Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Tesla

I have often heard it said, “go big or go home,” but I’m working on reducing the size of my equipment.  This post is being written on a 7” bluetooth keyboard connected to my Kindle. I am amazed at technology these days and often wonder what my father would think of having a phone in his pocket? It is taking me a bit to get used to the the touch and spacing of the keys, needless to say I am becoming best friends with the backspace button.

I began watching a show last night on Nikola Tesla, the inventor of AC electricity amongst many other things. I watched half of the show, which was enough to fill my head before bed. Tesla worked with Westinghouse and built a powerplant at Niagara Falls; if it hadn’t been for a devastating fire at his lab, Tesla would have beat Marconi in making the first wireless radio. Tesla’s work was overshadowed by Edison, even though he was as instrumental in the progress of electrifying America as Edison was. I lost a little respect for Edison when I learned he had used some negative, misleading propaganda to discredit Tesla's alternating current. Unfortunately, somethings in the world never change, mudslinging being one of them.

So why share all this? I have a new keyboard that doesn’t have wires and a Kindle that talks to the internet without wires.  I have alternating current that lights my house, charges my devices and keeps my food cold without ice. I just talked to my mom on a cell phone, and all of these wonders have one man in common, Nikola Tesla. Although he had many, many patents and many high society friends, he died penniless and a bachelor. His birthday was earlier this month, and I for one  am thankful for his birth. Here is a man who dreamed big about the smallest particles of energy and invisible radio waves.

If you are reading this blog, then you will know that my grand experiment worked and I was able  post this blog from my Kindle. So the next time you plug in the coffee or turn on a light, take a moment to be thankful for Nikola Tesla. Now I will return to my ice coffee, and fan (for it is very warm in Maine tonight.)

Friday, May 29, 2015

Mindless living

I have had a few thoughts about blog posts for the past couple of weeks and decided I would try to weave them together. The first thought came at a conference I went to in which there were two prominent political figures (who will remain nameless) giving speeches. During the first speech the speaker made the comment “…wind beneath our sails” and during the second the speaker referred to “paddling up hill.” I was taken off guard by the first, and thoroghly astonished at the second; educated individuals in public office making such mistakes. Now you might say “cut them a break, they’re very busy people,” but I would counter with “shouldn’t people in leadership be a bit more careful when speaking in public?”

The second thought came as I was reading a published document today (can’t remember exactly what since I read so much,) and found a grammatical error.  It’s a very common error, the mixing up of “there” and “their” but those are two very different words and should not be confused as frequently as they are, especally in a published article. The last thought (and straw) came while speaking with a collegue. We were discussing, better yet, lamenting about staff behavior at while on shift. Long story short, we ended our conversation on the topic of respect and manners and the lack thereof.

I’m going to try and be brief in my summary. Regarding respect and manners I initially thought I was just getting old, but I have since changed that view. I fear that a large part of our society today is simply living mindlessly. We have become complacent as we are inundated with information by the barrage of talking heads and never ending social media. We are failing to pay attention to the details of the spoken and written word. Respect is paid to others when we spell correctly, when we listen to what we say and correctly use idioms. If what you have to say is important, isn’t it imperative you say it correctly? Have we become a society where we no longer care what others think of us when we talk or write?


I have one of those brains (as do most people) that can read jumbled words with “3’s” in place of “E’s’ but that is not the point of this post. The point is… if you respect yourself and truly respect others, you will make a point of carefully weighing your words whether written or spoken.  Just for fun, I have purposely made three spelling errors; please leave a comment letting me know if you found them.  This is my opinion…. You know the rest.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mother's day!

I have always been fascinated with the amount of combinations it took to make me.  In honor of Mother's day I wanted to share just a few of those combinations.  Unfortunately I am missing a photo here and there on my father's side, however I know I have at least one photo somewhere of my father's grandmother, Margaret, but that will have to wait for another time.

Happy Mother's day to all, I now present part of my family tree!


Parents
Don & Marie (Scott) Eldridge

Maternal Grandparents
Cecil & Edna (Mason) Scott

Paternal Grandparents
Harold & Ruth (L'Hommedieu) Eldridge



Maternal Great grandparents
Frank & Marie (Vlasac) Mason



Maternal Great grandmother
Nellie (Prime) Scott

Maternal Great, great grandmother
Julia (Theriault) Scott
Maternal Great, great grandparents
Anton & Anna Vlasac
Maternal Great, great grandmother
Julia Mason

Thursday, April 23, 2015

When “Best” is not enough

Today I celebrate the birth of my best friend. We have known each other for over 30 years and have lived a lot of life during that time.  I titled this “when best is not enough” because in all honesty, “Best Friend” is inadequate to describe how much I appreciate and have come to rely on this person in my life. When I “Googled” the definition of best friend I read some very interesting definitions; all of which are true of our relationship, but still not adequate to describe how awesome she is.  The only definition which came close was a person who you value above other friends in your life, someone you have fun with, someone you trust and someone in whom you confide.” (yourdictionary.com)

In the past 30+ years, we have: camped in the rain, and driven on dirt roads that we probably shouldn't have. We have been to three countries, two continents, seen two oceans and visited numerous states. Experienced some of the nastiest bathrooms along the way; at one point she started a collection of photos of me coming out of port-a-potties and wooded spots we had stopped at for rest areas! Over the years I have likened our friendship to the Disney characters, Buzz and Woody. Can you guess who is who? Let me give you a hint, she is down to earth and has often saved me from flying off to infinity and beyond. (Watch Toy Story if you don’t understand.) There are so many more stories to be told and many more to be lived, since we are both of tender, young years! But let’s suffice it to say, no one could ask for a better traveling companion through the adventure called life. 

One of the saddest things I read in researching what the definition of “Best Friend” came from an article on Wikipedia.  According to a study documented in the June 2006 issue of the American Sociological Review, Americans are thought to be suffering a loss in the quality and quantity of close friendships since at least 1985. The study states that one quarter of all Americans have no close confidants, and that the average total number of confidants per person has dropped from four to two.”

I am indeed saddened to think there are people out there who do not have the excellent support system I have. In addition to my biological family, I have through the years developed friendships that exceed the above mentioned average; with this one bestie at the center. One person referred to a best friend as “precious and rare.”  I wholeheartedly agree, and to have a true best friend is something to be valued above all else. I’m not certain what I would do without her. With the statistics saying 1 in 4 people don’t have what I have, the statistics showing a rise in Mental Illness makes more sense. We all need people in our lives that we can turn to and I pray that all would have at least one, if not more.


In closing, I just want to wish my best friend a very happy birthday!  I am happy you were born and continue to be my friend; “best” just isn't enough to describe you. Now, go eat cake!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Analog versus Digital

A number of years ago I read an article in Smithsonian Magazine about the difference between Analog and Digital time.  I don’t remember all the points the article made, but I remember the impression it left.  I have often thought since that time about the difference a timepiece makes. Almost everything in my house reads digitally, my phone, clock radio, stove top and computers, however, my favorite wristwatches are all analog and I have an analog clock on my chimney that I look at each night.

So what’s the big difference you say? Why after taking a hiatus from writing (6 weeks) am I spending time on clocks and time. Well, here’s the reason, I've changed jobs since writing the post and find myself “pushed” by the clock. I don’t like running on digital time, where I push myself to the last minute before going to a meeting or leaving to go home. I don’t like having to count minutes; thinking “oh, I have 3 minutes before I have to leave” or “I’m 2 minutes late.”  I find when I use analog time, my life runs on “its quarter of, 10 past, almost half past guess it’s time to leave.”

I have enough problems with perfectionism that I don’t need to add precision to my time-keeping.  This tendency can get out of hand if I count minutes; having to be places exactly on time and not a minute late.  When I use an analog clock I arrive to meetings early, am more relaxed, plan better.  When I use digital clocks I stress, I’m distracted and too focused on the minutes ticking by and generally arrive later than I want to do because of waiting 2-3 minutes longer than I should have and am not as well prepared. Plus, a huge negative is I begin to apply the same digital standards to others, feeling they are late if the digital display on my computer or phone reads a minute or two after the appointed meeting time.

From the website: https://learn.sparkfun.com/tutorials/analog-vs-digital, I found the best summation for what I am trying to say: 

“There are an infinite amount of colors to paint an object (even if the difference is indiscernible to our eye), there are an infinite number of tones we can hear, and there are an infinite number of smells we can smell. The common theme among all of these analog signals is their infinite possibilities.

Digital signals and objects deal in the realm of the discrete or finite, meaning there is a limited set of values they can be.”

Although I had never thought of this difference, it really does make sense why someone creative could struggle with digital time keeping. I like the whole idea of living with infinite possibilities rather than finite values. Everyone likes to say “think outside the box,” while looking at their digital clocks. I want to live free in my analog world, and looking for others to join with me. So for those of you who don’t like “religious” stuff best to stop here. 

I want to say in closing, the GOD I believe in is analog. Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection are the ultimate example of infinite possibilities in a world full of finite values.  Analog is grace and mercy, digital is “the law.” Hebrews tells us, faith is the substance of things hoped for the evidence of things not seen.  How analog can you get! I am going to be praying for analog faith, the type of faith that chooses to see the infinite possibilities (even that which is beyond my natural eye) rather than dwell on the finite (that which can only been seen with the natural eye.)


I’m not getting rid of my digital clocks anytime soon, but trust me I’m going to be mindful of how digital my thoughts are each day. I hope you will do the same. As always, this is my opinion, and that and $2.50 will get you a cup of coffee.  

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Day 28 - Last post of the challenge

My Great Grandparents
at West Quoddy Light
Family History Writing Challenge - Day 28

** NOTE: The italicized font is creative non-fiction. Based upon the stories of my mother and uncle it is my creative writing of their memories. **


I have reached the last day of the Family History Writing challenge. My goal had been to write 250 words a day, and though I haven’t written each and every day (missing I believe 3) when taken as a whole I met the word count.  I don’t exactly know how many writers took part in this challenge, but I do know I have been joined by writers from around the world, who share my passion for family history and genealogy.

I decided to write this evening on the facts that didn't make it into a post over the past 28 days, primarily because I didn't have enough of the story to imagine. I am hopeful that as I continue the conversation with my mother and uncle these stories can be brought to life.  But at this time, here are some bits and pieces yet to be fully written.

The smell of Root beer permeated the air as Wells and Mason walked through the front door of Aunt Ruby’s house in Massachusetts. Sounds of distress came from the kitchen followed by a friendly “hello, I’m in here” as the door closed behind Mommy & Daddy. This is one of my uncle’s memories. He states that when they arrived for a visit at Aunt Ruby’s a large bottle of Homemade Root Beer set behind the cook stove, exploded and spread the sticky mixture all over the floor and walls.

Grandpa Scott with dogs
Mason stood at the head of the cellar stairs waiting expectantly as Daddy slowly climbed, carrying a huge Sea Turtle in his arms. Gently setting the creature down onto the kitchen floor Mason gleefully climbed onto the turtle’s back.  “Careful now,” came the admonishing voice of her father, “don’t scare him, be easy.” Yes, my mother had a pet Sea Turtle that lived in the cellar of her house in Lubec, she was quite young and this would have been prior to my Uncle’s birth. She tells of how when company came to visit, her father would bring the turtle up as an extra seat for her to sit on.  She also tells another funny story about the dog they owned when she was still quite young, and they lived in town.  Mason heard the sternness in her mother’s voice, fearing she was going to get in trouble Mason crawled under the kitchen table.  “Come Tar, come Tar” Mason’s little voice called, to her beloved German Shepherd, Star. Always protective of his little mistress, Star came when called, sometimes even when not. If he sensed Mason might be in danger Star came to her side, protecting her from any real or perceived harm.

Upon seeing a picture of the American Can Plant, my mother told me a story of going to see her father. She remembers standing on the ground and him waving from a second story window. She also recalls how when they still lived in Lubec (versus South Lubec) her father would walk down over the hill to get to work.

Cecil & Edna Scott
My Grandparents
When driving through Lubec past the bandstand and “big” church, inevitably my grandmother’s vocal history is relived.  Grandma was a soloist for the “big” church on the hill, with the most vivid memory being her singing “The Holy City.”  As for the Bandstand, Grandma always sang Patriotic songs for Memorial Day, the Fourth of July…etc.  Also, there is a picture of Grandma in an authentic Passamaquoddy Indian Princess dress standing next to a Man dressed in a Chieftain’s outfit. They had just finished singing “The Indian Love Song” outside before the days of amplification at the Lubec pumping station. There is also a newspaper clipping stating my grandmother sang a solo on WLBZ radio in Bangor; it does not share what the piece was.

Stories of driving over fire hoses as they drove through an area burnt in a forest fire, the smell of Molasses cookies and a visit from their grandparents, aunts and uncles from out of state remain buried in the pages of my journal. As is often the case with oral history, information comes out in bits and pieces and no particular order.


Thank you so much for reading these past 28 days. I have received wonderful support especially from my mother and uncle, who without them this challenge would not have been possible.  My mother has been not only an inspiration but my fact checker and editor.  I’m looking forward to continuing this story as well as my father’s (which I am now a bit inspired to look further into.)  The challenge is over and the goal has been met, I’ll quietly go away now and bury myself in genealogy.


Mason & Wells


Friday, February 27, 2015

Popeye

Family History Writing Challenge - Day 27

** NOTE: The italicized font is creative non-fiction. Based upon the stories of my mother and uncle it is my creative writing of their memories. **

Mason sat on the floor beside the wood cook stove stroking Popeye’s silky fur. Big, round, soulful eyes looked back at her. His eyes were black and shiny like polished stones, so shiny Mason could see her reflection and his big long whiskers twitched as she spoke softly to him. Mommy was cooking dinner and Daddy had just gotten home from his shift at the can plant. After greeting his family, Daddy turned to Mason and said “okay, it’s time for Popeye to go out.” Mason stood as her father called to Popeye, “come on boy, time to go out.” Popeye, reluctant to leave his warm spot, twisted and heaved his body toward his master’s voice. Daddy opened the back door as both exited and rounded the corner of the house. Mason watched as Daddy walked beside Popeye down over the lawn, across the field, across the road and down to the beach. Popeye was awkward on land, but once in the water, he was graceful and free.

The ever-present breeze blew through the windows as Mom & I sat by the Lubec boat landing one August day.  The water rushed through the Lubec narrows swirling and dark, the current strengthened by the incoming tide.  People began to gather on the breakwater fascinated by the little black dots bobbing and floating in the current; harbor seals at play.  “I had a pet seal” mom’s wistful voice spoke from the passenger’s seat.  “His name was Popeye.  Every night your grandfather would take him down to the ocean to swim and when they returned Popeye would go sleep behind the wood stove; he was like a puppy. Amazing I thought, and how cool to have a seal for a pet, all I ever had was a dog and cat.

Image result for harbor seal


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Long Trip

Family History Writing Challenge - Day 25

** NOTE: The italicized font is creative non-fiction. Based upon the stories of my mother and uncle it is my creative writing of their memories. **


Mason’s hair flipped in the wind as she tilted her head to look at the road out in front. The sun shone bright on Wells and Mason as they sat in the rumble seat of the Buick on their way to Connecticut and a visit with mommy’s family. They had left first thing in the morning; mommy, daddy, the two kids and another man daddy had asked to come to help him with the long drive.  Leaving the ocean behind, the kids waved at the Crane’s house on the corner of Rte 189 as they turned on to Rte 1 toward Ellsworth. A short ways down the road Mason looked to her right at the sparkling water of Gardner Lake and thought of the children that had died in a boating accident there, while at a school picnic a few years before in 1936. A shiver went through her as she remembered going to a wake of one of the children. She also remembered the sound of one of mommy’s sisters in Connecticut who had called, frantic because she had heard of the accident on the news. Fearing that Mason and Wells were some of the children lost, mommy’s sisters had tried for hours to make contact. The news had said it was a school in South Lubec, but the report in Connecticut had been wrong. 

The air had warmed up, now that they weren't directly on the ocean. Onward they went through Machias, and Columbia Falls. Mason spied a big mural painted on the side of building in Cherryfield. She carefully turned in her seat to look better at the painting of a bear crossing a river on a felled tree with a salmon in its mouth, what a beautiful picture she thought.  Onward the car went, past Unionville, Milbridge and Steuben; out of Washington County. Mason shifted trying to get a bit more comfortable in the rumble seat, being careful though to keep the two kittens, Passie-May and Quoddy, safe and out of trouble.  They were bringing the kittens to Connecticut to give to their aunts.


As they came to a stop in Ellsworth, Wells turned and saw a Limousine with a uniformed driver behind them. The car was big and sleek and the driver looked so official, Wells turned around fully in his seat. Soon he was kneeling and gawking (his eyes as big around as saucers) at the scene behind him; never had he seen such a sight.  The driver realizing Wells was staring smiled a big wide grin at him as the cars pulled away from each other.  Wells turned back around thinking how much nicer it would be to ride in that car, rather than this rumble seat with his sister and two cats, it was going to be a long trip!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

All Quiet on the Western Front

Family History Writing Challenge - Day 23 & 24

** NOTE: The italicized font is creative non-fiction. Based upon the stories of my mother and uncle it is my creative writing of their memories. **

Mason laid on the living room floor quietly drawing, it was time for the evening news. Wells was lying in front of the fireplace also quiet for both knew the importance of silence during this time. Daddy sat next to the radio, pipe in hand, legs crossed, leaning forward toward the speaker. It was 1937 and there was great unrest in the world, both near and far. Most of Daddy’s family lived in Eastport, which had just declared bankruptcy. No one in Maine really liked President Roosevelt, even though he had a house on Campobello, there were only two states in the union who didn't “go” for him in last year’s election; one was Vermont, the other Maine. And now with the government stopping work on the Quoddy Tidal project; diverting the money elsewhere, here was just another reason. There was a worldwide depression going on, but Mason wasn't overly affected by it. Daddy went to work everyday; the machines at the Can Factory always needed tinkering and fixing. Many a morning mommy would open the back door to find a bucket or two of freshly dug clams, that the Coast Guardsmen from down the road had brought by. They had a cow, which mommy went out and milked each morning as well as daddy being a hunter.  They had a garden and mommy would can in the fall; putting up vegetables from the garden as well as canning the meat. Wells loved to see the vegetables mommy packed in sand in the basement to keep them fresh. Both of the kids loved mommy’s relish, known as “Lindbergh Special,” it was good with just about anything. Yes, there was a depression going on, and Mason knew there were others who were not as fortunate as she was.

Mason kept drawing as daddy listened closely to the news. Amelia Earhart was still missing after disappearing in July, and there was a lot of unrest in Europe. Men named Mussolini, and Hitler were in the news and there was talk of another war. Mommy came into the room as the newsman talked about the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Mommy had a picture of King Edward, now the Duke and his new wife, Wallis Simpson. Mommy was such a romantic; she loved the idea of a king giving up his throne for the woman he loved. The news was almost over and it was getting to be time for bed. Mason put the finishing touches on her picture and stood. Blowing off the pencil dust, she walked over to her father and presented him with the picture. Taking the picture in one hand and removing his pipe with the other he looked closely at the picture and smiled. Gazing at the pencil drawing of him sitting by the radio with his pipe, he read the caption written across the top “All Quiet on the Western Front.”  Turning to his daughter, he smiled again and said, “Very nice Mason. I love it.”

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Mystery of the Red Farmhouse

Family History Writing Challenge - Day 22

“Okay, so you remember swinging on the front porch swing with” before I could finish, mom stopped me. “There was no front porch on the house; it was a hammock I remember swinging in.  The other girl was also named Marie and we were about 10 or 11 years old, I think we were related somehow.”  Mom was adamant in her memories, “It was a large red farmhouse with an attached barn and a cemetery out back of the house. We used to meet family there, some relation to me. I think they owned a store in Columbia Falls and were somehow related to this Marie.” Years before mom and I had tried to find this mysterious red farmhouse, but were running low on gas and had to turn around. This mystery remains unsolved.

“What’s the chance this Marie was a Crane?”  I asked, trying once again to figure out this mystery.  “She was the daughter of Burpie Scott Crane of Whiting.” Mom thought for a moment… “That might be her, Grandma (meaning my grandmother) always talked about Burpie, I think it stuck in my head because the name was odd.” So I took another shot in the dark, “what’s the chance this house could have been in Whiting?”  The response was immediate and certain “No, I’m 100% sure the farmhouse was in Unionville. It was surrounded by hills for I remember being there when a thunderstorm came through. I could hear the thunder echo off the hills around the house. I also remember an older woman in the house; she owned a stereoscope I loved to look at and had beautiful Hollyhocks in the summer.  The house was built on a slope overlooking the road and beautifully kept.”


I would love to be able to write some creative non-fiction about Mason in the hammock. But at this time there are still too many unanswered questions, too much speculation about who owned the house, why did her parents take her there and who was the little girl in the hammock with her? I would like to be able to end this story with answers, but it’s not to be.  Instead, I end it with a hope to one day to find the red farmhouse with attached barn and find out who was in the hammock with mom.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Ice skating

Family History Writing Challenge - Day 21

** NOTE: The italicized font is creative non-fiction. Based upon the stories of my mother and uncle it is my creative writing of their memories. **

“Come on and hear, come on and hear Alexander’s Ragtime Band…” the lilting tones of Alexander’s Ragtime Band flowed on the winter wind as two skaters glided on the ice. “Come on and hear, come on and hear it’s the best band in the land…” Skeet, skeet, skeet, Mason’s skates quietly joined in rhythm to the song. Skating with her neighbor, a young man, 6 years her senior, Mason enjoyed his singing; he was a very good skater. A small frozen pond had formed in the field in front of her house, where Mason, her little brother and the neighbor children would gather. Although bitterly cold, the evening skating party was warm with friendship. Overhead the “northern lights” flamed in the sky, brilliant greens and pinks blazing against the black velvet sky; the most beautiful ever seen.

Despite the fact that Mason moved two years later, she never forgot the times she ice skated with him.  Once while vacationing in Lubec at the same he was home visiting his family, they briefly caught up. That was the last time they had spoken and seen each other, for now what must be over 75 years. Mason lost track of her childhood friend, but she never forgot and longed to find out what had ever happened to him.


“I can’t believe he spent time with a little kid; I was 12 and friends with his sisters; we all went to school together.” Mom heaved a sigh of resignation “I doubt he’d remember me, we were so young.” Having made contact with the niece of her neighbor (the daughter of one of his sisters) through social media, another one of mom’s childhood friends took on flesh in my mind. “I doubt he’ll remember me” she reiterated, but after a short period of time the following note was received via instant messenger: “…I’m thrilled to hear from you! You’re looking great!  I have fond memories of our icescapes. I also remember you being home to Lubec one summer when I was painting my grandmother’s house. You stopped by with your family & we had a brief chat. Take care.”   “Oh my, he does remember me!” Through the marvels of technology, pictures and addresses were exchanged. The lost art of letter writing sent by “snail mail” ensued for a brief period of time. Her question had been answered, her childhood skating companion found.

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Thunderstorm

Mulholland Light
seen from Lubec
“Mason, Mason are you awake?” Mason's husband urgently whispered to her, “Do you hear that? It sounds like crashing surf.”  The inside of the little Apache tent camper lit up with a lightening flash, immediately followed by loud rolling thunder. “Do you think the others will be alright?” was the pressing question on Mason's lips.

Tucked in a spruce grove at Herring Cove Provincial Park on Campobello Island,  Mason, her husband, mother and youngest daughter were together in the tent camper. Her son was sleeping in the back of the station wagon down the hill, while in the adjacent tent were family friends. The flashes of lightening and accompanying peals of thunder sounded like a giant tramping through the campground as the rain intensely poured onto the canvas. One flash and clap were simultaneous, indicating the storm was directly overhead, and had struck something very close by.

FDR Memorial Bridge
Mason didn't go to Campobello Island as a child; although she saw it daily across the narrows (barring a fog bank) it was a distant, foreign land to her. It was only after she was married that she ever stepped foot on it. With the new FDR Memorial Bridge built, connecting the United States to Canada, it was much easier to visit. Frequently, Mason and her family chose to camp on the island during their summer vacations. Herring Cove was a family favorite, with a black sand beach, rock outcroppings and woods to explore. Drinking water was drawn from a pump and toilets were pit, but from the campsite the beach and the ocean Mason loved, was a short walk away.

Campobello Island from the top
of West Quoddy Head Lighthouse
The next morning dawned bright and clear as the storm had “scrubbed” the air clear of humidity and resulting fog. Mason’s husband, being the consummate cook and outdoors man made a “woodsman’s breakfast” of eggs, bacon, home fries and toast. Grand Manan, and the U.S. mainland looked close enough to touch as the ocean reflected the bright blue, cloudless sky. Breakfast conversation was solely about the storm. Mason’s son had come up to the camper at first light, frantic as to what he would find. Relieved at finding everything as it should be, he related his frightful saga. Awakened by the intense thunder and white flashes of lightening he had peered out the car windows up to the camper. The wind was wild, tossing tree branches and anything not tied down around like a child’s toy. As a flash of lightening illuminated his surroundings, he looked to the camper and froze, it was on fire!  He was horrified 
Fish Weirs on Campobello
knowing he couldn't get out the car due to the storm, oh what was he to do?  As morning dawned it was discovered what he thought had been a fire was nothing more than a pink table cloth, hung to dry off the camper’s canopy with a Coleman lantern glowing behind. The “tent dwellers” had fared well, stating they had given thought to making a run for the car, but had stuck it out due to the severity of the rain. And as for that one close strike, the pump handled water spigot and the large overhead arc lamp, illuminating the pump area, took a direct hit; leaving both inoperable.


I was just a small child and barely remember this storm and trip. What I do remember is being curled up to my grandmother’s back safe from the outside danger. My mother relates that when they went to see Aunt Hazel on the mainland in South Lubec, mom was surprised to learn that Aunt Hazel never heard or saw the horrendous storm that tromped through the campground. Mom remembers this storm as the worst she has ever experienced; marking all others by this one.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Happy Birthday Daddy

Daddy
91 years ago today, my father made his entrance into the world.  Born in Port Jefferson, Long Island, New York to Harold and Ruth (L’Hommedieu) Eldridge, he was the first of three children. At the age of 2 he moved to Windham, CT, where his parents owned a dairy farm and later a school bus company. I know very little of my father’s younger years, I heard that he was doted on by his maternal grandmother. Frankly, I know more about his extended family; his aunts and uncles than I do about his immediate family. 

He served in WW II, in the Pacific Theater. I remember him telling the story of how the troop ship he was being transported in got caught in a typhoon. Many on the ship got seasick, but he found a group who didn't and played pinochle throughout the storm. He also befriended the cooks on the ship (my father loved to cook as well as eat) and made bread for the multitude on the ship. He and mom loved to tell the story of how when he returned from the service he tried to reduce the bread recipe down to make it. Mom tells me it was wonderful when it was fresh out of the oven, but once it cooled, the bread loaves hardened enough for her to paint and use as a doorstop. Daddy was also a "gourmet" cook, as mom went out to do some gardening, Daddy would fix dinner, beautifully presented.

Hurricane Gloria
Dad worked for the Telephone Company before it became AT&T, loved to camp, fish, and garden. He adored his wife and children and was a good friend to many people. I remember as a child I would wait anxiously to see what Daddy had brought home in his black rounded top lunch box.  Being a cable repairman he would get to stop at a bakery or farm stand, and he would bring home a goody or two.  I loved the summer when I would share in a fresh tomato he had picked up. When I was 18 my parents gave me the opportunity to visit England on a class trip.  I left the evening of Opening Day of Fishing season, but that morning my father and I went fishing together.
Mom & Dad
with my two older siblings


As my supper finishes cooking and I am near the end of this post, I realize I need to spend some time finding photos of my dad and his family. I would venture to guess a day does not pass that something is said or I do something that reminds me of my father. I come from such a rich history, both maternal and paternal; I don’t want future generations to lose what has been given to my siblings and me. Happy Birthday Daddy, I’m so glad you were born!
Daddy with the youngest


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Mom - Two little known facts

Birth Announcement
 In honor of my mother’s birth I want to divert from the story of Mason and Wells in South Lubec to tell you about “Mason” as an adult. There is so much to tell that 250 words will not do justice, but I will restrain myself from boasting too much. Here are two little known facts about mom, which I find immensely interesting and I hope you do too.

First off, did you know that my mom couldn't sing when she was a child?  An elementary school teacher told my grandmother “I’m sorry Mrs. Scott, but your daughter didn't inherit your voice.”  Well, my mother was given a Gene Autry guitar and taught herself how to play and sing. After getting married, she and dad started the family singing group “Hum & Strum.” That picture of me as a child was taken when the family was performing. Mom’s done really well for a kid that couldn't sing.  FYI – she got me started on playing guitar.

Mom and her Dad
Secondly, mom wrote for the Willimantic Chronicle (the local newspaper.) She did weekly human interest stories, some of which I still own copies of.  I remember sitting at her feet while she typed the stories and then going to the newspaper office to deliver them. The sound of the newspaper machines was impressive to a young child. I fear however, I may have been responsible for the early end to her newspaper career when I dropped her typewriter. Mom tells me I get my creative writing skill from her mother (my grandmother) but I beg to differ.

One of the articles mom wrote for
"The Chronicle."
I've included a bunch of photos I have of mom over the years. This is just a drop in the bucket and a small snapshot of her life.  I’m taking the liberty of using my favorite shots. Happy Birthday mommy, I’m so glad you were born!!
November 23, 1946
Windham, CT


South Lubec

Caribbean Cruise
 South Lubec

Titanic Party

Roosevelt International Park,
Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada



Monday, February 16, 2015

No Snow days – Part 2

“Your uncle was a whole grade ahead when he went to Connecticut.” Mom related as we spoke about going to school. “I think it had to do with having four grades together in the same room.” 

Wells stood straight and tall as he led his class.  Holding the American Flag high the younger children marched behind him as they circled the perimeter reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Wells was always happy when it was his turn to carry the flag, but tomorrow he would go to the back of the line, as the child currently behind him carried it. Returning the flag to its holder, Wells sat down and readied himself for today’s lessons.  As he practiced his penmanship he could hear Mason’s class reciting the times tables.

 “Two times two is four, two times three is six, two times four is eight.” Mason’s teacher stood at the blackboard, pointing at the numbers with her stick, “six times six is thirty six, six times seven is forty-two” on the recitation went until finishing with “twelve times twelve is one hundred forty-four.” Then came the three major rivers in Maine, the class repeated “Penobscot, Kennebec, Androscoggin” followed by the counties. Having completed the morning lesson with Mason’s class, it was time for the teacher to move on to the lower grades. Mason pulled out her English book and began to read quietly.


The morning progressed with the teacher moving from grade to grade, instructing and reviewing the work of her students. Before Mason knew it, it was lunch time. The glass canning jars set on the stove in the morning were carefully, so as not to burn your fingers, removed and opened. Had it been spring Wells and Mason would have taken their lunches to the big rock beside the school that overlooked a tidal stream. While blowing on her soup, Mason dreamed of warmer weather, sitting on the rock and going to the beach with Grandma Scott. She thought of walking to the lighthouse to play with her friend, the keeper’s daughter, of riding her bike and picking wildflowers to bring home to her mother. A sudden gust of winter wind rattled the schoolhouse windows, shaking Mason from her revelry.  Holding the warm glass jar closer, Mason remembered in a few hours she had to walk home.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

A weekend at Bog Lake

Family History Writing Challenge – Day 14 & 15

** NOTE: The italicized font is creative non-fiction. Based upon the stories of my mother and uncle it is my creative writing of their memories. **

The sounds of children’s voices could be heard echoing across the lake as campfire smoke drifted overhead. Splashes and laughter mingled as Mason and Wells played in the waters of Bog Lake. Yesterday, after Daddy and the neighbor man had gotten out of work, the two families loaded up their cars and headed to Bog Lake for a weekend of camping.  Being the summer, the sun shone bright late into the evening allowing time for the campsite to be set up before dark, even after driving from Lubec to the lake outside of Machias. While Daddy made a mattress out of spruce boughs, Mom set about making a fire. The neighbor man strung a rope from his Stutz Bearcat to a nearby tree and hung a lantern as his wife (mom’s best friend) brought blankets and other gear from the cars.

In the morning, as soon as was possible, Mason and Wells took to the water. It was so much warmer than the saltwater they swam in at home. Mason let her body relax and float in what felt like the temperature of a bath. She looked up into the clear blue sky, and even with her ears submerged she could hear her brother running toward her “Mom says it’s time for lunch.”  Mason was hungry, but she didn’t want to get out of the water.
She loved to swim and knew if she went up on dry land to eat it was going to be over an hour before she could get back in. Mommy was very strict about waiting an hour after eating so you “didn’t get cramps and drown,” very strict.  Wells stepped closer and spoke again “Mason, mom says it’s time to come in for lunch.”  Mason lowered her feet to the sandy bottom, keeping everything but her head underwater. Looking at Wells she said “but I don’t want to get out, I like it in here.” Mason looked at her fingers; wrinkled like a prune she had been swimming for hours already.  “I’m hungry too” said Wells, “and I want to stay in the water, what are we going to do?”  Mason thought for a minute, “what about we eat lunch IN the water?”  We can tell mommy we promise we won’t swim, and stay near to shore.  Calling to their mother and posing the question, the two waited for what seemed like an eternity, but was only a minute of thought, Mommy allowed the two children to eat in the water, with the promise they would stay close to shore, feet on the ground and NO swimming for an hour. The fish chowder tasted wonderful! Cooked over the open flame of the campfire, since early morning, and hand delivered, Mason and Wells relished the rich creamy broth with chunks of potato and fish. As agreed, the children did not swim for an hour, but after the hour they were off for the rest of the afternoon.

As the sun began to lower on the horizon, Mason and Wells reluctantly made their way up on to shore. Having changed into dry clothes they sat by the fire and ate supper.  Mason slept well that night, all bundled in her blankets on the spruce boughs. Daddy made such a comfy mattress, and the smell, oh the smell was heavenly!  Sometime during the night, Mason heard Mommy comment to Daddy that she could hear and feel mice running through the boughs in the mattress.


On Sunday morning the two families broke camp and headed home to South Lubec. Tucked into the rumble seat of the Buick, Mason and Wells rode back to the coast, with the Stutz Bearcat following.  Being of fairer complexion than Mason, Wells was uncomfortable due to the sunburn he always got when camping.  As the cars turned on to Rte. 189 toward Lubec, Mason slipped her hand into her pocket, gingerly grasping the souvenir she had picked up and pulled it out. Looking into the small black eyes and twitching whiskers, she stroked the soft gray fur and said “it’s time to go home.”