Monday’s for Me #55 ~ Going to the Swimming Hole

Me age 5

I was always a tom-boy growing up, always the first one to take a dare and run with it. I remember so many times that the outcome of these daring feats ended in disaster. Once I ended up with stitches in my knee, another time I sprained my ankle so badly from roller skating off our wooden picnic table onto the concrete patio that I was on crutches for 2 weeks.

A perfect example of accepting a dare was when I was 5 years old. We lived on Circle A Drive and the street was shaped like a horseshoe. For the first 8 years that we lived there the street was unpaved. It was not uncommon for the county to dig large holes on the side of the streets to fix pipes or other issues. There was a boy named Terry who lived down the street from us, and he was about 6 years older than me. One day he came over and said they were putting in a swimming pool a few houses down, and he asked if we wanted to see it. My sister and I immediately said yes and off we went.

My sister aged 8 and me aged 4

Sure enough, right in the front of their yard was a large 6-foot deep hole half filled with murky water. My sister said that she had never seen a pool without cement in it and Terry told her that after they are sure the hole is deep enough and that it is the right shape, they drain it and put in the cement. He then challenged my sister to jump in. My sister wasn’t a good swimmer and although she was only 9 years old she already weighted close to 200 pounds, so she was afraid to try. Terry only just began the challenge directed to me when I ran and jumped in the hole!

I remember going under the water and when I came to the surface I couldn’t breathe. My skin had a light brown sludge on and I couldn’t “swim” to the edge. Totally frightened Terry jumped in close to the edge and reached his hand out for me to grab. It took a couple of tries, but we finally clasped hands. After pulling me to the edge he shoved me up onto the dirt. He then struggled to climb up but couldn’t get a good footing. My sister had run to Terry’s house and got his Dad to come help. Eventually we were both laying on the ground. Terry’s Dad was laughing so hard he could hardly speak.

He sent my sister to tell my mother that he was carrying me home and to meet us in the yard with some towels. Terry was instructed to go home. When we got to my house my mother and sister were standing in the yard with the towels and my mother looked angry. That was until she saw me. She started screaming from fear and rushed to get the water hose. She turned it on and began spraying me head to toe trying to wash the sludge off of me. I was still struggling to catch my breath and coughing.

After I got cleaned up enough to go inside, my mother told me to go take a hot shower and wash my hair and body really good. By the time I got out, Terry’s parents were in the living room, along with a freshly scrubbed Terry. They were explaining what had happened, and they told her they would take me with them because we needed to go see our doctor. That is when I found out that the “swimming pool” was actually a hole that was dug to fix a sewer line. Apparently the leak got bigger overnight and sewage had filled the hole. The county workers had been by early in the morning and had dumped some chemicals in it to keep the smell down. This was in 1960 before all of our current regulations. You can image my reaction when I realized I had jumped in a hole of poop!

Thankfully, I had no adverse reactions to the chemicals or from being submerged in the mess. I wish that this event had taught me not to take a dare in the future, but it didn’t. I must say, if nothing else, my childhood was colorful!

Monday for Me #53 ~ Woolworth’s ~ Downtown Tucson, Arizona

When I was growing up, going into downtown Tucson was a treat. We would go to the yearly Rodeo parade in February, we would walk the small 4 block square looking at the holiday decorations, we would go to buy our “start of school” clothes, and occasionally my Dad and I would make a detour from running errands to go to Woolworth’s to get something at the lunch counter.

My dad was a very tall, slightly muscular man and I may be biased, but I thought he was the handsomest man in the world. I think a few of the lady’s did too. When we would enter the store, the counter was towards the middle of it. The waitress’ would see us coming and I would hear them say “Hi Doug” with what I now realize was excitement. We would sit down to a fresh cup of black coffee already poured for him and a warm glass of Pepsi (the only way I have ever liked it) for me. My dad would then spend some time talking with the waitresses, and then we would order our usual, a sandwich for him and pancakes for me. We would eat and before we left he would always let me drink the tiny pitcher of cream that they gave him for his coffee.

We managed to make it a bi-monthly outing, at least until I was about 11 years old. It was time for our yearly trip for school clothes. My mother made most of my clothes so I was allowed to pick out 2 dresses. I was standing, looking through a bargain bin of sleeveless dresses when I heard a familiar voice call out “Hi Valerie, where’s your Dad?” I whipped around and there stood one of the lunch counter ladies in her uniform, with a huge smile on her face. I slowly looked around and saw that my mother was standing there gripping her purse so tight that all of the color had drained out of her hands.

She grabbed me by the back of my neck and practically dragged me back to the car, leaving before I was able to get my dresses. As soon as we got in the car my mother started interrogating me. The questions came faster than I could answer and I could see the anger building in her face. I knew it wasn’t going to be a good evening. She wouldn’t believe that all my Dad did was talk with the waitresses, she was convinced of other things which she proceded to tell me about. I got an unwanted education!

I was so scared to see what would happen when Dad got home from work. My mother had locked herself and my sister in her room and I could hear them whispering. I heard the truck pull into the driveway and I ran and hid under the kitchen table. I was prepared for the worse. When my Dad walked through the front door my mother and sister marched quietly out of the bedroom and my mother exclaimed “We are going to Woolworth’s for dinner!” They marched past me and out the door and got into my mothers car. My Dad and I followed and the silence in the car was so thick you could almost cut it with a knife. It was funny, when we got lunch counter and sat down. I didn’t recognize a single waitress there. My Dad didn’t look nervous at all and I saw the look on my mother’s face change slowly the longer we sat there. We had dinner and went home.

About 7 years later when my Dad had lung cancer, and he knew he didn’t have long to live, he apologized to me for what had happened all those years ago. He felt the need to set the record straight that he never, ever cheated on my mother, he just enjoyed the conversation. I knew that was true because even as a young child I saw what went on in the house and I knew my mother was different than other kids moms. I was 13 years old when she was diagnosed with a mental illness which she had apparently had since she was young.

I still have those fond memories of spending time alone with my Dad and until they closed all of the stores, I would occasionally go and sit at the lunch counter and order a Pepsi and pancakes and remember my Dad and our time together.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have written two books “Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time” and “Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip”, both available on Amazon. You can also connect with me on Facebook and Twitter @VHughesAuthor.

Monday’s for Me #49 ~ Arizona Sonora Desert Museum

The Sonora Desert, which stretches from Central Arizona, to the far southeast portion of California and down into Mexico is a diverse desert that changes from high mountains to cactus to low mountains covered in sage brush. It is a hot desert ranging from 104 degrees to 120 degrees during the Summer months. Tucson, Arizona is located in this desert, and this is where I lived from 11 months old to 12 years old.

On one of my school field trips, I believe it was 5th grade, our class made the trip to the Sonora Desert Museum. The Museum was built in 1952 with the purpose of the conservation of plant and animal life in the desert. It was set up with long walk ways that wound between the different plants and trees that thrive in the desert climate and the animals that were hearty enough to survive the hot summers. The animals were in very large fenced enclosures that resembled the desert. There was an education center that you could visit to learn about all aspects of the area.

We took the bus to the Museum which really wasn’t too far from the school. Mary Lynn Elementary was the westernmost school in the city at that time. It was actually just outside the city limits. The “highway” heading west was a paved two-way street and once we got to the turn to make the 6-mile out to the Museum the street was just a wide, dirt road. All of the kids had fun with the old bus bouncing in all the holes in the road. The teacher and her aid did not enjoy that part of the trip!

We broke into groups and a docent walked us from one display to another. We learned the names of all of the cacti, flowers and animals. It was fascinating to see some of the “deadly” animals up close without worrying about being harmed. You could put your face right up close to the glass and get a great view. Remember, this was back in the early 60’ and although there were zoos around there were none close to us. Besides, it only had those animals that lived where we did.

There were Gila Monsters, wildcats, scorpions, snakes, and prairie dogs. I got to see a javalina up close, as well as coyotes and bobcats. I really enjoyed the “Ancient Arizona” exhibit where I got to investigate prehistoric Arizona and its people. This is what got me interested in history, learning about the people who lived here before me!

After we ate our bagged lunches we headed back to the school. Our assignment was to write at least two paragraphs about we liked about the Museum and what we learned. I wrote 4 pages, front and back.

If you ever make a trip to or through Tucson, you may want to visit the Museum. Today it is over 98 acres and there is so much more to see and do. I visited there about 20 years ago and it was amazing even then.

What field trip left a definite impression on you?

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have written two books “Your Family History: Doing I Right the First Time” and “Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip”, both available on Amazon. You can also connect with me on Facebook and Twitter @VHughesAuthor.

Monday’s for Me #47 ~ A Christmas Lesson

I remember the Christmas that I was almost 9 years old because it had a very profound effect on my life. It all began the last Sunday of November. During the church service the pastor announce that we were going to be collecting new and used toys and clothing to give to less fortunate children for Christmas. He gave the instructions concerning the time frame to get the items to the church. He also said that more information about this campaign would be given in a couple of weeks.

On the way home my mother gave my sister Mary and I a list of things to do when we got home. This week she added that we were to begin going through our clothes and toys so we could take them to the church the next week. Mary, who was 4 years older than I, immediately began to cry. She didn’t want to give away any of her belongings. As a matter of fact she frequently claimed anything that I received if it was something she liked. Because this is how it had always been, I really didn’t have feelings toward this either way.

My Dad brought two medium-sized boxes into our room and told us to put clothes in one and toys in the other. I decided to get it over with so I began to go through my things. Mary out weighed me by about 100 pounds so she could have cared less about the clothes I found. However, she kept saying “If you don’t want that, I will take it” to any toy or book I put in. By Saturday morning I had accomplished filling the clothes box half full, but there were only a few of the toys that Mary didn’t want in the bottom of the other one. She had not put in one item!

Over the next 2 weeks, each Sunday when we returned from church the same thing happened and my mother would yell at me for being selfish. I finally went to my Dad and told him what happened, and he confronted Mary, who immediately broke into tears and told him I was lying. My mother came running in and all heck broke out. I finally yelled for them to go check in the spare bedrooms closet! Mary ran to the door trying to keep them from leaving the room, but my Dad threatened her with a spanking. So, she reluctantly moved. My parents came back in the room with my 2 boxes of toys. My mother just left the room and said nothing, my Dad grounded my sister, and he gave me a hug! Nothing more was said about the “incident”.

The big surprise was the next Sunday after church we went into a classroom and all those who participated got to wrap the presents. We then loaded paper grocery store bags filled with the gifts into the back of the trucks and trunks of the cars and drove off. I can’t tell you how far we drove but it seemed to take forever to arrive at our destination. We pulled onto a long dirt road that had newly plowed fields on both sides. (We lived in Tucson and the farmers could plow in December). We pulled into a makeshift town of tents and wooden shacks. It was a migrant workers camp, just to the South of Tucson. I saw open fires with poorly dressed women cooking in big pots over the flames. I saw so many raggedly clothed kids, many with no shoes, playing and running around. A gentleman came over and spoke to the pastor, then he turned and with a loud bullhorn he spoke to the people in Spanish. The kids came running and the adults cautiously approached us. Then the pastor turned to us and told us to help hand out the wrapped gifts and for the adults to help give the food boxes to the grownups.

My Dad had dropped the tailgate of our truck, so I climbed in and started grabbing the gifts. They had been wrapped in red for girls and green for boys so it was easy to know who to give it to. I saw the kids excitedly open the gift and I saw a few of them crying with joy. Then I spotted one girl about my age open a doll I had given. She hugged it and kissed it as she had tears running down her cheeks. I, too, had tears leaking out of my eyes determined to run down my cheeks and land on my dress. My tears were from mixed feelings. I felt joy at seeing others so happy, but at the same time I felt sad that these kids were so happy to receive what I probably would have eventually just thrown away. I couldn’t wait to start a new box to give away the next year. This day taught me so many lessons during the short period of time we were at the camp, ones that I have carried with me and that I attempt to still adhere too for over 55 years.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Monday’s for Me #46 ~ Here Comes Santa Claus

It is at this time of year that I always reflect back to those Christmas’ of my childhood. If you have read any of my blogs you would know that I didn’t have the best upbringing. My mother and my sister Mary, both had mental problems so some of my memories have been tainted by these two.

My Dad always tried to make Christmas special. He would always ask Mary and I what we wanted Santa to bring us, and we always gave him plenty of ideas. Mary was 4 years older than I so the things we were interested in were so different. This was a good thing! She had a habit of “claiming” anything I received if she liked it so I always tried to ask for something that I knew she wouldn’t like.

There are 19 days between Christmas and my birthday, so this event happened when I was almost 6 years old. On Christmas Eve I was excitedly watching out of our bedroom window, hoping to get a glimpse of Rudolph leading the sleigh. Mary was annoyed because she said that I was letting in too much light by holding the curtain open and I was keeping her awake. She blurted out, “You now, there is no such thing as Santa. Dad and mom buy all of the toys and put them under the tree before we get up in the morning. They just lie about it”. I was devastated!

The next morning I didn’t come into the living room with the same enthusiasm as I had in previous years. My Dad kept asking me what was wrong, but I refused to talk. My mother and sister eagerly opened their presents and my sister gushed over the items “Santa” left her. I just quietly opened my presents and didn’t even glance at what was sitting under the tree. I finally told my Dad what Mary had said about Santa and he was really mad. He started yelling at her, telling her that she had been allowed to believe until just a couple of months ago, and she had no right to spoil the fun for me. My mother of course, came too Mary’s defense.

By the next year, I had gotten over it so I played along and told my Dad I only wanted one thing for Christmas, a Barbie doll with wigs! I was hoping and praying for one. About two weeks before the big day my parents went to visit a neighbor that lived a few houses down the street from us. While they were gone, Mary pulled the step stool out of the closet. In the living room we had one wall that had a large floor to ceiling closet in it. There were two large doors on the bottom and two separate smaller doors just above them. Mary used the stool to reach the top closet, and she began pulling out all of the things “Santa” was going to bring us. Sure enough, there was my Barbie with wigs! Instead of being excited, I felt kind of cheated. Christmas was never the same after this.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Monday’s for Me #42 ~ Winterhaven

When you live in the Sonoran Desert, you have to make adjustments to some of the “standard” Christmas traditions. Like snowball fights! Unless you want to make the trip up the 9000+feet tall Mount Lemon to play in the couple of feet of snow that peppers the mountain in December and January. Caroling is another tradition that had to change a bit. I wrote in a previous blog about the last Christmas we spent in Tucson when I was about 12 years old. I received both a bike and a swimsuit as gifts and I put on the suit and went outside to ride the bike. Because of the warm winters, we couldn’t wear coats, scarves or gloves to go caroling. Although I loved hot chocolate, it was always too hot to really enjoy it.

Me at age 5 with
“wreath” in window.

One of the main traditions that everyone had to adapt to our weather was decorating the outside of our houses My mother took one of my hula hoops and cut holes in it to string blue Christmas lights on it. She then wrapped silver tinsel between the lights. She hung it in our enormous front window, and we plugged it in a night. Regular live wreaths dried up within days. We also had an aluminum Christmas tree with the color wheel. When my parents first moved to Tucson when I was 11 months old it was December 3rd. They bought a real tree and only had it up for about a week before it was totally dead! Hench, the aluminum one. Granted my mother was a very lazy person, and she probably forgot to water it, but once was enough for my Dad.

My earliest memory of Christmas was a place called Winterhaven. It was a newer subdivision in the northwest part of town. They decided as part of the celebration of the last house being bought that they would encourage all of the homeowners to decorate their yards. There was newspaper article written about it and that year, every night in December, hundreds of cars drove through the neighborhood to look at the sights. The next year they encouraged people to park and walk through. Although our family really had no traditions to speak of, this was one thing my Dad insisted we do every year. I looked forward to it every year because most of the people changed their decorations each season, each time trying to out do their neighbors!

I normally don’t add a lot of photos to my blogs, but I found out today that they decided to not decorate Winterhaven this year and the board also decided to not do it again. It is so sad to see it disappear after over 60 years of tradition. So I hope you enjoy these photos from the late 50s to mid 60s.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

My Great-Great Grandma was Superstitious ~ Tales from the Dark Side

I thought I would spend this month leading up to Halloween telling stories of things that happened in not only my childhood, but in the lives of my Ancestors that helped form most of my mothers superstition beliefs or were a result of her beliefs, the ones she tried to pass down to my sister and me. I hope you will enjoy them and even get a laugh or two out of them.

My 2 times Great Grandma, Elizabeth Marsh was born December 31, 1841, in Chillicothe Missouri. Elizabeth was a religious woman, attending Church every Sunday and reading her Bible daily. She loved reading all the accounts in the Old Testament, and she would tell not only her children but the other children in the surrounding areas the stories that she found there. Her favorite one was about Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. We all know the account of how God created man, then from Adams rib He created woman. He set the two of them in this perfect Garden and told them they could eat from any tree in the garden except from “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil”. This Garden was perfect and they wanted for nothing. One day Satan took the shape of a serpent (snake) and tempted Eve with the fruit from the one forbidden tree. Satan told her that she could eat from fruit, and she would not die but instead she would become like God and have great knowledge. She then ate from the fruit, and she did not die. She then took the fruit to Adam and told him to eat from it also, and he did. When God found out what they had done, he banished them from the Garden. Elizabeth came to believe that Satan inhabited ALL snakes, and she was afraid of them. She seldom ventured far from home on foot for fear of encountering one.

Elizabeth passed her fear of snakes down to her children and they in turn passed it down to their children and so on. My mom was raised in Missouri, and she knew about all the types of snakes that lived there and where they were most likely to live. She avoided any place where she thought a snake might be. When we moved to Arizona, my mom found herself with a new dilemma. She did not know any of the species of snakes that dwelt in the Desert, and she had no idea where they may hide. I remember once when we had relatives visiting us we took them on a cookout and hike in the Saguaro National Forest. Just so you know this is not a typical Forest with tall trees, it is filled with hundred-year-old Saguaro cacti. Some of these cacti grow to be 40-60 feet tall and can have up to 25 “arms” on it. While we were hiking up a hill, surrounded by beautiful cactus and Desert plants my mom decided to kick over a rock. Nestled beneath this rock was a very small snake, all coiled up trying to sleep. My mom took off running the opposite direction and didn’t stop until she got to our car. She then got inside and locked the doors. When we all finally reached the car it took a while before my Dad could convince her to come out. When she did she would only sit on the hood of the car! She tried to talk my Dad and my Uncle to go find the snake and kill it, but all they did was laugh.

We lived in a housing community just outside the Tucson City limits and the development was surrounded on 3 sides by Desert. A few years after this experience, early on a summer morning, I was taking a basket full of laundry out to hang on the clothes line. When I opened our back door and stepped outside I saw that there was a pretty large snake crawling along the wall of the house. I dropped the basket and jumped back inside, slamming the door. When my mom found out about the snake, she was hysterical. She started yelling that Satan was in that snake, and we had to kill it. I was 6 years old at the time and my sister was 10 so we were not going to be much help in the “snake killing” department. My Dad was at work, as was every other man in our neighborhood. So my mom devised a plan. I was to wait by the back door and wait for her to whistle. She was going to go out the front door, go into the shed and get a hoe and sneak up on the snake from behind.I was to open the back door and jump out and scream to get the snakes’ attention so that Satan would not see her coming at him. So it began…one…two…three…whistle…jump out…scream…my mom began hitting the snake with the hoe. She was crying and hitting and crying and hitting, and she didn’t stop until there was only a few recognizable pieces of the snake left. She then dropped the hoe, marched inside, crawled in bed and stayed there. When my Dad got home, and he saw what was left of the snake he just shook his head, told us to get in the car, and we went to Mc Donalds for dinner. My mom finally emerged from her bedroom two days later and by then the snake parts had been disposed of. She had another “episode” when she found out the snake had been a rattlesnake, but she got over it much quicker. From that day on until we sold the house and moved, which was 5 years, my mom never went out the back door again. Up until she died at the age of 80 years old she would remind us every chance she got that “Satan was in all snakes and it was our duty to kill them.”

BTW: I have never killed a snake in my life and in fact, I bought my Grandsons an Albino Corn snake for a pet!

Here are some more Superstitions that my mother had:

If you drop a fork you will be having company

Lift your feet up when driving over railroad tracks for good luck

If the bottom of your right foot itches, you are going to take a trip or walk in a new place

Do you or anyone in your family have a Superstition? I would love to hear about them.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

My Mother was Superstitious ~ The #13 ~ Tales from the Dark Side

I thought I would spend this month leading up to Halloween telling stories of things that happened in not only my childhood, but in the lives of my Ancestors that helped form most of my mothers superstition beliefs or were a result of her beliefs, the ones she tried to pass down to my sister and me. I hope you will enjoy them and even get a laugh or two out of them.

My mom was a Triskaidekaphobe. What is that you ask? It is the “Fear of the number 13”. If you have been following this series of Blogs about my life with a mother who was plagued with Superstitions, you know that she had several “Fears of” things. Some had been passed down to her through her Ancestors and some she just developed on her own. I have no idea where she got this particular Superstition. All I know is this fear made life a little difficult.

This fear of the number 13 was pretty well ingrained in my mom. If we went to the grocery store and her purchases came to a total that had the number 13 in it, she had to either buy one more item or put one back. If we went into a building, and we had to take the stairs to another floor she would stand at the foot of the stairs and count the steps before walking up them. If there were 13 steps we had to take the elevator or leave. She would not do business with any store that was located on 13th street or avenue or one that had the number 13 in their address. When my Dad built the enclosure for our patio he used long 2 x 6s horizontally placed around the cement area. When he was finished my mom came outside to see it and after looking at it for a few minutes told him he had to either add one more 2 x 6 or take one away from the one side. Why? Because there were 13 boards. She also had the habit of staying in bed on whichever day the 13th of the month landed on.

Mary aged 10

I learned early on that I was not my mom’s favorite child. She never paid much attention to me and was always harder on me than she was my older sister. There was none of this “Isn’t she cute, she’s the baby of the family”. Looking back now I can assume it probably had a lot to do with the fact that I was born on the 13th of January. Not only that, but my first and last names had a total of 13 letters in them. Growing up I do not remember ever celebrating my birthday at home on the 13th. It was always the day before or after. My mom had imparted a lot of her fears unto my sister, Mary. The number 13 happened to be one of them. Mary loved parties, especially birthday parties. She would throw a tantrum because she didn’t receive any gifts so my mom would go out and buy her something. Mary knew that the chances of me ever having a birthday party were slim because of the date, so she thought she would try having one on a different date. My 6th birthday had fallen on Friday the 13th that year! So not only was the party planned for a different date, but it was in an entirely different month as well.

This year my sister threw me a 6th year birthday party on June 10th. The problem was she forgot to inform my parents about the party and to make things worse my brother was home on leave from the Air Force! So at 2 pm the doorbell rang and there stood the 4 kids from next door standing there all dressed up, each with a gift in their hands. My brother invited them in, he had no clue what was going on. Next thing he knew the doorbell was ringing again and in came more kids. When Mary told him and mom what was going on they were both upset but didn’t want to spoil the time for the kids that had come to the “party”. As my brother went to the grocery store, my Mom pulled down the pin-the-tail on the donkey game, and we started playing games. When my brother returned there were prizes for the games, ice cream, cake and even a gift for me. Mary decided to have a talent contest. The winning prize was a large chocolate candy bar. Since she was not only a participant in the contest but the only judge she won and got the candy! Even though it wasn’t really my birthday, I had a great time. It was the first and only birthday party I had until I became an adult.

I have always loved the number 13. After all it is my birthdate, how can that be unlucky?

Here are some more Superstitions that my mother had:

Ivy growing on a house protects the inhabitants from witchcraft and evil.

Cover your mouth when you yawn, or your soul can go out of your body along with the yawn.

Rosemary planted by the doorstep will keep witches away.

Do you or anyone in your family have a Superstition? I would love to hear about them.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Mondays for Me #38 ~ Take it to the Bank!

I loved school as a child. I loved learning, I loved reading and writing, I loved recess, but mostly I loved just being away from home. My home life wasn’t the best and this was my escape. I was fortunate enough to have a great 5th grade teacher, who recognized my situation and showed me extra attention and kindness. When anything came up at school that required each classrooms’ participation, Mrs. Holman always picked me for it.

During the second week of school we were informed that one person from each grade would be chosen to be the “banker” for that grade. There were 3 classes per grade so it was a big deal to be chosen. I don’t know how it was determined who would represent a grade, but I was chosen for mine. I was so excited, even though I had no idea what I was going to be doing. Within a couple of days we had the first meeting of the “school bankers”. I learned that our responsibility was to go to all 3 of our grades’ classrooms and give a talk about why it was important to save money. Then we informed the kids that they could open their own savings account and on each Friday they could bring their money to school and “deposit” it in the bank. The perk for me was all 6 of the “bankers” got to go to the large Valley National Bank building in downtown Tucson, AZ. We were to take a tour of it and learn about money.

On the day of the trip to the bank, we all wore our best clothes. To be honest, when we pulled up to this 11-story building I had big butterflies in my stomach. However, once we went inside, they disappeared! There was so much to look at, especially all the people. We got to go behind the counter and watch the tellers give and receive money. We toured the safe deposit box room and along the way, the guide explained what everything was and its purpose. Then we were herded into the elevator, and we rode it to the 11th floor. All of these floors were just offices, but we did get to look out the windows. What a treat for a bunch of kids who had never been in a tall building before!

Then came the best part. We returned to the main floor and met the bank manager. He escorted us to the elevator once again, only this time we went to the basement. There was an enormous, round, metal door with a large lever on it. The manager opened it and we got to go inside. We were in the bank vault where all the money was kept. We viewed how they banded and stacked the different denominations of bills and coins. The manager reached into a drawer and pulled out a bill. He told us we were getting a special treat because very few people got to see what we were about to see. He then pulled out a 100,000 dollar bill! It was passed around, and we all got to hold it and look at it. It was a great day and experience.

That Friday after lunch, we were set up in the cafeteria with each grade having our own table. The children filed in and came to their grades table with their money in hand. My job was to “open” an account for them by putting their name on a saving book. I then took the money and wrote the amount on the first line, and then gave the book to the student. I counted all of the money from that day and place it in an envelope with the amount written on the outside. When we all were done, we took them to the Principals office. We did this each week, adding the new amount to the individual books until the end of school, when we refunded the children’s money. The average payout was $9, which was a lot of cash in 1966. I learned a lot during this process, the most important one was how and why to save money. Oh, I have had a great story to tell about handling a 100,000 dollar bill for all these years.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Monday’s for Me ~ “A School Field Trip”

Back in the “dark ages” when I was attending elementary school we only went on one field trip each year. Because of that, the teacher would try to make it very special. I vaguely remember most of them, but my 4th grade one left a lasting impression on me.

My first grade teacher was also my fourth grade teacher. I really liked her, and I was thrilled to find that I would be in her class again. All of the other teachers told their students at the beginning of the year where they would be going, however, Mrs. Woods just kept telling us to wait and see. The months passed by without even a hint of where we were going and all of us kids speculated as to what we would be doing. Then, at the end of February in 1965, Mrs. Woods told us that in one week we would be going on our field trip. The cheering was deafening, and one girl actually started crying.

On March 2nd, we all wore our best clothes to school. I was so excited I hardly slept the night before. All of the children sat quietly in our seats watching the hands on the clock edge towards 10. I don’t think I had ever been in a classroom that was that quiet before. At the stroke of 10 we lined up at the door and walked to the school bus that was waiting for us. I lived 3 blocks from school so getting to ride the bus was a thrill. It took a little over 20 minutes before we arrived in downtown Tucson, and we pulled up in front of the movie theater. We all let out a yell when we saw the words on the marque, “Now playing, “The Sound of Music”!

We all filed into the building, and we walked down what seemed like a mile long aisle. I ended up in the very front row and I sat in awe as I watched all the singing and dancing. I loved it. When we were on our way back to school the girls were trying to sing some of the songs we had heard, but we had the lyrics wrong. That didn’t really matter though because we had such a good time.

Many, many years later, my daughter and I would have girls nights at home. We would rent a couple of movies and buy snacks, then we would pull out the bed on the sofa and watch them. They were always musicals, and we would sing-a-long and have a great time. I had fallen in love with musicals way back in 4th grade, and I have Mrs. Woods to thank for that.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.