Tag Archives: Recreation

Visiting Grandmother’s House Part~2

17 Jul

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Bill

My cousins and I thought it was great fun playing on the hay bales stacked in the barn and shucking corn for the cows and horses.  Sometimes we were allowed to let1 the cows out to pasture in the mornings and round them up back to the barn for milking in the evenings.  I even tried my hand at milking, but never really got the hang of the technique.

I remember an occasion when one of my uncles found a four-foot corn snake in the chicken coop eating the eggs out of the nests.  The custom was to put white glass eggs in the nests to encourage the hens to lay, and you could see 2where the snake had swallowed a couple of the glass eggs, making bulges along its length.  My uncle grabbed the snake by the tail, swinging it around over his head like a bullwhip, and then snapping its head off in a motion like cracking a whip.  Yuk, what a mess!  Egg yolk went everywhere. Then, after the snake finally stopped squirming, he retrieved the glass eggs and washed them off to use again.

Back then, many of my uncles and some of my cousins chewed tobacco, and of course I was “encouraged” by some of the kids my age to try it.  I didn’t have too much trouble with it until one day when I tried chewing and swimming at the same3 time.  We were having a ball in my uncle’s pond when I swallowed a mouthful of water and my chaw of tobacco.  Later that evening, my mother kept wondering why I felt sick to my stomach.

Another sport we engaged in was the building and shooting of “Firecracker Rifles”.  We would notch a short piece of 2”x 4” for our rifle stock (it really didn’t look anything like a rifle stock), and then attach a 2’ or 3’ length of ½“ pipe to the notch by bending nails over the pipe.   Red M-80 firecrackers fit nicely into the pipe, and had strong fuses that wouldn’t go out inside the pipe.  We would use marbles that would just fit the “barrel” of our homemade rifle.  And, there you have it.

5Amazingly, if everything was fit together tightly, and your aim was any good, this homemade rifle could put a marble through both sides of a 1-gallon can at short range!  Pretty scary when you think about 7-10 year olds doing something like that.  Of course, our parents had no idea we were playing with anything this dangerous, or we would have been in BIG trouble.

We also used those same M-80 firecrackers in contests to see who could blow a tin can the highest, and because they were waterproof, we would use them to blast crayfish out of their holes.  As you read this, I can just hear you saying, “Oh, boys will be boys!”  Yea, but it would surely have given my mother a heart attack if she had known what we were up to.

Well, those are just a few wonderful things I remember my cousins and me doing  during those family trips to my grandmother’s house in Louisiana when I was a kid.  Of course, some of those experiences may have had a profound influence on me as I grew up; because I ended up working with explosives for most of the 35 years I spent as part of  the U.S. Manned Space Program community.  But, then that’s another story for another time.

Grandmother Lites at age 90

Grandmother Lites at age 90

—–The End—–

                                  

Visiting Grandmother’s House Part 1

10 Jul

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

When I was about eight years old, our family went to Louisiana for a summer visit with my dad’s family.  Grandmother Lites lived in the same house where she and 1my grandfather had raised 13 children in the late 1800s.  The original acre homestead was located in the central part of the state, near the little town of Many, about 80 miles south of Shreveport.

Grandmother’s house was typical of farm houses during that period; single story, square white clapboard, with a breezeway down the middle, living room and kitchen on one side and two bedrooms on the other.  There was a small front porch with room for several slat rocking chairs, and a narrow screened 2back porch that ran the width of the house and was just wide enough for a couple double beds,

Running water in the kitchen for washing and cleaning was gravity fed from an overhead cistern behind the house.  Drinking water had to be hand drawn with a bucket from the well.  The only heat in the house came from the fire place in the living room or the old  wood burning stove in the kitchen.

3At some point electricity had been added to the house which was the source for the single bare 60-watt light bulb and pull chain in the center of each room.  The old wall mounted crank telephone was a novelty for us kids when the operator would come on the line and ask what number we wanted.

Slop jars were used at night and the two-hole outhouse during the 5day.  Baths for us kids were taken in a round galvanized tub in the middle of the kitchen floor.  The girls got to go first, since they usually didn’t dirty the water as bad as us boys did.

One of our main toys was an old tire that we rolled along 6most everywhere we went.  We had races with them, tied them to tree limbs for swings, and stacked them high to climb on to get at things out of reach over our heads.

The one most memorial visit for me was the year when the U.S. Army was holding one of their war maneuvers in the woods around my cousin’s and grandmother’s property.  My cousins and I would sneak off to the camp when nothing was going 7on, and wonder around checking out all the neat equipment and asking the soldiers questions.  The men were really nice to us, even letting us eat with them when the officers weren’t around.

Sometimes they would drive us out of the “restricted area” in one of their jeeps when they 8were getting ready to fire their howitzers (with blanks of course).  Even after they dropped us off, we were still close enough to get goose bumps every time one of those big guns was fired.   Wow! What a thrill that was.  We even got to play on them sometimes when the soldiers weren’t around, pretending we were helping win the war.  We didn’t know it at the time, but many of our country’s top generals attended those Louisiana maneuvers over the years.

I got a big kick out of helping my mother and grandmother make butter in the handcranked butter churn.  It always amazed me how the milk magically turned into butter and left that yummy buttermilk.  I loved buttermilk and drank it every time I got a chance.  Then there was the time the cows got into the bitter weed, and it made the milk so bitter I couldn’t drink it.

 

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—–To Be Continued—–

Dad~Love~Faith

15 Jun

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

Onisha

 

Back in the late fifties, going to church was a much more sociable activity than it is today. Once the service was over the adults would linger outside the church, on the sidewalk just to chat and enjoy being together. The children, glad to be freed from the trial of sitting still would run around like uncaged monkeys playing tag and screaming until a parent shushed us.  One particular evening, the air had a chill to it and I stood Lucerne Parkshivering next to my dad. Without making a big  “to do” about it, he took off his suit jacket and put it around my shoulders. It covered my small body completely and smelled like my dad’s Vitalis hair oil and a faint scent of cigarrete smoke. I felt completely safe and warm covered by his jacket. That was my first picture of how much God loved me.

My dad and mom loved to fish and we drove to the east coast of Florida every Friday night to fish. In my childhood I can’t remember a time I didn’t have a fishing pole. I started with a cane pole in the local lakes. When I was considered big enough to have a real fishing rod and reel, it was a small Zebco. I remember my dad teaching me first how to bait my hook, release the line and how important it was to “hold your pole Loved catching the big ones.up” when you were reeling in a fish. Next he taught me how to tie a hook onto my line and change the weights. He wanted me to be self-sufficient but he was always there to help me out when I tangled my line or man the long dip net when I had a fish to big for me to reel up. This was my second picture of how God loved me. Like my dad, God would always be there to help me untangle my life and he would be my “dip net” when I called out to him.

Matthew 7:11 says-“ If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”

 

My dad was a humble man and because of his humility, it took me many years to realize what a truly remarkable father he was.

Me and dad

Me and dad

T

 

Surviving the Winter

16 Mar
A Few Thoughts
Patricia Franklin
This has been a long and cold winter here in Colorado, and we have been feeding the many species of birds who either stayed the winter or came passing through. Our bird feeder is mounted on a pole on my patio, just above my little rose that I planted in a barrel in the Fall. We put a wire cage around it and added dry leaves to keep it from freezing.
During these waning days of winter, a couple of squirrels have joined the birds, also looking for food. So they have been devouring the seeds that fall around the barrel. The squirrels love to get inside the cage and dig through the leaves for the seed.  I stand here by the patio window on cold days enjoying the birds and watching the squirrels chase each other around the yard, and I wish I could be out there too. A couple of times I noticed that the bigger squirrel chases the smaller one away from the barrel all the time and will not let him eat, while he himself is getting pretty fat.  But the smaller one has such a sunny disposition that he will entertain himself and me by running all over the yard, chasing his tail and doing flip after flip in the air. He is so cute and a real gymnast. 
On a couple nice sunny days, I was able to sit out on my patio chair just a few feet from the feeder.  I noticed that Fatso was really skittish and ran away when he saw me, but Frisky hung around and wanted his turn to eat. He crept up close to the barrel, then stood up on his hind feet and looked me in the eye. I stayed put, and he relaxed after a minute or two and started eating all around the barrel. Eventually he jumped up and in the cage and enjoyed a nice meal.  This happened a couple of times while I was out there and Fatso would stay away.  I figured Frisky had caught on and knew she was safe from Fatso bothering her. So I tested my theory the other day when I saw Fats in there for too long.  I went out and sat in my chair.  Fats ran away, and it wasn’t too long before Frisky came leaping across the lawn, stood up about 4 feet from me and looked me straight in the eye. Then he jumped up into the cage eating to his heart’s content. So today I repeated the same thing and I even talked to him while he was there. He did not seem to mind. So both of us sat there happy as a lark on a summer day.  Such is entertainment in the long cold days of winter in Colorado.

 

My Big Brother

10 Feb

SUNDAY MEMORIES

Judy Wills

 

Judy

 I hope you are enjoying reading my big brother’s stories as much as I am.  I am learning things that I was too young to know or remember about us growing up.

One of the things that I really don’t remember – but have been told about many times – is the airplane trip when we moved from Dallas, Texas to Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1945.  Bill can tell you that it was an American Airlines DC-3 plane.

 

Plane

Plane

What I remember our Mother telling me is that she made the flight without our Dad (he was already in NM), and with us two small children.  She said a military man asked if she would like some “help” with us, and she handed me over.  After a bit, she looked back, just as he was pointing out the window, with me looking out, as well.  I came running back to her and said, “Mommy!  Did you know there is an ANGEL sitting on that wing outside???!!!”

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Mother said that she was reassured that he really was a good guy.  In Bill’s words about the flight:  “My memories of the plane are limited to how steep an incline the aisle was from the rear door to the front seats, that there were only two seats on each side of the aisle, and at some point during the flight (I did not have my seatbelt fastened) the plane hit a fairly good-sized downdraft (air pocket) and I hit my head on the overhead.  The whole trip was quite an adventure for a six-year-old boy.”  And by-the-way – I still have the airline ticket from that trip!

 

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I do remember Bill’s obsession with airplanes – especially model airplanes.  I remember him in his bedroom, putting together small airplanes.  I remember the smell of the airplane glue.  I remember him taking the airplane (frequently with me in tow) to the park across the street, and flying it around until either he brought it down, or it crashed.  If it crashed, then he bundled it up and took it home for repair.  Those were the days of rubber bands and small gasoline engines attached to the plane.  He’s just grown up a bit since then, as has his taste in model airplanes.  He now builds radio-controlled model airplanes, and flies them as often as he can.  He goes to the airfield and watches others fly their planes.  He has built himself a workshop in their backyard, and spends a lot of time out there, building his planes.  He’s really quite good at it, too.

I adore my big brother.

 

Our Trip Across America Part 11

19 Dec

A Slice of Life

  Bill Lites

Bill

 

From there, we made a side trip to Westcliffe, Colorado, located in the Wet Mountain Valley, just east of the San De Cristo Mountains.  Westcliffe boomed in the 1880s with Silver mining driving the economy.  The Denver & Rio Grande Railroad ran through Westcliffe, at the time, making it the only rail link in the valley.  After the mining interests ran out, the Westcliffe portion of the railroad was finally closed in 1937, and the town began to settle into the quiet valley community it now is.

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DiVoran’s parents moved to Westcliffe after her father came home from WWII.  Then in 1946, DiVoran’s parents opened Min’s Café in downtown Westcliffe and she and her brother David spent many hours working in the family owned restaurant on Main Street.

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Later, her parents bought the old 1880’s Westcliffe train station, and converted it into their home, where DiVoran had an unobstructed view of the San De Cristo Mountains from her upstairs bedroom window.

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DiVoran remembers Westcliffe as a most wonderful place where she lived, rode horses in the open fields, and went to grades 2 thru 4 in a one-room schoolhouse, and where she made some lifelong friends. By the way, she still corresponds with one of those friends, and that very schoolhouse is still standing, and has been converted into a very interesting museum.

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One of our most memorable experiences during that visit was our trip from Westcliffe up the County 160/Hermit Road into the mountains to spend the night at Hermit lake.  As DiVoran remembered, the road had been maintained by the county, for the popular summer lake activities.  However, we found the road in poor condition as we headed up the mountain toward the lake.  The first part of the road wasn’t too bad as we came out of the valley, so we thought we could make the trip without any problems.  The picture below shows you how deceiving that road was.

 

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It wasn’t long before we realized we should be driving a 4-wheel drive vehicle like the other people we saw up there, not a Ford LTD station wagon pulling a tent camper.  In some places the road was so steep and bolder strewn that I thought, for sure, we were going to tear the oil pan out of the bottom of the car.  But, once we started up the mountain, there was no place for us to turn around, so we had to just keep going till we got to the lake.  The picture below of Hermit road is no exaggeration, I couldn’t believe we actually made it!

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It took us two nerve-wracking hours to travel the approximate five miles to the lake.  By the time we got there, it was starting to get dark and we were all hungry, so we leveled and set up the camper, ate dinner and spent a cold night in the lake parking area at near 11,400 feet elevation.  The next morning, we waited for it to warm up enough for to have a leisurely breakfast, then we walked up the trail, and took in the beauty of the lake.

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When we got ready to begin the trip back down the mountain to Westcliffe, the car wouldn’t start.  It seems we had developed tiny cracks in the sparkplug wires.  Now, with the air at this high altitude being so thin, the spark was jumping from the sparkplug wires to the block, and not to the plugs.  I removed the wire from each plug, cleaned and dried it, wrapped electrical tape around it, and reinstalled it.  That coupled with the rising temperature, seemed to do the trick.  With the car running, we now embarked on our two-hour adventure back down the mountain to Westcliffe.  WOW– What a trip!  I sure don’t want to ever have to make a trip like that again.

 

 

                                          —-To Be Continued—-

 

 

 

Our Trip Across America-Part 2

17 Oct

Last week BIll began a series, Our Trip Across America. He picks up this week with his transition from tent camping to a pop up trailer. Onisha

A Slice of Life

  Bill Lites

The camper was an older 6’x10’ unit I bought from a friend at work.  He told me it was in good shape, but had been sitting in his driveway for a long time.  This was a very basic house shaped square box camper with gas for a stove but no electricity. We had to use Coleman lanterns for lighting and we took a small three burner Coleman stove in case we had a gas stove problem or needed to cook outside for some reason. The camper had a small fresh water tank, but the water had to be pumped into the sink with a hand pump.

Everything had to fit within the camper footprint as the tent portion opened straight up to a peak running fore and aft.  The small gas stove, sink and counter top were on one side, with an office size “ice box” (remember, no electricity) under the counter.  On the other side was a small fold down table with bench seats for four people.   My wife slept on the twin bed that ran across the front with storage under it, and I slept in the other twin bed that ran across the rear with more storage underneath.  A swing-away bunk bed was pinned into each of the fore and aft upright tent supports and that was where the kids slept.  It was a very compact arrangement.  When folded down, everything was flush with the top sides of the camper and a canvas cover over the top, was secured in place with ropes.  This did not allow anything to be carried on top of the camper, so all our clothes and personal items needed for the trip had to fit inside the camper.

I spent many hours on maintenance on the camper and on our 1968 Ford 10-passenger station wagon to make sure all went well during our trip.  Knowing we would be traveling over some mountainous roads, I had installed a transmission cooler for the engine. I had packed tools, spare oil, transmission fluid, and fan belts for the car, and extra jacks and spare wheel bearings for the camper in case we had any emergencies.  The two seats in what we called “the back-back” of the station wagon faced each other, so I built a small wooden table to fit in that space where the kids could sit and read or play games when they got bored with the scenery.

 

 

 

 

 

My wife loaded the camper with all the creature comforts we could think of, including our fresh water tank filled with the best drinking water anywhere.  Finally, all was ready, so we arranged for a neighbor boy to take care of our dog and off we went.

 

 

 

A Boy, A Cave and Secrets.

8 Aug

 

A Slice of Life

 Bill Lites

 

When I was 16, I was 6’0”, weighed 125 lb, and knew all there was to know about life, and so, was ready for any life challenge that came along.  My mentor at the time was an 18-year-old Air Force brat that was bored and as rebellious as the day was long.  When I wasn’t working, I followed him around everywhere he went.  We both had small motorcycles, so transportation was not a problem.  The other kids in our following came and went, but the two of us stuck together in everything.

One day my mentor said, “I know a really neat place we can go exploring up in the foothills outside of town.”  He polled the others that were hanging around his house with us that day and everyone thought it would be a lot of fun.  So, the five of us piled on our motorcycles and headed out of town.  It only took us about thirty minutes to get to our destination, the entrance to the old deserted mine opening, on the side of one of the foothills. 

 

Of course, my mentor had been there before and knew all about this deserted mineshaft.  So, with flashlights in hand, we set off to explore the dark hole in the ground.  At first, the shaft angled down at about a 5 to 10 degree slope, and was big enough that we only had to bend over slightly to make progress.  The further down we went, the angle steeped, and the shaft grew smaller, until we had to get down on our hands and knees to make any progress.  We crawled along like this for some time until we came to a caved-in area where we had to lay down on our bellies to squeeze through the opening.  Now I’m not normally claustrophobic, but that was very scary for me.  I guess I’d seen too many tunnel cave-in movies not to think, “I might just get caught in a cave-in here and now.”  But, I just held my breath and squeezed through.  About 100 feet beyond that tight spot, the shaft opened up into a large cave about 50 feet wide, 25 feet high and filled with water.  And there on the edge of the water was a raft.  What a surprise!  Only two of us could get on the raft at a time, and we took turns paddling around for a while getting wet in the process.

All this time, I had this niggling feeling in the pit of my stomach that we need to get out of here while we can before that shaft caves in again.  But, of course, I said nothing, because I didn’t want to embarrass myself.  After we tired of splashing around in that dirty water, we headed back up the shaft toward daylight.  I was relieved to get past that caved-in area and to finally make our way to the shaft entrance.

I thought later, “Well, I got out of that alive, and this is one venture my folks don’t ever need to know about.”  And, they never did. What kind of things did your folks never know about you?

 

If I climb to the sky, you’re there!  If I go underground, you’re there.

Psalm 139:8  (The Message)

 

It’s All About Fishing

7 Mar

Today I was tweet chatting with my friend; author Regina Puckett about being an outdoor person. I like the outdoors and she prefers to view it through a window. It turns out both our fathers loved fishing.  Coincidentally, earlier in the day I was tweet chatting with another author friend, Charles Dougherty about fishing. All this fish talk made me very nostalgic.

In our house, Friday night was not movie night or pizza night or staying up late night, it was fishing night. We lived about 60 miles from the east coast of Florida and after work my parents would load the car with poles, tackle, and sandwiches and off we went. We usually ended up at Mather’s bridge in Eau Gallie or the pier in Titusville.  We used a lantern dropped down over the water to draw the fish to the surface. It was thrilling to watch the trout swirl and dive under the light. I would hold my breath hoping one of them, preferably the big one would decide to rise to the surface and smack my bait with a pop.

Isn’t that kind of like being an Indie author? You dream and write and work to be published hoping that one day someone really big will rise to the top and pop your book with a great contract?

Hopefully the big fish will come, but until then I like my fish rolled in cornmeal with a little flour, fried in bacon grease on a Coleman stove right there on the water. Right Charles?

Check out my favorite Indie author Rebekah Lyn’s Summer Storms

Kindle Edition

Like Rebekah Lyn on Facebook

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You might like to follow my friends @ReginaPuckett and @clrdougherty on Twitter.

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