Friday, May 12, 2017

Heavens to Murgatroyd!

Freddy Emhof sent this to me. We are not quite sure who wrote it, but it is a lovely idea to remember that words DO get lost through the generations and decades. How many more words can YOU think of that might be lost as ‘time marches on’?!

Would you believe the email spell checker did not recognize the word murgatroyd?

Lost Words from our childhood-- Words gone as fast as the buggy whip! Sad really!

The other day a not so elderly (70ish) lady said something to her son about driving a jalopy and he looked at her quizzically and said "What the heck is a jalopy? Oh, Oh a new phrase!  He had never heard of the word ‘jalopy’!!  She knew she was old but not that old.

Well, I hope you are Hunky Dory after you read this and chuckle.

About a month ago, I illuminated some old expressions that have become obsolete because of the inexorable march of technology. These phrases included "Don't touch that dial," "Carbon copy," "You sound like a broken record" and "Hung out to dry."

Back in the olden days we had a lot of moxie (Ed. Note—In Maine we still do!.

We'd put on our best bib and tucker to straighten up and fly right.

Heavens to Betsy!
Gee whillikers!
Jumping Jehoshaphat!
Holy moley!
We were in like Flynn and living the life of Riley, and even a regular guy couldn't accuse us of being a knucklehead, a nincompoop or a pill.
Not for all the tea in China!

Back in the olden days, life used to be swell, but when's the last time anything was swell?

Swell has gone the way of beehives, pageboys and the D.A. and of spats, knickers, fedoras, poodle skirts, saddle shoes and pedal pushers. Oh, my aching back. Kilroy was here, but he isn't anymore.

We wake up from what surely has been just a short nap, and before we can say, ‘well I'll be a monkey's uncle!’ or, ‘This is a fine kettle of fish!’, we discover that the words we grew up with, the words that seemed omnipresent as oxygen, have vanished with scarcely a notice from our tongues and our pens and our keyboards.

Poof, go the words of our youth, the words we've left behind. We blink, and they're gone. Where have all those phrases gone?

Long gone: Pshaw,
The milkman did it.
Hey! It's your nickel.

Don't forget to pull the chain.
Knee high to a grasshopper.

Well, Fiddlesticks!
Going like sixty.
I'll see you in the funny papers.
Don't take any wooden nickels.

It turns out there are more of these lost words and expressions than Carter has liver pills.
This can be disturbing stuff!

We of a certain age have been blessed to live in changeable times. For a child each new word is like a shiny toy, a toy that has no age. We at the other end of the chronological arc have the advantage of remembering there are words that once did not exist and there were words that once strutted their hour upon the earthly stage and now are heard no more, except in our collective memory.  It's one of the greatest advantages of aging.

See ya later, alligator!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Lucille Kate Taylor Kinsella and Gladys Marion Howland Wood –Happy 90th Birthday! By Kathryn Wood Barron and Pat Kinsella Herdeg

Lucille and Gladys, summer of 1942

Just over a month ago, Aunt CB (aka Mom) celebrated her 90th Birthday with a party for the three March Birthday girls---Mom and her daughters Pat and Beth.

Aunt CB

Gina, Connor, Beth and Aunt CB

 The Kids Table!

Surrounded by many of her family, the Sunday brunch was filled with laughter, guesses on who did which jobs when they were younger (Mom won with the most amount of jobs and stories for each of them), good food, stories told, and more laughter. It was a great event to celebrate a full ninety years.

Today, Mom’s favorite cousin, Gladys Howland Wood (or ‘Glads’ as Mom called her), also would have been turning ninety. We celebrated their special ‘cousining’ in our blog story five years ago called ‘A Day for Us’.

To celebrate her birthday today, Gladys daughter, Kathryn writes:

Gladys gardening

CB and Gladys --The ‘Twin’ Cousins

I was always impressed at how considerate Ethel and Lillian were, to have 4 daughters each, a special cousin for each.  There were some gaps in their ages - 1yr 2 months between Ruth and Leona, 11 months between Esther and Sylva, and 6 months between Doris and Phyllis. But the gap between CB and Gladys was so small they could have been twins.

 Gladys, 1942, Berrying with CB....
CB writes on the back of the photo--'Such a Pose!'

CB with her pail of berries. She writes on the back of the photo--
'MY pail is filled!'

CB was born on March 21, and one month and one day later, Gladys was born. When they were older, my Mom (Gladys) loved to ‘point out’ to CB that she (CB) was SO much OLDER than she was.  Imagine what she would be saying about 90!!

 From Gladys' Garden

The best part of my Mom’s childhood was spending time with CB.  I heard so many tales about  that. Even the walks between Center Lisle and the farm were worthy of tales. My Mom knew every outhouse on the way. I hear Barrows had the best one.  Something about having 3 holes I think. My Mom and bathrooms! 

Ma knew she was dying. Dang woman was so smart right to the end. In one of the last conversations we had, she related how CB had called the day before. I know that meant the world to her. The bond was so strong between them. 

Gladys and CB, 1943

In Aunt CB’s story from five years ago, she ends with this paragraph, and I think it still resonates for these twin cousins:

“Thus ended a perfect day, one she (Gladys) and I would always remember for we didn’t get many for just us. Somewhere in the future we’ll meet again and then there will be no more paralysis, no more blindness, no more deafness, no more heartaches, just the joy of being together and our jaws will see action again!”

Happy 90th Birthday to Lucille and Gladys, the Twin Cousins!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Adjustments By Evelyn Taylor

Another story from Evelyn Taylor, wife of Bryant Taylor, son of Floyd (twin to Lloyd). Bryant and Aunt CB were first cousins:

      Lance, Mitchell, Bryant
Evelyn and Pam in front

Living in another country for any length of time requires certain adjustments. In 1968 our family immigrated to Australia, located in the Southern Hemisphere…Gone was the Big and Little Dippers, replaced by the Southern Cross.  The seasons were the exact opposite – spring became fall, summer-winter, fall-spring and winter-summer.

To add to our confusion, the hot water tap, not faucet, was on the right and cold on the left.  If you watched the water drain out of the sink, it swirled counterclockwise due to the pull of the South Pole.

The toilet was in a separate room from the bath (washroom) and not necessarily right next to it.  My first experience with this was when we visited friends in Queensland, I asked where the bathroom was.  When I got there, there was no toilet, just a tub and sink. Embarrassed, I had to go back and ask for the toilet which was not a word commonly used in polite society at that time.  I was directed to a tiny room off the kitchen, housing the toilet but no sink.

I am writing this showing my adjustments----my husband and children had their own to deal with.  One of my most challenging was when I shopped for groceries and cooked.
First of all, supermarkets were just starting to be built.  I had to learn to take my “string” bag with me to carry my purchases.  This is a nylon cord bag with an open weave which expands to hold purchases.

First, was the green grocer shop to purchase capsicums-green peppers, pumpkin –squash, and unfamiliar named apples.  Items were wrapped loosely in paper without string to tie it.  By the time I got home, carrots, green beans could be working their way out the openings in the string bag.

Meat was available at the butcher shop.  Hamburger was called mince, but beef was not plentiful so became an expensive item.  This was sheep country, so lamb and mutton were meat of choice----not one that we liked.  Seafood was quite plentiful, especially shrimp called prawns, with legs, feelers, and beady eyes.  Ugh!

Another store supplied the staples and “tin” goods, jelly which was Jello, not our jams/jelly.  There was no peanut butter.  Everyone grows up on Vegimite which tastes like softened, salty bouillon cubes.  Another ugh!

 My biggest challenge was getting my 25 years of baking recipes to work.  Nothing rose up.  I had flat cakes, cookies, biscuits.  Finally, I got help when I bemoaned the fact to the woman store manager of the small supermarket.  She said that another American woman had the same problem until she bought flour which the commercial bakeries used.

The manager offered to order it for me but warned that I had to buy it in a 25 lb. bag which was very “dear” ( expensive),  Their flour came in 4 lb. packages as our “down-sized” packages are now--- 47 years later.
We stayed three years and then came HOME.   Because of this experience, we were more flexible people, more aware of differences in our own language and customs in another country.

I pose this question to my two grandchildren who now live in Melbourne.  Is it different now?

Friday, March 10, 2017

Seth Genung and the Cannon of Lafayette Park, By Jack Kinsella

As mentioned in the previous blog about Postcards of Waterloo 

 the Genung Funeral Home was started by Seth Genung and he turned it into a very successful business. After several such years, he realized he could no longer keep up with day to day operations so he turned it over to his son, Charles, who earned enduring fame (at least in Waterloo) for embalming Bill Bailey.

It did not take Seth long to realize that retirement was not for him so he arranged to have the city fathers award him a volunteer job. He became the custodian of Lafayette Park, the beautiful area adjacent to Waterloo High School and conveniently, just across the street from the Genung Funeral Home. Below is a picture of Lafayette Park.

History is silent about what Seth did in this volunteer job to keep himself busy-- with one exception: He reported to his overseeing committee that upon examination of one of the two Civil War cannons in the park, he noted that one of them still contained a cannon ball.

It is a well known fact that in any small town when something unusual happens, almost immediately, two stories circulate—one, the official story and  two, the local version of what REALLY happened. So here are the two versions:

The Official Story:

Seth decided that it was not safe to have a cannon with a cannon ball in its barrel so he decided he would put a very tiny amount of gun powder into the cannon and then light a fuse to “puff” the ball out. When he did this, instead of one ball exiting the cannon mouth and falling harmlessly to the ground a few feet away, two cannon balls roared out and landed on a Main Street building a quarter of a mile away. There was damage to the building but fortunately, no one was hurt.

The Local Version

Everybody knew that Seth and his wife were not getting along. Everybody knew he would do anything to get rid of her.  And everybody knew that the cannon in question was 200 feet from the Genung Funeral Home and was aimed directly at the room that Seth’s wife always did her knitting every afternoon. To add credence to this version, the cannon balls did pass his wife’s knitting room within a few feet on their way down Main Street.

In addition to all the above, there is a direct connection to this story and the Taylor blog. Harold B. Taylor has his own version of what REALLY happened that fateful day when the Civil War cannon went off:

Harold always insisted there were really three balls in the cannon and the third ball traveled another mile south of the other two and struck his house. As proof, he would point to an eight inch diameter round hole on his kitchen wall. Whenever any of his grandkids or nieces or nephews asked what caused this large round hole, he couldn’t wait to tell them his cannon ball story. He did admit it only worked while they were still quite young. After they reached about five years old, they begin to doubt his story. They would say smarty things like “cannon balls weren’t that big” or “that hole looks like a stovepipe for a stove went there once.“ Harold would just laugh and say, “I have learned to only tell the story to the young kids.”