Monday, December 24, 2012

The Big Box

I remember the Christmas that my dad took me out to one of the old sheds, one rarely used that once had a bat in it (the flying kind) which cured any searching-for-presents virus I might have had.  He pulled out a big box, about five feet long by four feet high and 9 inches wide.  I could not believe my eyes nor contain my joy when from the box, he pulled out a brand new bicycle and proceeded to assemble it!

It was blue, and wonder of wonders, it was a 2-Speed bike, unheard of at the time.  The lower speed was for going uphill and the higher one for picking up speed going downhill.  It looked almost exactly like this one, but without the back carry-stuff-on-it bar:

That thing took me more miles than Alladin's magic carpet.  It was used daily in the summer to go get the cows, pass them up to block off the McCullough's driveway, then pass them up again to ride them fast into the corral.  It took me to the store, to Colleen's house, to softball games.  It got crepe paper streamers weaved in it's spokes to ride in Clifton's summer parades.

I do not remember it ever having a flat tire, though it must have.  I do remember crashing it once.  I was on my way home from the store and on the downhill run past the canal where you pick up significant speed, so much so that it's almost impossible to slow down enough to be safe.  All would have been well except that a danged snake was crawling across the road and my bike ran right over it!  It traumatized me so much that I lost control and took a bad spill on the asphalt.  My pants got ripped and my knee was dripping blood, but the worst part was that the handle bar turned completely sideways and there was an ugly scratch on the right handlebar.  I limped home and thought for sure my dad would kill me, but he didn't.  He just straightened out the handlebars and life went on.

Happy Christmas Eve!


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Yikes

There's an old country performance with a "That's Good/No, That's Bad" routine.  We kind of had that here at the home this week.

Sunday I woke up with the flu Nik had last week so stayed home from church.  About noon I heard Kyle in the kitchen saying "Sh**!" Kyle usually doesn't talk like that, for sure around me at least, but I was too sick to say anything and truth be known, I've said it myself from time to time, though I keep trying not to.

Shortly thereafter, he came running into the living room where I was resting and said, "FIRE! WHERE'S THE FIRE THINGEY?"  I told him it should be in the broom closet and dragged slowly off the couch.  By the time I reached the kitchen, he was spraying it inside the furnace closet in the vicinity of the breaker box.  It did put out the fire.

I was too drained to get scared or angry; my main thought being, "Boy, this is going to be expensive"...sort of like the plumber we had to call in last week when the kitchen drain wore through and collapsed in on itself.

Kyle told me the power had gone off in his room so he was going to check the breaker.  Before he slid open the door to the breaker/furnace area, he noticed a light and wondered why he hadn't seen that before.  When he opened the door, there were flames shooting out from a plug.  Now this plug had apparently been hanging from the ceiling in there for decades and none of us had ever noticed.  I don't even want to know how it ties into the system.

Jason came right over and checked it out, ran to Lowe's for a plug end and repaired it.  So far so good.

It dawned on me a while later that if I hadn't had the flu, I wouldn't have been home to respond to Kyle's question about the fire extinguisher and who knows what could have happened, especially since the flames were in the same area as the gas furnace.

When it comes to Guardian Angels, we must have several.

Friday, November 2, 2012

I Do

Remember when you were a kid and got swinging so high you were sure you were going to go "over the top"?  I do.

Remember when you got pushed so hard by somebody that you flew out of the swing entirely and landed on your back on the ground, knocking the air out of you so hard you thought you'd die for sure?  I do.

Remember getting your fingers pinched in the chains so tightly you thought your fingers might come off? I do.

Remember twisting round and round until the chain/rope wouldn't turn one bit more, then letting go, unspinning so fast the world was a blur, then spinning back up and repeating the pendulum motion until the swing just stopped--but your equilibrium didn't?  I do.

Remember standing on a wooden swing and moving your knees to pump you up faster, standing there with wiggly legs sure you were going to slip and fall on your back and knock the air out of you so hard you thought you'd die for sure?  I do.

Remember swinging in those big farm tires that were so uncomfortable that no matter how you got situated, you were miserable...that and the smell of too much rubber next to your nose?  I do.

Remember when your desire to swing, low or high, changed to a serious case of nausea just watching someone else swing?  Maybe you're too young, but I do.

Remember holding onto a rope, sitting on a board, swinging from a tree out over water?  I do not...nor have I ever regretted it.   It ranks right up there with skydiving or bungee jumping.




Friday, October 12, 2012

Who Goes There?


One day (of course at night on a Saturday) the lens fell out of my glasses.  Being blind as a bat, I held the missing lens in place the best I could with one hand and used the other to drive to the nearby Shopko.  The optical shop was closed but they don't have a wrought iron gate, so their displays were still available.  I was searching through them for one of those little tiny screwdrivers that I buy and never find again, looking a little like Sherlock Holmes working a case, when someone called out a friendly, "Hi, Kay!"  I figured if they knew my name, I should say "Hi" back and did so.  Without my glasses, I don't recognize my own face in a mirror so I pretended to be looking at the display with rapt attention, which of course I was.

When she got closer, I saw it was my good friend and neighbor, Belle.  I've known her for a quarter of a century.  She raised Kyle from when he was a baby until he was well into grade school.  She was such a good babysitter that he (and many others) would stop in and visit with her on their way home from school years after.  He still stops and gives her a hug now and then.  Anyway, I explained my dilemma and she laughingly helped me find a little screwdriver.


Friday, October 5, 2012

THUD!

I've debated whether or not to come clean, but figured why not? The few Cliftonite people who read my blog probably already know about it, and surely no namesake still survives.

My dad named his cows (and their names just might have been the same as some of the women in town whose personalities and traits may have had some semblance to certain said women).  It seemed perfectly normal to me and I thought my friend's dad must have been a little strange, as their cows were all named "Cow". I questioned almost nothing my dad ever did or said...other than that one time when I learned my lesson.

There was one cow that was a bit high strung. I'm sure she far surpassed her namesake, especially as time went on.  She always made me very nervous, staring me down on a regular basis.  Dad knew about this and told me to stay away from her the best I could, advice I took quite seriously.  One day, however, I was stuck in the middle of the corral, boots on, mucking in the manure, when I found myself unavoidably in the same general area as this bovine. I was trying to hurry as fast as bow-leggedly possible when she gave me a look that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.  All I seemed to lack at the moment was a red cape.

Pure adrenaline shot through my entire body.  In one second, I learned cow language and the words she screamed were: "I hate you and I am going to kill you...right now!"  I was a good ten paces from the fence but covered them all in about five seconds flat, even leaving one of my boots right where it got stuck, finishing in stockinged foot.  (At times like these, you don't care about such details.)  I hit that fence at full speed, second rung from the top.  If I had had five more seconds to build up speed, I could have cleared the thing like an Olympic high jumper.  At almost exactly the same moment my foot hit that rung, she smashed into the fence right below me, THUD!

I don't remember going back for the boot, but my dad took her to the auction the very next day.

I REMEMBER A HOLSTEIN NAMED ANNIE

WHOSE “HOMING DEVICE” WAS UNCANNY;

SHE WAS CRAZY AND MEAN,

A WILD MILKING MACHINE

AND WAS ALWAYS CHASING MY FANNY!



Friday, September 28, 2012

Yoooohoooo

Teeley, Kyle and I were watching it rain the other night and noticed Swirl outside 30 feet away playing under the swingset. Tee opened the door, Kyle whistled and Swirl came running in. It's bizarre how she responds to his whistle. If we whistle, she just looks at us like "Huh?" That's if she even looks up at all. Tee was saying how funny it was and how Kyle would probably do the same for his kids one day. 

That lead to a discussion about the farm. I told them how we used to stand at the top of a field and make a long whistling yoohoo noise. The cows would look up and saunter on over, head up the road and turn into our yard. In retrospect, it's probably more remarkable that an entire herd of pea-brained cows were so well-trained that they even responded at all, let alone monitored themselves and automatically turned into the right yard than that it is that Swirl responds to Kyle's whistling.

I hadn't whistled that call for years, but as soon as I did, both Teelay and Kyle immediately groaned. Apparently, I used it a time or two when they were younger.

MOO

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Over the Edge

I saw a commercial the other day that said I could go online and participate in an "interactive commercial" for their product. The day I do that, please call the guys with the strait-jackets.

Usually, I'm faster at hitting the mute button on the remote than that, but this was such a shock, I listened to see if I'd heard right. They weren't kidding. You can literally become interactively-involved with commercials if you choose. What the subject of that particular commercial was luckily escapes me.

Everyone in our family knows to hit the mute button the second a commercial comes on. It's an automatic response that sometimes catches people off guard. Kyle's friend, The Amazing Cam, thought muting the commercials was unusual and confusing at first, but he's used to it now.

Speaking of the Amazing Cam, he made Kyle a new backboard for his birthday that is totally unique and wonderful. (Go Orem Tigers!) If he made them to sell online, I'd have to watch his commercial; heck, I'd BE in his commercial!

By some miracle, I was able to get a picture of the new basketball going through the hoop for the first time...talk about being interactive!



Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Make Mine An Android, Please

Nik talked me into getting a smart phone the other day. I had been hanging onto my old Samsung slider for some time and the keypad was "losing touch" shall we say. Nik is like my Uncle Larry, a gizmo guy. Give him a new anything and he has it figured out end to end within 24 hours. All I want is something that remembers phone numbers, can be used as an alarm or calendar, and fits in my pocket.

The good thing is that my kids know me pretty well by now, especially when it comes to this kind of stuff. Sometimes I actually get a little ticked at how well Kyle knows me, but he's almost always right. That actually makes me a little ticked, too, but what can you do?

We walked into the Sprint store which was manned by no less than 11 sales people. I've waited for almost an hour before at a rival store just to get someone's attention to ask a basic question, but with Nik along, you only need a sales person to ring up the purchase.

Nik: "Mom, there are two kids of smart phones, IPhone by Apple and Android by Google."
Mom: "Do they have them in some pretty colors?"
Nik: "These over here come in 3G and those over there are 4G. G has to do with speed."
Mom: "This one is too fat and that one is too ugly."
Nik: "This one is a slider. You turn it sideways and it has a qwerty keyboard for typing."
Mom: "That's quirky, not qwerty. Why in the heck would somebody re-arrange the danged keyboard and who has fingers that small anyway? What is the matter with people?"

It went like that. I ended up with a 3G Samsung Transform Ultra, a $50 rebate, and a qwerty keyboard that I tried and will probably never use again. I came home, went on Ebay and ordered a lovely blue Hawaiian-flowered case and can tell I'm going to have to order at least one spare battery. It's been three days and I have a headache from looking at the screen learning how to download apps and create groups, change settings, etc. I start to panic when the battery gets near 70% power. It's almost like one of those simulated pets where you stay up nights making sure you feed and play with it so it doesn't die. The screen is so sensitive that I had to take off one-touch dialing because I was calling people randomly. Ring..."Did you call me? No, I thought you called me. Sorry, new phone...." (If you are one of the few people I haven't "pocket-called" yet, please accept my apology in advance.)

One of the greatest features is that I now have Voxer and can talk to my daughter in Canada for free. It's sort of like a walkie-talkie setup. Nik set us up on an app called GroupMe; all the family were invited. It was fun for the first while, but then it became sort of like a wild Facebook; every time anybody said anything, everybody else got a notification. People were clamoring to get out of the family. Too much of a good thing....

I can't wait to Vox my grandson, Carver, and tell him GRANDMA HAS A TRANSFORMER PHONE!




Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Oxford Cemetery

The year Morley Weyerman was the Seminary president and I was the VP, our kind and humble Seminary teacher (Blain Morgan) sought to do more than teach classes. He wanted us to learn through hands-on service, so he contacted area church leaders about a service project. Someone suggested the Oxford cemetery could profit from some care. That was a real understatement. The only way you could tell it was a cemetery rather than a field of sagebrush was if you happened to stumble over a headstone.

We met with Brother Morgan and set up a plan. I'm not sure now how the ball got rolling but people were contacted and a date was set. On that magic day, half the townspeople from Clifton and Oxford (and maybe Dayton) met at the cemetery bright and early in the morning. There were shovels and rakes and gloves and trucks and tractors...my dad's included. While Dad and Kenny Kendall's dad and perhaps Cluff Kendall were busy with their tractors doing the things that tractor drivers do, the rest of us were loading up weeds and junk and rocks in the backs of trucks. Dozens of people spent quite a few hours clearing the area, and when we were through, it looked amazing.

Every time I take Highway 91 from Clifton to Downey, I glance over at the lovely Oxford Cemetery and feel a little swell of happiness in a job well done. One man's attempt to teach some young people the value of service obviously worked. Thank you, Sir.



Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Mom


My mom passed away last night (Tuesday), two months shy of her 95th birthday. A more wonderful woman was never born. Here's a recent photo of her with me and my son Nik and her great-grandson, little Teddy:




Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Look it up!

Kyle's always asking me how to spell words. "Mom, how to you spell subconscious? How about articulate? What does symmetry mean?" Sometimes he wants to know, and sometimes he's just testing me. We do this with old country songs, too, but he's as good as I am with those, sometimes better. (It remains a mystery to me how someone can like both screamo and old country music.)

While not flawless, I'm a pretty darned good spellur (sic). The reason why is that whenever we asked my parents how to spell a word...and I mean every darned time...their response was "Look it up!" The Bible may have had a semi-permanent layer of dust on it, but the dictionary did not.

Webster was considered so valuable that the way you knew you had crossed the Rubicon into being an adult is you were gifted your own dictionary. Mine was brown and leather-simulated. It had little tabs with the letters on so you could tell right off where to start looking. From the side, with the book closed, you could see little red dots on the paper, like you can see gold edging on a Bible's pages.

Every so often someone would come through Clifton trying to sell sets of Encyclopedias, aka Encyclopedia Britannicas, two dozen or more hard-bound reference books to a set. Only the rich or the desperate-to-please made such a purchase. We just always wanted them to give their spiel and leave because we knew they were beyond our means and imagined how uncomfortable our parents must have been to not be able to purchase something so obviously "good" for their family, a fact no doubt stressed by the salesman. (That may be why I have such an aversion to people arriving at my front door trying to sell me something.)

Having a set of those encyclopedias these days must, ironically, be something of an albatross. Even the most basic computer now comes with more built-in capacities than even the top-of-the-line sets used to contain. I've wondered more than once where all those sets are now...tucked in somebody's basement, in 1,000,000 landfills, ballast in some ship? I inquired of the internet and discovered that you can donate them to "Books for Africa" though I have no idea who would pay to ship them there. You can also donate them to the Salvation Army who, for all I know, may send them to Books for Africa.

It's something I don't have to deal with, and Yahoo for that!




Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Spider Pit

That's what I thought it was, but my parents called it "the cellar". It was out west of the house and had a couple of steps as an entry way, descending to a wooden door secured by some kind of latch. Inside were shelves lined with my mother's hard summer work. Even as a child, I thought the space felt very cramped and terrifying. I have vague recollections of a pull-string light bulb...giving the same effect as being interrogated by the FBI in Alcatraz.

It felt to me like you'd envision the walk into hell, accompanied by lurching spiders. Frankly, I'd almost rather starve to death than go down there, but if someone went with me, I would make a quick trip. One time I tripped and fell and skinned my knee on the steps and ended up with a big infected sore that made me gimpy for a good week. I was probably less than 8 when the cellar disappeared or went into disuse. Thank goodness!

At some point, there was a cellar dug under the porch in the "old" house, or perhaps it was the area cleared out by Bill Taylor and Dad when they ran plumbing under the house somehow. I have no comprehension how they ever did that. The door to the in-house cellar was level with the floor and pulled up with some sort of handle. If anything, this cellar was scarier than the outside one. For one thing, it was smaller and totally without light. I never went down there without gloves and once saw a spider that was unlike any I had ever seen before, and twice as big. It makes me shudder now just thinking about it. We weren't allowed to scream, but you can darn well bet I was screaming like a banshee inside!

(p.s. 1) After typing this blog, I read on Yahoo where some poor guy was trying to clear his yard of cobwebs and nearly burned down his house, $25,000 worth of damage. I'll bet he is screaming like a banshee as well.

(p.s. 2) A funny thing happened tonight. Marty found a spider in the back room, huge he said. He got some Raid and talked Teelay into helping him. When Marty sprayed the Raid, the spider disappeared. Teelay let out a girly-girl scream and they both ran out of the room. She thought maybe she felt the spider on her arm, though no evidence. They rounded up a flashlight and bravely returned. Marty told Teelay that he was going to lift the cooler where he saw the spider and she was to shine the light. Kyle walked in just then and went to see what all the fuss was about. I heard him say, "Marty, quit being a wus and face the spider like a man!" About 15 seconds later, Teelay let out a blood-curdling scream. Apparently Kyle thought it would be funny to grab her from behind and spook her. It worked. It wouldn't have been half as funny if the incident had happened in my own room. And no, they didn't find the spider but I'll bet he's long gone.

(p.s. 3) I looked up the meaning of banshee and it's "a fairy woman who begins to whail if someone is about to die." So now we know.

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Loading Place

If you stay on the road past the Clifton cemetery, you'll end up in what used to be called "The Loading Place." I'm not sure if it's all private property now or if there's still even access there but it was, at one time, a hub of summer activities, most significant of which were dutch oven dinners. I'm not so sure it was as fun for the Moms, but they never let on.

After milking, the family (plus any friends or other family who wanted to come) would load up in vehicles and head up the canyon. During the driest part of the summer, the vehicles not in the lead would set their pace well back, so as literally not to eat dirt. If you drove up past the Loading Place, the road would have such deep ruts that you just followed in them and hoped the heck nobody was coming from the other direction. Even farther on up, there was one point that had a little gully, sometimes water-filled, guaranteed to high-center any car, and sometimes even trucks.

At one point, we would come to a barbed-wire fence, usually closed. I recall getting out to open and shut it myself, and memory tells me that it took at least a tough farm girl to operate. The first time I heard Michael Martin Murphey's song "Cowboy Logic", I knew the answer to his query "If you see three men in a pickup truck, dressed alike from boot to hat, could you tell which one was the real cowboy, just from the way he sat?" before I heard it the first time.

Sometimes when riding in the back of the truck, if you hung out a little too far, you would get whapped in the face by a small branch. (I can smell the crisp summer canyon air in my mind right now.) As soon as we arrived at the Loading Place, the dads would gather firewood and make a fire, the moms would haul out the copious amounts of chicken and makings for fried potatoes in the dutch ovens, and the kids would wander around looking for sticks or bugs or those white berries on the trees called "kisses", because if you squished them on your cheeks, they gave you a little wet kiss. Still waiting for the food to cook, we would wander a short ways up the trail to an open artesian pipe that offered the coldest water you could ever imagine. The older kids would often take a shortcut to the pipe, but I was pretty convinced there might be a bear hiding in wait so I always stuck to the road.

When the food was FINALLY ready, we would all gather around the campfire, sitting on logs, eating, visiting and playing. And trying to move out of the smoke that somehow seemed to follow no matter where you sat around the fire. Why is that? The dutch-oven fried potatoes were so good that I honestly don't remember if we even had dessert and to this day actually consider them a type of dessert.

Finally someone would begrudgingly mention it was probably time to go home. The drive home was always at a more leisurely pace, perhaps because it was a little harder to anticipate the road curves in the dark, but more likely because we all wanted to savor the memories. And, oh, there were a lot of good memories made in the Loading Place!
One drawback to these canyon picnics was that sometimes a tick latched onto your body. Mother was vigilant about checking for ticks. It was considered potentially-fatal if its body broke off and left the head in your body. It must have happened, and I don't recall any deaths, but the threat was always there. The removal was accomplished by one of three methods (perhaps a combination of them): put a hot hat pin on it until it backed out, put a hot match on it until it backed out, or smother it with rubbing alcohol until it backed out gasping for breath.

AND HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO SON, VINCE, AND GRANDSON, MARTY!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Big Giraffe

I was watching a favorite tv show recently, Antiques Roadshow. A woman had brought in an old occasional table. It got me thinking. Is it so named because it's occasionally used, or because it's used for special occasions, or because it's occasionally used for special occasions? Wiki doesn't seem to know either.

In seventh grade, a teacher said something about a chest of drawers. Up until then, I always thought they were called "chester drawers", though personally I never knew anyone named Chester, other than Matt Dillon's deputy, but I assume he would have kept his drawers in a chest.

A coworker years ago was talking about how her brother's son would never go downstairs because he was scared of something down there...a big giraffe. Come to find out, he misunderstood when his grandmother told him not to go downstairs because there was a "big draft" down there.

And off the record, why is it called a funny bone when the only time you know you have one is when you're in waves of pain?







Saturday, June 9, 2012

Over and Over and Over

The generation gap continues to live on. Kyle and I went somewhere the other day, which frankly is rather unusual. There was music playing in the business and one song came on that sounded like a stuck record. For those of you too young to know, a record was the grandfather of the current music cd. Now and then, the surface of a record would get scratched, and the same refrain would play over and over til it made you crazy enough to get up and fix it. This is how the music in the store the other day sounded to me. When I mentioned to Kyle that somebody needed to go "fix it", he informed me that scratching records weren't really an issue these days and that the actual song itself was recorded to sound like a scratching record. Now, isn't that sweet?

Yesterday I heard somebody's cell phone ring; they had it programmed to sound like a phone ring from days of yore....rriiinnnggg.

We have come full circle. Can polyester leisure suits be far behind?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

3 times

I've cooked two times this week, which is kind of a record. To top it off, I made enough for leftovers. Kyle usually gets his own grub but did sit down and eat with me Monday night. We had mashed potatoes, gravy with turkey and fresh corn on the cob. Teelay had already eaten something. Tuesday night I warmed up the leftovers. Tee wasn't hungry, so I made two plates and took one to Kyle in his room. Wednesday night Jason came over to see if we could get my lawn mower started so I cooked up a double batch of Alfredo Tuna Helper, and yes, that is considered home cookin' at our house. Thursday I came home from work for lunch and warmed up some leftover Tuna Helper. There is still enough for another two or three rounds, but leftovers become unwelcome fare after Day Two. That includes Thanksgiving, but there's usually never any of that left over. I have a good recipe for Thanksgiving leftovers that involves turkey, stuffing, pie crusts, cream of chicken and cream of mushroom soup and a goodly amount of gravy slathered on top; let me know if you need a copy.

It all reminded me of the Lionel Richie song "Once, Twice, Three Times a Lady, so I looked up the lyrics. If you insert "leftover" in place of "lady", you'll see how that might work:

Thanks for the times
That you've given me.
The memories are all in my mind
And now that we've come
To the end of our rainbow
There's something
I must say out loud.
You're once, twice
Three times a lady.
Yes, you're once twice
Three times a lady
And I love you.
When we are together
The moments I cherish
With every beat of my heart
To touch you, to hold you
To feel you, to need you
There's nothing to keep us apart.
You're once, twice
Three times a lady
And I love you
I love you.
(Unless you're served thrice)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

95

Dad would have turned 95 years old today.

I was reminiscing about things he used to have and do that bring back fond memories. Like:

Shaving soap in a dish, with the bristle brush

The smell of Old Spice aftershave

Suspenders (though Nik wears some now)

Oxblood shoe paste, probably going by a different name now. Sometimes he would "let" one of us polish and shines his shoes, and we considered it an honor.

Bolo ties...my grandson, Carver, wore one of his great-grandpa's bolo ties to Western Day in Cardston last month.

Sleeveless open-mesh t shirts, known now as "wife-beater shirts", an awful moniker.

Hats. Dad had one for every occasion and the dressy ones usually had a feather of some kind.

Leather gloves. If my dad had one splurge (besides malts in Downey), it was leather gloves.

Denim. After he passed away, there was a shirt hanging on a hook in the hallway at the top of the stairs. I buried my face into it to see if I could smell him, but he had washed it. It has since disappeared. My dad wore a lot of denim.

Haircuts. Even when he didn't have much hair left, he still drove to Preston to have it trimmed regularly.

Flippers and whip-cracking. The whip cracking was usually used as a noise-maker to get the cows rounded up. He didn't use it nearly as often as he used his flipper. If they had an Olympic event in flipper-flippering, my dad would have lead the team. He could shoot a fly off a cow at 30 yards. My dad's cows were pretty well-behaved, as cows go, and it's quite likely that's because they knew his aim with a flipper was deadly. He used to make his own flipper out of wood and medical tubing, but after he didn't have to spend all his money on us kids, he bought himself a real manufactured flipper. He was like Chuck Norris with that thing.

Thistles. Dad hated thistles almost as much as he hated Utah fishermen. Well do I remember the many times we would all grab our shovels and make human swaths through the fields to take out the thistles. Now and then one would have the audacity to show up in our yard, but it never lasted long enough to grow up. I was grown up myself before I realized that weeds could actually grow in gravel. Dad was always hauling gravel from his gravel pit into the yard, so it was everywhere. I thought he did it to prohibit weed-growing, not realizing his ongoing every-day battle to extinguish weeds. He got a good laugh when I told him that.

When Dad was waiting to go do chores or milk the cows, he would often sit with his head in his right hand, elbow to thigh. He wouldn't go out one minute early or one minute late, so this was his waiting posture. I always thought it was that he was dreading having to keep up the routine, and thinking back, it makes me a little sad.

Eye twitching. When Dad was really tired or really nervous, or somebody was visiting and he wanted them to leave but didn't quite say it, his eye twitched.

Handkerchiefs. Since Dad never needed a tie for Christmas or Father's Day, we defaulted to those big red or blue paisley-patterned handkerchiefs he always kept in his back pocket. Another default-gift was those flat carpenter pencils that he sharpened with his Schrade pocket knife. He must have had more of both than anyone could ever use, but he always acted delighted with our gift.

If it's true that necessity is the mother of invention, Dad was the father. He was so creative that he could have taken out a few patents...if he hadn't been so busy farming. He was also very very organized, as exemplified by the little cabinet behind his shed door. It had probably 20 cubbie holes, each filled with a different type nail, nut, or bolt, all labeled. They NEVER got intermixed.

Anyway, Happy Birthday, Dad!



Saturday, May 19, 2012

Old Blue

Well, this blog entry has been delightful. It took the assistance of Bill Taylor, Alan Taylor and Johnny Gailey to fill in some blanks.

My dad had an old 1948 Chevrolet pickup. It's value was mostly sentimental. When he replaced it with the Chevy Apache pickup sometime in the mid-sixties, he took the '48 up to the Dry Farm (long before public landfills) and parked it in the ravine. It was too special to mix with the regular throw-away stuff, and there it sat until Johnny Gailey came along. I tracked Johnny down in Clifton just as he was walking in the door the other night. His wife handed the phone to him and off we went. I could tell he had fond memories of Old Blue. He said Dad had removed one of the wheels after he drove it in the ravine just to keep people from doing something stupid with it. That sounds like Dad. Johnny said he kept the blue color but dolled it up with some metallic paint. He replaced the flooring in the front, cleaned it up, fixed a few things, then drove it around for several years. My favorite part was when he said he fixed the broken speedometer by removing the gizmo and installing a match stick for the speedometer dial. He said he's kicked himself over and over for selling that truck. Apparently it went through several owners before it got to Gary Garner who sold it to some fellow in Sugar City. It's highly possible that Old Blue might be listed on Ebay like this version of the same vehicle (and I hope they haven't removed the ad before this posts: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Chevrolet-Chevy-Pickup-Truck-1948-48-Stereo-Radio-USA-630-USB-MP3-In-240-Watts-?cmd=ViewItem&hash=item19d037327a&item=110867460730&pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0#ht_3227wt_1022

Apparently back then, you only needed one tail light and it was on the driver's side. Bill said that they figured if you couldn't see it with one tail light, you weren't going to see it anyway. HA HA. That's probably true. Also, you didn't start the engine with a key. You turned the key, then stomped on a starter switch mounted on the floor. Now, I remember vehicles with a floor button for dimming the headlights, but I'd never heard of the starter thing. On rare occasion, even now I find myself stomping my left foot on the floor to dim my headlights, sort of like throwing your arm out to catch the long-ago grown up kid as you apply the brakes.

The '48 did not come with signal lights, either. To turn left, you stuck your left arm horizontally out the window. To turn right, you indicated by sticking your left arm out the same window, only you bent it at the elbow and sort of pointed your hand to the right. Nobody had backup lights on their vehicle. The single red bulb on the back was for night-driving and braking only. The light got more intense when you applied the brakes so you'd know to slow down should you be following. Since everybody in town knew where everybody lived, signaling wasn't as big of a problem as you might think, and it was often omitted in the winter when it was too cold to keep the window down. Also, there were no cute little windows that you could bend to get a little breeze in your face, though there were some vents you could open and close from the outside for a little air movement, highly inconvenient and not too effective. Something I did not remember was that the windshield was in two sections split by a vertical divider.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Wave

I live on a corner lot and often sit out front on my park bench in the summer, watching the world go by...one car at a time. In the evenings, and occasionally in the mornings, there are people walking by, sometimes in twos, sometimes in the accompaniment of dogs on leashes. There's an older couple who pass by in the mornings before it gets hot. We say "hello" and wave. He has a longer stride, so I'm guessing she actually gets more exercise. One neighbor down the street a bit has a big Rin-Tin-Tin kind of dog, not sure if it's male or female. We exchange waves. Another neighbor down the street had two grey dogs that looked like a mix between a poodle and a schnauzer, sort of like Pete and RePete. We either wave or have the same small conversation every time. A couple of years ago, there was just one grey dog, and this week when she walked by, she was not accompanied by a dog at all.

There is one amazing woman who mesmerizes me. A few years ago, before my knee issues, I would go to the nearby high school track and walk a few rounds. This one woman, who is probably my age or older, would appear and move about with Olympic-type speed. She is bronzed and has not one obvious ounce of fat on her body. There was an old movie called "Walk, Don't Run" that included an Olympic speed-walking competition. This woman could have won that contest hands down. I read where a regular walking pace is 3-3.5 mph, 4 mph being a brisk walk. This lady goes about 4.2 mph, I'd guess. She speeds by the house, speeds 'round the track several times, then speeds up and down the bleacher stairs for a while. (I believe coaches have football team members do these "ladders" as punishment.) Then she heads home, still at the same pace. There is always a bottle of water in her hand, and it's not unusual to see her pulling a couple of her grandkids in a little wagon behind her. None of it slows her down one bit. When I can catch her eye, I wave. Once she even slowed down just enough for me to have time to tell her she's amazing. I'm jealous of her knees mostly.

I like the wave you get (and give) after someone stops to let someone else into busy traffic. It's like you suddenly have a best friend.

In the countryside, waving is not unusual. I remember riding in the truck and watching Dad wave. If you were someone he knew but weren't particularly his forte, he would do the only-forefinger wave, keeping hands on the steering wheel. This is also the wave used for complete strangers, sort of a reserved greeting. A little more familiar-person wave would be the keeping-hands-on-the-steering-wheel-but-lifting-all-but-the-thumb-up wave. If it were someone he really liked or hadn't seen in a while, he would do a type of salute, even tipping his hat occasionally. That's when I knew we had passed someone really special!

This was back before the middle-finger salute was invented.




Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Like a kid following a puppy

I have a case of the wandering mind, one thing leading to another…

I decided to iron, plugged in the iron and grabbed the spray bottle and went to get the clothes in the bedroom that needed to be ironed. Noticed the trash basket in there needed to be emptied, dumped it in the big trash, tied the top and took it out to the garbage can. I noticed a weed in the rose area, pulled it out and noticed a few more, went to throw the weeds in the garbage can and saw that the mailman had been by, I turned on the water to catch a dry spot in the lawn, got the mail and took it in the house. There I noticed the licorice sack on the table was left open and grabbed that, went to find a twist tie and remembered the dishes needed to come out of the dishwasher. Then I realized the clothes needed to come out of the washer and put into the dryer, and when taking the clothes out of the dryer I remembered, THE IRON IS ON!

In case you're wondering if I snared this story off the internet, nope. It really happened right here at home.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Who?

I told Kyle recently that Whitney Houston had died. He said, "Who's Whitney Houston?" I kid you not. Shortly thereafter I mentioned Howard Cosell and his announcing style. He said he'd never heard of him either.

Kyle and I were sitting here watching a Jazz game the other night (a real nail-biter) though the Jazz won, when the cameraman shot a closeup of Gordon Hayward. I mentioned how he looked a lot like Opie. Kyle said, "Who's Opie?" I said, "
WHO'S OPIE???" He said, "I've never heard of him." I said, "You know, the show with Barney Fife". He said, "Who's Barney Fife?" I said, "Oh my heck, remember Richie Cunningham?" Yup. He did it. He said, "Who's Richie Cunningham?" I said, "No chance you'd know Otis then either, huh?" He said, "Otis who?" He didn't remember the Fonz but had heard of Gilligan, though he'd never seen the show.

I told him that is like his kids one day asking who John Stockton and Karl Malone were. He said he didn't have any kids. I asked Teelay and her friend if they knew who Opie or Richie Cunningham were. Strike out.

If I know what a mosh pit is and send a thousand texts a month, shouldn't they be required to know who Opie is? Just a thought.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

In Case You're Planning a Summer Family Vacation...

In the summer of 1985, having been married for 15 years and never having taken a vacation, we planned a trip with our five children (ages 4-14) from Vernal, Utah to Lake Louise, Canada. We rented a 32-foot camper to pull with our dual-tank Chevy truck which already had a regular camper in the truck bed. This was when gas was about $1.20 a gallon. If you’ve ever seen that old Lucille Ball/Desi Arnaz movie “The Long Long Trailer”, you can just call me Lucy.

The truck only had one long seat, so we traded off on who sat in the front with us and who got to enjoy family togetherness in the truck camper. Basically, it went like this: We drove until somebody was crying loudly enough for us to hear it, then we pulled over. For some reason, I was the main driver, except for when we had to back into a campground spot.

I was terrified that one of the kids would break something in the trailer, so I was like a camper Nazi, "Don't touch that! Don't do that! Keep that out of there!" When we stopped off in Idaho Falls to eat some fast food. Jason & Jared got horsing around and Jared chipped a front tooth on one of the propane tanks on the camper. We just kept going...VACATION BOUND OR BUST! We stopped in at a cute little store near West Yellowstone and bought ice cream cones, scooped with their patented rectangular ice cream scoop.

The original plan was to pull off the road the first night in Yellowstone and just enjoy the trailer. The problem was that the Rocky/Bullwinkle crowd had built curbs all along the roadside to prevent such camping. Keep in mind, this was the week of July 4th and we hadn't even conceived we would need a reservation to camp. We stopped in to see Old Faithful and get some more ice cream. Thankfully we were all too terrified of the walkways to get close to the hotpots. (We may have been crazy but we weren't stupid.) The most interesting thing about Old Faithful was that we spotted our next door neighbor's vehicle in the parking lot, though we didn't spot them.

We got the last parking place in some campground and took off for Canada the next morning, passing through Wyoming to buy fireworks. The reason that we didn't get to Canada the second day was that Montana was in the way; there is a reason it's called Big Sky Country. We decided to take a back road, thinking for some reason that the main highway might be too crowded. Jason kept holding up signs about needing to get out and go fishing. He also held up signs about needing to use the bathroom, wanting to eat, or that Sherry was crying. Occasionally he would light a ladyfinger firecracker and throw it out on the road, scaring us out of what was left of our minds. Every time he would swear it was the very last one and every time, he was flat out lying! We would swab the deck a couple of times a day to get rid of chips and red punch. (That was before scientists warned us about children and red punch.)

Both tanks were on fumes when we pulled into Buffalo. We stopped to eat, gas up and use the facilities. On the way out of town, one of the truck tires blew out, sounding like a musket shot. I still shudder to think of what could have happened had that occurred any other time that day; we had driven almost 6 hours without seeing one other vehicle. Somewhere south of the Continental Divide, we gave up and camped in the Montana wilderness for the evening. During the night, a spider bit poor little Nik on his cheek, resulting in swelling that closed his eye shut.

When we arrived at the Canadian border, a man came out and asked us where we were from and if we had any booze, rifles or fireworks. No, No, and Yes. He also commented on how some people from Vernal had just come through a few vehicles before. Turns out they were our neighbors. He didn't ask for our passports, because back then Canada was considered an extension of Idaho or Montana rather than another country, and regular people didn't carry passports anyway. He said we had to turn around or leave our fireworks with him, to be forfeit if we didn't return for them by nighttime. That put a real crimp in our travel plans, since we had invested a week's wages on them. What we did was leave them with him temporarily, but crossed the border just so we could say we had. I'll never forget pulling that long trailer up the road to St. Mary or Martha's Lake by Waterton Park, where coincidentally my son-in-law now works.

.

The gas pedal was to the floor and we were barely moving. Since it was straight uphill, the gas tank register sunk like a rock. For once, everybody was quiet; nothing like fear to silence the crowd.

We were happy to see a KFC and decided to get lunch and eat it by the beautiful lake. Since we weren't going to be able to make it to Lake Louise, this was a decent option. We went into KFC, but they didn't have any of the regular stuff. The only thing we recognized was chicken and rolls for $15, (roughly the equivalent of $150 today), so that's what we had for lunch. We walked through the little town of Waterton, had ice cream and purchased some souvenirs. I bought a wooden plaque with a gold deer on it labeled "Waterton Park". The kids got candy and some little plastic faces where, if you put your fingers inside them, they made all sorts of wacko expressions. Jason says he still has his somewhere. (Incidentally, when we got home, I noticed that all our souvenirs were stamped "Made in Japan.") We drove back across the border, got our fireworks and found a nice campground with laundry facilities. Do you know how nice it is to have laundry facilities?

The next night we made it to Deer Lodge, Montana. It was packed and we ended up camping next to some mountain men in teepees. They were probably as unnerved by us as we were by them. Personal fireworks were not allowed, but the town had a small display of its own. By that time, I did not care either way. Two days later, we were pulling the camper up the hill between Heber and Duchesne when the truck overheated. Jason got out and fished in a stream til the motor cooled off, and we finally limped back into Vernal. Vacation accomplished!

The next day I tallied the trip and realized we had averaged six miles to the gallon. We could have driven the kids to Disneyland in our car, stayed in a motel and had enough left over for a trip for the two of us to Hawaii. I kid you not, but who wants to have fun on a vacation anyway, right?

Our neighbors returned a few days later and told us about their wonderful spontaneous trip to Lake Louise.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Footsteps

One summer, I stayed home with Dad while Mother took the other kids on a trip. It runs in my mind that they went to Yellowstone or Montana. Even back then, riding in a car made me so nauseous as to kill any fun. Mother left me $5 in case of emergency, though I can't imagine what emergency my dad couldn't have resolved. Maybe she felt sorry for me or something, but I was happy to be left behind.

One night while the others were gone, Dad took me to Downey to a Doris Day movie. Doris Day movies were usually a safe bet, quite light-hearted, but this one was an exception. We weren't there five minutes before my dad said: "Let's go." He got up and headed for the door, so I followed him. He didn't stop to demand a refund either. I'm not sure if we discussed it on the way home, but I knew why he left. Even though it was a unique treat to go on a date with my dad, this was a lesson I have always remembered.

Over my lifetime, I have sat through probably eight movies that I hated from the git go, or ones that started out ok but deteriorated steadily. I regret not having had the guts to get up and leave. Though I haven't gone to a movie in quite a while, in the last few years, I did get up and leave a movie on three different occasions and am resolved to do so if I ever find myself in that predicament again.

Thanks, Dad.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Grandma's Trampoline

Years ago when Nik was just a young boy, we were up visiting my parents in Clifton. Mother and I were chatting in the kitchen when Nik came upstairs to ask her: "Grandma, may I jump on your pretty trampoline?" We both looked at each other, wondering what he meant. We thought maybe he was referring to her little exercise trampoline, but wouldn't have called it pretty. He was insistent that she had a "big pretty trampoline", so we all went downstairs to check it out and discovered that he was talking about the beautiful quilt she had been working on that was set up on quilting frames. Good thing he asked, huh?

Quilts are rather magical, especially home-made ones. I've tied quite a few baby quilts in my time but never did the hand-sewn swirl design like my mother did. She would drive over to the little Swan Lake store and buy their brushed nylon fabric. They would mark a pattern on it in soap and she would stitch along the lines. There are probably 50,000 stitches in each of her quilts, and that doesn't count the hand-stitched binding. To thank the eye doctor for removing her and Dad's cateracts years ago (in addition to paying for it in cash), she gave him one of her marvelous quilts.

When living in Vernal decades ago, I decided to make a queen-size quilt, bought some white fabric, cut it into squares, ironed a pattern on each piece and embroidered the works. Then I cut green squares to alternate between the embroidered squares and somehow did a drapery-like gathering around a bedskirt, tying it all together. That pretty much cured me of the quilting bug and I have no idea how I fit that in between tending four young children. I mend a few things here and there now but have willingly forgotten anything else about the sewing art.

One of the funnest memories I have from childhood is seeing all the different pieces of fabric in a quilt. The backing always consisted of heavy flannel (usually plaid) but the front was made from pieces of cloth gleaned from worn-out clothing or left-over fabric, sewn together in a pattern on Grandma Rice's old Singer treadmill sewing machine. "Oh, look, there's a piece from my Sunday dress." "There's one from my old shirt." "There's one from Myra's dress." It was so much fun!

Grandma Rice had a lot of quilts, some made from wool. I remember sleeping in her basement bedroom during the winter now and then. Oh my, it was so cold! What you would do is make sure you were in the middle of the bed, reach down and pull the covers up. You had to get situated first because the quilts were so heavy, you woke up exactly where you went to sleep. There was one of her quilts that I admired greatly. It was black and red. Every time I went over there, I'd mention it. She told me that I could have it after she died. I just kept on admiring it until one day she just gave it to me on the spot. I guess she didn't want to be rushed ha.

If you want to gawk at some pretty quilt patterns, here's a link: https://www.google.com/search?q=quilting+patterns&hl=en&prmd=imvnsb&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=11o4T4H6FaSXiAKYqOyNCg&ved=0CJIBELAE&biw=1024&bih=677

For background music, how about a little John Denver:



Friday, February 10, 2012

Playgrounds

Reminiscing about playground equipment today...

The local gradeschool has several swings, the rounded rubber-seated kind. Speaking of rubber, all the area under and around the swings is covered with ground-up tires. I'm all into recycling, and there is no doubt reasons why they use the stuff, but it's hot and prickly and you can twist your ankle walking through it. But then, I don't swing on swings anymore, so it's a moot point.

They do still have monkey bars and a slippery slide, but I don't think they have teeter totters. Teeter totters are a little like weapons; they are safe in the right hands, but not safe in the wrong ones. I could never understand why someone would get off one end of the teeter totter when somebody else was way up in the air, letting them crash to the ground. Maybe that's why they don't have them on playgrounds anymore, a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Monkey bars nowadays are basically like several hamster wheels tangled together. A kid could almost get lost inside one of them. The monkey bars "back when" were much more simple and included a bar amongst the swings where you could hang upside down from your knees. They were mostly used by boys, since girls were required to wear dresses to school every day. You could do it wearing a dress, but both hands had to be used to hold the skirt in place, so getting off and on the bar was a little tricky. (my daughter-in-law says farmer's wives used to do everything farmers did...only they had to do it wearing a dress!)

I remember the big old slippery slide we had for grade school. It would get so hot in the sun that it all but burned the skin off your legs...as you slide down it in your dress. After a while, the slides developed drag, stranding a kid halfway down, so somebody would get some waxed paper and smear it on the slide for more speed. We had a merry-go-round (not the up and down kind) that held a lot of kids at one time. Nobody really wanted to be the one stuck spinning it. We always tried to find a bigger kid to give it the first turn. Just thinking about it now makes me nauseous. (Plus, I'm still a little ticked that I lost tongue cells from that time I decided to rest the theory of whether or not tongues would really stick on cold metal...and, fyi, they really do.)

Another whirling dervish toy was called the giant stride, so named because you grabbed ahold of one of the hanging bars and ran with great strides to pick up speed. Then you simply ran a few more strides and repeated it til somebody either flew off and broke their arm or go the wind knocked out of the. Needless to say, they don't have those on the local playground anymore either. There is one at a park somewhere in northwestern Utah that we stopped at a time or two so the kids could play. They always wanted to come home by the "Pioneer Way". There was an old stagecoach/buggy on display, plus some wonderful carvings in short fence posts, and a genuinely wonderful country park...

...with a working giant stride. Wheeee!

Every kid worth their salt had a pair of roller skates, complete with tightening key. You just slapped them onto your shoes, tightened the strap, adjusted the top clips with your key and off you went. We got pretty good at it.

I had lunch with my cousin, Ruth Ann, a couple of weeks ago and we got talking about playing jump rope. She has a good memory about that stuff. I remember the sing-songy "Blue Bells, Cockle Shells, Evie, Ivie, Overhead. My mother, your mother, lived across the street. Every night they had a fight and this is what they said: Icka backa soda cracker, icka backa boo, icka backa soda cracker, out goes you!" It started out at a regular pace but after the rhyme, the jump rope holders would spin the rope as fast as they could til you messed up and got a whip burn. Ruth Ann reminded me that the fast-roping was called "pepper". There were probably more than a dozen little jumping rhymes, none of which made sense and some of which were no doubt politically incorrect, but we didn't notice. We were watching the rope and having fun. When you got really good at it, they could turn two ropes at the same time. We got pretty nimble.



Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Punch Crunch

The Lunch Ladies: Mrs. Kirkbride, Mrs. Helmandollar, and Mrs. Powell, all now passed on to that Great Lunch Room in the Sky. They probably arrived at West Side High earlier than the janitors and set about making homemade delights for close to 200 students.

My favorite menu item was the magnificent made-fresh-daily homemade bread & butter sandwiches. Their mashed potatoes and gravy were also to die for, as was their gingerbread. I never liked applesauce dumped on my gingerbread so always tried to intercept that; I like both applesauce and gingerbread, just not in the same bite.

If somebody had taken a survey, pizza would probably have topped the student-favorite list, though I never developed a hankering for it. The good news is that there was always somebody who wanted to trade something for my slice; the bad news is that they never made pizza and homemade bread on the same day.

As soon as you walked into the lunch room, there was Mrs. Powell waiting to either take your quarter (later 35 cents) or punch your lunch card. As I recall, there were about a dozen punches to the card. The hole-punching made quite a crunching sound and I can still hear it in my mind even now...hence, the title of today's blog.

After the punching and crunching came the munching. You grabbed your tray, your utensils and your carton of milk and went through the lunch line. To help with the actual serving of food, two students were selected each week from some class; they donned hairnets and plastic gloves and took their stations. For their service, they got lunch free that day.

We had neat lunch trays, shiny metal originally, then heavy plastic, but always with divided sections, including a narrow section on one side to hold the utensils. Interestingly enough, when I go to "Bring a Grandparent To Lunch Day" with my grandkids, they still use those trays. The plastic is so industrial that they could be the original ones. I came across several of those trays at a yard sale a few years ago and bought every one of them. There they sit on a top shelf collecting dust. If you are throwing a nostalgia school lunch party, just let me know and I'll let you borrow them.

Now and then on Fridays, you could take your pick from regular or chocolate milk. Way back in grade school, they would have "Milk Nickels" on Fridays. Those were a lot like Cascos but without the nuts. I'd pay a dollar for a Milk Nickel right this minute.




Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Medical "School"

While trying to treat a recent ear ache at home last week (and by the way, warm hydrogen peroxide does help), I got thinking of medical remedies from days of yore, some good, some bad.

There was the old mustard plaster for deep coughs. Don't try this one at home, Folks...or anywhere else. It consisted of a paste made from mustard powder, flour, and water or egg whites, mixed together and placed on a wet piece of cotton or muslin (gauze-like fabric) then laid on the chest. The concoction itself was not put directly on the skin, as that would cause blistering. Left on too long, it could lead to actual burning o' the skin. I only remember seeing this done once...thank goodness.

More widely-used for congestion, (still use it myself sometimes) is the Vicks Tent. This is when you melt some Vicks or another mentholatum product in a pan of hot water, throw a blanket over your shoulders like a tent and inhale deeply. You will not want to keep your eyes open while doing this, but I'll have to say it does provide some relief. You can rewarm the mixture several times, as needed. I don't know how effective it was, but Mother also used to pour rubbing alcohol on a dish cloth and pin it around our necks to relieve coughing. We called them "hulk a packs" and they weren't too bad. My dad used to HATE the smell of them, so we always teased him by seeing how close we could get to him when wearing them.

Mercurochrome was a product made of mercury & bromine; merthiolate, was a product made from mercury, sodium & iodine; they came in little glass bottles with little glass dipsticks and were used interchangeably to kill little bacteria in little kid's cuts. They also stung like a bee sting from Hades, merthiolate being even more pain-inducing. Tincture of iodine is what they throw at you from gallon buckets now prior to surgery, which seems to serve the same purpose. Merthiolate would sometimes be used to swab a sore throat, or you could gargle with a mixture of very warm water with enough salt in it to make you gag. It works but has the same short effectiveness as rubbing calamine lotion on an itch. Merthiolate's only good feature was that it was a magnificent orange/fuchsia color.

My dad used to get ringworm on his knuckles from milking cows (fungus or parasite, not a worm). It made a ring-shaped rash and he doctored it by using a product called new skin. I'm not sure what it was, but it hardened around the ring and seemed to work eventually.

Penicillin didn't always come in shots or pills. The doctor sometimes prescribed penicillin lozenges which came in both red and yellow, individually wrapped like Sunburst candies. The red ones were tolerable but the yellow ones were so bad you would almost rather suffer. They were stored in the refrigerator in a dark bottle like the ones you buy yeast in now.

If we were ever at Grandma Rice's and had a tummy ache, she would snare some of her peppermint leaves and make us peppermint tea, another nasty product that seemed to work. There was a liquid vitamin elixir named Vidaylin. I remember it tasted so good, that sometimes I took an extra dose.

For a tummy ache, there was always paragoric, which went down a little better with a bit of sugar and water. My recollection is that it tasted like bitter licorice. I do remember feeling a lot better immediately afterwards. Little did we realize it was "camphorated tincture of opium" which was highly misused for years, as was laudanum in previous centuries. Laudanum had an even higher concentration of opium than paragoric (but less than morphine), however, it was mixed with alcohol to give it a bit more kick. It's a wonder anybody survived. Wait...they didn't. Even after paregoric was taken off the market for humans, you could still get it without prescription for your farm animals. Moo.

Speaking of farm animals, there was some vividly-purple disinfectant (iodine?) that the farmer slathered all over the injured section of the animal. It had a wire dipstick with foam around it, that was pulled up through the narrow neck of the bottle to keep it from being too sloppy. That stuff worked every time!

One of the dumbest old treatments was putting butter immediately on a fresh burn. There was a bright yellow burn medicine in a tube called Furacin Cream which helped, as did aloe vera, but a burn is a burn.

If a kid got the chicken pox or the measles, everybody brought their kids over to the house for a sleepover in the hopes they would all catch whatever it was and "get it over with". It's hard to believe, but that's how it was done. There was some idea that you could only get German/Red measles, the more serious type, once, but you could get the regular measles up to three times. Mumps were considered more dangerous and I don't remember sleepovers to catch those. I do remember my dad getting them once, and when he couldn't make it out to milk the cows, we all thought he might be dying.

My personal cannot-do-without item for our medicine chest is polysporin. It's safe, non-addicting and borderline-magical. If you don't have any, you might wanna get some!