Sunday, October 30, 2011

Artsy Fartsy

I need to take another break from my trip down Hoosier memory lane to post a few artsy fartsy photos.

My niece and her family were here this weekend and we all went to the City Museum in St. Louis.  They call it a museum. Psssh.  That, my friends, was no ordinary museum.  Or really, a museum for that matter.  It is the inside of a man's mind that does not think the way I do, and I'm eternally grateful.  Bob Cassilly was the founder and a pure genius.

It's like what every 7 year old wants. Tunnels, cages, slides, vaults, mirrors, turtles, caves, suspended jets and buses, giant praying mantises, ferris wheels, food and more slides.

And believe me, there is a 7 year old in all of us.

Here are my more artsy fartsy photos of our day there.  I've posted more on Facebook.  But these are the photos I played with and like just "because."  Hope you enjoy them like I do.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

"That's not our ring"

I know I'm going to sound like an old curmudgeon when I say this, but I'm going to say it anyway.  Kids today are spoiled rotten with communication. Cell phones, texting, email, Facebook...

Back in my day, we had one corded, rotary telephone in the house.  For youngsters who don't know what I'm talking about and for older folks who may have forgotten, it looked like this.

That's it.  Unless you were face to face with someone, that was your only option of communication.  Well, that and the good ol' US Postal service.  And megaphones and smoke signals.  And dinner bells.  

You get the point.  

The phone was in the kitchen, on a washstand, next to a heating vent, behind Dad's chair at the table, under a black and white television that sat on a bracket mounted to the wall.  On cold days after school, I would stand over the vent to warm up and watch Dark Shadows, Love American Style, and Match Game - in that order.  On Saturday mornings, I watched cartoons there with my nightgown on - it was like being in my own little heated tent.  And that's where I talked on the phone.  

I had a lot of really good friends, and some of them were "long distance."  My parents convinced me that it cost some astronomical amount of money to make those special phone calls.  I could chat for a while with Jill, but a call to Kathy meant convincing them of a life or death situation.  If I did get to place the call, I was told to "make it quick."

Here's the kicker:  Four households shared one telephone line.  Our little dead end gravel road had a "party line."  Sometime during the late 1970's, the family at the end of the road moved out and the couple that moved in got their own telephone line.  I considered that snooty.  That took our "party" down to three.  

There was party line etiquette.  When you picked up the phone and heard someone speaking, you gently put the receiver back in it's cradle and checked back after a few minutes.  After checking more than a few times, the receiver was put back with a little more force.  When you were talking and heard someone pick up their receiver, that was a signal to wrap things up.  You were never supposed to listen in on a conversation, but I caught the neighbor kids doing it more than once.  (In all fairness to them, I did have the juiciest stories on the line.)

I don't remember when we got rid of the party line.  I'm fairly certain we were forced to get our own line by AT&T. Why fix something that's not broken?  I know it was after 1983, because that's the year I met my husband.  John distinctly remembers having dinner with me and my parents, when the phone rang and nobody made an effort to answer it.  One of my parents saw the puzzled look on his face and said, "That's not our ring."  Yes, technology was so advanced that even though the phone rang in every house on the party line, we all had distinctive rings.  

It still floors me from time to time, just how much things have changed in less than 30 years. 

Now excuse me, while I go Skype my spoiled kid.

Monday, October 24, 2011


When I was 10 or 11 years old, we got a basset hound puppy.  He was the cutest thing I had ever seen in my entire life.  If you've never been around a basset puppy, do yourself a favor and find one.  They are a whole lot of loose fur, ears, and wrinkles.  They should be in the dictionary under adorable.

He was a Christmas present for my brother.  I don't remember where we got him, but Mom, Dad and I went somewhere to pick him up, and he threw up on the car ride home.  

He was perfect.  He had beautiful markings for a basset.  The Hush Puppy dog looked like a 
scraggly mutt compared to this puppy.  

My brother loved his present, and then named him...   Zeke.

This beyond adorable little puppy had ZEKE for a name!!  I was horrified!  You can't name something so cute, something so...  so... NOT!

But I quickly found that Zeke was a quite fitting name for such a regal hound.

At some point, Zeke was let outside to be the farm dog he was meant to be.  He wondered around, checking on livestock.  He moved so slowly, everyone in a 2 mile radius of our house knew to look out for him meandering down the middle of the road.  Zeke never felt the need to get out of anybody's way - even my father, driving a tractor or combine behind him. (My brother drew a great caricature of Zeke sitting, as a tractor loomed in the background behind him, and my mother even needlepointed it onto a pillow.  Yeah, we were all kinda nuts about this dog.)

His paws were massive and he took the same route everywhere he went, so he wore a diagonal path across our front lawn, and one across Sis' yard as well.  He had numerous girlfriends in the area (or so we assumed), so nobody was ever too alarmed when he disappeared for a couple days.

Regardless of a bath, he always had that fragrant "outdoor farm dog" smell about him.  It can be endearing.  Really.

In the winter, he would try to chase me and my friends down the hill in front of our house on our sleds.  I can't tell you what was more entertaining - sledding or watching Zeke get tangled in his ears as he barreled down the hill as fast as his stubby legs could carry him.  Watching him try to maneuver the ice that covered the pond was most amusing as well.

Sis hit him with her car one spring, and his right hind leg was in a splint for a couple months.  That happened to be the year I took Dog Obedience in 4-H.  I don't know what possessed me to sign on for that to begin with, and the splint could have been my excuse to get us out of it.  Bassets are known to be ridiculously hard to train.  They are very smart - but built for smelling things, and they embrace that gift with a fervor beyond compare.  After the splint came off, I drug him around at a couple workshops, and then drug him around the coliseum at the 4-H fair.  Even though all Zeke wanted to do was smell for new friends, we earned a red ribbon for our efforts.  I think the only reason we didn't get a white ribbon was because the judges knew what I was up against and took pity on me.

My brother took Zeke cruising with him on a few Saturday nights.  Denny never verified it, but  I'm sure Zeke was quite the chick magnet.  At the end of the evening, Denny would come home and turn Zeke out to his doghouse as usual.   Zeke had a MAJOR problem with all that attention coming to an abrupt end, and howled all night long - right under MY window.

I won't go into how Zeke left us.  Let's just say there is a idiotic, jerk of a teenage kid in every neighborhood, even on our little dead end gravel road.  That was my first true heartbreak.  We lost a member of the family, and we all took it very hard.  It was one of the very few times I saw my father cry.

Of course I love Caz and Lilly, but Zeke will always have a special place in my heart.