Category Archives: Sandusky

Errands

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This is a nostalgic post about the many days I spent with my mother doing

errands with her. I was blessed to be the only girl, my brothers were not

interested in tagging along with us.  Ever!

My father was put in charge of the ‘boys,’ while we sometimes dressed up

and went to the downtown Sandusky shops. Then, when I reached third grade,

we sometimes ventured off to downtown Cleveland. The big stores, like The

May Company, Halle’s, and Higbees department stores. Each had their own

luncheon menus, nice dining rooms and calm, quiet atmospheres.  It was so

indulgent of Mom to treat us to a nice meal out.

There were other errands, like to the individual stores, where you would go

into, just to make one or two purchases.  Not like today, the one stop shopping

experience! Nor were we yet, going to malls to search for necessary items.

In the paint store, we would look and look through colors of paint chips.

Sometimes those strips were available, but not sure when the time frame

was that they arrived at the paint store.

We also would go in antique stores and look all around, sometimes only to

purchase one vase or gift for my aunt, one of mother’s friends or for one of

the book shelves or display shelves in our home. I liked when we looked at

odd things, like tiles that were taken out of an older home, headboards or

frames for paintings. I had only two things I collected which were place card

holders and birds of all kinds. I normally would just look, unless my birthday

or Christmas were approaching. I was not one who would ask for anything,

though. Somehow, I just liked to look at all the pretty and interesting things.

 

At the fabric store, where all sewing items were sold, we would spend hours

pouring over the patterns for ‘back to school’ clothes, for her and for me. She

and I wore matching clothes to church sometimes, but while we were in two

different school districts, it never worried or embarrassed me to know that

my Mom may be wearing the same fabric and pattern, only a whole different

size! My favorites of all the parts of the store, were the turning racks of cards

with buttons on them. I also liked choosing rick rack for the edges of skirts.

One wonderful and sensory memory, was the smell of the fabrics! While men

may be excited about the scent of the ‘new car smell,’ I still love the smell of

textiles! The final nice memory, which really came flooding back to my mind,

today while quietly visualizing my experiences of errands is using the sense of

hearing. This is a sound which came resonating and reverberating back to me:

“Thump, Thump, Thump!”

The big bolt of cloth being unwound from its cardboard base.

Followed by the unmistakable sound of the fabric shears slicing through the fabric,

going along the weave, or the ‘bias’ of the fabric.

Then, the sales clerk, folding the fabric up, tabulating the items that went along with

it, buttons, thread, lace or rick rack, and the patterns. (Sometimes a zipper was also

purchased.)

Carefully gathered, placed into the bag. Sometimes it was a paper bag with handles, in

later years, it was a plastic bag.

If we were running to the grocery store, on a whole different day, we may not get so

dressed up. This may just be pants or shorts for me, a nice clean top inspected by my

Mom. My mother wore dresses through until the 70’s, for her wardrobe for ‘going out’

in. Then, there were pant suits, matching items.

Mom’s choice of makeup meant, a mirror came out, a lipstick was smoothed over her

lips, her face powder was applied, and then rouge.

She has still ‘Bette Davis’ eyes, which don’t need any mascara and she hardly ever chose

to wear eye shadow, either!

 

When you think of ‘errands’ you ran, with one or both of your parents, what senses seem

to be important to your memories?

What is a memory that is so fresh that you can remember many details to it?

Hope Chest Story

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Opening the lid on my mother’s hope chest, I always breathed deeply

of the cedar smell and would close my eyes to really take the breath

in, feeling the memories coming. I used to love to make my parents’

bed and dust in their bedroom. I would go to the foot of the bed and

take the crocheted coverlet off the chest. I would kneel upon my knees,

stretching my arms wide to be ready to support the lid once I opened

it. There are new hope chests that have the protective hinge that won’t

shut a child’s fingers in them. This was an older, almost antique looking

chest, its sides shiny and showing the grain of the wood. The top had a

swirling pattern carved into it. It may have been engraved by an artisan

or may have been produced by a factory. I loved the way it smelled then.

Also, I loved the way the ten different items that I am focusing on, in my

thoughts, meant something. These demonstrated love and sentimental

value in their being kept in this special location, so close to where my

parents slept and held each other through good times and bad.

Beginning from the delicate top layer to the bottom “foundation” layer,

each piece piled upon the next, neatly stacked with white tissue paper

between the layers this contained a lifetime of memories.

1. Pearl seeded cap to hold the veil upon my mother’s head. She sewed

each pearl on the cap and made her veil and dress. She used a pattern

that had Elizabethan cap sleeves, with the point at the wrist and its

length ending at her ankles.

2. Irish lace tablecloth, cream colored. She toured Europe after she

graduated from college, buying exquisite purchases that lasted. She

kept carefully until a fancy dinner would be served. She used her own

money for this trip and her parents gave her a small amount of spending

money.

3. White Christening gown. Tiny flowers with x’s and o’s, lovingly

stitched into the puckers along the neckline. This was worn by my

brothers and I when we were baptized as babies.

4. Hand sewn aprons. The multicolored aprons have primary colors in

them, red, yellow, green and blue. Each one of them has a pocket (or 2)

and my daughters now each have one to use or preserve, as they wish.

5. Lacy crocheted doilies. My grandmother was very good at making

these, along with hand painting cards for Gibson card company.

6. Large English tapestry. There is a shield with a crest on it, from years

gone by. It is burgundy, deep blue and has some golden threads woven

into it.

7. Bright silk sari. Turquoise, tangerine and gold threads are woven into

this silken sari, worn as a dress by my ex-husband’s friend, Kim’s wife,

Sunny. (I wrote about her in a post and brought this home from college

in the 70’s to add to the layers.) It has an intricately designed pattern on

the edges of it.

8. Cross-stitched Alphabet Sampler. This reminds me of those old primers,

but this once had been framed but my mother took it out, saying it was

starting to get ‘sun-damaged’ and was yellowing. She gently washed it in

cold water, re-stretched it out and then ironed it on the unpatterned side.

9. Handkerchiefs. These were from my grandmothers’ (both sides of family)

purses. When I would hold them to my nose, even though they were kept

in the hope chest with cedar wood interior, they held the perfumed scents

of those dear ones. Each had a fine edge rolled up and most had a floral

design, my favorite being, while young, the violets. Now, I have to admit

I think the embroidered roses make me smile since my mother loves them.

10. And, under them all… A West Virginian homemade patchwork quilt.

My parents first trip together was to Tennessee to see a classmate of my

father’s who graduated in engineering at U. of C. While traveling the

back roads down, they got turned around and while “lost” they found

a small local store hidden in the hills of West Virginia. There was more

of a story about the way the people stared at my parents and how they

chuckled when they heard how far off the beaten path they had gone.

The elaborately chosen patchwork quilt had  the wedding rings pattern

carefully sewn into it. The forever entwined, never ending rings would

embody a marriage of almost 44 years.

The quilt became an emblem of their love, never to be unstitched as love

would have it. It held the everlasting meaning or impression upon this

young girl when I would take each layer out of the hope chest, to examine

and sometimes to be found by my mother. She would tell me the meaning

of each layer, reminding me of the time when we were small and how in

the middle of the night we would wake up because of a nightmare.

Mom told me that in our first house together in Sandusky, Ohio, they

had used this as their blanket. She would lift a corner of her sheet with

the blanket on top, allowing us to climb in with Dad and her. We would

eventually calm down, be led back to bed (or carried.)

Tracing my fingers along the stitches in time, I held my breath in awe.

Even while young, I knew there was mysticism and magic in love.

What memories can be found within your family steamer trunk, hope

chest, or Army trunk? If you don’t have those, is there a special drawer

that holds your “valuables that hold memories?”

 

There was a plethora or “goldmine” in my 2 brothers’ friends

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I found my 17th summer a lot of fun working at Cedar Point, (Sandusky, Ohio)

and living away from home in the dorm with 3 other girls. They had weekly dances,

movies that were played on the stone wall below the Hotel Breakers, and a lot of

local people inviting us on their boats or to their homes, if we rode the ferry back

to town. I managed to be an onlooker to a lot of the seventies type behavior without

partaking or inhaling much…

The best thing that happened in the summers after my band boyfriend and I

broke up, were the times I ran into one of my brothers’ friends. They were in

awe of my “older woman” status and they were only 1-3 years younger. We

three musketeers were born in 4 years, since my Mom was 26 and wanted to

be done with having kids by 30. We ran around like a pack, with Randy also

working at Cedar Point and Rich coming up to visit.

Once school started my senior year, I went to a Science Club party where I

ran into my last high school boyfriend. I knew he was the right one, whereas

the others in my life had chosen me, I chose him. It was nice, he was quiet,

thoughtful and now holds a wonderful position helping the Cleveland area

to use conservation and ecological methods learned while he was at Stanford

University.

It was a very nice year with him as he was the first to hold deep and interesting

discussions on all sorts of things, including existentialism and subjects beyond

my conversations with S. V. I did mean to tell you that the French horn kisser

did teach me about French kisses and was so good at showing up at my locker

after school to walk me home.

On S. V., he was so sweet senior year coming up to me in my new hard contact lenses,

saying, “Don’t forget I loved you in your glasses!”