100

That’s a number we often associate with a perfect score on a test or a high speed on the Interstate. But rarely does someone make it to their 100th birthday.

My Mom would have been 100 today.

She was born in the small town of Jenks, OK, in 1922 following the tragic death of her brother in 1920. Her only living brother was 11 years old at the time and was angry she wasn’t a boy. I can only imagine the heartache he suffered losing his little brother and best friend at such a young age.

The family moved to Florida when she was just 9 months old. Citrus groves were a hot, new investment for farmers and my grandfather and great-grandfather took the bait.

They arrived with the whole family including two cows and a horse by train. Once here they planted 32 acres of trees that produced a healthy crop for decades.

We have been in Florida ever since, but the orange groves are long gone.

It was a sad time in our family when the 32 acres of citrus trees we had were killed in the double freezes of 1983 and 1984. Only one tree survived due to it’s location; it was next to the irrigation pump that kept the tree just warm enough to save the roots of the tree.

My grandfather had installed that pump and it felt like part of him saved the lone tree for us to have its fruit. He passed away when I was 4 and my only memories of him are his pipe, the way he teased me and his delicious creamed corn.

My Mom sold the 12 acres of dead trees in town for the city to build a public park complete with ball fields, picnic pavilions, a massive playground and boardwalk through the bald cypress trees to the lake.

The other 20 acres she replanted with tangerine and tangelo trees alongside the one lone original tree. It stood like the grandfather of the grove making sure the young trees grew healthy and strong.

They did grow well, and we loved harvesting the early fruit that ripened just in time for Thanksgiving each year. We would pick as many as we could and gave them as gifts to friends at Christmas.

Those days are gone. My Mom was unable to afford to keep it, since the cost to harvest the fruit was more than the price she’d make selling it.

I’m sad to say the grove is now a subdivision in the sprawling hills of Clermont. The only memory of our family is the name of the road—It still bears my grandfather’s last name, Oswalt Road.

My Mom and I vowed to never drive out there again. A promise I’ve kept even after she took her last breath in 2012.

Happy 100th birthday in Heaven, Mom. I miss you. 💯🥰

My Christmases Past

It was an annual event in our home. It happened every summer, but it’s focus was Christmas.

My Dad was a pharmacist and owned his own drug store with everything imaginable for our seasoned shoppers.

There was a jewelry department—with costume jewelry, 14k gold options and sterling silver. They were displayed neatly on velvet lined trays that rotated around the glass case much like a Ferris wheel. Push one button to rotate forward, another to rotate backward. I loved looking at every shiny piece.

We also sold perfume, sunglasses, greeting cards, toys and of course drugs for anything that ailed you.

My favorite was the toy aisle, which is why I had a significant role in our annual summer event.

My parents purchased merchandise for our shelves from The Allen Drug Company. An independently owned drugstore distributor.

Every summer they put on a “wholesale only” trade show for retailers to select what they wanted to make available to their customers for the upcoming holiday shopping season.

My Dad invited me to come and help them purchase toys that kids my age would want. As payment for my expert opinion I was allowed to choose one toy for me.

It was a child’s dream come true.

Some now nostalgic toys that were new to me then:

  • Slinky
  • Gyro wheel
  • Clackers
  • Silly Putty
  • Weaving loom
  • Etch-A-Sketch
  • Lite Brite
  • Easy Bake Oven
  • And so.much.more

My dad also raffled off a giant toy and candy-filled stocking every year to one lucky child.

As a pre-teen I enjoyed gift-wrapping the items our customers purchased, a free service. We had a giant roll of red striped paper on a steel cutting wheel that worked much like a roll of aluminum foil does today.

We had a new contraption that made bows in no time. With lots of ribbon choices, each gift was a unique work of art. I loved creasing the corners and taping the gift perfectly. I still enjoy wrapping gifts today as much as I did then.

Remembering my Christmases past has been a delight to behold. What memories do you have of Christmases past?

Misunderstood

Our blogging prompt was to share a song lyric that means something to me.

There are too many to even begin to share, so I decided on a twist. I’m sharing the song lyrics I misunderstood as a kid and only recently discovered the correct words. I must admit this is embarrassing, but it’s understandable. I was attached to my record player as a pre-teen. I listened faithfully to Casey Kasem’s Top 40 list every Saturday. Once I heard the #1 song for that week I would get on my bike and ride it to the Five and Dime store (T.G. & Y.) to buy the 45 rpm before it sold out.

Music was my companion and my 10 year old friend’s companion too.

I remember us turning around in circles to the EP version of In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida by Iron Butterfly. Why? Because we were kids and we had nothing better to do. I had a crush on Davy Jones of The Monkees and loved his British accent. My BFF loved Mike Nesmith and his beanie hat. Life was simple for us.

You have to realize we didn’t have Google in the 70’s. If we misunderstood a song lyric, the only way to find out the correct words was to buy the album where the lyrics were printed on the paper sleeve inside the cover. I didn’t have that kind of money, so I improvised, often at the top of my lungs I’m afraid to admit.

I gave my older brother, (who was a huge tease and my biggest nemesis), lots of material to mock me. And mock he did! I can laugh about it now, but as a ten year old I was humiliated more times that I can count.

Songs with lyrics I misunderstood:

  • “Hold me close I’m tired of dancin…” by Elton John is actually titled, Tiny Dancer, and was released in 1971. The line really says, “Hold me close, tiny dancer.”
  • “Blinded by the light. Wrapped up like a douche…” by Bruce Springsteen originally, but this version of Blinded By The Light was recorded by Manfred Mann in 1976. The line actually says, “…revved up like a deuce…” A deuce coupe more specifically. A fancy way to describe a sports car.
  • “I’ll light the fire. You place the flowers in the bras that you bought today.” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Our House was released in 1970. The song has nothing to do with putting flowers in a bra. Haha! As a pre-teen I had never heard the word vase pronounced with an “ahh” sound. The song makes more sense as written, “I’ll light the fire. You place the flowers in the vase that you bought today.” And finally one more…
  • “Had a F-___ing nightmare, and a little thunder.” I almost didn’t share this one, but this will probably garner the most laughter from you. I know it would have from my brother. Yeah, I really thought that’s what this line said from Steppenwolf’s, Born To Be Wild released in 1968. I have never been one to cuss, so I would always skip this line. I could never understand how the radio station back then was allowed to broadcast such language. It never occurred to me I might have misunderstood the lyrics. The song actually says, “I like smoke and lighting, heavy metal thunder, Racing with the wind, And the feeling that I’m under.” How in the world I came up with those lyrics instead I’ll never know. But I’m grateful to be able to sing the entire song now if I so choose. And with a clear conscience.

I’m curious. Did you ever misunderstand the lyrics to a song? I’d love to hear your embarrassing story–I promise not to mock you. But I might laugh. We can all use some laughter these days.

Speaking of laughter, check out this video I found on You Tube from The Holderness Family. Apparently I’m not the only one who has done this. These are hilarious!

This is post #13 in The Ultimate Blog Challenge to post everyday in November.

Photo by Eric Krull on Unsplash

A Conscience Cracked

Photo from qz.com

The year was 1968. I was 9 and loved my new obsession. They were the hot new gadget that every kid collected. They came in every color imaginable and they were addicting like the finger widgets of today.

Clackers, for those too young to know, were clear, marble-type balls made of tempered glass, they hung one on each end of a string with a loop in the middle. The idea was to clack them together up and down over and over to see how long you could continue without the balls clacking your wrists.

As Forest Gump would say, “Stupid is as stupid does.” I was stupid and had the bruises to prove it. I was trying a new trick—throwing them up in the air and trying to catch them.

My parents had just purchased a brand-new Pontiac. It was parked in our driveway; a trophy my parents’ hard work had earned. It was shiny and new like my clackers, only the glass on its windshield wasn’t shatterproof.

My dad came home for his dinner break from the store and was obviously upset. He told my Mom about a huge crack in the windshield of their beautiful trophy. He suggested to my Mom that a rock must have shattered it from the road.

I had a hard time finishing my dinner. My conscience was cracked.

“A guilty conscience needs no accuser.”

English Proverb