Search results for 'mice'

There were two mice, different generations, two different houses, three hundred yards apart…

21 Nov

What’s in the basement? Inquiring Personal Historians want to know. Please share your best discovery, thanks.
See Association of Personal Historians Discussion

There were two mice, different generations, two different houses, three hundred yards apart… more on this later.

At the recent Association of Personal Historians (APH) Conference – Steve Roberts described asking his mother… do you have any else for me? Her response… (Something like) yes I do son, and then produced a box with hundreds of letters between her future husband and herself. This was great original source material for a personal/family history book.

Two other Personal Historians described finding a 1,000 letters mixed in with a few boxes of family photos. These have or will be converted into personal histories.

My best experience thus far was discovering my client had a file drawer with various “family materials” in the basement during my “pre-interview” first visit.

Good news: after we finishing talking I went down to look and discovered it was a treasure trove of background material for the next interview, included family genealogy, etc.

Bad news: my client who was then 102 and banned from ever walking down the basement steps again, followed me down the stairs as I was looking in the file. But maybe that’s why he lived to 104, hmmm…

Good news: I later discovered his high school journal, a family history project he did in college with first person descriptions of characteristics of his ancestors in great detail going back to the early 1800s, what they died of, how long they lived, a pedigree chart and so much more.

Sometimes though personal historians are surprised at what they find in their own extended family basements… (or attics…)

  • A colleague recently described discovering that not only had her mother kept a diary for many years, but also her grandmother had kept a diary, independently the colleague had started her own diary a few years ago so now she had three generations, a 100 years of diaries and diarists to write about in her own family.
  • So back to my story… There were two mice, different generations, two different houses, three hundred yards apart… (Did you guess this was about my Mom? You may not want to share this with her, thanks).

About 1959 my Mom and Dad were expecting their third child and moved into a newer (well at least it was newer to them) house on a hill in the geographic center of our town. My grandmother owned the farm that bordered the house on two sides. The third side bordered the stone house and in front our house was a paved road, though there was another farm field just on the other side.

Well, perhaps during the first, second, or third week after moving in, my Mom went down into the basement to do the laundry. It was exciting to have a newer home with a washing machine; I am not sure whether she had a clothes dryer. I know there was the requisite clothes line out back.
Anyway, my Mom soon discovered there was a mouse in the basement.

  • The good news is it gave her four sons something to talk about for well over fifty years since then.
  • The bad news is she was deathly afraid of mice.
  • The good news was that her oldest son was three years old – a big, strong husky boy who thought it was great fun helping Mom with the laundry. I was only one at the time, but I was also recruited at an early age to take on errands in the basement, “could you go down in the basement and bring up some cans of vegetables for dinner?”
  • More good news, she had a third and then a fourth son to share “could you go down in the basement” chores.
    That basement was a great place to play hide and seek, it had an exterior door to get to our backyard, and we had lots of toys and games, our friends and cousins enjoyed coming over and spending time in the basement. Not surprisingly, my Mom never felt she needed to supervise our play when we were in the basement.

So we learned how to be useful, doing chores for Mom. We learned how to be independent and self-entertaining and we (mostly) learned how to keep the family secret – Mom’s afraid of mice. Despite this small handicap, she was a pretty great Mom.

Now about the second mouse… that’s another story. Until then – What’s in (your) basement? Please collect and share your family stories.

Thanksgiving is a great time to explore and record family history, or to a bit of exploring in the basement, you never know…?

Have a great Thanksgiving.

Bruce Summers – SummooseTales

Member: Association of Personal Historians

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How much time do you have… Mom?

9 Jan

 

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Jane Summers (1929-2016)

Mom was breathing really hard. But she was still alive. She had waited for us:)

Mom had not been conscious for four or more days. She had eaten little the week before and stopped taking fluids. But she was resilient, just like her Mom before her.

Today was Christmas Day.  We arrived in the afternoon. I went into see her. She thrashed her arm a bit. I tried to re-cover it. But, she didn’t want it covered. The Visiting Angel who was watching over her, gave me space and time to be with Mom.

Mom always wanted to have her family home for Christmas. My wife and my children and I were there with her. My brother’s family was there with her. My Dad, and two other extended family members and alternating Visiting Angels traded off spending time with Mom during Christmas, sometimes alone, sometimes in groups.

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Christmas 1994

The Angel shared, she can’t talk with you, but she can hear everything you say. So we started chatting with and about Mom so she could hear us and know that we were with her.  We could hold her hand and feel the warmth.

One of Mom’s favorite holiday songs was Silent Night, so my son and I sang a duet of Silent Night for Mom, this went well. Then we tried a second song, this one was off pitch a bit and we were stumbling over the words… Mom’s armed thrashed and she made a noise.  We stopped… leaving well enough alone.

In the other rooms of the house, we celebrated the traditions that Mom had established… catching up on family news while sharing cheese and crackers, admiring Mom and Dad’s Christmas tree, watching some sports, the dreaded Pittsburg Steelers came back from behind to defeat the Baltimore Ravens, knocking them out of the playoffs. This to the glee of a few and to the groans of many.

We opened gifts, retold the story of how Mom hand-knitted and then sent the huge Christmas stocking with presents to Dad while he served in the Army during the Korea War, this before they were married. We cooked Mom’s favorite dishes and shared Christmas dinner together while the Angel watched over Mom.

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We continued to stop back in Mom’s room, visiting, looking in, and saying prayers. For me, many of the prayers were thank yous for the extra three months we had with Mom.  We thought we would lose her in September. However, the support from the Angels, combined with Mom’s resilience and Dad’s love kept Mom alive.  We were all blessed with time for visits and talks by phone. Mom was even able to get up and come to the Thankgiving table by wheel chair for about fifteen minutes in November.

All of this extra time was a series of blessings. In Mid-August Mom stopped eating and started sleeping most of the time. Her biological clock started winding down. We all started wondering, how much time do you have… Mom? How much time do we have? We all focused on visiting more, on getting her to eat when she was awake, and on offering her fluids to drink.

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Dad, Mom, me and my three brothers

Just before Mom’s birthday, in early October, I was up for a visit. I found a box of old style – Brown-Sugar-Cinnamon (Non-Frosted) Pop Tarts at the store. Well, I had fixed one of these Pop Tarts and boiled  a cup of tea for Mom every morning before school in the later 1960’s and much of the first half of the 1970’s. Inwardly, I smiled and brought a box home.

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The next morning Mom woke at a reasonable time. I asked her, Mom, would you like a Pop Tart? “What kind,” she asked. Brown-Sugar-Cinnamon (without the frosting), I replied.  She said “I haven’t had one of those in years!'” Would you like one?” I responded. “Sure,” she said. So I toasted one and brought it in for her with a cup of hot tea, with two ice cubes in it. An Angel helped her to eat and drink.

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Later my Dad shared privately, that it did not really have a the right type of calories for Mom.  He was of course right, but we all sort of knew we did not know how much time we had with Mom. She was resilient, but her biological clock continued to tick towards the end. Later on, Dad or one of the Angels gradually offered her the rest of the Pop Tarts. It was with mixed feelings that I saw the box of Pop Tarts was finally gone when I visited in early December.

brown-sugar-cinnamin-pop-tart

How much time do you have Mom? Back at the end of August, I was able to talk Mom into going for a swim in her backyard pool.  This after much resistance. She was weak but still able to get her swim suit on and walk out to the pool. “I don’t think I want to get in,” she demurred. Sure you do, I had already gotten in. “I think I’ll just watch,” she added. The water is a perfect temperature I responded. “I don’t know if I can get down the steps,” she deferred. I can help you, and I did. Mom eased into the pool, eventually her natural buoyancy took over and she was relaxed, floating on her back, she was Mom.

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Mom and her sister Joan

She loved her pool. She had taught most of her grandchildren how to swim during “Grammy Camp” during summers past. Her first job as a teenager was teaching children how to swim at a summer camp.  She taught her four boys how to swim, then later drove us to a pool for lessons and to the YMCA for swim meets. It was great being able to spend time with Mom in the pool. She was back in her element.

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The next time I came up to visit. Mom didn’t want to swim.  Thoughts of putting a bathing suit on were now beyond her. But Mom, I shared, I need someone to watch me. I can’t swim alone. Well, Mom, knew this well since she had instilled this precept in each of her children from an early age, never swim alone. So I went out to the pool. Mom followed up the stairs to the pool area and sat in a chair so that she could watch me.  I swam for a long time, often talking with Mom, and then even after my brother came out to visit, Mom stayed there watching over me. This, despite her propensity to sleep most of the day away and night away, she would not let me swim alone.

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During a visit in September, Mom lay propped up on the couch. I went through the 1996 photo album that she had curated. I showed her the pictures, she smiled a bit remembering when her oldest five grandchildren were little. My daughter was just a baby. There were lots of smiling faces as we visited with “Grammy” and “Pop Pop” (with Mom and Dad) at the pool, at the beach, at family gatherings, and during holidays, these often organized by Mom. I re-shot images of the photos in the album and reflected on the amazing memories my Mom had preserved, but also of the indelible memories and experiences that she had fostered.

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Though I continued to wonder how much time Mom would have, I was also very glad that she had so much time to share her love of her family. I realized that there were shelves full of memories, dozens of curated photo albums, and all those family pictures on the walls throughout her house. As a professional Personal Historian I had started recording Mom stories and Dad stories and Their stories back in 2012.  I have well over 100 hours of recorded memories and stories on audio tape. Mom had shared with me the queued response book that she had filled in – over 170 pages of handwritten responses to questions about her life. These, to complement the hours of recordings and the photo archives.

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This helped me to reflect, that though Mom was not able to respond to my questions now, she could now interview us – asking us what’s new, how are the kids doing in college, in jobs, in grad school, and in sports. She continued to be proud of us all. She had given us an amazing legacy of memories and a legacy of love and shared family experiences.

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Christmas to Mom was family time, we were playing a family game as Christmas came to a close. Other family members were back in Mom’s room as Christmas and the game came to a close. Just after Christmas ended, Mom was ready and she went home. She was at peace, we said our final goodbyes. Afterwards, I pictured her sitting in heaven with two of her lapdogs sitting on her lap watching over us.

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We do not know how much time we have… but thank you Mom for loving us and for investing in us your values and all of that quality time. The memories will last.

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Blog by Bruce Summers, Personal Historian, Summoose Tales, Summersbw@gmail.com

Bruce also is a Board Member of the Association of Personal Historians, also Regions and Chapters Director


See also

Mom Stories

also

There were two mice, different generations, two different houses, three hundred yards apart…

and

Mother’s Day and Memories

 

Mother’s Day – Unique Gift

6 May

Sometimes I get to see my mother on Mother’s Day, and sometimes I can not. I propose a unique gift for your Mom – an hour of time as an active listener or perhaps four hours of time of asking questions about her life stories spread throughout the year.

10470171_790404754323810_1159196822803293323_o Jane Summers talks about her grandmother Lizzie, she made quilts for all nine grandchildren

Mother’s Day and Memories

As a professional personal historian, this is an easy gift for me to give my Mom.  Every time I visit my parents I have my digital voice recorder in my pocket all charged up and waiting for the right moment for some quality active listening time, and there are always more of stories to ask about. Some are favorites that I have heard partially before. Some are new stories about her childhood, about her family, about her Mom and her Grandmothers. What did she make or bake for those Sunday lunches? What did it smell like?

Thanksgiving checklist: cranberry salsa, bread, and the Voice Recorder App.

Thanksgiving Weekend update

Sometimes we talk about interesting episodes.  I love her stories about her adventures with mice.  My Mom was always afraid of mice, my three brothers an I always knew this, but it was not until a few years ago that I sat down with Mom and asked why. Then I got the real stories.

There were two mice, different generations, two different houses, three hundred yards apart…

Even if you don’t have a digital voice recorder, though they are usually reasonably priced for about $100, you likely have a voice recording app on your Smart phone.  This also works great for recording a few Mom stories during your next visit.

If you need help with questions, of if you need help from a professional Personal Historian, then check out the Association of Personal Historians website.  We are the Life Story people with thousands of years of experience helping families record and share stories about Moms (and Dads) and other loved ones.

Have a great Mother’s Day. I would love to hear about your experiences – listening to Mom stories:) Just add a comment or send me an email.

Bruce

Bruce Summers is a Personal Historian at Summoose Tales and a global board member and Regions Director of the Association of Personal Histories, summersbw@gmail.com.

Thanksgiving – Show and Tell

17 Nov

By Bruce Summers, Personal Historian – SummooseTales

Thanksgiving is getting closer day by day. Trader Joes already has turkeys — sell by December 5. Last week I bought the requisite bag of cranberries remembering back to when they used to sell out before Thanksgiving perhaps 20 years ago. I picked up an orange and a red pepper yesterday, these are the additional ingredients for cranberry salsa. I also picked up a quart of low-sodium chicken stock, just in case we needed it for the stuffing recipe.

 20141117_135036 Cranberries

We are hosting the Thanksgiving meal this year, so we also worked this weekend getting the house ready. I moved the Personal History client files, archives, and albums from my dining room office, where I can spread them out, review, edit or scan, back to the guest bedroom office.

This all started me to think about starting a new tradition, trying a Thanksgiving – Show and Tell. Building on my successful experience with Show and Tell for a recent Family Reunion, I reflected that the primary element needed for a successful Show and Tell are Family and Friends who share stories which are recorded.

So this is my Thanksgiving – Show and Tell checklist:
• Equipment – have a digital voice recorder, charged and ready. Many smart phones also have a voice recording app if the digital recorder is not available.
• For some of my Association of Personal Historian colleagues – video recording is also a good option.
• My children will be back from college for Thanksgiving so they can share their unique stories about recent or past adventures.
• Family and Friends have also been invited to join us for the Thanksgiving meal.
• Similar to Show and Tell for Family Reunions I will need to cordially invite everyone to bring an object, a photo, or and album and especially one or more stories that they will talk about for 5 or so minutes.
• An object or photos are not required but they give us an opportunity to share a bit of family history and a story or two or three. Example: What’s the story behind the display case of N-Gauge trains?

20141117_113430 Train Display

• The Thanksgiving Table may display a unique table-cloth or dishes and serving bowls. Does anyone know the story behind the salt and pepper shaker, the HOC glasses, and what about the table itself? What are the stories and what are the origins of these items?

20141117_113908 Salt and Pepper - Dutch20141117_113742 HOC Glass

• Then there are the unique foods and side dishes. Why do we have sauerkraut, and why does the pot need to stay in the kitchen and not on the table?
• Is there a tradition of sharing what we are thankful for? How did this start?
• My favorite questions for my mom or my dad or my in-laws – what was Thanksgiving like for your family when you were growing up? Where did you celebrate? Who participated? What foods do you remember? Example: my mom was a finicky eater. So as a youth she always got one of the wings from the turkey with lots of skin.
• Were there any special traditions for Thanksgiving Day? Examples: When did the turkey go in the oven? Did you watch the Macy’s Day Parade? In my family growing up, there was the tradition of the annual Thanksgiving project. Since I was one of four boys, perhaps this was a way my dad could keep us busy and out of the house while mom was busy getting things ready – the food, the table, straightening up the house so at least temporarily it did not look like four rambunctious boys lived there with gym bags, books, papers, and toys spread around.
• Remember the time we helped tear down the old barn on the back farm? Was that really a Thanksgiving Project?
• Sometimes it is good to ask about smells and tastes? For me there was the smell of the turkey roasting. I wanted to watch my mom baste the turkey, but really I just wanted to take in that heavenly smell. With my own family, for some strange reason I look forward to the smell of lemon pledge, endust or other anti-dust spray. I like to walk around dusting, mind you this is only once or twice a year, all the wood surfaces, the chairs, furniture, cabinets, and tables on Thanksgiving Day. Well maybe I will share this joy with one of my children this year, or maybe not.

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• Show and Tell works best if you block or designate a specific time for formal sharing. Perhaps during that hour gap between finishing the main meal and serving desserts. On the other hand you may also need to schedule a bit of an interlude for clearing the table, putting the food away, and washing up. In our family we may also need to shoehorn it in between the annual Scrabble game and watching a movie together, sometime these go on concurrently.
• If possible gather in one room, have people bring out their objects or photos. Note some people will keep these secret until the designated time to share.
• Designate ahead of time someone to take pictures during the Show and Tell.
• The role of the Personal Historian or facilitator is to start and stop the digital recorder to capture each unique story. Make sure people say their name, make good eye contact, and nod encouragingly. Be a good listener and ask follow-up questions, if needed.
• Be prepared to kick things off by showing an object or a photo and telling your own short story.

IMG_4015 Superfine Limagrands

• Be prepared for surprises, that others may want to embellish the story or provide context, also that spontaneous stories will pop up that are not connected to a picture or an object. Perhaps a story about little Ralph and the missing silver spoon.
• At the end thank everyone, and think about how you will share the recordings and pictures with everyone, and how you and other family members can combine these stories into your family history.
• Bonus: You may find a quiet time during Thanksgiving or the Thanksgiving weekend to…
o Do a one on one interview with your mom, dad, aunt, uncle or family friend. You might find out about why your mom was afraid of mice.
o Surreptitiously wonder down to check out what’s in the basement or the attic.
o Walk around the house and take a few pictures of unique family objects that may have additional stories.

I hope everyone has a story filled Thanksgiving. Please consider trying Show and Tell.

Getting Canned!

30 Jul

Getting canned has certain distinct advantages.

 20140712_110818 Looking up the NF Railroad Tracks on Front Street

During my recent family reunion I walked the rail trail in New Freedom, PA and took pictures of the New Freedom Heritage Society murals, one of which showed my dad and uncle…

20140712_110659 Tom and Dwight Summers - NF Mural

  • Getting canned vegetables ready to be processed. The Summers Family was in the vegetable canning business for 118 years.

img103 Summers 100th - Horn of Plenty - Superfine Cans

During my childhood…

  • Getting canned vegetables from the basement for dinner… my mother was deathly afraid of the mice. She was sure they were waiting for her in the basement. We loved canned vegetables. We enjoyed them for dinner all winter and much of the spring. Even better, we could walk or jog down to the canning factory and ask my dad if we could pick out a dozen or so ears of corn, fresh tomatoes, peas or green beans for dinner.

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During my teenage years I worked as a crop inspector. I travelled out to the fields early each morning. I wandered down a row to the middle of a 40 or 50 acre field and collected a random sample of peas or green beans. This was to determine when the field should be scheduled for harvest.

  • Getting canned vegetables scheduled for processing included a few risks. One morning I was moseying down a long row and all of a sudden something flew up near my face. I jumped way back as a pheasant took off right in front of me. I am pretty sure I was more startled than he was. I still remember the incident vividly 40 years later. Then, of course, there was getting the company station wagon stuck in the muddy field. This requiring an embarrassing call to the field office to ask whether and when they could send a tractor to pull me out. It was a bit more fun to clamber up the side of 20 ton tractor-trailer loads of green beans. I had to take a sample of harvested beans to determine quality and how much the farmers would get paid.

During my college years…

20140712_110708 Into the Kettle - NF Mural

  • Getting canned brownies… my grandmother Summers made the world’s best triple fudge brownies. You could not eat more than two of them at a time. They came in an industrial sized # 10 can, so there were plenty to share with selected friends and hall-mates. Even so, I still had about four days’ worth of mouth-watering deliciousness.

During my Peace Corps volunteer years…

  • Getting canned cookies, the homemade kind that only a mom can make, was a holiday season highlight. They shipped very nicely during the two-plus weeks it took the postal service to ship them to Barbados.

20140712_110719 Onions - NF Mural

Canned vegetables provided jobs or early job experience for hundreds of teenagers in our area. For others like my dad, my uncle, my grandparents, my great-grandfather, and my great-great-grandfather and his uncle and thousands of their neighbors, canned vegetables provided their livelihood and a nice career. They put me through college. They helped me earn money for my first car. They provided a nest egg that I invested and added to; this enabling me to put a down payment on my first home.

For some getting canned is a very bad day. For me it is not bad, not bad at all.

What’s in your basement? Personal Historians want to know, but you might also be curious…

29 Dec

Bruce Summers, SummooseTales, Inc. is a member of the Association of Personal Historians

The Holidays and the start of the new year are a great time to do some exploring or cleaning out… a few recent basement finds – I took a quick look through my parent’s basement during December and the holidays, I found…

  • An old piano (out of tune) that we bought for something like $5 from the old New Freedom Elementary School (we had to take the frame off the door and the lid and wheels off the piano, then used the muscle of 5 strong teenage boys and my dad to muscle this piano down the steep outside cellar steps into the basement – it may never come out)

IMG_4018 New Freedom Elementary Piano

  • My grandmother’s sewing kit, a floor mat from my parents for boat – Summers’ Dream, a wicker basket that held toys for children and grandchildren

 IMG_4035 Grandma's sewing box, Summers Dream, Toy Wicker basket

  • A mystery box with correspondence from the 1880s from my great-grandfather (will need to explore that one in more depth)

IMG_4031 B 1880's Dwight Stone's correspondence in box

  • My father’s slides from his time as a second Lt. on Heartbreak Ridge during the Korean War… (I did a voice recording of his narration as we looked through the first three trays of these slides)

IMG_4016 Korea Slides

  • A Superfine picture of a can of Limagrands (my family was in the vegetable canning business for 118 years) – See Summers 100 Years

IMG_4015 Superfine Limagrands

  • The wooden wine glass holder that I made for my dad 40 years ago to attach under the basement steps (hmmm… I might need to borrow that for my own home). My dad is still using the same electric belt-sander that I used to make the wine glass holder. It is sitting in the same spot in the basement since we moved in – in 1966 (I remember using this on dozens of school project and to make my own Cricket Bat when I came back from the Peace Corps in 1984).

IMG_4024 Belt Sander - Grinder and fire truck

  • Not in the attic but in my dad’s filing cabinet was the original pencil drawn diagram of the Prisoner of War Camp used to house German Prisoners in Stewartstown, PA during World War II… but that’s another story.

I encourage you to checkout what’s in your basement or your parents’ or grandparents’ basement or attic or that bottom desk drawer, then ask them about and record the stories connected to these items and related memories, you’ll be glad you did. (Hmmm… I guess I should call my dad and ask him why he keeps a toy fire engine by the belt grinder)?

This is a second in a series of blogs about basement finds, earlier I wrote… There were two mice, different generations, two different houses, three hundred yards apart…

  • I recently recorded a few updates to this mouse story.  My mom shared… An exterminator or similar service provider was checking our basement, this was perhaps around  1960 or 61 and said… “Did you know you had a rat in your basement?” Well this was enough for her to promote my older brother to head of the Summers Laundry as a 5 or 6-year-old since the washer and dryer were in basement. I also received a promotion to head of canned vegetable procurement as my mom now trusted me as a 4 or 5-year-old to go down to the basement to bring up canned vegetables for dinner.  This was in our home on Singer Road. Note: I recently rediscovered one of the old wooden bar stools from one of my parent’s former houses, I can just about picture my Mom perched high on top of this stool waiting for my Dad to come home to address a mouse or rat issue.

IMG_4023 B Bar stool from Singer Road

  • A bit of back story…  My mom explained that our first home on Third Street in New Freedom, PA also had a significant mouse problem… though possibly no rats. My dad’s first cousin had a large black walnut tree and of course black walnuts benefit greatly from being given a few months to dry out before opening.  My dad, having been married just a few years, thought that the attic would be a perfect place to dry black walnuts. Well, evidently the field mice, or perhaps they were regular house mice or more specialized walnut mice fairly quickly decided that my father was not really keeping up with his chores, since he was busy with the peak season for vegetable canning at the Summers Canning Factory, so they volunteered to turn the walnuts over each night, while my parents were trying to sleep.  My mom was less than pleased to hear the walnuts rolling around in the attic.  I was an infant and my older brother was just 2 or 3 at the time, we were not really bothered, I heard on the radio today that “white noise” such as this might even be calming, perhaps I found it soothing as I was taking my many naps during the day and sleeping through the night, though I admit I have no memory of the rolling walnuts.  My mother was even less pleased that the mice sometimes got lost on their way to and from the attic and found their way into the interior of the house, this prompting a call to my father.  He on the other hand is very proud of the fact that he trapped a record 23 mice in that house in one year. Long story short – my mom perhaps earned her phobia of mice honestly during her first 5 or 6 years of marriage.

Thankgiving Weekend update

2 Dec

 

It was great to have my son home a few days from college. We met up with him in my home town of New Freedom, PA. He was over visiting with his cousins, but came back to my parents’ house to throw the Frisbee with me, his cousin, and his sister in my parents’ back yard. Lots of room, but we did have to call out the occasional warning to look out for the volleyball poles. He had chatted the day before with his grandfather while catching a ride from the bus station in Harrisburg, PA. When he saw me he shared, “Pop Pop was telling me about his time at the McDonough School, you need to record that story?”

This reminded me of course to check and see if my trusty digital voice recorder was in my pocket. Recording Personal and Family Histories is now pretty well expected whenever I see my parents. Sure enough on Friday at lunch I did have a chance to capture a few stories from my Dad and got a copy of the small booklet that celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Charles G. Summers, Jr. – family vegetable canning business going back five generations.

I recorded about 30 minutes of stories with my Mom. I found out about the older girl that lived with her family for a few years and who taught her to dance. Perhaps more important I recorded new material about my Mom and mice. There was much more to the history than I knew before with several new wrinkles, but that’s a different blog.

We gathered on Thanksgiving afternoon at my brother’s house, my Mom made a ham, my sister-in-law made a turkey, my kids learned they liked creamed corn casserole, this after my Mom worried much of the afternoon about whether she had messed up the recipe, since she was “distracted” by everyone chatting and sharing stories in the kitchen while she was trying to cook. I also thought it was delicious.

There were 14 of us for Thanksgiving Dinner; we prepared a cheese tray for nibbling while we chatting in the kitchen for the hour and half leading up to dinner. We also had to bring the Wurzelbrot Bread from the Swiss Bakery near our home and our special Cranberry Salsa.

There were mashed potatoes, green beans, sweet potatoes, and a rice based stuffing. I was invited to help make the gravy, I am not sure how I earned the privilege, though I vague remember making gravy at an earlier multigenerational Thanksgiving gathering. It came out well, so I guess their trust was justified.

My Dad said a Thanksgiving blessing then we all took our plates and circle to buffet spread and sat down to eat. The six “kids” at their table in the kitchen and the older adults in the dining room. The flavors and textures were delicious, but each of us realized about a third of the way through our plate that we had selected just a bit too much. Perhaps it was the cheese, perhaps the plates were a bit large, or perhaps our eyes – as usual on Thanksgiving Day – were just a bit larger than our stomachs.

Conversation was great; after we were done we all chipped in to help clean up the mounds of dishes and pots and pans – many hands made light work. We had a brief pause for conversation – yes I admit my eyes might have closed a few times.

My brother’s family are rabid Baltimore Ravens fans – so much of the rest of evening was spent watching another epic Football battle between the Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers, this made even more interesting since my son goes to college in Pittsburgh and now has divided loyalties between the Ravens and Pittsburgh. The game was still in contention until the last minute when Pittsburgh could not complete the pass for the two point conversion.

Charles G. Summers, Jr. Canning Plant Mural

The next morning my wife and I went for our usual long walk through the farms, woods, and then crossed the Mason Dixon Line to stroll up through the town on the Rail Trail. We heard the train whistle in the distance for the new “Steam Into History” passenger train. I paused briefly to take a few pictures of the Murals on the former Charles G. Summers, Jr. Vegetable Canning Business (our family business for 119 years).

We returned home later in the day for a few more days filled with baking cookies, a quick visit for my son to “Bob’s Barber Shop” to see what they could do with 3 months of college grown hair, seeing a movie with cousins on the other side of the family, my daughter finished up a college application. My son had his 10 hours of board games with friends, and then it was a few hours of sleep. He and I got up at 5:30 so he could catch the bus back to college, another half dozen activities after my son left – an hour nap – helping set up for the Advent Fun Shop at our church, baking more cookies, and a bit of Personal History interviewing and Thanksgiving Weekend came to a close.  A busy, family and fun filled four days of Thanksgiving.


 


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