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Tag Archives: Tales from Long Ago

Remembering and Honoring

Every year on November 11, in grade school, I remember that class would stop at 11:11 o’clock.  Sister Myra, our school principal, announced on the public speakers that it was Armistice Day (later on announced as Veterans Day), and Taps would play. We sat in our seats with our hands folded in prayer, and when Taps was finished, we sat still and quiet for about another minute, then we all got up and said an Our Father, three Hail Marys, and a Glory Be. Class resumed for a little while, Teacher would remind us what the day meant, then it was lunchtime, and the day continued—

Today being Veterans Day, was once known as Armistice Day, has been commemorated every year on November 11 since 1918. The day originally marked the armistice between the allies of World War I and Germany, which became effective at eleven o’clock on the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918.

Today we honor all our military veterans, whether alive, missing, or gone.©2017 Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.

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Pushing It

I am just old enough to remember when Christmas decorations in the stores went up the day after Thanksgiving, which was the same day Christmas carols started playing on the radio, and families in the old neighborhood put up their outside decorations, come mild or bitter cold breezes off Lake Michigan. In fact, it was a treat to go Downtown to see what Marshall Field’s window themes were for any given year, but you couldn’t do that until after Thanksgiving.

Slowly, decorations and the not-so-subtle hinting at great store bargains began creeping up before Thanksgiving, and so much so that well, nowadays you can stick your head into any one of several ginormous arts-crafts-sewing stores, and yes, The Decorations are up and serenaded by Eartha Kitt belting out “Santa Baby.” In July. Or – gasp! – June.

My Ma told me that when she was growing up, nobody put up decorations – including at home – until Christmas Eve. If you watch old movies (like I do), you might see the same craziness in any given Holiday-themed movie. I could be mistaken, but Barbara Stanwyck didn’t put up her tree until Christmas Eve in the 1945 movie, “Christmas in Connecticut.” And if I remember my history right, it was Franklin Delano Roosevelt who got the ol’ ball rolling with asking stores to start their Christmas season right after Thanksgiving. It was to get the draggy Great Depression economy rolling again, you know.

I’m not blaming anyone for the whole moving-Christmas-up-and-up-and-up. It’s just that it would be so nice to have that spirit, that goodwill feeling, that feeling of brotherhood and love all year ‘round, or at least during the six months’ time those decorations are up and Der Bingle starts dreaming of his ”White Christmas.”  People have become so numb and zombie-like with every holiday, in fact.

I read a tract somewhere wherein a priest wrote that in the anticipation of a baby’s birth, the joy of it coming didn’t end on the day it was born. In fact, the greater joy came on its birth day, and continued well past that day, throughout the years. Conversely, with Christmas, people have all this joy and merry-making for Jesus’ birth (if that’s how they observe the holy day), but it fizzles out the day after Christmas. I found that interesting, and it makes sense.  But it doesn’t.   What has Christmas become? You and I know that answer.

Still, I’d like that total societal feeling of consideration, love, and cordialness year ‘round, but maybe that’s too “Pollyanna,” and I’ve become jaded.

But it is worth a try. Isn’t it?

What I saw this past week:

“From the newspaper and around town.”

©2017 Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.

 


The Simple Things

IMG_3070I’m up early this morning in the old neighborhood.  It dawned on me how I used to study these tiles here as a kid, counting the simple pattern of squares and rectangles in neutral hues.  I’m glad this floor lasted in such good shape all these decades, and I wonder how many people in the neighborhood left theirs in.

©2017 Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.

 


Those Little Albums

Going through envelopes upon boxes upon disorganized albums of photographs can be a formidable task. Taking it bit by bit every day makes it less overwhelming.

Once upon a time, when you got your processed pictures back from, let’s say, Skrudland Photo in Chicago on Diversey Avenue, the pictures would come bound together in a little book or album. The whole roll of developed film was neatly packaged for future viewing enjoyment. I remember little family get-togethers in days past where, when everyone was done eating, and a second round of coffee or drinks was made, it was time to look at pictures and pass them around the table.

Booklet1ClosedwithCopyright

An example of the developed photographs bound into a little album.

I remember how excited we kids were when Dad would pick up the developed film and bring it home. I could hardly wait to thumb through each picture that was crisp black and white for the most part, examine familiar people and smile at events that may have well happened months or holidays prior.

Booklet1OpenedJPGwithCopyright

An album opened, showing a random pedestrian scene near Rockefeller Center in New York City, circa early 1950s.

As I keep sorting photos and putting them in new albums (and marking each with names and dates before I forget who’s who and what was when), the conundrum of what to do with those little booklets that so neatly hold photos nagged at me.

Take them apart and put each photo in the albums?

Keep them bound together and put them in the albums?

To preserve the original presentation, I decided to keep those photos that came bound from the developer as they stand. It’s best to save history, since today photos don’t come back from the developer attached in little booklets.

Heck, we hardly take pictures with cameras anymore, don’t we?

And we usually store the pictures we take today on our smart phones or on some form of electronic medium.

©Susan Marie Molloy, and all works within.


The Waterfall

“Once Valentine’s Day comes, the worst of winter is over.”

That’s something Dad would always say in the middle of those cold, snowy, bitter Chicago winters, when we kids would complain about the cold air on cloudless days and the slushy snow that froze again into small, dangerously slippery peaks on the sidewalks.

“The worst of winter is over.”

I was never a die-hard fan of winter. In fact, the only part of the season I like is the first good snowfall, Christmas vacation, and the way the snow sparkles like tiny diamonds under city street lights in the blackest of nights. The rest, I can leave: dirty, slushy streets, bitter cold air, and short days.

I was thinking about a trip I made to the Chicago Botanical Garden one early autumn day, and I found a nice picture I took of one of the waterfalls there.

waterfall-at-the-chicago-botanic-garden-2010-susan-marie-molloy

It took away my winter doldrums today, and I remembered that here it is, almost Valentine’s Day, and the month is just about half over.

Spring is approaching!

©Susan Marie Molloy, and all works within.


Warm Blankets

I was pulling the towels out of the dryer this past weekend. They were clean, fluffy and warm, and I momentarily held them against me. I remembered that when I was a kid, in the winter Ma would hang clothes on temporary clotheslines in the basement. When dry, the towels were slightly stiff, which was so different from when they hung outside in the spring and summer and the breeze kicked them around and softened them up. Some time when I was around ten years old, my parents got a dryer. It was a godsend with all the babies’ clothes and diapers to be washed, and it all could be dried any time, in any season. On particularly cold winter nights, Ma would throw our blankets in the dryer for a few minutes to warm them up right before we went to bed. Their warm snugginess made us falling asleep so much nicer, and made me fall sleep quicker in the chill of the night.

©Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.


W-H-O-O-S-H !

Ike and Mamie Eisenhower at the Voting Booth (Image from Google).

Ike and Mamie Eisenhower at the Voting Booth (Image from Google).

The first time I voted, an old version of voting machines was still being used. They were the kind where you pull a lever and curtains closed behind you. You pulled smaller levers to choose your candidates.

It wasn’t dramatic as The Wizard behind the curtain in “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” but stagy nonetheless. When you were done, the final lever opened the curtains again with a brash and theatrical W-H-O-O-O-O-S-H ! as if you were a part of a grandiose stage production and you were the star of the show.

As best as I can remember, it was only twice that I used that type of voting machine, because shortly after I started voting, they were slowly being replaced with smaller booths where you pulled the curtain closed manually, and then to the now-in-use cheesy plastic tables with side blinders and paper ballots.

With those old timey ones, the brash and exaggerated W-H-O-O-S-H ! of the curtains made me feel like I did something spectacular. And yes, the actual rite of voting at a polling location is still remarkable. Maybe there’s no feeling of a grand stage production anymore, but remarkable nonetheless.

November 8, 2016.
©Susan Marie Molloy, and all works within.


The Story of the Flaming Statue

The Replacement Statue

The Replacement Statue

Years and years ago, there used to be “missions” that would come to the parishes where I grew up. Visiting priests, mostly, and sometimes nuns, would spend a week or so in the parish. Tables would be set up in the church-school vestibule, displaying rosaries, prayer books, religious jewelry, and statues.

My parents gave me a dollar to buy what I wanted. I chose a small, tan-colored plastic statue of the Blessed Virgin and a small silver ring with a metal silhouette of the Blessed Virgin embedded in a mother-of-pearl oval, surrounded by blue rhinestones.

I kept the statue on my dresser, atop a small mirror. One year I sewed a veil for it made from netting with a beaded circular “crown.”

One day, my parents went out shopping and took my siblings with them. I got to say home alone. I liked that kind of time for myself, even at the age of ten. While they were out, I had the bright idea of taking a skinny, twisted blue and white birthday candle from the kitchen drawer. I placed it next to my Blessed Virgin statue (but I don’t remember what I placed the candle on). I lit it – no small feat for me, a young girl who was actually afraid to light a match from the matchbook. But, I thought, the Holy Ghost was with me, so what could go wrong?

The candle flickered next to the Blessed Virgin, and I went across the hall to the bathroom to flush the match down the toilet. I went back into my bedroom, and the Blessed Virgin was on fire!

I grabbed the statue at the base and ran back into the bathroom, and ran water over it in the sink. Flames doused, and now I had to get rid of the smell and the evidence before anyone came home.

I cranked open the bathroom window, and then opened up the bedroom windows. When the Blessed Virgin cooled down, I wrapped her in eight sheets of Kleenix and placed the “mummy” in an empty shoebox, then placed that on the closet floor with my shoes on top of it.

By the time everyone came home, I closed all the windows and there was no smell of burnt plastic.

About a week later, my Ma asked me where my statue was. I told her I packed it away for the time being. No big deal. It was only about ten years ago that I told my parents what I really did with the statue. They were speechless. (I would be, too. Too late to spank me.)

I kept the burnt up Blessed Virgin for years. In fact, I had it until the early 1980s, when I decided I didn’t need to have it as a reminder of my experiment with candles and flames.

One day, about two weeks ago, I thought again about that episode. On a whim, I did an Internet research, and found someone who was selling the exact type of statue I had: Made in Hong Kong, tan-colored plastic with gold painted trim, and in perfect condition.

It came in the mail yesterday. Funny, it seems so much smaller than what I remember. Yet, I like it and it’s exactly the same as what my original was.

Well, except there is no blackened and melted right side on this one. And I don’t have the silver and mother-of-pearl ring anymore.  That could be a greater challenge to find an exact replacement.
©Susan Marie Molloy, and all works within.


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