Saturday, May 14, 2016

"Strongest Memories," from HOME IS WHERE...

         Running things through my mind, I have something that reminds me of each and every one who danced through my life:

Grandma Blake---she made simple things for us: she took an apple, butter, a little water, some cinnamon, and a frying pan and out came a stewed apple, the best. I still make them today. When we had an upset stomach, we asked for stove toast: bread put right on the burner. I wish I had that kind of stove. I'd make that today. If we had a sore throat, Grandma brought us hot water with sugar and lemon. It seemed to ease the pain, no matter what. I always felt better when Grandma Blake took care of me.

Daddy--- Dad and I one summer went with Claudine and our grandsons to a railroad museum, where the smell took me right back home. This was the smell I got when we met Daddy coming up the path home from work or sniffed his railroad clothes hanging on the hook in the back kitchen. He always smelled like the railroad and Old Spice.

Mom---Mom was White Shoulders cologne.

I remember Mommy’s work shoes by the kitchen sink---she would sit in the rocker, put them on, with the alarm clock going off at 5:30 a.m., followed by the sound of her going upstairs to the bathroom to brush her teeth, wash her face, and get dressed---as she did six, and sometimes seven, days a week for the 11 years before I got married. I was six when she went to work full-time. I remember the way she double-crossed her legs, which she could do because she was so small.

Maybrook School---Another of those familiar smells is the school in Maybrook. At one time all 12 grades were there, then later only the elementary school. When I went back, as my children entered the school, it still had the same smell.

The Catholic Church---still had the same smell, and it seemed so much bigger when we were young. We went every Sunday to church and then to Sunday school. Saturdays were for confession. After church, we would go to Watt’s drugstore for the Sunday paper and then home.

I recall Doreen watching Ed Sullivan February 1964---the Beatles made their first televised appearance, and I remember afternoons watching American Bandstand and I recall most of all our love and eternal friendship and raising our children together.

I remember Nancy---my companion, my roommate, my playmate, forever my friend – walking into the bedroom after a hard day of play, one which started just after daylight and ended when we collapsed, with her stomach down on the bed and two black, bare feet hanging off the bed, and I cannot forget being her comfort when her son was born prematurely and when she cared for and nursed her husband for his year-long battle with cancer and watching her rebound and attack life with both hands to be happy again.

An amusing memory---our family, even way back, had no car, but Grandma said a rich relative did and couldn't wait to show everyone. He stopped by the homestead one day while they were all sitting outside. I guess he got distracted and drove right into the hole that was once the well. He broke the axle on the car and had to be hauled out. It was a Model T Ford.


We are almost finished serializing the delightful book by Kathleen Blake Shields, Home is Where the Story Begins: Memoir of a Happy Childhood, published last year by Outskirts Press and available from OP in paperback as well as from online booksellers like and 

I am proud to have coached Kathy and edited her book. My web site is, where I am offering a free ecopy of my latest, Write Your Book with Me.

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