Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Reason for the Ticker

Guess you can't miss the fact that I've added an Amber Alert ticker to the blog. I started with a smaller version over to the left, but decided it was too easy to miss, so I moved it over here. I do know a woman who was abducted as a child - in her case, by her own father in a divorce case. It's a scarey thing. Of course, then, there was no such thing as Amber Alert. If it can help in a single case, I'm all for it. The ticker is a sad reminder to me that today's children can never feel as free and as safe as we did years ago.

When I was growing up, every street and vacant lot and patch of woods was our playground. Every mom and every dad in the neighborhood could be relied upon to look out for every kid who happened to fall out of a tree or off a front porch on their property, call their parents if necessary, or just patch up a skinned knee or bloody nose, with no concern about law suits. They offered a little iodine or a bandage, a pat on the head and a cookie.

I did fall out of my share of trees. And once I roller skated across and right off of a front porch onto the sidewalk. Ouch. At least I missed the barberry bushes. Each day was a new adventure. We played in the nearby woods a lot. It was neat! It not only offered trees, but an old, rotting bridge we could fall off of or through, into the creek. There were some small caves. These were sometimes inhabited by small animals - or by the occasional tramp (The 1930's version of a homeless person). A road ran through these woods, down a steep hill lined with a couple of rows of old wooden houses. In earlier years they had been the homes of mill workers. Now they were full of hillbilly squatters. These people didn't bother us if we didn't bother them, but they did chase us once when we happened on a still. We didn't know what it was at the time, but we learned to steer clear of it.

We sometimes hung around the riding stables. I don't know how I ever saved up twenty-five cents, but I did, and carried it to the owner of the stables. He asked if I knew how to ride. I said, "Sure," so he hoisted me up and I trotted off, full of confidence and happier than I had ever been. As soon as that horse and I were out of sight of the stables, he took off at a gallop and I went flying toward the ground. My luck held. No broken bones.

We explored the woods, the creek, the quarry, and any place else we happened upon, but I don't remember any terrible, tragic incident. I guess the prize for the most dangerous (and foolish) adventure goes to the storm drain. I used to play with the Baptist minister's kids. One of the boys, Eddie, was about my age. There were trolley tracks that ran in a long curve from Shadeland Avenue near my house, down past Garret Road near the church and rectory where Eddie lived. A storm drain pipe ran alongside the tracks, and was open at each intersection. I don't know how long a span this was, but it ran behind at least seven or eight properties, each of which must have been 100' across. Eddie and I squatted down at the Shadeland Avenue end, discussing whether the pipe was big enough for us to crawl through. It's hard to believe that even nine year old kids could be so stupid as to try it, but we decided we had to find out. I went home and got a couple of candles from the pantry shelf. Eddie supplied the matches, and in we went. No one in our world knew we were in there. If we had got stuck no one would have found us until the next big storm, when the water would back up and they went looking for the cause. I get claustrophobic today, just thinking about it. Eddie went first, being a gentleman, so I never saw anything but the soles of his sneakers. It was a long crawl. When we came out we were covered with muck and cobwebs and God-knows-what-else. But we made it!

Despite all of our escapades and sometimes extended absences, no adult ever once entertained the thought that we might have been abducted.

Have I mentioned that I was a tomboy?

Saturday, January 26, 2008


My sister and I were best friends and confidantes for many years. I miss her more than I can say.

Maggie was fourteen years older than I. My brother was eleven years older. When they took me out when I was a small child, people often mistook them for my parents. In truth, Maggie was like a second mother t
o me for a long time. She was everyone's mother. This is a picture of her with our brother, around 1921. She seems to have been in training for a lifetime of mothering people.

I often look at old family photographs and think that she looked much older when she was in high school than she did several years later. In this shot of the two of us, she was only sixteen or seventeen.

When I was that little, I did not appreciate her as a baby sitter, and I would throw temper tantrums. Her solution for that one was to carry me upstairs, turn on the shower, and hold my head under it. Very effective. But most of the time, we got along very well and I adored her. She kept me busy drawing pictures or reading stories to me, like Alice in Wonderful Land, as I called it then.

I loved to spend time in her bedroom with her, watching her use such grown up things as makeup and nail polish. She had a porcelain box in the shape of an old fashioned girl in a yellow dress. She kept hairpins in it. I thought that was the most wonderful thing ever.

Maggie graduated from high school the year before I started kindergarten. I frequently heard our mother bemoan, "Twenty-four years in the PTA!" But it was Maggie who walked me to and from my first day of school, and it was she who took me to Sunday School every
week. She also taught Sunday School to the older girls. It was she who sewed dresses and hats and coats for my many dolls. And when I became a teenager, it was she who made my prom dresses, and later altered them so they would look new and different for other dances.

In those days she was "Big Sister". Once I was out of school, she became "Best Friend". By then she had married and had a baby daughter. Her husband sometimes worked at night, and I would spend the evenings with her. We would eat ice cream - chocolate marshmallow and butterscotch vanilla - and watch I Love Lucy on TV together, and talk endlessly.

During my twenty-one years in New York, we exchanged dozens of letters and photos, and made as many visits to one another as possible. My family and hers put in a whole lot of miles on the Garden State Parkway. Meantime, my sister was busy with caring for her family, then first for our father in his final years, and later for Mom, who by then was living in a house next to hers. Two years after Ralph's death we moved down to Cape May County, just in time for Mom's move to a local nursing home, when her condition had gone beyond our ability to care for her at home.

Aunt Maggie was much like a grandmother to my children, who also loved her dearly. When the only grandparent they had known was slipping away into the misty world of Alzheimer's, and no longer knew who they were, Aunt Maggie was still there. I tried to relieve her a bit from the burden of care. I visited Mom at least four times a week. By then, my brother-in-law was also in need of constant care.

All too soon, Maggie herself was having problems with her heart and with emphysema. We still talked every day and I visited her often. Our Sunday visits became tradition. Eventually she, too, entered a nursing home. This happened not long before my own retirement, so I was able to visit almost daily.

Maggie's passing seven years ago left me feeling lost. I no longer knew what to do with myself. When Ralph died I had our children to care for. When my mother died I was still working. When my sister died I felt I had nothing to do - nowhere to go. Whenever I passed the end of her street I instinctively felt I should turn in there. I didn't. I would continue driving, but forget for a moment where I was going. It still happens. And I sometimes reach for the telephone to share something I know she would enjoy.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The 50's

A wonderful decade.

Cannot believe it was more than a half century ago, but I graduated from high school in June 1950, and started my business career. $32.50 a week! That was the usual starting salary for an office worker in those days. Amazing isn't it? $32.50 a week and I paid my daily carfare into the city, lunches, bought clothes and shoes, and paid the rent. I also managed to start saving for a TV. Not many people I knew had a TV, but that's what I wanted. I got it too. It cost $100. in Wanamaker's basement.

When the TV was delivered, my mother, who was totally deaf, announced that she would "never watch that thing!" But she did concede that it was a pretty piece of furniture - a beautiful maple cabinet with doors that closed in front of the screen, so when I wasn't there she could pretend that it was just a cabinet.

My favorite program was Perry Como's fifteen minute show in the evening. Mom ridiculed him, and all singers. She couldn't hear them, and she thought they looked ridiculous, mouthing the words. But then she discovered Jackie Gleason. She really loved him and his antics. Soon she was sitting next to me and demanding to know, "What did he just say?" I had to have a pencil and paper and quickly jot down key words so that she could follow the plot - such as it was.

Mom also loved ice skating shows. I had taken her to the Ice Capades in Philadelphia a couple of times, and here it was, right in her living room.

A few years later, when I decided to leave the nest, I told her that I was going to New York. Her first words in response to this were, "You're not going to take the TV, are you?" Gee, Mom. Nice to know you'll miss me.

The 50's were good years in my life. Those were wonderful, fun years of more serious dating and of discovering who I was and what I wanted to be. Trying new things, going new places, meeting new friends. When you're 20-something and healthy and carefree, you think you will live forever and life will always be whatever you want it to be. Well, I now know that I definitely will not live forever - But that's OK. I wouldn't want to. And life has been very good to me indeed.

Of course, I also met my husband and we married in the 50's. We bought our home, and we started our family. New York is a marvelous place to be young and in love! But then, I guess any place is a marvelous place under those circumstances. We lost Ralph in 1975, but I will always remember 1957 as if it was yesterday. The 50's were a beautiful decade for me.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Hands have always fascinated me. I used to sketch my own hands all the time in art class.

My mother never learned sign language for the deaf, but I learned to form letters with my fingers, and I would spell out words for her if she could not read my lips for some reason.

My grandson has been using baby signing for most of his young life, and it was a great help to him and his parents before he learned to talk. Anyone interested can find the link to Signing Time over on the side of this blog.

Please forgive me if this entry begins to look rather strange. I am struggling
to find the secret of adding pictures as I go along. Apparently I am supposed
to finish the text entirely first, and I really didn't want to d
o that. As you know,
I am pretty new at this.

This is Isaac, gigling at his mother's interpretation of "This is the church, this is the steeple...etc"

And the other is the bride and the flower girl at my great-nephew's wedd

Again, the placement of the pictures is not at all what I had intended. I really must do some more research
to find out how to handle this in the future.

e is another, of my grandson receiviing a very basic first lesson on the piano.

I do want to include the hands of a wood carver, from a picture my daughter sent to me from Vancouver.

I love the picture of a Mexican guitarist. It is rather a fuzzy one,but I like it.

And then, there is my son, with the catch of the day.

Thhis is my hand.

I have so many others, and I love
them all.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Help, Please

Can anyone out there tell me, who wrote these words?

"I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge,

That myth is more potent than history.

I believe that dreams are more powerful than facts,

That hope always triumphs over experience,

That laughter is the only cure for grief,

And I believe that love is stronger than death."

Awesome Events

"Awe" is not a particularly popular concept except in teen vocabulary of a little while ago. For that reason, it is appropriate to be used to express the nearly unexpressable. (Is that a word?) I have been blessed with several truly awesome experiences during my lifetime. There are, of course, the human experiences involving love and childbirth. But I am thinking now of Nature's beauty and power.

Most outstanding of my experiences surely must be the meteor shower I observed from the back deck of my home one frigid night. The only thing that could have improved on it would have been a companion to share the experience. Sharing with someone always makes it better. I was quite alone. Never having seen a meteor before, much less a shower of them, I had no idea what to expect. I kept watching the skies, wondering from what direction it would come. From the corner of my eye I detected a streak of light so I turned in that direction, waiting for another. Another came - but from a different direction. Soon there were several appearing from many directions. At that point, I deserted my post on the front steps in favor of the back deck, where I could put a couple of lawn chairs together and lean back with my feet up and stare into the dark sky. I was alone, but was soon gasping and crying out in amazement, as stars came shooting in every direction, covering the heavens with glorious light. It went on for more than an hour. I was bundled up for the weather, but was in danger of becoming a human popsicle in the zero degree temperature, but I could not abandon the scene so long as it continued. I went around for days afterwards, unable to stop smiling.

Then there was the event of the butterflies. I love butterflies, and had observed the migration of the monarchs several times in Late September or early October, from the Cape May coast where they rest before their long flight across the Delaware Bay. I had always been thrilled by the sight. But one year, about a week after the migration at Cape May Point, I decided to take a ride up to East Point Lighthouse in Heislerville, at the mouth of the Maurice River. I had never been to East Point. I found at the end of the ride, one takes a dirt road to a small parking area, frequented mostly by fishermen. The lighthouse itself cannot be seen from the parking site because it is surrounded by fir trees and shrubs. Several butterflies of various kinds were flitting around, here and there. I crossed the small bridge and headed for the break in the greenery. As I stepped through to the clearing in which the lighthouse stands, I was suddenly in the midst of a cloud of butterflies! There were hundreds of monarchs, but also other species - checkerspots and cabbages, American ladies, sulphurs - I don't know what-all. They filled the air, brushing against me as I walked, covered the grass and the trees and bushes. I kept turning 'round and 'round, trying to take in every one of the flying flowers.

"The bu
tterfly counts not months - but moments, and has time enough." - Rabindranath Tagor


Interestingly enough, at least three of my most awesome experiences all took place in California. It is a truly amazing part of the world.

The first was my first visit to Point Lobos. My wor
ds are totally inadequate. Any time I attempt to describe the area, my head is filled with the words of the prelude to Evangeline: "This is the forest primeval - the murmuring pines and the hemlocks.... While loud from its rocky caverns the deep voiced neighboring ocean speaks...." I believe the poem was actually written there, if I am not mistaken, even though it describes another place. How could I improve on that? Thank you, Mr. Longfellow.

Next must be the redwoods. Again, I find words elude me. I do not believe there are words to do them justice. Many attempts have been made to describe them, by far more talented people than I. Words like "breath-taking" and "humbling". It really doesn't work. Walking in a red-wood forest must be experienced to be appreciated. I've tried to do it through photography. Photos can be impressive, and can certainly recreate for me the feelings I had while there; but they cannot bring it to the observer who has not experienced it for himself. These photos are not mine. They are from my daughter, Kathryn. I think they are very beautiful, and I hope they give the reader some sense of awe at the magnificent creations that these trees are.

And finally, there was my visit to Point Sur Light Station. Making the steep climb, winding around the rock to the station, three miles above, enjoying the beauty of the view over the Pacific and the wild flowers along the way, looking out over the ocean as the migrating whales breached and spouted, was the last adventure in Nature I have been able to participate in. It was a challenging accomplishment and exhilarating and satisfying to complete. It was a sight that I enjoyed all the more because I was very much aware that I would never be able to return to it.

I'm afraid that this picture of the rock is rather fuzzy. The lens of the camera I was using was not the best. The light station sits to your right on the top, a bit lower than the fog liine. The other buildings include a visitors' center housing photographs and other articles from the past. Of notable interest were photos of the sparrowhawk biplanes that used to patrol the waters - launched, mind you, from a carrier with a slingshot sort of device.

Just one more awesome experience. This one took place thousands of feet in the air. I love flying. My first flight over the Rockies was on a magnificently clear day. I spent the entire flight with my nose pressed against the window of the plane, like a six year old. Now that was breath-

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The 40's

When I began this blog I did not intend for it to become autobiographical. Apparently that is what old ladies do. At least this old lady. Surely I can go on to other things eventually. But meantime...

The 1940's meant the war. My brother joined the Signal Corps and was gone for four years. Back home it meant ration books for sugar and bakery products - and for gas of course, but Mom and I did not have a car - and blackout curtains, and a star in the window - a blue star, and a prayer that it would never have to be replaced by a gold one. And V-mail. My brother's letters were designed to reassure us. During basic training he wrote of amusing incidents. He told us he woke one morning to find he was not alone in his sleeping bag. He sent a photo of himself holding up the 6' long snake that had crawled in with him. I thought that was hilarious. After he shipped out he sent photos of himself with pretty English nurses, and he complained about the rain. V-mail. I practiced writing very small so I could cram in as much as possible in the little space allowed. We got used to seeing his letters come with blacked out spaces where the censors had decided he was telling us too much about his location. He sent pictures of cute little Belgian children sitting on an army jeep, then told us that shortly after the picture was taken, a bomb had demolished the jeep. He sent a picture of himself high on a pole, stringing wire, and mentioned that it wasn't much fun up there when bullets were flying. To me, it just sounded like an exciting adventure.

We saw newsreels and heard radio reports. But it wasn't real to me then. I was nine - then 10 - 11 - 12. It only became a little more real when my cousin, Arthur, was killed in action. Still, the rationing, the blackout curtains, the V-mail all seemed more like a game. How fortunate we have been in the U.S. Even the horror and loss of 9-11 was contained in one section of our country. I do not mean to diminish in any way the enormity of that event, but imagine if you can, or if you dare, an entire country destroyed in that way. Imagine what others have endured. And wonder - why? - whose mind conceived this? - who was the force behind it?

Yes, well. I digress.

Perhaps it was because I was so young. Or perhaps because I lived with my mother, who never seemed particularly worried or alarmed by anything - partly due to her deafness, partly because of her sheltered upbringing and lack of education, and probably most because of her own nature. My mother was always quite sure that everyone had good intentions and everything would always come right in the end. She would wish it, and it would become so.

Everyone was very patriotic, evidenced by the singing of the National Anthem with great gusto before they turned down the lights for the Saturday matinee. We collected scrap metal and turned it in at school, for the war effort. One little boy in my class caused a bit of a flurry when he turned in a huge ring full of keys. It seems he had helped himself to them while his father was sleeping.

My school roster included a subject with the impressive title of Problems of Democracy. It never touched on foreign affairs, and I don't recall ever having my attention drawn to newspaper head-
lines at that age. And frankly, I don't believe those headlines would have given much insight. Our government saw to it that the public should not be led to any unpatriotic thought. It was very simple: The U.S. was right. The enemy was wrong. We would win the war. God was on our side. Would that life could be so simple.

Meantime my biggest concern was that I was entering Jr.High School. But that's another story. Enough for today.

The Answer

Many thanks to SAM (Sue and Max), who supplied the answer for me when they read my last entry. Do go to their Comment and read it for yourself. And while you're there, follow the link to their wonderful photo blogs from South Africa. Well worth your while. Lighthouse lovers will be especially impressed.

Monday, January 14, 2008


What's with Blogger and numbers? They tell me I've done eight posts. No. I don't think so. It's been five. And the one that really gets me is, they say I have started my posts in the wee hours. 4:44 AM? No. It was more like 9: o'clock. I have been known to get up during the night and go onto the computer. I've always been a bit of an insomniac. But I haven't started any blog posts at times like that. My mind is too fuzzy then. Get real, Blogger.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The 30's

The 1930's - a more innocent time than these. A time I remember for its courtesy and graciousness.

Automobiles were the property of men who drove them into the city where they worked. Women and children walked, or if they traveled into the city to shop at Wanamaker's or Snellenberg's or Lit Brothers, they rode the trolley as far as 69th Street, then took either the subway or a bus to their destination. To go into the city, we got dressed up - even wearing our little white gloves and carrying a purse with a hanky in it. Women wore hats - wonderful hats!

Men wore fedoras. The younger men did not own automobiles. They had to use public transportation too. If my mother and I boarded a bus or a trolley and found the seats full, men and boys would leap to their feet to allow the ladies to sit down. If we were seated and an older woman got on, I was made to stand and offer her my seat. I secretly enjoyed that, hanging onto the back of a seat and experiencing the sometimes violent motion of the trolley.

There was a young man in our neighborhood who always made me feel very special. He would come swinging down the street from the trolly station in the evening, and if we happened to meet he always tipped his hat to me and greeted me as "Miss". Occasionally he would even stop for a minute to chat - very seriously, as if I were grown up. At those times he removed his hat, holding it against his chest as he asked after my health and about my family. I think he may have had a crush on my older sister. Or he may have just been putting me on. The motive doesn't matter. The point is, he made me feel really important. Thank you, Jack Evans, wherever you are today.

Friday, January 11, 2008

My Kids

I'm a mom. It's who I am. It's what I do.
Most likely only my closest friends will not be bored t
o death if I brag about my kids. But I started with my youngest, and I have to give the others equal time. Let me get it out of my system, and then I can go on to other topics. Maybe.

My first born was probably the most eagerly anticipated baby ever. Ralph and I both wanted to start a family righ
t away. And it didn't happen for three whole months!

This child was unbelievable. She slept through the night from the very beginning. Never a problem of any kind. People kept warning us, "Wait til the next one!" (And they were right.) But Ruth continued to be the perfect angel - until she was five. Then she walked into the kitchen one day and turned on all the gas jets. I did discover it in time to avert a tragedy, but from that day on we could never be sure what she'd come up with next.

I guess Ruth had to be pretty self-reliant. Our first three children were born in three years, so she was always the big sister. It didn't seem to faze her.

Early on, she let it be known that she knew exactly what she wanted, and she would do it her way. It caused some problems in her teen years for sure! But Ruth has become a very strong, loving woman and a great mother herself. Her name changed along the way. When her son was just learning to talk, he heard his father call her Ruthie. He couldn't say Ruthie, and it came out "Ruby". She has been Ruby ever since. Here she is with her sister, Kitty.

And hey! A bonus! She is a great story teller. She'll keep you laughing until you cry. I am so disappointed that the blog that she started back in 2004 has sat, neglected, since May 2007. Think what the world is missing!

One day we may be able to persuade Ruby to move down here to south Jersey. She has never left Long Island. And who can afford to live up there these days? Come one down, girl! I doubt she will ever make the move. her son and daughter and good friends are all there, and she is a New Yorker through and through.

This picture of her and the children, taken several years ago, was at one of my favorite plac
es in the world. Montauk Light has been dear to me since 1956 when Ralph and I drove all the way out to the end of the island, long before it became the beautiful State Park it is today.

Next came our son, Joe. No, he never slept through the night, but he made up for that later. Did you ever know a kid who would stop in the middle of play and announce that he was tired, and then go in for a nap all on his own? That's what he did, many times.

Joe was my rock. The girls gave us trouble from time to time, but not Joe. He was just a good kid. Not goody-goody - just a good guy. He continued to be my rock after his dad died - almost to a fault. People kept telling him that he was the man of the house now and had to take care of me and his sisters. This is a terrible thing to do to a young boy. He wasn't a man - he was only a boy, and I was the parent. But he took it to heart.

He's still a good guy. And his father had ta
ught him just about everything he had to know. Today he repairs my car, he put a roof on my house, takes care of most of the little jobs that have to be done around my place, and generally looks out for me. As if he doesn't have enough to do at his own home.

In November, Joe and Jan celebrated a wonderful event in their lives. His step-daughter presented them with a grandson. You've never seen such a happy grand-daddy!

Rita is our third child. She is the sweet one. I can just hear her reaction to that statement when she reads this. But it's true. Yes, she has a temper, but she hardly ever loses it these days. Yes, she becomes indignant and angry often, but it's always in a just cause, and rarely a personal one. Rita is the ki
ndest, most compassionate person I know.

She is also one of the most absent minded. She has been known to start down the driveway on her way to work, still wearing bedroom slippers.

Rita was always the smallest child in her
class. This made her pretty feisty and eager to prove that she could do whatever the others were doing. If a bully picked on her because of her size, she gave as good as she got. It also made her want to defend the underdog. She would befriend whichever child the others shunned. She's still doing it, only on a larger scale. Rita has volunteered wherever she has seen a need. Within the family, we all know we can count on her help if we need it.

Rita is a favorite with many patrons of the library where she works, and when people learn that I am her mother they are quick to tell me how sweet she is. So, yes, Rita, you are the sweet one.

So, that's us - me and my kids and my three grandkids. Did I mention the third g
randchild? I talked about Kitty, but don't think I ever mentioned her husband, Mike, or their little guy, Isaac. Well, never fear - they are sure to figure in future entries.

"Every child comes with the message that God is not
yet discouraged of man." - Rabindranath Tagore

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Learning from Our Children

The thought has occurred - we learn much more from our children than we can teach them. I have certainly learned from each of my four, and often the hard way. But more often, in wonderful ways. It would seem to me I've learned the most from my youngest. Perhaps that is because it is my most recent experience. Perhaps because we spent the longest period of time alone together.

Kitty was only six when her father died. The others were teenagers. By the time I emerged from my zombie-like state following his death (It took a long time) they were well on their way to moving on to the big, wide, wonderful world. Kit and I were left to ourselves.

I remember a card she gave me - for a Mothers' Day, I think - in which she thanked me for showing her the world. But in truth we found it together, and she went on to introduc
e me to so much of it that I had never seen.

This child had wanderlust. All my life I dreamed of faraway places, but rarely explored them, for a variety of reasons - or excuses. She made it happen for herself, and sometimes for me as well.

When she was little, as with the other three, I saw the places we visited and things we did through her eyes and thrilled to the excitement. As she grew and traveled farther she was generous in sharing her words and her photos with me. I have visited her and her friends in an international dorm at school. That was an enlightening
experience. I have traveled vicariously to Mexico's Yucatan, where she spent six weeks living with a family in a small village, and on back-packing trips through Europe, meeting amazing people. She was always a traveler, never just a tourist. We have entertained her friends at home. And best of all, I have been able to visit her wherever she found herself, in this country and overseas. She spent a year teaching English in a gymnasium near Budapest, and I spent a little time there with her and some of her students. She managed to teach those kids a good bit more than English.

Kitty would tell you that she is a writer, not a teacher. But we are all teachers in this life. And she does it better than most.

Gee. Do you think Mom might be just a little prejudiced?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

What's In a Name?

For some unknown reason, my parents decided to call both my sister and me by our middle names. This means that my sister was known as Margaretta (a name I find beautiful, but she hated all her life), and I was called Joan. During my early years and in school, grades K through 6, it was necessary for me to remind every teacher that my name was Joan. All of my family and all friends I made in the neighborhood and in school called me Joan. I was and am Aunt Joan to my nieces, their husbands and their children. My few remaining friends from those days still call me Joan.

By the time I hit Jr. High School, I had enough of this. I gave up. Too many teachers, too many explanations, and I became known by my first name. All new friends knew me as Barbara.

After graduation, in the world of business, Barbara somehow became Bobbie. I liked it. Everyone called me Bobbie. Everyone except the man I was to marry. Ralph never called me Bobbie. When he spoke about me I was Barbara. When he spoke to me he used terms of endearment. I think this was because he had a niece called Bobbie, and he couldn't deal with two women in his life with the same name. Don't know why. We ended with four Josephs with the same last name, three of them in the same town. It seems most Italian families name the first son after the father's father. We were no exception. But to his nieces and nephews I am Aunt Barbara.

I still have two friends from that era who call me Bobbie. It does become a little confusing around Christmas time, when I am writing cards. Have to stop and check which name I should be using for which person.

This name thing can get out of hand. Recently I was installing a second printer (don't ask!) to my computer, aided by my wonderful son-in-law by phone from California. Half-way through the process he said, "OK. Now name the computer." "What? You mean give it a name, like George?" "Yep." OK. I named it George. What's more, I named the other one Julia. Now George and Julia and I are happily printing pictures and whatever. Well, George and I are. Julia is rather temperamental.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Just getting started. I must admit, I haven't thought this through. I'm not even sure I really want to blog. Several people have urged me to do it and I'm not sure why.

Well, let's see. I do enjoy putting my thoughts on paper. I love photography, and think I would enjoy posting photos along with my random yammerings, just for my own enjoyment if nothing else. Guess maybe I'll give it a shot. I love reading blogs. Have a list a mile long, and feel as if I know these people who regularly come into my living room via their blogs. One is my youngest daughter and another my closest friend. Oddly enough I learn a great deal about those two by reading their blogs. Wonder what they may learn about me by reading mine?

Don't think they will learn much about me from this entry. It's going to be very short. I must gather my thoughts a bit and decide just what direction this will take - what purpose it will serve (if any). I assume some people will read it, if only out of curiosity, and I don't want to bore them to death. OK. I'll get back to you later.