A number of years ago, my sister, Cheryl had several friends who got together as often as possible for coffee at what was then the Ramada Inn. They would sit and talk for hours, but it would seem like such a short time to them. They were having such a good time. They talked about their lives and kids, and hopes and dreams…just whatever came to their minds. It was girls’ night, before girls’ night became so popular.
Now, in those days, there was no such thing as a cell phone, so when people were not at home, they were not easy to get a hold of. And when the girls got to talking…well, lets just say they weren’t worried about being found. Everyone knew where they were anyway. The guys, however, thought it was somewhat like a bunch of hens, clucking along.
Nevertheless, sometimes you needed to be able to get a hold of people…not that it was any emergency or anything, but it might have been, so it just made sense. I suppose that is why cell phones were invented…you are never out of touch with a cell phone. But, that invention would not come for a few years yet, so if anyone needed to get a hold of Cheryl when she was having coffee with her friends, they had to call the Ramada and have her paged. They knew her, so they always went to her table to get her, without paging her.
One time however, was a little different. My brother-in-law had a plan…and he was pretty good at those plans. He didn’t need anything when he called the Ramada, he just wanted to try something. So he called the Ramada, and asked them to bring Cheryl to the phone. Now as I said, Chris had a plan, so when they paged my sister, this is what she heard. “Telephone call for…Marathon Masterson!” Well, you can just imagine her shock when she heard that being said. She knew it was aimed at her, and it was now a nickname she would carry around for many years to come.
When your brother-in-law is a cop, and 6’4″ to top it off, you might as well know that you are going to be picked on…a lot! The year was 1993, and the event was my daughter Corrie’s graduation party. The party had progressed to the point of cutting the cake, when Chris decided that this was the perfect moment to pick on me. He grabbed my hands and hand cuffed them behind my back and promptly walked away. Of course, I started trying to convince him to unlock the cuffs, but he told me that he didn’t have the key. The party was put on hold for a few minutes while my sister and I tried to get him to unlock the cuffs. For a while there, I really thought I might have to try to cit the cake with my hands behind my back. Finally, Chris unlocked the cuffs, laughing the whole time at how easily he could overpower me.
Since I am only 5’2″, overpowering me was not too difficult for my brother-in-law whose more that a foot advantage over me in height gave him the clear advantage. This was proven quite effectively when Chris decided to help me out with my height problem…by picking me up and depositing me into a tree in my parents front yard. I’m sure he was trying to be helpful…don’t you think? You don’t? Well, you are probably right.
Through the years Chris has picked me up by my feet and held me upside down, held me in different sorts of police holds for subduing criminals, and put me upside down in a chair, just to name a few different torture methods, all in good clean fun, of course. He would never hurt me or anyone else who happened to be his next victim, but he could definitely show you who was boss. And this was proven quite effectively whenever he decided to pick on me or my sisters. All I can say is, I’m sure glad he was never arresting me for real, because I don’t think I would want to go up against him if he weren’t just teasing.
Going to the dentist is not usually something that kids like doing. It normally frightens them because of the painful Novocaine shots and the scary sounds of the drilling. Once they have been there, most don’t want to go back…but my niece, Chantel had a little bit different experience with the dentist, and I will never forget just how funny it was.
Chantel went to a children’s dentist. That was pretty much unheard of in the mid 70’s when she was a little girl, or at least it was pretty new to us. This dentist wanted to make it a good experience for the kids. So, when she had to have her teeth worked on, he gave her something to relax her. That would make her sleepy by the time she would receive the Novocaine shot, and probably pretty numb too. My sister gave her the medicine about 30 minutes or so before the appointment. Of course, it not only relaxed her, it was similar to being drunk. She got pretty goofy.
We were asking her questions just to hear her slurred speech as she attempted to answer us. This was not the first time she had been given this med and so we kind of knew what to expect, and she loved her dentist, because he had found a way to remove the fear of dentistry. Not only was she not afraid, she was always given gum after the dental work, as a reward for doing so well throughout the procedure. No wonder she liked him. What little kid didn’t like gum.
So, we asked her where she was going, and she said, “To da detist.” And then giggling, we would ask her again, just to hear the funny slurred speech. She tried very hard to tell us the whole story of the upcoming adventure she was going to have…with us laughing all the way through it. Finally we asked her why she liked the dentist and she said, “Ma buddy guve me gum.” Aw yes, the ultimate reward for a sweet little girl on medicine to make her relax.
I remember a visit to my birthplace, Superior, Wisconsin, that my family took when I was a little girl. My Uncle Bill and his family lived up there and still do today. Uncle Bill was and is an interesting sort. He has always liked to collect things. I remember that he had a slot machine in his basement, years ago. Of course, no one was allowed to use it that wasn’t family…a guy could get into trouble otherwise. He collected guns and coins, and he is fanatical about the family history, which I suppose is how I got started writing about the good old days. Uncle Bill got me interested in my past, and my daughters, Corrie and Amy got me into blogging. Writing about the past just seemed to be a good fit for me.
As I said, Uncle Bill liked to do things a little differently. I remember going out to pick blueberries and experiencing the difference you can only get when you eat blueberries that have just been picked. It is hard to describe how amazing that taste is.
Uncle Bill was a history buff too. He has always been interested in the shipwrecks in Lake Superior. He could probably tell you about every one. When Bob and I went up to visit the year after our marriage, he told us about many of those wrecks, and how many were visible from the air. That seems odd to me considering the fact that Lake Superior is the deepest of the Great Lakes.
But, one of the most unusual things that Uncle Bill did was a complete surprise and totally delightful to all of us. We had gone for a visit, and he was going to take us out for dinner. When we got to the restraunt, it was not what we expected. It was an ice cream shop. We looked at him in amazement, and he announced that we were having an Ice Cream Supper. So, we went in and Uncle Bill said to order whatever we wanted. We had a wonderful time and supper was delicious. Uncle Bill insisted on everyone eating their fill of ice cream. So, when we were all full, Uncle Bill said, “Now…what do you want for dessert!!”
When my sister, Cheryl and I were in…oh, probably junior high, she had been up late watching television, when she came in and woke me up, telling me that we were going to watch scary movies. I’m sure it must have been a Friday night, as our parents wouldn’t have allowed us to be up so late on a school night. Of course, gullible me…I got up to watch scary movies with my sister…even though I had to be the biggest chicken on earth at that time in my life.
Little did I know that Cheryl had been up for a while, and apparently something had scared her a little bit too, so she wanted company. Or maybe she just figured she could scare me. I’ve never really decided which it was. That said, we got up and started watching some show…the name of which I don’t recall. After getting to the point of knowing very well, that I would not be able to go back to bed…no matter what, we began to hear some strange sounds.
Cheryl said that she thought Linda Little Trees was outside, because she could hear a voice that sounded like hers, only scary. Now for those of you who don’t know, Linda Little Trees was an Indian squaw on an old Western movie. I’m not sure which one, but I believe it was “Three Guns For Texas” with Shelley Morrison. The parts she played, were in no way scary, but for some reason the lateness of the hour and the show we were watching made whatever it was that we heard seem like some horror version of Linda Little Trees.
In reality, it was a Siamese cat outside that was the real problem. He was making the weird meowing sounds that Siamese cats do, and it sounded like he was saying “Linda Little Trees.” Or at least that was what Cheryl told me, and I was too scared to argue. The next thing we knew someone was walking up on the porch and we heard a thump. Of course, both of us started screaming, and I’m quite sure the paper boy freaked out.
My dad, on the other hand, had had enough. He jumped out of bed, and said, “What is going on out here?” After frantically telling Dad about the whole terrible ordeal, he promptly opened the front door and we all trooped outside to see the cat making the very sound we heard, and the newspaper on the porch. Then he told us to shut the TV off and go to bed.
I still don’t know if Cheryl was as scared as I was that night, or if she was making the whole thing up because her little sister was pretty gullible and it was fun to scare her. All I know is that since Dad said we had to go to bed…I was real glad that it was pretty light at 4:00 in the morning. Otherwise, I know I wouldn’t have been able to sleep a wink.
Years ago, when the different booths at the fair used to give baby chicks or fish as prizes for the different games you could play. My mom and dad were at the fair, and a little boy came up to her and asked if she would take his baby chick, because his mom wouldn’t let him keep it, so mom took it, and decided to raise it in the hope of having eggs. She named our chicken Queenie. We loved Queenie. She was yellow and fuzzy and so soft. Of course, the thrill of having Queenie wore off for us kids pretty fast, and Mom was left to her care.
With dreams of eggs for some time to come, my mom took great care of Queenie. And our little chick thrived on the care. She was probably the only chicken to ever live in a house. Mom kept her in a box in the utility room. She was a household pet…not that everyone liked her. She had a tendency to peck at the little kids, and they somehow didn’t think that was a very good idea. So mom had to keep Queenie away from the kids, and that meant the back yard was off limits sometimes…to the kids.
As Queenie grew, there began to be some…strange occurrences. Sounds that Queenie shouldn’t be making were coming from her. I’m sure many of you know what was going on, but my mom didn’t want to believe that her chicken was really a rooster. Her plans of having eggs were dissolving before her eyes, and try as she might, there was no denying it.
The neighbors started asking about a rooster in the city limits, and of course, mom was told she couldn’t keep him there, so she talked to her sister, my Aunt Dixie, and it was decided that she would take the rooster named Queenie, since she had a place in the country and other chickens.
My mom kept telling herself that Queenie was out at my aunts house, living it up as the King of the chicken coop, but we all knew that Queenie probably ended up as most chickens and roosters do…as fried chicken, or some other such tasty dinner entree, and it’s just as well, because whether we liked Queenie or not…eating him was definitely out of the question. He was a household pet, after all.
When my Aunt Evelyn was a toddler, her parents were trying to teach her how to address different adult family members. Whenever she called an aunt or uncle by their first name, her parents would say, “You must say Uncle Ted or Aunt Gladys.” I’m sure she heard those words many times, as it is hard for a toddler to hear everyone else calling the person by name, and yet they must use something different. It can be a very confusing time for a little kid just trying to learn the ropes.
These days, at least in our family, many of the aunts and uncles go by just their first names, and while some people might think that odd, I am just as comfortable being Caryn as I am Aunt Caryn. We don’t consider it to be any kind of a show of disrespect. But in times past, and in many families today, if the person is an aunt or uncle, you must address them as Aunt this or Uncle that. We do draw the line at grandma and grandpa, and my grandchildren know that while Gma, G, or G-mamma is ok, Caryn is not. I suppose that could be confusing to little kids too, but that is the way it is. Another place where we draw the line is Mommy and Daddy, or Mom and Dad. But for the aunts and uncles we are a little more casual.
Nevertheless, in my Aunt Evelyn’s day and my childhood, the children were taught to use the proper terms of aunt and uncle. So Aunt Evelyn, in her early training days, heard over and over that she must say Uncle Cliff or Aunt Myrtle. And as all little kids do, she worked very hard to try to figure out who was who so her parents, aunts, and uncles would be pleased with her. Children love to get praise from their parents and such.
One day, when my grandmother needed my grandfather for something, all that training came to the point of complete understanding. My grandmother told my Aunt Evelyn to go get her daddy, and quick as a wink, my Aunt Evelyn said, “You must say…Uncle Daddy.”
When my girls were little and in grade school, I used to volunteer to do throat cultures at the school they attended. Throat cultures aren’t done anymore, so for those who don’t know, it was and still is a way to test for strep throat, but it isn’t done in the schools anymore. Anyway, every Monday morning I went into town and my friend Pat Neville and I made the rounds at the school, swabbing throats.
Now my last name is not the easiest name to learn for little kids, and even most adults have trouble with it. So I was not surprised when on one particular Monday morning, when I came into the nurse’s office to get my throat culture cart set up, and two little kindergarten girls had a little trouble with my name.
As I entered the nurse’s office, there were two little girls sitting on the bed waiting for the nurse to come in. I don’t know if one was hurt or what, but that didn’t end up being the most important part of my story.I thought they knew me from throat cultures, because they started talking to me like they recognized me, and I guess they did…sort of.
The first little girl asked, “Are you Amy’s mom?” My first thought was ok, now I have been relegated to being just my kid’s mom, but that thought didn’t last very long, because the other little girl asked, “Amy who?” Then, everything became very clear. The problem wasn’t that they didn’t know my name, or that I was just somebody’s mom. It was my name.
That fact was made perfectly clear when, in answer to her friend’s question, the first little girl said, “You know…Amy Sugarberry!!! Inside I laughed and laughed, because I figured that if someone were going to butcher our last name, that was the best way to do it. With the last name of Schulenberg, I had heard every possible way to butcher my name, but this was by far the sweetest!
When my niece, Susan was a little girl, she had an imaginary friend, like many children do, but her friend’s name was…well a bit unusual as was the fact that her friend was a boy, which was not usually the case with imaginary friends. His name was Stubba. Susan says she liked the word stubborn, but didn’t know what it meant, and that Stubba name came from that word. Susan loved her friend. He went with her everywhere, and they had many adventures together. One thing about an imaginary friend is that they are very loyal. They don’t run off and play with they other kids very much, because they would rather stick close to their best friend.
Recently my daughter Amy, got to thinking about Stubba again, and posted just his name on Susan’s Facebook. Well, that was enough to get things started all over again. Susan commented with, “Oh!!! My long lost friend Stubba!!! I sometimes wish I could go back to those days where my only worry was what my friend Stubba was up to. LOL!!!! Good times!!!” I know just what you mean Susan. There are times I would like to go back to my carefree days too, but then I think…”Naw, I would be missing out on too much,” as would you.
As Susan grew up, her need for Stubba dwindled, and eventually it was time for Stubba to leave us and go where all imaginary friends go. As I recall, in order to let his passing be permanent, Susan told us that he fell out of her grandpa’s pickup bed, and died. We were all a little bit sad for Stubba, who would no longer get to run and play with the little girl he loved so much, but we can all take comfort in the fact that while Stubba is in Heaven now, Susan’s life has been blessed with so much more. I’m quite sure Stubba would be pleased to see that she now has Josh, Jala, and Kaytlynn in her life and that there is most certainly no void there. No…I think Stubba would be very happy for his dear friend, Susan.
We most often think of the husband being older than the wife in a marriage. But that isn’t always the case, and I happen to know of some very good marriages in which that is not the case. Many people might find that to be odd, but love doesn’t really understand age differences…thankfully.
There can, however, be some funny side effects to being in a marriage in which the wife is older than the husband. I suppose, sometimes it is a good idea to have a bit of a sense of humor…especially if the wife in this marriage likes to…well, rub it in a bit. Bob’s grandmother was 5 months to the day older than his grandfather. Each year on her birthday, she would tell him, “Well, now I’m older and wiser than you are.” He never really said much, but I’m sure he was thinking, “Yeah, yeah, I hear you.”
The way I see it, most of the marriages in which the wife is older, include at least some degree of teasing by the wife, because that is the way most women are. It is what gives life a little spice! There might be people who would disagree with me on that one, but I know that Bob’s grandmother thoroughly loved being 5 months older than his grandfather, and he liked hearing things like she had robbed the cradle, which is usually a term used on men. That one was also used on my daughter Amy, who is 11 months older than her husband, Travis.
Sometimes, it is the unusual that makes a marriage special. The private little joke, the endearing nickname, and yes, maybe the unusual ages of the couple. We look at May/December marriages as being odd, but there are very often filled with deep love, though those on the outside of the marriage are always suspicious of that type of marriage. And even marriages with a medium sized difference in age might seem odd to some, but can be filled with the deepest, enduring love that there could possibly be. Marriages come in all kinds of different forms, but it is love that makes the marriage, and love simply doesn’t notice the differences that people do.