Tag Archives: Childhood Memories

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~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Memories of New Mexico~Part 8

16 Apr

SUNDAY MEMORIES

Judy Wills

 

 

 

More random memories….

 

Our house in Albuquerque wasn’t really all that big. I’ve just looked it up on Google, and am informed that it was built in 1940 (we moved into it in 1945) and has 1,056 square feet of living space. I didn’t realize it was that large. But it had three bedrooms and one bath, separated living room from the dining room, and a kitchen.

 

 

It is near an elementary school and a middle school (a Junior High School in my day), and not too far from the University of New Mexico (UNM), from which my husband, Fred graduated. Unfortunately, I flunked out of UNM….but that’s another story (too much Fred, not enough study).It was always a nice neighborhood to live in, and grow up in. There were a lot of children within that entire area, and we all went to the same schools.

I’ve mentioned before that my parents really worked that house and yard, until it was a thing of beauty. Perhaps not the largest house, but my parents made it a home, and we were quite comfortable there.

I remember that the sprinkler valves were right by the front door, off to the side. We had a long metal pole that we used to turn on or turn off the sprinklers. We didn’t have to use our hands, and we didn’t get wet while doing so. I also remember my father purchasing sheep manure to spread on the front lawn every Spring. I’m sure the neighbors hated that time of year – because our yard smelled so bad! But boy! did we have the best-looking yard around!

Sorry about the double-exposure! But this shows the lush front yard we had, and the forsythia bush under the window

I know it’s not my house anymore, but I’m almost distressed to see, by the pictures on Google Zillow, that the current owners have completely done away with the front lawn grass, and put in rocks (xeriscape). I know that saves on water consumption, but…. There are a few flower pots in the yard, but no lush grass. The tree my father planted in the front yard is still there, and is a beautiful shade tree. The pampas grass is completely gone as well.

There were large evergreen trees on each side of the front of the house, and they are gone. Mother had a lovely forsythia bush under her bedroom window – but it’s gone, too. And remember when I described the screened-in front porch where we would spend so much time in the summers? It is now glassed-in. I’m sure it makes for more useable space, but I really liked that screened-in area.

I do see that the city has done away with that house-to-street concrete sidewalk requirement, and now the new owners have a lovely stone walk. I liked the original one we had – it was made from slate stone and curvy, however.

 

Note the curvy sidewalk

 

While the front yard wasn’t terribly large, the back yard made up for it. It was quite large. From this picture, you will see that, when we first arrived, there was the stereotypical white picket fence in the back yard.

 

Bill, Daddy and me by the back door…notice the picket fence

 

At some point, my parents put in a concrete-block fence. They also made a little “cut out” in the fence for the garbage cans. The alley way was behind the house, between our house and the house behind us. I kind of liked that.

 

My brother, Bill, with his young daughter in our back yard she loved to “swim” in Grandmother’s galvanized tub clothes line to the left; garbage can cutout to the right peach tree behind Bill that Daddy pampered.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

My First Motorcycle

2 Nov

A Slice of Life

 Bill Lites

 

When I was 12, I started delivering newspapers, on my bicycle, on an evening route near my home in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I was saving my money to buy a motorcycle. At the time my allowance of .50 cents a week hardly even covered the cost of my model airplane supplies. And, that paper route really didn’t bring in much of an income either.

 

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So I started thinking of other ways to make money. That was the summer I started mowing lawns in our neighborhood with the family push-mower. That helped a lot in the money department, but was really hard work.

 

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As my name got around, by work of mouth, that I was cutting lawns my business grew and I talked my parents into loaning me the money to buy a new power mower (Ref. Bill’s blogs “I Was A 12 Year Old Business Man“– Jan. 23 & 30, 2013). It took me a while to pay off that loan, but once that was done, the bank account began to grow rapidly.

 

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By the time I was fourteen, I had learned to drive, had my driver’s license, and I was scouring the newspaper “For Sale” ads for used motorcycles. I finally found a fairly nice Harley-Davidson 125cc that I could afford. Boy, did that motorcycle take a lot of the work out of my paper route! I could pick up my papers, deliver all the papers on my route and get home in half the time, and I wasn’t pooped out either.

 

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I gave up the paper route and most of my lawn business when a friend’s father helped me get a part-time job at the local Furr’s Super Market. By that time I had really lost most of what little interest I had in school (my main interest now was motorcycles), and was looking for something to occupy my time (and making money of course). The super market job was just what I was looking for. The work was hard, but the pay was great as I advanced from bag boy to checker, and my bank account kept growing.

 

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As it turned out, once the initial thrill of my “New-Used” motorcycle worn off, I discovered the machine really was a little long in the tooth, and I was anxious to see how I could get more performance out of it. Since I had learned how to rebuild my internal-combustion lawnmower engine, I started tearing down that motorcycle engine.

 

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I cleaned and polished the combustion chamber, re-surfaced the valves & seats, replaced the piston rings and spark plug, tightened the chain and polished all the aluminum cases. By the time I was finished, I had expended a lot of my hard-earned dollars for new parts and many hours of labor on that engine. And guess what? Of course it ran better, but it was still a behind the times 125cc size motorcycle and just didn’t give me the excitement I was looking for.

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By this time I had turned into a teenage motorcycle “Jock” and couldn’t look the part (Marlon Brando & James Dean) on that un-interesting looking Harley 125cc motorcycle. So, my next teenage adventure was to purchase a “New” bright RED 1954 Harley Davidson 165cc “Golden Edition” motorcycle with raised handlebars. That motorcycle fit right in with my new image, which included a traditional black leather motorcycle jacket (lots of pockets and zippers), motorcycle boots and a “Ducktail” hairdo.

 

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I enjoyed calling that 1954 Harley 165cc motorcycle my first, but the older ugly black 125cc machine was really my first motorcycle, and helped send me on my way to the big-time 1955 Harley Davidson (888 cc) flat-head KH Sportster that I really loved and drove for the next ten years.

—–The End—–

It is Good to Give Thanks

18 Aug

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

During my growing up years, we lived in Orlando, Florida. My parents loved to fish, so most Fridays as soon as my parent’s made it home from work, we loaded the car with fishing gear and headed to the east coast. We would fish all night and most of Saturday.  We usually fished from a pier and late at night when most folks had gone home to sleep, we would often  begin to sing hymns in the evening stillness. Just my family, the moon and the stars. Wonderful memories.

What a beautiful thing, God, to give thanks,
    to sing an anthem to you, the High God!
To announce your love each daybreak,
    sing your faithful presence all through the night,
Accompanied by dulcimer and harp,
    the full-bodied music of strings.

Psalms 92: 1-3

The Message

Nothin’ to Do

25 Jul

My Take

DiVoran Lites

Joanie and DiVoran

My friend Patricia and I grew up together from the time she was in first grade, and I moved to her town when I was in second. Patricia was the only child in first grade that year. We had a five grade schoolroom and we sat in rows according to grade. The teacher knew Patricia could handle skipping, so she transferred her to the second-grade row. My friend was so small that on the way home from school two of us would hold her down to keep her from blowing away in a strong wind.

When Patricia and I got a bit older we walked down the dirt road to the Grape creek bridge on the outskirts of town talking and playing word games. Our favorite was to top each other with bigger words that all meant the same thing. Big, huge, gigantic, etc. We loved to stand on the bridge and eat salted peanuts in the shell and say a word each time we threw a shell into the creek. They floated away like tiny boats bearing messages. On our walks, any time we said the same word at the same time we linked pinky fingers and said, “Jinx, you owe me a coke.” Then we’d go to the hotel and get chocolate cokes and sit at the soda bar and drink them and talk to the hotel owner.

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In the one solid block of businesses we called Main Street we went in to say hello to Mr. Cope at his pharmacy. He’d hire one of us and then the other to look after the little girls when he took his wife to my parent’s restaurant for a meal out. He also gave us comic books with the covers torn off. The company he got them from refunded his money on the unsold ones. I remember getting a whole stack and thinking I was the richest kid in town.

As we wandered, we sometimes came to the Catholic Church into which Patricia was born and raised. One time she showed me how to “do” the Stations of the Cross. You kneeled at each Biblical picture to pray. I liked that a lot. I attended the Community Church across the street and started teaching Sunday School there at the age of 12.

We’d go to Patricia’s cousin, Louise’s house to play Her backyard had an old barn where we put on our own dramas. Louise had plenty of siblings to act in all the scenes. It’s amazing how much fun we had when there was nothin’ to do.

 

Dad: Worst Enemy, Best Friend~Part 3

20 Jun

My Take

DiVoran Lites

Over the years, Dad bought roller-skates, bicycles, a horse, a dog, and he even acquired a cat for us. There were always plenty of cats available, so he didn’t have to buy Tiger. He had us pay for the puppy, though, because Brownie came from a ranch and dad thought it only fair that the rancher got something for one of his animals. It was also a good lesson for us. We gave everything we had for that dog — thirty-five cents between us.

DiVoran and Yankee

DiVoran and Yankee (a part Shetland pony)

DiVoran and Brownie

DiVoran and Brownie (part collie) the love of my life for a long time.

He bought each of us a baby calf. David’s was a Hereford and he called him, Red. Mine was black and white, and I called him, Clover. Alas, I found him dead one morning in the woodshed where he lived. He had died of some common ailment to young calves.

Dad cleaned out the shed and that year bought a big white goose from a rancher. That goose was to be Thanksgiving dinner. Dad would cook it himself. David and I had the job of feeding the goose every day. When we learned his destiny, I decided he needed to be free so we left the shed door open and the goose escaped.

Goose

 

When Dad discovered  the goose was gone, he sent us out on the prairie behind our house to look for it. We went down to Grape Creek and thinking the goose might like water, we walked along making our way through the thick willow bushes. We never found the goose, but we did come upon a willow-hut that we presumed belonged to one of the two town drunks. The citizens called this man, Prairie Jack. When we peeked inside the hut, we saw that it was empty except for a pallet on the ground and a photograph of a lovely young woman. Her clothes and hair- style came from another time. I recognized that from Grandmother’s teaching the women in the family to stay in step with style. Then too, being the children of a bar owner, we knew why Prairie Jack had turned to drink. He had plainly lost the woman he loved and couldn’t stand to live sober without her.

We left everything in the hut alone, even though we had already meddled in Prairie Jack’s business. Once, when we found a full bottle of whisky hidden under a sage bush, we poured the whole quart-full on the ground and left the empty bottle laying there. I hated whiskey and do to this day, probably because it was my medicine for when I got car-sick on the winding roads to Grandmother’s house.

Dad taught us to work in the restaurant. My brother took out the empty coke bottles in their wooden cases. The two of us cleared tables and washed dishes. Our pay was twenty-five cents an hour. For killing flies in the summer, with a fly swatter, we got a penny a fly. For ironing a large basket of clothes at home for Mother, I got a whole dollar each week. My brother had his chores as well. We saved some of our money and spent the rest. I wish I could tell you what we spent it on, but I just don’t know.

Dad took flying lessons from the town jeweler, a fellow member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) organization. He then bought a Piper Cub and called it, “Dinty Moore.” We flew over the mountains to visit Grandmother and Granddad in Canon City.

One afternoon, when dad and his friend, Sweak Jeske, flew to Denver to look at cars, the phone on the restaurant wall rang. When Mother answered it an insurance salesman sold her some airplane insurance. The next call that evening was from Dad saying he had got caught in a downdraft and crashed the plane in the snow on the side of Pike’s Peak. We kids didn’t know anything about it until dad came home the next day with a broken ankle. He and Sweak had made their way down the mountain to a ranch house and were saved from freezing to death. Sweak had no injuries at all. I reckon someone bigger than you and I had His hand under that plane and set it down gentle as could be. Once they towed the wreckage back to the small airport in Silver Cliff, I saw that Dinty Moore was now a pile of junk. Mom and Dad both worked hard and he was able to get an Air Coup some years later. He wanted us to have flying lessons, so I got up very early one morning and he took me to the airport where I got into a Steerman with an instructor and had a lesson on flying and was told to study cloud formations. The next Saturday, I decided I didn’t want to to get up so early so I never did learn to fly and sorry folks, but I didn’t care and still don’t. My brother, on the other hand, became a mechanic on jets and later a commercial pilot. To each his own.

 

 

 

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