Mondays for Me #57 ~ In the Garden

When we moved from the desert of Arizona to the lush, green State of Missouri, I was what could be called “gardening ignorant”. It was difficult to learn much about growing fruits or vegetables in the extreme heat of the Southwestern summers. I was 12 years old and I had never grown anything except cactus.

My parents bought a small house in Independence that had ½ an acre for the backyard. To me it was enormous! My Dad was so excited to plant a garden, and I was anxious to help. That first summer it was a “small” garden, at least by my Dad’s perspective. He and I dug up the ground and made the rows for the various vegetables that we were going to plant. We sowed carrot, cucumber, lettuce, radish, peas, corn, and green bean seeds. We made a trip to the nursery, and we came back with tomato plants and some blackberry bushes. I really had fun with the entire process.

Over the summer I helped to hoe the garden and tie up the tomato, peas, and green bean plants. I can still remember how excited I was when I saw the first little vegetable growing on the vine. I was a little confused when my Dad took me to the grocery store and told me we needed to find a bag of potatoes with lots of “eyes” on them. We had always avoided that type before. When we got home he showed me how to cut the “eyes” off and plant them in the ground, and he told me we were going to grow new potatoes. Yeah, right! We also had three large, well established peach trees standing side by side in the yard. I was fascinated with their bright pink blooms that smelled so good. Everything was coming to life with very minimal effort. In Arizona my Dad planted two peach trees and one apricot tree. During the summer they had to be watered every day and fertilized often. In the twelve years we lived there, we only got six peaches and one apricot from the trees.

June came and the backyard was full of things to eat. The first things to ripen were the peaches! Each tree was hanging low with fruit in different stages of ripeness. We picked so many for us, and I probably ate the majority of them. I just loved them. We soon had some of our relatives come over and pick as many as they wanted. Then my Aunt Margaret came and helped me pick enough to can. I had never done this before so it was a treat. Finally, my Dad put a notice in the newspaper for “free peaches”, and after several people came and picked what they wanted, we still had fruit on the trees!

We also had an abundance of other vegetables that could be canned. Again, my aunt came and taught me about each requirement for the various ones. We spent several days canning and talking. It was a very special time. It also felt good to have contributed to food stored up for the winter.

The potatoes where the last crop we dealt with. I was amazed at how many had grown from those little “eyes”. It was fun to dig in the dirt and not get yelled at! My Dad loaded the potatoes into the bed of the truck, and we drove them into Kansas City to my aunts home, and we stored them in her basement covered in lye. We all had potatoes for the next 9 months. This was a good experience for me. I learned a lot about how to plant and grow anything I wanted and I learned both patience and hard work.

When Autumn came and the temperature got colder, I missed the excitement of gardening. One day I was waling in the yard and I noticed a lot of hard round balls laying under a very tall tree on the south side of our house. I really never paid attention to it, it was only a tree! I picked one up and brought it to my Dad. He told me the tree was a black walnut tree. He and I then went outside and picked up a few of the balls, and we used a knife to open the outer casing of the nut. Once that was done, we had a walnut in a shell like I had seen in the grocery stores. To be honest, I didn’t like the process. It seemed like too much trouble, especially since walnuts were not my favorite nut at the time. My Dad did enjoy sitting in his chair and coaxing the nut to come out!

The next year we did the same, only this time the blackberry bushes gave us an abundance of fruit. Because of this, and the above mentioned peaches, these two became my two favorite fruits.

When we had to sell our home and move to California I felt so bad for my Dad. He seemed to thrive in this environment and I knew he would miss it. When we left Missouri, we were able to leave a lot of the produce with our relatives. This two and a half years were some of the best of my childhood!

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have written two books “Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time” and “Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip”, both available on Amazon. You can also connect with me on Facebook and Twitter @VHughesAuthor.

Monday’s for Me #55 ~ Going to the Swimming Hole

Me age 5

I was always a tom-boy growing up, always the first one to take a dare and run with it. I remember so many times that the outcome of these daring feats ended in disaster. Once I ended up with stitches in my knee, another time I sprained my ankle so badly from roller skating off our wooden picnic table onto the concrete patio that I was on crutches for 2 weeks.

A perfect example of accepting a dare was when I was 5 years old. We lived on Circle A Drive and the street was shaped like a horseshoe. For the first 8 years that we lived there the street was unpaved. It was not uncommon for the county to dig large holes on the side of the streets to fix pipes or other issues. There was a boy named Terry who lived down the street from us, and he was about 6 years older than me. One day he came over and said they were putting in a swimming pool a few houses down, and he asked if we wanted to see it. My sister and I immediately said yes and off we went.

My sister aged 8 and me aged 4

Sure enough, right in the front of their yard was a large 6-foot deep hole half filled with murky water. My sister said that she had never seen a pool without cement in it and Terry told her that after they are sure the hole is deep enough and that it is the right shape, they drain it and put in the cement. He then challenged my sister to jump in. My sister wasn’t a good swimmer and although she was only 9 years old she already weighted close to 200 pounds, so she was afraid to try. Terry only just began the challenge directed to me when I ran and jumped in the hole!

I remember going under the water and when I came to the surface I couldn’t breathe. My skin had a light brown sludge on and I couldn’t “swim” to the edge. Totally frightened Terry jumped in close to the edge and reached his hand out for me to grab. It took a couple of tries, but we finally clasped hands. After pulling me to the edge he shoved me up onto the dirt. He then struggled to climb up but couldn’t get a good footing. My sister had run to Terry’s house and got his Dad to come help. Eventually we were both laying on the ground. Terry’s Dad was laughing so hard he could hardly speak.

He sent my sister to tell my mother that he was carrying me home and to meet us in the yard with some towels. Terry was instructed to go home. When we got to my house my mother and sister were standing in the yard with the towels and my mother looked angry. That was until she saw me. She started screaming from fear and rushed to get the water hose. She turned it on and began spraying me head to toe trying to wash the sludge off of me. I was still struggling to catch my breath and coughing.

After I got cleaned up enough to go inside, my mother told me to go take a hot shower and wash my hair and body really good. By the time I got out, Terry’s parents were in the living room, along with a freshly scrubbed Terry. They were explaining what had happened, and they told her they would take me with them because we needed to go see our doctor. That is when I found out that the “swimming pool” was actually a hole that was dug to fix a sewer line. Apparently the leak got bigger overnight and sewage had filled the hole. The county workers had been by early in the morning and had dumped some chemicals in it to keep the smell down. This was in 1960 before all of our current regulations. You can image my reaction when I realized I had jumped in a hole of poop!

Thankfully, I had no adverse reactions to the chemicals or from being submerged in the mess. I wish that this event had taught me not to take a dare in the future, but it didn’t. I must say, if nothing else, my childhood was colorful!

Monday’s for Me #47 ~ A Christmas Lesson

I remember the Christmas that I was almost 9 years old because it had a very profound effect on my life. It all began the last Sunday of November. During the church service the pastor announce that we were going to be collecting new and used toys and clothing to give to less fortunate children for Christmas. He gave the instructions concerning the time frame to get the items to the church. He also said that more information about this campaign would be given in a couple of weeks.

On the way home my mother gave my sister Mary and I a list of things to do when we got home. This week she added that we were to begin going through our clothes and toys so we could take them to the church the next week. Mary, who was 4 years older than I, immediately began to cry. She didn’t want to give away any of her belongings. As a matter of fact she frequently claimed anything that I received if it was something she liked. Because this is how it had always been, I really didn’t have feelings toward this either way.

My Dad brought two medium-sized boxes into our room and told us to put clothes in one and toys in the other. I decided to get it over with so I began to go through my things. Mary out weighed me by about 100 pounds so she could have cared less about the clothes I found. However, she kept saying “If you don’t want that, I will take it” to any toy or book I put in. By Saturday morning I had accomplished filling the clothes box half full, but there were only a few of the toys that Mary didn’t want in the bottom of the other one. She had not put in one item!

Over the next 2 weeks, each Sunday when we returned from church the same thing happened and my mother would yell at me for being selfish. I finally went to my Dad and told him what happened, and he confronted Mary, who immediately broke into tears and told him I was lying. My mother came running in and all heck broke out. I finally yelled for them to go check in the spare bedrooms closet! Mary ran to the door trying to keep them from leaving the room, but my Dad threatened her with a spanking. So, she reluctantly moved. My parents came back in the room with my 2 boxes of toys. My mother just left the room and said nothing, my Dad grounded my sister, and he gave me a hug! Nothing more was said about the “incident”.

The big surprise was the next Sunday after church we went into a classroom and all those who participated got to wrap the presents. We then loaded paper grocery store bags filled with the gifts into the back of the trucks and trunks of the cars and drove off. I can’t tell you how far we drove but it seemed to take forever to arrive at our destination. We pulled onto a long dirt road that had newly plowed fields on both sides. (We lived in Tucson and the farmers could plow in December). We pulled into a makeshift town of tents and wooden shacks. It was a migrant workers camp, just to the South of Tucson. I saw open fires with poorly dressed women cooking in big pots over the flames. I saw so many raggedly clothed kids, many with no shoes, playing and running around. A gentleman came over and spoke to the pastor, then he turned and with a loud bullhorn he spoke to the people in Spanish. The kids came running and the adults cautiously approached us. Then the pastor turned to us and told us to help hand out the wrapped gifts and for the adults to help give the food boxes to the grownups.

My Dad had dropped the tailgate of our truck, so I climbed in and started grabbing the gifts. They had been wrapped in red for girls and green for boys so it was easy to know who to give it to. I saw the kids excitedly open the gift and I saw a few of them crying with joy. Then I spotted one girl about my age open a doll I had given. She hugged it and kissed it as she had tears running down her cheeks. I, too, had tears leaking out of my eyes determined to run down my cheeks and land on my dress. My tears were from mixed feelings. I felt joy at seeing others so happy, but at the same time I felt sad that these kids were so happy to receive what I probably would have eventually just thrown away. I couldn’t wait to start a new box to give away the next year. This day taught me so many lessons during the short period of time we were at the camp, ones that I have carried with me and that I attempt to still adhere too for over 55 years.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Monday’s for Me #46 ~ Here Comes Santa Claus

It is at this time of year that I always reflect back to those Christmas’ of my childhood. If you have read any of my blogs you would know that I didn’t have the best upbringing. My mother and my sister Mary, both had mental problems so some of my memories have been tainted by these two.

My Dad always tried to make Christmas special. He would always ask Mary and I what we wanted Santa to bring us, and we always gave him plenty of ideas. Mary was 4 years older than I so the things we were interested in were so different. This was a good thing! She had a habit of “claiming” anything I received if she liked it so I always tried to ask for something that I knew she wouldn’t like.

There are 19 days between Christmas and my birthday, so this event happened when I was almost 6 years old. On Christmas Eve I was excitedly watching out of our bedroom window, hoping to get a glimpse of Rudolph leading the sleigh. Mary was annoyed because she said that I was letting in too much light by holding the curtain open and I was keeping her awake. She blurted out, “You now, there is no such thing as Santa. Dad and mom buy all of the toys and put them under the tree before we get up in the morning. They just lie about it”. I was devastated!

The next morning I didn’t come into the living room with the same enthusiasm as I had in previous years. My Dad kept asking me what was wrong, but I refused to talk. My mother and sister eagerly opened their presents and my sister gushed over the items “Santa” left her. I just quietly opened my presents and didn’t even glance at what was sitting under the tree. I finally told my Dad what Mary had said about Santa and he was really mad. He started yelling at her, telling her that she had been allowed to believe until just a couple of months ago, and she had no right to spoil the fun for me. My mother of course, came too Mary’s defense.

By the next year, I had gotten over it so I played along and told my Dad I only wanted one thing for Christmas, a Barbie doll with wigs! I was hoping and praying for one. About two weeks before the big day my parents went to visit a neighbor that lived a few houses down the street from us. While they were gone, Mary pulled the step stool out of the closet. In the living room we had one wall that had a large floor to ceiling closet in it. There were two large doors on the bottom and two separate smaller doors just above them. Mary used the stool to reach the top closet, and she began pulling out all of the things “Santa” was going to bring us. Sure enough, there was my Barbie with wigs! Instead of being excited, I felt kind of cheated. Christmas was never the same after this.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Monday’s for Me #45 ~ A Different Way To Get Groceries

Growing up I never realized how lazy my mother was. My sister and I did all of the house cleaning and most of the cooking. I remember using a stool to be able to reach the clothesline. When we were younger, we had one of those wringer washers and I remember having a problem with that one. I was probably about 9 before we got an electric one.

My Dad had to do all the grocery shopping. He and I would go on Friday evening to the Lucky Store, carefully picking up everything that was on the list. I used to look around and wonder why there weren’t more men shopping. My Dad stood out like a sore thumb, pushing the cart and filling it with our next weeks bounty. I didn’t really mind it because I was away from my mother and sister, and I got to spend time alone with my Dad. We would get home, cart in all the paper bags of food, then he and I would put it away.

When we moved to Missouri, when I was 12-years-old. The tradition continued for about the first 2 months. The stores were different, the food was different, and the shopping experience was very different. We are talking about 1967, and Missouri was way more traditional than Arizona ever was. Women were actually rude to us when we would go to the grocery store. I could see my Dad’s face turn red from embarrassment when some woman would make a disparaging comment. Of course, it made me mad, even though I didn’t understand why they said the things they did. We moved from the small town (about 800 people) we originally moved to and my parents bought a house in Independence. I only remember going shopping there once.

Later that week, walking down the hill to the house, I saw a large delivery truck in the driveway of the house. I got there in time to see two men with a large dolly taking, what I thought was a very large refrigerator inside. I knew better than to ask my mother any questions, so I waited until my Dad got home from work. He explained that it was a large capacity freezer and that we were buying a half a cow and a pig to put in it. You can probably guess….I was so confused. What in the world was he talking about?

It was about this time when my mothers mental illness became very evident. We always knew things weren’t right, but now we couldn’t deny it anymore. She went crazy, tearing up the house, screaming to the top of her lungs. She stated that there was no way she would eat meat that was delivered, then she ran to the kitchen and tried to push the freezer over. Thankfully she wasn’t strong enough to move it. She then did what she always did and locked herself in the bedroom. I just ran to my room and hid.

The next day, which was Saturday, my mother never came out of her room. My Dad asked me to come out in the yard, and we started planting a vegetable garden. He told me it was easy to grow things here because it rained a lot, we were no longer in the desert. I was fascinated. I couldn’t wait to watch it all grow and to eventually eat it! That afternoon another large truck arrived and two men carted in package after package of wrapped meat. That’s when I finally asked, “Where is the half cow and pig?” I thought my Dad and the two delivery men were going to die from laughter. After they left my Dad explained that you can buy the meat from the farm, and they package it for you. So, all those butcher paper squares contained the cow and pig.

By the end of the summer we had raised all of the vegetables we needed and my Aunt came over and showed me how to can them for future use. We had 4 peach trees in the yard, and she and I picked as much fruit as we could, and we canned those also. It was amazing to me. The best part of this whole experience was, for the next two years, Dad and I didn’t have to make a weekly grocery run. We just had to go pick up a few items that we couldn’t raise or pull out of the freezer. I can still remember how good the food tasted and how much fun I had gardening and canning.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Monday’s for Me #44 ~ My First Date

Because of my upbringing, I was left with little knowledge about life outside my family. My sister was 4 years older than I, but she had never had a boyfriend nor been on a date. If you have read any of my other personal life blogs, you would know it was because she was so mean. My only glimpse into the life of a teenager was what I viewed on TV.

We were living in Independence, Missouri. I was 13 years old and in 8th grade in Junior High. It was near the end of the school year and the School was having a dance to celebrate. I loved to dance. I would spend hours with my friend Bonnie making up dance routines. We would spend our Saturday’s watching American Bandstand and practicing the moves. We even took dance in gym class during the second semester.

When I heard about the dance, I never dreamed I would get asked to go. Bonnie was seeing a guy named Ted, and he had a friend named Brad. They were both 9th graders. When Ted asked Bonnie to the dance he asked if she thought I might want to go with Brad, and we could all go together. So it was set up that we would go on a double date. I was so excited. Brad was a tall 15-year old with blonde hair and green eyes. I could barely say “yes” when he officially asked me out. None of us had a drivers license so Ted’s sister offered to drive us.

Friday night came quickly, and I was a bundle of nerves. There was one problem that I had not been aware of, Brad was a Mormon, and he didn’t dance! When we got to the school, I found myself standing on the sidelines watching all the dancing. This was a genuine sock hop because everyone entering the gym had to take their shoes off. Then I noticed that Bonnie wasn’t dancing either, and she had a look on her face that I am sure was a mirror of the one on mine. She walked over and said “Let’s show them how it is done!”, and she grabbed my hand pulling me out to the dance floor. We spent the next hour and a half dancing and having the best time.

At the end of the night we met back up with the boys, and we got into the car for the drive home. Ted’s sister suggested we stop at the fast food drive in where the boys bought us a burger and onion rings. I had never had onion rings before, and I was hooked. I don’t remember the conversations but I do recall the knot I got in my stomach when Bonnie leaned over and asked me if I was going to kiss Brad goodnight. Suddenly, I felt sick! When we got to my house Brad got out of the car so I could get out and I hurried to the front door with him fast behind me. I said thank you for the nice time and tried to open the front door, but it was locked. I started to panic, I did not want to kiss this guy! So I started pounding on the door and I could see my mother peeking out the window, and she was laughing. I just stood there knocking and pulling on the door handle. Finally, my Dad came and unlocked the door and let me in. When I turned and looked out the door I saw the car pulling away. I was angry and humiliated by what my mother did, but because of her mental illness I new not to mention it.

A girl never forgets her first date, especially when they are as strange as this!

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Monday’s for Me #42 ~ Winterhaven

When you live in the Sonoran Desert, you have to make adjustments to some of the “standard” Christmas traditions. Like snowball fights! Unless you want to make the trip up the 9000+feet tall Mount Lemon to play in the couple of feet of snow that peppers the mountain in December and January. Caroling is another tradition that had to change a bit. I wrote in a previous blog about the last Christmas we spent in Tucson when I was about 12 years old. I received both a bike and a swimsuit as gifts and I put on the suit and went outside to ride the bike. Because of the warm winters, we couldn’t wear coats, scarves or gloves to go caroling. Although I loved hot chocolate, it was always too hot to really enjoy it.

Me at age 5 with
“wreath” in window.

One of the main traditions that everyone had to adapt to our weather was decorating the outside of our houses My mother took one of my hula hoops and cut holes in it to string blue Christmas lights on it. She then wrapped silver tinsel between the lights. She hung it in our enormous front window, and we plugged it in a night. Regular live wreaths dried up within days. We also had an aluminum Christmas tree with the color wheel. When my parents first moved to Tucson when I was 11 months old it was December 3rd. They bought a real tree and only had it up for about a week before it was totally dead! Hench, the aluminum one. Granted my mother was a very lazy person, and she probably forgot to water it, but once was enough for my Dad.

My earliest memory of Christmas was a place called Winterhaven. It was a newer subdivision in the northwest part of town. They decided as part of the celebration of the last house being bought that they would encourage all of the homeowners to decorate their yards. There was newspaper article written about it and that year, every night in December, hundreds of cars drove through the neighborhood to look at the sights. The next year they encouraged people to park and walk through. Although our family really had no traditions to speak of, this was one thing my Dad insisted we do every year. I looked forward to it every year because most of the people changed their decorations each season, each time trying to out do their neighbors!

I normally don’t add a lot of photos to my blogs, but I found out today that they decided to not decorate Winterhaven this year and the board also decided to not do it again. It is so sad to see it disappear after over 60 years of tradition. So I hope you enjoy these photos from the late 50s to mid 60s.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Mondays for Me #38 ~ Take it to the Bank!

I loved school as a child. I loved learning, I loved reading and writing, I loved recess, but mostly I loved just being away from home. My home life wasn’t the best and this was my escape. I was fortunate enough to have a great 5th grade teacher, who recognized my situation and showed me extra attention and kindness. When anything came up at school that required each classrooms’ participation, Mrs. Holman always picked me for it.

During the second week of school we were informed that one person from each grade would be chosen to be the “banker” for that grade. There were 3 classes per grade so it was a big deal to be chosen. I don’t know how it was determined who would represent a grade, but I was chosen for mine. I was so excited, even though I had no idea what I was going to be doing. Within a couple of days we had the first meeting of the “school bankers”. I learned that our responsibility was to go to all 3 of our grades’ classrooms and give a talk about why it was important to save money. Then we informed the kids that they could open their own savings account and on each Friday they could bring their money to school and “deposit” it in the bank. The perk for me was all 6 of the “bankers” got to go to the large Valley National Bank building in downtown Tucson, AZ. We were to take a tour of it and learn about money.

On the day of the trip to the bank, we all wore our best clothes. To be honest, when we pulled up to this 11-story building I had big butterflies in my stomach. However, once we went inside, they disappeared! There was so much to look at, especially all the people. We got to go behind the counter and watch the tellers give and receive money. We toured the safe deposit box room and along the way, the guide explained what everything was and its purpose. Then we were herded into the elevator, and we rode it to the 11th floor. All of these floors were just offices, but we did get to look out the windows. What a treat for a bunch of kids who had never been in a tall building before!

Then came the best part. We returned to the main floor and met the bank manager. He escorted us to the elevator once again, only this time we went to the basement. There was an enormous, round, metal door with a large lever on it. The manager opened it and we got to go inside. We were in the bank vault where all the money was kept. We viewed how they banded and stacked the different denominations of bills and coins. The manager reached into a drawer and pulled out a bill. He told us we were getting a special treat because very few people got to see what we were about to see. He then pulled out a 100,000 dollar bill! It was passed around, and we all got to hold it and look at it. It was a great day and experience.

That Friday after lunch, we were set up in the cafeteria with each grade having our own table. The children filed in and came to their grades table with their money in hand. My job was to “open” an account for them by putting their name on a saving book. I then took the money and wrote the amount on the first line, and then gave the book to the student. I counted all of the money from that day and place it in an envelope with the amount written on the outside. When we all were done, we took them to the Principals office. We did this each week, adding the new amount to the individual books until the end of school, when we refunded the children’s money. The average payout was $9, which was a lot of cash in 1966. I learned a lot during this process, the most important one was how and why to save money. Oh, I have had a great story to tell about handling a 100,000 dollar bill for all these years.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Monday’s for Me ~ “A School Field Trip”

Back in the “dark ages” when I was attending elementary school we only went on one field trip each year. Because of that, the teacher would try to make it very special. I vaguely remember most of them, but my 4th grade one left a lasting impression on me.

My first grade teacher was also my fourth grade teacher. I really liked her, and I was thrilled to find that I would be in her class again. All of the other teachers told their students at the beginning of the year where they would be going, however, Mrs. Woods just kept telling us to wait and see. The months passed by without even a hint of where we were going and all of us kids speculated as to what we would be doing. Then, at the end of February in 1965, Mrs. Woods told us that in one week we would be going on our field trip. The cheering was deafening, and one girl actually started crying.

On March 2nd, we all wore our best clothes to school. I was so excited I hardly slept the night before. All of the children sat quietly in our seats watching the hands on the clock edge towards 10. I don’t think I had ever been in a classroom that was that quiet before. At the stroke of 10 we lined up at the door and walked to the school bus that was waiting for us. I lived 3 blocks from school so getting to ride the bus was a thrill. It took a little over 20 minutes before we arrived in downtown Tucson, and we pulled up in front of the movie theater. We all let out a yell when we saw the words on the marque, “Now playing, “The Sound of Music”!

We all filed into the building, and we walked down what seemed like a mile long aisle. I ended up in the very front row and I sat in awe as I watched all the singing and dancing. I loved it. When we were on our way back to school the girls were trying to sing some of the songs we had heard, but we had the lyrics wrong. That didn’t really matter though because we had such a good time.

Many, many years later, my daughter and I would have girls nights at home. We would rent a couple of movies and buy snacks, then we would pull out the bed on the sofa and watch them. They were always musicals, and we would sing-a-long and have a great time. I had fallen in love with musicals way back in 4th grade, and I have Mrs. Woods to thank for that.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Monday’s for Me ~ Early Saturday Mornings

When growing up in Tucson, Arizona I remember I always looked forward to October. I am sure most people will think it is because I was excited to go Trick or Treating at the end of the month, or because our 80 degree fall temperatures were finally arriving. Although I did look forward to these, I was most excited about the early Saturday mornings. With the “cooler” temperatures it was finally safe to venture out into the surrounding desert.

Twice in October my Dad would pack up supplies in the car, and we would leave our house about half an hour before sunrise, and head out of town. We didn’t have to drive too far because we lived just outside the city limits. He would find a secluded spot and park. This time in the morning the desert air was always cool and very clean. As he and my mother would unload the trunk, my sister would find a place to sit and I would scour the area for wood for a fire. Usually by the time I would return with the wood in hand, my Dad was digging a shallow hole. He would then fill the hole with the wood and light it, and we would sit around it enjoying the warmth of it.

After about 20 or so minutes, he would begin to pull out the ingredients he brought to make breakfast. We always had the same thing, bacon, eggs, fried potatoes and toast. There was something about cooking it on an open fire in a cast iron skillet that made it the best breakfast in the world! After we ate, my sister and I would explore the area.

One of my favorite things to do was find an Arroyo and run up and down the slopes. They are usually dry at this time of year so the bottom is always packed with sand. During the monsoon season the excess rain water would rush through them, bringing debris and treasures. I would spend what seemed like hours digging in the sand and finding small toys, colorful rocks and on occasion I even found jewelry. At sometime during this “dig” I would conduct a safety drill. I would be digging and suddenly look up and yell “water!” and I would run as quickly as possible out of the Arroyo. This may sound strange but in the desert when water starts running through a wash it travels at a high rate of speed. Every year we heard about someone either barely escaping the flood of water, or someone being killed by it.

We would end our time there by gathering around the campfire and roasting marshmallows. I always liked mine a golden brown. We would then pack everything up and head home. I don’t have very many “good” memories of my childhood so this one is extra special to me.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.