I'm rushing around the house trying to get enough work done so that when the kids rush off the bus this afternoon, I won't feel a bit guilty sitting outside with them and drinking in the sunshine and breezes.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Friday, November 11, 2011
Sunday, April 10, 2011
It's an old saying, but true, that life in the 50's moved at a slower rate. Tradition was huge and certainly our family, Varnadore and Lewis, had theirs. I wish you had known what it was like to be a part of the cook outs this bunch of folks could throw.
My maternal grandmother, Ida Mae Johnson, grew up in a large family. Three daughters married three Lewis boys, also of a large family. From this framework, two of those couples raised their children in Milford, CT. It produced many aunts, uncles and cousins for me and my sister. So we became very close to Ida and James Lewis' children --my mom Eula, her brother Jim (Uncle Dubby) to me, and my Aunt Judy, who for a time, also lived close. From this produced my cousins, Jimmy, Linda, Cindy, Jeffrey, Cathie and Debbie. Not to mention all the other cousins from the other 2 brothers who married the Lewis girls. To say our Family Cookouts were full of people is an understatement!
Most of these cookouts, for whatever occasion, were held at my house on Coe Lane in Ansonia, or at Uncle Otha's in Milford CT. Both houses at that time , afforded lots of woods for the kids to explore while the adults visited.
The day would begin with the trip to the ice house with my grandfather to get a big chunk of ice for the sodas. Then to my grandfather's hot dog stand to pick up the wooden cases of soda for the event. Some time there was a parade to go to or be in at the start of the day. My Dad would go in the back yard to be sure the grass was cut and the horseshoe pits were clean and in good shape. Then down into the cellar to pull out the badminton set. Lastly, the ping pong table would have to be set up. I would dream that maybe maybe THIS day I would beat my Uncle Dubby at ping pong. But he was brutal and that never happened! At any rate, I knew later in the evening maybe I could beat him or Dad at Chinese Checkers. My phone number, which I still remember, 203-735-3566 was the number for the one black phone in the kitchen from which all calls were made for a very long time. There were no cell phones, video games, DVRs , CD players etc to distract our carrying out of this event.
The sodas were in glass bottles and gleamed as they sat under the mulberry tree, chilling. Pepsi of course for my Uncle Dubby , orange, grape, root beer, Coke. The grill we used at our house was unique, in that my Dad who had been a welder for awhile, had made it. It was made of sold steel and weighed a ton. The side dishes that were laid out by this group of southern women, was to die for.
But what I remember the most was how much the adults were happy and joking, playing games with kids and adults alike.Invariably, as the day wore on, songs were sung, maybe a banjo would come out or a harmonica. Someone would yodel! "Poor ole" Kaw-liga" would be sung in southern tradition. The adults would visit to long into the evening and the kids would go outside to play hide and seek in the dark and catch fireflies. There was time for everyone that day and not one had a clock to watch.
One other very fond memory I have is when we took these cook outs to the public park in Bridgeport CT ,where multiple baseball games were going on by the men, as the women cooked on the grassy areas surrounding the games and the kids crossed the street to take a dip in the ocean. Such wonderful wonderful times to grow up in. I feel very blessed to have been a part of that time in the 50's. So wish you had known those times with me....
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
As I sit and watch the Olympics, and anxiously await my favorite sports, mostly the figure skating events. This year has been the best in a long time, as I am online and can chat with my cousin about the skaters, and the routines, and the costumes, and of course, how much we love Scott Hamilton. :)
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Many many ...oh many years ago, we used to travel to Roanoke Virginia on a fairly regular basis. See, that is where our family lived. Meemaw and Papaw lived there, Uncle Jack and Aunt Judy lived there, along with a smattering of other family members who always showed up to check out the next generation of "Atkins' Kids" It wasn't the best place in the world to vacation, nor was it always the easiest family visit of the year, but it WAS family, and I have many fond memories that I would like to share with the younger set of my family who missed out on knowing these folks as well as i did.
The apartment I remember was small, dark, near a fire station, and had a LONG narrow staircase. The bathroom I remember had a very old, deep clawfoot tub. It was HOT, box windows fans will take me back to that place every time. :)
We were always greeted with Hugs, and the smell of something wonderfully southern cooking for dinner. There was a certain scent, a mixture of cigarette smoke, grease, and sausage gravy. It was wonderful to me, it meant i was with Meemaw, and Papaw, and Uncah Zak! I was one of his favorite kids, he loved to swing me around by arms and give me airplane rides, which I am pretty sure Mom scolded him for, since he DID do it in the hall pretty close to the steps.:)
I remember fishing, Dad and Jack went fishing, and sometimes we got to go. I remember walking to the corner market with Meemaw, and being in awe of "city life".
I remember two pictures on the wall, of my twin Aunts, not that much older than me really, I would try to remember meeting them, imagining where they were, what they were doing, amazed by tenia who was in the Navy. I didn't know girls did that! :)
I remember playing yahtzee, lots of coffee, and Papaw "bein' crazy" as meemaw would say. He just wanted to show Eric how to target shoot. Guess she didn't like him doing it into trash cans in the alleyway two stories down. :)
Lots of my memories of them there are fragments of moments, little things, smells and words. Whenever we play yhatzee, or sit around drinking coffee and tellin' stories, when i make a perfect batch of buscuits or fabulous sausage gravy, i think of them. Meemaw would be proud, papaw woudn't tolerate that, Uncah Zak would be laffin' When we played Yhatzee, Meemaw, when she got a good roll, she'd say "thank ya" Dad and papaw would get "all fired up" over how "some people" grouped cards in Gin Rummy. Unle Jack would just laugh.
We lost Uncah Zak last week. SO sad, and sudden. I kept seeing his laughing face, hearing his raspy voice on the phone ... "Hey Sara! This is yer Uncah Zak! How's mah Princess doin?" Roanoke feels a little empty now, we were there, and nothing is the same to me, except ... the star, on the hill. A big white star sits on the hill illuminated every night. SOme things don't change.
As we went our ways one night this weekend, My cousin Patrick and I had the same thought. Meemaw and Papaw and Jack, they were in heaven, with endless coffee, and probably just breaking out the yhatzee dice.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
My son calls me impatiently from his car seat ..
"Mommy! What are you doing?"
That's a good question, WHAT am i doing?? I'm wading through waist high weeds, I'll probably go home with ticks, or worse, poison ivy! UGH. Then, i see it, the reason I am here ..... and I laugh, as a memory comes spilling over me.
Many many years ago, how many exactly need not be said, however, it was the year I graduated from High school, I also sat in a car, calling to my mother,
"MOM! Are you for real? Will you get in the car? This is nuts! People will see you!"
See, I was home schooled, and that makes my "graduation" something unique. I was the only member of the class of 1995. I also didn't really finish till sometime in June. So, my party was July, with a lovely 4th of July theme. My parents still had two kids in school, and two more upcoming, and the oldest ready to go into the Army. Dad was a full time National Guardsman, Mom was obviously a full time stay at home mom, and schoolteacher. Money wasn't something that flowed in our house, we were creative, we made every penny stretch.
So, when it came to decor, and flowers, My mother had a brainstorm. Somewhere, in the fields below My dad's Armory, were huge patches of Black eyed Susans. Wouldn't they be lovely with the red white and blue? Oh yes, they will, lets go get some!
This is how I found myself sitting in the van, with the patience of an 18yr old who thinks she is the smartest most important person alive, totally embarassed by my mom, wading out into the knee deep weeds, and coming out with armfulls of flowers. Stalks nearly as tall as her, with the roots and all still attatched. SHe dragged them over, and put them in her nice new van, dirt and all.
As we drove home, she with a VERY smug smile on her face, and me shaking my head and giggling, she told me a story, about HER mother, my Nana. My Nana was a lover of flora, she could grow anything, she loved beautiful flowers, and she rarely denied herself. She had a habit of driving along, seeing flowers she liked and hoping out of the car to pick them. Wild or not, they were beautiful, and she wanted them in her house. LOL The ones I remember were Cattails and Pussy willows, she showed me the places to go to find them, and how to pick them.
My Graduation Party was perfect, and the table was lovely, all red white and blue, and splashed with the bright yellow flowers. I will never look at them without thinking of that day, and My mom. I guess it's where I got the "bug" for flowers, for wild ones, I guess it's why I find myself out in this feild in late July,picking these black and yellow flowers, as my children sit and wonder why their Mommy is nuts.
Even for my wedding, the church was decorated with flowers grown in a friends garden, specifically for the event. Recently i heard a rumor that my mother stopped on the way to the annual church campout, with my cousins little girl in the car, welcome to our family heather! See, you can't pick the flowers in the state park, you get in trouble for it, My sister found THAT out. So, my mom stopped on the way, by the side of the highway and picked a little bouquet for her Campsite picnic table. The funny thing was, this story was forming in my mind the week before, and when I got to camp and heard the story, I was convinced this had to be documented. It doesn't seem this trend is ending anytime soon.