Everyone has them. They are always older than we are. They are usually smarter than we are, and if you are lucky like my brothers, sisters, and I are, you have great ones that are still around and even married after 60 years. My parents, had 5 children, 2 boys and 3 girls. I am the oldest, and I want to take this time to congratulate them for their accomplishments as husband and wife, and as wonderful parents.
To recall childhood memories of things about growing up with these parents, and in such a wonderful family is such a gift. I cherish these things that I lived as a child who was loved and protected.
I am about 4 years old and my lovely mother is standing at the kitchen sink in her spike high heels and dress in about 1956, in our kitchen on Grand Island, New York, and she is harmonizing in her beautiful voice to music on a radio as she washes the dishes. It is one of the moments in my early childhood, I can never forget. After dinner, my Dad, always with his pipe, tamping and puffing away, would head to the baby grand piano in the living room for an evening concert, playing a wonderful haunting melody as we children played games. The fireplace often had a fire in it in the wintertime and I remember watching the Ed Sullivan Show, Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, and Mickey Mouse on the console television. Before we would be sent to bed at night, Mom would march us over to Dad’s chair and have each one of us give him a kiss on the cheek, goodnight.
In the long winters, the lake effect snow in upstate New York would pile up around us on Grand Island, but my mother would bundle us up until we could barely move, and send us outdoors in the bright sunlight reflecting on the snow to play. When we walked the swish, swish, swish sound that our snowsuits made as we walked into the freshly fallen snow, was the only sound we could hear. We would carefully fall backwards to make snow angels before we would jump back up again and race to grab the sled and flying saucers and slide down the small hill in the backyard over and over again. When we finally came in soaking wet, our fingers and toes numb to the bone, dinner was always ready, Chicken and dumplings, spaghetti and meatballs, goulash, meatloaf, stuffed peppers, and wonderful cloud (tapioca) for dessert were just some of the delicious meals our mother would prepare for us.
In the summertime the surrey with the fringe on top was motorized, and my younger brother would give us rides. Once we had bicycles we would ride them to our friends houses all summer long. On summer evenings, he would play “You are my Sunshine” on the ukulele we had, and we would all sing along and harmonize together. Parcheesi games, zilch, monopoly and rummy are just a few of the games we enjoyed playing. In the summertime dinner was cooked on the grill, shish-kabobs, hot dogs and hamburgers. For breakfast, I loved the cream of wheat; Frosted Flakes; toast with butter, cinnamon and sugar; pancakes; and fried eggs and bacon. Lunch was always delicious, fried baloney with mustard; American cheese on bread, toasted until puffy and golden brown; thuringer sandwiches; fluffernutters; bananas with peanut butter; saltines with butter and sugar; popcorn, and sometimes even root beer floats.
In the fall, we would all get in the car and Dad would drive us all out into the country so we could see the beautiful fall colors of all the trees. We would stop and have a picnic with concord grapes and fresh Macintosh Apples purchased along the roadside. Any remarks like, “she’s touching me again!” from one of us in the back seat, were always met with a look from Mom that told us that we better not do whatever we were doing, or else!
Dad would take us for speed boat rides on the great Niagara River, dodging the other boats and hitting those giant waves until you felt like you were going to bounce right out of the boat.
So many memories of my childhood I cherish. I would like to let those two wonderful, hardworking, loving, creative people know, that everything you did for us, is appreciated, and I think we had a pretty great time!
Thank you, my parents.
Postscript: A little over 2 weeks after I read this at my parents 60th wedding anniversary party, my Mother died suddenly at 76 years old. I felt an urgency to write this, and when I read it to her, and my father, and all my adult brothers, and sisters, my Mother smiled beautifully, and thanked me for it. I had no idea she would leave so soon. Once again, I wish to thank her. She was a great mother to me. Hang in there Dad. You still have work to do here.