Seasons In Life

As we grow older and hopefully wiser, we realize that over the course of our lives a diverse group of people have come and gone.  Some staying briefly, others for a season and on that rare occasion we’ve met someone who has stuck with us for a large part of our lives.

Ahh, the Memories

Recently while thinking about simple times, memories of my childhood came to mind.  My friends who made junior high fun, crazy and sometimes naughty, like kissing boys under the bleachers (yes, I did that a time or two…who didn’t?)

My youth was spent in the 1970’s and for the most part I cannot recall a dull moment (okay, well maybe when I had to babysit my younger sisters.) mendy-circa-late-70s If I wasn’t cheering for our recreation club’s football team (my mom sewed my cheerleading outfit as most did back then) my friends Sheri, Karla, Kim, and Amber and I were deciding whose house we’d be sleeping at on Friday night. We would spend those nights talking about boys (as they were never far from our minds), listen to the radio and have pillow fights.  We all attended Sligh Junior High in Tampa, Florida which at the time was a 7th grade center designed for cultural integration in the community; it is now called Sligh Middle School (named after the street it faces) and is home to middle school kids in grades 5th – 7th.

In the late 70s, we would play 4-square in the school’s courtyard after lunch and talk about boys (again..we were 7th grade girls) and on rare occasion other topics which ran the gamut. We wore the hairstyles of the day, one side straight down and the other clipped back tight against the head (a bit of a bizarre style if you ask me) or a long and feathered look, such as in my picture. School offered home economics class, shop and typing, I took all three not remembering what I made in either home eco or shop, but I do recall standing at an ironing board (who knew back then we’d have was and wear clothing in the 21st century?) We wore dresses that were at or below our knees, pantyhose and black baby doll (flat) shoes. We had “patrols” (with the orange patrol belt) who patrolled the halls making sure we didn’t run and kept order on buses during the rides to/from school. Oh yeah, an on the rare occasion we would go to the mall…there would always be a line at the photo booth, you know…where you would go in, sit down, draw the curtain and start making goofy faces, then step out and wait a minute or two for your four shots to magically appear!  The picture above is a photo booth sitting.

I remember quite well my time in junior high and physical education class, pfft! (rolling eyes!)  Oh how I hated P.E.!  I still believe the only form of exercise our Phy. Ed. teachers knew were laps; everyday without fail and as soon as we hit the basketball courts (after dressing out) we ran laps.  I ran around that basketball court so many times one year I could tell you the location of every divot, crack and dip. I was determined not to have P.E. the following year so I got a part-time job at McDonald’s on Busch Blvd across the street from Busch Gardens and signed up for the school’s early work release program which allowed student to work in the afternoons on school days, usually reporting to work around noon. When a student was on early release P.E., home economics or shop were the classes of choice to drop from our class schedule; all the kids in this program thought it was the best thing in life, especially if we had the day off from work we still left school early.

GrandbabiesAlthough Karla, Sheri, Kim, and Amber are not part of my life on a daily basis, a few of us still keep in touch via social media and texting. We are spread across the U.S. with Sheri in New Mexico, I am in Northern Kentucky and Karla, Kim and Amber are all in Florida. It’s hard to believe some of us are grannies and these are my four precious ones.

Ahh, the memories are a nice escape from the hectic life most of us lead in adulthood. Just writing this article has conjured up some really great visions of years gone too soon. Wow its so hard to grasp that I turned 50 in February of this year, W-O-W…where has the time gone?

As I grow older by the day I’ve found that its the simple things in life that make L-I-F-E an adventure. As a Nona (grandmother/grandma in Italian), I love that I can love on my grandchildren and when they get cranky… I hand them back to mom and dad. I love that I don’t have to put up with other people’s drama and there’s no law telling me I have to keep them in my life. I love that because of where I’ve been…I know where I’m going and planning my future has never been so much fun. I love that my “lifetime” friends love me for who I am and accept me completely, without question, ridicule or judgement.  They just love me! And lastly, I love walking down MEMORY LANE and bringing all those great memories into the present. Thank you for letting me share a smidge of my past with you.

25 Days of Christmas: Day 19 ~ A Century of American Christmases, Part III (1960-1980)

Christmas in the 1960s

1960 tape recorderA pivotal decade, the 1960s were marked by the Civil Rights movement, the rise of the hippies, the Bay of Pigs, the Vietnam War, and the race to be the first nation to reach the moon. Postwar baby boomers began to transition from teenagers to adults against a background of toys that included Easy Bake Ovens, the Etch-a-Sketch, and GI Joe.

1960s Christmas Budget

Kitchen convenience was offered in style in the 1960s – never mind the refrigerator, check out the lazy Susans and the electric can openers!

  • Lazy Susan – $4.76
  • Electric can opener – $7.77
  • Ladies’ stretch slacks – $3.97
  • Aluminum Christmas tree and stand – $2.99
  • “Your kiddie’s Polaroid picture taken with Santa himself” – $0.49
  • Viewmaster stereo viewer in “rugged, shock-resistant plastic” – $1.75

 Christmas in the 1970s

1970sProtest against the Vietnam War increased as the decade opened; it would close with the capture of hostages at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, after seeing the end of the war and the resignation of a president, North America families took to the highways in station wagons, sporting mood rings and playing with Rubik’s Cubes, skate-boards, and Matchbox cars.

1970s Christmas Budget

  • Stereo set with turntable and 8-track player – $199.95
  • AM radio mounted in headphones – $14.95
  • Lava lamp – $45.00
  • “25-function” calculator – $49.95
  • CB radio – $89.95
  • Bionic Man action figure – $6.65
  • Baby Thataway – $8.88
  • Ten-speed bike – $99.50
  • Evel Knievel stunt cycle – $9.95

Christmas in the 1980s

1980sThe beginning of the end for the Cold War marked the close of this decade, as the Berlin Wall fell in Germany. Here at home, the drive toward space continued with the first reusable space vehicle, the Space Shuttle, in 1981. Computers arrived in homes and schools, while video games such as Nintendo and Pac Man gained huge followings. Shoppers flocked to stores in search of Cabbage Patch Dolls, while other hot toys included Trivial Pursuit and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

1980s Christmas Budget

  • Microwave oven – $227.00
  • Videocassette recorder (1980) – $1,395
  • Videocassette recorder (1989) – $299
  • Garfield telephone – $44.70
  • Space Invaders video game cassette – $24.88
  • Care Bear – $13.99
  • Castle Greyskull, from Masters of the Universe Collection – $23.99
  • Lazer tag game kit – $29.99
  • Rambo Rocket water launcher – $14.96

(Jeffrey, Yvonne; The Everything Family Christmas Book)

Garland1-1

 

A thing called “MeTV”

MeTV = Memorable Entertainment

As I spend countless hours tossing and turning in bed each night (Ms. Insomnia instead of Mr. Sandman has been my bed mate for quite a while now, however that is an entirely different post); many months ago I was scanning the boob-tube searching for something that would offer “white” noise and hopefully…sleep inducing .  Even with the 500+ channels to choose from, my television watching is mostly contained to the big four, NBC, ABC, CBS, and TNT.  I occasionally meander over to the Hallmark and Lifetime channels to see what movies are slated for the weekend and should one or two pique my interest, I’ll set the digital recorder for viewing at a later time.

So, on one of my channel surfing excursions, I found myself wandering in the 180 channel range and before my eyes I saw in the program guide “Family Affair”.  Quickly I hit the info button to see if it was indeed the “Family Affair” from my childhood that immediately flashed in my mind.  I was pleasantly surprised when my secret hopes were confirmed. (I always had a crush on Brian Keith.)

Some of the characters who provided much entertainment and enjoyment in my youth….and 40-some years later are displayed blow.  They are still entertaining my sleepless nights/mornings.

How many do you remember?

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A Childhood Memory

There are a few shows that have yet to resurface on MeTV; however, I am hopeful they will cycle through at some point in time since the Fall lineup of shows is a little different from what was aired earlier this year in the Spring.

Herman Munster

One show in particular that I would love, love, love to see return would be The Munsters.  Herman, his childlike antics and his laugh were so genuinely funny; he was a kid at heart.

As a kid, something that always struck me as odd were the “other characters” (actually the story line) on the show.  The story line characters thought the Munster family was a little “off“, but really never commented that they were an off-shoot of “freaks”, especially for the 1960’s.

Marilyn, far right

Then you had the niece Marilyn who was perfectly “normal” in comparison to the rest of the family.

Not that it really made any sense to me then, but their address of 1313 Mockingbird Lane fit them perfectly.

Grandpa

And then there was Grandpa…well let’s just say Grandpa could have carried the show practically on his own with all of his crazy shenanigans.

Uncle Fester

Now that I think about it, Grandpa from The Munsters and Uncle Fester from The Addams Family were each other’s counterparts, just in different shows.

Entertaining “Me” with MeTV

So, on my long nights when sleep eludes this body yet again, I am ever so grateful for the technology of digital recording and MeTV.  Not only do the shows occupy my nocturnal hours, they also let me revisit a time in my childhood where there were no cares in my world (oh yeah…and I got to watch groovy shows like these).

The Progression of Childhood Aging

Not the beginning, but not far from it.

Life’s Adventures Author (uncertain of age)

I have other photos of an even younger me, however my scanner crapped out and so here I am, only able to post with but a few of the photos I initially planned on using.  Oh well, such is life and we move on.

Today has been a nostalgic day for me.  The date does not mark anything particular, other than it being a Sunday in August when I was recalling milestones in my life and thinking about some of the people whose paths have crossed with mine over the last four and a half decades.  Some of the ones I have fond memories of were friends from junior high; and they are first and foremost Karla Y, Sherri L, Kim F. and Amber M. (I’ve listed their maiden name initial).  There are also those girlfriends from my adulthood, who are: Sandy, Tammy, Denise, Paige, Sam, Judy and a few ladies who were involved in the Boy Scouts with our family (Barb Z, Maria B, and Robin).

So with all this reminiscing going on today, I pulled out the box of photos my sister gave me over a year ago from our mother’s belongings and saw there were a lot from my childhood.  While looking at each one it was rather apparent that my features changed quite a bit from one year to the next.Since the picture of me (above) in the blue dress is the earliest one I was able to scan, we’ll start with it.

I have always adored that photo.  I know…I know…quirky smile of sorts, but the look in those eyes, a soft gaze…is it a look of adoration?  Was I on the brink of a really big pretty smile, and the photographer snapped this one a split-second too soon?  Was the photographer talking to me?  What was I thinking?  I guess we’ll never know.

I’m boyish looking and missing a tooth!

The Oldest Four Children (of an eventual five)

WOW…what a change in that little girl in the pink dress.  Per mom’s writing on the back of the picture, the moment in time was captured in February 1970, the month I turned four.  I remember this photograph being taken.  Believe it or not, the photographer actually came to our home, set up his lights, backdrop and camera in our living room and when he was ready, we were seated for the photo.  I remember it just about being an all day event, first we had to help mom move the furniture against the walls, then it was time for everyone’s bath and finally….dressing for our photo.  If memory serves me, we lived in Dayton, OH the year this was taken.

Okay I’ll be the first to admit, my brothers Rick and Tony and sister Missy were all cute as a button in this picture.  My question is…what the hell happened to me? I went from that cute little girl in the blue dress, to a tom-boyish girl in a pink “itchy” polyester dress (yes, I remember it being itchy).

You can tell the photographer was talking to Missy during this shot.  She’s playing with her hands and our oldest brother Rick is looking down at her.  Tony and I….looking straight ahead and smiling.

Why did I elect to show teeth (less one) in this picture?  Why didn’t I just smile like I did in the one with the blue dress?  UGH!  No matter how boyish I feel I looked in the photograph, I know mom would have told me I was a beautiful little girl and she would have it no other way.

Mother, is “The Joker” my real father?

Holy Hell Batman???

This photo was taken the following year.  All I can say is O.M.G…I look like I could be in the running for the “THE JOKER’s daughter” from Batman!!!  SERIOUSLY, What the hell is wrong with my flippin mouth; AND look at those big puffy cheeks?  YIKES!!!

Go ahead, I give you permission to laugh your hind-quarters off, just don’t wet yourself. I know you’re not laughing at me…you’re laughing with (yeah, yeah…we know).  Gawd knows I’m cracking myself up just looking at this photo!

Neeexxt

Kindergarten

Now I know why I currently have bags under my eyes that I cannot make go away!  I was plagued with them a the ripe old age of SIX!  Are you kidding me, really…6?

I am slowly starting to understand some things that have always bugged me about myself.  For starters, I never like my mouth and always felt it was too big for my face (refer to joker lips in the photo above for proof).

Secondly, I currently have hazel eyes, and on and off during my teenage years sometimes they would be hazel and other days blue.  I was told my eyes were blue from day one…ah, not in this picture.  I’m not going to say they are brown in the picture to the left, but they aint “blue”( Note to my dear…dear mother:  Mom, you could have applied cucumbers to those sad baggy eyes of mine.  Ya know, given me a head start in that particular “woman’s war against her own body” that every woman engages in sometime in her life.  Love ya mom.)

Yay, a teenager at last

Late 1970’s

I guess in the end I didn’t turn out too bad (or ugly).  Over time I grew into my mouth.  I thought I was tall, but realized I am just average height (5′ 6″).  Just a pretty normal, average 15 year old girl.This picture (right) was an impromptu shot.  My two brothers and sister from the photos above are shown here.  Not sure where our youngest sister Melody was and why she was not in the shot, but I promise you…she does exist.

Tony is on the far left in the brown shirt, Rick is on the far right (yellow shirt), Missy is in the front row between mom and dad, and I am in the orange “Tampa Bay Buccaneer’s” t-shirt.  The other people in the shot were future spouses (except for Tony’s girlfriend who is standing next to him).

And finally

July 2012: candid shot, no makeup

June 2012: headshot for work

August 16, 1977: The Day Rock & Roll Died

The Elvis I Remember

Do you remember what you were doing on that Tuesday, exactly 35-years ago today at 4:00 in the afternoon?  Do you recall where you were when you heard the new?  I do, and very vividly.

What News?

The news that was on every television station the entire first evening and several days that followed.  The news that left an eleven year old girl sitting cross-legged on the living room floor, glued to the TV and bawling her eyes out.  The dreaded news that shook my world that day and I imagine the worlds of people across the globe!

“The King is dead; Elvis Presley died in his Memphis, TN home earlier today, he was 42.”

“Jailhouse Rock”

I was still sobbing when my parents returned home; upon entering the living room dad saw me and was instantly by my side thinking I was hurt or in pain and asking what was the matter.  I can remember feeling my hair sticking to my tear soaked face, tasking the salty tears as they ran down my face and dripping off my chin, my nose was stuffy, and I’m sure my eyes were red and swollen from crying.  I could not verbally tell dad what was wrong so I just pointed to the television; it was then when he, a man who was a musician who lived, breathed, and loved music learned the reason behind his daughter’s state of affliction.

Silly? No, not really.

By now, you are probably thinking…geez, she was only an eleven-year-old little girl, and how could she possibly be so upset?  Well you see, my four siblings and I were raised in a home that was filled with music from our parent’s era.  Music by the likes of Buddy Holly, Patti Page, The Everly Bothers, Fats Domino, Paul Anka, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Rosemary Clooney, and most definitely…Elvis Presley.

Ahhh, the Studded Jumpsuits.

I listened to his music all the time and really was taken by his style, his voice, his good looks, and I’d be amiss if I failed to mention…his good looks. 😉  Back then, that 1970’s star-struck little girl had a huge crush on that tall, handsome, black-haired stallion (of course this is my “adult” description of him), and back then, Elvis’ passing was my first real experience regarding death and its finality.

Over the years, I have watched his 1968 Comeback Special every time it aired and would have to be peeled away from the television set when one of his movies was showing.  Although I haven’t listened to his music since Christmas, some of my favorite Elvis songs are: I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You, Kentucky Rain, Don’t Cry Daddy, Jailhouse Rock, Little Sister, and Are You Lonesome Tonight.  He was such a talented musician who could sing anything from religious ballads to Hound Dog and It’s Now or Never.

Remastered Video

(I’m totally diggin’ technology)

Celine Dion is another favorite artist of mine and I was thrilled when in 2004 a remastered video of Celine and Elvis singing “If I Can Dream” together on the same stage (or so it appeared) was aired on American Idol.  Check out the video.

Celine & Elvis

So, as I reflect back to that world crashing, hot August day in 1977 when Rock-n-Roll died, I cannot do so without imagining how differently our world would be if “The King” were alive today at the age of 77?  That my friends is something we shall never know.

Below is a depiction of how some believe Elvis would look at the age of 72 (although he would be five years older today).

Wow…I don’t know if I am shocked at how graceful the artist rendering has aged Elvis, or how old he looks?  I have visions of the young Elvis burned in my mind’s eye.

“Elvis has left the building.”

The gates at the mansion.

The Headlines

Transporting his body.

His beloved caddy and the Memphis mansion he bought for his momma.

A much younger Elvis.