Throwback Thursday #9 – Independence

Throwback Thursday Memory Blog Hop is mine this week. Lauren and I take turns posting this challenge every Thursday. Participation is easy.

  • Write your own post sharing your memories and leave a pingback to this post in the comments.
  • You can use the photo above in your post to make it easier to find.
  • Tag it with #TBTMemory or #IRememberWhen.
  • If you do not wish to write your own post, feel free to tell your story in the comments below.

This week’s prompt is: Independence

Learning to be independent is a critical step in adolescent development. Some people ease into it a step at a time, and others plunge in all at once. When did you start to feel independent? Maybe it was when you finally had your own bedroom, or perhaps the first time your parents let you stay home alone. Or maybe the first time you slept over outside your own home. Money can signify independence. What was your first job? Maybe indepedence was transportation – a new bike, your driver’s license, a new car or your first trip on an airplane. Or maybe, it was when you moved away from home – maybe into a college dorm, or an apartment of your own or maybe it was moving in with a significant other and sharing space outside your parents home. Or maybe it was something else entirely. What milestones signified your search for independence?

My post follows.

I was the youngest of four children in my family – three girls and one boy. Bedrooms were always shared and when we got older, were divided up based on gender. In a three bedroom house, that meant three girls in one bedroom, our brother in the second, and our parents in the third. I didn’t have my own room until my sisters moved out and away from home. I was in high school. Oddly, after sharing a room for most of my life, it seemed too quiet. I do remember going to see my oldest sister’s apartment in Akron, Ohio and I thought it was so big. In actuality it was a small studio apartment carved out of an older home. It did have a private entrance, but the bed and small kitchen occupied the same open space. It till seemed expansive and grown-up to me.

I think my feeling of independence came slowly. Since I was the youngest of four, I had much more freedom than my siblings had at the same age. My parents learned a lot by the time I was a teenager – my siblings were the guinea pigs.

I did not follow many of the traditional steps of adolescent independence. For example, I did not get my driver’s license until after I was married. I did not have my own space until I was in high school. I did work, though, so I had a little money which for me was great because money was tight when I was a teen.

My first job was babysitting. Most often for friends of my parents so they could all go out together. There were two young boys I sat for most frequently. Then I worked as a waitress and a hostess at a Mr. Steak restaurant – but even there, I worked with my brother.

I was allowed to date fairly early – earlier than my sisters, but honestly, I never gave my parents any reason to worry. I was a good kid. I didn’t really have a curfew, I knew what my parents expected of me and I complied.

I think I learned that independence also comes with responsibility. My mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer when I was a senior in high school so I grew up fast where being responsible was concerned. I was still very connected to my nuclear family up until the time I joined the Air Force.

I have written about leaving home and joining the Air Force on this blog before. It remains one of my most read post series. You can read about that experience here: Girl on a Plane

Joining the military was an eye-opening experience. My parents did a good job of teaching me their version of right and wrong, but we do need to seek out our own version, don’t we? Even though I was away from home, I was in a dormitory full of women from all over the country. These were women of all ethnicities who had their own ideas of values often different than mine. Even in my dorm room, I lived with a stranger – Sue K. from Connecticut. Everyone learned how to get along despite our differences – the consequences of anything else would have been disastrous.

Regardless of who you live with or share space with, in the military everyone is responsible for their own actions. You rise or fall on your own merit and no one individual is held in higher regard than another. You learn your individual decisions have the potential of affecting multiple people. There, more than anywhere I have ever lived, I learned the importance of putting differences aside and working together to achieve a common goal. Independence allowed for making your own decisions, but then you alone were responsible for the consequences.

In my opinion, independence does not mean being on your own, allowed to do anything you choose, but it is an intelligence learned from standing on your own, understanding how we fit in the world, and being fully responsible for our decisions.


Throwback Thursday #8 – Collections

Lauren leads the charge this week on Throwback Thursday Memory BlogHop and challenges us to think about the things we collected as children and on into adulthood. Click on the link to read the rules and join in the fun.

Today’s subject: Collections

I grew up in a family where money for nonessentials was rare and money rarely trickled down to the children in the family. Our disposable income usually came from collecting returnable pop bottles for the 2¢ deposit or collecting bottle caps that would serve as a way to get a free ticket to the movies.

My first collection was a collection of broken glass collected from the streams and creek beds where I lived. These simple slivers of sparkling glass were like gold to me. I have written about collections before, and my love for these broken shards of glass was part of that post. If interested, you can read more here. It is the one thing from my childhood that was lost over the years and the one thing I wish I still had. That’s how special it was to me.

I have had periods of collecting items over the years, but most collections were short-lived as I moved around and had less and less space to display anything I might collect. I still have a few collections tucked away.

The first time I met my current husband’s mother, we went on a trek to antique stores in Maine. She collected cobalt blue glass and she was in search of antique cobalt blue luncheon plates. This is where my love for cobalt blue glass originated. I have antique bottles, ornaments, antique eyeglasses with cobalt lenses, snuff bottles and miscellaneous other items. They are currently boxed away as I have no place to display them. Also boxed away is my small collection of poison bottles and perfume bottles.

Hubby and I started buying Christmas ornaments from our travels. Over the years our friends and family members have added to our collection of ornaments. They all adorn our Christmas tree every year and it brings back so many joyful memories. I have a few my sister made me and one my great aunt made which are very special to me.

I have a small collection of art supplies – paints, markers, chalks, pencils, watercolors, sketch pads, canvas, brushes, and miscellaneous, but these are consumable items so they do not hang around forever. 

When I was taking lapidary classes, I started collecting rocks and rock slabs to cut into cabochons. Sadly, the teacher and friend I had passed away and the school no longer offers classes. The equipment to cut rocks into cabochons is specialized and expensive, but I hold onto the rocks in hopes I will have the opportunity to do it again in the future. I have a connection to materials from the earth that I do not have with commercial items.

Our house is full of books – mostly hardback first editions. We downsized a lot when we moved, but we still seem to have books tucked away in every nook and cranny. Our walls are adorned with artwork we have collected during our marriage. There was a time we frequented Plein Air events and often bought paintings. They all hang on our walls and I love the emotional response I get from looking at them. I have a few favorites and they would be the last pieces I would ever part with.


I know as soon as I end this post I will think of other collections I have, but since these are the things that rose to the top, this is what I will feature today.





Throwback Thursday #7 – School Daze

Throwback Thursday Memory Blog Hop is mine this week. Lauren and I take turns posting this challenge every Thursday.

Participation is easy. Write your own post sharing your memories and leave a pingback to this post in the comments. You can use the photo above in your post and tag it with #TBTMemory or #IRememberWhen to make it easier for others to find. If you do not wish to write your own post, feel free to tell your story in the comments below!

This week’s prompt is: School Memories – Take this prompt wherever it leads you. Here are some suggestions to consider.

Who was your favorite teacher? What about your worst? Were you a member of any clubs? Did you attend homecoming or the prom? What was your favorite subject? Were you the perfect student or a troublemaker? What clothes were in style when you were in school? How did you get to school? Bus, walk, drive? Any extracurricular activities? What did you do for lunch? Did you attend football games or other sports? Did you attend school when corporal punishment was applied? Have a school photo you wish to share?

My post follows.

I loved school – well, most of the time. There was no kindergarten when I started school so we went right into first grade. I loved my first-grade teacher. Miss B was a tall, well-dressed, and soft-spoken teacher. She was kind and years after we moved away, I would call her every time we came to visit my grandparents. She was always kind. Recently, I saw her obituary all these years later and it made me so emotional. In my mind, she was always the same, in that same classroom, teaching new students year after year. Of course, I also had a major crush on the boy who sat across from me – Gordon. First grade was wonderful!

We moved from Tennessee to Florida and that was a culture shock. We walked to our classrooms and lunchrooms OUTSIDE instead of through inside hallways! There were vending machines from which we could buy orange juice. We went outside to watch the rocket launches from Cape Canaveral. There were televisions in the classroom and we were learning Spanish, but since we only lived there for about a year I didn’t learn much Spanish.

From Florida, we went to Virginia where I spent most of my elementary school years in the small rock schoolhouse where my father attended school years earlier. Those were great years, too. We rode the bus to school and it was a long ride since we lived way out in the country. In the winter, we all piled in front of the television in hopes we would hear our county’s name as they read the list of school closures. As long-time followers know, I lived in a valley and often the bus could not make it up the hill and out of the valley in the winter months when there was snow on the ground. We loved that. Back then, we never had to worry about making up missed school days. Those days meant we got to go home, don our cold-weather gear and go sledding.

Corporal punishment was very common when I went to school. Teachers had paddles made of rubber, or some had wooden paddles with holes drilled in them. I received one whack in elementary school. We had all gathered for assembly and my friend was sporting a brand new very cool charm bracelet. On this charm bracelet there hung a tiny pair of functioning scissors. I was fascinated by them and used them to cut a single strand of my friend’s hair. When we returned to the classroom, I received a swat with the paddle on the side of my thigh for ‘playing during assembly’. That was my one and only experience with a teacher’s paddle.

If you are of a certain age, you will remember the look of the purple ink and the smell of mimeograph paper. It was the only reason we found to like handouts or tests. Every kid in the classroom would have that paper in their face inhaling as deep as they possibly could. Check out this clip from “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”.

By the time I started sixth grade we had moved from Virginia to Ohio where my parents went to find work. I went to school there until I graduated and then joined the Air Force. I ran track – and I was fast! I did well in short runs, relays, and the standing broad jump.

The year I was to move from elementary school to high school, junior high schools were just being introduced. They built a brand new junior high school which meant we had to go to school half-days rotating with the high school students until the building was completed. For about six months, we had someone call in a bomb threat to the school at least once a week. At first, everyone liked getting out of school, but it got old fast. I’m not sure if they ever caught who was calling them in, but it did finally stop. Moving into a brand new school was great. Everything was clean and painted bright colors. I loved it.

I joined the band and began playing flute in the concert band and carrying a flag in the color guard in the marching band. Our band director, Mr. M, was strict. We had to practice 30 minutes a day and our parents had to sign off that we practiced. If we missed a day, we got a swat with a rubber paddle for every day we did not practice. During the summer, we traveled all over the country with the band – as far as Canada. What great memories. I learned much later in life that he was really mean to a fellow student who was gay and I lost all the respect I had for him.

Take Latin they said. It will serve you well they said. What they didn’t say was my Latin teacher would be a little off the wall. If he wanted you to answer a question in class, Mr. B would just come up and kick your chair. If a student replied with an answer he considered ‘stupid’ he would go to the front of the class and bang his head against the chalkboard. He did let us have toga parties occasionally and on Fridays, he would tell us very funny stories about the gods and goddesses. I do not recall much actual Latin though.

This was the era when boys took shop class and girls took home economics. I never remember a girl in shop class or a boy in home economics. I enjoyed home-ec because we cooked, we learned to sew, learned about interior design, and we even drew up house plans for our future dream home.

My favorite classes were art, band, and English. One of my art teachers (Mrs. M) drove a corvette. That’s when I learned they were made of fiberglass – someone hit her car in the parking lot. She was young and lively and oh so very cool. My other art teacher was Mrs. E – they were polar opposites of each other. Mrs. E was funny and very chubby and not quite so cool, but we loved her just the same. Her classroom was a safe haven for everyone. I remember the year we made a movie by painting blank filmstrips. That was the coolest project.

My last few years got harder. My siblings all moved away from home. My mother was diagnosed with cancer and somehow, school became less important in the big scheme of things. I still did well, but I did not enjoy it as much as I once had. Overall, however, I loved school and my teachers, and the ability to learn.

High School Trends and Fashions: Bell bottoms, short skirts, culottes, hot pants, empire waist dresses, dotted Swiss fabric, peasant blouses, tent dresses, paper (yes paper) dresses, jeans with patches and frayed hems, choker sweaters, hot roller hair, and the cool phrase was everything was “Boss”.


Throwback Thursday #6 – Gift Giving & Receiving

Lauren leads the charge this week on Throwback Thursday Memory BlogHop as we reflect on giving and receiving gifts. Click on the link to read the rules and join in the fun.

Today’s subject: Gift Giving & Receiving

I could go on and on about this topic but I decided to write a short piece on three categories of gifts: gifts given, gifts received, and gifts from my childhood.

Gifts Given: I am what I would consider an amateur or hobbyist metalsmith. I do love working with metal and turning raw materials into something beautiful. In the early days I did not have a workshop of my own, so everything I made had to be done in a classroom setting. When my daughter and soon to be daughter-in-law asked me to make their engagement rings I agreed but not without trepidation. It would be the first time I worked with gold and really precious stones. They purchased the materials which amped up the stress! I put it off as long as possible until my daughter eventually put a deadline on me. Working under the watchful eye of my instructor and a fellow student who had worked as a jeweler for years, I finally finished. Thankfully they looked beautiful and the engagement went off without a hitch!

A gift given from the heart

Gifts Received: after hubby and I were married, we bought our first house together. The first Christmas, we had 17 people there for Christmas. The following holidays were smaller, but joyous just the same. The second or third Christmas, we had some of our children there on Christmas morning as we opened gifts. Hubby surprised me with two Broadway tickets to see Phantom of the Opera. I had never been to New York to see a show on Broadway and as a huge Andrew Lloyd Webber fan, this was the best gift! I cried like a baby. We took the trip in Februrary and it was cold! I was sick as a dog on the trip, but I loved every minute of the show. We had great seats and the production was so beautiful. When the intro piece featuring the organ started, I got chills all over my body.

Gifts from Childhood: My family did not give big or outrageous gifts for birthdays or holidays. Money was scarce, so we were thrilled with whatever we received. I tried hard to remember any birthday celebrations or gifts and I could not think of any. Of course, birthdays in my generation consisted of a ‘greased’ or ‘blackened’ nose and a homemade cake with candles. If we received presents, I simply do not remember them. But I do remember gifts received for Christmas as a child.

  • My Chatty Cathy doll (I can still recite all her phrases with her exact voice inflections) with Auburn – not red – hair. (Click here to see a pic of the doll I had. Chatty Cathy)
  • My Artley flute which took my parents several years to save for.
  • My pink child-sized table with the removable top. I could finally store all my art supplies neat and tidy, tucked away inside my table.

I have another category of gifts – those that carry negative memories. I decided not to write about those today. Maybe that will be a future post outside of this challenge.

Lauren, thank you for another trip down memory lane!



Throwback Thursday – Music Memories

Welcome back to Throwback Thursday Memory Blog Hop. Lauren and I rotate publishing this challenge every Thursday.

Participation is easy. Write your own post about the subject and share your own memories or experience about the topic and leave a pingback to this post in the comments. You can use the photo above in your post and tag it with #TBTMemory or #IRememberWhen to make it easier for others to find.

If you do not wish to write your own post, feel free to tell your story in the comments below!

Music Memories

Maybe it’s a song that brings back good memories. Maybe it was your first radio or record player – or iPod depending on your age. Maybe it is the song that always moves you to tears. What song was played at your wedding? Did you have band posters hanging on your bedroom walls? What are your music-connected memories?

My post follows below.

In our house someone was always singing. My grandmother sang hymns as she did her housework. The song I remember her singing was “Peace in the Valley”. I realized early on how comforting music could be.

My grandfather sang old songs like “Old Dan Tucker”. As a little girl I remember him telling me a story about a man killed in a crane accident when they worked building bridges for the railroad. I think my grandfather was operating the crane and it devastated him. I never knew the man’s name, but my grandfather said he always sang “My Blue Heaven”. I somehow felt a sort of responsibility to always remember him by remembering that song. He has lived through my memories all these sixty odd years and I never knew his name.

My grandparents had a Victrola in the bedroom upstairs. It was built into a dark wood cabinet with a felt covered turntable and a removable crank on the side. There was a circular metal tray to store spare needles. I loved to hear the crackling sound of the needle moving across the record. I can close my eyes and still picture it in great detail.

When I was about six or seven, my grandmother was upstairs listening to 78 rpm records on the Victrola. I came running into the room, bounced up on the bed and broke one of my grandmother’s records. That was the first time I had ever seen my grandmother cry. I was devastated. The record was “I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen”. I could not tell you who recorded it, but I realized just how much a single piece of music could mean to someone.

I grew up listening to and loving the music of my parents’ era but they were also about newer music, too. They would put Chubby Checker records on and we would all do the twist in the living room. “The Peppermint Twist” and “Let’s Twist Again” were favorites. It was so much fun.

We listened to a lot of records. My siblings and I had 45’s strewn all over the house. We didn’t buy albums until much later. My sisters were the right age to go crazy over the Beatles and Elvis. I listened to all the music of my siblings and learned to love it all. As time progressed, I was a big fan of The Monkees, The Beach Boys, The Association, the Guess Who, Simon and Garfunkle, and Cat Stevens.

I didn’t have a lot of posters on my bedroom walls, but when I joined the Air Force, I had the huge Chicago at Carnegie Hall poster on my wall along with lots of black light posters. I had a huge collection of albums at that time.

Eventually cassettes and 8-tracks took over and now almost everything is digital. We’ve come a long way from the 78 records my grandmother loved so much. Regardless of how the music is presented, it is woven into every fiber of my being. Music has accompanied every important moment of my life and all it takes is just a few seconds of the right song to take me back to another place and another time. That’s a special kind of magic.