weren’t much concerned that the garage was on fire – of course with the car safely in Mrs. Jacobson’s driveway, there was no thrill left there.

Kathy and I huddled in Mrs. Jacobson’s skirt. I was doing a lot of praying. Kathy probably was, too. The flames drowned. The firemen quit yelling. The neighbors wandered home. Gram and two firemen approached Kathy and I. Gram said. “You two need to talk to these men. You tell them the truth. You hear?”

They separated us. I had no idea what Kathy was saying. The fireman asked, “Did you set the fire?”

“No!” I answered emphatically.

“Did your friend set the fire?”

“No!” I answered again. Then I told him that we were going to the gully to play and we heard the fire before we saw it. Then we got scared and started screaming. Several yards away, Kathy told almost the same story. The cause of the fire was determined, unknown.

Don’t think I got off scott-free. Before he left the fire chief told Gram, in front of me, “Ma’am, sometimes these summer grass fires can smolder for a long time before they flare. There’s still a lot of grass, pine needles and tree roots down there that could be holding live coals. Keep a close eye on the area.”

As they left Gram took me around to the backyard. The red shingles on the back of the house were blackened. Charcoal water dripped from the roof. The basement windows were covered in black soot. I looked up at the kitchen window and saw Jean peeking out.

The west and north sides of the garage were charred as well. The tree fort was still intact, but the rope and board ladder was gone. Every where I looked, blackened stubble, soot and ashes reined.

Several times through the afternoon and evening Gram would look out the windows toward the gully. I knew she was looking for fire. She stood at my window for a long time that night when she put me to bed. I asked if we were safe. She said for me not to worry. That wasn’t a reassuring answer.

All night long, over and over again, I sat up in my bed and stared out the window, certain I was going to see fire blossom. And for the remainder of the summer I would wake in the night, startled, and sit staring into the gully, watching.

I never played with Kathy again.


I finally confessed at 17, not realizing that there is no statute of limitations on scolding. Gram chewed me up one side and down the other and was appalled that I had kept such a horrible secret for so long. Once again, a spanking would have been less painful.

Flashback Friday ~ Auld Lang Syne

Welcome to the
Auld Lang Syne Edition
of Flashback Friday.

Flashback Friday is the brain child of Linda from Mocha With Linda. This is the meme that takes us back in time to the days of our youth. Linda says, This meme’s purpose is to have us take a look back and share about a specific time or event in our lives. It will be fun to see how similar – or different – our experiences have been! This week Linda wants to know:

How did your family celebrate New Year’s when you were growing up? Was staying up on New Year’s Eve a big deal? Was it a date night for your parents or was it a family occasion? Did your family have any particular traditions for New Year’s? Were resolutions emphasized? Did you do fireworks? Watch parades or bowl games? Were there church activities you attended? Did Christmas activities extend into the new year? Was the Epiphany a focus?

We did not celebrate New Year’s Eve as a family. When I was a child Gram and I were usually at my aunt’s and Uncle’s house for the occasion. The adults might have had a drink or two, but only my uncle ever had too much, and we kids never saw or heard the drinking. It didn’t start until after we went to sleep.

When I got older — old enough to baby-sit — I was always in high demand on New Year’s Eve and stayed in so other’s could go out. Even as a young adult I wasn’t all that keen on going out where everybody was drinking too much and acting stupid. I grew up with the motto “Start the way you plan to continue” and I really didn’t want to start the New Year drunk. I seemed like a bad omen.

Of course there was the New Year’s Resolution thing. My step-mom used to make everybody share their’s at breakfast New Year’s morning. I don’t believe they were ever mentioned again after that. I guess we aren’t very resolute people.

I was an adult before I knew that fireworks and New Year’s Eve went together. It not only wasn’t a tradition in my family, it wasn’t a tradition in my region. I have to tell you that after last year in Hawaii, it isn’t a tradition I like. I have asthma and our house filled with sulfur smoke. There was no where I could go to escape the fumes. And the noise was horrendous — not only that it lasted for days. New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day being the worse.

My Uncle was a football fanatic. I hated New Year’s Day in his home. Patricia and I were not allowed to watch the game because we were girls, and we weren’t allowed to talk or play, either. We had to sit still and silent. I would read but it just about killed Patricia and she would carry on and whine until we were both in trouble. When I got old enough, I refused to go to my Aunt’s house for the holiday.

I don’t recall any church activities related to New Year’s.  I do remember Epiphany Sunday existing, but other than it always being a Communion service and the sermon being about Epiphany, I don’t recall any special tradition or event.  Sorry.  I know I was boring this week. I’ll try to do better next time.

Flashback Friday ~ Christmas Parties at School

This is the
“Late Night Saturday Edition
of Flashback Friday, brought to you by Quilldancer.

Flashback Friday is the brain child of Linda from Mocha With Linda. This is the meme that takes us back in time to the days of our youth. Linda says, This meme’s purpose is to have us take a look back and share about a specific time or event in our lives. It will be fun to see how similar – or different – our experiences have been! This week Linda wants to know:

What was Christmas like at school when you were growing up? Were there parties, programs or other activities? Did students exchange gifts? Did you have a part in a Christmas play? Did teachers decorate their rooms? Was it permissible to refer to the holiday as Christmas? If you attended church, what special things did your church do? Were you or your family involved in any of those programs, cantatas, or activities? Have you ever gone caroling? Did your parents ever host Christmas parties?

When I was a kid it was pretty hard to tell the school Christmas Program and the church Christmas Program apart.  The school play had Christmas Hymns and angels with wings,  and baby Jesus was there in the songs if not in the manger.  I suppose the only major difference was Santa Claus.  I don’t recall ever seeing him at church.

It seems like every year through 4th grade we drew names and exchanged Christmas presents.  I don’t remember anything I received.  I do remember that in 4th grade the girl who drew my name didn’t come to school on that last day — the party was always the last day of school before break — and Mrs. Rasmussen, my teacher, gave me a little bag of marbles.   I liked the marbles so much I was secretly happy my classmate wasn’t there!

I only remember being in two Christmas Plays.  One was for church and I was the angel bearing the good news of Jesus’ birth.  The other was our 6th grade school play and I was Agatha, a news reporter telling about the coming blizzard that would surely stop Christmas from coming.  I don’t remember many details of the play, but I remember that Christmas isn’t stoppable.

We always attended my Aunt’s church on Christmas Eve.  The pastor was a visual artist and he had a huge canvas.  As he told the Christmas story he painted.  He would tell a bit of the story and we would sing a Christmas Hymn, and all the while his paintbrush was busy.  When he finished the story he also finished a full-sized Christmas scene.  every year it was a little different.  The year that dazzled me most he drew an entire Christmas story mural on a 3’x8′ canvas.  What was really cool is the painting had already been sold in an auction that benefited the church food bank.  Every year it was purchased sight unseen before it was ever created!

I don’t recall my Gram or my parents ever hosting a Christmas Party for anyone but family.  I went Christmas caroling almost every year though, and sometimes several times per year.  As a Camp Fire girl we sang at the nursing homes every year.  Sometimes the church youth group did, too.  The youth group often caroled at the homes of church members who were ill or shut-ins, too. And both as a Camp Fire girl and a member of the church youth, we did some sort of service project that provided presents to the forgotten people in the nursing homes or underprivileged children.