Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: Mother's Day Cards

Wordless Wednesday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers that asks family historians to create a post in which the main focus is a photograph or image.


Probably my grandmother signed this card
for "Sonny" (my dad's nickname)
 and "Buddy" (my uncle's nickname)

My great-grandmother Mary Theresa Sheehan Killeen Walsh saved many of the Mother’s Day cards sent to her by her children and grandchildren. This one is from my dad and his brother. I don’t know the year, but it was definitely no later than 1939.

© 2016, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

A to Z April Challenge: Z is for ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Genealogists and family historians get a lot of satisfaction from chasing their ancestors’ stories. Finding a diary, a message on a postcard, or a photo with a name attached is like the sun coming out after a storm. One day we will be somebody’s ancestor. We need to leave our descendants a little bit of sunshine too. So here is my story told alphabetically, not chronologically: Growing Up in Cradock.

is for ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

Did anyone ever sleep at a sleepover? When I was in junior high school and maybe even early high school, a sleepover was a major event. Typically it was part of a birthday party but not always. Maybe it was just the crowd I hung with, but at every single one of them, the goal was to stay up all night.

How did we manage to do that? About the time that it was officially “late,” we watched “Shock Theater,” a local television show in which a Dracula-type vampire would rise out of a coffin with his greeting, “Good EEEE-ven-ing.” Then he introduced some classic horror movie featuring Dracula, Frankenstein, Wolf Man, the Mummy or somebody along those lines.

After the movie, it was time for prank phone calls. These gags were pretty funny to 12 and 13-year olds but are old hat now. Well, not just old, not even funny. We grabbed the phone book, opened to a random page, and dialed a random number. The gags went like this:
“Is your refrigerator running? Well, you’d better go catch it!” OR
“Do you have Prince Albert in a can? Well, you’d better let him out.”
Yeah, we were a laugh riot.

My sister's sleepover at our house - 9th birthday party 1968

The most fun though was a special phone number supplied by one of the local radio stations. The number connected to something like a pre-Internet chat room. When the number connected, you could hear everybody who was calling and then strike up a conversation. We often exchanged phone numbers with other slumber parties and called each other. Now, this was in the days before cell phones, so it was ONE house phone. Everyone at the party who wanted to talk just had to wait their turn.

Some girls had bad experiences at sleepovers where the girls would do something mean to any girl who fell asleep (like covering their face with shaving cream or freezing water in their bra). Fortunately I never attended such a party. If someone fell asleep, it was allowed.

As for me, I hung in there. But Saturdays were never good as a result. Sometimes Momma would have a long list of things for me to do just so that I could not take a nap. That would teach me! 

Zip, Zoom, or Zigzag over to the A to Z April Challenge Zone for Zillions of Zesty Zingers by Zealous Zanies before they are Zapped.  But the challenge is now over, so it’s time for me to catch some zzzzzzzzzzzz’s.

Now where's that Survivor Badge?

© 2016, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Friday, April 29, 2016

A to Z April Challenge: Y is for Yearbooks

Genealogists and family historians get a lot of satisfaction from chasing their ancestors’ stories. Finding a diary, a message on a postcard, or a photo with a name attached is like the sun coming out after a storm. One day we will be somebody’s ancestor. We need to leave our descendants a little bit of sunshine too. So here is my story told alphabetically, not chronologically: Growing Up in Cradock.


is for yearbooks.

Yearbooks are where our friends just wrote stupid stuff. I don't have room for ALL the stupid stuff, and besides, who wants to read it? Here are just a few of the kinds of end of year messages we all wrote to each other sending us off for the summer with fond memories of our friends.


(Click on images to enlarge them if you really want to read it!)


























The verdict is in: I am definitely cute and sweet.

Yippee!  There will be no yawning over the yarns yielded by yuppies, youngsters, yokels, and yodelers over yonder at the A to Z April Challenge.

© 2016, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved

Thursday, April 28, 2016

A to Z April Challenge: X is for Xtra-Curricular Activities

Genealogists and family historians get a lot of satisfaction from chasing their ancestors’ stories. Finding a diary, a message on a postcard, or a photo with a name attached is like the sun coming out after a storm. One day we will be somebody’s ancestor. We need to leave our descendants a little bit of sunshine too. So here is my story told alphabetically, not chronologically: Growing Up in Cradock.

is for Xtra curricular activities.

It was a well-known fact that to get into the right college, you needed to participate in the full life of school, not merely earn good grades. Membership in clubs and organizations would surely be signs of one’s leadership skills and social involvement that would impress college admissions offices. Therefore, I threw myself into many activities at Cradock High School, not just to pad my high school resume but also because I really enjoyed it.

Future Teachers of America

FTA Officers 1967-68
Moi standing 2nd from the right
I was a member three years and secretary for one year. Some of our projects included providing coffee and donuts for new teachers at the start of school, honoring teachers during American Education Week, remembering teachers on their birthdays, supporting a child at Christmas, and collecting gifts for a needy family at Christmas. During Teacher Career Month, junior and senior club members taught for one day in area schools; one year I was assigned a third grade class at James Hurst Elementary. Our club was also active on the District and State levels sending delegates to conventions.


Kappa
Kappa was one of the service clubs open to girls only. I wrote about Kappa on “K” day, but while looking at the yearbook for some pictures, I was reminded of some of our service projects: sending personal supplies to the soldiers in Viet Nam, visiting Naval Hospital patients, holding parties for the children at St. Mary’s Infants Home and Westhaven Boys Home, painting the bus ramp pillars and parking lot lines, hosting honor roll parties, sponsoring children at Christmas, awarding
savings bonds to selected college-bound seniors, collecting newspapers for Union Mission, making tray favors for hospital patients, polishing the Victory Bell and polishing trophies in the trophy case, and making crossword puzzle books for senior citizens. We always entered a float in the homecoming parade and supported our teams with spirit posters on game day. I was the Vice-President of the club my senior year.
Just a few of the members 1967-68
Moi back row 2nd from right

National Honor Society
Juniors and Seniors with a 3.0 average were inducted into this organization that recognized academic achievement. This was not a particularly busy group. Our main fundraiser was a SLAVE Auction, of all things. Members were auctioned to the highest bidder to perform such duties as carrying their textbooks and lunch tray. I guess we were not as sensitive to that term back then, but we raised enough money to award a small scholarship each year.

Shipmate
Shipmate staff 1966-67
Moi back row 2nd from right
(I was sitting on the file cabinet.)
During my sophomore and junior years, I took Journalism I and II as electives, so I was automatically part of the newspaper staff. During my senior year, I was co-editor along with my friend Judy, so we sat in the journalism classroom as our study hall since there was no Journalism III. Our advisor Mrs. Glazer gave us plenty of freedom to plan each issue which came out every six weeks or so. Many days some of the staff just roamed the halls under the pretense of searching for stories; sometimes we could be found down at the Shop wing checking out all the good-looking guys. In our more serious moments the staff cranked out stories that earned our paper top honors at the Southern Interscholastic Press Association conventions. We also produced a special Senior edition that contained seniors’ baby pictures, the class history, class prophecy, Last Will & Testament, class poem, class song, and future plans after graduation. Working on the newspaper was one of my favorite activities and surely the highlight of my high school days.

Quill & Scroll
Quill & Scroll 1968-69
I'm in the 3rd row from the back, 2nd from the right
Quill & Scroll was our local chapter of the International Honor Society for High School Journalism. This club was open to students who worked on the school newspaper, literary magazine, or yearbook. While this club was also not very active like a social club, we supported each other’s efforts to promote our publications. Some years we sponsored literary contests. I was secretary of the
organization during my Junior year.

Over the years there were many committees that I served on as well including prom committees, homecoming committees, and Senior Banquet committee for which I was chairman.


At every assembly, the Senior class took a minute to recognize a senior for outstanding service. I was very proud to be the first one in my class to receive the Service Award during the first assembly of our Senior year. Lots of people worked hard and made significant contributions, but not everyone received this award, so it was indeed an honor.

Membership Pins
Top: Future Teachers of America and National Honor Society
Bottom: Senior Service Award, Quill & Scroll, Kappa


If you’re caught between a xenolith and xylols, or even if you suffer from xenophobia, you should make your way to the A to Z April Challenge where you will be met with xenodochial xenagogues whose xenophilia will convince you there are no xanthippes among us.

© 2016, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A to Z April Challenge: W is for What I Wore

Genealogists and family historians get a lot of satisfaction from chasing their ancestors’ stories. Finding a diary, a message on a postcard, or a photo with a name attached is like the sun coming out after a storm. One day we will be somebody’s ancestor. We need to leave our descendants a little bit of sunshine too. So here is my story told alphabetically, not chronologically: Growing Up in Cradock.

is for what I wore.

When I think of fashion in the 1960s, I think of Go-Go boots, tie-dye and psychedelic patterns, and bell-bottom pants. Twiggy’s fashion sense turned the world upside down with the mini-skirt and shift dresses.

But fashion in Cradock High School was far more conservative than that. Girls tried to go mini, but there were strict guidelines about where that hemline could fall. I’m sure our skirts were considered short at the time, but they look more than respectable today.

Let’s look back at the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.  Actually, let’s get “Bad and Ugly” out of the way in one fashion trend:

Wendy, Lynnette, Lynn, Pat
8th grade trip to Washington DC
How did Pat NOT have a scarf? Smart girl!
THE TRIANGLE SCARF



What were we thinking? We looked like we were collecting alms for the poor.














The rest is actually pretty Good (or maybe I just THINK it looks good because it was MY fashion past).

PLAID

Plaid jumpers, plaid skirts, plaid shirts and blouses - we loved plaid.


Wendy and Judy
I was wearing a blue plaid Dirndl skirt
Wendy and Guy "American Gothic"
Obviously we had time to kill
taking silly pictures.













Moi on the left wearing plaid skirt and sweater
(pretty sure that's my charm bracelet too!)

LABELS

Me in a London Fog coat 1965
LONDON FOG
London Fog coats with a Chesterfield collar appealed to a lot of us who thought it was pretty cool to be able to zip the lining in or out according to the weather.



JOHN MEYER OF NORWICH
Oooh that was a desirable label! His preppy line popularized the plaid A-line skirt and cardigan. A blouse with Peter Pan collar completed the look. The label was pricey, so if I owned the real deal, it was because my grandmother bought it for Christmas. Otherwise I wore plenty of homemade knock-offs thanks to my talented seamstress mother.

While I napped,
Pat (left) sported the
John Meyer / Villager
skirt and sweater style.
VILLAGER
Momma and Moi in our Villager skirt
and pintuck blouse KNOCK-OFFS
This was another desirable label that rarely made it into my closet except through my mother’s skill at copying the popular look. Villager was known for its pastel print dresses, and pastel print A-line skirts with matching pintuck blouses. Villager also made the wool skirt and sweater sets similar to the John Meyer look.


SHOES
Bass Weejuns were the rage, and the NAME mattered. Most of my friends wore the penny-loafer style, but I chose the ones with the kiltie tassel. Mine were not considered as cool.

Baby doll shoes and T-straps were also very popular.

scanned from my yearbook
Can you spot which shoes were baby dolls, T-straps,
and Weejuns? HINT: I wore baby dolls.

ACCESSORIES

My charm bracelet


Just about every girl had a charm bracelet. It was fun collecting meaningful charms although I have a few that are just charms with no special significance.


The large flower pin centered on a blouse, dress or jumper was a must, especially on summer dresses. They were part of that quirky Mod style of bold and bright graphic design.

Judy and Moi sporting a flower pin


The circle pin was the expected adornment on any John Meyer or Villager blouse. Circle pins varied in design: some were just metal rings, some were flat disks, and some came with an added design element like a pearl or flower. If you had the money, you bought a circle pin and had it monogrammed.

My monogrammed circle pin
Monograms were equally important embroidered on sweaters and dresses. Villager sold skirt and sweater sets that could be embroidered, but they were quite expensive. Instead, Momma made my skirt and we bought a sweater to match giving me that Villager look. Wayside Cleaners offered embroidery service. Their motto was “Let Joe Do It,” so we did.

A good summary of the 1960s fashions at Cradock High School
Villager print dress, lots of plaid, John Meyer-style skirt and sweater,
Peter Pan collars, and 4 circle pins!

If you have withstood my wily and whimsical wheedling, then wallow in the wanderlust of more waggish writings and witticisms wafting your way at the A to Z April Challenge.

© 2016, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A to Z April Challenge: V is for Vacations

Genealogists and family historians get a lot of satisfaction from chasing their ancestors’ stories. Finding a diary, a message on a postcard, or a photo with a name attached is like the sun coming out after a storm. One day we will be somebody’s ancestor. We need to leave our descendants a little bit of sunshine too. So here is my story told alphabetically, not chronologically: Growing Up in Cradock.

is for vacations.

Nobody I knew ever took a really swanky vacation. Nobody took cruises. Nobody flew to Cancun. Nobody took the kids out of school to go skiing in the winter. Family vacations meant visiting grandparents or camping. Had the term “staycation” been coined yet, a day at Virginia Beach or the Outer Banks of North Carolina would have qualified.

Our family vacations were of two types: (1) trips to Shenandoah to visit relatives, and (2) tours of historic sites in Virginia, mostly battlefields.

I looked forward to visiting my cousins in Shenandoah, but getting there was NOT half the fun. Today with the Interstate highway, we can make the trip in 3.5 hours. Back then it was a 5-hour drive, the majority of it on a 2-lane rolling highway, up one hill and down the next, up and down, up and down. It could have been delightful watching the geography change from flatlands to piedmont to mountains and valley if it hadn’t been for those darn fuel trucks. When they were full, they couldn’t handle the posted speed limit on the uphill grade. As a result, the ride became a constant game of “Chicken” as we edged into the next lane to see if it was safe to pass.  All that with no air conditioning. Momma and Daddy were both smokers, so the ash they flicked out the front window blew in through the back window all over my sister and me.

But it was all worth it just to see my cousins. They always had some puppies to play with. Plus the Jenkins girls across the street became my friends too.

Barbara Davis and Wendy Slade  Shenandoah, VA 1960  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Cousin Bobbie and me and either Punky or Chunky
(I can never remember which was which.)
1960

Often during those trips we included a ride along the Skyline Drive. We stopped at some of the overlooks, one of which looked down on my 3X great-grandfather’s land along Naked Creek in Jollett Hollow.

Slade girls Skyline Drive 1965  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Me, Momma, Mary Jollette on the Skyline Drive
1965

A few hours away from the Drive was Natural Bridge. Supposedly the land once belonged to our family. My 2X great-grandmother Martha Willson Davis was born near there, so I suppose it’s possibly a true story, but I have not been able to prove it.

Slade girls Natural Bridge, VA 1965  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
At Natural Bridge 1965

We toured homes of some of Virginia’s presidents including Thomas Jefferson and Woodrow Wilson.

In the garden of Woodrow Wilson's home in Staunton, Virginia 1965

Of course, no summer vacation was complete without a tour of a Civil War Battlefield.

Wendy and Mary Slade Manassas, VA 1967  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Me and Momma at the Stonewall Jackson statue
Manassas Battlefield, Virginia
probably 1967

While our parents were successful in showing us the wonders of Virginia and can be credited with making us appreciate all that Virginia has to offer, the best part of the day was staying in a hotel with a pool.
Mary Jollette and Daddy
Belle Meade Motel Harrisonburg, VA

Mary Jollette and Me
Mt. Vernon Motel Charlottesville, VA  1965

These were simple, low-luster vacations, but the together time made them memorable.

Don’t vacillate now.  Why don’t you venture over to the venerable vanguard of verisimilitude in the vernacular at the A to Z April Challenge to view a veritable vortex of veracious verbalizations before they vanish?

© 2016, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved

Monday, April 25, 2016

A to Z April Challenge: U is for Unnerving Memory

Genealogists and family historians get a lot of satisfaction from chasing their ancestors’ stories. Finding a diary, a message on a postcard, or a photo with a name attached is like the sun coming out after a storm. One day we will be somebody’s ancestor. We need to leave our descendants a little bit of sunshine too. So here is my story told alphabetically, not chronologically: Growing Up in Cradock.

is for unnerving memory.

How old was I? 7? 8? 9 maybe? Like so many other times, I was playing at my grandparents’ home next door. Most of the time, my friends and I played in the yard or in the garage. Sometimes we actually played in the house. My grandparents had an old desk with lots of cubbies and little drawers that made good hiding places for small objects; one of us would hide something and the other would try to guess where.

On this particular day, a neighborhood friend and I were playing inside. We were in the bedroom where we shouldn’t have been. We were snooping where we had no business snooping. I opened a dresser drawer and found this:
 
Pearl-handled snub-nose 38 pistol
Not THE gun that I found but similar
according to my mind's eye
It was so cute. White handle. Child-size.

It must be a toy. After all, only cowboys and bad guys had real guns. And my granddaddy was not a bad guy. He certainly wasn’t a cowboy.

I pointed it at my friend. I pulled the trigger. We both laughed.

“Look what I found!” I said joyfully as I handed the pretty little toy to my grandmother. My, but she looked grim. I don’t know what became of it; I never saw it again.

With unabashed admiration for my utterly unequal colleagues, I issue this ultimatum for you to unite with umpteen users at the A to Z April Challenge to uncover some uncanny and unconventional blogs that will be unveiled to you.

© 2016, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved