Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Slice of Life - Neighbors

Carol and Amy at my dining table

Amy, Carol and me back in the day

Slice of Life is a weekly prompt to encourage writers to tell personal history stories. Click on the link to participate.

I have been blessed with great neighbors. I still have many friends who started out as neighbors. Sylvia has lived down the street for the past 20 years. She has a great joy in life and is an inspiration to me. She has faced loss and pain and she can't see well enough to drive any more but she works in her yard, cooks great Spanish food, makes jewelry and goes dancing every week. She has two grandchildren who are the same age as two of mine. Her daughter-in-law was recently crowned Mrs. Florida.

I met Mary when she lived on the next block in my old neighborhood. Our sons were the same age. She has been a true friend for more than 25 years. (Hard to believe!) Our lives have paralleled each other's in many ways and my house is full of gifts and garage sale purchases from her house to mine.

Back in 1980 Pat and Mary Beth lived a few apartments down from my husband and me during the year we spent in Pennsylvania. I was lonely and pregnant and my husband was out driving a truck across the country. I was so glad to see another pregnant lady one day. Mary Beth and I drank hot tea and watched soap operas together in the afternoon until my baby (Jaime) came early and then she was a great support to me, baby sitting the new baby when I needed a break. Her husband, Pat, became friends with my husband as well. I have lost track of them over the years, but I will never forget them.

Back in the 70's when my son was small and I lived in Arkansas, Carol was my neighbor, friend and co-worker. She had a little girl who was my son's age. She wasn't just a friend but was my family while I was far away from my own family. We will always be the best of friends. I believe the first charge she ever put on her first credit card was to come and visit me in Florida after I had moved away.

Back in the '60's I fell in love with the handsome boy next door.

Now my newest neighbor is my daughter, Jaime. They live a few blocks away. They are close enough to walk by in the evenings with the dog and Mia in a stroller. My grandson can and does ride his bike over almost every day. Dishes, tools, food and children move often from her house to mine. Thank God for good neighbors!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Summer Visits to the Farm - Crescent, OK

The old barn on our last visit about 1995.

The kitchen where my aunt tossed the egg shells into the sink behind her. The Hoosier cabinet is at the end of the room.

Uncle Glen, Rick, Aunt Esther, me and Jean, my father.

Me, my mother, Mary, Rick and Rusty the red cocker spaniel. This picture dated Aug. 1956

My father's grave

My grandparents' grave

I wrote the entry below for Magpie Tales -- a creative writing blog. Check it out here. I copied it from my other blog Simple Sunday Supper, but I have more to add below.

A few special summers at aunt Esther's Oklahoma farm. Real butter and cream for breakfast. The crowing of the rooster at daybreak. Waking in the little white bedroom up the steep stairs and looking down into the yard from the old wood-framed windows. A green Hoosier cabinet in the kitchen. A bathroom that used to be a porch. An unused formal parlor with carpet, a wood-trimmed velvet sofa and an old piano. A rose garden. Learning to sew. Searching through the hay bales in the old barn for eggs and trying to catch the wild kittens. My aunt cracking fresh eggs at the stove and tossing the shells over her shoulder into the sink. Eating fried chicken that had just been walking around a little while ago. Feeding a calf from a bucket with a large rubber nipple. Riding on a tractor. The sweet smell of cutting into a ripe, red watermelon right out of the field. Oh, and getting trapped in an outhouse by a mean rooster. (There was a ripe smell in that outhouse, too!) A few old photographs and some family stories. Some old phonograph records. I was a modern girl from the 60's. These are the only fragile connections I have to a simpler life style that is older than time. I treasure them now.

I wrote this about my summer visits to my aunt's farm, but the pictures above are from my last visit. My aunt no longer lived at the farm. We just drove out to look at it. The weeds had grown and the old barn was about to fall down. She asked my husband to check an oil well on her property. It had some kind of meter on it and she worried for years that they had been cheating her. He looked at it and said it looked all right to him. That seemed to satisfy her. I told her I admired the Hoosier cabinet in the kitchen with its built-in sifter. We went to visit my father's and my grandparents' grave at a little graveyard nearby. That was the last time I ever saw the farm. My aunt wrote me and told me that shortly after we visited, someone broke into the house and trashed everything and stole the Hoosier cabinet. My uncle Glen had died many years earlier in a farming accident. Aunt Esther is gone now, too.