Thursday, August 22, 2013


We hadn't planned on having a dog, but Oscar came to our home unexpectedly.  He was a Dachshund, Oscar Meyer Weiner Dog.   When he first came to us, he would run to the couch, come flying up onto the cushions, climb right on top of me and give me kisses.   I let him sleep under the covers with us for a while.  He would tunnel his way towards the bottom of the bed and stay there the night through.  That lasted until I went to visit my son.  My husband then made him a bed claiming he wasn't going to have a dog sleeping with us, and there Oscar stayed.

At first, Al wasn't crazy about Oscar, but it didn't take long for both of them to become friends, and great friends they were.  There was nothing that Oscar loved more than being outside with Al in the garden.  He had a little "pet" frog that he played with, poking it with his nose to make it hop, then following it through the garden.  He also buried many bones in the garden, as well as in the flower plots, anywhere in the yard where he could dig and often in the neighbors yard.  Oscar would take the bones and bury them, come in the house, and in 10 minutes wanted back out so that he could check to see if they were still where they belonged, and he had a long memory.  This would go on until we just stopped letting him out, or it was bedtime.

Anytime we would go somewhere, Oscar wanted to go with us.  "Come on, Oscar, let's take a ride," and he would be dancing a jig at our feet, his tail wagging happily.  If he couldn't go with us we would say, "Oscar, you stay home and be a good boy."   He would step back, drop his head and watch us leave.   When we came home, he would see us coming down the street and run from the porch, where he often sat, to the side of the road.  He would run beside the car until we had it parked, then begin to whimper, anxious for us to get out of the car.

At 9:30 every morning, Oscar would stand in front of Al, sit up on his hind end and look at him.  He did this anytime he wanted something.   Then he would wave his front paws at us.  When wanting Al to go outside with him, he would look at Al, then he would look at the door.  This kept up until Al would finally put on his shoes and take him outside.

At 9 every night, he would be right back in front of Al's chair sitting on his haunches telling Al it was time to have some ice cream.  He almost always got some.

A couple of months ago, Oscar had gone with Al to get the mail.  When they got home, Al opened his door, Oscar jumped out as he always does, but he hit his hind quarters hard on the running board of the car.  He yelped, then seemed to be okay, but over time, he started having trouble with his back.  He stopped sitting up and begging, then he started whimpering like he was hurting.  He started to get weak in his back legs so we took him to the vet.  A pinched nerve in his back.  We gave him medicine to help take the swelling out and medicine for pain.  Nothing was helping.  He lost lots of weight, he was a heavy dog, and then his front legs began to bow out.  More medicine, and I even took him to see a chiropractor.  By this time, he was beyond helping.

This morning, I took Oscar to the vet for the last time.   I visited with the vet and was told we could increase medicine, but he would never be the old Oscar and would be fighting pain the rest of his life.  My decision was to let him go.  The vet explained how they would put him to sleep and wanted to know if I wanted to stay with him.  I couldn't stand to think of watching him die, so I said no.   I felt guilty afterward for making him go through this without someone he loved near.  The vet left me in the room to say my good-bye to him.  I held him, I petted him, I told him I loved him, I cried, then I turned to go.  As hard as it was for him to do, he pushed himself up on his legs to go with me.  I just wanted to take him with me.  It was one of the hardest things I have done in a long time, but I patted him on the head and said, "Oscar, you stay and be a good boy."

Oscar gave us much joy, happiness and love during our time together.  I will always have a special place in my heart for him.
I pray that Oscar will be happy and pain free now in "dog heaven", wherever that might be.  There just has to be one.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Down Memory Lane

     I decided to take a drive along the roads by my childhood home.  I originally wanted to take some pictures of the trees this time of year because they were beautiful, but the trip turned into a drive down memory lane for me.  This summer in Northwestern Kansas was extremely dry.   We are in a drought, and you can tell there is a drought just by how dry the grass is in the pictures.  

     I left my present home in McDonald and headed south on the county road that goes to Brewster.  I took this picture, not because of a memory, but because there just aren't many working windmills left in the country.  I grew up with windmills.  The dead tree is symbolic of many things such as the windmill that have disappeared.

     Several miles south of McDonald stands a graveyard that for many years was totally neglected.  A person wouldn't have known that it ever existed except that the people who now own the land gave up a section of farmland to put up the sign and fence reminding us that there are actually people who were buried there. The owners got the names from the registry in Atwood, Kansas.

     The colors in these trees isn't showing as much as I would like, but they were beautiful.   This is an area close to where my first grade teacher and her two daughters lived.   One daughter still lives in the house.  The girls used to babysit my brother, sister and I on occasion.  Laura told the best stories I've ever heard for children when she was babysitting.   She also helped her mother at school.  

     The roads along the creek were all very much like this road.  I love the way the road approaches the shaded area.

     This is a creek bed.   There was a time that the creeks flowed freely, in fact, often flooded.   Now most of these creeks are dry.   Yes, the drought affects this, but climate change does, too.   And the fact that many people have chosen to irrigate has dropped the level of the water table, leaving us with less water.

     Can you believe that this is actually a bridge?   This is one of the reasons my father sent us to Brewster to school when my sister reached high school.   It wasn't uncommon for floods to wipe out the bridges giving students a wonderful excuse for not making it to school.  We were in Rawlins county, but Dad petitioned into the Brewster district and that is where we went to school.

          I just loved the way this tree branched out, standing all alone in the middle of a pasture.

     Another windmill, this one not in working order.   I think this is the area where my mom used to tell us about a little girl who died from a rattlesnake bite many years ago.

     Somewhere down among these trees was a small lake where we used to go fishing.   I don't know if it's still there.   I don't think so, at least not as a lake.   It might catch some water when it rains.   It was also here that my Grandpa and Grandma Faber, Aunt Dinah, my sister and her family, my brother and his family, my family and my mom and dad went one cold December day to ice skate.  We didn't have ice skates, but we did borrow some from the kind neighbors who lived up the road and owned this land at the time.   We set an old car seat out on the middle of the ice.  Grandpa and Grandma sat there and watched the rest of us "play". We made a fire in front of the car set so we had a place to warm ourselves.  Those of us who didn't have skates just skated in our shoes.  We roasted hot dogs and marshmallows and had hot chocolate we brought from home.  Such good times we had as a family.

     This is the sign outside the ranch entrance to the people who loaned us the skates.  I know you can't read the sign very well, but I know well what it says.   Dewey's L. V. Ranch.....If you can't stop in, smile as you go by.   And we always did.

     Just south of the Dewey Homestead I took a picture of this cattle guard.  Much of the land was open range, which means it was not uncommon to have cattle in the road.  The cattle weren't able to walk over the cattle guards.

     Do you see the cave?   I've never been in this cave, but I've always wanted to go there.  The people who own it now have given me permission with a warning to watch out for snakes.  I'm told there is some writing on the walls of the cave as well as smoke from where fires were built inside.   Yes, there were people who once lived there. Maybe temporarily, but they were there.

     As you travel further south, you eventually hit the flat lands.   This is where I grew up, right on the edge of the hills on the creek land to the flat lands where we farmed.  There were hills on three sides of our farm, but looking east, you could see for miles.  Note how dry the milo crop is this year.

     This is approaching our home sweet home.  Most of my childhood was lived here.

       This is the house that I grew up in.   Many changes have taken place.  My brother now owns the house. The A-line roof towards the back was an addition he had built.  There is a basement under the house that he expanded.  This is the front of the house.  Where the door is used to be an open porch.  Well, it was enclosed on 3 sides and open in the front.  I remember when some barn swallows built their next just above our door in this porch.  We watched them make the nest, hatch and raise the babies.  The house was a red tile.  In order to go to the basement, you had to go out the back door, then down the basement.  At some point, Dad built that back porch in so we could enter the basement without going outside.  My Grandpa Hurst built this house for his family.  My dad remembers helping them to dig the basement.  His family were neighbors to my mom's family.  The house only had two bedrooms on the main floor.  Dad made a third bedroom in the basement where Jackie and I shared a room.
     When Mom and Dad got married, they fixed up an old granary as a house and lived there until after my sister was born.  They had to use the bathroom in my Grandparent's house.

     This is a view south of the house.  There is a hilly pasture where Dad kept his cattle.  We had a huge sandpit where we used to have our Easter Egg hunts. It is also where we used to take our toboggan and sleds in the winter.   I loved walking in the pasture, especially to a section where a grouping of rocks stood high above a draw.  I would sit on a section of rocks that was shaped like a chair and dream.  Mom wasn't crazy about us walking among the rocks for fear of rattlesnakes, but I don't think I ever ran into one there.  There was also a smaller sand pit where I remember catching tiny lizards.   I remember one year when we had torrential rains, and the bottom of the draw ran swiftly with water, deep and wide.  We were warned not to go near it because of the danger of how swiftly the water moved.

     West of the house were the outbuildings.  The first building I remember using as a skating rink when we got our roller skates for Christmas.   We also kept our toboggan in this shed along with grain Dad had for the cattle in the feedlot out back.  The next building was the garage.  Last time I looked, you could see the initials I carved in the wood.  The car sat in one part of the garage with all of Dad's shop tools, and the other side held our boat.

      This is only a quarter of a mile or less south of the house.  You can see the small building and if you look really hard, you can see the windmill in the upper left hand corner.  This is where my mother was born.  Mother lived there during the dirty thirties in a small house with, I think, four rooms.  She tells me how Grandma Hurst had to walk to the windmill for water several times a day.  It was uphill all the way back.  She claims that is why Grandma was so strong.

     Down the road just a little further, you find a cemetery.  This is our Faber Family Cemetery where one day I will stay....close to home.

     These are the tombstones that are there now.   The first grave there was my goddaughter and niece, Jennifer Renee Faber who died as a child.  Since then my Grandpa and Grandma Faber, my Aunt Dinah, my cousins John B. and Mike, their dad Joe and my sister-in-law's brother and father have been buried.

     Grandpa and Grandma Faber lived in this house.  My dad and his two sisters were raised here.  It's hard to visit and see the place falling down, but the memories of all the good times will not be forgotten.  Dad's sister Dinah was 3 months younger than me, and we grew up close to being sisters instead of niece and aunt. There were always cousins and family who filled the house with love.  Our long tradition of Christmas Eve started right here.

     Grandpa and Grandma called this the milk house.  Inside it had a sink with a water pump, as well as one in the house when I was young.  There was also a wood burning pot-bellied stove that sat in the middle of the milk house.   Once in a while, Grandpa and Grandma would let Dinah and I build a fire when we were playing.  
     The windmill furnished all the water.   A hose ran from the windmill to a cistern just outside the yard of the house where water was stored.  If the wind didn't blow, you had to be careful about how much water you used, or you would run out.
     Grandma's garden was just behind the milk house and windmill.

I didn't realize what is here until not long ago when my dad told me that the depression in the ground where Grandpa would sometimes burn old branches and where we would target practice with guns was once the ice house.  It was a deep hole dug in the ground.  Dad helped to gather ice, then unload it into the hole where it was covered with hay.  They would have enough ice to last through the summer.

     Once upon a time, this was a beautiful, old barn.  We played in the barn many, many hours, Dinah and all the cousins.  It was quite daring to go into the hayloft and jump out the door onto a pile of hay, or sometimes, just onto the hard dirt.  I remember one time playing in an old car that was stored in the barn when a skunk appeared.  Dinah and I got sprayed terribly.   That's when Grandma brought the little round tub to the yard and washed us outside.

     This was one of the houses I lived in when my children were young.  It belonged to my dad and mom and was several miles from the home place.  I didn't go up close to take a picture because someone else lives there now.   I loved being on the farm again after having lived in towns, Wichita included, for several years.  We had sheep, goats, chickens, ducks, geese, cats and a dog.  I can remember painting the house.  When I was on the lower boards, I would sit in the grass.  We had three baby geese who followed me everywhere.  When I sat on the ground painting, they crawled into my lap.  You can take the girl out of the farm, but you can't take the farm out of the girl.  I would be there still, if I could.

     This was the second school I attended.  I went there from 2nd through 5th grades.  We had one teacher for all 8 grades.  I loved the old country school.  We danced, we played, we learned, sang and put on programs.  A bit of orneriness once in a while came through, too.  Charles had just gotten a chemistry set for Christmas.   He and I stayed in one recess, with the teacher's permission, and played with it.  What we did was burn sulfur until the schoolhouse stunk terribly.  Our teacher, not the best, was deathly afraid we were going to kill everyone, so he opened all the windows, and our recess was extended.

     This is where my first home was.  After Mom and Dad had Jackie, Grandpa John helped Dad to buy a house that stood here.  When my mom saw it, she cried.  Dad and Grandpa fixed it all up for her by plastering the outside and painting and cleaning the inside.  By the time they were finished Mom was pretty happy, but sad to be leaving their little grainery home.  We lived here until Grandpa and Grandma Hurst moved to Colby, then we moved to our other home.  The only thing left here is the plum patch that was south of the house.

     This is where the one room school house was where I attended first grade.  Mrs. Bundy was my teacher and has remained one of my favorite teachers of all time.

     Atwood Lake.  You can see where the boat ramp was.  Now they don't allow any motor boats at all in the lake.  There is no swimming or wading, and to think, I learned to water ski in this lake.  Grandpa John once bought an ampha car.  Such fun it was to drive to Atwood with a friend, approach and drive into the lake without telling them it would float.  And to watch people's reactions watching us on the banks was also great fun.  Grandpa never should have sold that ampha car.

     This is a different view of the lake.  It isn't a large lake, but it isn't as small as the boat ramp picture makes it seem, either.  
     Across the lake, you can see a building.  When my mother stayed in Atwood as a child, that building was the swimming house.  Kids changed into their swimming suits there and swam just outside the building.  Now no one can swim.

     This is what used to be the west side of the lake.   Because of water shortage, it is mostly dry anymore.  They also built a dam like structure between this part and the east side.  The east side was loosing water, so the city of Atwood dried it up, sealed it, and now, hopefully, the water will stay.   This lake was a man made lake, built by the WPA to help lift us out of the depression by giving men work so they could take care of their families.  It was one of many projects the government had.

       This is the spillway for the lake.  When the lake fills completely up, the water would run over this section of road to the other side.  As a child and young adult, it was usually letting some water through.  I thought it was great fun for Dad to drive through the water.  I have seen it overflow in recent years, but very seldom.

The  Tastee Freeze:   The swimming pool was across the street from this little ice cream place.   We would walk from my Great Grandma Hurst's house to the pool.  After swimming, Mom gave us enough money to buy an ice cream cone.   The other place in Atwood I will never forget was a a little snack shack on highway 36, close to the lake.   They had green rivers.  When we went fishing and boating, either in Trenton or Atwood, we would stop to eat there before going home.

     This is the house my Great Grandma Hurst lived in.   Lots of changes here, too.  New siding, new windows, all fixed up.  I'm happy that someone is taking such good care of it.  My mom lived with Great Grandma when she attended school in Atwood.  I loved to visit her.  She was quite a character.  I have a picture of her in her 80's riding a bike.  Mom said she was known to chase Mom's boyfriends off with a broom stick.  She made beautiful quilts and had loads of old buttons that I loved to look at.  I remember the bathroom being in a building out back rather than in the house.

Last on my list for this memory trip is the Jayhawk Theater.  The front is pretty much the same.  The inside has been totally remodeled   Although I haven't seen it since the remodeling, I understand that they kept it as "original" as they could, and shows are still being watched to this day.
     I know.   A lot of pictures, a lot of talk, but where else could I put all this stuff.  Really, I hope you enjoyed the blog.   I know I did.  

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Today my granddaughter Ashley graduates from 8th grade. It's hard to believe that she will be in high school next year with her sister Amber. And next year, Alicia will graduate to high school. Where does time go?
Ashley is a strong, independent, opinionated and lovable person, just like her mom. It's a good thing she is because she unfortunately lost one of her eyes when she was a baby. She has taken all of this in stride. I remember when she was just a little girl, she thought it was quite funny to pop her artificial eye out when she was around people, just to see their reaction. She really got some interesting responses. Some were aghast when the eye popped out. Some took it in stride. Most of them will probably remember when the little girl "lost" her eye. She doesn't do that too often now that she's older.
Ashley's determination is another asset for her. With all the problems of seeing with one eye, she has succeeded in playing volleyball and basketball, softball and any other sport that comes her way, and she does a great job. It isn't an easy task to do these things with just one eye. I watched her play basketball and volleyball this year, and she is aggressive and quite successful.
Ashley is special to her grandpa and me. She spent a lot of time with us when she was a baby, so we both developed a special bond with her. I'll always remember watching her in her johnnie jump. It hung right next to Grandpa's chair. She would get that jumper going like crazy, then tease Grandpa to try to touch her as she went in circles. She giggled and laughed at the game, right along with Grandpa.
When we sat down for a meal, Ashley wasn't afraid to try anything. If Grandpa ate it, it must be good. She loved pickled beets, something most kids shy away from. She doesn't care much for them anymore.
There were times when she stayed with us that she couldn't sleep for one reason or another, so we would put her in bed with us where she felt safe and secure. She continued to do this on occasion until she got so big, about 4 years old, that it was just too crowded to have her in our bed. It took a while to break her of the habit.
Congratulations, Ashley, on your graduation. It won't be long and you'll be graduating from high school and moving on to college. Grandpa and I both know that whatever you do in life, you'll do well. We're proud of you, and we love you bunches.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

"The Girl Next Door"

I watched the movie "The Girl Next Door" the other night. What a disturbing movie! It is a true story about a girl who goes to live with her Aunt in the 50's after her parents are killed in a car accident. It takes place in the 50's. She also has a sister who was crippled in the accident and also lives with the Aunt. The girl the story is about is abused horribly! And when she doesn't accept the punishments gracefully, her little sister suffers, too. The boy next door becomes involved with the abuse but is afraid to do anything about it because of peer pressure from the ladies boys and threats from the woman. When the boy finally decides to do something about the abuse, he kills the woman. But it's too late for the girl. She dies. The boy has to live with this for the rest of his life. Quite graphic. Disturbing to think such horror stories do exist.
It reminds me of book I read several years ago about a woman in Nebraska who opens a home for older people during the 30's. She also abuses these people and kills some of them. The police look the other way through most of the book. I can't remember the name of the book right now, but it is also a true story.
Unfortunately, these horror stories continue in today's world. Let's not close our eyes to the fact that there are many people who are abused physically and emotionally. Let's try to help them, even if it means getting involved by contacting the proper authorities.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

I'm Back!

Hello, my friends. It's been a while since I've blogged. I hope I haven't lost any followers.

Today I watched a DVD entitled U.S. vs. John Lennon. Thanks to Netflex, I found this video and decided to watch it since I was a teenager at the time of the VietNam War. I enjoyed the video very much. I watched it twice.

I was in high school when I first became aware of the VietNam conflict. I was also a wannabe hippie, beatnik, peacenik. I say wannabe because I never was, only wanted to be. I lived in a small Northwest Kansas town where these things were frowned upon by the people in town and by my parents. I played around with the idea some, but no one took me seriously, and I didn't pursue it. There weren't any concerts, protests or anything like it anywhere near me, so I quietly objected to the war in VietNam. I graduated from high school, got married and started a family. Then my brother joined the Army and went to VietNam. I didn't like the idea, but it wasn't my choice, it was his. I wrote to my brother. I worried about his well being. I was elated when he finally came home safe and sound. Many years later I learned that John had sent me letters which I never received. They contained information about what was happening there and I believe, how he felt about what was happening. I never received those letters. They were probably censored because of content. While he was there, I never publicly said a word about how I felt about the situation. Now, I wish I had.

My husband Al was also in VietNam. He was in the Air Force, not on the ground. When I began to watch this documentary, he left the house. He doesn't like to hear me or anyone else say that we shouldn't have been there. He remembers feeling that he was unappreciated when he came home. I'm sorry that that happened, but I don't believe the people blamed the soldiers for the war. They blamed the government. Al also had a cousin who was crippled for life in VietNam. No one wants to think that Lloyd's injuries were for nothing, but when the Iraq war began, Lloyd was with me on thinking that this, also, was a war which began for the wrong reasons.

Yes, I am against the Iraq war. It is the Taliban that we should be at war with, not the people in these countries. The Taliban is everywhere, even here in the United States. We can't get rid of them by declaring war on other countries. Too many people in the U.S. have labeled anyone from the Middle East as bad people, and this just isn't the case. As if the people there didn't have it bad enough, now they are faced with even worse situations.

Now I suppose there are those who will tell me that I do not support our troops. You're wrong. They are doing what they are ordered to do. Young men are losing their lives while many, many more are coming home with physical and emotional disabilities. Before we went to war, this country should have taken time to try to resolve problems in a reasonable and peaceful manner, working with other countries to stop the Taliban. That is what many of us thought Bush was going to do, but once he had "permission" to do what he felt was right, war was declared. Congress should never have given him so much power. We were too quick to declare war, thus causing many other countries to look at us in a more negative light. We have focused on one country, letting up in Afghanistan so that the Taliban could begin to organize once again there and in other countries.

As John Lennon said, Ghandi and King were for peace, and they were killed. We can add John Lennon to their company. It's sad when those people who believe in peace and love are killed by those who feel they will benefit from destroying others lives and countries.

Tears come to my eyes each time I hear of another young man killed or mangled, physically and emotionally, in the war. Yes, I'm a Peacenik. But I still don't say near enough.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Grandpa and Grandma Hurst

I don’t think I was very old when Grandpa and Grandma moved to town, but I do have memories of when they were on the farm.

On the farm, Grandma had her chickens, and she loved her chickens. She had one that would follow her around, and me, too, but I was afraid of that chicken following me. Grandma would always tell me that that chicken wasn’t going to hurt me, but I was still reluctant about being friends with a chicken.

They had a collie dog. His name was Spook. I don’t remember what happened to the dog, but I remember that he was a beautiful dog.

Grandma had a garden. I can’t remember a lot about the garden, but I do remember how she loved the long line of purple lilac bushes that were in the yard. The garden was just north of the lilac bushes. Even after they left the farm and we lived there, I always connected lilacs with my Grandma. And the wild roses and tiger lilies that grew beside the house in the back yard. They were always Grandma’s flowers to me.

I remember the old crank phone that was in the living room. And the one thing I distinctly remember is watching Grandma when she talked on the phone, not just the crank phone, but later, when she had the phone desk in the hall in Colby. Whenever Grandma would talk on the phone, her face was filled with expression....happiness, disappointment, sadness.... whatever response was appropriate for the conversation. I remember her nodding her head in agreement as she spoke to whomever was on the other end. And she always called the operator Central.

I don’t ever remember Grandma wearing anything but a dress on the farm, and she always had on an apron. She had some beautiful aprons, and she also had beautiful hankies. Any time she went somewhere, she always carried one of her hankies with her. She always dressed up if she left the house to go somewhere. She had lots of pretty necklaces and pins that she wore. She loved Evening in Paris perfume and had cin cin’s sitting on her dresser to freshen her breath.

When the weather would come on the radio, we stopped whatever we were doing as she said “listen, listen” softly to let us know the importance of the weather to her. Later, when she and Grandpa lived in town, we would get in the car and drive over the viaduct and outside of town so that Grandpa could see the weather for himself. They also used to take me for a drive, I guess to get me to go to sleep, but those drives were special to me. I can remember Grandpa driving from Colby to the farm one time, and he would lean forward, put both hands at the top of the steering wheel, then encircle the steering wheel with his arms as he drove. I do that myself sometimes and always think of Grandpa when I do. It bothers Al to no end because he just can’t see how anyone can drive like that.

Grandpa and Grandma had twin beds. I never gave it a second thought about why, although Mom and Dad didn’t have twin beds. It was just normal for them. Now I wonder if it was because Grandma was a great snorer. After Grandpa died, I would sleep in the same room with her and remember going to sleep listening to her snore. Now, I think I snore as well as she did. And as strange as it may seem, the snoring has become a fond memory of mine because it was a part of my grandma. I even find that the few times that Al snores, it is a comfort to me.

Grandpa and Grandma took me with them when they went to Great Aunt Lulu & Uncle Henry’s to play canasta. I didn’t get to play, but Aunt Lute always had cookies for me or something I could play with while they played, or I would sit with them and watch. Grandma taught me how to play canasta. We played many, many games together, and it has become one of my favorite card games. I can remember when she would click her tongue in sequence several times while she was thinking of what to discard. If I took the discard pile, she always had a strong look of disappointment on her face, and an “Oh, no” as I picked it up. If she took the pile, her face would glow. When we played canasta, she used to ask Grandpa if he wanted to play with us, but he wouldn’t. He didn’t play canasta unless he was at Uncle Henry’s, or at least not that I remember. He would watch us or go for a drive.

Grandma depended on Grandpa to take her everywhere. As far as I know, she never learned how to drive and didn’t really want to. Grandpa took us shopping, bingo, to main street to park and watch the people. And many people would stop to talk to us as we sat there. After Grandpa died, Grandma kept the car for quite some time. She always had us drive her to the store or to bingo.

I remember the tree beside the garage in town, and the pampas grass that grew not far from the tree. Grandpa would set his lawn chairs under the tree and we would sit with him or I would go play while he and Grandma sat. Once, when Grandma wasn’t around, he took firecrackers and threw them into the street when cars went past. I thought that was great. I’m sure the people in the cars weren’t as pleased. What fun for a little girl. He would use his cigarette to light the fuses. I always remember Grandpa with a cigarette in his hand.

I learned to play Chinese Checkers at Grandpa and Grandma’s. They kept the Chinese Checker board in the coat closet. And this is a memory that my daughter Julie has, too. Just thinking about the many times that I played Chinese Checkers makes me think I need to get that game for my grandchildren. It was great fun to jump marbles.

Grandma would turn on her record player and we would listen and sing together. That’s where I learned It Is No Secret and The Old Rugged Cross. I think It Is No Secret was Grandma’s favorite, it was mine, but she loved them both. Then I can remember Grandma dancing. She had this neat bounce when she was doing the waltz and I loved to see her dance.

We also used to spell together. Grandma was quite proud of her spelling ability, and I always wanted to be able to spell as well as she did. We practiced a lot.

Grandma loved to do dishes. We used to clean her buffet that sat in the dining room and wash every dish that was in it. She would always caution me to be very careful. She also had what I call the blue lady figurine. It is mine now, and each time that I look at it, as worn as it is, it is a part of my Grandma that I see. I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my life.

Grandma used to fry steak. And it was the best steak in the world. Grandpa, Grandma and I would sit at the kitchen table and have our fried steak, mashed potatoes and gravy and whatever else went with the meal. And we always had bread with our meal.

I remember going to the garage with Grandpa. I don’t know what we went to the garage for unless he was looking for something, but I remember being there with him. And getting the car out of the garage so that Grandma didn’t have to get in until she had more room.

I also would help Grandma with her laundry. Washing the clothes and putting them through the wringer, then taking them outside to hang. I don’t know that I was much help to her, but I thought I was. I’m not sure just when she got an automatic washing machine and a dryer, but I know she did. She still liked to hang her clothes outside.

Then when Grandpa died, I was heartbroken. I remember staying at Grandma Faber’s and crying the day that he died. I didn’t want my Grandpa to go.

After Grandpa died, Grandma used to take a table knife and put it in the frame of the front door after she locked it as an extra precaution against someone trying to get in. I found myself doing that when I lived in Wichita. It was just an extra sense of security.

I lived in Goodland when Julie was born, but we went to Colby to the hospital. Before I went to the hospital, I sat at Grandma’s and waited. And guess what we did while I waited? We played canasta. After Julie was born, Grandma loved her so much, and Julie loved Grandma in return.

Grandma was a worrier. I think she enjoyed the little girls more than the boys because she didn’t worry so much about what we would get in to. But she loved us all, and so did Grandpa. And I loved them.

Christmas Tree Memories

(I wrote this 8 years ago and found it on my old computer. Thought it was worth sharing.)

Three little girls with sparkling blue eyes, and smiles spread wide across their faces, their reddish-blonde hair glistening in the light of the freshly decorated Christmas tree. They each don new nightgowns, two dark blue with teddy bear prints, and the other a light blue with clouds floating throughout the pattern. Beautiful red garland is woven not so neatly around the tree. Decorations on the tree cluster in certain areas, leaving other areas not quite filled. The twinkle lights sparkle, and the illuminated star sitting at the top of the tree reminds us of what Christmas is really all about. To the left of the tree, sitting on the counter, is a jolly ol’ Santa Claus watching over the little girls.

Three, four and six; that’s the age of the little angels standing in front of the tree. At least they look like angels for the moment. But I can still detect a gleam of orneriness shining from their eyes. At least they aren’t fighting for the moment.

I love my three granddaughters, and seeing their picture, I can’t help but reflect back to when I was a child. Our Christmas trees were much like this one. The kids always played a big part in decorating the tree each year. At my grandmother’s house, we would string cranberries and popcorn, carefully putting several pieces of popcorn on the string, then a cranberry. Cranberries cost more than popcorn. We also made paper chains. Sometimes we used green, white and red paper, sometimes we colored our own paper, but the time we shared together while making the decorations became a memory I cherish.

At home, my brother, sister and I also decorated the tree together with the help of Mom and Dad. And the last two things that went into the decorating were the star or angel that sit at the dad usually put this piece on...and the wooden manger scene that sat below the tree with one light shining from the back to illuminate the baby Jesus in the cradle. I remember well my mother’s quest to find the perfect tree when we were older. One year, she found what looked like the perfect tree, but when we went to put it up, it was top heavy. We had to tie a rope from a nail on the wall to hold it up. We still laugh about the trees Mom so carefully chose each year.

My own children helped to decorate our tree. I incorporated some of the old ideas into the decorations. Sometimes we made chains of paper and popcorn. Sometimes we made our own wooden ornaments to hang around the tree. But we always did it together and placed the angel or star at the top, then placed the wooden manger scene that I bought the first year I was married at the bottom, carefully putting the light behind it.

I still use the old decorations, and I still have children to help me decorate. I derive great joy from telling my grandchildren how we made the decorations. And even more joy comes from getting out the paper so that they can make decorations of their own. It is all an important part of Christmas.

I see many beautiful trees each Christmas season, but none of them will ever meet the beauty of my Christmas trees. There’s something missing in the other trees. Love, togetherness, companionship and last, but certainly not least, the memories.