Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Boomer Christmas Memories 2014

Well, here we are, nearly at the end of 2014. Had a big milestone birthday this year! It has been several years since I have had a “family” Christmas. Still, I can’t help reflect upon the hundreds of  memories from long ago.  

 My mother usually hosted the family gatherings as she was beyond doubt the best cook. Example: One of my dear aunts neglected to remove the turkey from the wrapper. It was not tasty. 

 We had the smallest house, so finding a place for everyone to sit was difficult at best. Buffet was the prerequisite. If everyone attended (and they usually did) there would be 30 people, more or less. Mom would pray for good weather so we kids could play outside. My mother invariably cooked herself “into a stupor” as we say. The prep work would begin weeks before. There would be multiple lists and each of us had a task. Dishes needed washing, silver to be polished, etc. Of coarse, my mother’s unusually clean house had to be “cleaned.”

 Mother would bake pies and cakes.There was homemade fudge and candies.The entrees would include turkey, ham and pot roast. Sides included both mashed and sweet potatoes. Mom also prepared 2 kinds of stuffing. We a stove upstairs and oven in the basement and all would be working overtime. 

  The 60’s were a great time to be a kid. Department stores were full of opulence and there was plenty of assortment for all. In 1963 I received my very first record player. A red portable (I did take it everywhere). Santa bought me 3 LP albums that year. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (Gene Autry), Christmas with the Chipmunks, and Songs by Ricky (Ricky Nelson).

The next Christmas in 1964 I received my first guitar. A Japanese made Sears Silvertone 6 sting acoustic. It was purchased so I could participate in our church’s Saturday guitar masses. I learned 3 chords. 

Since I had to wear uniforms for school and my mom was such a great seamstress, she made most of my clothes. I seldom got “store bought clothes.” I was allowed in 1965 to pick out my own presents. That meant a to visit Robert Hall clothing in Highland Park. I was allowed to choose 3 outfits! I was in heaven. 

I had a very difficult time selecting so it took quite a long time. My poor dad went to car and waited. He loathed shopping. I finally chose a pink ribbed short sleeved “poor boy” top and pink and tan plaid hip-hugger, bell bottom pants with a very wide pink belt. Next, there was a sleeveless cowl neck sweater in a very pale mustard with hip-hugger plaid pants in lime green and mustard. Lastly there was a Mondrian color-block shift dress. I was even allowed a pair of white go-go boots! I thought I was a mod queen! Curious how I have remembered those outfits all these years!

These days I am grateful for a quiet evening with friends, loved ones and good food. I hope all who read this have a most wonderful Christmas/Holiday and good fortune in 2015!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


It's nearly October 31st. Soon it will be time to hear the immortal words, “Trick or treat smell my feet!”

Whether you call it Halloween or Trick or Treat. It is an American tradition that has morphed into something completely different than it was when I was a child. Back then, it meant one thing--lots of goodies.

Being a TV generation kid, naturally I dragged my parents to Kmart or Kresge and purchase a Ben Cooper (store bought) costume. Even then I loved playing dress up. My costumes included Dale Evans, Shirley Temple, Rocky the Flying Squirrel and Woody Woodpecker. The masks with these where almost impossible to see or breathe while wearing.

I was blessed to grow up in a neighborhood where EVERYONE celebrated the night! Not in a weird creepy way like some do now. There were no zombies or unattached dolls heads. No blood dripping hands rising up from lawn and no faux gravestones. Most of what we did then was harmless. More innocent and fun-loving back then. Our objective was to make a lot of noise, eat a lot of candy and try not to vomit. Reminder: This was in a time just before Detroit became known for “Devil’s night.”

The festivities would begin at school with homemade treats and dress up. Of coarse, we were scrutinized carefully as I attended Catholic school. In fact, my “go to” gypsy costume was frowned upon as it included makeup and a 1940s off-the-shoulder peasant blouse. Even the cold stares of Sister Kathleen did not deter me. The following day, November 1st, was a Holy Day and it meant no school. So I could stay out a bit later than usual.

Quite a few of our neighbors would hold open house which included homemade candy apples, cookies and cakes. They would giggle and guffaw over our costumes and take lots of photos. This all took place before our quest.

Our journey always started at my house on Edgevale Street. (The house no longer stands). the  crew usually included my friends Robin, Teresa, her sister Debbie and stray children who abandoned their parents along the way. My mother insisted on accompanying us on our hunt. She would not let us eat any candy and made us say, “Thank you.” This is why we would always ditch her.

We would traverse 3 or 4 blocks and quickly had our paper grocery sacks filled. When Mom got tired, I would send her home with the booty and then the real fun would begin. We would chart anywhere from  5 to 8 more blocks. As not to miss out on the guy who worked at Better Made Potato Chips and the lady who gave out small cartons of chocolate milk or cups of ice cream that her husband who worked for Twin Pines Dairy would obtain. I would usually not return home til 10pm.

The year I was in 8th grade, my mother deemed me “too old” to go trick or treating. I was in Girl Scouts and we participated in a scavenger hunt. It was not much fun and most of the girls disappeared to smoke or make out with boyfriends. The following year I attended a party where I played “7 minutes in Heaven” with a guy who did not like me. He said I was not funny enough.

My night would usually end up at home with mom administering liberal amounts of Ponds cold cream (to remove makeup) and Pepto Bismol. We would carefully sort the candy and goodies. Mom would quickly pilfer any Black Jack gum, peanut butter kisses or Mary Janes she found.

I have compiled a list of Best & Worst treats from back in the day.  Do you agree?

Worst  Treats
  • Necco Wafers--very dry like communion wafers
  • Milk duds--these pull your fillings out  
  • Peanut butter kisses--these do not taste like peanut butter 
  • Kraft caramels--not bad candy--too small and they always melted quickly 
  • Black jack (gum)--BLAH!!

Best Treats
  • Candy cigarettes--not really candy but VERY cool!
  • Wax lips/fangs--again not candy but COOL!
  • Any regular size chocolate bar--I hate those fun size bars!!
  • Cracker jack--always got a prize
  • Toy--some were better than others