Monday, December 7, 2009

More memory treasures

I remember back when I was small watching my brother spend hours with his comic book collection. Glancing over his shoulder, I queried, "How do you know which pictures you look at next?" To my young eye, there were a bunch of boxes and colorful drawings in each and I didn't understand what order I was to direct my eyes.

Being who he was, he huffed,"When you know how to read, you follow the words."

I was now determined to learn to read, so that I could enjoy his comic books. My mom assisted me in this quest, by reading to me everyday and supplying me with those precious Golden Books. One of my favorite books was "Nurse Nancy" because it came with its own small supply of band aides in the back. I also loved "Little Black Sambo", "Pokey Little Puppy" and "Cinderella."

At the time she worked in the stockroom of Woolworth. For those younger than me, let me just say that Woolworth was like a Walmart, only cooler. There was a lunch counter, anything you might need for the house and best of all a toy department that was like a little girl's dream come true.

My mom got to see all the newest toys, before they even made it downstairs. Everything from the upstairs stockroom was moved by way of the conveyor belt. I can still see those rollers and the thick, black rubber mat that slide around them. Sometimes, I even got to push the big red button to make it start moving. It would sort of jump and then the rollers moved the belt in its never ending journey.

On rare occasions I got to go with my mom to her work (now I wonder if it was a necessity or just because she wanted to take me.) I was a social kid and all the people who worked there seemed to enjoy the time I spent with them. At break time we would eat at the lunch counter and I remember the paper straws in the coke glasses and watching the lunch lady make up the toast for the sandwiches. Funny how that same meal tasted better there than at home.

I was happy hanging out with my mom and didn't fully appreciate the hard labor involved with lifting of the heavy cardboard cartons and standing all day long on the cement floor price marking the merchandise. Back then everything had its own price tag, because there wasn't such a thing as bar codes and scanners to read them.

When I was six, hula-hoops were a huge craze and the manager of the store had me demonstrate them in front of the store. I was able to keep quite a few going at one time and for years afterward, my mom would tell that story with pride in her voice. Each time she told the story throughout the years, the number of hula-hoops I spun grew but I never corrected her.

When I first started this writing it was going to be about my love for reading, but somehow it morphed into something else. I know that my love for reading is entwined with my love for my mom, because she encourage my exploring worlds through words. No wonder that I spent most of my teaching years sharing that love of the written word with my students.

I have a tee-shirt that has a funny picture on the front of a lady sitting by a huge stack of books and the words, "There is no such thing as too many books." I totally agree with that, with one caveat, when you are moving there are TOO MANY DARN BOOKS to carry.


  1. Where to begin!!!

    The books. Yes, my mother tried to instill a love of reading in her children, but alas, only I took up the adventure. In turn, I read to my children all the time, and tried to do the same. One of our favorite books to read was "Little Black Sambo". My sister had given a copy to the children and it had the most beautiful illustrations.

    Fast forward to present day. I wanted my grandchild to enjoy the Helen Bannerman story as much as his father had, but I bought the new, 'improved' edition. It is called "The Story of Little Babaji", and it is ever bit as lovely as the original book we had. The illustrations in this one are very beautiful. My kids are grown, but they still know you put Tiger Butter on pancakes, and my grandson will know that, too.

    Loved going to 'Woolsworth' (we never did pronounce it correctly) with my grandmother. They had the best stuff, and the lunch counter--neatest thing ever!

    All the things you wrote about are too familiar. Thanks for veering off-track!

  2. Yep, Truth Ferret, every time I moved people dreaded it because they were afraid I was going to ask them to help with the numerous books. My dad was so glad when I finally had this house built and announced my intentions to stay put. I think he may have done a jig, if I remember correctly.

    My paternal grandfather was a short-order cook as a young man either at Walgreen's or Woolworth in downtown Houston (I will have to clarify which with my dad) and that is where he met my grandmother. Back then, downtown was the heart of the city, and all the working folks would stop at lunch counters like the one he worked at for a quick meal. Can't you just see in your mind's eye a counter full of people dressed in the fashions of the day, the men in suits (with their hats removed while indoors; they ALL wore hats back then), and the ladies in dresses and high heels....

    What wonderful memories you have, Truth Ferret. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Sugar,I can see the gentlemen sitting on the stools with their polished wingtip shoes and their perfectly ironed dress slacks.

    Times seemed so much simpler in those days, but I guess memories soften as we get older.

    I do remember the poddle skirts, the saddle shoes (I had different colored ones) and peddle pushers. We all had so many petticoats that when we sat down, we had to pat down the skirts. I remember that at one time, there actually was a small blow up edge to the petticoat, which made it stick out even further.

    Thanks for going down my memory lane with me. I enjoy today's adventures and relish my childhood memories.

  4. F.W. Woolworth's downtown. 'Nuff said. Thank you! Foley's downtown too, for that matter. Memories that I can wrap my arms around.
    My girl is MUCH younger than fact, I am older than her dad....uh, can you say awkwardness, children? Funny, when I say pedal pushers, she corrects me with "capris"....I'm good with either, as long as they don't get caught in the damn chain like "bell bottoms" do..........

  5. My sister and I had a blow up petticoats! When inflated, it was like wearing a hula-hoop around your knees! It was cool!

    Pedal-pushers it is, Pilot.

    I had saddle shoes in first grade. They were red velveteen with a black patent leather saddle! They were the most beautiful shoes in the whole wide world. They were my very favorite shoes. I thought they were calling them 'saddles oscars' when they said 'saddle oxfords'. To this day, they are still saddle oscars.

    Truth Ferret--thank you so much for jogging the memory.

  6. You guys are so cool to encourage my writing. Thanks for all the kindness. I know that before I am done, you will be saying, "Enough already, we know too much about Ferret." But as long as you don't mind going along on my memory journey, buckle up, 'cause it's quite an adventure.