Archives for the month of: February, 2013

There’s a lot of talk these days about our need for more mass transit or rapid transit.  Way back when I was little, the bus was a big part of my life.  Not that I took it all the time, but it was a pretty fun way to travel or get around town.  One of my grandmothers drove a little, around Ardmore, but not on the highway, so she always took the bus to come see us or stay with us while my parents were on a trip.  We would pick her up or drop her off at the bus station.  I loved the bus station when I was little.  It was such an exotic place to go and watch all the people coming and going.  Tulsa had the beautiful Art Deco bus station – and airport – in those days.

Union Bus Terminal Tulsa, OK

Sometimes, I would go home with my grandmother, riding the Greyhound with her all the way to Ardmore, which must have been about a 6 hour drive in those days.  It was fun to sit beside her watching the landscape go by, different than from the back seat of my parents’ car.  As I got older, and I’m talking about 9 or 10, I got to ride the bus by myself.  I would take it to Oklahoma City to see my other grandparents and my cousins.  Once, I took it all the way to Ardmore.  On that trip, my aunt in Oklahoma City met me at the station there and waited with me until it left again for Ardmore.  I remember sitting next to a window, reading a book and looking out the window.  And watching the other people on the bus.  Quite the adventure.

While my grandmother stayed with us, we took the bus downtown.  I think she could have driven my mother’s car, but that was a scary thought for all of us.  She wasn’t the best, an understatement, driver, even in her own car.  She walked a lot at home.  Anyway, we’d walk about two or three blocks to the bus stop and ride downtown to eat and shop at the Kress store, walk around,  look in all the store windows, and come home.  It’s hard to describe how much fun that was.  I guess it was just different than driving downtown with our parents and because she always bought us some little thing at the store.  She didn’t have much money, so it wasn’t much, but it was a treat.  And, we weren’t in any hurry so the waiting and slow pace was nothing to us.

As I got older, my friends and I rode the bus downtown.  I can remember being in Oklahoma City when I was about 12 and going to a movie downtown with my cousin.  My aunt dropped us off and we were to take the bus home.  We got tired of waiting for our bus, so we just took the first one that came along and ended up somewhere other than where we were supposed to be.  On purpose.  Not that we were scared…we often did stupid things together, giggling all the way.  We walked for a long time after getting off the bus and I can’t imagine how we found a phone to call my aunt to come get us when we realized we were probably in trouble.  No cell phones in those days!  My aunt wasn’t too happy with us…giggle, giggle.

As shopping centers popped up and I became a teenager, we began to walk to those places for hanging out with our friends.  Waiting until we could drive cars.  No more buses after that!

It’s been a long time since I’ve taken a city bus in Tulsa.  We’re very much a driving city, which doesn’t help those who can’t afford cars or don’t want the hassle of parking or driving in traffic.  The only thing that will change our driving habits is the cost of cars and gas, although that doesn’t seem to matter to most people. I drive a small car that costs almost as much as my first house.  And it’s a cheap car comparatively…a hybrid.  Getting places quickly is the main issue, I think.  Nobody has or takes the time to wait for a bus… or anything else.  The age of instant gratification extends to getting places, too.

The buses I take these days are mostly charter buses or tour buses or shuttle buses. Taking the bus long distances has the reputation of being dirty and dangerous.  Pretty sad.  Oklahoma State has wonderful buses, the BOB (Big Orange Bus) system, for those who commute to the university in Stillwater.  I rode one with a group and they are plush compared to what I remember.  A comfortable place to study on your way to class down the highway.

I rode the buses a lot in Seattle when I used to visit my son, later son and daughter-in-law, there.  I easily learned the bus routes and loved the ease of jumping on and riding downtown or back rather than fighting that traffic or finding an expensive place to park.  They were colorful trips to say the least.  The diversity of Seattle was seen in force on the buses, a never ending parade of humanity.  I looked forward to it actually.


I still have a little origami bird that an elderly Chinese man made for me while we rode.  I was sitting across from him, watching him create this little treasure from a piece of newspaper.  I found out later that he was known for riding the buses, giving away his little birds.  He quietly folded the paper, then looked up at me, smiled, and handed me the bird.  Charming!  One of those serendipitous experiences in life that we should treasure!


I don’t know where the bus system will end up here in Tulsa or if my habits will ever change or have to change.  All I know is riding the bus was a special part of my childhood, one that I wouldn’t trade.  As I sing “The Wheels on the Bus” with my granddaughter, I’m sure what I see in my mind is so different than her vision…the wheels go round and round, round and round, all over town.



I’ve been a kid and I’ve been a parent and now I’m a grandparent.  How does that happen so quickly when I’m still so young?


Anyway, I have four kids and eight grandkids, so I’ve got a little bit of experience.  I’m not saying I’m an expert because each one is different and presents you with an infinite variety of happiness, challenges, pride, fear, disgust, amusement, moodiness, anger, tears, laughter and every other emotion…sometimes all in the same day.  You never know everything about them because it changes all the time.  Mine are all pretty good kids, not perfect, but pretty great all the same.

This week, I’ve had two of my grandsons for several days while their parents are out of town.  It’s been quite awhile since I had the day to day routine of a 15 and 11 year old, so it’s brought back a lot of memories.  They’ve been pretty terrific, so I’m not really getting the first-hand experience their parents get to have.  They get up and get ready without a fuss, say Thank You for every little thing I do, don’t fight, and are cute as can be.  Isn’t that what they’re like at home?  I know better.

Their parents warned me that the older one might retreat to text and not talk much.  Well, duh!  I don’t think I came out of my room during high school except to run to get the phone, which was in the hall.  Then I stayed on it for hours or went back to my room to read, study or…what the heck did I do?  I just didn’t find it that fun to sit with my family all evening long.  They called me the “mole in her hole.”  Which was annoying.  I can hardly criticize any teenager since I was one myself and so were my friends.  Even good kids do some stupid, idiotic things.  All we can hope is that they don’t get hurt.

I’m also rediscovering how they go through food, have homework and endless activities, and, in general, take a lot of time to raise.  No slacking off in this job.  Glad I’m still up to the required energy level.  I also get to share their day and spend some time with them.  Pretty special!

There is a reason that we usually have our children while we are young.  The best reason is to watch them grow up and have their own children and watch this wondrous cycle continue.  I loved Lady Violet’s comment on Downtown Abbey, “People forget about parenthood.  It’s the on and on-ness of it.”  When you hear that as a parent, you sigh.  When you hear it as a grandparent, you sigh…and then you smile!

Here’s how I got to this topic today…

I saw a movie about Joan of Arc, the one starring Ingrid Bergman as a 3o something year old playing a 16 year old, although she did a great job with what she had.  I’ve always loved the story of Joan of Arc and find her story absolutely fascinating.  Late last year, I had seen an old movie of Joan of Arc, I think it was silent, that had been on a list of top ten movies or female performances or something of all time.  It was based on the actual transcripts of Joan of Arc’s trial and was just brutal.  The poor actress never acted again.

Anyway, that took my confetti brain to a paper I wrote in college when I was taking a semester of Mark Twain in graduate school.  My thesis for that class was on Twain’s Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, not one of his more well known books, but one he called his favorite.  The book was highly criticized when it was published, probably because it was so different from his other works, especially the ones where he viewed religions so irreverently.  It was called too sentimental and not historically correct.  I took the stand, with all my 21 years of experience, that Twain based the work on more historic truth than they thought.  He probably did base his own image of Joan on his beloved daughter, Susie.

Those thoughts morphed into memories of those term papers that I always seemed to be writing.  As an English major, it was part of the deal.  While I was taking the Twain class, I was also teaching Freshman Composition as a graduate assistant, having to teach how to write those papers.  In those golden old days, a research paper was a tedious thing, unless you really liked researching, which I did.  It required many visits to the library, a grand place to go at Oklahoma State University.  There you plowed through the card catalogue by hand, looking for anything remotely connected to your topic.  Then you had to find this book or article and either check it out or sit in the library and read it.  I think I made notes on little note cards for some reason.  Maybe I organized them into something…who knows.

After you digested all of this information, you took all the notes and started writing a rough draft…by hand.  I learned to write papers in junior high and high school, using the rules in this little blue book, which I can’t believe I still have.  I may need it some day and it does have really good information on just writing in general.


Either in high school or college, I also used this book, good old Strunk & White.  While writing this, I looked it up and found that it was considered antiquated just a few years ago.  If you know nothing about writing, it still gives you some good lessons.


After you had your final draft finished, and you may have had to write several, you were faced with some of the low tech of the time.  Papers had to be turned in typed, sometimes with more than one copy.  We didn’t have copiers then, so we used carbon paper.  I knew people who had to have several copies of each paper.  Oh yeah, there could be no errors.  Sometimes, the professor would let you get by with one or two.  Picture sitting down at your typewriter, which was an electric one by the time I got to college.  I learned to type on a manual.  Electric typewriters were all we had until word processors came into being by the time some of my kids were in college.  At least they had copiers.

Anyway, you sat down to type your paper, which had to have footnotes and a bibliography, knowing you couldn’t have any mistakes.  There was also the time factor because few college students got to this point until the night before the paper was due…no matter how long you had worked on it.  You had to stop and roll the paper down part way to insert the footnote number, hoping you would get the paper back in the same spot.  And you had to plan when to stop the page so that you could have room for the footnotes.  It was a delicately balanced process.

Then came the dreaded mistake.  You had to peel back each copy and correct each one with a typewriter eraser and something to scrape off the carbon word.  Later we got Liquid Paper, although teachers didn’t like that so much.  Even later was correcting paper or tape.  Imagine a 20 page paper with this process.  I’m cringing now…and I was an excellent typist.

OK.  You finished the final page and rolled it out of the typewriter.  Then you had to proofread the paper.  Oh no!  You find an error and you have to start all over.  I was a student counselor in the dorm as an undergraduate and saw some real drama with term papers.  When I was teaching….well, I saw some real interesting final products.  And you might have more than one paper due at the same time.  Super drama!

So, I have gone from Joan of Arc to this tale of research papers.  I’m so grateful for what that old process taught me.  There was a real sense of accomplishment when you had a good idea and found information to prove it.  There was a discipline to it all.   I don’t know how they teach this process today or why it’s nearly as hard with computers, but I’m sure it is.  Students are students and they probably still write their papers the night before.

This is one of those times I’m just glad I can look back on all of it and don’t have assignments due or grades to worry about.  Life is worrisome enough after college.  In fact, those worries don’t seem so big now.  Happy Spring Term to all those students out there.  You’ll end up ok, even if you procrastinate.  Smile.

My lifelong obsession with photography began with looking through drawers of photos at my grandmothers’ houses.  They both threw them in a top drawer of a chest of drawers in a back bedroom and I would just stand there going through them, looking at my parents, grandparents, aunt, uncles, and friends and relatives that I didn’t know.

My father used to take a lot of pictures, especially during the war.  He had movies he took from his bomber while traveling to Puerto Rico and South America before flying over to Africa, snapshots of the guys stationed in Africa, and color movies of African cities.  He even took movies while on bombing missions.  He was the Squadron Commander and pilot.  He laughed much later, saying he took rolls of color film with him, not realizing he couldn’t replenish it easily during the war.  He took a few pictures of me when I was a baby, but he didn’t take that many through the years.  A few when he and my mother travelled, but not so many.

My mother didn’t really like photos until much later in her life.  Her father died when she was 5 and her mother struggled to raise three kids during the depression, so maybe she was trying to put those memories behind her, although she recalled those years with much humor and love.  She just didn’t like photography as much as I did, I guess.  In her later years, she treasured the photos of Daddy after he died and loved the ones of her grandkids.  They began to mean more to her.

When I was about 12, I got disgusted with the photos in our house being thrown in a box and put them in an album.  I didn’t really organize them and I glued them, so they’re hard to get out now.  I got my first camera around that time.  It was a Christmas present and I can still remember the bright yellow Kodak box it came in.  I was so proud of that camera!


It’s hard to explain to this generation, with their phones that have cameras built in for instant gratification, what it was like to have a camera until very, very recently.  My Brownie Hawkeye was the latest thing at the time for the general public, not like the fancy Nikons and Leicas that real photographers used.

My camera used flash bulbs, which were sometimes unreliable and not always handy.  You could take the flash attachment off if you wanted and we took a lot of pictures outside.  At my age, I was dependent on my parents for supplies, like film and bulbs, so I didn’t get to take as many pictures as I would like to.


Basically, here is what you had to do to get a picture:

1.  Load film in the camera.  This was tricky because you had to insert the end of the roll in one spool and roll it around, then insert the spool in the camera.  Sometimes, you didn’t roll it straight and had to do it again or the film would break.

2.  Once the film was in the camera, you rolled the film with the little knob on the side until the number 1 showed in a little window at the back.  Rolls of film had 12 pictures back then.  Later we got rolls with 25 pictures.

3.  If you were using flash, you had to attach the flash attachment and then insert a bulb, making sure it was in all the way.

4.  You looked down into the viewfinder and held the camera very still while pushing down on the release.  If you pushed too fast, you jerked the camera and ruined the picture, which you wouldn’t know until you saw the pictures later.

5.  Then you rolled the film to the next picture so that you didn’t double expose the film and have one picture on top of the other.

6.  You removed the flash bulb, which would be hot, and threw it away.

7.  At the end of the roll, which sometimes took weeks since we couldn’t take as many pictures, you rolled up the entire roll before taking it out so you didn’t expose the film to light.

8.  You took the roll to the drug store or someplace where they could develop it and waited a week to pick it up and see your pictures, which were small squares with black and white images.

Betty & car

Needless to say, I have embraced the advances in photography through the years, having many cameras, and loving my digital Nikon D5100 I have today, which takes photos and movies and gives me more than instant pleasure.  I took classes years ago, learning to develop and print, which has helped me now that I can edit on my computer.  I don’t know if photography is less or more trouble now since we spend more time on way more images, but it sure is fun.  My kids and grandkids won’t have a drawer of photos to look through, but they have my computer and Facebook and albums.

My lifelong fascination with capturing moments in time is undiminished through the years.  Click!

Yesterday was an interesting juxtaposition of years of my life.  I was working on my 50th high school reunion in the morning and received emails out of the blue from the guy who was our senior class president and another who was Mr. Edison that year.  It’s Edison Week, the week Thomas A. Edison High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma celebrates the namesake’s birthday with a week of celebrations, culminating today in the awarding of the next Mr. and Miss Edison, along with class superlatives.

Yesterday afternoon, I was at Edison for several hours to watch one of my grandsons in guy cheerleading, a fun tradition of Edison Week.  I hadn’t thought about any of this until last night while I was watching videos of the day with him.  When I go in the doors of Edison, I immediately feel at home.  The halls look smaller, but I can go back and picture the kids, in their various cliques, grouped around the front hall, waiting for the bell to ring, as they were back in my day.  The outside has some changes structurally and there aren’t motorcycles out front as much as cars, which is a change.  We didn’t have too many kids with cars back in my day.  The girls aren’t wearing hoop skirts either!


We didn’t have drugs, but we had the smoke hole.  We had more dances and they may have been more fun since kids don’t really date or dance the way we did.  There were downsides to that, too, for those who didn’t have dates.  Today’s kids are more group oriented when they go out, but that can be a good thing.  How can they possibly afford to take someone to a movie or out to dinner?  Nobody goes on Coke dates anymore.  There are dance classes, but few take them.  They can learn the latest from YouTube.


But, when I started really looking back, there are so many things that are basically the same.  We decorated the halls of the school…


…just as they do today.  This picture is a great illustration of the teenage boy’s brain as he improvises a way to hang a banner by balancing on a 2 inch brick when standing on a chair on a table didn’t work.  There were ladders close by, by the way.


The school has fewer students today, but they have more cheerleaders.  Here are the cheerleaders in 1963…


Today, they do intricate routines, way beyond 2-4-6-8, who do we appreciate.  The gymnastics are incredible.


Face it.  The kids are much more fit than we were, especially the girls.  It’s a different kind of training, different kind of body toning than we knew.  Even our biggest, strongest athletes couldn’t match the bodies I saw yesterday.  Or the jumps, leaps and throws.  I’m not sure that girls today could even relate to the quaint, which is a kind word for those hideous outfits we purchased at Sears and had our names monogrammed on, gym suits we wore.  Jumping jacks and sit ups were pretty much our exercises, although we did get to do some modern dancing, play a few basketball and softball games, and swim.  Swimming was awful because we didn’t have blow dryers and you had to walk around all day with your hair in a scarf.  I guess you could wear rollers to class – ha!


Edison Week really hasn’t changed much.  We had a gridiron show and I found pictures of our version of guy cheerleaders, 50 years ago.  These were the football players and the other jocks.  The guys have gotten more creative through the years with intricate routines that are SO teen age boy in their enthusiasm and silliness.  I have film of my son’s guy cheerleading group.



Here is my grandson’s sophomore class guy cheerleading group…


One of my sons-in-law was Mr. Edison, way back in 1990.  It’s a shock to my kids that Nostalgia Day this year was a look back at the 90s, with the kids wearing the styles of that era.  My kids are cringing and I’m smiling and trying to remember what they wore.  What the heck did I wear way back then, by the way?  It’s so far back…  Yesterday was Luau Day with all the school dressed for the islands.  We had some Hawaiian skits and my kids had luaus, too.  It’s always a good party theme.

One of the nice things about living where you grew up is seeing the continuity of life and viewing the changes through different generations.  My parents were from other places, so I felt no connection with where they went to school.  My kids and grandkids are walking the same halls in high school that their father (for part of junior high) and I did.  Yesterday, I got to share in their youth and it was refreshing to be surrounded by all that energy and excitement.  I loved the cheers and screams and laughter…mostly, I loved that I got to breathe in some of that rarified air that goes with all that can be good with teenagers.

I watched with pride as the kids said the Pledge of Allegiance and sang the National Anthem.  That hasn’t changed.


Mostly, I guess that what I wish for the next generation is that they continue the traditions, making them their own.  I do wish they had sung “Hail, Hail to Edison” for me.  Just for old times sake…but, yesterday wasn’t about me…it was about them.  My past and our future!





When I try to think of a perfect day, I always go to this photo.

Perfect Day

Don’t ask me why.  I know I’ve had days that were more fun or adventures that lasted longer.  We’d been fishing at a private pond and we’d all caught fish.  On the way home, we stopped to show my parents and my father took this picture.  Simple in all ways.

We had lots of days that were less than perfect and we had many days that were beyond perfect.  Why this one?  Maybe it captures a minute with all of us not trying to be anything but what we were.  It was a pretty day, we’d piled in the car and gone fishing.  It was the middle of all our days, the middle days with four healthy children, a happy couple, and our dog, moving through life.

I’m not sure any of us would remember too many details about this day, but it was a conglomeration of many others in many places.  Daddy trying to get everyone’s line in the water and thrilled when we caught a fish.  Mommy trying to get us fed and keep the kids from falling in the pond.  Nothing out of the ordinary.

Maybe, just maybe, I consider this one perfect because memories like this are what kept us all together and got us through the harder times, the sad times.  And, times like this are the foundation of our other happy and happier days.  And, maybe, because it’s always good to remember that there are people who never get to have a Perfect Day when we’ve had so many.  And, to remember that the Perfect Day may not be, and probably won’t be, something you plan.  It will just happen and then stay in your heart forever!


These quiet winter months have given me a chance to read more and I’ve met some interesting people between the pages – including electronic as well as paper pages.  I’ve been reading biographies the last few weeks and, as always happens in my case, I start looking for more information on the subjects I’ve met.  By coincidence, I’ve been reading about men and found that the women who shared their lives are every bit as fascinating, maybe more so.  You hear about the women behind the men, but I’ve learned that these women almost always are right there beside them, often through thick or thin in the every interpretation of that phrase from their wedding vows.

The first biography I finished was Steve Jobs.  Using his incredible creations made me more interested in the man with all the quirkiness and brilliance we have heard about.  I didn’t even know he was married, which was my ignorance but also due to his desire to keep his personal life private.  Laurene Powell Jobs is a remarkable woman who totally understood her husband.  He must have been hell to live with, but she accepted all sides of who he was and together they raised a lovely family.  She was also the philanthropic member of the family, giving her time and resources to educational interests of hers.  No matter what conclusion I had come to about them as a couple, the most touching thing I read was a description of the last meeting of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, when Jobs knew he was dying.  One of their topics was how lucky they both were to find wives that understood them so well.  Thanks that they recognize it!  I don’t think there are biographies of Laurene, but all who marvel over Jobs and his Apple products in our lives should also be thanking the stars for this beautiful, strong woman who stood right beside him.  They were a unique and modern love story.


The second biography I read was The Hearsts, which I had purchased right after visiting Hearst Castle last summer.  While touring that incredible home, I was as intrigued by William Randolph Hearst’s parents as I was by him.  George Hearst was an uneducated genius at mining who lived in the right time and was in the right place – much as Steve Jobs was.  He became one of the richest men in the world through common sense and hard work.  One of his greatest decisions, at the age of 41, was to return to his hometown in Missouri to find a wife and come back with 19 year old Phoebe Apperson, a girl of some education and some teaching background.  Maybe his skills at mining taught him to spot something valuable in this young girl or maybe he just got lucky.  Her accomplishments influence us today as much as either her husband or her only son and her influence on both of them made them the men they became.  She did it all through the ups and downs of health and wealth.  We should all know her story without thinking as she helped bring us kindergartens and the PTA.  She was instrumental in helping the University of California develop and grow, and marched for women’s votes when she was seventy.  Essentially also a private person, she lived a large public life in a marriage that was based on love and respect, if not too many shared interests.  Who would have ever suspected all that this midwestern girl would become?  Another unconventional love story for the ages.


The next book I read was The Aviator’s Wife, a novel about Anne Morrow Lindbergh.  I’ve read many of Anne’s books and diaries and consider A Gift from the Sea to be a must read for all women.  Once again, the husband was a man larger than life and the wife was a young girl who loved her privacy.  If we think that the media hounds political or other public celebrities today, we have to look at the horror that was the life of Charles Lindbergh and his family as they dodged the press.  The handsome aviator was a rigid, demanding man who could not be wrong and that is the worst to live with.  Fortunately, Anne also loved him and was willing to meet the challenging demands he made of her.  She became the first woman to receive a first class glider pilot’s license and learned to navigate for her husband on their world wide flights.  Nobody could imagine what the kidnapping and murder of their first child would do to the world’s most glamorous couple.  It contributed to making him colder and more withdrawn and her stronger, for sure.  They persevered and held together, with Anne truly into her own when she wrote A Gift from the Sea and became a recognized author, all while raising their five children.  This was not an easy man to be married to, but Anne stood beside him to the end, becoming truer to her own dreams.  I’m not sure his star would still have shined as brightly to the end, even with his accomplishments, without her.  Even with his hidden families, I do believe he knew she was always there.


After reading these books, I was also remembering Mary Montgomery Borglum, the wife of Gutzon Borglum, sculptor of Mt. Rushmore.  I saw a horrible show on him on the History Channel this week which only skimmed the information I had learned from a stack of books I read about them after visiting Mt. Rushmore.  Once again, this quiet wife stood beside this giant genius man and kept life sane in his larger than life quest for his art.  There are days I’m very glad I wasn’t married to a creative genius!  Hugs to these women who stick with that life.


There are so many of these women, some standing beside men who wish they would step back, while others were proud to have them there.  The message of the stories of the famous should be to look around us at the women we know who do the same.  I know women have come a long way, but most of us still take our responsibilities as wives and mothers seriously.  Most of us give little thought to prioritizing our lives with family first.  What I’ve found, like the women in these stories, is that having that as a priority often brings us knowledge and opportunities that we use to become even stronger women than we would have without that husband and children.

The joy of discovery is that one inquisitive thought leads to a discovery that uncovers new information which leads to new insights.  Thank you to all the women I continually discover who have inspired me throughout my life.  Today, I salute Laurene, Phoebe, Anne and Mary!  There are so many more…

One of the books I got from my mother was her 1946 book of household information.  My mother threw herself into being a housewife when she got married in 1945.  When I open this book, I like to think of her reading it intently and picking the hints she would use.


I love these old books for their everyday wisdom, the simple illustrations, and to see how far we’ve come.  I also learn a lot of useful tips even for today.

Obviously, this book will be used in other blogs because it’s too funny and interesting not to share.  Today, I picked two tips that stood out.

The first is timely since we are still in cold and flu season.  I absolutely never thought of making pockets for my sheets.  Maybe because I hate to sew and don’t have scraps of old sheets around to use like my grandmother did.  I don’t feel guilty because I do send my old sheets to Goodwill where they probably ship them off to Africa for re-use there.  Also, I don’t sleep as neatly as this person must have.


The second tip is for sleeve protectors when you are doing housework.  This one blows me away.  Obviously, these women were dressed in long sleeved blouses or dresses, but couldn’t they just push up the sleeves?  The “gay sleeve protector” is made from colorful fabric, once again found around the house, with snaps sewn on so you could wind it around your arm.  This was the fancy version.  I’m trying to envision this one and the trouble they went to making it work.


When I’m trying to explain to my kids that I ran a house without an answering machine, computer, or cell phone, I have to remember that I grew up in a time when we didn’t have clothes dryers, barely a washing machine (my grandmother had a wringer washer), dishwashers, electric vacuums, much less television.  By the time I was married, we had all of those things.

My huge respect for the women in my family who preceded me continues to grow.  I remember hanging out the clothes with my mother and grandmother, using the push sweeper, and washing the dishes (which I’m actually doing now since my dishwasher isn’t working).  None of those things was horrible, looking back.  But, we love our progress that lets us spend less time cleaning and more time….doing what?  I think we trade one set of chores for another as women.

Baking has always been fun for me since I got my first cookbook and started making little bitty cakes and pies and cupcakes in my tiny oven, before Easy Bake or maybe an early edition.  I just know I had little pans and made little things to eat.  Then I graduated to my mother’s pots and pans and stove.  Maybe that’s why I still have her old mixing bowls and still think they are the best bowls ever.

Today, I was hungry for my grandmother’s ice box cookies, but heaven help me if I make something that starts with a pound of butter when I don’t have a crowd in the house.  Yikes!  My paternal grandmother, Aggie, made these when I was little.  I keep her cookie jar, minus the lid, in my kitchen window.


My mother made them, too.  Nothing was better than the cookie dough pressed into squared rolls and wrapped in waxed paper in the refrigerator.   As kids, we would sneak in and slice off a hunk, making no pretense of polite slices, and eat the dough raw.  Can’t believe how wickedly good it was.  I made them for my four kids when they were little, but I must have…okay, I know I did…been caught with the dough and they picked up on it.  One of them told me she couldn’t remember having these baked.  For your information, they are nice little butter pecan cookies.  Really.

I’m not sure Aggie ever ate the dough but there was a twinkle about her, so maybe.

Aggie on 39th St

Many years later, I was teaching a course for the American Red Cross on Safe and Healthy Kitchens and we had to tell the people that it wasn’t healthy to eat raw cookie dough.  That was the hardest bit of information for me to give anyone, nonbeliever that I am.

I’m trying to restrain myself from running to the kitchen to start creaming the butter and sugar right now.  Help!  You go make them for me.   Note:  The recipe doesn’t say how long to bake them.  What does that tell you?

Aggie’s Ice Box Cookies

Preheat oven to 350

1 lb butter

2 1/2 cups sugar

3 eggs

1 Tbl Karo syrup

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp sode

5 1/2 cups flour

1 cup nuts

Cream butter and sugar together.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Add 1 cup flour sifted with soda and salt.  Add rest of flour with nuts.

Work on board and make 4 loaves.  Wrap in waxed paper and keep in refrigerator.

Slice and bake as needed.