When I was in first grade, we had hanky checks every morning. When Mrs. Clemen called for our hankies, we raised them up in the air, so she could see.
If we forgot our hanky, we were told to stand in the front of the class. I never had a fancy hanky like my grandmother Daw, but I tried darn hard to never forget my plain white one.
Heidi's Wedding Day
On my daughter's wedding day, I gave each of her bridesmaids one of my grandmother's hankies.
I teased that it was an emotional day and we all needed our hankies.
I gave Leigh Anne a hanky, too. Leigh Anne was the officiant. She and Heidi have also been childhood friends, from the age of 4. These five girls mean so much to me. They've all played an important role in Heidi's life. It seemed like a fun gift.
Put to Use
Little did I know, the hankies would be put to good use. Some of the girls got teary as they pulled the hankies from the bags. Heidi laughed that she needed her hanky before the "First Look".
Leigh Anne handed Heidi a hanky during the ceremony and the maid of honor is seen sniffling into hers.
I've always loved those hankies since my grandmother let me raid her collection. But I love them more, knowing they have good homes!
At the Playground
I don't remember when I learned how to pump, but I know it was a lot more fun than being pushed. I grabbed a swing yesterday and had a little fun at the park.
I thought about Kindergarten in Grinnell, Iowa while I did a little swinging. I turned 6 in that spring of 1963. I remember the playground swings and how we raced to grab a free one.
I was surprised at how much fun I had on the swing. It felt pretty darn fun using my arms and legs, leaning and pushing through the air. But, there is no way to match the exhilaration I remember of flying through the air, when I was 6. They hang those darn seats on short little chains, now. There's no way to get way up high.
Or did I just grow up?
Favorite Gift of 1963
On Christmas morning in 1963, I was astonished to wake and find that Santa had delivered the easel, I had so hoped for.
I was giddy to actually own an easel, just like the one in my first grade classroom. It looks like I painted an image of Lincoln that day.
Lots of Lincolns
Actually I'm just guessing that grainy image in the photo is Lincoln, because I found a lot of Lincoln drawings in the artwork my mom saved over the years. I don't actually remember a Lincoln obsession.
I remember putting on my smock and painting lots of ducks. It was my favorite thing to paint and I did it over and over... yellow ducks, wearing rain boots, carrying umbrellas and walking through puddles. But none of those drippy paintings were saved.
I meant to celebrate "Being 6" on Lincoln's birthday, by painting a picture of him. But the day came and went.
So, today on this spring day, I dragged the easel out of the garage and brought out 3 tiny bottles of tempera paint. The air felt nice and I felt a little like Van Gogh...
... until I slapped the wet brush onto the paper. Why did I think painting was so fun? I felt totally out of control with those brushes and slimy paint. How could I have possibly painted a duck in a rain puddle, at age 6?
So I drew a house and a sun and a tree. I guess that's pretty much what most 6 year olds paint. Then I tried to sign my name, using Elizabeth, the name that my first grade teacher insisted I go by. I failed at that, too. When I was 6, I was better at allowing space for all those letters.
I wish I could have conjured up some of that 6-year-old confidence, today.
Calming Nerves with Coloring
In exactly 2 weeks, my daughter will be married at the Hummingbird House in Austin.
Even though Heidi and Jamie are pretty much planning everything, I'm beginning to feel a bit of the logistical stress. So I gave my self a coloring break today!
Oh my... I still remember the delight (and the smell) of a package of new crayons. Bright, unblemished crayons with sharp points!
I'm sure I had many coloring books, but I only really remember one. I recall my dad watching me color a picture of a grocer, wearing an apron. (odd picture) Dad commented as I scribbled away. "I worked in a grocery store, when I was a boy." For some reason that news intrigued me.
It's chilly and gray, today. It was the perfect cozy day to pull out the coloring book given to me by my childhood friend a year ago. Diane knew it would amuse me, since I was going through chemo.
She and I both had memories of Highlights Magazines. Each addition had an illustrated page where we hunted for hidden images. As I colored the hummingbird picture, I was enjoying two things that I loved when I was 6... Highlights and coloring!
I was sort of distracted though and my coloring was a little careless. I didn't finish because I got drawn away to do something else. Was that the adult in me, or the 6-year-old?
Not all kids like clowns. In fact many adults are terrified of the painted smiles on real and toy clowns!
But at age 6, I adored this toy clown. Our family purchased him the year we lived in New York. He provided some amusement, since we 4 kids had left our bikes and toys behind, back in Iowa. Our cramped Staten Island apartment didn't have much space, but there was room for the clown.
His 2 weighted poles are now gone, but he once used them to balance his unicycle on a wire. The wire stretched across the apartment, above our heads and we took turns pulling down on a cord to watch him cycle back and forth. Sometimes we yanked too hard and his wheel jumped off the wire. Usually his poles kept him from crashing to the floor. I'm proud to be the sibling who keeps the clown, in his old age.
Clown Motel in Tonopah, Nevada
In February, I celebrated like a 6 year old, at a Nevada motel. Most of my adult friends are not brave enough to spend a night in such a place, but Don and I are a gutsy team.
The 6 year old in me didn't see the worn carpet or the peeling paint. The 6 year old in me, also refused to fret over the internet write-ups and videos that have given this motel a scary spotlight.
The owner Bob couldn't have been nicer. He pointed out his favorite clown, from the massive collection in his office. I showed him my unicycle clown that I had packed, since this had been a planned stop.
He was pretty delighted to see my clown shirt as well. I told him I had been a clown myself once. But my friend, Jenny and I quit the clown business after our first birthday party. Too exhausting!
Yay for clowns!
I've always been fond of Cracker Jack candy, so I had to buy a box when I found it.
As a kid I loved the caramel corn and the sweet peanuts. But best of all I loved the prize.
From a very young age, I adored small things. I collected the prizes in Cracker Jack boxes and gum ball machines. I called them my trinkets.
I crossed fingers and held my breath when I turned the knob or opened the paper prize holder. Oh how I hoped a special ring or a tiny toy would surprise me.
Gum or Trinket?
I used to study the prizes in the gum machine. I hated my bad luck when gum popped out, so I came up with a plan that would assure me a few real goodies. My plan was to take the dollar in my birthday card and exchange it for 100 pennies. I pictured myself hunkered down with a paper bag underneath the gum machine. (I now picture that 6-old-Beth, looking like an anxious player at a slot machine) I could just visualize myself, strutting out of the candy store with my heavy bag. I would give the gum to my friends and keep all the trinkets. Sadly, I never followed through with that clever plan.
My Box Yesterday
What a disappointment!
The caramel corn didn't even cover the napkin. There were 2 peanuts. And it was pretty evident, there was no cute trinket hidden in that flat prize holder.
Are You Kidding?
I know the prizes have been lame for many years. But this tiny little "Go Ahead Throw The Curve" sticker was blurry and hideous!
This is my first real dud 6-Year-Old-Celebration. I have 15 more to reach my goal before my birthday. I better start choosing my celebrations wisely!
Time With A. A. Milne
During recent travels to and from Thailand, I had nearly 40 hours of movie time on our 4 flights. There were so many movie options, but I only made it through one, from start to finish.
"Goodbye Christopher Robin" seemed to soothe my 6 and 60 year old self, without putting me to sleep. The film was about one of my favorite childhood characters and all of his favorite animal toys. Actually it was about the relationship between author, A. A. Milne and his real life son, Christopher. The movie relaxed me with its scenery and costumes and music. The father/son story was touching.
Not Just Pooh
After returning home, I spent a week with a miserable cold, plus jet lag. If I'd been 6 and had a teddy bear, I'd have hugged it, as I lounged on the couch. Instead, I found this old book on the shelf and took it to the couch.
Inside the book, I found Christopher Robin and so many familiar images from my childhood.
I loved studying the pictures of Christopher Robin and Pooh, in the midst of their adventures...
...especially because I feel like I know Christopher after watching the movie.
I loved the last poem best. The last two lines are perfect.
"But now I am Six, I'm as clever as clever,
So I think I'll be six now for ever and ever."
New York City's Chinatown in 1963
Although this old photo is blurred and eerie, I have such vivid memories of visiting Chinatown when I was 6. The smells were all so new to me, but I liked the adventure and oddity of it all.
In this photo, my father wears a jacket and tie and pushes my 2 year old brother in a stroller. I'm hidden behind my sister, with our family friends Bill, Barb and Winston nearby. I remember eating in a Chop Suey or Noodle House a time or 2, but I can't recall the exact places or foods. I so wish i could go back to New York re-visit this very street... with a better camera.
Chinatown in Bangkok
When we were in Thailand recently, I was thrilled to learn we could visit Bangkok's huge, bustling Chinatown. It gave me a way to celebrate those exotic memories from my childhood. Compared to the quiet looking black and white photo, the Thai version of Chinatown nearly shocked my system! It was exciting to take in all the new sights and smells surrounding me. I loved the crazy, congested, Yaowarat Road with all the neon signs.
I loved the side streets, jammed with tiny shops. We stopped for lunch and shared a feast that spun around in the center of the table. There were few touristy shops, but I stopped at this colorful store to admire all the red goodies, gearing up for Chinese New Year.
Maybe Another Time
I got a little curious looking at my old family photo from 1963. I noticed the sign, Nom Wah and was excited to find the old tea parlor when Googling. The cute little place has been serving since 1920.
Maybe in 2020, I can make a trip to New York and visit Nom Wah for its 100th birthday. It was a young 43, when I saw it last!
Dance Off in Thailand
I had not intended on doing any dancing when we visited Bangkok's Flower Market a couple weeks ago. But some how I ended up dancing with this woman.
At one point I conjured up the dance move I learned at age 6 in 1963. My "twisting skills" have not improved since I first began imitating the mod dancers I saw on TV. I think doing "The Twist" at the Flower Market will be one of my most memorable 6-year-old celebrations!
How it Started
We were taking a quick tour (with our friend, Fred) through the busy flower market, when we suddenly heard music and laughter.
We spotted a tiny woman in red, dancing up a storm , while her family egged her on.
Dancing in Bangkok
Fred teased, "Go dance with her Beth." I laughed. "Nope. I already fell for that one."
The night before, Fred had encouraged me to get up and dance with a Thai dancer on a dinner cruise. I thought it was something everyone did, so I was game. I soon realized that was not true. Oh well.
I was perfectly content being a spectator. It was refreshing to watch this happy family having a good old time, in the middle of the bustling and fairly serious Flower Market. I grinned and watched and suddenly the woman's son (I assume) was gesturing for me to join in.
Why not? How often do you get an invite to dance at the market? I channeled my 6-year-old-self and boogied along with this little old lady... who turned out to be a year older than me. What a hoot! And I have no idea what was going on in that last photo. I don't know what my expression is about.
The song ended and our dancing stopped. The son, who had been laughing along, handed Don an unopened can of beer... in a welcoming gesture.
Fred spoke a little Thai with the happy family. (That's how we learned that Granny and I were about the same age) Then we moved on.
It's been a while since I've danced the Twist. I hope it won't be a while before I have another opportunity to dance with a stranger. That was fun.
These are the frisky critters that leapt about the roof of our bungalow on a recent stay at Railay Beach. They reminded me of my early love for playful, long-tailed monkeys.
I was 6, when we first visited the Staten Island Zoo and I fell in love with the monkeys and the lions. I loved seeing the lions at feeding time, roaring and carrying on. But I could watch the crazy monkeys forever. I wanted badly to have one as a pet. I really sort of wanted to be one. I was very good on the monkey bars at school, after all.
The monkeys that we saw in Thailand did not thrill me the way they did when I once watched them behind bars. At dusk, the Thai creatures with their eerie eyes, leapt from roof to roof, making a horrible racket.
We were told not to feed them or make eye contact, since they can be mean. Worst of all, they gathered in trees above us and it was nerve wracking to rush down the path underneath them... knowing they can make a mess.
The Thai monkeys with their creepy eyes and sudden pouncing made me lose my desire to own a monkey as a pet.
Don and I spotted a few on our morning walk to Phrarang Cave/Beach and I kept my distance. Instead I turned my attention towards a little monkey behavior and climbed up the muddy vines for a while.
I have a feeling I would fail terribly if today, I tried to swing along a set of monkey bars. (I no longer have that monkey-like body I had at age 6.) But I did use my arms and legs to get my 60-year old self up that muddy, rock wall without too much effort. I didn't swing on any vines. I didn't make monkey sounds. I didn't even have a tail to help me along. But I enjoyed "being a monkey" for just a little while.