Tag Archives: history

How they met

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It was after the war
Ohio State had set up GI housing
There was a dance
The lights were low
The music live
They were dancing with their partners
A pause in the music, a silence in the room
They heard each other laugh
In the space of eternity
Dropped their partners
Began dancing with each other
And kept on dancing into their 90s

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“God Bless America,” land that I love

kate-smith
Kate Smith…former house in the Adirondack…song: click here

In the Adirondacks, on Lake Placid,  a boat tour guide will tell you as you as he slows the engine and pauses in front of the house that was Kate Smith’s, that she would sing from the balcony.

In the stillness last summer, I heard her famous voice belting out God Bless America.  As if reverberating  through the decades to wrap me, and US, in soothing protection.

In the quiet with no cell phones buzzing, in my mind’s eye, I saw Kate Smith on her balcony. My mother’s mother, I am told, loved Smith’s famous “God Bless America,” she had three sons in World War II.  Perhaps that fact about my Grandmother made Kate Smith’s voice and spirit boom even louder for me that day.

They say your offspring will care about what you care about, and this, my grandmother’s love for Kate Smith and God Bless America is about the only thing I know about what rested in my grandmother’s soul. 

Today feels heavy, but I pray we keep Hope and our values alive…just as Kate Smith did during World War II.  

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President Obama believes in us…he proved his campaign slogan and he is not dying.  Obama has  led us, WE THE PEOPLE, to an inevitable tipping point.  That veiled line between justice and injustice, …   It is up to us now to keep dusting ourselves off  and hear his voice to participate, help each other out, and believe that YES WE CAN! 

Nuns on Keuka Lake, 1930 Blimp, & OLD AGE is HELL poem…artificats

I found the artifacts, photographed and uploaded here, among my aunts things years ago.  Its all we have left in the end, artifacts of those former generations.  That and wonder:  if the dead could speak, what would they tell us?

The blimp?  Goodyear, 1930s…who took that picture in Miami where my Uncle lived?Goodyear blimp Dec 1930

who are these nuns?  when was the photograph taken?  is that, as I suspect, Keuka Lake?  was it a hot day?  good Lord, who made up those costumes?

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And this poem, OLD AGE IS HELL?  who typed this up?  it is found on the Internet, but did the typist make up the last two lines here?

Old Age is Hell
The body gets stiff, you get cramps in your legs Corns on your feet as big as hens eggs,
Gas in your stomach, elimination is poor, Take ex-lax at night, but then you’re not sure,
You soak in the tub, or the body will smell
OLD AGE IS HELL

The teeth start decaying, eyesight is poor,
Hair falling out, all over the floor,

Sex life is shot, its the thing of the past,
Don’t kid yourself friend, even that doesn’t last.

Can’t go to parties, don’t dance anymore,
just putting it mildly, you’re a hell of a bore.old age is hell 2
Liquor is out, can’t take a chance,
bladder is weak, might pee in your pants.

Nothing to plan for, nothing to expect,
Just the mailman, bringing your social security check!!!

Now be sure your affairs are in order and your will is just right,
or on the way to your grave there’ll be a hell of a fight.

So if this New Years Eve, if you feel fairly well,
THANK GOD YOUR ALIVE ALTHO. OLD AGE IS HELL.

 

 

 

A sense of place…my Grandmother’s house on Lake Street

A day at Grandmas
My family in my Grandmother’s back yard, the wall with plants is the viaduct, the train, including the Phoebe Snow, ran above it.

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From the time I was born until I turned 14, the center of my universe was Lake Street in Elmira, New York.

My Grandmother’s house sat alone on the other side of a train viaduct.  This house  had once been part of a much larger, bustling, nice neighborhood. My great Uncle Joe had lived across the street in a beautiful house. A painting of it endures and from it I sense the warmth of the neighborhood.

My Grandmother’s house was actually a row house with two large units she inherited from her father. My Grandfather had a Mom and Pop shop in front and after our weekly Sunday dinners, we, my younger siblings and I, would go with one of my Aunts to run the store.

I can remember the smell of tobacco mingled with candy bars when you walked in and the bell clanged against the door frame. For fun there, we climbed up on Grandpa’s office chair, a beautiful wooden piece with a slated back, and swiveled each other around as fast as we could go.  Grandpa sauntered in after his meal and asked us what kind of candy we wanted to take with us. I remember being a big fan of mallow cups.  They were lined up in boxes behind a glass case as I recall.

Often,  I would stay at my Grandparent’s house for the whole weekend day. Those days were slow, as only childhood days can be…there were no computers to entertain us, only 3 major TV stations and so my Aunts took us outside.

At times we hung out in the front yard where we watched the people and cars go by. There was an antique doll and carriage I played with, rolling it up and down the brick driveway.

Many times on hot Sunday afternoons, my Aunt Melia or Aunt Claire, would walk us down the street, under the viaduct, through the dust kicked up by the traffic, to the Dairy Queen for an ice cream. That was a real treat on a hot day in the 60s, along with the sprinkler. The Aunts often pulled the sprinkler out for a mid-afternoon dip when the heat was oppressive and we needed entertaining.

Two years ago, I saw one of my Aunt’s younger contemporaries from the neighborhood. “Oh,” he said, “I just loved your Grandparent’s place, there it was, this beautiful oasis of gardens and green in the city. It looked so out-of-place but it was so lovely, if you find a picture please send it to me. I’d love to see it again.”

He felt that sense of place and for one minute, I actually went back there, back in time to this house along the tracks. There wasn’t much to it, I see now in old pictures. But to me, it was a castle, a beautiful spot.  A place of meat with egg, mashed potatoes, after-dinner drinks of crème de menthe, picnics with thick plastic plates and matching plastic glasses; a grape arbor, oodles of plants, and the smell of freshly mowed grass, Chianti wine, and an old stereo stocked with my Aunt’s 45s:  how much is that doggy in the window, one of her favorites.

Gone now, of course. In 1975 Tops Supermarket bought my Grandparents out. Change is a coming wrote Bob Dylan and it always comes. They tore the whole thing down. It later morphed into a Big Lots, which is what I think it still is today.

I went there once with my husband. We parked in the parking lot, I made my way to the stone wall of the train trellis, and as I got closer, I could feel the place. Actually feel it, I wanted to grab a plant, maybe it was one from my Grandmother’s lovely garden, probably not, I told myself.

I had a burst of tears…a bitter sweet burst. The joy of feeling just a touch of the place, the pain knowing it and all that it gave me,  gone.

Related family history blogs:

https://itsaboutthestory.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/aunt-claire-was-born-november-13-1923/

https://itsaboutthestory.wordpress.com/2013/01/07/aunt-carmella-tress-not-just-an-old-lady-in-an-apron/

https://itsaboutthestory.wordpress.com/2012/05/28/memorial-day-remembering-my-aunt-a-wac-american-legion-post-746-commander-corning-ny/

https://itsaboutthestory.wordpress.com/2012/05/26/i-think-that-i-would-rath/

https://itsaboutthestory.wordpress.com/2012/03/14/a-story-about-my-grandmother-the-train-that-passed-through-it-the-phoebe-snow/

Artifacts…an old car

Artifacts a country story from an old blog 11/09..the car is still here but there is less of it

old decaying car
old decaying car

In any environment, there may be those pieces of human history left over that try to tell their own story.  On the property here, there are neat things: glass bottles piled in a heap; large boulders that line hedgerows between farmland; and four abandoned cars.

The cars are placed throughout the property,

when you reach the pink car, you know you have almost reached the southern end of the land.  Closer in, toward our house, is the decaying car featured in the picture.  You may not even be able to tell it is a car.

Since the beginning of my life here, I have made up stories about who sat in these cars, and why they were dumped in these spots.  Through the mist of time, I recreated Bonnie and Clyde or their 1940s, 50s, 60s counterparts and had them running in the middle of the night to our house where they paid the owner to dump their car.

“Nah,” said my husband, “this is just what people did with trash back in the day, put it on the farmland.”

Then one Sunday night, I would say circa 2000, I cannot remember now, a phone call came at 10pm.

“Sir, this is the state police office.”

“Yes, what can I do for you?”

“Does your son have access to some old cars?”

My husband’s son lived out-of-town then. “Yes,” replied my husband.  “Why?”

“Well, he apparently gave one of the license plates to this young man we have just pulled over, do you know a Bud D?”

“Ok, that is possible, Bud D, is his friend.”

“And, this license plate belongs to a man wanted for killing a very important person a few decades back, we will be over to check out the cars tomorrow.”

“Oh,” replied my husband and hung up the phone.

“That was weird” and he told me the story.

We were both gone the next day and no note was left signifying the police stop.

The cars looked unmoved.  Nevertheless, what I learned from that is something like the old statement about paranoia, “just because you make it up, doesn’t mean it isn’t real.”

The artifacts around us tell a story. This car has been here since before my husband moved here in 1979. We no nothing about the specific owner, not even the name.

©claireaperez

Rubin’s Paper Store

picture of Rubin's paper store
Rubin’s actual paper store

Rubin’s Paper Store

 

Everyday from 8 to 3

You inside the store

of information pressed on pages.


 

Its musty, dark and crowded,

the racks entice

with scenes of Mexico

and lovely furnishings.


 

Slowly and peacefully,

one by one, they come

to escape into your world

 

Selections to locate

on who, what & where

they might be.


Security in the dinginess,

stale coffee smell all around

and your talk of the

gossip floating in town.


 

 

It’s a moment in time

frozen in minds,

hearts, and novels.


 

It is the same scene

moment to moment

day to day

year to year…


 

And then on a Saturday,

the end of the week,

the end of the day,

It vanishes.


 

With your last breath

you close the door

in Rubin’s Paper Store!

© claireaperez