March 25, 2011
OK...Let's side step here for a moment and talk about something really fun!!! I know you're gonna like it...I can't help but like it! When my Dad was a young man, he spent a lot of time at the skating rink. He learned how to figure skate! He was good...like really good! Just like those figure skaters you see on TV. You're not going to believe this...but my Dad was so good...he ended up competing!
He competed at several rinks, depending on where the competitions were. These photos are priceless!! How do you like these costumes?!!
Enter stage right....my Mom!!!
Probably the cutest little thing on skates in the whole county. My Mom would always watch my Dad skate and thought he was so handsome. My Dad recalls the day he met my Mom. She and another girl came up to my Dad out on the floor. The one girl knew my Dad already and said "Hey, my friend here wants to know if you'll teach her how to do a "3 turn". He said "ya sure".
As he tells me the story the other night..this is how he talks, he says "I takes her by the hand". Instead of saying 'I took her by the hand'...he says "I takes her by the hand and proceed to show her how to do a 3 turn. Well, she's giggling and laughing and messing around. I told her, no, you're not being serious here, so no, I'm not going to show you if you're just gonna giggle and carry on." So he just left her there on the floor and skated away. As you can see, my Dad was serious about his skating. I asked my Dad, "Well, did you think she was pretty or cute?" He says "Oh ya...she was sharp...she was definitely...right there." And so, from then on they saw each other all the time at the skating rink and were together ever since.
My dad asked my Mom to marry him. She said yes.
He told me he asked her father for permission to marry her. He said yes. Here's the part I like...he said "her Dad had to sign for her because she was only 20." He said back then, if you were under 21, you had to have a parent sign for you.
They moved into their first apartment. My Dad's Grandmother moved in with them. They began building a family...the first 2 children were born...they bought their first house...then next 2 children were born. My Dad's Grandmother lived with them until it was no longer possible for them to care for her. They moved her into a place called Heart Home for the elderly, and eventually she went into the hospital where she passed away at age 89 or 90. He doesn't remember her exact age, but she sure did live a long time. I'm glad she got to see her grandson have a family and get to see some of her great grandchildren. I just remembered...they used to call her "Mum". That's what my Dad called her and my Mom did as well.
Like any young couple, in the beginning, money was tight, but eventually, years later, my Dad's business was doing well. He bought one acre of land in the suburbs northwest of Pittsburgh. He began building his dream home with his own two hands. With the house complete, they sold their house in Pittsburgh to my Mom's parents (my Grandparents) and moved into their new home. Then...guess who was born next? Me! Yes, I was child number 5, born in July of 1970. That's me there in the stroller, and those are my brothers and sisters.
The first 4 children were born consecutively...then there was an 8 year span of before I was born. Three and a half years later, my little sister was born. And then....they were done...she was the last born...the baby...(little brat! Ha Ha! Just kidding!)
I've got a few more things I'd like to share with you about my Dad. I will save it for Part 4, the final post...not the final chapter...he's still alive and well. He's 75 and is very much into building and flying model airplanes. He even joined a club last summer. He calls them "a bunch of old guys".
End of part 3...stay tuned for the final post of my father's story
And so...picking up where I left off...my father was shipped off to Hershey Orphanage for boys. He said he really cannot remember the details of how he got there but, he thinks his uncle may have drove him. An interesting detail...my Dad was 13, about to turn 14 in one or two weeks...once a child turned 14, they could not get into the orphanage...my dad got in just under the wire. Once a child got into the home, they could stay there until they graduated high school. At that time, they were given a brand new suit and $100 dollars.
The orphanage at Hershey was started by Milton S. Hershey in 1909. We are all familiar with Hershey chocolate, and this is the Hershey I am talking about. Milton Hershey and his wife Catherine were not able to have children of their own, so they started a school and orphanage for boys.
Here is a picture of the original homestead that housed the first orphans. Later there was a whole building and school for the orphans. My father did not come to this school until 1949. I have searched the internet for old photos of the orphanage or school and cannot find any photos from back then. The school is still there today and helps underprivileged boys and girls get a good education. It is no longer an orphanage.
The orphanage was on a dairy farm and daily life included chores. The children woke early every day at 5 am and worked the farm before school.
They milked the cows and cleaned out the barn before they even had breakfast. After breakfast they would clean up, change clothes and go to school. As soon as they came home from school, they returned to the barn to milk the cows again. At last after milking and other chores they went in to eat dinner. After dinner they had one hour to do their homework, and then would have an hour of free time to themselves to do what they wanted. Bedtime followed free time and then it would start all over again in the morning. It was a very structured life. Everything was scheduled by time.
On Sundays, the orphans children rode a school bus into town and were permitted to wander around for one hour. They each received an allowance of 40 cents per week, and were able to spend their money as the wanted. My father told me, "you know, you could get an ice cream cone or whatever." I can only imagine how much that time meant to them. Can you imagine, 40 cents and 1 hour of free time? It's definitely a strict life and I wish that kids today would have such an experience.
When I think about the over abundance children today receive compared to what children received back then...it is no wonder this generation feels entitled to everything! It's really astounding when you really think about it! Older generations are more thrifty and conservative...they save everything and make the most of everything they have. It's the more recent generations that have dumped every possession they have into the landfills because they were just bored with it, or it wasn't the right color, or they just deserved a new one. As I write this, I am incredibly humbled and ashamed. Even now, I am learning from my Dad.
My Dad did not like living at the orphanage at all. He said he felt very lonely. It was hard work, but it was honest work, and they were compensated for their labor with a roof over their head, food, an allowance and an education. He never said he was mistreated there, just that he did not like it...and I can undertand! My father was there for about three or four months before his Grandmother sent him money for a train ticket back to Pittsburgh. He took his money and ran away! He did not tell anyone he was leaving! He stole away to the train station, and for $5.24 he bought a one way ticket to Pittsburgh. re-creation--not actual ticket
From the train station in Pittsburgh, he proceeded to take a street car (trolley) the rest of the way home. The street car cost 10 cents to ride, and you paid when you got off. All my father had left in his pocket was a penny! But here's the best part...it was an old silver penny! He was hoping to pass off the silver penny as a dime because that's all he had! When the street car stopped, he put the silver penny in the machine and ran like the wind! He doesn't know if it worked, and he didn't stick around to find out. He just laughs when he tells this story, and I love it!
Anyhow, the orphanage did call the next day to say that he was gone. His Grandmother informed them he would not be coming back. My father told me they didn't have a phone until he was 17 years old, so I am assuming the call must have been made to his uncle's home.
At this time, my father went back to school and life continued on as usual. Living on welfare, my Dad's grandmother received only $30 dollars a month to live on. In my Dad words, "We had zero...nothing". He remembers going to the welfare office for his clothes. He would go up to the counter and they would hand him 2 pair of pants, 2 shirts and underwear. He describes the pants as something like "Dickies" work pants. I asked if he got shoes from them as well...he doesn't remember...but he assumed he did, because there wouldn't have been any other way for him to get shoes. His memories of the clothes are not good memories. He really despised those clothes! As he told me the other night, the clothes were "plain jane garbage". He said they were made of very cheap fabric and very poorly made. The pants and shirts were navy blue. He said he kinda feels like his clothes caused some of the problems he had in school with the other kids. He was very self conscious about his clothes while the other kids had "nice stuff like blue jeans". He said his clothes stuck out like a sore thumb! Now let me tell you, for my Dad to open up about feelings like this is astounding in itself. I am so glad that he shared being self conscious about his welfare clothes. It just makes me love him all the more. And to think when I was a teenager, I complained about not having expensive designer jeans such as Gloria Vanderbilt and Jordache! I had no idea of what it meant to have nothing!
As I write this, I'm getting choked up a little and tears are forming in my eyes. We grow up thinking our parents are this tough brick wall and cannot be crumbled...strong and sturdy...and they are...but we don't really think about who they were and what they felt like as a child...that they had hurts and wants as well.
end of part 2...stay tuned for part 3 of My father's story
March 18, 2011
August of 1936, my father became an orphan shortly after he was born. His mother died from complications from child birth. She had lost a lot of blood and tragically died before ever seeing or holding her newborn son. His father left and never had contact with him again. Such a sad way to come into life.
Here is a photo of my Dad's mother when she graduated high school. It is the only picture we have of her.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania...my father's Aunt and Uncle and Grandmother, on his mother's side, took him in and cared for him from birth. His Aunt and Uncle also had children of their own. They all lived together in the same house until he was 5 years old.
One day, he and his Grandmother moved out of the house and into their own apartment. They lived in a building that housed 3 families and there was only one bathroom that all the families had to share. He remembers there was no hot running water. In fact, he never had hot running water until he was 10 years old. His Grandmother used to heat water in a big pot and pour it into the tub. She would then take a pot of cold water and add it to the tub to make the water temperature just right.
Struggling through The Great Depression during World War II, he and his Grandmother were very poor and lived on welfare for years. His Grandmother worked every Thursday. She would ride a street car, (trolley) to work where she ironed clothes for a woman and earned $2 dollars week. During the war everything was rationed. They received pressed cardboard coins that were colored red and green; these were used to buy things like butter and meat. One could also purchase gasoline with the coins.
My Dad told me about the street vendors that worked the neighborhoods. He remembers the ice man would come every day. My Dad would hang a sign in the window to let him know how much ice they needed. One side of the sign said 1 lb., 25 lb. and 50 lb. They other side of the sign said 75 lb. and 100 lb. Depending on what they wanted, he would rotate the sign to designate the pounds they needed. The ice man would use giant tongs to clutch the chunk of ice and carry it into their apartment. The icebox was used to keep food cool so it wouldn't spoil. The ice went on top and it would slowly melt and drip down into a pan that he would empty once or twice a day.
There were other colorful street vendors in the neighborhood as well. He remembers a man that would sharpen knives and scissors on a big wheel. Another man used to come around and fix umbrellas...can you imagine that? One vendor had a wooden cart that he pushed around calling out "rags, old iron...rags, old iron". People would bring out their rags and scrap iron instead of throwing it away. The man would then take the rags and iron and sell it for money.
As everyone knows, times were tough back in the early 1940's, and my father began doing what he could to earn money as well. At age 8, he used to pull a little wagon through the neighborhood and he too, would collect people's old rags as well as their newspapers. He would sell them to a junkyard for money. He was able to earn 15 to 20 cents for 100 lbs. of scrap newspapers and the rags.
Life continued on until my father was 13 years old. His Uncle had made the decision that he should be placed in an orphanage on the assumption that he was too much for his grandmother to handle. Of course, we don't have all the details and facts to this story, but this is all that my father remembers. Much to my father's disappointment, he was shipped off to Hershey Farm Orphanage for boys. He was unhappy there and felt very lonely. I can only imagine how sad he felt. Can you imagine being uprooted from the only life you know, from a Grandmother that loves you, to being thrown in an orphanage?
End of Part 1...stay tuned for Part 2 of My Father's story.
March 12, 2011
While walking around the yard this afternoon, I came upon a chubby squirrel sitting in the sun. He was snacking on an acorn, turning it over and over in his tiny little hands. He was so cute! and fat! Goodness, this squirrel did not go hungry this winter!
March 10, 2011
About a month ago, while visiting the blog happily married to the cows, I signed up to be a recipient of a hand made item made by the author of the blog. Playing by the rules, I, in turn, was to offer the same deal to my readers...a handmade item, made by me, going to the first 5 readers who comment. So, today, I am making this offer but...I am changing it up a bit. Here it is!
Would you like to participate in a handmade exchange? The first 5 readers to comment on this post will engage in a handmade exchange with me. Get your creative juices flowing! You and I will both make something with our own two hands. It could be anything you like, but keep it a surprise!
Mail your handmade item to me and I will mail mine to you! There is no deadline...except please, let's keep this within the year 2011. Hee Hee! I think this will be a lot of fun! You can also start a handmade exchange on your blog as well, but I won't hold you to it. If you just want to participate in mine, that's fine. But think about it...I'll be getting 5 wonderfully handmade surprises in the mail (in exchange for my own of course). You could have the same too!
Within a couple of days, I will contact the willing participants via e-mail to exchange address information.
Hope some of you are interested!
March 9, 2011
The sun is nervous as a kite,
that can't quite keep it's own string tight.
Some days are fair and some are raw.
The timid earth decides to thaw.
Shy budlets peep from twigs on trees,
and robins join the chickadees.
Pale crocuses poke through the ground,
like noses come to sniff around.
The mud smells happy on our shoes.
We still wear mittens which we lose.
Poem by John Updike
March 7, 2011
The Sunday evening service at our church is a special time. It differs a lot from the Sunday morning services. After 3 songs of worship, announcements and the offering, we are dismissed to go and enjoy coffee, pop and snacks as well as fellowship with friends. After 15 minutes of eating and socializing, the pastor flicks the lights on and off and that's the signal to head back into the sanctuary for the sermon.
So, let's back up to the snack part! Every month, a sign up list is passed around. I sign up once a month and have enjoyed partaking. Last month, I made mini chocolate cupcakes with yellow buttercream frosting sprinkled with chopped Hershey almond chocolate bars. Oh my...they were delicious! Not only were they delicious, they were beautiful!
Mini Chocolate Cupcakes
3 Tbsp. butter, softened
½ Cup sugar
1 egg, separated
½ tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 Cup flour
3 Tbsp. cocoa powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
½ Cup milk
2 Hershey’s Milk Chocolate
Bars with almonds, chopped
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease mini muffin pan. In small bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg yolk and vanilla. Mix well. Stir together flour, cocoa and baking soda. Add alternately with milk to butter mixture. Beat egg white until stiff peaks form and then fold into batter. Fill muffin cups half full with batter. Bake 13 to15 minutes. Cool and remove from muffin pan. Frost cupcakes when completely cooled
Vanilla Butter Frosting
3 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 ½ Cups powdered sugar
1 to 2 Tbsp. milk
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
4 drops food color (optional)
In small mixer bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add milk and vanilla, beat until smooth and spreadable consistency.
March 5, 2011
March 2, 2011
I love the slightly sweet earthy flavor!
I have tried a few wheat bread recipes in my day and have found this one to be my favorite so far!
The molasses and honey in this recipe bring a wonderful flavor to the bread.
Here's the ingredients and a tutorial! At the end of the post I will have the recipe that you can copy and paste so you can print it.
1 packet quick rising yeast
2 cups warm water
1/4 cup soft butter
1/8 cup molasses
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp. salt
3 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups white flour
Measure 2 cups warm water into a liquid measuring cup. Add the packet of yeast into the water and stir. Set aside.
Soften the butter in the microwave. Five seconds should do the trick.
In the bowl of a Kitchen Aid mixer, put the melted butter, molasses, honey and salt. With paddle attachment, begin to mix.
Stir the yeasty warm water again and then add to the molasses, honey mixture. Continue to mix slowly with paddle attachment.
With mixer on low, add the whole wheat flour...then add the white flour.
Mix until just combined. Dough will look very wet and sticky. Don't worry! It will be fine!
Turn off mixer, scrape dough off paddle attachment...
and switch to the dough hook.
Turn mixer on medium-high and knead dough with hook for 10 minutes.
Watch your mixer, it may "walk" off the counter while it is kneading the dough.
Here's what the dough will look like for the first 5 or 6 minutes...it still looks wet and sticky, but it starting to come together.
The dough will eventually start to look better and better. You can see the dough is firming up in this photo below.
After 10 minutes of kneading with the dough hook, turn dough out onto lightly floured counter. As you can see, the dough may be a tad sticky...just sprinkle dough with flour and begin to work it in by kneading.
Hand knead for 30 seconds to tighten dough....and that's it!!
Place dough ball into large greased bowl.
Cover with clean towel and put in a warm spot.
Allow to rise until double.
When dough has doubled, punch dough down with your fist.
Let dough rest few minutes.
Divide dough in half.
Press dough into 2 squares the length of your bread pans approximately an
Tightly roll each square of dough into a log.
Pinch ends of dough and tuck under ends.
Place dough into greased bread pans.
Find a warm spot to let dough rise. I usually put my dough on a chair in the sun by my sliding glass door.
Cover pans with clean towel.
When dough doubles in size, gently brush dough with milk with a pastry brush. The milk will give the bread a beautiful shine when baked.
BE VERY CAREFUL OR YOU WILL DEFLATE BREAD. Just be delicate and you will be fine.
The first time I did this I did deflate my bread a little, but since I've learned my lesson, I've done it with success plenty of times.
Bake bread at 375 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.
Let bread cool for few minutes, and release bread from pans.
Continue to cool bread on rack.
Homemade Wheat Bread: makes 2 loaves
1 packet quick rising yeast
2 cups warm water
1/4 cup soft butter
1/8 cup molasses
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp. salt
3 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups white flour
Measure 2 cups warm water into a liquid measuring cup. Add the packet of yeast into the water and stir. Set aside. Soften the butter in the microwave. Five seconds should do the trick. In the bowl of a Kitchen Aid mixer, put the melted butter, molasses, honey and salt. With paddle attachment, begin to mix. Stir the yeasty warm water again and then add to the molasses, honey mixture. Continue to mix slowly with paddle attachment. With mixer on low, add the whole wheat flour...then add the white flour. Mix until just combined. Dough will look very wet and sticky. Don't worry! It will be fine! Turn off mixer, scrape dough off paddle attachment and switch to the dough hook. Turn mixer on medium-high and knead dough with hook for 10 minutes. Watch your mixer, it may "walk" off the counter while it is kneading the dough. After 5 or 6 minutes...dough will still looks wet and sticky, but it will start to come together. The dough will eventually start to look better and better. After 10 minutes of kneading with the dough hook, turn dough out onto lightly floured counter. The dough may be a tad sticky...just sprinkle dough with flour and begin to work it in by kneading. Hand knead for 30 seconds to tighten dough....and that's it!! Place dough ball into large greased bowl. Cover with clean towel and put in a warm spot. Allow to rise until double. When dough has doubled, punch dough down with your fist. Let dough rest few minutes. Divide dough in half. Press dough into 2 squares the length of your bread pans approximately an 8x8 square. Tightly roll each square of dough into a log. Pinch ends of dough and tuck under ends. Place dough into greased bread pans. Find a warm spot to let dough rise. Cover pans with clean towel. When dough doubles in size, gently brush dough with milk with a pastry brush. The milk will give the bread a beautiful shine when baked. BE VERY CAREFUL OR YOU WILL DEFLATE BREAD. Just be delicate and you will be fine. Bake bread at 375 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes. Let bread cool for few minutes, and release bread from pans. Continue to cool bread on rack.