Sunday, March 27, 2016


         When our mother got her license and car, we would go for a ride on the back roads, and she would show us where her relatives lived. She would say, "Just once more, before I die, I would love to go up that hill again."

         By 1964, Mom had gotten a brand-new Ford Galaxy, white and red inside, her third car. Her first was in 1959, a white Ford Fairlane, and her second, in 1962, was a new Studebaker, but we only had this one about a year because it was a real lemon. My father always wanted everything to be made in the USA. If he got anything made in Japan, he wouldn't keep it, so he was a die-hard Ford man. I think this was because of serving in the Army during the Second World War.

         Speaking of cars, Daddy liked to tell the story about how he and a group of friends were driving in Newburgh. They must have been drinking, because they were pulled over and asked who was driving the car. My father answered, "No one, officer, we were all in the back seat." He got a bigger laugh each time retold the story.

         Mom had a brother who lived with his family on Berea Road in Walden, on the Siegman Farm. We would drive there occasionally. There was an Uncle Gene, Grandpa Blake's brother; he lived at our house awhile, and after he passed away, Grandma swore she would see him coming from his bedroom in a long nightshirt. That bedroom became the bathroom later on.

         In town every summer, there was the Italian feast, a fair for three days put on by the Catholic Church. There were games, rides, and lots of food. It was a highlight of every summer.

         Also, every year for a while, the circus train on its way to New York would stop in Maybrook, down from the drugstore. We would get a half-day off from school for this; there were clowns, elephants, and many workers that would be walking in town: including the tall man, the bearded lady, and more, a real treat for all of us.

         We were raised Catholic, baptized as a trio when we were two, four, and six. We have the same godfather and godmother, Uncle Dori and Aunt Ruth. We all got a necklace and a stuffed clown, about two feet high, with a plastic face. This clown frightened me and changed my opinion of clowns forever after.

         When we had no car, it meant walking to church every Sunday morning in all kinds of weather, with a dime in hand for the collection basket, and after church we went on to Sunday School.

                    We went to church every Sunday, but we had others who came much less often.  We called some of them "C and E Catholics," as they were Christmas and Easter churchgoers.

         These were two special times, Midnight Mass Christmas Eve and Easter. Every Easter much thought went into our outfits. As we got into our teens, we got to pick them out: suits or new coats, hats, shoes, bags, what collar, long coat, short coat.

         Easter morning, off we went proudly and eager to see what everyone wore. The line to the altar to take Communion was like a fashion runway. You went a little more slowly, walked a little taller, and in your head you thought: I know I look the best. Thinking about it now, we don't know how our parents got us all that we had. They both worked, but I know it must have cost plenty.


        We are serializing Kathleen Blake Shields's delightful memoir about growing up in tiny Maybrook, NY, in the 1950s and 1960s, published last fall by Outskirts Press and available from OP as well as from online booksellers like and

        I am proud to have been Kathy's coach and editor for her book. Please visit my site, Free ebook offer there, too.

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