The other Stacey’s mom

In my elementary school class we had two Staceys, myself and another girl.    We were friendly with one another for the most part but I wouldn’t say we were ‘friends’.     She was more social than I was (back then the lunch lady was more social than I was!) and I would just assume melt into the wallpaper most days at school rather than    be a part of a gaggle of girls.   That’s why I have so many observation stories to share,  I wasn’t like a ‘normal’ kid.  But anyways..

If I remember correctly the other Stacey’s mother worked in some position at our school so she was able to keep a close eye on her daughter.  In social terms that made her more popular.  Her parents had a big house, drove a nice car and she always had pretty clothes.  Every year for her birthday her mother would bring trays of cupcakes to her class for all of the kids.  She was liked by everyone and everyone wanted to be her best friend.   A few of my classmates had mothers that were teachers or worked in the church part of the school while mine was a glorified stay at home mom. (nothing at ALL to be ashamed of because my mom rocked her job!)  but in ‘popular kid’ terms that wasn’t enough to join the cook kid cliques.   Cliques in my class were easily divided by popularity and that means the only clique I was in was my own.  Well, me and one other person, my best friend Tammy.  At school her and I did everything together, and when she wasn’t at school I would sit by myself somewhere at recess and patiently wait for the day to be over.   My teachers told my mother about it all the time and said I needed to be more social with the other kids.  So my mom signed us up with some carpool to school program that the other mothers were doing. Every day a different mom would drive us all to and from school. ( It just so happened that the kids that were in my carpool was a few of the girls who weren’t very fond of me.)  When the carpool idea didn’t work,  the teachers in my class started putting me and the other Stacey together in the same study group hoping that we would become bffs based on the fact that we shared the same name.  Then, one day her mother showed up to our classroom and passed out party invitations to everyone in the class,  myself included.   Stacey was having a birthday party.

My mom was more excited about the party than I was.  She went out one day while I was at school and bought a birthday gift for me to take to the party and then picked out my outfit I was going to wear.   Thankfully Tammy was invited too and I knew I could rely on her to help me blend into the surroundings.  My mom, however urged me to try to make new friends.  All I could tell her was “I’ll try”.

I remember walking inside Stacey’s house and thinking to myself “WOW”.   Every inch of her house was decorated up for this party right down to colored balloons, streamers and her name on banners pretty much in every room.   Stacey was all dressed up with yellow ribbons in her hair  and very politely thanking everyone for coming all the while as her mother was ushering kids into the back yard for festivities.  There were games, food,  and all of the kids were getting along well for the most part, and I remember I even came out of my shell for a bit that afternoon since the kids that were normally mean towards me seemed to accept me and we all ran around acting like little girls (as much as we could run around in our party dresses, that is!)

Just before the party was over,  Stacey’s mother told us all to get in a line and lead us over to a patio table where a big book sat.

“Now, I want everyone to sign this for Stacey!”  she said “Write something nice about her and how much you appreciate this party”   I looked over at Stacey and she was burying her face in her hands.  I think she wanted to fade away into her surroundings like I usually did.  The book turned out to be a memory book of some sort.  A glorified baby book and beyond, so to speak.  Every single social event in her life so far had been documented in this book and her mom carefully made sure that her daughter had a memento that she would look back on in years to come and remember how much fun her childhood was.
By the time I got to the table she handed me a pen and I started to write “Thank you for inviting me to your party,  love Stacey”   Her mom looked at what I was writing and snatched the pen out of my hand and tossed it onto the table.   “What? No!…  write something else … something you like about her! You can do much better than that!”.  Normally her mother was so sweet and soft spoken,  but not now!     I looked at all of the other signatures before me and there were things like “I like your dimples”  “you have a nice back yard”   “your cake was pink, my fav color”    Finally I picked the pen back up  wrote “I like that we have the same name”  and handed the pen back to her.   She took it, looked back down at what I wrote and dismissed me with a wave.   I guess my entry was sufficient.  I then went back into the yard and joined the other kids who were all now looking for Stacey.  She was nowhere to be found though, and I think she stayed scarce until the party ended and our parents all arrived to pick us up.  After that her mother came out and passed out party bags for everyone that had toys and other things inside them.  “Stacey picked each of these out just for you!”   That appeased us kids for the most part and everyone seemed to forget the weird book incident.

After that I saw Stacey,  and the other popular kids in a different light.    Everybody had some form of weirdness they had to deal with in their lives.. whether you were popular or not popular.   Her mom wanted to preserve her daughter’s social life in a book,  whether she liked it or not.    I have no doubt she meant well… but she should have gotten more of her daughter’s input first.

 

I wonder if she still has it to this day..?

Vintage records- Disney’s Jungle Book

Haven’t done one of these in a while…   I really have a lot to catch up on!

 

A long time ago I had so many Disney albums I must have played most of them to death.   Back then they made them really cool with a read along book inside to make the whole record album listening experience even more fun!    You won’t see anything like that anymore..  Disney, much like most everyone else tries to crank out products not paying attention to quality.    I really wish I had taken better care of all of my Disney records.  Not because they would be worth a lot,  but because I could totally see myself someday with a record player just spending an afternoon listening to all of those stories again and reading along in the enclosed booklets  (wearing my reading glasses now, of course!)

Money in snails

Grapevinesnail_01

A few of my more recent posts have had a darker tone so I figured I would lighten things up a bit with a childhood memory.

When I was  little I was fascinated with pennies and other shiny coins just like any other kid my age.  I was too young to have an ‘allowance’,  but my father would occasionally  give me special chores around the house in order to earn a few coinage. Whenever he presented these tasks to me he made it sound like only I could do it and it was VERY important.   It kept me busy and would give my mom a break from having to find things for me to do.   This one particular time I remember he was out gardening as he did every weekend.   I would sit out and watch him or occasionally pick up a rake and do my best attempt at helping.   He brought me over the bucket that he would use to wash his VW and set it down next to me.

“Stacey, I have a fun project for you to do tomorrow! The snails are eating our garden,  how about I give you a nickel for each one you find in the yard?   Put them in this bucket and I will count them when I come home from work ”

Challenge.  ACCEPTED!

That night all I could think of was starting the next morning as early as possible so I could find every snail that resided on our property.  I had dreams of making handfuls and handfuls of nickels,  enough to buy whatever I wanted at Toys R Us..  Yep,  I would be rich and my dad would be so proud of me when he saw that I had cleansed the earth of those shell wearing, plant eating pests!

 

I grabbed my bucket (didn’t get up at the crack of dawn like I had planned but I was still out early enough before my mom started playing her soap operas on the kitchen television)  and got to work.     I scoured every inch of the yard both back and front.   Behind every bush, flower, rock, along the fence line, around the trees…    and by the end of the day I had accumulated a large cache of snails.     To a child’s eye I had hundreds in that bucket when in reality I probably only had maybe 20 or 30.    It didn’t matter,  all I cared about was my daddy was going to be thrilled with me and I was going to make a LOT of money!    My mom called me in for lunch shortly after that and I could hear “All my Children” on her television,  so I knew it was around noontime.  I didn’t want the snails climbing out of the bucket so I carried it inside into my bathroom and placed it in the bathtub. Closing the little sliding glass door shut on the tub I thought to myself   “There!   they would never get out and would be safe and sound for when my dad got home!”

My father usually came home from work in the evening around 6 or so  (or just after when the ABC evening news theme could be heard on the television).   Mom kept her small kitchen TV playing throughout the day while she puttered around doing her ‘mom things’ so I was able to tell certain times of the day just by what I heard coming from that tv.   I ate lunch,  then went to my room to play.   All I could think of was how proud my dad was going to be when he saw how hard I had worked in the yard that day..  Maybe he would even pay me DOUBLE per snail!     I was going to be set for life!

“OH MY GOD!  DAMNIT!  STAAACEEEEEYYY!!!”
My mom’s voice boomed through the house like an explosion.  I remember I had my bedroom door closed and occasionally I could hear her walk to and from past my door throughout the afternoon doing whatever she was doing.

 

“STACEY!”

 

I opened my door and walked out into the hall.  Literally having no idea what was wrong I looked in the kitchen and the living room for her,  but she wasn’t there.

“Mommy?  where are you?”   I stood there silently waiting for her reply
“I. AM. IN. YOUR. BATHROOM!”

Oh.. ok.     I continued down the hall towards the bathroom still wondering why she was so worked up.   Mom was sort of a drama queen and did tend to overreact at times so it could be anything.    Still, I hadn’t done anything wrong (in fact, in my mind I was a hero that day!)  so the sound and tone of her voice didn’t  jar me one bit ….  until I peeked around the corner into the bathroom.

 

Now,  they say that when you are young and learn things for the first time,  life experiences tend to help things ‘stick’ in your mind more.  Stuff like ‘don’t touch one of the stove burners while they are hot’… burn yourself once and you never do it again.    ‘don’t pick up a bee with your bare hands to get a closer look’…. you’ll get stung.   The lesson I learned today was this:

Snails can get out of a bucket.  snails can also get out of a bathtub with a sliding glass door.   They do not climb, they do not hop and they do not fly… they slime themselves out of the bucket, across the tub and up the wall.

What my mother saw when she walked into the bathroom I am surprised she didn’t pass out.  There were snails everywhere… EVERYWHERE~  on the walls, ceiling, all across the room.   Their slimy trails decorating behind them in zig zag patterns…. all over the white walls.

 

“What the HELL is this?!”

 

I looked around the room still confused at what I was looking at.   huh… I didn’t think they could do that.   I think all I was trying to ponder was why did I find so many on the ground if they could go wherever they wanted by sliming themselves around like that.  Maybe there was more up in the trees I could find later.!

 

“LOOK AT THIS GODDAMN MESS!”

 

Oops.. mom cussed but only mild cuss words.   She would say damnit, and hell the most  (never, ever the brown word or the dreaded f word)   She still would make those 2 mild words just as lethal sounding by the way she pronounced them.     By that time I finally started weighing in on the severity of this situation.   She walked out of the bathroom and I followed behind her.   Stopping for a second she doubled back to the bathroom and slammed the door shut muttering something about how she didn’t want the snails to get out any further.   I continued to follow her into the kitchen explaining the whole situation from my innocent point of view.   I told her about the very important job daddy had given me and how I was going to make a lot of money off of those snails and I didn’t want them left outside where they could crawl out so I brought them in to the bathroom where they would be safe.    Mom waved her hand in front of her face as if to tell me she had heard enough..  with a huge sigh she sat down on her white ‘telephone talking’ stool, picked up the phone and dialed a number.    I sat down at the kitchen table and watched her,  still trying to process the fact that I had done something wrong rather than something completely amazingly awesome.

“Cindi,  do you want to hear what your little sister just did?”

She had called my sister.   Uh oh…   I sat silently and listened to her recant the whole story from when she walked in and found the snails right up to my version of why I had done what I did.   When she was done talking she was silent for a few minutes,  then said “Ok.. I will talk to you later after Frank gets home”   and hung up the phone.

“Mommy, I wanted to say hi to Sissy!”    Really bummed out that she had hung up the phone before I was able to talk to her.    Mom did another deep, heavy sigh and looked over at me sitting at the kitchen table.

“Oh,  she couldn’t talk…. she was laughing too hard”

Mom spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning up the bathroom walls.   I asked her once if I could help but she replied that I had done enough and to go do something else in my room.  I didn’t argue…

Later on that evening when my father came home I am sure mom unloaded on him.   I think I hid in my room until after that exchange was done, unsure of what would happen.   A few times up until he got home I went to my room and cried finally realizing how badly I had screwed up.  All I wanted to do was make my daddy happy and make a few bucks on the side!   Would he be mad at me?   Would he never ask me for help again?  Was I a huge disappointment?

Dad came into my room and sat down on my bed.    Now was the moment if he was going to yell at me it was going to happen.   I looked at him and couldn’t even think of what to say.. so I waited for him to say the first word.

“Well now, your mother told me what happened today….”

Uh huh…   I looked down at my feet and was waiting for him to react the way mom had.  Imagine my surprise when I looked back up at him and he was smiling.

“I guess now we learned something new today about snails!”   he said with a smirk.

He wasn’t mad at all!    He knew my intentions were well meaning and I wasn’t in trouble!   That’s all I was worried about the whole day was disappointing my dad.     He probably sat quietly while my mom yelled and screamed about his ‘stupid’ idea to have me collect snails,  then when she was through he came in to make sure I was okay.   My father the hero!   I never gave him enough credit for being the one who understood me the most.

That night he took me to 31 Flavors ice cream for a cone.   We would do that occasionally and walk up and down the little strip mall looking in all the windows of the businesses while we ate our ice cream.  I don’t think we talked at all about the snails but this was his way of telling me that everything was going to be okay.    Dad still gave me occasional mini jobs to make a little money,  but they never EVER again involved snails!

The above story became a tradition of sorts  to recant at holiday gatherings,  to visiting friends (and my boyfriends), and basically to anyone that would listen when the mood struck my mother or sister.   Cindi had told me years later that it was one of her favorite stories to tell people.     Her little sister that painted the bathroom walls and ceiling with snail slime.   Yep,  that’s me!

 

Vintage Record Collection- earning points with cigarettes!

My parents were avid smokers growing up.    In fact,  that’s what ultimately did my mother in.    She had lung cancer which had progressed into her brain before she was able to get to the doctor and have herself checked.  Back when my mom was growing up smoking was considered glamorous and socially acceptable.   Even on TV programs like one of my favorites “I Love Lucy”   they showed smoking nonchalantly.

lucy1   lucy%203

so to have my parents grow up the way they did was totally ‘normal’,  I guess.    Smoking was never my thing though, I mean I tried it of course  (what kid doesn’t?) back when I was in middle school,  but it made me vomit and I never did it again.

One Mother’s day I remember calling my mom to wish her a happy day and she said something I’ll obviously never forget.   She said   “You know,  I was just sitting here thinking about something that’s so interesting.  When I was pregnant with your brother and sister I didn’t smoke one time…and they smoke.   Then when I was pregnant with you I smoked the entire pregnancy and you don’t smoke.  Isn’t that funny?”

Uh… define the word ‘funny’ mom..  although maybe that is the reason why I never had the desire to take up the habit.    It also could be the reason why I fell behind so much in school,  had an awful stutter and lisp as a child and still have a hard time focusing.    But anyways,  as usual I’ve gotten way way WAY off track.

Back in the day when smoking was more socially acceptable you could collect ‘points’ on every carton of cigarette to earn prizes.   My mom could have probably purchased a car with all the points she collected (sarcasm of course but not too far off from the truth)    She would give me some of the gifts occasionally such as calendars, address books, wearing apparel.   Nicely made items but still little commercials for their products.  Mom meant well giving me these so I would never slight her for it.    She would also accumulate points for breakfast cereals and drink mixes to also get prizes in the mail so cigarettes weren’t the only thing she collected points for.     Well in the records I was going through it looks like “Lucky Strike” also had something to offer for purchasing a certain amount of their product.   Imagine,  lighting up a cigarette, kicking back and listening to these tunes on a midsummer’s night.
Cigarette album 1 IMG_2117 IMG_2118 IMG_2119 IMG_2120 IMG_2121

I don’t think you can get these types of things anymore since the tobacco companies are under constant scrutiny.  Not that that’s a bad thing at all….

Vintage family snail mail

My grandmother kept this congratulatory letter from her brother after the birth of my mom.   It’s surreal to know that this is how people once communicated because this is all they knew.   My uncle got word of my mother’s birth through a written letter.  Not an electronic message,  television, radio or even a newspaper.    After getting the news my uncle sat down, put quill to paper and wrote his sister a letter of congratulations.

letter page 1letter page 2

It reads:

“Dear Lillian and all,   December 16, 1931

Congratulations, your card was forwarded to me by Emma (?)
So it is a girl, and you gave her a name i always liked
How I would like to meet her and i would like to send her a present worth while but will have to wait until I am doing something. but she will have something coming so you can tell her that for now.
I am glad you are all right for i must admit I was worried.
The cards you sent out are the best I ever saw (can’t read the following 4 words)
I wrote Bill yesterday suppose he has my letter by now.
Sorry I can’t send you some money to help you out but may be able to send some later.
Write when you are able and tell me all the news.
Wm Loftus”

Sweet memories 🙂