Archives for the month of: October, 2013

Listening to my 4 year old granddaughter repeat the old Halloween taunt…Trick or Treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat…in all its variations was a cute reminder of Halloweens past. I looked it up to see when we started celebrating this strange holiday and found it was brought to America by the Scots-Irish at the end of the 19th century. It’s been around a long time, being celebrated in ways that haven’t changed so much. I see vintage Halloween decorations at antique shops and flea markets, vintage surely meaning before my time…


When I was little, we dressed up, mostly in homemade costumes. I remember witches, cowboys, gypsies, devils, wolfmen and vampires,ghosts and being a hobo. Does anyone even know what a hobo is these days? We had store-bought costumes that were silly plastic masks and some kind of cheap material to wear and Superman and Batman were popular then as now…


And we had our paper dolls to play with…


When my baby sister was maybe six months old, my Daddy carried her around…she was dressed in a pink snowsuit with a rubber monkey mask…to show the neighbors. I still remember how adorable that was. That may be the only time I remember Daddy going with us although I’m sure there were a few other times. Mostly we grabbed pillow cases and ran house to house as fast as we could, filling the case and then unloading it at home and going for more. Those were pretty safe times in the 50s. We’d bring the candy home and lay it out on the floor or the bed, organizing it by treat to see how we did. Some of the neighbors made popcorn balls or caramel apples for us and we had banana bites, root beer barrels, candy bars (real size ones – none of those little bitty bite-sizes), tootsie rolls, tootsie pops. There was no Halloween packaging although sometimes people bought little Halloween sacks and filled them with unwrapped candies like candy corn. I heard rumors of people giving dimes although I don’t remember getting them. We snacked from the candy we kept under the bed for days, weeks.


There were Halloween parties decorated with black and orange crepe paper, cardboard decorations or maybe those kind of paper decorations that fanned out into 3-D pumpkins or black cats. And pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns. We bobbed for apples and munched on Rice Krispies treats or cookies. Houses were decorated with pumpkins, jack-o-lanterns and those cardboard decorations taped in windows. In high school, there were a few costume parties. Hayrides were popular, real hayrides on big wagons loaded with piles of hay. These were popular because it was a great make-out date, even on church hayrides. Think of laying in the lay with your boyfriend, snuggled up against the cold, bouncing along under a starlit night…

Halloween has evolved during my lifetime, an understatement to say the least. When my four kids were little, we had more decorations, there were more pumpkin patches and we made an annual trip to find our best pumpkins. The carving took place close to the day, putting them out on Halloween night. If we put them out too early, they got stolen or withered. We didn’t care who took them after Halloween, just not before! There were no fancy cutting tools or designs, just pumpkin faces you made up. Pumpkin contests and Halloween parties were a big deal at elementary school.

Scan 19

My post-war generation threw Halloween parties for adults and kids alike. There weren’t too many, but, right after having our fourth child, we dressed as rabbits to laugh at ourselves in an age when birth control and zero population growth were the ideas of the moment. We didn’t plan to have four children, but there we were…my 6’4″ husband was a cute pink bunny and I was the prolific mommy bunny.

Scan 189

Scan 188

Sometime when my kids were little, the stories of razor blades in candy and drugs slipped into treats began and we had to take more cautions. The dads went with the kids, standing in the street talking while the kids ran to familiar houses for treats. The freedom of being on your own like in the days of my childhood was gone. Sure, there were scary houses in every neighborhood back then, enhanced by our imaginations, but we weren’t in real danger. It was a scarier world now. My son and his friends were allowed to travel in groups by the time they were 9 or ten, but they had to check in often and we inspected their candy.

Scan 6

In the early 90s, I opened a gift shop, about the time that Halloween was becoming a billion dollar industry. It became one of our biggest shopping seasons with decorations, specialty foods, and novelties exploding onto the market. The candy companies learned that packing items for the holiday made a big difference in sales and costumes became more sophisticated for all ages. Halloween was celebrated in bars, on airlines, in offices. Adults loved acting like kids, playing make-believe.

By the time I had grandchildren, Halloween was a big deal. In the age of political correctness, when people decided that this was a pagan holiday celebrating evil, Halloween parties changed to Fall Festivals in schools and churches. Only the name changed in the long run. We had our little goblins…

Marc & Jeff

Marc & Caroline - Halloween 2003

…the adults dressed up…


and the holiday continued to grow. And grow.

Yesterday, I was at a Halloween costume parade in the neighborhood, marveling at the costumes on all ages. There are a lot of super heroes and movie monsters and princesses and even the dogs have a costume contest. I had just looked through a brochure of different ways to make hot dogs look Halloweeny, food being one of the creative ways we celebrate these days. Television is full of Halloween movie festivals, Halloween episodes of your favorite show and scary movies are scarier than ever.

The holiday permeates our culture these days. It’s a celebration of harvest and fall colors and shorter days and cooler weather and imagination and creativity and acting like a kid and facing the scary things in life with a sense of humor.


The World Series is on this week and my mind flashed back to baseball through my years, a zig-zag view of the sport. When I was a kid, we played baseball all the time, mostly a version of workup with whoever was available in the neighborhood. My brother played on a team, but it was different. We all didn’t go to every game, sometimes the coach piled the kids in his car to drive somewhere, they went for ice cream after games, there were no trophies unless you won something really big, like a whole season. Kids just played baseball and dads coached. I guess there were leagues for the ones who were really good, but I don’t remember much about those.

The World Series was a big deal. Countless friends of mine remember teachers setting a radio in the window of the classroom so the kids could listen to the series, which were mostly played during the day. We sat quietly at our desks, listening to the sounds of the game. I loved the Yankees because of Mickey Mantle. I don’t think I knew he was from Oklahoma, but who was more baseball than Mickey? Years later, my father played golf with him and I was impressed. I’m still impressed even knowing his life’s ups and downs. I have a cat named Mickey because he swats with both paws, a switch-hitter like the Mick.

Baseball was always around, but I was doing different things until my kids were in high school. One of my daughters played softball in high school and I learned to keep score, definitely an insight into the game and all its intricacies. I didn’t really get back into it until my husband got season tickets to our local AA team and we became fans, real fans. Our seats were in the second row behind home plate and we would go early to watch them line the fields, watch the team warm up. It was a place where we lived in a different world with friends who sat around us, player’s wives, scouts, kids all over the place. It was a world of what we want the real world to be. There were no outside worries at the ballpark. You ate your hot dog and cheered for your team. I love AA ball because you are watching kids who are on the verge of making it big. Some of them did and it was fun to watch them move on to the big leagues. Some of them played minor league ball for a long time and finally had to move along. That life of little pay, long bus rides, motels and time from your family isn’t always fun no matter how much you love the game.

We kept those tickets for 19 years, after my husband died, after the kids all had kids. The family went together, we loved the mascot, we watched fireworks, we played the games outside the field, one of my grandsons went to the player clinic. Many happy family memories at the ballpark. We finally gave them up when the team moved to a nicer stadium. It wasn’t because we lost interest in the game, but because we had our own ballplayers now and too many games to watch to make all the big games. We still love them…we just pick and choose our games.


I never saw a major league game in person until a visit to Denver in 2010 where we watched the Rockies play the Cubs, my son-in-law’s favorite team. It was a treat, a special game in beautiful Coors Stadium but not quite as intimate as our home AA field. There’s something nice about watching kids who are trying to make the dream that can beat out multi-million dollar players for winning your heart.


I do love the game. I watched Ken Burn’s series, “Baseball,” and love all the history, the symbolism. I’m not one who can throw out all the stats, but it doesn’t matter. Today, I have three grandsons playing the game, playing because they love to play. They play pretty competitively so I thought they all were trying to reach the pros. I think they’d like to play at least into college. Mostly, they just play to get better and keep playing. It’s fun to watch them, fun to watch the families who make every game on fields that are better than the pro teams played on in the game’s beginnings.




Pretty good lessons in life. Sometimes you swing and hit a home run, sometimes you strike out. You run to the bases, trying to get to the next one and then you come home. There’s the glory of the win and the sting of defeat. You’re part of a team and you play together to win. All those things we’ve heard through the years.

Nothing too profound here. Just having some baseball memories. Here’s a good quote to ponder while you watch the series…

“Baseball was made for kids, and grown-ups only screw it up.”
Bob Lemon

Irving Berlin wrote

Blue skies
Smiling at me
Nothing but blue skies
Do I see

There’s truth in the fact that blue skies make everything seem brighter, everything alright. Right now we’re blessed with cool nights and warm, blue-skies all day long. I hope everything is right in your world, that all your skies are blue.




And I hope you walk along humming that tune…

I’m supervising one of my 16-year old grandsons this weekend (I have two, almost three, that age right now), watching him with his friends going out in their cars. Supervising means watching with the eye of someone who remembers being 16, remembers the exhilaration of being out of the house in a car without your parents. I remember all the silliness, the stupidity, the fun of being 16.

In Tulsa, Oklahoma, in the early ’60s when I was a teen, we cruised. Most of us didn’t have our own, so we borrowed our parents’ cars. I remember wishing they didn’t have such nice cars so it would look like they were actually mine. I don’t think I ever ran an errand for my mother without stopping to pick up a friend and racing to the drive-in. I bet a 15-minute run to the grocery store took me over an hour…I appreciate my mother’s patience and understanding now.

My life was the Tulsa version of “American Graffiti.” That movie truly was our story, our music, our lives. We were college bound, smart, good kids, doing teenage things. If you lived in our part of town, you cruised Peoria, Brookside. Other parts of town had their own strip. Peoria was so popular it got the nickname the “Restless Ribbon” for all the teens cruising up and down. We drove down the street over and over from 31st to 51st, watching for friends, cute guys. When you saw someone you knew, you honked your school or club honk. Our radios were blaring with rock ‘n roll from KAKC. We were noisy in those days before someone decided it was noise pollution. Probably someone who forgot what it was to be young.

When we stopped at an intersection, you sometimes revved your engine. You flirted with whoever was in the next car. You raced up and down the street. You sometimes jumped at the light, racing a short distance. A game was to see if you could jump out of the car, run around it and get back in before the light changed. I didn’t say we were street smart, just school smart. We didn’t have seat belts and piled as many kids in a car as we could. I once piled in a car with about 10 guys to go to a football game. They teased me and I loved it.

The hub of our world was Pennington’s Drive-In. We cruised through the rows, looking for a prime place to stop on “Soc (pronounced Sosh) Row,” the middle row. Pole Position was right at the front where you saw everyone and everyone saw you. Sherry was the cute carhop and Jake was the security cop. Arch and Lola Pennington were inside, taking orders, making the onion rings, dinner rolls, hamburgers, chicken and shrimp baskets and black bottom pie I long for right now. You pulled in and ordered your vanilla or cherry or cherry vanilla Dr. Pepper and waited for the car hop to attach the tray to your window while you watched to see who else was there and then either greeted them or pretended you didn’t know that carload of guys was watching your carload of girls.

We went to Pennington’s for lunch, a quick 30 minute race between the school and the drive-in that seems impossible with today’s traffic. We did it, though, sliding into our desks just as the bell rang. We went after school, after club meetings, after football games, after movies, on dates before you “parked.” I won’t elaborate…you know what I mean. There was nothing like being with someone you liked, knowing everyone saw you together. When you went home and called your friends on the actual phone with a cord, you talked about who you saw cruising, who was at Pennington’s.

There were other places on the Restless Ribbon. Mr. T’s was at 36th & Peoria, although that was more of a hangout for the guys. When I was a senior, someone opened a private club for teens, the Ship’s Wheel, at 41st & Peoria. My boyfriend joined and we went there to sit and talk and to dance to live bands. I don’t think it lasted long…I only remember it my senior year. Mostly, we just cruised. It was what we did, cruised and talked and laughed and listened to music and looked for our friends and suffered awkward silences with new dates and sweet moments with special ones.

Last Friday night, I cruised Peoria again, as I have done for most of my life. This particular time I was with my 4-year old granddaughter and we headed to the drive-in, the drive-in pharmacy this time, and then down the street to the frozen yogurt shop. I passed the place where Pennington’s was, a Kentucky Fried Chicken now, and had a memory of what once was. Usually I go by without a thought, but that night it all flooded back. I was on the same street I’d cruised so many times. It was crowded and busy with shops and restaurants, still a hub of town, of the neighborhood. It was only 7:30, the Restless Ribbon was getting busier with nightfall, just as it always has. I don’t know where my grandsons and their friends go because I know that they aren’t allowed to cruise like we did or stop and congregate without suspicious neighbors and the police watching and gas is more expensive and their parents (or grandparents) are checking on them with GPS and cell phones. Too bad.

I have a ribbon that runs through my mind of sweet memories…cruising with my friends.


In the fall of 1957, I started 7th grade, a life-changing year. Up until then I had attended a small private school where I was in a class of 24, usually 18 girls and 6 boys, basically the same kids year after year. We had moved and my parents let us change to public school so we could meet kids in our neighborhood. I had no idea what that year would bring.

I was not so much shy as a quiet observer, so moving from a sheltered world into a class of 650 in a school that was both junior and senior high was pretty exciting. I was thin, my legs so thin one of the guys used to call out “Hey Toothpick” when he passed me in the hall. My skinny legs along with my ever changing shape wasn’t so much embarrassing as awkward. Who didn’t obsess with it at that age? I was one of the youngest in the class, only 11, and had been playing with dolls until recently. I was a child, an oldest child, with not many older kids to show me what was next.

Throw me into this sea of raging hormonal adolescence and see if I can float.

1957 couldn’t have been more exciting. Rock ‘n Roll was in a fantastic stage and our favorite radio station provided the beat of our lives. We took dance lessons and learned to dance with boys, cute boys, not so cute boys, soon to be cute boys. We learned the waltz, foxtrot, swing dance and cha cha that year, dancing them into our muscle memory so we could hear the steps in our sleep and even half a century later . And dance we did. There were school dances, dance school dances, and we had social clubs. We learned about popularity and being left out, about the awkwardness of asking someone to a dance or waiting by the phone hoping someone would call. Life was happening and we were learning all the lessons.

We walked all over the place or our parents dropped us off to meet our friends. There was a new freedom of hanging out with a big bunch of kids. Our parents were suddenly not as fun to be seen with. The drive-in restaurant where we had always gone, Pennington’s, was also the coolest place to go for all the teens in the area. They cruised the lanes, looking for the perfect parking place, waving at their friends. When my father chose to park in the middle of them and wave as they went by in their convertibles, I sat on the floor, not believing he was doing this to me even though I didn’t know any of them and wasn’t old enough to be in cars with them. That day would come…later.

On Saturdays, kids met at Utica Square, a fairly new shopping center. Our first stop was Utica Square Book & Record store where we would wait for the KAKC Top 50 list for the week. Here’s one from my junior year…I couldn’t find one from way back in 1957.


The cool thing about the book & record shop (and I don’t remember any books in there) was the booths where you could crowd in with your friends and listen to the newest 45. I think they cost $1 back then. The music was crazy fun as we listened to Elvis, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Everly Brothers, The Coasters. Some of our favorites in 1957 were “At the Hop,” “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On,” “Susie-Q,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “Searchin,” “Little Darlin’,” “Peggy Sue,” “School Day,” “Young Blood.” The Everly Brothers’ “Wake up Little Susie” was an exciting idea for an 11 year old. We knew all the words, playing records, listening to the radio, our hearts moving to this background beat of our lives.

Suddenly my parents didn’t get the music or the slang we used. Everything was “stud,” which sounded horrible to my mother which certainly didn’t make me quit using it. We all dressed alike, a uniform different from the one I wore in private school. There were clothes that made you look like part of the group. You didn’t want to stand out. We wore penny loafers with the penny in the slot, bobby socks, hoop skirts for dances, pleated skirts. It was all changing.

Kids would hang out around the neighborhoods, at each other’s homes. We also went from the book & record shop on Saturdays to Utica Bowl where the pin boys still set the pins. We would bowl a couple of lanes, eat in the little snack shop, hang out like real teens, which we weren’t yet. There were boys hanging out there, boys who all wore the same jackets, red jackets with the collars turned up for while. Some of them actually smoked. The kind of boys your mother worried about. Most of them were nice, just doing the teen thing.

There was so much going on that year, so many changes in our world, in us. I watch my grandchildren growing up, going through those same times in their lives with a little bit of envy. Sure it was awkward, sure it could be embarrassing and emotional, but we were young and alive and open to what the world was throwing at us. There was so much we would face in the coming years, but this year was the first one. Looking back, it was a fun one even remembering the emotions, the awkwardness. We were young and excited.

I can’t, wouldn’t go back to 7th grade. But I sure can look back with a smile at that little girl starting to grow up. 1957…7th grade…was important.

It Halloween time and all the scary movies are returning. One that frightened me and stuck in my head forever was “The Incredible Shrinking Man,” which came out in 1957 when I was in 6th or 7th grade. The images are so vivid to me of the man who kept getting smaller and smaller until he lived in a dollhouse, terrorized by the family cat and household spiders. The old black and white movie was well done, at least to this young mind. He got so small his wife couldn’t see him anymore and he was lost in the house.



Yesterday, I was measured at a doctor’s office and seemed to have shrunk. I still think she measured me wrong, but whatever. Good grief, I take enough calcium and eat enough dairy and exercise. Another strange thing about aging. Those movie images came back to me along with the fact that I would be getting smaller as my grandchildren get bigger and bigger – a couple are already around 6’4″ and still growing.

Scary movies have nothing on real life. The good news is that the movie ended on a positive note as the incredible shrinking man realized that he was going to shrink to atomic size but that there was no zero in the universe and he would always be a part of it. As the minister said at my son’s memorial service, “He is now all around us.”

In the meantime, look for the little woman in my family pictures. That will be me. Incredible.

Last week, I went to the cabin of a friend along with two other friends, all of us Oklahoma born. While driving an hour out of town, we started talking about how beautiful the state is, one friend calling it underrated, with a diverse landscape that we appreciate. All of us are well-traveled, spanning the world, so it’s not like we haven’t seen the beauty of the Swiss Alps, the Mediterranean, the Colorado Rockies, the national parks, and on and on. We love it all. But we still feel tied to this land where we were born.

We had a stunningly beautiful afternoon to enjoy all that was around us…I love the rivers, creeks, scrub and blackjack oaks in rural Oklahoma. Fall hadn’t touched it yet, but it’s on the verge.




Our roots are important to us no matter how many times we pull them up. I recently traveled with two friends, one who lives in Tulsa, born in Portland. She will forever be an Oregon girl. Our other friend has lived in so many places, including Tulsa, on so many continents, that she has to put down her roots over and over. I don’t know how that feels…I can’t imagine. She adapts well. What I understand is that we do feel connected to our land, to our environment and we find peace in it. There is something that pulls at our hearts from the land we have inhabited, the land where we grew up. In it, we find our true selves, we’re stripped bare. For those who move around, it must be a different feeling, one of making those connections wherever you are at the time, mixed with memories of where you’ve been. Neither one is better, they are just a part of us.

I will share the places of the heart with my Okie girls, with my friends whose roots are elsewhere, whenever I can. We need the places, but we also need the people. Peace…

Confetti Thoughts is a year old today…that means I figured out how to set this up and started writing a year ago. Some random thoughts…

1. I chose a good name, Confetti Thoughts, because I have been able to write about whatever was on my mind. Some people blog about a single topic, but I didn’t want to be limited.

2. I haven’t messed with the look since I started. Other blogs are much fancier, but that isn’t what this is about and I can just see me doing something crazy and not being able to get out of it. I don’t even remember how I did this look, to tell the truth. I may experiment this year or I may not. I did get an app to transfer photos from my camera to my iPad while traveling so I could post from the road, which was handy.

3. The blogs that I may love the most may never get read, which is interesting. I have one post that has gone around the world and I find that pretty funny. There are others which would fascinate me way more, but it is what it is.

4. I have readers everywhere on the globe. I have no idea how that works, if their computers translate it or they all speak English or what, but it’s pretty amazing to think someone in Korea or Africa or Australia has ever read something I wrote.

5. Most of the comments I get are from friends or on Facebook, but occasionally I hear from a stranger and it’s nice. I also get a little spam from people promising me that I can make money from my blog with their help or things like that.

6. There are billions of bloggers out there and some of them write beautifully, some write from their heart, some are boring, some have pretty strange topics, some have beautiful pictures. I’m just impressed that writers of all ages, from all countries are doing this. I love that people like to write.

7. I love having a place to post some fun photos, which I love to take, and to write about things. I do it for myself because it would be pretty vain of me to think I’m improving the world or something important like that.

8. I avoid politics pretty much because that brings out the craziness in people and I hate finding out that people I have liked so much can get so rabid and full of hate over issues. It’s hard to have a decent discussion these days with people so polarized.

9. I’ve made it a year without writing about my 3 dogs and 2 cats very much and just a little about my 8 grandchildren and my 4 children. Not that they aren’t the most interesting things in my world, but enough is enough.

10. This has been a discipline in that I try to write at least a few times a week. Every day would be too much for people reading unless you’re as entertaining as The Pioneer Woman. Sometimes, while traveling I took a break. Or when I had surgery. I always thought I could write about anything and I seem to find something. This is my 156th post, which seems pretty good, I guess.

Anyway, thanks to my friends who tickle me with their compliments. That’s what friends are for. Thanks to strangers who share the writing and send it around the world. Thanks to anyone who takes the time to read this out of all there is to read in books, newspapers, internet, whatever media is coming round the bend.

Cheers to year two!


On my morning walk today, I plugged my earphones into a compilation of oldies, very oldies. The music of my youth always puts a beat in my walk. And the memories…oh, the memories. This one started with Rock Around the Clock, a hit when I was in grade school. I got a pink clock radio for Christmas when I was in about 5th grade, the coolest thing ever, next to my record player that played 45s. I could listen to all this music in the peace of my room. That doesn’t sound like much to generations who grew up with their personal music everywhere they went, but all we had were radios and car radios and records. Real records. I lived in some prehistoric age obviously.

Anyway, today I was rockin’ and walkin’ to Bo Diddley and the Moonglows singing “Sincerely” and the Spaniels crooning “Goodnight Sweetheart” along with Big Joe Turner’s “Shake, Rattle & Roll.” I was definitely in a different place because these took me back to my days as a silly jr. high girl, full of shyness and insecurities and curiosity about everything. Way way back…

As much as I loved going back, I decided to switch my tunes and my era, so I put on a little J.T. I have to admit having an old lady crush on him…so cute, such talent, such humor. So this old one rocked home to music that holds no memories, but makes me smile. I’m sure parents are worrying about the music their kids listen to just as our parents worried about us. We all turned out just fine, still rockin’ along…


Sometimes we humans get to witness moments in nature that we know we will never see again. I was taking pictures after the recent storms in Oregon, watching the thick sea foam washing over the beach when something caught my eye, an unusual movement through my viewer. I had zoomed in and still couldn’t recognize exactly what I was seeing. You may see it around the center of this shot…


It was a bird, covered in sea foam, waddling towards me until it got covered in foam again with the next wave. It was a pelican.


I wasn’t sure what to do. He was completely covered, his eyes, his wings, his bill. I was still too far from him to be of much help, so I kept taking pictures. He, or she…what do I know?…stopped and stretched. It was definitely a pelican, a tired pelican. No telling how long it had been struggling to escape the strong waves of sea foam. I know. I had been standing with my back to the ocean the day before and got caught in a rush of the nasty looking, thick foam. I couldn’t outrun it. And I’m a whole lot taller than a bird on the ground. It seems to take a long time to make it closer to the shore.


I wasn’t moving, only clicking my camera, but the pelican seemed to know I wasn’t going to hurt him. Or he was too tired to care. He was just trying to get out of the mess. Thoughts were running through my mind about trying to help. Do pelicans bite? What if I just scared him. I had nothing with me to dry him off. So much for my valiant thoughts of a wildlife rescue. He stopped and shook a few times, losing a little bit of the foam.


He wasn’t very graceful but he was moving. He seemed to know what to do. He stretched his wings again.


Then his neck. He was watching me now.


He let his pouch drop a little, alternating spreading his wings, preening to get the foam off.


He turned to me, looking right at me, probably 20 feet away.


Then he spread his wings, airing them out, and headed for the safety of a log thrown to shore by the storm.


A couple, probably from Germany, joined me on the shore and began taking photos with an iPad. They had seen many dead birds after the storm and thought this one would probably die, he looked old to them.

You know what…I don’t think so. I think he knew exactly what to do and was going to go dry off before returning to the other pelicans in the area. I’m not naive, but I saw the look in his eye, a look of strength. No matter what happened later, he had made it to shore, cleaned himself off, and looked a human in the eye. I felt good about him and grateful for getting to capture it for you. I won’t forget my plucky pelican friend…