My oldest brother married Vertice Estes around Thanksgiving, '52-53 .Gene was in the Air Force. His buddy, Henry Roe, was his best man. They wore their blue uniforms. Joan Powell was Vertice's maid of honor. She wore an aqua suit, black velvet hat and gloves. Vertice wore a dusty rose suit with navy hat and shoes. They both wore rhinestone jewelry.
The corsages were roses in a heart shape. I went with my Dad to Martindale florists to pick them up. I thought that they were beautiful and smelled so good!. I had a pink wool dress with rhinestones on the bodice, a pleated circular skirt, silk belt and a "fake fur" collar. Mom had a two piece, very deep purple knit dress. Dad wore a dark suit. The wedding was at Christ Lutheran Church parsonage.
The next summer after school was out, I spent a couple of weeks with Gene and Vertrice. 1844 Sugar Grove, Indianapolis. Mom bought me new Summer outfits. I had aqua shorts and a matching terry knit shirt with "punch art" kittens on one side; red shorts with red and white knit top; a yellow sun dress with jacket, and a couple of "pedal pushers" with knit tops. I had new "cut out" shoes. I had so many store bought clothes that year, AND a swimming suit!
Vertrice and her sisters, Jen and Maggie. took me to Riverside to SKATE, to the Stadium to see The Lone Ranger and Silver, and we rode the TROLLEY. We went to movies. They helped me polish my fingernails and toe nails. They did their hair in pin curls and wore ankle bracelets.
Being on "vacation" was fun, but I missed my pets, and they missed me. Fritzie got killed on the highway. Dad said Fritzie was out, probably looking for me. ( Years later, Jeremy, our little Schnoodle, got killed on the road while I was on vacation. Spring Break, Daytona, my senior year in high school. I remembered the story of Fritzie and Grandpa, who at the time lived next door to us in Waverly said, "I think he was looking for you". I cried and felt guilty. We had found him years earlier, not much bigger than my palm "thrown away" in the ditch by the road. He was a sweet little soul, and I loved him so much. I think Jeremy was the last dog that we ever had here, as the cats always seemed to fare better close to the county road and all of the traffic from the gravel trucks racing back and forth.)
I don't really remember many Christmases in our old house. I do remember from about 6 on in the new brick house. Usually on the 22nd, which was also my birthday, Dad and I would go to a back pasture, he'd carry a hand saw and would let me pick out a "Christmas" tree and it had to be "shaped" just right.. It was always a cedar tree. He'd cut and we would carry it home. Dad would trim it up and we'd fill a UHL wine jug with water and "shim" it into place.
We had a strand of seven blue lights. One for the top with the aluminums star, and that left 3 lights for each side. We put on all the German glass balls, silver and gold rope garland and string on the icicles. Then Mom would carefully push the jug in place in front of the picture window. We would turn the lights on only a few hours each night. We were very careful to not let the tree get too dry. We observed the 12 days of Christmas. The tree stayed up until the 6th of January.
From the time I was 6, and the last year that Bernie was home, I had my own idea as how to decorate the tree. We got 12 more new ornaments,, not quite as beautiful as the German spun glass, and I put them in about the same places on different trees each year. From then on, it was my job to decorate the tree and after Christmas, take everything off the tree and carefully repack. The "ornament" box was kept in the largest up-stairs attic. This was a great space for storage.
I also taught myself how to make wreaths on hangers, and tied on pine cones that I picked up in the woods. We put greenery on the fireplace, too. All this made the house smell so good. I had a Christmas stocking and used the same one all through school. I believed in Santa through the 5th grade. I think. Oh-the MAGIC of Christmas!
Having a Birthday just 3 days before, was bad and good at the same time. (Mom's b-day was the 22nd and Dad's the 24th. They were only 2 days apart and mine is the 10th. All of us are Christmas babies. My Grandma Ellis would always make Mom and Dad a peanut butter banana cake for their birthdays, usually giving it to them on the 23rd right in the middle.. Oh my gosh, that thing was rich and dense. For years even after my parents divorced, Grandma would still make the cake split it in half and give each part to them separately. She also would split their other gift of a subscription of the Lootootee Tribune , first 6 months to Mom and the second half to Dad. I'm not sure that this was punishment or partly a joke. I personally think that it made quite a statement. She had quite a sense of humor and always got the last word.) Since it usually fell on the day that school dismissed for the Holiday break, it also was the day we had our school party, name draw exchange and school program. Mom normally made me a nice "Birthday" dress and a CHURCH Christmas one. We always got a gift from our room teachers and a "sack of candy" and an orange from our bus driver...……..plus a sack of peanuts.
I got dolls and doll clothes from Santa I sort of figured out that Mom made the doll clothes. In the fourth grade I remember a giant coloring book and a box of 48 Crayola's. Oh how I LOVED the crayons. I'd get a pack of white paper so I could "trace" my favorite pages, a "Gypsy Girl" that I colored at least a hundred times in different color combinations (I would often buy Mom a coloring book and new box of crayons even into her 50's. She loved to color and the smell of the new crayons.)
I remember saving ALL gift wrap, ironing it smooth and "rolling it up" to save for the next year. We saved curly ribbon, too. this was before pre-made stick on bows .Early on, I had already figured out how to glue on pretty little pine cones and greenery. I made my own little name tags by cutting greeting cards saved from year to year.
I taught myself to crochet, so I could make pretty snowflake book marks ----------- and I STILL BELEIVED IN SANTA CLAUS.
When I was about 9, I got my very own BB gun! It was a Daisy, all wrapped up in brown wrapping and butcher paper. Yep, "Santa" left it right under the tree, and a stocking FULL of packs of BB's. Oh, I was one happy kid! Most other usual gifts were socks, cap and gloves, sweaters, maybe a necklace, a book and some candy. One year I got a big paint box of water colors. I loved them, too. As I got older, Bernie sent me my first set of oil paint by numbers. Hunting Dogs, Horses, Desert Scenes, and flowers. I'd paint on jelly jars with the left over paint. I'd paint faux acorns, tin cans for pencil holders and ROCKS! I made little designs on my wooden beads.
Gifts from Others
I'd always get a gift from my aunt Hilda and uncle George, my god-parents. Sometimes it was pretty material, buttons and lace, so Mom could sew. and, she loved to give me DIAL soap, HALO shampoo and JERGEN'S lotion in glass and EVENING IN PARIS!!! As I got older, she bought me milk glass items for my dresser top and hope chest.
I got a dresser set: comb, brush and mirror. There'd we nail sets with polish, more perfume and a glass jewelry box...……..and, of course, MONEY!
Uncle Nelson and aunt Eldena bought Twala Jean and me many gifts alike: houses slippers, nighties, robes, hair ribbons, sweater sets,, jewelry, purses, oh, how I loved purses, coloring books and crayons, jacks, SLINKIES!!! Our house had such wonderful steps to play on. We got jump ropes, hula hoops, special candy, "Here's My Heart" from Avon...…...that was great. We'd get snow boots, scarves, paper dolls, comic books, books, scissors, glue, pencils and a pencil box. Lot's of notebooks. Uncle Nelson was a truck driver, so he had a "paycheck", and he bought stuff for his little "City Mouse" and her cousin, "the Country Mouse". Eldena bought material and my Mom created and would sew outfits for us!
One of my memorable gifts that I received was from a Sunday School Teacher. It was a book, in color, CHRISTMAS AROUND THE WORLD. I Still have this book. I'd read and re-read it year after year. Now that I work at Oral Health, where I have met people from all over the world, I especially LOVE sharing Christmas traditions of many countries, and I have received many cards and gifts from AROUND THE WORLD. My life has been very blessed by all the wonderful friendships I have made over the years----------and the greatest gift of all-------------LOVE_______
Embroidering and Crochet
Mom taught me how to embroider when I was in the 2nd grade. I had my own TIN, hoops, needles, special little scissors and a great assortment of floss. I learned first on feed sack dish towels, then pillowcases and "good" pillowcases for gifts and my own hope chest. Later in years, yarn for decorative designs on sweaters, then pictures on cloth for wall hangings and in my 20's I took up counted cross stitch.
We subscribes to "Workbasket" for 10 cents and it had embroidery transfers in it. These were a treasure. When they wore out, Mom taught me how to use special carbon paper. We would use favorite designs but we would use different colored floss combinations.
By reading directions, I taught myself how to crochet "lace" edgings on pillowcases and handkerchiefs. I prided myself on being able to give teachers a "hankie" that I made the edging on, all by myself.
Throughout my life, I have made many hand made items with embroidery, and I have crocheted many, many afghans.
In the 60's it was very popular to crochet "bathroom sets", and hot pots and pot holders, and one cannot forget the Granny Square afghans, to use up the scrap yarn,
We bought floss and rug yarn from dime stores, Ben Franklin and Danners.
Sometimes for special yarns, patterns and beautiful KITS, we would mail order from LEE WARDS.
A lot of my gifts to others have always bee something made by...…….Your Mother's Hands.
Little Narrow Escape
Once, when I was about 7, I came up on the porch, it was summertime and Mom said, "What have you been eating?" . Of course, I probably said "nuthin'", however, the evidence was all over my lips and probably my chin, dress and hands. Heck, I'd tried to wash my hands out in the horse trough in the barn lot, but Mom asked me the BIG question again. I answered "grapes"... Mom, knowing full well that WE did NOT have ANY grapes within 5 miles of us, knew I had NOT been eating grapes! So her next words were "show me", and I told her, "out behind the hog house", which of course was another place I was NEVER to go. There I showed her, and next to the mother pig's house were the pulled down plants...……….POKE...……...I had been eating POKE berries!!!! They are considered poisonous. I'm not sure if she phoned Dr. Strange to find out what to do, or what, but she proceeded to make me drink CATOR OIL right out of the bottle. That little bottle must have contained a gallon of castor oil. Mom held a little granite pan, and I vomited, and VOMITED------ , it was "grape colored" and she made me drink some more until I could throw up no more. Then , for good measure, she gave me CASTORIA, so I'd poop myself silly! (As a child a dose of Fletcher's Castoria or Pepto Bismol was a pretty common occurrence. I think Grandma was obsesses with wether you were "too tight" or "too loose". Looking back, she just needed to leave SHIT alone.) Well, I never ate any more POKE BERRIES. Dad old Mom to buy me some grapes, so every so often, I got a treat of store bought red grapes. Yummy!
My Little "Ham Bone Ring"
One night, I was about 8 or nine years old, we had ham steak for supper. After the meal, I was to feed the "fat scraps" and other table trash to the cats. There was a cute little ham bone in the scraps. Well. it looked like a mini ring to me, so I put it on my ring finger. I continued playing, petting my cats or whatever, and when I wanted to take the little "ham bone ring" off, it was STUCK. Finally I went running to Mom and she tried to pull and twist it off. Tthen she tried to soak and soap it off. It would NOT come off! Finally she had Dad take the meat saw and SAWED the bone while it was ON my hand. Dad sawed through the bone, then took a screwdriver and PRIED the bone apart. WHEW! Dad told Mom to buy me a ring! She bought me a heart shaped, red stone in silver. I still have that little ring.
One hot summer, Dad was on Jury Duty. He "out-lined some jobs" to do while he was to be gone for a few days. One of my jobs was to empty and clean out wine jugs. Of course, we did not ever throw away anything, so like all other old food stuffs and sour milk, etc. I poured all the wine settling in the SLOP barrels. Then later that day, I "slopped" the hogs. I went on doing other things.. Mom saw the hogs acting funny and they couldn't get off their BUTTS and could NOT stand up! She called the vet, explaining that Dad was not home. He came out, examined the hogs, about 30 or so and wanted to know what we had been feeding them..?
Then I told him I'd cleaned out the wine jugs and put it all in the slop. He just said, "oh Mrs. Braun, just give them plenty of cool water to wallow in, and about half a day and they will be fine. They are just DRUNK." I think Mom was too scared to whip me!
Shoot'em up...…...Little Girl
I mentioned earlier, that one year I got a BB gun for Christmas, from Santa, however; I was pretty sure it was from my Dad, because it was wrapped in butcher paper and string from our very own smoke house. I finally figured out it was Mom and Dad that really liked playing Santa, so why should I mess up their fun, besides, I was getting some pretty neat stuff! Anyway, the BB gun was one of my very favorite possessions. Dad said I could keep it in his gun cabinet in the kitchen, but when I didn't have it with me, I preferred to keep it behind the door of my bedroom. The only time my parents MADE me put it away was when Twala Jean came. She did not "know" GUN RULES and to make a long story short, she was not to play with my gun. "You might shoot and EYE out". With that said, I hid my gun and BB's in the attic, because she would NOT go near the attic door. She was afraid of "THE BIZERMAN" ! Heck, I had a gun, and I wasn't much afraid of anything anymore, except storms. (Mom was afraid of storms and tornados her entire life.)
Dad made me paper targets out of old newspapers and fastened them on bales of straw., no hay, so cows would not be eating BB's. He taught me how to aim and shoot. I shot at tin cans set on fence posts. It was fun watching them fall off. Then he'd set of 3 and four at a time and I'd pump.....aim....and fire as fast and accurately as I could. I was getting Good!
My strictest orders were to NEVER shoot towards the road, (highway 231), at the new house, or at the chicken houses. I'd better never hit a glass window. Those were the rules, and I never did because I would not want my beloved BB gun taken away from me .Now that doesn't mean I didn't shoot a few things that I shoud not have shot at, becaue, as you now will know, sometimes curiosity and temptation just go the best of me.
Now, if you know anything about a pump BB gun, you can PUMP them up to the MAX and get some power behind your shot. I was never the one to "waste" a BB on a soft quick shot. I almost always pumped my gun up to the max, took careful aim, and "enjoyed the action".. One day for "action" I thought I'd see if I could possiblly hit a glass. Yes, I said glass, It was an insulator on top of a lightining rod on top of the big barn. I was learning distance and windage. When I hit the insulator, it almost exploded and slid down the barn roof and in to the gutter. I was both excited and nervous. Then I started thinking that this is pretty BAD and I had been warned about glass windows. After "sweating it out" for a bit, I finally decided I had better "fess" up, so I went and told my Dad. I could tell on his face he wad pretty mad at me, but all he said was "Put your gun up" !
Those words were enough to "kill my spirit" right then and there. But, I took my gun in the house and put it in the gun cabinet, and the extra BB's in the drawer in the kitchen. I do remember going down the pasture lane, crying------just crying------by myself-------just crying! However, I never let anyone see me cry. Which is a trait that I sort of developed over my lifetime. OK, go ahead and cry, square your shoulders, and get on with the program!!!
II knew I had done something really BAD, and had some damage, but at the same time, I don't think I EVER said I was sorry. You see, I really wasn't sorry. I had been trying for days to get a hit on it, and finally did!! So it was kind of a bitter-sweet incident It was an episode that I carried in my heart all of my life!
Well, I walked to the pasture crying, probably my dog went with me and I called for my horse. I was just beginning to ride at this time, too. I put my arms around my horse's neck and cried and cried. I was REALLY sad, and not because I broke the insulator, but because Dad told me to put my gun up. Dad also knew Mom had whipped me so many times over petty things that whipping would NEVER phase me, and my Dad had NEVER whipped me. His favorite words were generally "Oh, I believe you ought not to have done that------". Well, this time, he never even said THOSE words. He just said, "Put up your gun". This happened in the summertime. For days I'd do my chores, eat my meals, play with my cats, go back in the woods and walk and cry, Ride my horse and cry, and cry myself to sleep at night. There seemed to be a big cloud over our house, and now that I'm older, I can rationalize what happened. Mom probably wanted to WHIP me and Dad said "NO", so they weren't seeing eye to eye. I was already hurting enough and I talked to no one about it. And, secretly deep down inside, Dad was probably thinking, "DAMN, my little girl is really getting to be a GOOD SHOT!" That's what I really wanted to believe anyway.
I don't know how long, but for days, maybe a few weeks, I'd sneak a peek when I was by myself, to see if my beloved BB gun was still in the gun closet, right next to my Dad's guns. I don't remember how or when I got to use my gun again, but I did fast forward through my lifetime: whenever I'd see insulators, on old house and old barns, even when we were dealing in antiques, I'd remember the day I shot the barn insulator. Sometimes all of those feelings would come back. Even today, as I wrote about those memories, the tears still fell, and as in many times of my life, no one saw me. But, you know what, Dad knew I respected the "gun rules" and he knew I was a "good shot" and that I loved the sport of shooting. And, even thought he NEVER verbally said "I love you", I knew he did, because when I was older, he bought me my very own 22 rifle.
We had five big maple trees in our front yard. We also had a small orchard around our chicken lots which provided shade for our chickens and fruit for us. We had plum trees, white Alberta free-stone peaches and cling peaches,, and quite a few cherry trees. There were a lot of sparrows and "spatsies" in those tree. I'd cock my gun, and sneak from tree to tree, aim and shoot birds. This was a "one shot deal", so pump it up, sneak in, slowly aim, be sure, SHOOT! I seldom had to pick up "my kill" as we had plenty of farm cats waiting. The cats got to where they'd start following me. Five HAPPY CATS...! I never left dead birds around and I only destroyed pesty birds Later I klled hawks with my 22 rifle.