Tag Archives: children

The Mouse In The House

Seems as though every family has a special word or phrase that they use as code to bring a smile to everyone’s face.  Usually the phrase comes from some event that occurred during the routine of life but made everyone laugh a lot at what some family member did or said.   It could be as simple as “I’ll have ketchup with that” or anything that recalls that silly or humorous event.  Like when your brother asked for ketchup and then when he hit the bottle with his hand the top cap fell off and he got a bottle of ketchup in his lap.  It passed down into family lore and simply repeating the phrase years later will make all the family smile and it will be used anything goes wrong, even without a ketchup bottle in sight.

I started using a phrase decades ago that didn’t recall a specific event but rather a circumstance.  It started with my own children and then carried over to all my grandchildren.  When our guys were little, say less than 10 and I would come home and here them running around the house doing their kid things I would often cry out “There’s a mouse in my house” or some variation of that phrase like “I hear a mouse in my house”.  I did it because usually I would hear them long before I saw their little smiles with those small baby teeth gleaming through.  I got lots of responses from “I am not a mouse” to “its me”.   But playing that little game always meant a lot to me.

It meant so much that when the grandchildren came along I would do the same thing whether they were at my house or we had gone to visit the grandchildren at their homes.  Papa more often than not would enter the abode with the sing-song cry about the mouse in the house.  It constantly made my heart light and happy when I would get a response either verbally or see one of those smiling little faces peek around at me.   They knew when they heard that phrase that old grand dad was there.

We still have several grand kids that are small enough that I can play the game with them but they now live pretty far away so the chances for it are much smaller than they used to be but I still look forward to  being able to play that game every chance I get for the next few years.  Won’t be very long and the youngest  will all be teenagers . But heck I might continue to do it even then just to irritate them and make my own heart lighter.   It was almost a daily thing for the longest time and when they all lived nearby it was certainly a regular feature of each visit.   I liked it being my trademark intro and greeting.

If you have a mouse in the house cherish every moment of that time.  The first puff of smoke from the campfire is thick and very visible but turn away for just seconds and then look back and it is gone.  You are blessed and privileged to have a mouse in your house.  Sometimes I can hear the sound of small running feet or the tiny screams and giggles of those mice I had in the house even though they are only the memories of times past but they still seem so real.   The echos of those sounds resonate in the memory chamber with a clarity formed from the happiest of times.  Your mouse is so special, may your have the wisdom to see that.

“Never take anything for granted”  Ben Disraeli, British 19th century PM.  olcranky.wordpress.com

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Moving On

That title is certainly not to be confused with MoveOn.org.  This isn’t about politics but rather family and home.   After almost forty years of living in the same home the child bride and I moved in the last month or so.   You’ve no doubt heard that a move is one of the more difficult events in life to absorb and endure.  Of course age and time in location make a huge difference.  When we were young and more or less carefree we moved several times as is common with the youth.  When we were first married we moved into our one bedroom apartment near Stephens Park golf course and then moved within two years to another apartment that had two bedrooms so I would have one for my studies during law school.  After that in my last year of law school we moved when the bride was pregnant with our first child.

We were looking for a house because we anticipated my graduation and real employment as an attorney in short order.   Due to the impending birth and graduation we had to delay the actual home purchase a few months and so everything went into storage and we lived out of our suitcases for a while.  First for two months with my in-laws and then the last month before my daugout ohter’s birth with my folks.  Indeed we were there when she was born.  Not fun living out of the suitcases.  Then we immediately moved into our new house in Garland but that was followed almost immediately with my firing for asking for a 50 cent an hour raise.

So we packed up and moved again to Santa Fe as that was the only place I could find a job quickly and I needed one quickly; there were three mouths to feed.  We moved, I took the bar exam and picked out our rent house all in one week  and spent two of those days at the hospital with our daughter who had dehydrated terribly.  After six months in the provinces we moved back to civilization in Dallas and into another house in Garland.  Whew, we got to stay there for about two and half years and then moved to a really nice place that my Dad built for us.  Cost 21,000 which seemed huge at the time.   Stayed there for about three years until the last move to University Park where we remained until this spring.

All those early moves you note were when we were in our 20’s and young, healthy and full of ambition.  The moves were tiring but each felt like we were moving up and doing better for our family.  Those moves were merely tiring physically but there wasn’t any deep emotional bond to those locations.

By the time we got to University Park we had five of the kiddos and then the last was born there. That is the home they think of when they recall their childhood and it is where we have the memories of birthdays, Christmases and first days of school and neighborhood activities, our church life and all those thousands of sports events we attended.  That is where the kids all had their first crushes on someone and where we endured the lumps of life and also were blessed with the many joys a large rambunctious family brings.    I could drive home from work without even thinking about the route; it was ingrained in my brain.  That house was far more than shelter it was a hive of memories and emotions for both of us.  During forty years you can accumulate a lot of stuff.  Some is just truly junk but you have a memory associated with it and some came from family now in heaven and you can’t trash them.

The current move was very hard physically because there was so much to lift, pack, tote and re-position.  The hard part was the internal feeling of abandoning an old friend and finally having to make those choices about what had to be tossed even after you had given away as much as you could endure.    All those tossed items had been important at one time or another for an event or emotion associated with it or you wouldn’t have kept them in the first place.   I had the feeling of running out on a duty owed to that house because it had been so good to my family for decades.   It will be razed to make way for a new house.

So now it is time to begin making new memories and attachments. We’re in a nice neighborhood.  Everything in much newer here and for the most part everything works and I don’t have to constantly fix everything.  We are very fortunate that we are within driving distance to the kids still living in the area.   The yard will be nice; the little lady has already worked hard putting in our her flowers and garden to add color and we’ve planted a peach tree and the Red Maple comes next week.    Our loyal dog and I get to make our run/walk each morning along a creek bed and see the sights  and wildlife.  Now, the trick is to live long enough to build that new treasure chest of memories with family.  Some of the grandchildren might remember this as their grandparents home and I sure want to insure that they are given that opportunity and more importantly that they feel love and and a sense of joy when they are here.  It can never replace the old memories but if we do our part maybe it will be the reservoir of new memories, life the fresh blooms and leaves of new spring.

“When the state is corrupt then the laws are most multiplied”  Tacitus, Roman orator.  Ponder that as you contemplate our current Federal Registry and US Code and Statutes.  olcranky.wordpress.com

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2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

Let’s reach into the lottery ball container and see what we can pull out for rumination or amusement…..

Notice that Datsun is going for a comeback with an ultra cheap care.  It will sell in the  3k to 5k range and is directed to the third world market.  It is a car with all the basics but eliminates those electric windows, electric seats, minimal air bags, etc.  Hmm, with our economy continuing to head south one can’t help but wonder if they might want to consider selling a few of those in the USA.  For getting around town for routine errands it beats a Vespa and sure is economical to operate.  Give them some cutesy distinctive paint jobs and there is as segment that would take pride in flaunting their down-sizing life or some would just appreciate the cheap transportation.   There might be a bigger market here than they think.

Is there any worse feeling in the whole world than when you cause an injury to your own child?  If you have raised kids then you know what I mean.  Sooner or later when you are tired or distracted for just that couple of seconds you will do something that hurts your child.  It could be as simple as not noticing them when you are mad and slam that door to the laundry room without noticing that they are ankle-biting their way right behind you.  I did it a couple of times.  Once my second daughter was getting out of the car along with her three brothers and sisters and Mom pregnant with number 5 on the way, we were tired and wanting to get in the house.  I shut the car door and heard her cry.  I had shut in on her hand, her fingers were caught in the door jam.   Thankfully, there were no broken bones, her little fingers were so small that she only had a really bad bruise.  But I had a huge bruise on my heart.   Had could I have been so careless?  Once I also made my oldest son wait much longer than necessary when he fell on the tennis court and cut his chin.  He wailed. I went over and checked but didn’t see any blood and calmed him and told him to sit still and we continued our tennis.  He kept crying really loud and I went back and looked closer.  There was a huge gash just under his chin and obviously needed stitches; it was bleeding, strange but true.  Why didn’t I look closer the first time.  We did get him to the ER right away for those stitches.  Even after 40 years you can still feel that sinking feeling of being the worst parent in the world.

Maybe you noticed that another solar panel outfit with Dept. of Energy loans just filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy ( a liquidation process).  It had recently renegotiated its 465 million dollar loan with the Feds.  It publicly blamed unfair competition from the Chinese for its failure but an internal memo indicated it might have been, er, a faulty product.  It said that their panels worked just fine except in sunlight!

How can Bernancke stand there and lie through his teeth that the Fed’s buying new Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities is not “printing” money nor enabling the Feds from continuing the deficits and running up the national debt?  Does Ben have a secret room at the Fed with Trillions of dollars just lying around for him to use that the rest of us Hoi Polloi don’t know about?   Yeah, it is technically true they don’t “print” the money, they just hit the keystrokes on the computer.   This to the tune of at least 40 billion per month, forever apparently.  What is really deplorable is that the business press and media will not call him out on it.   Make him explain where the money comes from that he uses to buy all those instruments.  From the thin air of the Fed Wizard of Oz machine is where.   Oh, and by the way, the revised numbers show that in the last year the Fed bought 77% of all those new Treasury bills, notes and bonds.   Not that many folks wanting to loan us money any more, at least not at the current ridiculously low rates of interest.

Because of the dangerous world we live in with the threats from Islamist terrorists I urge you to read just a little of the history of the early days of the Prophet.   There are ample sources available to you.  For a Prophet of peace he sure engaged in lots of warfare and battles with those who opposed his message.  Yes, he won over some very devoted and fanatic followers but he also subdued many, many more with brute force.  It wasn’t the message that won over most of the people it was the sword of Islam.  Please don’t take my word for it, read just an hour or two of his and Islam early history.

Rather than debates on TV I really wish the modern way of our Presidential candidates to present their arguments, positions and policies was with written essays if you will.  You know as well as I do that these modern campaigns are all about appearance, sound bites and platitudes to appeal to the base and the frankly uniformed.  I would much prefer if each candidate would issues thoughtful and meaty essays on the various issues of the day.  Take tax matters for example, wouldn’t we all be better off if each candidate wrote a really long, 5000 words or so, piece on his view of what tax policy should be.  I am fine with him having as many aides, experts and whoever helping him write the article.  It would be so much more detailed and it would be in writing.  He could only change it with a really good explanation.  Sure they would nuance their words and try to be as vague as they could on lots of points but they couldn’t get by with nearly the flippancy now that is used to cover important topics of the day.  They could do the same thing foreign policy, Immigration, judicial appointments, national security, etc.  We would be so much more informed and have a better idea of what would happen under the administration of each of them.  Those articles could be published in the newspapers, online, etc.  They would have to be thoughtful, precise and forthcoming.  Boy, I wish that could become the new tradition in Presidential campaigning.    They should have all their written pieces published by the time of the conventions and then debate which written and detailed approach is best for the future.  Ah, but then they slew Socrates.

“fanaticism obliterates the feelings of humanity.”  E. Gibbon, English Historian extraordinaire.   http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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The Old Neighborhood–II

When I was in elementary school I would come home and begin the real enjoyable part of my day.   School was fun sometimes but like most kids I was more eager to do what I wanted rather than having to do as instructed by the teacher.  I would almost always have my homework done before I left school.   There was allocated time to study.  Lots of kids goofed off during the period but I used it to do my school work so I would be free in the afternoon.   It was only about a six block walk from school to home but me and my best friend would always make it take as long as we could, exploring and just looking to see what was happening in the neighborhood.  Mom of course knew exactly when we got out and she knew how long it should take us to make that short walk home. 

Mom would allow for a little bit of leeway on our walk but not much.  If I was more than about 10 minutes late she would be on the porch waiting.  That was not a good thing.  That meant she would be on my case for being late and she might restrict me to the house.   If the weather was warm enough I always wanted to be outside until dinner time.   I didn’t like having to stay in the house after school except to watch a few special things on TV.   I would carry my books to my room I shared with my brother.  We didn’t have backpacks or even satchels of any kind that I remember.  We just carried our books.  Today all the kids have backpacks.  I can’t really remember when that became the standard.  I guess they started doing that 20 or 30 years ago.  When I was in school only the nerds had satchels or briefcases for their books.   I guess they were ahead of their time.

If I had to stay inside because of the weather or mom was making me do it, I would watch a little TV.  There were the special shows like Howdy Dowdy and Mickey Mouse and local shows just for kids in the afternoon.  They were live shows with a small audience of local kids.  There wasn’t anything like the kids channels today on cable.  There were no electronic games of any kind but we had toys but mostly we liked to go outside.

I was lucky to have a few guy pals on my block so on most days I could always find someone to play with.  My best friend lived only a few houses down the block and we would hook up together to do something.  There was always the bike we could ride.  Mom had a pretty restrictive route we could take.  We weren’t allowed to get more than a few blocks from home on the bikes.  From the time I was 5 or 6 until I started driving a car I always had a bike and rode it almost every day at least a little while.  We particularly liked riding in the alleys because you never knew what you might come across and in the spring and early summer there was always fruit trees you could stop and plunder–peaches, apples, crab apples, pears and even figs.  I didn’t like the figs but it was fun to “steal” them from the limbs hanging over the back fences.

When we weren’t on our bikes we would be playing football or even throwing the baseball around some.  Mostly we played football.  We would play a game of punt.  You would kick the ball and try to back up your opponent as far as you could with the kick. He would catch and do the same trying to make you back up.  The one that could make the other move all the way back to the corner of the street was the winner.   We also played lots of tin can hockey in the street.  Just used and old tin can and whatever sticks we could find and smash away with them to propel the can.  The curbs were the out-of-bounds and we would sit up goals with whatever came to hand.   Sure got a lot of bruised shins doing that game.

Climbing trees was another favorite pastime.  It was fun to get up there and “hide” from everyone.  Of course the moms knew where we were.  My mom actually was pretty good about it although she didn’t like us to go too high.   Naturally we were always pushing the limits of what “too high” was.  It was fun to be up there and pretend you were a soldier or cowboy waiting in ambush on the bad guys.  This was only a few years after the War so we were constantly battling the Japs and Nazis.  To get to sneak up there with your BB gun was the best.  Then you could shoot sparrows or other critters that came along.  Grasshoppers and frogs made as good a target as anything else.  As a last resort there was always each other.   I can report though that those were always just threats and never put into action.  Sometime we would a toy soldier figures on the ground below the tree in what we considered battle formation and then go up into the tree to shoot back down at them pretending our BB hits were an artillery barrage.  We would do this until we knocked down all of them and the jeeps and artillery with them–or until Mom called us in for dinner.

We always ate dinner together.  I liked Dad coming home every day.  There was something very comforting I suppose about him being there and being so dependable.  I loved listening to his tales of his workday. That was probably strange in that age but I did.  Mom never had to worry about me ruining my eyes with an electronic game or video only from reading too much in her estimation.   It was not a complicated life but it seemed good at the time and in hindsight seems even better.

“Say not, Why were the former days better than these? For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.”  Ecclesiastes  www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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The Old Neighborhood–II

When we moved to Cascade I was about 9, I was starting the third grade.  Dad had worked really hard fixing the place up for Mom, working every evening and on the weekends to make the upgrades for her.  It even had a chimney and a hearth in the living room but it was a fake one.  But it looked homey.  Except Mom insisted on putting plants in the fireplace hearth which took away from the look in my opinion.  That house became the place I always thought of as my childhood home.

That block and the whole neighborhood was filled with kids and interesting characters.  The Church we attended was only a three block walk from home so that made it easy for Sunday church.  It was a true neighborhood church, small and all locals. My Sunday school teacher for the next several years was a man who had been in the war like so many.  He had been shot by a Jap machine gun that stitched across his belly and chest.  Of course, we guys thought that was really something.  You tend to listen to a man who has been through something like that.  We lived in that house for about 6 years.  That was where I finished elementary school and started to jr. high.

Next door was the Windoms.  The brothers were a lot older and quite nerdy but they did interesting things and had fun stuff.  They were both very active in Scouts and the outdoors.  They had their garage walls covered with old license plates.  In those days you got a new license plate every year and some folks would take the old ones and nail them to the garage wall as a memento.  They had them going back to the early ’30’s.  They made their own bow and arrows from scratch.   They caught an injured owl one time and nursed it back to health.  It bit the devil out of the older brother.  He had a big bandage on his hand for a couple of weeks.  Then they let it go.  Their grandfather was very old school.  He wore a white Panama hat with bolo tie and shirt every day and spent lots of time sitting on the front porch.  Sometimes he would tell us kids stories of the old west and Dallas from the pioneer days.  He was very old then, in his nineties.  We loved hearing the story of how his dad and some others had a gun battle with  Comanches just outside Dallas after the War Between The States.  Lots of shots but only a wound from and arrow and an Indian wounded by gunfire.  Then each side went its separate way.  It was fascinating to hear him tell about the first time he heard someone had flown in a machine and that cars would be replacing horses and buggies.

Next door was the neighbor with the boy who was retarded.  It was sad.  I remember being sad every time I would think about him.  He had a sister who went to school with one of my cousins.  Across the street was a fellow named Perry.  He was also quite a bit older but he had lots of memorabilia his older brother brought back from the War.  He would show us occasionally some of the things.  A German helmet, a knife, some German insignia, belt and other things.   Naturally all us guys thought that was pretty cool.   Billy lived two house down. He was smallish for his age but a good athlete.  He ended up playing tailback for Sunset which was a pretty big deal at the time.  Next was Jimmy, who was  member of the DeMolay, the youth group for Masons.  My dad became a Mason while we were living on Cascade.  Jimmy was also pretty nerdy but he tried hard to be one of the guys.  He just wasn’t much of an athlete.  But he played pretty good chess.  I played with him often and the Windom brothers next door.  I have no idea why I was interested at such a young age. I beat the younger Windom brother regularly which bugged him no end.  He gave me a book on Chess strategy which I actually did read. Guess I was pretty nerdy too.

Up and the corner of Cascade and Pioneer was my best childhood friend, David.  He was always tall and gangly.  He was a good egg.  Not very agile but he did play football with me and continued to play until his junior year in high school.   We spent hours together goofing around and being guys.  When the weather was nice we would always be outside doing lord only knows what.  Late in the day when Dad was home and it was time for dinner my Dad would come to our front porch and whistle.  He could whistle really loud.  That was the signal for me to come home and eat.  There were no excuses.  I was expected to be close enough to hear it.  You could hear it easy if the wind wasn’t blowing a block away.   Of course I often said it didn’t hear it right away.  

We played lots of stick hockey in the street with old tree limbs and tin cans for a puck.  Hours were spent throwing and kicking the football in the street.   This is where we lived when I got my first car and began working in the summers at the water plant.  This is where I learned to drive and was allowed to drive to the 7/11 by myself when I was only 13 but I had to park without crossing Edgefield which was considered a busy street by Mom.  I was really young and had no license of course but they trusted me.   I even got to drive the car to the school dance when I was in the 7th grade that spring.  It wasn’t very far but man did I feel like a big shot.  To be continued…..

If total government control and central planning of the economy is the best formula for success one wonder why the Soviets aren’t King of the Mountain, with their people living off the fat of the land and happy as clams.  We know how that story ended though don’t  we.   http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com


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Some Weeks Are Tougher Than Others

When I reflect back sometimes on the adventures in life I wonder where I got the physical energy to do some of the things I did.  The very thought of them these days makes me exhausted.  I suppose it has something to do with be young and full of spit and vinergar.  My last semester in law school I had a job as a clerk and thought I would have a position there upon graduation.  I was graduating a little early because I had attended classes year round in order to get out and start making some money.  We had a first daughter that last semester and had bought a small and modest tract house in the suburbs. Weird to realize that our car payment then was more than the house payment.  I got fired because I asked for a 50 cent an hour raise that fall and the big boss after approving it when I asked decided that somehow I tricked him into granting me that raise.  I took the first job I could find which turned out to be in Santa Fe, NM.  I didn’t have the luxury of being picky and it was a pretty place. 

So, I graduated from law school in December of ’66 without a job and grim prospects.   I felt lucky to have landed the job in NM.  At that time there weren’t a lot of positions for young lawyers.  I worked part time as a clerk and we were fortunate to sell the house and broke even on the deal.  That was a huge burden off my back.  Thank you again Lord.   Then there was the bar exam which was scheduled for the first of March and the move to NM for the new job.  I couldn’t afford to take a bar exam preparation course.  I wish I could have.   Almost all my buddies for law school did it.  I studied as best I could at home with the new baby and between the work.  It was far from an ideal situation and it worried me but that was the way it was.  I didn’t have the $300.00 for the course.  In those days the bar exam was only given twice a year and only in Austin regardless of your domicile.  I went there with a couple of buddies the weekend before and crammed all weekend.   The exam was Monday through Wednesday and lasted all day each day.   The circumstances of the exam are another tale entirely.  We finished the exam on Wednesday afternoon and I drove home that night and was glad to see the wife and baby and was exhausted.  Slept  that night like the dead.

The next day we were up early and spent the entire day packing and loading the truck for the move to Santa Fe.  That was tiring.  We went to my brother in law’s for a dinner that night.  Right after dinner we hit the road.  We had a Karman Ghia at that time.  Fun car but not very practical.  Our daughter slept most of the way in the back on the shelf there.  They are very small.   I drove all night.  It was a thirteen hour drive and we arrived early Friday morning.   We checked into a cheap motel and slept only a couple of hours because we had to find a rent house.  I was to start work the next week.  We finally find a place that afternoon and did all the paper work.  Our truck with our things was due to arrive the next day and we had to have someplace.  The timing and pressure was very tight.   Around dinner time our daughter starting throwing up and had diarrhea.  She was dehydrating quickly and badly.   We had to take her to the hospital and called a doctor we did not know naturally.  He was recommended by the motel staff.   She was there all night hooked up to IV’s and cried without letup.  She was wrapped in towels and blocked into position with sand bags.  There was no sleep that night in the hospital.  Thankfully she was alright the next morning and we were able to leave but naturally worried as young parents.  The cost was a whole other worry for me.  

We made it back just in time to get out of the motel and then over to the new rent house to meet the truck.  We spent the day unloading the truck and moving everything into the house.  We didn’t get every box unloaded but we got the kitchen done, the bedrooms set up and the bathrooms organized.  We worked quite late into the night.   I got a little sleep.  I was too tired to sleep and had worries on my mind.

You see the next morning at 8 am I had to be at the Supreme Court for the NM bar exam.  I took two bar exams back to back from one week to the next.   Needless to say I had not studied one lick for the NM exam.  I was not exactly in the best mood for taking a bar exam.   We were still worried about our daughter and there was everything to do at the house to finish the move.  Well, ready or not those folks started the bar exam right on time.   It also took three days but it did finish at noon on Wednesday.  I really don’t remember sleeping Monday or Tuesday night, I guess I did, I do remember thinking that I should take every moment I could to study some but there was still all that work at the house to get it organized.  I finished the exam and then waited along with everyone else at a local pub for the results.  NM gave the results the same day you finished.  Of course there were only about 20 of us taking it because NM is so small.  They graded strictly on a pass fail method and the results were posted late in the afternoon.  I passed.  I wouldn’t know the results from Texas for a couple of months.  They were much slower.

The next morning, Thursday, was my first day due at work at my new position.  I was going with the State Highway Commission on the legal staff.  I am not making this up.  The headline in the Santa Fe Journal that morning read “Two Highway Commissioners Indicted for Fraud” .  That was my new employer.  Boy what a great start.  We moved back after 6 months.  I did pass the Texas bar and learned of that in May.  I guess I ate lots of vegetables and took my vitamins to make it past all that.  I would hate to try and repeat those two weeks again.    www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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From the Memory Cupboard

Especially when times are a bit anxious it is such a relief for me to go back a bit and recall some of the times that brought  joy into my life.  Everyone now is concerned with the Market situation and the on again/off again bailout, but we all have had those times and moments we shared with those we love; those memories are truly what makes life have its meaning, purpose and happiness. The struggles with job and finances will always have its cycles and you better not  count on that for your happiness and fulfillment in life or you are destined for lots of worries and heartache along your journey.  Family is not only a refuge it is horn of plenty when it comes to happiness.

Daughter number three came along when I was still quite young and working hard to make my way in the world as an associate with a small but very good firm.   At that time we only had one car.  Hard to imagine that today isn’t it.  When number three arrived my wife was using a wagon for running errands around the neighborhood and for her shopping for small items during the day.   Fortunately the grocery store was only a few blocks away.   We had a small but decent home in a decent neighborhood when she came and she slept with us for the first year like they all did.   She got to ride in the wagon everytime of course.  Her older sisters had to trudge sometimes if the room was tight or they were fighting too much over the space.   I would do the big shopping run on the weekends to help out.  The one car we had was a Volkswagen bug, blue and white.   We managed to move to another house that my dad built for us on the other side of town.  It had some steep stairs to the study below.  It was a split level house.   She was only at 2 when we moved there.   My wife insisted I install one of those gates on the doorway to downstairs to prevent her from taking a dive down the stairs.  I knew we would always have our hands full when it wasn’t long at all before she was trying to climb over it or figure out how to unlock it.  With help from her older sisters of course.

She had a knack for picking the clothes or toys that would become her talismans or favorites.   I remember her devotion to Stretch Henderson  a little doll-like figure that you could stretch this way and that.  She carried that sucker everywhere for at least a couple of years.   She was a pretty good baby though and not colicky like her oldest sister.   She had a beaming smile that always made it hard to tell her no even when that was best and as an ankle-biter she developed the art of bargaining and negotiating to get her  way on matters.   That should have been a real clue she would have a strong and independent personality.    Her other favorite was her red cowboy boots.  I mean she wore them all the time,even to bed sometimes,  and literally wore them out.   No matter how she was dressed she wanted to have the boots whether  we were going to Church or Sunday dinner out.   They were definitely her trademark.   When she was a bit older she was the first one to have a “boyfriend” when she was about 13 and we didn’t know how to deal with that.   It was harmless of course but as a dad I wasn’t ready for that.   She was a heck of a soccer player.  They all were pretty good.  She had that intimidation factor though.  She could be relentless and fearless and often the other team’s players would back off of her.   One way or another when the time came I managed to get a car for all of them at 16.  She wanted a jeep!  Now I ask you how many teenagers want a jeep but that was her request so like an idiot I got one.  It was a hard top.  The kind where you can put the top on or remove it and go topless (the jeep dodo, not the girl).  I was assured it was easy to remove and replace.  Yeah,  right. You had to undo several bolts and and then lift it off.  It was heavy and awkard to move.  It really needed two people to do it.  But you can imagine how much help I got.   Inevitably she was busy or whatever and I did it by myself.  I would have to bend down very low and lift the thing on my back the walk and climb up over the end of the jeep and place it and then attach all the bolts.  Naturally, it seemed every time we took it off then rain would come and it had to be replaced within a day or so.   I about wore myself out doing that.  But it was a good vehicle and served her well for several years.  She did make quite the statement I will admit pulling up in  her jeep with friends in tow and her hair flowing.   She was tough on the outside but to this day has one of the most tender and caring hearts.

I only wish you can have such memories if you are still raising your family or if they are gone then that you have your own recollections of children that assuage the sometimes frightening footsteps of passing time.   Believe it or not there are still three more to cover and that will happen.

God Bless and vaya con dios.

I remember the bicentennial celebration in 1976 with all the kids.  It was a wonderful holiday and of course many special events occured to mark the occasion.  They were all still young but even they realized that it was different.  It was my most fun 4th ever.  I still remember watching all those tall ships and other sailing craft moving about New York harbor on TV and the fireworks were the best ever.

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