Archive | December, 2015

Why I Gave Away A Bit of My Mom’s Memory

27 Dec

It is five year’s since my Mom passed away on December 27, 2010. I hold on to her memory, and I have to be honest I have been holding on to items that belonged to her as bits of her, as memories I cannot share but mean so much to me.

Singer Featherweight

My Mom’s Singer Featherweight Sewing Machine, now known as Frances.

Included in these memory items was her 1947 Signer Featherweight sewing machine. I think she got it as a high school graduation gift, as she graduated in 1947. So when I had items of my parent’s shipped from New Jersey to Kansas, I included the sewing machine in its carrying case with my shipment.

My siblings thought I was a little crazy. We had not used that sewing machine for years. Why did I want it? Sentimental attachment was my answer.

I learned to sew on that sewing machine. I have many hours of memories locked up in that case. When I was a freshman and sophomore at North Bergen High School, I took sewing classes. I actually loved learning to sew.

At school I used a modern machine, but at home my Mom took out her Singer sewing machine, and I quickly took using it. It was great. It did not take up much room in the closet, and I could easily set it up on the kitchen table when I wanted to sew. I loved using the foot action to make it go slow or fast.

To be honest, I went pretty quickly. It only could sew in straight lines. But it did really good straight lines! So why not zip through them! I can still here the quiet ‘varoom’ of the motor when I hit the foot pedal and gained speed.

I eventually bought a zipper attachment so that I could put zippers in dresses and pants. I should say my parents bought me a zipper attachment.

With that sewing machine I made dresses for my sister, my mom, my grandma and me. I zipped up curtains for our home in New Jersey, and eventually made curtains for my parent’s bungalow in the Catskills. I will never forget that yellow and white and brown pussy willow fabric. I made 18 panels of various sizes to fit all the windows in the kitchen.

When I was 16 my parents bought me a new, in a cabinet, sewing machine that could make buttonholes and had embroidery patterns. Wow! I loved that. I could do so much more with this new machine: zigzags, borders, shirring.

The old Singer Featherweight was not neglected. It moved up to the Catskills for when I needed to sew up there. I mended shirts and pants, I was the queen of hemming. That sewing machine got used weekly during the summer, especially on a rainy day.

I never had to worry about either sewing machine breaking down, as my Dad started his career as the owner of an embroidery shop. He knew everything about sewing machines and keeping them going. He cleaned and oiled and fixed that old Singer Sewing Machine and my new one. Even after I married, he would come yearly and do maintenance on my newer machine.

The Singer Featherweight stayed in New Jersey. Whenever I came to visit my Mom or Dad would ask if I could hem something or fix something. And sometimes I did. Other times, I would recommend that they go to a tailor. When I came, I came with two children, and I often did not have the time to sew.

Eventually the Singer machine got put into a closet and did not come out. After my parents passed away, I found it. And I needed it. So I brought it to Kansas to sit in my closet. But I felt good knowing it was there.

But something happened. Two years ago, I wrote a blog about my newest sewing machine. My children got me one for my birthday because the machine I got when I was 16 had stopped working. I complained bitterly, but I did not go out and get a new one. So my children took action. I put a picture of my Singer in the blog.

Around the same time, I had some Hanukkah placemats and other items made by the sister of a friend of mine. The sister is a big time quilter. She goes to quilting events and has an entire room set up in her home devoted to making quilted items.

And she needed, wanted and desired a Singer Featherweight sewing machine. It seems that these machines are very popular with quilters because they make great straight lines, and they are easy to carry. Quilters take them on location to craft meetings. And my friend’s sister wanted one with all her heart. When my friend saw my blog and my Singer sewing machine, she told me how much her sister wanted one.

But I could not part with my Mom’s sewing machine. I thought about letting it go. But I just was not ready. However, last week, when I went on school vacation, I started cleaning closets. I saw the sewing machine case just sitting there, covered by other items. It was forlorn. It needed to be use.

I told my friend, “Why don’t you ask you sister if she wants my Singer Featherweight sewing machine. “

Her sister lives about 90 minutes from me, so I thought she would come sometime after the new year, when she had other reasons to come down here. I was wrong. She came that day, within four hours of the phone call. She wanted that machine.

When she came into the house she was so excited she had tears in her eyes. Wow! It made me feel so happy. I knew I was doing the right thing. To be honest it was good that she came that day, if I had time to think about it I might have changed my mind. I sold it to her for $100, much less than the going price that I saw on line. I am donating the money to charity in my Mom’s name for her yahrzeit.

I feel like I am doing two mitzvot, good deeds. My friend’s sister gets the sewing machine she so desires, and a charity gets a needed donation.

For me the best part is that my Mom’s Singer sewing machine is now with someone who really wanted it: someone who will use it; someone who cares about it almost as much as I do. As an added bonus, she names all of her ‘antique’ sewing machines. She is going to call this machine after my Mom. My Singer Featherweight Sewing Machine is now Frances.

I might have given away a memory of my Mom. But I have created another memory with it. Now the sewing machine will have another life, and Mom’s name and memory are attached to that life.

 

 

 

http://www.planetpatchwork.com/fweight.htm

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Grandpa Nat Loved His Four Roses

24 Dec

My Grandpa Nat was a baker. This meant he was often going to bed soon after we were getting up, as he would work all night baking the breads and cakes for the next day.   Or if not all night, at least he would get up pretty early in the morning to start baking.

So often when we were having breakfast, Grandpa was having his lunch or even his dinner. But before he had dinner or anything else to eat, Grandpa always had a schnapps, a shot glass of Four Roses whiskey.

When I was little, I loved that bottle. It had four roses on it. So I thought it was pretty. He kept the bottle in a little cabinet beneath the counter in the kitchen in the Catskills. We were not allowed to touch. It was Grandpa’s special orange juice, or so we were told.

My Grandpa was from Galicia. His family owned a farm there, with grain silos and a tavern. One of his favorite stories to tell was when he and a cousin were sent to clean out the grain silo and got drunk on the fumes. They got really sick. I have learned that people can die from the fumes in a grain silo. Luckily that did not happen to Grandpa.

But I remember the first time I saw “Fiddle on The Roof” with him. His eyes filled with tears. I asked what was wrong. And he said it reminded him of his home. His family had a tavern like the one in the movie. And so like in the tavern scene when they sing “To Life”: “We’ll raise a glass and sip a drop of schnapps in honor of the great good luck that favors you,” my grandfather had a schnapps for many occasions.

(I should say he cried for a reason, his entire family was murdered in the Shoah.  He cried for the life that was gone forever.)

His Four Roses was his special treat. He said his one glass a day kept him healthy! Since he lived to almost 90, perhaps it did!

He kept a bottle in his New Jersey home as well. I believe it was in the kitchen. I remember him having a ‘shot’ of whiskey there as well. But I think because I was so young when they moved into the home in the Catskills, I have better memories of him having his Four Roses in the Catskills. Also we spent three months of the summer with them, so I had more opportunity to be with my grandparents in the mornings.

Grandpa sold his bakery in the 1960s because he had baker’s asthma and needed to retire. Perhaps he has some heart condition as well, but I am not sure about that. However, in the summertime he worked for Katz’s and helped to bake for the summer crowds.

In fact, my brother got one of his first adult summer jobs as a baker: going to the bakery with my grandfather and learning all there was to be a baker. I think that is why my brother became a chemist… You have to know formulas to bake as well. So my brother often came home early in the morning with Grandpa and had a schnapps along with him.

My brother went to college at Penn State and would sometimes drive to my grandparent’s home in the Catskill for the weekend in the fall or winter. He remembers being offered some schnapps as soon as he arrived to warm up.

My brother said, “I would show up for a weekend Grandpa would greet me with a shot of schnapps from the shot glasses that were never washed just dried and stored under the cabinet!” Alcohol sterilizes the glasses, according to Grandpa!

My grandfather would share his schnapps with my Dad and other adult men. I never saw any women drink the schnapps. It was orange juice for men.

When I got older, I had no desire to drink it! I understood that it was whiskey, and not exactly a good whiskey.  And I did taste it once when I was in the Catskill during the winter. After we shoveled snow and were outside for almost an hour, Grandpa had some schnapps and offered me a taste. I had to try. To be honest, it was disgusting! I never tried it again.

Grandpa and Schnapps

My Dad gave my Grandpa a bottle of “good’ stuff for Hanukkah.

My Dad was always trying to get my Grandpa to try something better. He called Four Roses rotgut cause it would rot your guts. He would say that Four Roses was not smooth when it went down, instead it burned your intestines. For Hanukkah he would buy my grandfather some of the Good stuff, which my Grandpa would promptly put away. Perhaps he used it for guests?

Grandpa would sometimes have another shot of schnapps when something special or unusual was happening.

For example, Woodstock: after watching the thousands upon thousands of young adults pass our property that first day, Grandpa turned to my Dad and to George, his tenant and my dad’s friend, and said, “Come we have a schnapps.” He definitely needed a schnapps or two that weekend! It was a very strange time, and a little fortitude was needed.

Good news was also the time to celebrate with schnapps. There were libations of schnapps as each grandchild became engaged and then married. More schnapps with the birth of the six great grandchildren he was alive to meet. I know that when the next two arrived, my Dad had schnapps to continue the tradition.

I can still close my eyes and see my Grandpa move one of the high stools in the kitchen and bend over to reach into the small cabinet to get out his bottle of Four Roses. The only thing in the cabinet was his schnapps and some shot glasses.

We never went into that cabinet without Grandpa. It was his special cabinet with his cherish Four Roses.

 

My Doll Survived Because of the Catskills Attic

19 Dec
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In the Catskills Betsy, my doll, with my cousin who has finally made friends with her.

I only have one toy left from my childhood. It is not that I purposely saved it because I loved it the best. I actually had other toys that I loved more. But this toy survived because of her journey to the Catskills.

When my sister was born, I was gifted a large standing doll. The doll is over two and half feet tall. I did love her. And I believe I named her Betty or Betsy or perhaps Becky, which was what my Dad called my Mom, even though that was not her name. I kept her in my bedroom and I loved her!

I remember when the doll arrived. She had a pink dress, light brown hair, pink shoes and socks. My Grandma Esther knitted her another beautiful pink dress. I enjoyed playing with her, but there was a problem. She was so big , I really could not cuddle with her. She was best for tea parties, playing school and perhaps discussing an issue. She seemed so real. And that was her biggest problem.

Betsy was so real looking. During the day she was not a problem, but if you woke up in the middle of the night, she would be standing there staring at you with her big eyes open! My sister and I were used to her, but one of my cousins lived in fear of her. She was afraid to sleep when the doll was in the room.

She really was too big for the apartment we lived in during the winters in New Jersey. So Betsy the doll moved up to our Catskill’s bungalow in Kauneonga Lake to be used only in the summer time. In the Catskills we had much more room to play. And she loved being up there.

Eventually I outgrew playing with the doll. But my sister grew to love her. She says, “I loved to play with her and thought of her as mine, since you had outgrown her.”

In time, Betsy moved from our bungalow to my maternal grandparent’s house, until one summer when she was gone. That is what happened with toys. They just disappeared when you outgrew them. I assumed she was given away.

To be honest I don’t think I even looked for her. There is so much to do in the summer time. And Betsy was no longer an important part of my life. She lived in my memories.

But my sister still had a relationship with Betsy. The doll was moved to the attic bedrooms of my grandparent’s Catskills winter home. My sister would play with her and see her when she went to visit in the winters. I was four years older, so while I was away at college, my sister was still spending time in the Catskills in the fall and winter. “Remember,” she told me, ”we did not go into the attic that much in the summer. ” Of course not…it was HOT up therein the summer, but wonderful in the winter.

After my sister went away to college, the doll was put into a closet and eventually forgotten. At some point my grandparents moved her from a closet to one of the hidden nooks.

But Betsy was not totally forgotten. We often talked about my big doll and how scary she was at night, or when you weren’t expecting to see her. We would remember the people who came in and were frightened the first time they saw her thinking she was a real toddler.

Years later, when I was in my early 30s, after both my grandparents had passed away,  my parents inherited the house in the Catskills. They started the process of cleaning it out. We all helped. I was assigned the two bedrooms in the attic, cleaning out the nooks that were hidden in the crawlspace walls of the bedrooms.

Usually the doors into these spaces were covered by the beds. But we moved the beds away and went in to clean them out.   I was surprised to find one perfectly clean except there, lying on the floor, was Betsy! She was a little ragged. Her clothes were gone. Her hair was a little messy. But she had survived, alone in that hidden space for years!

I was excited. I now had a toddler daughter, and I thought she would love Betsy.

I brought the doll downstairs. My mom, sister and I washed and cleaned her up.   She needed clothing!   My daughter wanted to give her some of her clothes, but we decided to buy her something just for her.

The women (Mom, my sister, my daughter and I) went to the Apollo Mall in Monticello and we purchased a 2 Toddler dress. I also found her a beautiful pink straw hat. She looked refreshed and wonderful.  Eventually the granddaughters gave her some lovely bracelets as well!

It took us a while to decide where she would stay. No one wanted her in a bedroom. TOO scary. My parents decided to put her in the stone room, where new generation of girls began to play with her…the granddaughters. But she would not disturb anyone’s sleep.

To this day, 25 years later, Betsy still stands in the stone room by the back door, which is the door that welcomes our guests. She has a purse; she has the same dress; she does not always wear her hat. She guards the door! Some people are startled when they first walk in. But she does not look so real anymore.

However, my cousin, who was afraid of her as a child, still had a little fright when she entered the stone room and saw her for the first time as an adult. She had to share her scary Betsy stories. I think after the sharing, she was able to become friends with Betsy.

My parents have both passed away. My siblings and I own the Catskills house. Betsy stands guard. She is a wonderful reminder of my childhood.

 
It seems Betsy is a Patty Play Pal doll. Thanks to Maxene for the information. 

The Purple Princess Car is Home!

16 Dec
Lara in Purple Car

She got the Purple Princess car for her second birthday. Here she is at 2 and 2 days.

After a 17 or so year stay in a home where it was loved by many children, my daughter’s purple car has returned home for Hanukkah 2015. I retrieved it in early December from its foster home.

I purchased the purple princess Little Tikes car for my daughter’s second birthday. Not the red sedan that most people purchase, this car was special. It made us think about the car in the movie, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.” It had character and appeal.

When she was little, my daughter’s car stayed in our basement, which was finished, but had no furnishings, except for a multitude of toys.   Our neighbor’s had twin daughters who were five years older than my daughter. They would come over every day after school, sometimes with their older sister, and play with my daughter. They loved to push her around in the purple princess car. She would get dressed up in elaborate outfits including a toy tiara. And they would entertain her for hours.

The purple car was so important to her. She just loved it. But in time she outgrew it and could no longer fit behind the wheel. Then our son, who was 4 ½ years younger, outgrew the car as well.

Elephant slide

My daughter plays on her beloved elephant slide. An empty basement except for toys.

I had a basement filled with Little Tikes toys: a kitchen, a workshop, easel, car, airplane, rocking horse, shopping cart, dishes, an elephant slide (another favorite!), teeter/totter, picnic table, table and chairs, toy chests, bookshelves. We even had a Little Tikes Log cabin in the basement, which the boys loved to ‘build’ on with the Little Tikes tools. There was just so much!

A friend of mine sold Little Tikes items so I had an easy way to get these items at a reasonable price. But it was enough! I decided I had to find homes for some of these toys. A cousin took a few items, but she did not want nor had room for all of it. And her son had no desire for the little girl toys. I had to find a loving home for all these beloved toys.

One day I was speaking to one of the kindergarten teachers at the school where I taught. She had been my children’s teacher, and was now a grandmother. She wanted some toys for her grandchildren to enjoy at her home.   Did I have a deal for her! Take my toys. I have tons, I told her. We set a date for her to come and see my stash!

I was excited. I had found a good home for the toys in my basement. Chose what you want, I told her. She came over and took many of the toys, including the purple princess car. I was so happy that the toys would be loved. I took the money she paid me and donated it to charity, a double mitzvah. The toys had a home, and others had food.

I thought it was wonderful till my daughter came home from school. She was in middle school. When I told them what I had done with the Little Tykes toys, she immediately said, “Not my car!” Yes it was gone as well. She wanted me to get it back.

But I really did not think she needed it. Eventually her tears and pouting got to me. She really wanted the car back even though she could not use it. Ridiculous, I know. I called. “I think I need the car back,” I told my friend. She could not give it back. Her granddaughter loved that car and used it whenever she came over. So I said keep it. But when your grandchildren are done with it, I would like to have it back. She made that promise. She would return the car to me in the future.

I told my daughter that eventually we would have the purple princess car back. She was still angry, but that was the only solution. Over the years, whenever she got really mad at me, she would bring it up. “How could you give away my car! You didn’t even ask!”

The purple car loomed over us as a point of contention.   Even the twins, their older sister, and their mother could not believe I had given away the purple princess car. For 17 years I lived with this blight on my existence.

Until December 5, 2015, at Barnes and Noble when I saw the teacher. I had not seen her for a number of years. We hugged. And she said. I have the purple car. My grandchildren are grown, and I know that your daughter is getting married. Would you like the car back?”

Would I like the car back!!! OF COURSE! I will be in touch I said.

Luckily we are Facebook friends. I sent her a private message with my phone number. She called. Less than a week later, on December 11, I went on what I called a secret Hanukkah mission, to get the car back.

IMG_7292

The Purple Princess Car on the day I picked it up to come home.

Friday morning on the fifth day of Hanukkah, I visited with my old friend…and the car. We caught up on family and just chatted for over an hour. It was a great visit. Then we carried the purple princess car out of her house, and I loaded it into the trunk of my car.

When I got home, I emailed my daughter that we needed to speak. I had a Hanukkah surprise.

Later that day when we were able to speak, we videoed chatted. “I am going to send you an email. DO NOT open it till we are talking,” I commanded.

She listened. When she opened the email my daughter was so happy. There was a photo of the purple princess car and her kindergarten teacher. I took a photo of them together so she could see that it was really her car.

She said “Finally! Is it home? ” I sent her a photo of the car in our garage. Lara’s Hanukkah is complete.

I posted a note about the return of the car on my Facebook page.   One of my daughter’s high school teachers commented that even she knew about the purple car, as my daughter had written about it in English class. I know that car was in my daughter’s soul.

I am so thankful that the ‘foster’ family took such good care of the purple princess car. I am so thankful the promise to return it to us was fulfilled.

My daughter shared the photo on her Facebook page and wrote:

“My car is home! And it’s perfect timing too because I was just saying to my fiancée that I really need a small one-person car.”

I hate to be the one to disappoint her, but my husband says she will no longer fit into the purple princess car. But we are glad that we made her Hanukkah complete.

 

 

PS: The car is currently almost 28 years old!  It has held up remarkably well with love and attention!

http://www.littletikes.com/riding/icat/riding?setpagenum=

Kauneonga Lake Was A Peaceful Winter Wonderland

13 Dec

Unlike many bungalow colony owners, my grandparents eventually moved up to the Catskills to live full time in the 1960s. For a while they kept a small apartment in the building they owned in West New York, NJ, which was above their original bakery. But eventually they sold that building and no longer traveled back to the “city” in the winters.

Their home in Kauneonga Lake was a ‘winter’ home, and not a small bungalow. It was warm and cozy. They would close off the parts of the house they did not use in the winter. It was a bit scary at first when the furnace turned on as we could actually see the flames through an open grill in the floor. After a few years they replaced this antique system and the house was warmer. There was also a beautiful stone fireplace that helped to keep the house warm.

With my mother’s parents in the Catskills, for my family that meant we would have to travel up to the Catskills in the winter time and visit my grandparents. Usually we went when there was a long weekend, or a holiday. We knew that there would be snow and cold. The snow was sometimes several feet deep. We would be spending most of our time indoors playing cards, board games, watching television and talking.

When we did go outside we would bundle up with every scarf and hat we could find. I would double glove my hands for warmth! BRRRR! We often would sled down the hill in the front lawn and sometimes we would walk into town.

The walks to town were special in the winter. We would walk to the lake and then ACROSS the lake into town. The lake was so frozen that people would actually drive their cars across it in the winter months.

I loved walking on the lake.   It was exciting to step out on to what was usually water and sort of skim my feet across the top. Others would ice skate. Some people fished in the lake and cut holes into the ice to reach the moving water where the fish survived the harsh winters.

In later years, my parents kept cross-country skis up at the house for those days when traveling by car was impossible. They would just stay home and ski in the yard and around the area just for the fun and exercise. My memories do not include skiing, although I think my younger sister did some cross country skiing when she visited. ( My sister reminded me that they also had snow shoes, and our mother enjoyed using them in the winter.)

During my freshman year of college, my parents drove up during winter break for an overnight with my grandparents, and left me up there with them. My grandmother was lonely and needed company. That was my job. Keep Grandma entertained for a week or so.

It snowed and snowed and snowed. And even though my grandfather had someone who usually plowed the long driveway, we still had to dig out. I remember that we could not get plowed for several days. So Grandpa decided we would make a one-car lane through the snow.  Did I tell you it was a very long driveway!

We would go out and shovel for 30 or 40 minutes and then go in for something warm to drink or a cup of soup. My grandma was not a great cook, but she made excellent soup. And on a cold day it was beyond delicious.

That year, for the first time in my life, my face broke out in acne. I think it was the stress of being a college student and living away from home for the first time. My grandmother had a solution. In Poland, where she spent her childhood, there were no fancy medicines, there was just natural solutions to acne. And she wanted to try them all on me.

Every time I went outside she would yell out, “Put some snow on your face. It will help.” And every time I walked back in, she would ask if I had put some snow on my face, which I did. But she was making me a bit upset.

My grandfather finally told her to leave me alone. When that did not work, he took action. When we came in after shoveling for a while, he walked in after me. And when Grandma said, “Did you put snow on your face?” He walked right up to her, and rubbed snow all over her face. She laughed hysterically. And he said, “How do you like to have snow on your face! Enough with the snow!“ That was it. She did not bug about snow again.  (I will be honest, the snow did dry out the acne, and helped to clear it up.  But it was so COLD.)

When the weather was nice, we would visit with the few others who braved the winters. My grandparents had several good friends up there, although most went to Florida for the winters. The people who stayed up throughout the year watched out for each other. There was always someone calling to make sure they were okay or if they needed food.

Winters in Kauneonga Lake were so peaceful. I loved the quiet time to read. I loved visiting with my grandparents and hearing their stories. I even loved when my parents and siblings were there as well and we had major snow ball fights outside. Those were not so peaceful. But to see the giant pine trees covered in snow; to see the lake frozen; and to see people helping each other gave me wonderful memories.

My Grandma’s Ledger Books Remind Me of Her Financial Lessons

7 Dec

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In 1985, when I moved into my house, my mother sent me some of my grandparents’ furniture that had been promised to me. Included in the furniture was an old radio cabinet that had been turned in to a shelved cabinet with the radio removed. Inside the cabinet were some of my grandmother’s ledger books and other items. My Mom had not cleaned it out. She sent it to me filled with the stuff she did not want to deal with by herself.

Thirty years later, I still have the radio cabinet and the ledger books. And at times I look into the books to realize how far my grandparents came in their journey as immigrants. How their strength became part of our lives.

My grandmother came to America by herself from Poland when she was 16 years old. She met my grandfather and married him when she was 19, about 1925.  She went to night school and learned English. They opened a bakery and became successful in business. They also owned a small bungalow colony in the Catskills. They were able to bring some family members over before the Holocaust and they donated to many charities. During the Depression they allowed families to buy food on credit, knowing that they would not be getting anything from many of these families.

My grandfather left Europe when he was 18. His journey to America took two years. He married my grandmother when he was 25. And he had a bakery and owned property.

My grandparents are the American success story. As immigrants who came to the United States with nothing in the early 1920s, they built a good life. The ledgers I found in the old radio cabinet show their desire to save and make their lives and the lives of their children and grandchildren better. The ledgers go from 1959 to 1968 and show every purchase of stock and every bank deposit and interest. It shows how their portfolio grew during these years.

I still remember spending time with my grandmother on what I called her ‘bank tour.’ Grandma Thelma did not totally trust banks. She had lived through the Great Depression. So she kept her money in a variety of banks. And at the end of each month she would take her bank deposit books to each bank to get the interest amount stamped into the book. It was an all day event, with a break for lunch. I remember her showing me my book and letting me see how much I had. She would tell me that you start with a little bit, and it keeps on growing.

Grandma was a true believer in saving your pennies. In fact she saved every silver coin that came into their bakery. When she passed away, we found silver dollars, silver half dollars, silver quarters and silver dimes hidden in every purse and pocketbook and coat pocket in her home. Those were worth more as they aged. More than they would have been worth in a bank. She also had several ‘pushka,’ little hoards of cash hidden around the house.  You never knew when you needed a bit of cash.

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The ledger books were her way to keep track of every cent they had. She often bought 20, 25 or 50 shares of a stock. She kept records as she bought more or sold a stock that she no longer liked. She wrote down how much each stock was worth when a statement came. There were no computers then, so she kept all her information written in a ledger book.

My grandmother loved to play the stock market. And these ledger books show exactly what she bought, when she bought it and when she sold it for how much. Even the serial numbers of the stock certificates are written in the books.

I love looking at her handwriting. It was excellent when she was young. Every page was organized. And when she sold a stock she would cross it out and write sold across the entry. I can see her analyzing every purchase and sale. Grandma was a force to be reckoned with. I would have hated to be her stock broker!

For example in 1957 she had 25 shares of Con Edison that she purchased for $1123.23.   She sold two shares in 1960 for $156.27 and two shares in 1961 for $100. I am assuming she needed to buy something then, and needed the cash. I cannot understand any other reason to sell just a few shares. But then she sold the rest of her 21 shares in December 1964 for $2019.95. She made money. Altogether she doubled her money! On November 30, 1966, she bought 25 shares again for $857.19. I wonder if she made more. I don’t know if she sold this, or it stayed in my grandparents’ estate. The entries end in 1968. I wonder if she had a new way of keeping track?

I love that she owned 50 shares of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad, as I live in Kansas. She bought it in January of 1968 for $1469.50. Who knew? She bought many different stocks and bonds. Grandma believed in a diversified portfolio. That is apparent.

Grandma ran the business. And she was smart. Grandpa ran the bakery. He never really learned to read English. So he relied on Grandma to take care of the finances. And she did. She loved to discuss the stock market with certain select people. I think they liked speaking with her as well because she was so knowledgeable.

From my grandmother I learned to be aware of my financial situation. I learned how important it was to save money and invest wisely! I learned that it was correct and smart for any woman to know exactly what the family financial situation was and where all the investments are located. In fact, I learned it was a woman’s right to know.

This has been a guiding force in my life to be honest. As I see other women in situations that are so stressful. Some times due to divorce, sometimes due to the death of a spouse, I have seen women who have no idea where their investments are and how much they really have to support them. My grandmother would have been horrified.

The ledger books filled with my grandmother’s writing and investments are a reminder of my grandparents’ success and their investment in all of our futures.   They were able to leave a financial inheritance to both of their children and a little something to each grandchild. But most of all I am thankful for the lessons on savings, investing and knowledge that my grandmother taught to me.

Help! My Life Has Become an Episode of Star Trek!

1 Dec

In Season 5, Episode 6, of Star Trek: the Next Generation, the crew is attacked by a video game trying to turn the crew into video game zombies. They have the first case I can remember of what the show called, “Virtual Reality Addiction.”

The writers had precognition! I feel at times that I am turning into a zombie addicted to games on my IPhone.   Since I got my IPhone 6, with its bigger screen and better graphics, I find myself playing these games much more often. Yes, I was always a ‘Words with Friends’ addicted person. I had to play it several times a day. But now, I find myself playing Dots and Solitaire and Blitz, when I should be doing something else. I do not even like those games that much!

For example, when I used go to a doctor’s office and knew I have to wait for awhile, I would bring my crocheting and work on my current project. But today, I went to the dentist, and did not bring my crochet bag. Instead, even though there was a sign asking that people turn off their phones, I sat in the waiting room with others playing my games. I was not the only one. There were other phone addicted people on their phones as well!

What was that about? I should have been working on one of my projects. I have a baby blanket that needs to be done!!! The baby was six weeks early, and my blanket is only part way completed. I should have worked a few rows while I waited. But the Phone and the games had me bond in their control!

Then there are my early mornings. When I first get up, I usually watch the news for 30 minutes before I get out of bed. But now, I get up for a minute to get my phone and take it into bed with me while I watch the news. Why?

At least I do not sleep with it like some people do. But I do check my mail first thing in the morning. As I listen to the news, I play games and watch television at the same time. Why?

Then there is the information from my UP. On my phone is an ap that tells how long I slept and how many steps I have taken.   Why do I need to check several times a day. Isn’t once enough. NO!

I have to force myself to put my phone down.   And each time that happens, I flash back the Star Trek episode called “The Game.”   I am there. I could have easily fallen prey to that evil game that controlled the crew members’ minds. This has got to stop!

I never understood my son’s affliction to playing video games whenever he could. He had Nintendo, PlayStation, X Box, hand held video game things! And whenever he was not in school or working on school work, he played games. I could never get into it even though he tried to teach me. I would ask why he was wasting his time. He should be outside running around. It was not that bad as he did do gymnastics and tae kwon do. So he had lots of exercise. But those hours playing games made me crazy.

But now I understand! My I Phone has me cornered and in its control. I would take the games off. But I know I cannot. I force myself NOT to add more aps. They would only take up more of my time. It has to stop! On the few occasions I leave my phone at home, I feel disconnected. I don’t see on my dashboard the words, “connected to phone.” And I worry. What if someone needs me. But before cell phones, I was fine. So I force myself go about my way without a phone for a few hours. And I do survive.

I have to add an another fact to this evil addiction. In the show it was William Riker who brings the game back to the ship. He has visited the planet, “RISA.” This is scary. That is my younger sister’s name.   She has been trying to be in control for over 50 years. But I stay in my role of older sister. Perhaps, however, she has a plot to take over my mind through games.   Wait that sounds paranoid. Those games are getting to me. She cannot be plotting this? Can she?

I do have to wonder sometimes who is in control: me or the games and information on my IPhone?

Is this really a good thing? I know I am not the only one caught up in the game aps. Look at all those little children playing on their own IPads! It could be that we are all inside a Star Trek episode.

Maybe this is an alternate universe? Maybe Data did not destroy the program and it now is putting all of us in the middle of a Star Trek episode.