Tag Archives: Childhood Memories

On the Road Again

18 Mar

My Take

DiVoran Lites

 

 

DiVoran’s Vintage Photos

 

David and DiVoran

After we left Lovelock, we went back to Canon City for a few years until Ivan got the gas plant properly staffed. Jobs were scarce, but he applied for one at the tomato factory in Crowley, Colorado and got it. We drove to Crowley, where Dad was to repair and keep the machinery running. By this time I was five years old and my brother David was two and a half.

The house we lived in was called a shotgun house. It had four rooms. The name came from the idea that a person with a shotgun could shoot a bullet into the opened front end and it would come straight out the back end. Each room was twelve feet square with high ceilings for the sake of ventilation, and we had windows that opened and closed all the way down the sides of the house.

Mother was still cooking on a coal stove, but in Crowley,she had a job cooking a hearty noon meal for the factory workers – mostly men. Now that I know the dimensions of the house, I’m not sure where she actually put them all. Perhaps someone came with a farm truck to pick up the food and take it back to the factory, maybe it was Ivan. Maybe he paused for a good-bye kiss from the lips of his beloved wife as he went out the door.

 

Pixabay

When she wasn’t cooking, cleaning or hanging out clothes to dry, Dora liked to gather her gang and walk over a narrow berm to the factory. Her little group consisted of David, who got a piggy-back ride, little daughter who walked behind her on the high berm, the dog, the Nanny goat, and after her, Billy, her kid. The rooster, Chanticleer brought up the rear. Along the way,Mother watched in surprise as Billy Goat click-clacked across window panes covering the young plants without breaking a single pane.

When I was a baby I fainted and she took me to the doctor. The Doctor said I wasn’t getting enough nourishment from breast feedings o Mother put me on goat’s milk. In Crowley even when I was five she gave me a dented tin-cup full of warm milk and sat me on the wooden step out front. Later when I met a milkshake it reminded me of the goat’s milk. I still like it better than cow’s milk and I believe it is better for me too. I’m fascinated with the fact that it is naturally homogenized.

Each day of the season, Mother gave me a salt shaker and a red tomato right off the vine. The juice ran down my chin as I thoroughly enjoyed the salted tomato of the day. I’ve never tasted one as good since. After I finished she washed my face and put me in clean pajamas.

 

 

Every year, Dora made new pajamas for both children on the Singer electric sewing machine she inherited from her grandmother. Later, I made clothing for my children on it. It’s there in my living now and I never knew before how heavy it is to lift out of itscradle.

Mother was a great storyteller and once she had us cleaned up and in our new jammies she sat on the bed and told us made-up stories until we went to sleep. I’m so grateful that she was a story-teller and that she kept a record of her life on scraps of paper which I inherited from her.

I went to kindergarten at Crowley School. There, for the first time, I met a girl with skin darker than mine. She may have been Native American or Mexican, and she might be considered my first best friend, yet she never came to my house and I never went to hers.

Our sojourn in Crowley ended during World War II when Ivan was called up and assigned to the infantry. In his letters home, he tells about his rise to sharp-shooter and how happy that made him. I guess he got lots more practice in the Battle of the Bulge.

Our last supper in the shotgun house was chicken and noodles. That was usually my favorite supper, but when I found out we were eating Chanticleer the rooster, I gave up on chicken for a longtime. I don’t know what happened to the dog and the goats, but Daddy probably had to sell them or give them away. Grandmother’s apartment house and corner lot had room for family, but not for the family’s menagerie.

 

Author, Poet and Artist

DiVoran has been writing for most of her life. Her first attempt at a story was when she was seven years old and her mother got a new typewriter. DiVoran got to use it and when her dad saw her writing he asked what she was writing about. DiVoran answered that she was writing the story of her life. Her dad’s only comment was, “Well, it’s going to be a very short story.” After most of a lifetime of writing and helping other writers, DiVoran finally launched her own dream which was to write a novel of her own. She now has her Florida Springs trilogy and her novel, a Christian Western Romance, Go West available on Amazon. When speaking about her road to publication, she gives thanks to the Lord for all the people who helped her grow and learn.  She says, “I could never have done it by myself, but when I got going everything fell beautifully into place, and I was glad I had started on my dream.”

 

The Home of the Free and the Brave

4 Mar

My Take

DiVoran LitesThis morning Bill took me over to James field to start my walk. I love to stand and look at the body of water close to the field, it’s so peaceful. Today, however, SUVs and giant pick-up trucks were parking nearby, so I thought I’d take a look around and see what was going on. I had supposed it was probably a baseball game.

That took me straight back to the first time I ever played baseball. I’d gone to a men’s-team game in our little town once or twice, but I never played before and as far as I was concerned, I never would.

I was a strong-willed child, but friendly with the other seventeen kids in the eighth grade. Most of the girls wanted to play whatever I wanted to play, so this day when all the boys and girls got up and started shuffling around to go outside and play softball, I decided I’d just stay in and the girls would change their minds and play what I wanted to.

To my dismay, they all got up and went outside. I ended up in a room filled with nothing but desks. I can’t recall whether I stayed or waited until the next day to go out, but somehow I ended up on that field with them. My best friend’s dad played baseball with the men’s team and she had brothers who played, so she knew all about the game. I guess everybody did except me. They tried me out as a catcher and one of the boys handed me his life long most precious possession-his catcher’s mitt. Those things take a lot of oiling and shaping and are not easily loaned. I didn’t use it for long, anyhow.

I was pretty okay with batting, but I couldn’t pitch for anything. In our bunch pitching was the most highly regarded job so they didn’t give me much of a chance at that. Finally,they put me on first base. It was a little scary to have someone racing at me full tilt so I gracefully stepped aside and let the runner go on to second base. I’m not sure what we used for bases, probably rocks.

They didn’t throw me off the team, just put me in at shortstop without a glove.By this time I felt more humble and decided to try harder. When the ball came my way I stopped it one way or another. One day the only way I could stop it was to fall on it. That earned me the name, “Sit on the ball Bowers,” and set me in higher esteem as a softball player.

This morning I saw several teams and their coaches walking into the field enclosure for a group pep-talk.Their uniforms were colorful and new. Some wore turquoise tee shirts, others yellow, red, or blue. The little children were so small you wanted to pick them up and hug them.

 

 

Now when I think back I recall how bossy I was as a child and how much better I liked being with friends and having their approval. Also,I saw once again how blessed we are to still be a free country “under God indivisible with liberty and justice for all. In spite of the bad things we see going on,” God is still in charge and He always will be. We thank Him.

America, America God shed his grace on thee and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.” 

Author, Poet and Artist

DiVoran has been writing for most of her life. Her first attempt at a story was when she was seven years old and her mother got a new typewriter. DiVoran got to use it and when her dad saw her writing he asked what she was writing about. DiVoran answered that she was writing the story of her life. Her dad’s only comment was, “Well, it’s going to be a very short story.” After most of a lifetime of writing and helping other writers, DiVoran finally launched her own dream which was to write a novel of her own. She now has her Florida Springs trilogy and her novel, a Christian Western Romance, Go West available on Amazon. When speaking about her road to publication, she gives thanks to the Lord for all the people who helped her grow and learn.  She says, “I could never have done it by myself, but when I got going everything fell beautifully into place, and I was glad I had started on my dream.”

Brunswick Stew

26 Feb

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

 

Brunswick stew. Those two words transport me back to childhood. Conrad had longish grey hair and his wife Lucille was on the thin side with brown hair. I think of Conrad dressed in white, and for some reason, I believe his trade was a painter. They were friends of my parents from when we lived in North Carolina. I don’t remember how they happened to be in Florida. For some reason, I think they moved about.

What I remember vividly is that when Conrad was in town, we would be having some Brunswick stew. I know there was a bit of prep work involved. I think Conrad would cook a hen and take the meat off the bone. There was pork also, but I am not sure if it was barbecued , smokes or simply boiled. Then there were the vegetables, corn freshly scraped from the cob along with butter beans, onion and potatoes.

Conrad brought a huge pot to cook it in. For some reason, I think it was cooked outside, possibly on our Coleman camp stove. It cooked for a long time, so heating up the kitchen could have been a factor. The aroma was divine and mom’s buttermilk biscuits, sweet tea and/or cornbread were the perfect accompaniment.

Conrad’s making Brunswick stew was music to my tummy.  I’m not sure why my mother didn’t make it, she was a great cook.

I have often wanted to make it but felt the task too daunting. There are so many recipes , I felt overwhelmed. Until yesterday. I had been mentally pulling together meal meats this past week with the idea “stewing” (had to use the pun) of attempting Brunswick stew. My Keto cookbook had a recipe that looked doable. It wouldn’t have the same vegetables as they are too carby, but the meats and seasonings felt familiar.

The stew was delicious and my husband had seconds. I made low carb cornbread to go with it and crumbled some in my bowl. Better than the flavor though, are the memories stirred up as I cooked. Simpler times. Family and friends time. Love.

 

Here is the video I watched before making Brunswick stew.

 

Home at Last

25 Feb

My Take

DiVoran Lites

 

Painting by DiVoran Lites

 

After I was born, one of my first visitors was my great-grandmother from Illinois, Hester. She was my Granddad’s mother who came all the way to Colorado, then to Nevada for a family get-together. Grandma Bowers was blind, so she came with other family members.

Dora had one regret about the visit. Great-grandmother wanted to hold me, but Dora had strict instructions from the doctor not to pick me up or let anyone else pick me up between feedings, which were every four hours. Great-Grandmother stood by my bassinet (a bath for a baby) while Mother bathed me. The tiny blind lady moved close to the legs of the bassinet and rocked it with her knee. Once Dora became more experienced she realized it couldn’t have hurt to let an old blind grandmother hold her baby granddaughter.Fortunately,I got to meet her when I was twelve and Grandmother and Granddad took me to Illinois for a visit.

Dora didn’t work all the time. Sometimes she and dad went for walks in the desert hills around the town. Dad probably fished in the pond. That was where Mother liked to swim in the days of warm weather before I was born. She was surprised that I didn’t grow up terrified of snakes, as she often saw them swimming by.

Mother liked to take me out in my buggy for walks. One day she saw a nest under a bush and stopped to inspect it. When she saw some very small mice playing she took me out of the buggy and held me where I could watch the babies play.

We had a Setter called Red. The Doctor had told them to bundle me up and put me out in the sun for part of each day. It was a safe, small town, so they left Red to watch over me while I slept.

 

Photo by Ryan Stone on Unsplash

One day when mother was home alone a small fire got started somehow. She grabbed me and ran over to Walkama’s across the street and asked her to look after me until she got the fire out.

I wish I had more details, but I think once our folks are gone, we have many questions we wish we had asked while they were still with us. I do have to say, though, both Ivan and Dora were excellent story-tellers, and I’ve so grateful for that rich heritage.

 

 

Author, Poet and Artist

DiVoran has been writing for most of her life. Her first attempt at a story was when she was seven years old and her mother got a new typewriter. DiVoran got to use it and when her dad saw her writing he asked what she was writing about. DiVoran answered that she was writing the story of her life. Her dad’s only comment was, “Well, it’s going to be a very short story.” After most of a lifetime of writing and helping other writers, DiVoran finally launched her own dream which was to write a novel of her own. She now has her Florida Springs trilogy and her novel, a Christian Western Romance, Go West available on Amazon. When speaking about her road to publication, she gives thanks to the Lord for all the people who helped her grow and learn.  She says, “I could never have done it by myself, but when I got going everything fell beautifully into place, and I was glad I had started on my dream.”

The Depot

23 Jul

My Take

DiVoran Bowers Lites

 

 

 

My parents renovated the old train depot in about 1950. My friend from childhood Patricia Franklin sent me the above photo from the Pueblo Chieftain, and I really appreciate it, and her. The two of us met in our two-room schoolhouse, when she was in first grade and I was in second. She was the only person in her class, so the teacher moved her into second grade where there were at least four students. We’ve been friends ever since.

This is how the house has looked recently. There were no Amish in town when our family lived there and the building closer to the range wasn’t there, but the mountains were, and I think my dad planted the big pine trees on the property when he renovated the house.

 

 

This is the third building from my younger years that is being turned into a museum. The second two were the Westcliff schoolhouse and the original women’s prison of the Colorado State Penitentiary in Canon City. That was where Granddad worked as a guard for most of his adult life. Being this familiar with the history of historical museums makes me downright ancient.

Mother and Dad along with my brother, David, and I moved to Westcliffe right after dad came back from WWII in 1945. They bought Min’s Café with a low-interest loan from the G. I. bill and money they’d been saving since marriage.

In a small town like Westcliffe (at the time…population about 500) it was a big job to build or renovate a house as building supplies had to be hauled to the valley from Canon City or Pueblo and there were few people who could help. Mother said she never wanted to restore another house. But Mother and Dad were business people and they wanted to live upstairs and make the downstairs into rooms for rent. We ended up calling it, “The White Cloud Motel.”

You can see in the original picture that the station had a boardwalk around it that isn’t there in the more recent picture. I have a rather sad tale to tell about that. When dad lifted the first boards, he found nests of baby rabbits underneath. Dad let me play with one and carry it around for a day, but then I had to give it back because rabbits multiplied like … well, you know like rabbits, and they were overrunning much of the ranch grasslands.

The White Cloud motel was finally finished and we moved into the upstairs apartment. It had the main floor, a cellar, and an upstairs, as well as a baggage room. Dad used the big room for storage, mostly of camping gear for trail rides and as a place for the game to cure.One of the giant shelves he built was open underneath and just the right size for a small bed and a play-house for me. I read, played with my dolls, and tried to keep my brother out. But one thing we did together was to go out the bathroom window on the second floor and slide down the roof until we got to the gutter, then climb back up and do it again.

Here’s someone else who lived in the Denver and Rio Grande Western railroad station.

“Cornelia Caroline Wadleighwas hired (at nineteen) to teach at the Ula School for the 1911-1912 terms…she lived with her parents at their home in the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad Station at Westcliffe. She rode the train to the school each day on its morning run to Texas Creek, and caught the afternoon run back to Westcliffe when the school day ended.”*

Because the building was derelict when my parents bought it, I have never once in the sixty-seven years since we moved in the thought of another family living there. I wonder if Miss Cornelia Caroline Wadleigh loved it all as much as I did. And did she slide down the roof? And how would she feel about it being made into a museum if she knew? Does she know? Maybe I’ll meet her in Heaven and we can talk it over.

*Quotation from One Room Schoolhouses, Custer County, Colorado, by Irene Francis.

 

 

 

Author, Poet and Artist

DiVoran has been writing for most of her life. Her first attempt at a story was when she was seven years old and her mother got a new typewriter. DiVoran got to use it and when her dad saw her writing he asked what she was writing about. DiVoran answered that she was writing the story of her life. Her dad’s only comment was, “Well, it’s going to be a very short story.” After most of a lifetime of writing and helping other writers, DiVoran finally launched her own dream which was to write a novel of her own. She now has her Florida Springs trilogy and her novel, a Christian Western Romance, Go West available on Amazon. When speaking about her road to publication, she gives thanks to the Lord for all the people who helped her grow and learn.  She says, “I could never have done it by myself, but when I got going everything fell beautifully into place, and I was glad I had started on my dream.”

My Hair and Mrs. Hibbs

31 Jul

My Take

DiVoran Bowers Lites

 

 

Our fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Hibbs, stands up front talking. I’m not listening. I’ve had a sudden urge to comb my hair so I lift the desk lid and scramble for a comb. Mrs. Hibbs hesitates, but when she sees me begin to try to get the tangles out of my long brown hair she proceeds with the lesson. I’ll never know why she let me do that. I guess she saw as well as anyone that it had to be done.

Mother had tried for years to get me to hold still long enough for her to comb my hair. We didn’t use brushes, though she had a fancy one on her dresser. The trouble was that Mother was almost always in a hurry now that she and dad owned a bar and restaurant. She put on her pristine white waitress uniform and got there at 6:00 A. M. to serve breakfast, mostly to the other shop-keepers of the town, and a stray fisherman getting a late start. Mrs. McGregor was in the kitchen filling the air with smells of frying bacon and making her famous pancakes. Dad stayed home and slept off his night shift of serving the drinks and chatting with the regulars who valued his counsel.

Whenever mother combed my hair she tried to pull the tangles out with the comb and it hurt. Her mother, my white-haired grandmother was softer and easier and she never hurt me, but she died when I was only seven. I still had another grandmother, though, and she was a professional beauty operator with her own shop. Whenever we went to her town she took care of my hair. I didn’t like that either, especially the machine permanent waves.

So here I was in the schoolroom with the sun shining in my eyes from the window and Mrs. Hibbs soft voice coming into my ears. Separating strands of hair took a long time. Mrs. Hibbs held steady. She was allowing me to do something that she saw needed doing. Overall, I think I was something of a poor learner, but it was obvious from her steady patience and kindness that even though she never had children of her own she loved us and understood us all, even enough to bend the rules when they needed to be bent. Due to her indulgence, I was able to run a comb my hair. I never let it get tangled again.

 

 

 

Memories of New Mexico~Part 10

30 Apr

SUNDAY MEMORIES

Judy Wills

 

 More random memories….

 

I remember going to what is called “Old Town” in downtown Albuquerque. It will always hold a special place in my heart. It has become quite a tourist attraction.

 

Credit Google Search

The official website states:

Centered around the plaza, Albuquerque’s Old Town encompasses about ten blocks of historic adobe buildings.

 

Just to be technical, this is what the back of this postcard I’ve scanned says:

Founded in 1706 by Don Francisco Cuervo y Valdes, he honored his patron saint, Francisco Xavier and the Duke of Alburquerque, Viceroy of New Spain, by called the villa San Francisco de Albqurquerque. The first “r” was later dropped, and the town became Albuquerque. The official website states: Square at the point where Spanish Governor Cuervo y Valdes officially founded Albuquerque in 1706.

 

 

There is a “plaza” in the center of Old Town with a gazebo – that is occasionally used as a bandstand. According to the official website: Plazas were a common feature of Spanish colonial towns.

 

 

The back of this scanned postcard informs us:

This view of Old Town Plaza shows the bandstand and the famous San Felipe de Neri Church, founded in 1706. The original adobe church was destroyed by fire. This church was built in 1793 and still serves the spiritual needs of Albuquerque.

 

 

 This scanned postcard tells:

Built in the early 1700’s, shortly after the villa of Albuquerque was founded, San Felipe still serves the spiritual needs of Old Albuquerque.

While the gazebo is at the center of a small “park,” the park is ringed with shops and eateries (and the church) that were former houses made into shops.

 

Karen and Janet in a shop in Old Town

 

There were two Mexican restaurants there, side by side, that were my favorites. It seemed like there was always a running competition between them. And at point in time, one would have the best food, and then later, the other one would have the best food. And we would never be able to tell which one was running high at the time we wanted to dine there.

Each of them had wonderful Indian/Mexican artwork on it’s walls. I seem to remember that both of them had living trees growing in several of the rooms. And I remember that, in the corner of the main entrance to La Placita (the Palace – actually it was the Governor’s Palace for a while), there was a small fireplace. They usually burned pine wood there, and the fragrance was wonderful! Perhaps they added something to make the smell so good, but that is a fragrance that I looked forward to inhaling.

The other restaurant was La Hacienda. I remember the Native Americans sitting under the canopy of the restaurants, along the street, with their beads and silver jewelry on display for sale to any and all who walked by. Perhaps this is not unique to the Indian/Mexican culture in Albuquerque (I think this tradition is also in Santa Fe). This scanned postcard tells us: Indians display their good for sale outside the famous La Placita Dining Room in Old Albuquerque.

 

 

 

 

They had some really beautiful things there, too. Here is a photo that I took, just before we headed to Germany for our second tour. It was June 1979, and our girls were quite young. In any case, this shows how the items for sale were arranged.

 

Janet looking at some Indian wares

 

Another event that took place in Old Town happened on my 18th birthday. It was on a Sunday that year, and we had gone to church, as usual. Following the service, there was a world-renown violinist that was to give a concert in our church that evening, and he was practicing in the sanctuary. Mom and Dad wanted to stay and listen for a while, since they would not be able to hear the concert. We stayed for 15 minutes or so, and then headed out. They asked me to drive from the church to Old Town, and we had planned to eat at La Placita. I let them out to get a table while I parked the car. When I entered the restaurant, the host led me through several rooms until we found our way into one of the larger rooms. As I turned the corner – about 12 of my best girlfriends began singing “Happy Birthday” to me! I was in shock! What a surprise my parents had planned for me! But a happy surprise, for sure.

~~~~~~~~~~To Be Continued~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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