Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Here, There, Everywhere

In February at my fathers visitation a wizened elderly man stood in front of me, stooped over with his skin the color of ill health, his friendly eyes met mine as I smiled at him, he took my hand and introduced himself. My face went from a smile to one of shock and disbelief. I searched his face for some reassurance that it really was him and sadly I stepped into his open arms for the hug he was offering.

My God. I had not seen Jim since Joe and I left Mayberry to move to Hoosier Land three years ago. The cancer he had been valiantly fighting for 15 years was finally winning. The strong, friendly, tall, lawyer, who knew everyone in Mayberry, born, raised, went to school here, left to attend college, returned here to teach, left again to get an advanced degree, returned here to practice law, married, raised his own family here,coached the youth leagues here, was a surrogate father figure to many here, adopted a child from the orphanage here, became a pillar of the community here, opened his heart and wallet to many here, and last week died here.

This is the type of man he was...

From the Funeral Home guest book.

".......Peggy, we have never met but I own Neighborhood Grocery on Clifton Road. Just wanted you to know how good Jimmy was to Wajeeh and I. When we first bought the store and were having a hard time, Jimmy would come in the summer carrying fresh tomatoes and other things we could sell in the deli just to help us out. He would come in hot and tired, carrying produce and other items and tell us, "just hang in there. I was thinking about you all and brought these for you'll to use in the deli and sell on your sandwiches." Your husband's kindness and wishing good for everyone will be greatly missed. If there is ever anything Wajeeh and I can do don't hesitate to ask us."

It's good to know that people like him do exist. The greatest gift about living in a small community is this, we all know each other. Even as our little Mayberry town grows and embraces all the new blood from places far and wide (as my family entered over 50 years ago)there will be people like Jim to meet them and make them feel welcome and at home.

Unfortunately, there will never be another one quite like him.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tardy Thursday - again

c. 1936

Like book-ends, my Aunt and Uncle sit on this fence with friends a long time ago. I would speculate that both are teenagers, at least Aunt Maureen. She passed away in the spring of this year, so she is no longer available to quiz.

She has been on my mind a lot in the past several weeks. My S-I-L brought a small plastic shoe box filled with the last of Aunt Maureen's effects (the story of my SIL and Aunt Maureen is long and complicated. SIL opened her home to Maureen in Maureen's last months. She and my daughter nursed her to the end).

That small box has bothered me ever since. How can ones whole life be reduced to one small box? No one wanted anything from the box, so I took it home with me. Inside is a set of silver wear, her PhD, her dissertation, her published work, and a pearl ring she bought in Japan, on one of her numerous sojourns into places wild and unknown.

I miss her. I miss the way she had such an honest and at times intense interest in what you were doing, how your life was progressing, and her wonderful inquiry, "What fabulous things have you been doing lately?"

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Day the World Changed

It was the first day of summer vacation, 1983. Two little girls, aged 12, rode their bikes to a mall in one of the suburbs in Louisville called Bashford Manor. What happened after that has been a mystery for the past 25 years. The image of a 12 year old's bike, leaned up against the entrance to the Mall has been burned into the minds of every single person who lived here during that time. The face of a beautiful red haired little girl, with blue eyes and freckles was on television for an eternity. Her parents, with their halting Russian accents, begged for her safe return.

That face eventually was featured on milk cartons so that her features were known to many more outside of the Louisville area. The search turned cold, the face began to appear less often. In time only on the anniversary of her disappearance the story was resurrected and speculation once again was the subject of conversations.

I was stunned along with the rest of our community. My daughter was only two years old the beginning of that summer. I would look at her and understand the horror that the Gotlib family was feeling for their lost daughter, Ann. Abductions and kidnapping happened SOMEWHERE ELSE. Not here, not to us. Not to one of our children!

Could it be that abductions and murder of random children was not reported to us? Or was the plight of Ann Gotlieb the first national "mystery" that gripped our nation?

Because they had no leads, there was no ransom note, there was nothing...nothing! that it was thought she had run away. Her parents vehemently refused to believe that their 12 year old child had left her beloved bike behind. They refused to give up.

Last week, 25 years later, the police broke the news that they had a suspect. And that the suspect had died in 2002 after being released from prison on a medical release. His crime had been assault against a 13 year old girl, also in the Louisville area. They were confident now, with the addition of some new information. Actually some very old information that had never delivered to them but held in the silence for 25 years.

Finally the missing piece of the puzzle. Finally the missing girl, which had gripped Louisville for so long, was explained, if not found.

I double they will ever find her tiny 12 year old body after all these years. The monster that killed her has left this world to meet his fate with God. Maybe all his victims will be standing along side as his eternal judgement is handed down to him.

As for Ann Gotlib's parents? They were offered an apology from the police force and the detecives that were working on the case. Maybe if they had tried harder.....

When I heard the news Thursday night I cried for Ann Gotlib. I cried for her family and I cried for the world that had changed so quickly and without warning that first summer night in 1983.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Tardy Thursday

Once again a Wistful Wednesday thanks to Far Side of Fifty who came up with this idea of posting old photo's that tell a story. This pic is circa 1955. My grandmother is next to my blond half German/half Irish cousin E. Grandma did not problems with M. marrying a German but refused to attend J's (the blond seated on the couch holding my bro N.) when he married an Italian girl in the late 1960's. Therefore, she could attend no weddings afterwards. I wonder why she backed herself into such a cold corner. When J. was 12 she took him to Ireland for three months to show him off.

I am next to E. and K. looking towards something in the wings.

This is all the women on my mothers side of the family. The three sisters and the sister in law, the Grandmother and all the kids born so far.

Most of us are still here. Grandma went on in the early 1970's and my one of my cousins was killed in a freak accident in the early 1980's.

And...there are quite a few more than are in this picture. My Mom had three more and the Sister in Law had two more.

Here is a picture of most the women from that side of the family 50 years later! Some Grand kids added and some missing. But, once again, the women.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

This is for your own good

The true joy of a really great Thanksgiving morning is one that consists of nothing more than to go outside and pick up the paper then turning on the TV to enjoy the Macy Day Parade. As I was thumbing through the section of the paper that highlights amateur regional cooks I came across a recipe for yeast cinnamon rolls.

It made my mouth water.

I ran to the kitchen to locate the package of yeast that I purchased some time ago under the delusional assumption that I would make some bread. It was still in date! I quickly re-read the recipe and knew there was no way I could follow these instructions. It involved one of those very expensive mixers. I have an old hand held mixer that has a mind of its own.

So, I pulled out my cook books and using two of them , I began my venture into uncharted territory.

I am a visual type of learner. I love to read, but I am kind of thick headed. Show me how to do it!! I had to have two books to get the job done!! How long does it take for the dough to rise? One book says, "...until it doubles in size." I have to know how long! The other book provided the answer, about one hour. One book said, "...add the flour until it will knead with out sticking". Okay good, it is not sticking, I put it in the oven, with the setting in warm, because there is no "warm" place in my house! None!! The dough appears to rise, but in one hour, it did not double.

I referred to both cook books again.

Knead? The first one did not say, "knead the dough" it said, "until it does not stick..."

Doh! (pun intended).

So, I took it out and kneaded it and divided it, and rolled it out, applied the brown sugar and butter mix, rolled it up into a roll, and cut it up and brushed it with butter and laid in on a glass pie pan. Covered and back in the over, on warm.

They rose! I baked them.

They were divine. Sweet cinnamon heaven, they were wonderful!

The next morning I woke up and my first thought was, "Cinnamon roll for breakfast!" When I saw the plate that housed the rolls lying in the sink I began to have a bad feeling. My husband was standing there trying to look innocent.

"Where are they?" I questioned him. He shrugged and threw his head towards the outside. "In the garbage. I ate all the tops off of them and tossed the rest. It's for your own good."

Five hours down the drain! I was shocked he would do such a thing!! I thought about killing him, but then on second thought I shrugged it off.

It more than likely was for my own good.

Damn it.