Today, I'd like to tell you a little about me. You know from my bio that I'm married, the mother of six, grandmother of 14 (my newest born August 30th) and great grandmother. I'm also the 2nd youngest of six children. Guess I took after my mom in that department. Funny, Mom had 3 boys and 3 girls, in that order. I had 3 girls and 3 boys, in that order.
Of course they're all grown up now, with children of their own (obviously) and one with a grandchild (also, obviously).
So what was it like growing up in a family that size. I can only answer one word - interesting. Most of the time it was fun and I have fond memories of my childhood. When my dad came home from work, we all rushed to get his lunch box. Well the three of us girls did, by the time I figured out Dad always brought home something left over, my brothers were past that stage. Often times it was an apple. We ran out to the car and offered to carry it in for him. Whoever got there first ususally got the treat. But to be fair, Mom cut it in three, so we each got some. But it was still a big deal to carry that lunch box in for him. On Fridays after work, (pay day) Dad usually stopped at the bakery and brought home fresh Italian bread - still warm from the oven. Mom brought out the butter and we feasted on fresh baked bread and butter. I'm not quite sure why that was such a treat, because Mom baked bread quite often. Bread and all sorts of other goodies. Mom was an excellent baker.
On Mondays - wash day (every day had a schedule of chores) I used to help Mom do the laundry. She had a wringer washer and one of my jobs was to make sure the clothes didn't wrap around the wringer from the other side. Mom fed them in and I guided them down to the rinse water in the stationary tub. Once the were rinsed (in two tubs) and wrung out, I helpd Mom hang them - we didn't have a dryer. If it was warm, we hung them outside. I still love the smell of sheets straight from the clothes line when they were hung outdoors.
In the summer, almost every night, when Dad came home, Mom had the picnic basket packed and while Dad cleaned up, we loaded it and the cooler into the car. Families didn't cookout back then. We didn't get a grill until I was about 12. That ended the picnics at the park. Kind of sad if you think about it. Families did so much moreback then.
Anyway, back to my childhood. Holidays were also a big thing. Memorial Day - which now kicks off summer, used to be called Decoration Day - It was a day to remember loved ones who passed on. Families went to the cemetery and cleaned up the headstones and put flowers on the graves. Of course, we honored the veterans who died in the service also. That's what originated the holiday.
Fourth of July was also a fun holiday. Family picnics and time spent with loved ones was always fun. Coming from such a large family, most days were like a celebration, but on those special occasions, we got together with aunts and uncles to celebrate. Of course fireworks were always fun.
Labor Day - which ended the summer - we usually spent on a picnic at the park.
Halloween - as most kids, we trick or treated, usually in homemade or hand me down costumes.
Speaking of hand me downs - naturally I got my sister's clothes and shoes, which didn't bother me too much. For special occasions like Christmas and Easter, we all got new clothes. I remember one particular year, Mom bought my older sister and me identical shoes- what we called wedgies. Back then only old ladies (if you consider 40 or 50 old) wore wedgies. We hated them. So, my brilliant sister told my mom after a few weeks, hers were too small. Off to the store they went to get a new pair of shoes. Well, darn, that sounded like an excellent plan. So I waited a few days and told Mom mine were too small too. Wouldn't you know it, she pulled my sister's shoes out of the closet and told me to wear them. I didn't think that was too fair, but hey, that's how things were back then.
So on to the next holiday - which is Thanksgiving, of course. I think Thanksgiving and Christmas were always my favorite holidays. Still are matter of fact.
For us Thanksgiving started out the Christmas season. The day after Thanksgiving, Mom started baking Christmas cookies. Back then people visited during the holidays - even during the week - especially before we had TV. We didn't get a TV until I was about 11, maybe 12. The first one we got, the screen was only about 8 inches square, no, I think it was round. Anyay, people didn't sit in front of their TVs back then like they do now. We played games and visited and listened to the radio.
So during the holiday season, we had many visitors. Mom and Dad both came from large families and neighbors were close and visited often, too.
We always put our Christmas tree up early - around the 6th of December. Neighbors hated that we did that, but Mom spent a lot of time decorating and setiting up a village under the tree with caves and bridges and lights. It took several days to do all of this. So her philosophy was - if you're going to do all that work, why not enjoy it for more than a week.
I forgot to mention Thanksgiving dinner was alternated between my uncle (Mom's brother) and his family and us. Christmas Eve dinner - we had a traditional dinner every year - was always at our house with my uncle and his family and Christmas dinner was always at my uncle's. We were especially close to my mother's brother and his family. They had four kids - 3 boys and 1 girl - and we got along famously. Well, for the most part we did. But let's face it - in any family (mine included) - there's always disagreements and arguments. Ours was no different.
New Years Eve and New Years was always fun too. Again, we usually got together with my uncle and his family. Sometimes friends of the family joined us, especially on our picnics.
My sister, cousin (who was born between my sister and me so was both our friend) spent nights together in the summer. Friends of the family had a daughter (much older than us) and two sons - our ages. Well, my sister and cousin were sweet on the older boy - I liked the younger one so there wasn't any competition. They formed this great plan. The place we picnicked at - Lagoon - had a lake. Sometimes, we were allowed to go off on our own if there was a group of us. Of course, it was up to my older brothers to keep an eye on us, but usually they left us to our own devices. So, my sister and cousin devised this plan to fall into the lake and see which one the boy they liked would save. Crazy plan, now that I think of it. Unfortunately, the friends didn't come on the picnic with us that summer, so they never got to put it into action.
Well, I can go on on and on with memories, but then this blog will be so long, no one will want to read it.
Some day, I'm going to write my memoirs for my kids. In fact, I've written a few stories already.
If you want to know more about me, check out my website - http://www.roseannedowell.com/ .
My book, Double the Trouble will be released with MuseIt Up Publishing in March 2011 https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore2/
Here's an unedited excerpt.
“Where’s Emma?” The tall, blond, muscular man yelled, before Kate had a chance to ask if she could help him.
Kate didn’t like his tone or the deep scowl that caused his eyebrows to almost meet above his icy blue eyes. “Excuse me.” Who did he think he was stomping in here like this? She took a step toward him.
“She’s supposed to be at the church for rehearsal. And don’t tell me she’s not here, her car’s in the parking lot. Why is she hiding out? Does she have cold feet?”
Kate pushed a strand of hair behind her ears, took a deep breath and counted to ten. She couldn’t lash out. This was a potential customer, although at that moment, she didn’t think she’d want to sell him anything, but no use riling him up more than he was.
“I’m sorry, Mr...” She paused to let him fill in the blank. Surely this wasn’t Emma’s fiancé. He didn’t act anything like the way Emma described Doug Johnson.
The man didn’t answer, just glared at her.
Something about him struck her. Attractive, self-assured. Something else. Something tugged at her heart. A feeling she hadn’t felt in a long time. She ignored it.
Okay, that went nowhere. “Emma left almost...” Kate looked at her watch, “well over an hour ago. But she left her car keys.” Kate took the keys from the desk drawer and held them out to him, but quickly drew them back.
She didn’t know who he was, and his attitude left a lot to be desired. Kate wasn’t about to give the keys to a complete stranger. Besides how did she know if Emma’s car was really in the parking lot? “Excuse me, Mr....” This time she refused to continue until he told her who he was.
He glared at her for a minute. “What do you mean she left? Her car’s still in the lot. And why do you have her keys.” He reached out to grab them but Kate put her hand behind her back and gripped them tight.
He stared at her
Kate shrugged. No way was she giving this man more information. She gripped the keys tighter and folded her arms across her chest and stared back at him, matching him glare for glare.
Did he think he was the only one who could stare? How dare he come into her shop and accuse her of hiding Emma? That’s just plain ridiculous.
The stranger took a deep breath. Obviously he realized anger and yelling weren’t getting him anywhere. Not that she cared much what he thought. She wasn’t saying another word until he told her who he was. She could stare just as long as him. She’d learned stubbornness a long time ago.
He spread his hands out in front of him, sort of an ‘I surrender’ mode. His eyes softened to a dusty blue. He blew out a breath.
“Okay, I’m sorry. Let’s start over, shall we? I’m Mark Westfield, Emma’s brother.” He extended his hand to her, but Kate ignored it. “She’s supposed to be at church for rehearsal and hasn’t shown up. I’ve retraced her steps, and no one has seen her. I saw her car in your lot.” He put his hand down at his side.
“This may sound like a strange request, Mr. Westfield, but may I see some identification?”
He looked at her as if she asked him to undress. “Yes, ID. I don’t know you from Adam, how do I know you’re telling me the truth?”
“Fair enough.” His lips moved just enough to hint at a smile.
He took out his wallet and handed her his driver’s license.
Kate stared from him to the license. Not bad looking, same fair coloring as Emma. Mark Westfield – 37. Just a few years older than me. Now what made her think that? She shrugged off the thought.
“Okay.” She handed it back to him. “Emma was here about an hour or so ago, like I said. She paid for the flowers and left, said she had a lot to do. After she left I found the keys. By the time I got out to the parking lot, she was gone. I figured she had another set or someone picked her up. Her car’s still out there, you said?”
Mark ran his fingers through his short cropped blond hair and paced in front of her desk. “I don’t understand it. If she left her keys and her car’s still here what happened to her? Doug’s at the church beside himself with worry that she stood him up.”
“I’m pretty sure she didn’t do that. She was all excited this afternoon. Couldn’t wait. Maybe a friend picked her up?”
“Most of her friends are in the wedding. Hell, the rest of them are at rehearsal. No, I can’t think of anyone. Besides, it’s not like Emma to leave her car and go with someone. She might have followed them and met them somewhere. No.... That’s not like her at all.”
“Could she have walked someplace nearby, bakery, dry cleaners, bank?” Even if she had, she wouldn’t have been gone an hour. A shiver ran up Kate’s spine. “I think we should call the police.”
“Call the police? Are you nuts? I can hear it now. Bride disappears two days before wedding, family panics. You know they’ll say she had cold feet.”
The phone rang and Kate went to answer it.
What the hell was going on here? Why did she have Emma’s keys? He didn’t like this. Didn’t like the look on her face either. Like she was better than him. Something just wasn’t right but he couldn’t put his finger on it.
Mark studied her while she was on the phone. Not bad looking, but in a cocky sort of way. Something about the way she held herself reeked self-confidence. Okay, so she owned her own business so what. He had the sudden urge to push back the loose strand of hair back from her face.
Damn, he had to get a grip. And damn if she didn’t have a temper. Her voice matched the cold look on her face. It almost sent a shiver down his spine. Not that he blamed her. He had been a bit overbearing, storming in her accusing her of hiding Emma.
Not bad looking. Kind of pretty, actually. Her hazel eyes, flecked with gold, almost looked firey when she stared him down. Her cheeks turned red, probably from anger, and her sandy brown hair was pulled back in a ponytail, but there was something about her. He kind of liked the way she stood there back straight, one hand on her hip while she waited for his name. A no nonsense kind of woman. Reminded him a bit of Dora. Not that they looked anything alike, Dora was striking with her alabaster complexion, platinum blond hair, and emerald green eyes. Maybe it was her attitude.
God, where was Emma? Something didn’t feel right. If she wasn’t hiding out here, hadn’t got cold feet. He didn’t like this. Still calling the police was a bit over-kill. This woman’s beautiful, but missing something in the brain department. Call the police, right.