Monday, April 28, 2008

Crazy Cousins, By Sue Kinsella

Crazy Cousins:

Who is Sue writing about? Take a look at these pictures and enjoy! Then, scroll down to read her blog posting, along with more pictures.

Picture One: Julie Lochner and Kathy Taylor, March 1952
Picture Two: Sue Kinsella and Julie Lochner; Julie writes: "What's funny is that I can still make that face and stop a train! I use it all the time at work. I work with five guys and believe me, it comes in handy at times."
Picture Three: Sue and Julie, Just Hangin’ Around Together
Picture Four: Kathy Taylor, Sue Kinsella and Julie Lochner, 1954
Picture Five: Sue Kinsella, Julie Lochner, Kathy Taylor, 1962

Crazy Cousins, Part Two, By Sue Kinsella

Mom (CB) writes in several postings about the close bonds the kids in her family had with their cousins in Aunt Lil’s family. There are lots of special bonds among the cousins in the next generation, as well. Some existed when we were very young, and others are still strong even now. I’m thinking of Tim Kinsella and Ricky Lochner, The Dans (Kinsella and Maney), Judy Taylor and Beth Kinsella, Kathy Taylor and Steve Hawkes, and lots more.

Many of the bonds came from being close in age. Nancy Taylor, the first of Grandma and Grandpa Taylor’s grandchildren, was the lone granddaughter for many years, followed by nine grandsons. Then, in February 1951, I was born. Kathy Taylor arrived the day after Christmas at the end of that year and Julie Lochner was born a couple months later in February 1952. Lots more granddaughters followed after that and I loved whichever cousins I was with at the moment, but Julie, Kathy and I were especially close.

In fact, we called ourselves The Three Crazy Cousins. When we got together with Dorothy Maffei, born on Christmas the day before Kathy, the Crazy Cousins expanded to Four. I don’t know that we always DID such crazy things. I think the “crazy” really meant we were crazy about each other.

Dress-up was a big part of our repertoire. I remember dressing up in Grandma Taylor’s clothes with Kathy, marching up and down the front walk on W. Main Street in Waterloo pushing a wicker baby buggy with our dolls inside. Kathy and I used to play House in the little cabin Uncle Harold built for his girls and we swung from Tarzan vines over the gully to the side of their property.

Julie and I slept over at each others’ houses a lot. We tried to always be good allies to each other. For example, when we were teenagers and Aunt Esther threatened to cut Julie’s bangs to get them out of her eyes, I was a good cousin and did what Julie and I agreed was a more “reasonable” cut instead. Julie may not yet have forgiven me for not realizing how much her wet hair would shrink when it dried. Aunt Esther, however, was very pleased.

We scratched each other’s backs at night as we were falling asleep, but Julie quickly learned how to get the upper hand (so to speak). She would convince me that I’d gotten my way more often that day, so she should get her back scratched first. Like Charlie Brown and the football, I always fell for it, and she always pretended to be asleep when it was my turn.

When it was time to go home, we’d hide under the covers or in the closet or wherever we thought our mothers might “forget” us for a while longer. It never worked, despite all our tears.

Over the years, the Crazy Cousins have stayed connected. Kathy was one of the first to send me a get-well card when I broke my ankle last summer, and she sent me more encouraging messages throughout the ordeal. Julie came all the way from Colorado to take care of me. I had visited Dorothy just a few months before at her home and kitchen store in the Catskills. We all have very different lives crammed with way too much to do. But I believe I can speak for each of us when I say we’re still crazy about each other.
Picture One: Sue and Julie, Christmas Elves, 2005
Picture Two: Kathy and Sue, Christmas 2003
Picture Three: Dress-Up Beauties: Dorothy Maffei, Mary Lou Taylor, Julie Lochner, Christine Emhof, Kathy Taylor, Sue Kinsella, 1960
Picture Four: Sue, Dorothy Maffei, Julie.2004
Picture Five: Julie’s Wedding Reception: Kathy, Sue, Julie, 1985

Monday, April 21, 2008

Happy Birthday, Gladys: One Month and One Day Apart--by Aunt CB

“You and Gladys were babies and I was watching over you while your Ma was off visiting. You got hungry and as long as I could nurse Gladys, I thought I’d do the same with you, so I did!” said Aunt Lil.

As you see, we never had a chance! Bound together as babies, we continued our appreciation of one another to the end of life. Gladys and I made a pair! All through our almost seventy years together, I only remember one argument, and neither of us could tell you what the bone of contention was, but it occurred on the Caldwell Hill Road, very near where the drive to the Cemetery comes in. It was a dill! Pulling hair, kicking, scratching, and ended with my continuing on up the hill to Grandma’s and Gladys returning to the store.

Whenever we were in Center Lisle, we were inseparable, her house or at the farm, we were together! Sleeping four in a bed, crosswise, sometimes at Aunt Lil’s, sometimes at Grandma’s, made no difference. When Gladys had constipation problems, no matter, I went right along with her. Fortunately Aunt Lil’s outhouse was a two seater. A favorite one though, on the road to the farm, was Belle Barrow’s. That was a three seater, one low for little kids, and she had tons of funny papers stacked near the door way!

We never had a spare minute when we got together. We might be on the upper floor of her garage, rolling cigarettes on a machine, (a fun job) or picking blackberries at the farm. Sometimes we were “helping” Adin in his jobs, clearing the spring in the back pasture for the cows or in the woods, trimming trees.

That was where we were that hot July day when we all rested while Adin took a break. Doris and Harold were with us too. Sitting there, around an ice cold spring-fed pool, Adin noticed one of us, fiddling with our socks, rolling the top up and down. “Let’s have a club,” he said, “the roll down stocking club!” Any activity with Adin was OK with us, so we all agreed. “Now we need a password” he exclaimed. “How about Bullshit?” Again, if Adin had said, “Jump in the pool,” we’d had done so, thus and ever after the five of us were banded together in this special club!

I’m sure Harold remembers, as I do, Gladys’ first bike. She hadn’t quite gotten the knack of riding a two wheeler when we took it up to the farm to help her learn. Inspired, we decided the easy way would be for the three of us, Harold, Gladys and me to ride it down Caldwell Hill Road together. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the territory, that’s about two miles, mostly down hill!

Harold jumped on the rear wheel guard, Gladys sat on the seat and I pedaled (or braked, mostly the latter). By the time we reached the straight away, near Aunt Florence’s farm, we knew we were in trouble! No brakes at all, we’d ruined them! Uncle Elmer was not happy with us!

Still a team, the summer of 1942, we helped out by babysitting Wendell, five or six months old at the time. We were in charge while he napped the afternoon when Elliot, his father, came to see him. We’d been cautioned against a visit from him, and this time he was very definitely under the weather, drunk as a skunk and aggressive. At fifteen, I’d never been around this kind of behavior and Gladys, having prior knowledge of him on a tear, was scared to death.

We quickly locked the door and spoke through it to him. He was insistent; we resisted as he hammered and kicked the door. My only knowledge of such times was gained by reading “True Story” a magazine that Gladys received, so I said, “Do we have any black coffee?” Gladys just looked at me, laughed and said, “How are you going to get it to him, through the keyhole?” Finally he gave up and left, but ever after, Wendell was “our boy,” for we’d saved him.

Together still, in 1953 or so, Gladys and Lester bought Adin’s farm to have a go at farm work. “We are buying it on a shoestring,” she told me, and I responded, “and on the other end of that shoestring we’re buying our first house in Rochester.” Time moved on, babies came and grew and we wrote letters as we could. One of my favorites, in response to one I’d written her when she had pneumonia, included the fact that she was prostrate in bed, and were she up, she’d never notice the cobwebs in the corners, but from her vantage point they bothered her. She yearned for a gold spray paint to festoon them and cheer herself up!

She had quit school at sixteen, for whatever reason, but her inquisitiveness never left her, and led to her finally working to get her GED. As she did so, she influenced half her neighbors to do the same. Some gal she was! Not done yet though, while working full time as an aide in a hospital, she attended Community College and received an Associate’s Degree.

Yep, her sense of humor was incomparable. She said she’d have had a stepfather after Elmer died, but for the fact that the other side of her mother’s bed was covered with books! (A true Baker, or Borthwick!- reading was passed along to us all in the genes.) After Aunt Lil’s funeral, we clubbed together once more--at the church reception, and shared a piece of lemon pie. Close together, each with a fork, and one plate full of pie, Joyce Henderson’s mother said, “There’s lots of pie, you can each have a piece.” “No,” returned Gladys, “this is the way we have to mourn together.”

When I heard in the fall of 1996, that she had been diagnosed with A.L.S. (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) I was devastated. I received one of the last letters she ever wrote in a card for Christmas. I still have it, for it is a love letter. One doesn’t throw them away.

Regardless of the weather, we visited as often as we could, through January, February and March. Lester will always be in my “best” book, for he did everything for her, rebuilding the porch steps with a runway for her, bathing and turning her, as the disease progressed and she could do nothing for herself. Still her humor shone, we’d come and she’d have a funny tale to tell, to giggle over, until speech muscles froze.

Born April 22, 1927, one month and one day after myself (March 21). Growing up, I never missed a chance to remind her that I was the older one! As adults, she got back at me, over and over, as SHE was the younger one! Died, March 28, 1997, I am very sure that she’d have giggled once more, pointing out, “and I never became 70 years old!”

I miss my twin!

Picture One: Gladys, Lucille, 1931
Picture Two: Lucille and Gladys
Picture Three: Gladys (on the left) and Lucille, taken as teenagers at 30 West St, Geneva, 1943 or 1944--They had each made "broomstick " skirts and were showing them off [ a broomstick skirt is a very full cotton skirt that you wet and wind around a broomstick and let it dry, thus all sorts of creases!!]
Picture Four: Gladys at Center Lisle, 1976
Picture Five: Gladys

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Nana's First Evening-- By Nancy Taylor Wright

Well, I went over to Donnie and Sarah's for dinner last night and had plenty of "Nana Time" with this sweet little (excuse me-big) thing. He's so alert to everything (seems much older than four days old) and listens and tries to focus on what's going on around him. He does not seem to cry very much, very contented baby, when he does cry, you know it though.

One thing we noticed, notice in the one picture of Graham's changing table in his room, Donnie's going to have to protect the artwork on the wall better because of the frequent spurts on the wall while changing the diaper and leaving one exposed to the air! Sarah, her mom, and I were working at changing the diaper last night, and he was squirting water, then he would squirt the other end, making us change the pad, then had to change his clothes because now they (and us) were wet, oops and now some on the wall, and the whole time he's just watching us and trying to focus on us -- probably oblivious to what he was doing to us. We were laughing so hard!

Picture One: Donnie, Sarah, Graham, Nancy

Picture Two: Donnie and Graham

Picture Three:Donnie and Graham

Picture Four: Nancy and Graham

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Young Arnon's Letter, and Other Thoughts

Diana got me rolling on this post when she sent me a wonderful letter from her then eleven-year-old Dad to his father. I had been sitting at the computer, attempting to type up Great, Great Grandma Cordelia Taylor's daily jottings about chores, etc. from 1892 and it could be tough going with her handwriting and abbreviations. I was at one spot that I knew had to be wrong; what else could it be based on the word before and after it? Get the light and turn it up. Hmmm, think like I was back in time.

So, when the computer dinged that I had an email, I was ready to take a break and check it out.

“Going through lots of old stuff I came across this letter that Dad had written to his father--spelling and punctuation are Dad’s not mine! "

South Byron, NY
April 8, 1931

Dear Daddy,
I got your letter you sent me this morning. You can have all the parsnips and vegetable oyestors you want because we have not eaten any. I guess they are all right. The sap has not stopped running yet but it is getting sour. The hens are laying good, we have not got below six eggs since you have bin gone. The wood has held out good. I have not burned it as fast as I could. Harold does not walk yet but pretty near though. I asked mama and she said go chase yourself (about you coming home Saturday night)

We went down to Mrs. Barbers for dinner she had just baked bread this morning and I ate seven or eight biscuits. Did you read about the little boy (age 13) save 18 children, only five died. We went up to Mrs Haskons (The Hotel woman) and she gave us each a ice-cream cone. (all together there was four of us.)

Mama says we can not take our play house because it would cost us around $50 to move it. She said we could get another one or go without one. It depended upon the us when we got down there, (we are pretty old for a play-house.) Something awful has happened to Ruth. Sunday night she opened that bottle of (Bajah Sandrich Spread) and Monday morning she could not find it. She says it is just like losing a playmate prettynear. I told her she had hought to have a reward of five cents if any body could find it. It rained a little tonight not hardly any though I liked the letter you wrote me. Mr Kicks brother’s wife died down to Byron. I helped Mr and Mrs. Rick this after noon. Mr. Rick is going to cut my hair Thursday or Friday. I can not think of anythink else so I will close.

Your son
Arnon Taylor

P.S. Do you think you will get here for supper Saturday night. We will wait for you. Lucille still sucks her finger, I bit it.

Diana finished by asking: “I was trying to decide if Lucille was sucking her finger because it had been bitten or if she just sucked her finger and Dad bit it? Did Ruth ever find her missing Sandrich Spread?”

Well, to be truthful, I almost fell out of my chair when I opened this email. I was back in early to late spring in 1892 and the twins Lloyd and Floyd—Bryant’s boys-- were a few months from being born. I was reading scrawled family tidbits like:

Feb. 15th: Wash a few things, and also iron—lest I be worse. Chest & side very painful but hope for relief soon. Am quiet and do not talk. Make onion sirup.

I thought to myself—Did I read this wrong—who has ever heard of onion syrup? However--Onion Syrup (thank you internet) is a healing mixture of onions and honey used by ‘our grandmothers as an old recipe for coughs’. Okay, I must have read that right. Onward to the next day’s writing!

Later in March, Cordelia writes “Boil ham, make sirup, cook taters and onions and stew apples whole quarters. “ Then, in April : “Cut & pack a crock of ham. Very nice. David & Maggie Kerr come to dinner, and all night. Have churning and other work. Visit as best we can. “ A few weeks later, “Take up the dreaded job of making beeswax—glad to begin—gladder to end. Cough does not like to give up. Hope on and ever. "

I love that Cordelia is so human--she loves ironing instead of washing and she apparently loathes making beeswax! Also, she always seems to be sick. But, then I come to a tough one to read. I re-read it and turn up the light.

“Cold & freezing, but wash with D. T. (husband’s) help, and so get on nicely. Cook veg-oysters. Work on sheet and fancy work for a change from much mending. Cough is bad.”

Nahhh, whoever heard of veg-oysters. But, worked on onion syrup, so I give it a try. Hah! Only asian recipes that clearly are NOT what Cordelia had in mind.

Then, I read Diana’s letter, and almost fall out of my chair-- They exist!

NOW I know that vegetable oysters are the root of a plant more commonly called ‘salsify’ or ‘purple goat’s ear’ and are ‘excellent when cooked’; clearly, young Arnon did not agree with this cooking website. But, if you are interested and look, you too can find recipes for creaming or frying or scalloping these root vegetables.

Did Ruth find her ‘sandrich spread’, and did Arnon get another play house ( I think we know the answer to that—he built one as soon as he got big enough), what happened to the 18 children who survived the fire, and did Cordelia’s cough ever get better (I’m guessing that since she died years from then, the answer was yes)?

Cordelia, like many of her time and place, passionately and truly placed her whole Self in the hands of the Lord; she wrote of Him in every one of her daily jottings. She would not find my questioning veg-oysters and Arnon’s letter a coincidence—even such a item of little importance, or that Diana, who admitted to having found this letter a while ago, took this exact moment to email me. Cordelia and G.K.Chesterton would agree wholeheartedly on Chesterton’s quote: “Coincidences are spiritual puns.” Now, about this next sentence of Cordelia’s….

Picture One:The Taylors in early 1931--a few months before Arnon wrote the letter
Picture Two: Vegetable Oysters!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Breaking Cousin News--Welcome Graham Alan Wright to the World!

Nancy Taylor Wright sent along great news--A new Taylor Cousin arrived on Saturday.

Donnie Wright, son of Nancy, and his wife, Sarah Osborne Wright, welcomed Graham Alan into the world on Saturday, April 12th about 9:30 at night. At 9 pounds 4 ounces and 21 inches long, baby and mother survived an unplanned c-section.

As Nancy wrote: "Am going back to the hospital later this afternoon to take a few more pictures, hold this precious sweetie that looks like Sarah in the face, has Donnie's dimple in the chin, and a bunch of dark hair like his mother. And looking at those large painting hands, Donnie's already contemplating the paintbrush for him to hold to help his daddy with the next mural."

Due April 8th, when Graham finally goes home, he will find a nursery painted by Daddy, or again, as Nancy writes: "Having decided on turtles as a theme, Donnie painted the turtle in Disney's Nemo all around the room in different scenes -- one is Daddy Donnie, one Mommie Sarah, another little Faith (his stepdaughter) and then there is little wee Graham. It's so well done, but then, he is an artist!"


Picture One: Donnie and Graham

Picture Two: Sarah and Graham

Picture Three: Faith and Graham

Picture Four: Donnie in scrubs

Picture Five: Nancy and Graham

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Watermelon! By Susan Kinsella

What is it about watermelon that makes it so great for family picnics? It doesn’t have much taste, it drips all over the place, and the pits are best dealt with in riotous “pit wars.” Whatever its attraction, it’s always been a big part of Taylor-Baker gatherings.

Apparently it started early. Mom (CB) says that her Aunt Florence Doran (Grandpa Taylor’s sister) commented, when looking at family pictures with her, “Is that all you ever did? Eat watermelon?”
I remember family get-togethers at the picnic tables in Grandpa and Grandma Taylor’s backyard, and always there is Grandpa Taylor bringing out a big watermelon to split among all us cousins. After Grandpa’s funeral, the family gathered once again at the tables behind 427 W. Main Street in Waterloo. Julie and I arrived together, bearing comfort food – watermelon, naturally.

And none of it ever went to waste. All the rinds so carelessly tossed were gathered up after all these picnics and Grandma Taylor and our mothers made them into scrumptious watermelon pickles. Julie Lochner Riber writes in the Taylor family cookbook that Pat put together a couple of years ago: “I’ve never been able to get them quite as crisp as Grandma’s and my mother’s always were . . . . Even the summer of 2004, as we sat with Aunt CB enjoying a slice of watermelon, she declared we not toss the rinds. She was saving for one more batch (of watermelon pickles)!”

Picture One: Grandma and Grandpa Taylor
Picture Two: Kathy and Barb Taylor
Picture Three: The Older Cousins - Back row: Mike Maney, David Lochner; Middle row: (two I don’t recognize—can anyone help here?), Chuck Lochner, Richard Maney; Front row: Sue Kinsella, Julie Lochner
Picture Four: The Young-Uns – Back row: Pat Kinsella, Ann Taylor, Tom Kinsella; Front row: Ted Lochner, Jim Kinsella, Judy Taylor, Beth Kinsella

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Playrooms and Forts and Attics—Oh My!

Have playrooms changed so much over the years? I don’t think so—they are made from whatever we can scrounge and wherever we can carve out a space not taken by parents.

We find them everywhere—from Otty Lake with its outdoor forts checkered throughout the pasture to the cluttered basement of the Spencerport Lochners to the huge over-hanging branches of the pine tree at 2846 to the tremendous metal trailer and woods filled with hanging vines of the Harold Taylors—playrooms are where you find the kids!

Mom would tell us that 30 West Street in Geneva was no different for them. In her words:

Big brother, Arnon, created a place of wonder in our attic. I think it was early 1937, as that is the year Arn graduated from high school. Doris was 13, I was 10, Harold 7 or so.

The attic had no floors, but just as the stairs came up, Arnon put down wood and built work benches for himself. Better choice than the cellar, which was huge, but had a dirt floor. He had drawers and cabinets, all of which he had built. We’d go up and walk across the floor joists to wherever we wanted or needed to go in the attic.

In the back of the house, there was a window all by its lonesome (this was the third floor) and below that was the roof of the back porch. Here there was space for a room-size area, about like our attic bedroom at 2846. Now it so happened that down the street lived Mr. Connelly, who was a mason. He had many, many boards that he kept in back of his house. More boards than he needed, Arnon and Doris thought, so in the dark of night (ten o’clock?), they’d go over, grab one and walk it home.

Arnon would quietly go to the attic, open the window and lean out; he’d throw down the end of a rope and Doris would tie it around the board’s middle (with little Lucille helping). Arnon would pull up the board to the window, with the two girls trying valiantly not to let it bump against the house as it went over the porch roof so that Daddy would hear. In this manner, Arnon slowly put a floor in that area and built two bunk beds; we used burlap bags nailed over 2 x 4’s for the mattresses.

I will never forget the walk to get to our playroom! You had to balance on the skinny floor joists for about 30 feet or so just to get to it. It was only us Taylor kids up there, as to get there, you had to be half goat!!

We used to play house up there; we found some old dishes and pretended to cook. Doris made her big rag doll, Elmer, specifically for the playroom, so he sat with us through every lovely tea time and doll party. The only snack we ever had up there were raisins as we ran the risk of mice otherwise. Spring and fall it was grand. Summer, Too hot! Winter, Too cold!!

Picture One: Doris and Elmer

Picture Two: Back of 30 West, 1931. Shows back shed kids had to get lumber up for their clubhouse--Doris, Esther, Harold, Ruth, Arnon, CB