Monday, January 30, 2006

My California friend and I were talking long distance. We are both struggling with co-dependency. Our respective families are mired in co-dependency. We are assigned roles to play in the family, for the sake of the family structure...but crippling to the person assigned the role. Nobody gets to be them self. Their feelings are dismissed as not important. When a co-dependent needs emotional nuturing, that's when the family crushes them. A perceived weakness is an opportunity for others to strike out against. Any one who speaks the truth about the elephant in the livingroom, becomes a threat to the system. That person is punished by others in the system that are not ready to face their true situation. They are still in escape behaviors, or isolation, or mute dispare, acting out behavior, role playing....anything but being genuine. If you don't like the message, kill the messenger. I was the messenger telling the truth.
I knew something was wrong with the way my family was living, but did not know what it was. The search for an answer started a life long quest. In high school, I studied psychology, abnormal psychology. Nope. None of the models fit my family. the unhappiness, a thirst un-named continued. In college, I studied Human Development and Child Development, in order to not repeat the mistakes my family made with me and my sister. I desperately wanted to be a good parent to my two daughters, saving them experiences similar to my own childhood.
Then I saw John Bradshaw on television and the truth was revealed to me. I will be a co-dependent the rest of my life, but I don't have to act like one. I see the pattern operating in other people and that is my best defense. My life is a climb out of this hole into healthy functioning.
Part of my quest to not be snared into co-dependency relationships, is a search for healthy people. People who are themselves. People who can relate to others in a cooperative manner.
They are very rare. When I find them, they are the treasures in my life. They are the models I try to immitate. Their presence in my life gives me hope.
Don't mis-read this. My search is not limited to a certain economic level, or just to my race. My search is not limited by age or gender. I find these lovely, delightful people in many different situations. I recognize them, because their light shines through. I recognize them by the words that come out of their mouth, the decisions they've made along life's path followed by good action. They are competent and as complete as life on earth will allow. Let your light shine.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Time passes and I am older. Dad and Mom have sold the summer cottage, to my great disappointment. We're too old to continue to sleep 3 in a bed on our road trips. We're teenagers. Dad requests a cottage at a State park and gets a reservation. As usual, my mother refuses to come along. We stayed at this state park for at least the next 5 year's vacations, until I no longer vacationed with my sister and my dad. It's a little log cabin in a colony at the water's edge. We all have our own bedroom. I'm the designated cook. It is my pleasure. I must have fried something one night for dinner. The grease got saved in a bowl that I put on the edge of the sink.
In the morning, standing at the sink, I look at the grease. It has perfectly preserved foot prints in it. We're not alone in the cabin. Our visitor is a chipmunk.
We found him outside, busy filling his cheekpouches with seeds and berries. We watched him as He disappeared into his borrow underground. Dad explained that animals spend a lot of time maintaining their homes. Watch. he placed a pebble over the entrance to the borrow. The next morning, the pebble was rolled away. We placed a bigger pebble over the hole. The following day, it was rolled away too. The final test: a rock. The next morning, it was still there. Dad said that the rock was too heavy for the chipmunk. he is now using another entrance to his borrow. Dad removed the rock from the borrow's front entrance before We walked away.
We walked all over the colony, enjoying the sunshine and warm weather. One area was a bog. It had a walkway across it. The three of us walked on the path. Dad said He thought there were bull frogs in the bog. Do you know that bull frogs like to sing? Watch. Dad started to sing in as low a bass as he could. What do you know! The frogs joined in. It was wonderful. Of course, the surprise concert sent the two girls into fits of giggles, which made all the frogs go silent. We could not get them to sing again.
Walking away from the frog pond, We approached the entrance to the swim area. There was lots of dry grass with seed plumes on them. Looking at the grass, Dad spied a little Fowler Toad looking at us. The toad was enjoying the sunshine, too. Dad picked a stem of grass with a tassle on it. he tickled the toad. The toad backed up. I swear, he glared at dad. If the toad could talk, he would have said, "Don't do that!" Dad tickled him again. Same reaction of backing up a little.
Dad teased him with the grass again. This time, the little toad snapped at the tassle and hung on. We were so surprised, that Dad held the grass up with the toad suspended at the end of it. We had a "toadcicle". He (toad) would not let go. Peals of girlish laughter again, with peals of adult father laughter added.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

When sister and I were in elementary school, We vacationed every year with Dad. Mom would never come. She declined the family road trip. Dad and the two kids would get into his plymouth 2 door and take off for a week, maybe two weeks. We rode to see the countryside. How lucky I am to have seen, "verse by the side of the road"...Burma Shave signs. We would watch for them and read each line as We drove past it. We counted cows, watched for tourist attractions. There was no air conditioning in our car, so We drove with the windows open. Sometimes, Dad would stop for soft custard. If We were driving in the right direction, We would come to Mables Maple Grove just about the time We wanted to stop. Dad would sign us in. The grove consisted of individual cabins, no windows, just screening over a window opening. The communal bathroom was at the end of the row. We stood in line to use the facilities.
Before turning in for the night, Dad sprayed the room with FLIT...a mosquito spray that probably contained DDT...a chemical now banned. As Dad worked the lever in and out, the gun made a sound,"flit, flit, flit". The place stunk of mosquito spray, but if We did not spray, We would get eaten alive by mosquitos. The room contained a double bed and a chair. No phone. No radio. All three of us would share the same bed, Dad in the middle.
If it was early enough, daughters and Dad would go to the recreation area to socialize with the other guests. There were swings and slides. There were games, but pieces were always missing. Croquet without mallets, puzzles with missing pieces. We would mess around until it got dark. Then it was time for bed. I was very careful to stay away from the office, because Mable had a big yellow light on. It drew big monster bugs. I was scared that one would land on me. Dad said they were June bugs. I didn't care what month they claimed as their own. Just stay away from me.
One of our favorite tourist stops was at "Petrified Creatures"...another fossil experience. The man that ran this exhibit was very good, I see in retrospect. He gave an excellent talk on the evolution of creatures from the sea to land, from fish to reptile to mammel. We stopped on several trips. Little girls have to have souviners. My favorite was a box made from cedar. It smelled good. It had a picture on the top. This box was good for holding little treasures.
We also liked amusement parks. We would eat junk food until We got sick riding rides that jiggled us up and down. I liked the "Laugh In The Dark", but got scared when the Ferris Wheel stopped at the top and swung back and forth. I thought I would fall out, hanging on for dear life.
We went to the top of White Face Mountain, swam in State Parks, enjoyed looking at farms, We drove to the Adirondack Mountains and saw the thousand islands and Niagara Falls on different trips. Sometimes Dad visited relatives on his side of the family. Wish I could recall their names. We slept in their house and ate at their table. In the morning, We drove home.
Very pastoral. Very domestic. It hardly mattered where We went or how much money We spent. Very little was spent. What was important was We had our Dad's attention and time.
Not all childhood memories , exploring my world, took place at Bayview. There were city experiences as well. What kind of a toddler was I? Apparently one on her own. These are family stories from when I was little. Mom had painted the kitchen. She took down the curtains to paint the woodwork. The curtain rods were available to my curious hands. I took them and swung them around, hitting the freshly painted cabinet doors. I banged and banged. Such fun!!! Mom said the dents were still in the doors at the time the house was sold....years later.
Free to wander around, I spyed some beautiful flowers that I knew my mother would like. So, I picked them and gave them to her. The phone rang. It was the lady next door. I had picked her tulips.
It must have been a boring day, wandering around the house. I opened the refrigerator door, just looking . I found...BACON! Such a greasy texture. So floppy. What can a little child do with bacon? Why, go into the bathroom, stand in the bathtub and slap the bacon on the wallpaper over the bathtub. Look at the marks I made!!!
A favorite thing in babyhood, was my walker. We lived on the second floor. I walked all over the apartment in my walker. Suddenly, the ground around me gave way. I was falling downstairs in my walker. The surprise knocked the wind out of my lungs. My parents failed to block the top of the stairs and I had fallen down the flight of stairs. My mouth was bloody. The fall knocked out my front tooth and damaged the "bud" of the second tooth that was growing in my jaw. Years later, when the permanent tooth came in, it came in damaged and distorted. I remember this experience and I remember my mother yelling at my father that it was his fault. Was it?
One thing that Mom did right, was to make sure that I had memorized my phone number and address. One day, wandering around the city, I turned a corner and then could not remember how to get back. What shall I do? I went up to the nearest house and gave my phone number to the lady , asked her to call my Mom to come and get me. Mom came to get me and praised me for remembering my phone number.
Looking back, I am thinking of my innocent, childish behavior. As an adult, I see a different picture. My parents were not very good at supervising their child.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Travel is wonderful. I get to see other cultures, other climates, meet people. What a revelation to discover that the sun shines in winter and the air is other places outside my home town in the snowbelt. To excape the cold and damp, just hop a plane.
My travel memories from childhood are two-fold: The ones that include my mother and the ones that were exclusively with my father.
Before He was married, my father had a cottage south of Buffalo New York . He married my mother and had two daughters. We would spend the summer at the lake. This was heaven to two little girls who lived in their bathing suits all summer. I asked my aunt,"How old was I when I learned to swim?" She said I about three. As soon as the sun came up, I would put on my bathing suit and head for the water. It was shallow at the shore. I could go into the water, or just explore the shore. We had a shale beach. It was my Dad who showed me that the shale contained fossils...little shells from pre-history. I turned over rocks, like I turned over coal in the coal bin, looking for fossils. Some of the fossils came free from their matrix. I saved them in a Box. I could also make marks with the shale, scratching one piece with another piece. The beach was my drawing board.
My mother never swam. I never saw her in a bathing suit, ever. It was my father that took me to the shore, showed me how to hold my breath, told me my lungs were like a balloon. As long as I held air in my lungs, I would always come to the surface. My first swimming lesson was learning to float and to hold air in my lungs. I would take a big breath and hold it. I relaxed in the water, sometimes closing my eyes. My legs would drift downward, but my head was always above water. The sun was warm on my face. I could turn over, float face down and still stay at the top of the water. Any time I needed air, I just turned over. It was like effort at all. Water never held fear for me. Later I learn to flail away with arms and legs and make myself move through the water. I would lie at water's edge, let the waves come in and move me back and forth. If too much sand got into my suit, I would rinse off in deeper water. If I had to pee....... who needs to go home to go to the bathroom?
There was a farmer who came through the vacation colony with produce on his truck. We bought corn that was fresh picked that morning. If my Dad was working at the Police Department, Mom and her daughters would make a feast of corn. She would spread newspapers over the kitchen table. In the center, sat a one pound bar of butter and the salt shaker.
When the corn was done, it was placed on the newspaper. (Mom had shucked the corn before cooking). Sometimes, there would be a worm at the top of the ear...a sure sign the corn was grown organic. We just cut the worm off. We would pick up an ear and roll it over the bar of butter, then salt it. We had corn, butter and salt all over our faces and between our teeth. It was the best tasting corn I've ever eaten. That experience has never been repeated. I am now too inhibited to make a messy face and get the spaces between my teeth filled with corn.. When We were done, Mom would roll up the corn cobs and drippings into the newspaper and throw it all dishes to wash. Just children's faces to wash. I've tried buying corn at the grocery store or at a farmer's market. It's not the same. I can't tell if the corn has changed (it has) or if my taste buds have changed (they have.) As an adult, I've developed an allergy to corn. Bummer.
About the fourth of July, We would buy a whole watermelen. The two of us would be given slices of watermelen and told to go outside. We ate watermelen and spit the seeds out anywhere. We walked around with pink dribbles on our stomachs. The teenagers next door had another trick with watermelen. They would cut a small circle out of the top of the melen...or several curcles. I watched as they poured gin or rum into the circles, then replace the plugs. They would keep doing that until they run out of rum . Then they sliced their watermelen and ate it. I never got any.
Dad's cottage was in a colony that ran between the water's edge and the colony road. It was almost like being fenced in. I could wander everywhere. They let me. I wandered in my neighbor's houses. They tolerated this. I can draw you the floor plans of my neighbor's cottages. You can learn a lot about how other people live by being a tot wandering in. Today, nobody visits without an arranged appointment.
One day, I wandered the farthest. There were tiger lilies at the side of the with dots of black at their throats. Across the road, I saw people picking strawberries. It was a beautiful day in June. To my four year old mind, these people had the best job in the world..out in the sun, picking strawberries warm from the sun. I suddenly knew what I wanted to do when I grew up. (I must have been asked that question by a kind grown up.) I ran home shouting to Mom and Dad," Momma, I know what I want to be when I grow up." What is that? "I want to be a berry picker." ( A Migrant Worker)
I don't think my mother enjoyed summer at the beach. She complained a lot about the work. She canned tomatoes and peaches, I remember. She had a long time friend who ran a bar with her husband. Mom and Dad would visit. My sister and I would get a big mug of root beer and a wonderful sandwich: roast beef on kimmelwick. The salt was strong enough to cauterize the roof of my mouth. I loved them. To this day, they're the best sandwhich.
When I was smaller before the root beer experience, my mother canned peaches and visited her girlfriend at the bar. My sister wasn't born yet, so I had to be under two years of age. Mom left me in the back seat. On the floor , was those golden canned peaches....looking at me through their glass jar. I wanted some of those peaches. I picked and picked, trying to open a jar. I don't know how it happened, but the jars broke. When my mother returned, she found her 2 year old eating peaches on the car's back seat, picking out peaches between shards of broken glass.
I remember things from before I could talk. I remember my diaper was uncomfortable. I squirmed and could not get comfortable. My mother was trying to feed me. I just cried. My father came to see what was the matter. My mother said, "I don't know what's the matter with her." He suggested that perhaps my diaper needed to be changed. He was right. I understood everything about my parent's conversation, but could not talk to them. I got my diaper changed and rewarded my parents with a smile and a much better disposition.
On another day, I woke from a nap in my carriage. My mother saw the carriage jiggle with the baby's movements and came to pick me up. All is right with the world.
Mom and Dad loved the fourth of July. We would go to where the fireworks were. My sister and I would sit on the hood of the car and watch the fireworks. We ate the traditional hot dogs, soda , potato salad and ice cream on a stick. The fireworks were so loud, that I was temporarily deaf, I thought. I couldn't hear very well . I learned in elementary school, that nature has a protective device for our ears, protecting them from damage from loud noises. Two bones disengage, dampening the sound. That's why I couldn't hear well during the fireworks. When the loud noises are gone, the bones in the middle ear make contact again. Hearing restored.
I was put to bed before the sun went down. I had a crib. My sister was born. She had her own crib. My crib was against the window. I wasn't sleepy. I could play in my crib, watching the sun go down, listening to the lap, lap, lap of the waves. It was a quiet loud lawnmowers or boom boxes in those days. What a wonderful memory of going to sleep with those sensory experiences: the sound of waves, the fire in the sky, dipping to the horizon. There was an even better sensory experience: Across the bay was the end of a rail line, associated with the steel smelting industry. I would watch from my crib as a coal car would reach the end of the line across the bay. The car would tip out hot cinders left from steel smelting. They would pour into the bay. It was a river of flame dumped into the water. .hot own private volcano experience...just like you see on TV. Years later, as a Safety Engineer, I discussed this experience with my college professor. I felt the steel industry was polluting the water...was it? The answer was no. All the metal was smelted out. Only the tailings were discarded...just cinders. No harm done.
Most of my experiences at the lake are centered around my mother, for my father was working back in the city. Such wonderful memories because it was always summer. I remember sitting on a blanket as a baby. I had on a baby bonnet. For some reason, I became attached to it, like children do sometimes. I became attached to the bonnet, to a pacifier made from mother of pearl. I fell in love with a tree in our front yard....figure that one out. I outgrew the bonnet and pacifier, but never forgot my attachment to them. The tree is still there.
We had a furious summer rainstorm with lightning. Sometimes it hailed. My mother bid me come to the front door, which was opened. The screen door was between me and the rain. Mom said how exciting to see the nature display. All that thunder ment the angels were bowling. The lightning ment a strike. When ever it rains hard, I go to the door or window to enjoy the show, remember the bowling league in the sky. I was never afraid of thunder or lightning. Later Dad told me about electrical charges and how to judge how far away the lightning was. After the storm, I would go outside and look at the worms that came out of the ground to not drown. Sometimes, I went outside in the rain in my bathing suit.
Dad loved boats. We always had a boat. Not a big boat, just an outboard motor attached to a boat less than 20 feet in length. Dad would take the two daughters out on the boat. Mom never went. I watched him maintain the boat, learned about the Devil Line, hemp, Kapoc. I mostly remember the smell of oil and gasoline and the mildew smell of the life preservers.
One time, Dad has a canoe. He put his daughters in the canoe but He did not get in himself. We were in water no deeper than waist height. Dad watched to see what We would do in a canoe by ourselves. We started to drift away from our father. We were scared the situation was getting out of control. Where did We think We would go, with out father less than 10 feet from us? Probably down the river and over the falls. Crying brought a conclusion to the canoe experience.
One summer night, in my crib again, I felt the center of my mattress slump. I tried to avoid the low spot, moving to the side or to the top of the mattress. It was no use. the center of my bed slumped lower and lower. It broke out in the middle. I could not find a comfortable spot to sleep in. I was found in this predicament the following morning. Apparently, I wasn't the first baby to use this crib and mattress. It got peed on so many times, it rotted out, fell apart. That day, my parents went shopping and I was moved to my first real bed...a twin bed of my own.
Those were wonderful summers, filled with falling asleep in a hamock in our front yard, climbing the neighbor's cherry tree, picking blackberries and eating them right away (no washing ) spying a wood pecker, enjoying the endless parade of visitors that came to the cottage, as my parent's friends had no cottage of their own. (We were city people.) I was a dirty child in a bathing suit, sunburned nose, no shoes on, spending a dime at the hot dog stand for a creamcycle or bottle of pop. How glorious.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

I am not a baby boomer. I was born in that demographical trough before the baby boomers. I missed the big population surge because my father was too old to be drafted during world war 2. Besides, He had a job with security implications. ...the then version of Homeland Security. He was exempt.
I walked to a neighborhood school . I walked home for lunch and back again in the afternoon. So did all the kids . There was no such thing as bussing. They never closed the school for snow days. We walked in blizzards because We were properly dressed in snow suits and walked on sidewalks, safe from vehicular traffic.
You guys, you baby boomers, overshadow my age group. There are relatively few of us. We are know as the "silent generation". When I meet someone from my group, I feel like I found a long lost friend. The other person feels the same way.
TV talks about society preparing for the influx of babyboomers into retirement....their need for medical care, nursing homes, retirement plans...and so forth. Well you guys, my generation did all that without government help, without a road We did all our lives. Not complaining, just reporting proudly of our accomplishments.
We operate in silence and efficiently, without much help except our two hands and use of our brain. ..because that was expected of us, without encouragement, without emotional support. This point of view developed in us, a strong character focused on the goal no matter the hardships in the way. We persevere. We were taught to think ahead and to prepare for the next step. There was no impulse buying, no putting a purchase on a credit card.
Demographically, We are described as finishing what We start. We are obedient to authority. We tell the truth, even if that results in receiving a punishment for a transgression. (My mother praised me for always telling the truth. It took a while to learn to not always tell the truth outside the a few licks for telling the truth in business.) In the business world, We do a good job. What I never mastered, was the art of being entertaining at the same time, to stay visible to the bosses. This failure cost me. That's another story.
We save our money, stay faithful to our spouse, drive safely. We believe in marriage and not having children before marriage. We were expected to reach beyond the accomplishments of our parents. We were expected to be better educated than our parents. We were. Mostly, We worked through college. Our parents did not give us a free college education. We did not get a free car from then, either.
We did not mutilate our bodies with tatoos or piercings. How can one improve on God's perfection?...that engineering marvel we call our bodies?
Because We learned to live simply during world war two, We are thrifty. During the war, We saved and recycled metal. Most of us are great recyclers to this day. Use once and throw out is foreign to our nature. Over packaged foods and goods are frustrating to us, members of the silent generation. It represents a big waste of raw materials and increased cost for the food or other purchased goods.
Purchasing clothes means looking for classics, not the latest style. I wear my classic clothes until they are faded, or until I put on weight so I can't wear them any more. I regretfully acknowledge that all of us change shape as We age. There is no sense in having a large wardrobe when the clothes can't be worn until worn out. Those clothes get recycled. Why would perfectly good clothes be thrown out? I spent a lot less on clothes than many of my neighbors. Because I am an art major, I make few mistakes in style, so my clothes look good on me. My clothes don't make me look younger, they just fit well. My closet is pared down.
One of the things I've had to adjust to is the demise of the dress , white gloves, hats, clip earrings, pastel spring coat. If they were still available in stores, I would not be able to purchase them because, now retired, I am mostly in jeans. I watched day time television one day to survey what the audience was wearing. The audience looked slovenly to me. They were wearing what I would wear in the privacy of my livingroom...not out in public. There was not one suit or dress in the entire audience. Ditto for the TV program that followed. Fashion has taken a downturn . We're slobs.
My time is spent getting dirty, down on my hands and knees in the garden. Inside, I am painting walls, washing dirt away windows and floors. We're a "do it yourself generation". We work and sweat.
Can't do that in a pretty dress. Come to think of it, my mother and the women of her generation did...along with wearing corsets, even on hot summer days. Is fashion going forward, backward or downwards?
It was my intention to write about family vacation, but I got off on a tangent. Family vacations will wait for another day.
It's Tuesday...the day I drive for my neighbor. His truck is down for the winter. Since He lives across the street from me, it is easy for us to go grocery shopping together. This wonderful neighbor is responsible for me receiving a gift of a Hammond Organ ...for free
After our groceries are in the backof the truck, He asks if We can go to the nearest piano store. He's given away a second organ to my tenant. (He has a third one at home.) He remembered the piano store had free hand outs that teach how to play a keyboard. He wanted one to give to my tenant, the recipient of organ number two. Sure. At the store, I made a bee-line to the back of the store where the organs are displayed. I turned on the BIG organ and played the simple tune that was on the music stand. The salesman comes over to tell me I am playing an organ that costs $80,000.
My remark was guessing it would be purchased by a church. He said negative. It will go into a private residence . Boy, am I behind the times. Technology has improved to the point where these electronic instruments practically play themselves. Since my organ playing days, manufacturers have added all sorts of bells and whistles. There they are, on the console. I don't have a clue what they do.
Neighbor and salesman discuss my Hammond. Salesman says the only older models that are worth any money are the model Bs..because they are a jazz organ. Mine isn't one of those. Its a simple spinet....more than 50 years old.
In that case, my old Hammond isn't worth more than $200. I paid more than that to have it moved....and next week, the organ repair man is coming, charging me $150 just to put his foot in the door. I and neighbor agree that there are other values, other than money. I will restore this organ for the pleasure of playing a Hammond again. Besides, neighbor wants to hear me play.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Hi Colin. Welcome to Melba Street. I am intrigued by your offer, but at the moment, too darn busy with selling a house, renovations on another, Mom's probate and A.'s situation living with me. Glad We're friends.

Talking about your father got me thinking about my father. I lost him in 1985. Daughters are close to their fathers. I am no exception. I remember him spending time in the basement a lot. He was an amateur radio operator with a ham shack in the basement. He was a real radio pioneer...involved in radio when radio was the latest thing, like computers are today. I see him grinding a crystal for his crystal set. "What are you doing, Dad?" He explains that the crystal vibrates at different frequencies depending upon how thick it is. He was getting it to vibrate at a certain frequency so He could listen to another ham station. His call letters were W2KZ. I made him a stuffed pig (ham) with his call letters embroidered on its belly. It hung on the ham shack door til the day He died.
Another day, He is filing a piece of metal at his work bench. "What are you doing, Dad?" I forgot what he was doing, but He showed me a trick with the metal filings. He put them on a piece of paper , then moved a magnet back and forth under the paper. The filings moved around. He explained about positive and negative magnetic fields. I could see the lines of force by watching the metal filings move around. A favorite toy was 2 scottie dogs. One was black and the other one was white. They were magnatized. By turning one dog around, the other dog would chase, or repel. I understood magnatism.
On another day, Dad was again at the workbench. He was winding copper wire over a bakelite cylinder. "What are you doing, Dad?" He explained about electrical current makes a magnetic field. He was making an electrical magnet. He explained that anything made of ferris metal put into the opening in the field, would become magnetic. He put his knife blade into the bakelite cylinder while the wires had current. The knife came back magnetized. Great for picking up little nuts and bolts that fall to the floor....and if a magnet begins to lose its power, it can be recharged by putting it into the electrical magnetic field...then good as new. Oh, never put your watch in an electrical magnetic field. You don't want to find out why.
I came into the hamshack and a big movie projector was there. It was surplus from someplace. ...and old movie theatre that had closed down, I think. Dad had purchased it, along with a lot of old movies. He showed me the film with all the images on them, each frame just a little different than the one before. When We look quickly at a stream of film, it seems the images are moving. He showed me a big wheel that rotated in front of the light. It was a solid wheel with a square cut out. Dad explained that the wheel is syncronized with the film. It goes around . The opening allows only one frame of the picture to receive the light, from behind ,to be projected on the screen in front. It goes around again and only the next frame is illuminated. He explained that in this way, We don't see the bars between each image .If the film is feeding slowly, there is a sensation of flickering, caused by the on-off of the solid old time silent movies.
Dad is shoveling coal into our furnace. "What are you doing , Dad?" My father takes me into the coal bin. He explains about plant material that is millions of years old. Coal is frozen sunlight. The plants used photosynthesis to grow and reproduce. When they die, if they don't rot, they are packed down and over time, are converted into coal. When We burn the coal, We release the energy of the sun, converting it into heat for our house. He said that sometimes We can find images of the plants on the coal if We look. I stayed in the coal bin for the rest of the day and YES!!! There they were.....images of ferns on the face of coal. How come no one told me how filthy dirty I was when I finally came back upstairs? I had coal dust in my hair, coal dust everywhere. I must have looked like a coal miner.
On another day, Dad is upstairs setting up a slide projector and screen. He was an amateur astronomer. He put a slide into the projector. The picture was black with dots of light all over. Dad explained that when the slide was taken, it was thought the dots were stars. We have better telescopes now that show those dots are really galaxies. WOW! Imagine the countless number of stars that make up one galaxy. Imagine a slice of heaven filled with countless galaxies. I felt my brain expand.
On a sunny day, Dad takes his telescope out to the back yard. He fastens a piece of paper just below the eyepiece. He focuses on the sun. I am warned never to look at the sun. Look only at the image on the paper. I see the surface of the sun on the paper, swarming with motion. I see black spots. Dad charts the sunspots. He sets up the telescope for many days in a row to chart the movement of the sunspots. Science in school is no match for what I am learning at home.
Learning about static electricity wasn't much fun. Dad would shuffle his feet on the wool carpet in our dry house. He would then touch me. Sparks would fly from his fingertip to me. I would get zapped. He thought this was great fun. I didn't. I quickly learned what a "ground" was for.
One weekend, it was really raining. The kids could not go outside and play. We were restless. Dad set up the movie projector, hung a sheet from the ceiling and called all the neighborhood kids in. We watched all those old movies that day. I saw Tom Mix, Hector the Pup on the Steel Pier in New Jersey. I saw Felix the cat, Our Gang, Kay Keiser and His College of Musical Knowledge. I watched Will Rogers do rope tricks. We saw each movie several times over the next few years. Then one day, Dad asked himself why am I keeping all this old stuff around? He sold it. I was so sorry.
When Dad was busy in the ham shack, He didn't want to come upstairs for a phone call. He got a phone and hooked it up himself. He would plug in the jack and make his phone call. When finished, He would unplug the jack, because the phone was illegal. Then one day, a man from the telephone company came to our door. He went downstairs and took Dad's illegal phone. All phones were owned by the phone company in those days. Dad explained they must have traced an electrical surge when He made a call. Spoilsport.
Being a ham operator wasn't Dad's profession. He was a Police officer. He worked in communications...manned the board and did repairs. Dad never socialized with other Police officers outside work. I never found out why. On a warm sunny day, a good day to take a walk, My mother suggested that I walk to Delaware Park where Police Radio was located. I loved to visit my Dad at work. First, there was that huge console with its flashing lights. I never heard him say what I heard in the movies," Calling all cars. Calling all cars. Be on the lookout for....." Mostly He sat around and fooled around with the other guys in the station. I was fascinated by their bottle of water. It burped when I drew water. There weren't any paper cups available, just circles of paper. Dad showed me how to fold them into a cone to hold the water. I drank a lot of water just to see the bottle burp and to hold the paper cone of water.
On the walls, were old black and white photos of auto accidents. The photos came from the Model T Ford era. There were Model Ts standing upright after hitting a telephone pole. There were accident photos of men thrown from the car. Without seat belts, the driver ended up on top of a utlity pole. The more grusome the photos, the more I liked them.
Because the station was located in a park, there were squirrels in trees outside the windows. Dad and the other officers would put peanuts on the windowsill. The squirrels would come and get the peanuts. (And all of this , payed for with tax dollars). Next step was to leave the window open. Squirrel comes inside to get peanuts. Next step was to put peanuts in officer's uniform pocket. Bold squirrel would just right into their pocket and get peanut. I thought this was great fun.