Memoir Class at Ring House

Memoir Class at Ring House

Selected Writings by Residents

 

Observant Observations or From the Mouths …

Megan and Lauren Block are two of my great granddaughters. They are the children of my granddaughter Jennifer and her husband, Samuel Block. Megan and Lauren are fraternal twins, very much unlike each other. Megan is exuberant while Lauren is reserved. Megan has lighter hair and Lauren’s is dark.  Megan’s face is open and smiling. Lauren’s face is soft and unclouded.  They are both beautiful.

When they were born they were identified as “Block A” and “Block B” by the hospital staff. I called them, the subdivision girls.

Shortly after their fifth birthday, for the first time Megan and Lauren met their newer first cousin, baby Alicia. Alicia was a year old and walked unsteadily.

Megan and Lauren had heard a great deal about baby Alicia. They were eager to meet her. Alicia proved to be outgoing and extremely bright. During a visit, Megan intently watched Alicia’s antics for some time. Megan said, “Baby Alicia can walk alright, but she needs practice.” After getting to know her, Lauren observed and concluded, “Alicia is just a little baby, but she has a big mind.”

Jerry Norris, 2012


A Gift to Remember or True Love

As we travel life's road many milestones, some of which mark special occasions or stages we pass through. Approaching my sixteenth birthday, my sister, six years older and employed, siad "Sixteen is a big birthday. You can have anything you want as long as it doesn't cost over fifteen dollars."

One afternoon Mr. Spedetti, who owned a 1930 Essex coupe with a rumble sear, said” I heard about your sister’s birthday offer. If you would like to have the coupe it’s yours.” It was rarely driven but it did need some repairs. I was delighted.

My father did not like the idea of me owning an automobile. He warned me there wouldn’t be any money from him towards driving this car.  I was to be solely responsible for the upkeep of the coupe.

On the morning of my sixteenth birthday, my father drove me to the Motor Vehicle Bureau to apply for a driver’s permit. The clerk was amazed I passed both the written examination and the road test.  In the afternoon, I really owned the Essex coupe. Wonder upon wonders, it had a radio and a heater that worked!

With a new battery from Pep Boys, the car started and ran.  Mr. Spedetti and I split the four dollars for the part.  A close and sympathetic family friend, Mr. Schumacher, owner of an auto body repair shop, replaced the composite roof on the coupe. I made a deal with Red’s Filling Station on Georgia Ave. so I could get gas for twelve cents a gallon. I would clean the grease rack on Saturday mornings.

Junk Yard was my source for spare parts at no cost if you removed the parts from the yard yourself. And liability insurance was thirty-five dollars a year.

The coupe stopped running while at a red light at 12th Street and Constitution Ave. I always carried a spare seal in the car in an oiled envelope for just such emergencies. I replaced the vacuum tank seal in one traffic light cycle. When I restarted the engine, I received a round of applause from a small group of onlookers at the curb.

I named the coupe, “True Love,” because true love never runs smooth.

The name was a malediction as the car ran very well, not withstanding  its idiosyncrasies like most cars at the time.

Jerry Norris, 2012 


This "N" That

Every family has a “character” in their midst. Our “character” is my twelve-year-old great grandson, Eliyahu Stark, who lives in Ranana, Israel. He was taking on the phone to his grandmother, Helene, who lives in Manhattan. He told her that he has had a headache for three days. It hurt him below his eyes. He also told her that he looked up his symptoms on the Internet and he had concluded that he had something called a migraine. Helene told him that it sounded more like a sinus infection to her and that he probably needed antibiotics. Sarah, his mother, took Eliyahu to the doctor. He called Helene when he got home. “Bubby,” he said, “you were absolutely right, it wasn’t a migraine. It was an infection that you can get only in Israel.”  Helene said, “What do you mean you can get this infection only in Israel? Who told you that?”  Eliyahu replied, “The doctor told my mother that I had to take antibiotics because I have a Zionist infection.”

Sylvia Cherrick, 1911  


THE YEAR - 1935

I was 12 years old and just knew this was going to be a good year. My dancing teacher Miss Ford told me I was ready to learn to dance on toe shoes. The fact that these shoes had wooden toe inserts and might be painful didn’t stop my joy!

On the other hand the national news had some alarming stories. The Post Dispatch, the St. Louis newspaper, featured a special plane crash. Will Rogers was a passenger with his friend Wiley Post, an early aeronautical enthusiast. Post was the pilot on the plane that crashed. And, I learned, the beautiful platinum actress Jean Harlow died mysteriously. She was my all-time favorite. I rushed to see all her movies.

It was a shining year for our president, Roosevelt, I remember. He signed the Social Security Act and that was a brave step. Many unemployed and talented artists were given work from Roosevelt’s WPA program. There were murals on government offices, railroad stations and other public places.

Yes, we were all living in this Depression era. But at my age I didn’t realize what that meant until the class assignment. In school we were asked to start a bank account. Each Wednesday we were to bring a quarter to deposit in the banks. This was to teach us about saving and banking. Not long after, we were told the money we deposited would not be returned. The banks had failed. Imagine the disappointment to young children? We lost our money and faith in saving and banking.

During the Depression our family did not suffer even if my father had to sell his bagels for 3 to 5 cents and day-old bread at his bakery. He kept the bread in a barrel and offered it to the farmers for their animals. He didn’t charge them. I still didn’t think we had such hard times because I got to go to my dancing school. Then it happened.

One evening when my sister Mia and her boyfriend were walking me home we passed my father’s bakery. A baker stopped us to say that my father was ill. He had a heart attack. He died at home at the age of 49. This was my first experience of loss and death.

The black satin material for making a May West costume for my recital at dance school was used by my mother to cover mirrors in our home, as is the custom. This turned out to be a monumental defining moment in my life.

This was a year to remember, for so many reasons. And yet I just knew better times were to come!

Shirley Rosenberg, 2012


 

 

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