When my daughter, Amy Royce and her family moved to Washington and bought a house, she found herself the proud owner of a walnut tree and an apple tree. Her husband, Travis is the only one who really likes walnuts, but they all like apples. I think most people do. When the apples ripened, they picked them…lots of them. Then came the decision about what to make with them. For Amy, it was really a non-decision, because she knew she wanted to make Apple Butter…mostly because it reminded her of her great grandma, Vina Hein.
Every summer of Amy and her sister, Corrie Petersen’s childhood, Bob and I took them to visit their Grandma and Grandpa Hein. It was there that the girls first tasted Apple Butter. Since that time, Amy thought of Grandma Hein every time she ate Apple Butter. Corrie doesn’t like apples, so I guess Apple Butter is nothing special to her, but Amy…like the rest of us does, and Apple Butter is a very special. Having it remind us of Grandma Hein is icing on the cake. It’s a memory treat because she comes to mind when we eat it.
Going to visit Grandma and Grandpa Hein was more than just real cream, cows milk, and Apple Butter, though. The time we spent with them was precious. They were such an important part of our lives and we loved visiting them. We played cards, and the kids played with the toys grandma had, but it was still more than that. Grandma told us about her childhood, and showed us pictures of the family. It gave us a sense of belonging. We did belong, of course, but we found out how we belonged. Our visits were so much fun and the girls got to know their grandparents, and that was the most important thing, after all. There were other family members there too, and the girls got to know them too, but there was just something special about being able to spend time with Grandma and Grandpa.
Her style of cooking was very much ranch style. They butchered their own beef, and Grandma made all kinds of beef sausage that was used for sandwiches. They canned fruit, and the fruit with real cream was the dessert. Eggs from their chickens and toast with Apple Butter, were staples for breakfast…and plenty of coffee with real cream, which has ruined regular cream from the store for me. But the biggest memory for Amy, was the Apple Butter, so to be able to make it at home now is the best memory treat there could ever be.
Memories come from many different places. They can be triggered be sights, sounds, taste, touch, and even smells…which is exactly what happened to me this morning. Bob and I were having breakfast at Perkin’s, and when they brought my food and I poured syrup, the view of the food on the plate, and the smell of that syrup, sausage, and eggs, took me back about 45 years or so, to those hurried Sunday mornings when we were all scrambling to get ready for church. Five girls and two parents trying to get ready using one bathroom…well, you can imagine. My dad usually got up early and got out of the way…it was safest that way. Getting in the way of 6 women getting ready to go somewhere can be very hazardous, and since Dad had been around us all our lives, heknew very well when it was time to get out of the way of his girls.
We usually went to church after a quick bowl of cold cereal. It wasn’t much, but we knew that breakfast would be brunch that day, when we came home to have a relaxing and lazy Sunday afternoon. I remember the smells coming from the kitchen after church. bacon or sausage and eggs cooking, usually toast, but sometimes pancakes. I would get so hungry waiting for everything to be ready. The smell in the house was incredible. I remember watching my mom or dad cooking the eggs in the bacon grease, carefully flipping the grease over the yoke, so the yoke stayed runny. It was great for dipping your toast in, after it broke and ran all over your plate. There really was a reason you had toast with eggs and bacon.
Finally everything was ready, and we all sat down at the table. After we said our prayer, we were finally able to take that first bite. It tasted so good. I think sometimes it is a good thing to delay a full meal, because when you sit down to eat…finally, there is just nothing that tastes better. Then we would sit around the table, and talk about our lives. It was a time to catch up on things. As we all got older, we were so busy, and you can easily lose touch with what is going on with each other, if you do ever take time to catch up. As Bob and I sat there eating, I found myself missing those days very much. Since my Dad is in Heaven, and the rest of us have families, we are as busy as our parents were then. We seldom have time to catch up like we did in those days gone by. I really missed those days today.
By the time my Aunt Dixie joined the family, there were already seven children in it. That meant lots of help to take care of the new baby. If she was anything like she is today, my guess would be that she laughed easily and often. Aunt Dixie has never been a melancholy person, but rather always seems to look for the positive things in life. That is a trait that few people have these days, and one that will make her life always rich.
Aunt Dixie has a creative side to her too. She has a talent for making things that add a touch of beauty to her life and to those around her. I can remember the many family Christmas parties that Aunt Dixie and her family have put on, and her talent is easy to see. We have all been blessed by the things she and her family have made for those parties. They always bring something new to the feel of them.
Aunt Dixie has always loved living in the country, and has had her little farm for many years now. I remember when she came to the rescue of my sisters and me, when she took the chicken/rooster my mother ended up with after one of the kids brought it home from the fair. It was cute at first, of course, and Mom’s plan was to have eggs. Having chickens in town was against city ordinance, of course, but Mom didn’t think anyone would know, since it was just one chicken. Then it started crowing, much to the embarrassment of all the rest of the family. Finally Mom gave up and admitted that it was indeed a rooster. Then she had to figure out what to do with it. Aunt Dixie saved the day by adopting the rooster. Now, I’m sure he became fried chicken or chicken soup, but there are worse things in life…like having to listen to that rooster crowing every morning.
Aunt Dixie loves kids…especially her grandchildren. She has 5 grandsons, and then…finally, three short years ago, she received the granddaughter she had longed for. Now her life is complete…at least until the great grandbabies start coming, but that’s another story. Today is Aunt Dixie’s birthday!! Happy birthday Aunt Dixie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My cousin, Pam is the oldest of my Aunt Doris and Uncle Bill’s three children, and the only girl. She was always a quiet girl. I didn’t get to know her as well as I would have liked, but we moved away from Superior, Wisconsin when I was 3 and her family still lives there. Our families got together as often as we could, but as the years went by and we all grew up, the times spent together became fewer and fewer. Now, thanks to Facebook, we have been able to re-connect and get to know each other as adults. I feel very blessed to know her better.
My mom and my Aunt Doris were and still are the best of friends. There were some crazy events that took place when our moms got together. On one event, before I was born, Mom and Aunt Doris had walked to the store, with Pam and my sister Cheryl together in a baby buggy. They went to the store and picked up what they needed, and put their items in the buggy with the babies. That all seemed harmless enough, until they got home and went to take the babies and the eggs out of the buggy. The babies were fine. The eggs, however, had not fared so well. Both babies were now covered in eggs, and there wasn’t one unbroken egg to be found.
As an adult, Pam has shown what a sweet person she is. When my Mom and Dad were visiting the family in Wisconsin, they had the opportunity to visit with Pam at her home, which my mom describes as beautiful. Situated along the river, the yard was beautiful and the deer roamed freely through it. Mom said it was so peaceful there. While visiting, Mom mentioned that she was going to find a store to get some Smoked Ciscoes to take home, and Pam called a friend she knew who carried them at her store. Her friend sent them home with a huge bunch of Smoked Ciscoes for free. Mom couldn’t believe it. She had not meant for Pam to get those Smoked Ciscoes, but Pam, being the sweet person she is, just did it, and my mom has never forgotten her kindness. Today is Pam’s birthday. Happy birthday Pam!! We love you very much!! Have a great day!!
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.