I have to start this story with a bit of explanation. I was born in the wrong family. Somewhere in Woodstock or Greenwich Village there as a hip, happy, artistic family waiting for their second child & I got waylaid in rural Florida. Crossed star paths, I guess.
My family of origin was all circles and squares, rigid with religious rules, anger fueled by frustration with the life they didn't expect to have, and no joy in their marriage. We had moved from the city of Jacksonville, FL. to the very small town of Glen St. Mary, to take care of my maternal Grandfather. Grandpa was very ill, slowly dying of congestive heart failure with very little medical support at that time.
I can't remember what (if any) event led to my story, I had just reached the point of not being able to stand being where I was any longer. I had probably gotten my driver's license not long before this event.
At any rate, one night I quietly went into my parent's bedroom, took my mon's car keys, a credit card for gas and left. I didn't pack a bag, had very little money and no plan. I just wanted to escape.
I discovered that I love to drive all by myself down the highway, nothing but me and the wind in my hair. I could drive fast or slow; I had only myself to please and It was wonderful.
Unfortunately, I had a small accident in a little town about 300 miles down state. When the police came and got my story, they called my parents and took me into custody. This was 60 years ago so the only thing they could do was take me to their jail and put me in a cell overnight. It was a barebones kind of place, with no sheets or pillowcases. I guess it was
supposed to scare me into compliance with the family rules. (Didn't work.)
I had some counseling with a psychiatrist for a bit after that. Lots of lectures at school from well-meaning teachers and a coach, but it was all band aid work and never got near the roots of the issues.
So my next escape was to get married at 17 years old. But that's another story.
When I was 14 my friend Pat and I would walk downtown to Stillwater and get a chocolate Coke at the drug store fountain while we were waiting to board the 6PM late bus from the junior high school. Our after school activities never took more than 1 or 2 hours, so we always had time to spare. One day Pat needed new nylon hose, so we walked to Hooleys Grocery Store to find some. I immediately went to the snack department to look over the goodies. Pat went to find the hose. In a few minutes she yelled to me that she was ready to go, so we both walked out of the door.
Immediately sirens started going off, and 2 policemen appeared from nowhere, shouting for us to STOP! I looked at Pat with startled eyes. As the policemen grabbed both of us, Pat shouted and laughed, “Leave her alone, she would never even think of doing this!”
“Doing what?” I asked.
One policemen said, “This girl has stolen pantyhose, and it is under her coat, But she is right, the other one was not even aware of it.”
They didn’t ask me any questions, but they asked Pat her name, her address, her parent’s name, and how to get ahold of them.
“My dad gets home really late, my Mom’s sickly, but if you call after 8PM my dad will talk to you, and take care of this.”
“What’s his number”
“General 6 8917.”
“Alright, you can go now. But you’ll have to deal with your parents over this. I don’t want to see you again.”
We left, and I breathed a sigh of relief. I said to Pat, ”You gave them Chuck’s number, you think that’s going to work?”
“Of course, his voice has already changed, and he’d do anything for me.”
The police did call our older teen neighbor Chuck, and it worked. He told them he’d deal harshly with her. Ha! Pat’s life was like that. She could get out of anything!
I don't remember any cookies being baked in our household when I was a child. In the first place, my Dad was a very bad cook. Secondly, baked goods weren't a priority, even if he'd known how to make any (which he didn't). When my grandparents moved to Louisiana, I was already a teenager. My grandmother did bake in her kitchen, and we enjoyed visiting, especially when she baked snickerdoodles! They're my favorite cookie, plus they have a funny name that always makes me smile. At some point, Grandma passed this recipe on to my stepmother, who baked them often for holidays. The recipe, in turn, was passed on to my sister and me. When our daughter got married in 2004, I created a recipe book of family recipes for her. My grandmother's snickerdoodle recipe was included.
1 cup shortening (I use butter)
1-1/2 cup sugar
2-3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 T. sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease cookie sheets.
In a medium bowl, cream together the shortening/butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt; stir into the creamed mixture until well blended.
In a small shallow bowl, stir together the 2 T. of sugar with the cinnamon. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and roll them in the sugar mixture. Place cookies 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 8 - 10 minutes. Remove to cool on wire racks. Makes 3 dozen.
My beverages have been limited for many years. I drink a cup of coffee in the morning and one or two Diet Cokes in the afternoon. The rest of the time I drink sugar-free lemonade or herbal tea, depending on how warm or cold it is.
I’m not much of an alcohol drinker but I do enjoy a glass of wine or a beer occasionally. On special occasions I may drink a margarita or a vodka tonic. Alcohol frequently gives me migraines so if I want to drink I have migraine medicine handy to take at the first sign of trouble, but that’s not always totally effective. I’m actually somewhat glad for this because it naturally limits my alcohol use. I imagine that I could easily drink excessively if not controlled by the prospect of a terrible headache.
During Covid, I’ve experienced (like most everyone else) feelings of isolation, stress and depression. The thought of alcohol has been very tempting, and it often crosses my mind around 5:00. Don’t ask me why that time, but there it is. To keep from giving in, I have been drinking plain diet tonic water over ice, typically with a twist of lime. It tastes almost exactly like a vodka tonic, so it has become my alcohol substitute. Anyway, I really like the taste, which to me is almost like grapefruit juice. Cheers!
The recipe that most represents my family, especially my mother's side of the family, is Swedish pancakes. I don't even really care for regular pancakes and when I try to make them, they do not come out well. What Swedish pancakes remind me of is visits from family or with family. Whenever we went to visit aunts and uncles on my mother's side, pancakes would definitely be one meal. They each made them slightly differently and served different things with them. When I was growing up, we always had our pancakes with butter and sugar rolled inside them. That's still pretty typical at any aunt's house. However, as my kids got older, we tried and added more things, like peanut butter or syrup or powdered sugar. I am sure this was a meal for poor people so adding all these things was probably not possible. In case you don't know, Swedish pancakes are like crepes. They are made very thin and one pancake fills the whole frying pan. Karla and I will have them from time to time when she comes to visit. Half the recipe I have is more than enough for two people. The recipe I have is this:
1 ½ T. sugar
3 ¼ cups milk
1 ½ t. salt 2 c. flour
3 t. baking powder
Beat eggs. Add 2 cups milk, add dry ingredients. Beat well. Add rest of milk
A tip for cooking these is to have a hot and slightly greased frying pan. Add about a ¼ to 1/3 cup of batter and tilt frying pan to spread batter over the whole frying pan. When bubbles appear it is time to turn the pancake. The first couple may not turn easily, but once turned they need very little time to cook. They fill a whole plate. We eat them rolled up with the condiments I mentioned before. I really love them and they have such fond memories for me.
I love lists; making lists, marking off items done, planning lists for Christmas gifts, things I need to remember to shop for to make meals and accomplish tasks! It was such a great feeling to mark off everything by the end of the day, a true sense of accomplishment.
Now my lists pretty much look like the lists made by Frog in the children's book "Frog and Toad are Friends": get up, have breakfast, make beds, make lunch, read a book, take a nap.... Life is just pretty darn easy now!
So on the topic for the week: "Lists of things to write/think/share about".
world right now. I vote with dollars and petitions signed and prayers for our country and the wider world.
My closest encounter with police occurred when I was 15 years old. My best friend and I were spending the night at my older, married sister's house because my dad and stepmom wouldn't let me have overnight company at our home.
Being the generous, with-it sister she was, Karen gave Janet and me each one cigarette and one beer to share. "Just don't leave the house," she said, before she went to bed. Of course, we consumed the beer and choked on the cigarettes, then sometime after midnight sneaked out of the house. We walked two or three miles across town to an all-night convenience store near my house to purchase toilet paper.
A boy from school that I had a crush on lived a couple of blocks from the store. I was irritated with him for some reason now lost to me, and wanted to get his attention--anonymously. We created a spectacular display of TP art in his front yard, before we started the trek back to Karen's house. About halfway there, a police car turned the corner onto the block we were walking on. At first we froze, unsure what to do. Then they flashed their lights and Janet took off, running across an open field nearby. I tried to follow suit, but I was too stunned to move very quickly, and I didn't get far. Janet soon tripped and fell in the dark, scratched up and wet from the dewy grass.
We were whisked into the squad car and questioned by the two officers until we admitted we'd been out to "roll" someone's house. The officers said they'd been on the way to investigate a report of a robbery in the area and wanted us to direct them to the house we'd just decorated to confirm our story. It was at least a mile or more away. "You girls came a long way," one of them remarked with a whistle. When we got there, one of the officers said, "Wow! That's a great job. But you'll have to call the boy in the morning and tell him how his house got rolled. Then you need to clean it up."
When we pulled back up in Karen's driveway around 3:00 am and Karen had been roused from bed to let us in the house, she pursed her lips, thanked the officers, and ordered us to bed. She never mentioned this incident again.
When I called A.J. the next day to take credit for our artistry, I offered to clean up the mess. "Oh, my dad made me clean it up already," he said. I don't remember if our late-night escapade had the intended effect on A.J., but I'll never forget my brush with the law.
After my sophomore year in college I took a break and worked for two years at the OU Health Sciences Center as a lowly receptionist/secretary in the Surgery Department. In my little office area were me, the (renowned) department head Dr. Rainey Williams, his secretary Sharon, and the office manager Betty. Sharon and Betty ran the department, taking care of all of Dr. Williams’ needs, watching over interns and residents, and attending to the many demands from the public and the other physicians on staff. I mainly answered the phone and did some typing. My direct supervisor was Betty.
Betty and Sharon were some of the best possible role models I could have had at that point in my life. They coped with everything, from Dr. Williams’ ongoing difficulty working the phone system to the latest resident divorce. Both of them were always calm under pressure, even with the frequent tirades by various doctors on staff and the many crises we encountered. They made everything run smoothly in an incredibly challenging environment. However, some of the greatest lessons were less obvious. I absorbed their very healthy and effective relationship dynamics, in a time when the accepted wisdom was that women could not work together without “cat fights.”
Betty’s example was especially important to me. She was middle aged, dressed plainly but professionally, and she kept her hair in a no-fuss style so she could play tennis several times a week. She did not attempt to be “feminine” in the way it was often defined. She was respectful to the powerful men around her but she did not compromise her self-respect, and she set firm although largely invisible limits concerning the way in which she would be spoken to by irritable and/or abusive doctors. She was unfailingly kind to me and protected me from abuse as well. She was demanding but fair. One particular lesson stands out in my mind, however. I always typed all of her dictation, even very brief memos. I just assumed she did not know how to type, but one day I came back from lunch early to find her banging away on the typewriter very proficiently. She saw my puzzled look and told me, “If you want to get ahead in a man’s world, never let them know you can type, or that’s all you will ever be allowed to do.”
In a period of self-doubt in my young life, these two women were largely responsible for giving me a new perspective and the confidence to go ahead with my plans. My high school counselor had encouraged me to become a legal secretary because she thought women could not be lawyers, which was my dream. Thanks to Sharon and Betty I left the job at OUHSC to finish my undergraduate degree and enroll in law school.