Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Fifties/Sixties

Today is my birthday, and I am now 64 years old. Hardly seems possible, but I look at the jowls and realize it is so. I was born in 1947, and was just 3 at the advent of the Fifties. But I love the Fifties. I love the music especially. I happened upon a 50s special on PBS recently and enjoyed every minute (thankful that I could fast forward through the pleas for money - it was PBS, you know, and a fund raiser). I loved watching the audience shots of gray haired folks (or those who had colored away the gray), clapping, singing along, and even wiping a tear or two as memories washed over them.

There is such an innocence to the music of the 50s, at least that which has endured. Pat Boone and one of the McGuire Sisters hosted the evening. Pat never sang, which disappointed me. But the McGuires did - they look terrific and sound fabulous. All of the groups and solos were fantastic - their voices have stood the test of time in an amazing way. They looked wonderful, too. (I'm thinking nobody in this generation is going to be singing 60 years from now - their voices will be destroyed before they're 40 at the rate they're screaming!) I was amused at all the "Four" groups - The Four Aces, The Four Seasons, The Four Coins, and The Four Tops, to name a few.

I was only 13 when 1960 hit, but obviously the 50s music was still around, because I know so much of it by memory. And so much of it is timeless. The harmony is chillingly beautiful. The other day I was eating at Taco Bell - they've been playing 50s music the last few times I've been there - I don't know how their younger customers feel about it, but as I was bopping to my table, singing "Johnny Angel" along with Shelley Fabares, I caught the eyes of the 4 similarly-aged ladies at the next table. We had a great conversation about our faves of the 50s.

As I got older and closer to driving age, I decided I wanted one of these - I never got one, but I still love seeing them in their restored state on occasion.

Recently I discovered a couple of really retro t.v. stations and have been enjoying "Highway Patrol" and "Father Knows Best." I especially love it when the female criminal, which there seems to always be, runs from the law with 3 inch pointed toe heels on "Highway Patrol." (It's amazing how huge the steering wheels were in those 50s cars!) I enjoy the wisdom of the father who knows best - and the fact that the mom actually dresses in pants and a sweatshirt when she's doing serious housework. But when she goes anywhere out of the house, she wears a hat and gloves - usually with a veil covering her eyes, down to her nose - I don't know how they stood it. I tried to find out a bit about why we wore those white gloves back in those days - I can remember washing mine as if I were washing my hands, because they got dirty so quickly. Remember the little stretchy lace ones?

When I went to college, "Dawn Go Away, I'm No Good For You" was popular - it was 1965, but the song was still around, apparently, because the guys would all sing "Dawn, go away, you're no good for me!" Nice!

But not everything in the 50s was rosy. I lived in Arkansas from ages 5-10. I didn't know it then, but learned later that our sweet little Mayberry-esque town didn't allow a black truck driver to spend the night - he had to drive on through and find lodging elsewhere. My dad just told me a story last night that I never heard before. Dad was a bivocational pastor who worked at a grocery store (Piggly Wiggly, don't you love it?) There was a black man who delivered product to this store, but of course hurried out of town. One day Dad could tell he was uncomfortable, and deduced that he needed a rest room. Dad realized there were no facilities for him at the store, so he asked the man to come to our house to relieve himself. The black man was amazed and grateful, but laid down in the back seat of the car all the way to our house and back to his truck at the store. Dad asked him to come up and sit with him in the front seat, but he said he was hiding to protect Dad more than himself. So sad.

I have a strong memory of the integration issue in Little Rock in 1957, when I was 10 years old - in fact, when I was doing some research yesterday, to my amazement I discovered that it was on my 10th birthday (54 years ago today) that Central High School was integrated with the Little Rock Nine. The National Guard was called because Governor Faubus did not want to follow the new national law. But in my mind's eye, I see one lone girl climbing the tall steps to the school - maybe I'm mixing that up with a movie I've seen in later years.

The book The Help has brought up a lot of emotions that led to some of these memories. It was a time in our history that we cannot be proud of. But I hope it is used as a learning tool. We've come a long ways, but we still have a long ways to go.

In other related news, I graduated from high school in 1965. We're all going to be turning 65 in the next year. There were about 15 of us girls who had frequent slumber parties in those days of high school. We've decided to have an updated slumber party next September called "The Class of 65 Turns 65." Interestingly, when 3 of us got together recently, we did some figuring and discovered that each of us will be paying $65 for our rooms. It was meant to be! I'll be one of two (the other being my best friend and co/editor of the school newspaper) who won't be 65 yet that week-end, but soon thereafter.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Catching up With Random Stuff

The summer flew by. There weren't many posts here by me. Thanks to those of you who keep checking in with me and commenting. It seems like we've lost so many bloggers, and it's sad. I can't come up with many posts these days, it seems, but I refuse to quit entirely - I would miss you all too much.

So it's time to catch up a bit - where did the last three months go? They went very very fast, with the 4 girls here quite a bit of the time. Besides camp and the family reunion, Hayley had a great get-away with her Girl Scout troop, in the Colorado Springs area. I really like the posing of this picture in the Garden of the Gods.

They also visited Cave of the Winds.

Both Hayley and Livi got the teachers they hoped for. Livi's is the same wonderful teacher Hayley had in second grade. We're thankful for this blessing. I didn't make it over to their house on the first day of school for the traditional picture with their new outfits. That's a first for me. We'll have their school pictures soon - everything hit the ground running once school started.


A bit of catch-up on the twinnies:

They are absolutely so wonderful - except when they're not. They do have their moments - usually about 30 moments when they get going. But they are growing up so much - they just got "kicked out" of the church nursery on Wednesday nights now, because they're too old. It seems to be going well for them. At least they still get to see their favorite "Sandy" on Tuesday mornings during a new Bible study I've joined. They get to play in the gym day care when I have them, and they enjoy that too. My greatest fun is listening to them as they play and don't know I'm listening. They have such great imaginations, and it is so great to have a built-in always playmate.

Potty training - the bane of our existence. They are way old, IMHO, to be this far behind on this process. But they are stubborn little characters. We got so excited a couple of weeks ago when Emma took it upon herself to go several times a day for several days. She was so proud and so excited. Katie would have no part of it. And so Emma quit, too. They love wearing their cute little unders, and don't wet or dirty them all day, which is not a good thing either. What to do? What to do??

Growing up is such an adventure - and watching them learn is such fun. They want to do everything by themselves, which is a very good thing - but it takes so much longer. They've mastered the art of buckling their car seat belts - but it's quite the laborious process. For some reason, the door isn't allowed to close until they are finished. Shoes and socks - grueling, but such a big step.

They were evaluated for preschool and qualified, but unfortunately they are on a long waiting list. This is paid for by the school district because of their financial situation, but it doesn't do much good when there are too many others in the same boat and they can't get in. I was looking forward to a couple of mornings of freedom each week, but we're keeping busy and doing what we have to do.

A couple of funny things - suddenly Emma has begun calling us Grandmaw and Grandpaw instead of Gramma and Grampa. It is so cute. Last night they were staying here, as they often do. I couldn't remember which twin had which pair of jammies on, so I said, "Are you Emma or Katie?" Katie answers, with a twinkle in her eye, "Emma!" Little monkey - pulling fast ones on me already.


Last Sunday Grandpa Dwight took the girls up to Rocky Mountain National Park in the afternoon. They had the greatest time, and Grandpa is so happy to have new hiking partners for years to come. The promise was for an all day camping trip (not overnight, but involving tents and cook-outs) today (Saturday), but the weather didn't look very promising up there this morning, so they headed to Denver instead. The twins have talked about "going to the mountains" all week, so I hope they aren't disappointed with a more urban adventure.

They stopped in Estes Park on the way down the hill to have a cone at a shop named "Hayley's"


The other night when they were here, Grandpa played human basketball goal - and Hayley had just scored.


My sis and I had a great Girls Night Out last Thursday - we were privileged to spend the evening listening to one of our favorite novelists - Laura Lippman. She was a fun speaker, and it was interesting to hear the journey her writing has taken her on. Speaking of books, have you read The Help? I have to say, I RARELY watch a movie based on a book, because it frustrates me so much how they mess with the plot, but this is one movie that didn't ruin the book. Well done.

If you've made it this far, thanks for hanging in there with me on this very long, rambling essay! Have a great week!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Swanson Gang Minus 15

It was over a month ago already that we gathered in the southern part of Colorado, at our church's campground in the mountains above Colorado Springs. We've looked forward to and planned (well, my sister did most of the planning) for over a year. There are 55 of us now, but 15 were unable to make it. We gathered with 22 adults and 18 kiddoes from age 10 months to 10 years. We came from all over the world - some of us were privileged to just hop in our cars and drive three hours down Interstate 25 to the turn-off to camp. We had others from Idaho; Washington; London and Manchester, England; and Peru. We missed those from Oklahoma, some more from Idaho, from Maine, and those in the Army in Georgia and possibly South Carolina at that time (I can't keep up with their training schedule!)

We were privileged to have this beautiful chalet with 10 bedrooms and two kitchens. This campground is one of my favorite places in the world. When I arrive there, a feeling of peace washes over me, and the blue skies, fresh pine scent, and mountain vistas take me away from the cares of the world.

I am certain that all family gatherings are like ours in many ways, especially in the amount of eating that goes on. Our tradition has worked well - each family unit is in charge of its own breakfast and lunch. Each family group then is responsible for one evening meal. Since neither of my kids was there, we joined with Mom and Dad for our spaghetti dinner. One of the most fun things for me was in the morning, when we got up early, as is our habit, and the young parents would be still sleeping when their little ones would wander out of their rooms. They'd end up at our breakfast time, asking for food. The parents were mortified when they got up and around and realized their kids had already eaten our food - but it was so much fun.

There were s'mores each night under the gorgeous starry sky.

There was lots of laughter, especially after getting the kids to bed - the young parents laughed so hard at this game that I was afraid all their kids were going to wake up and come join the fun again.

There were times of trying to find a bit of solitude from the noise.

There were times of just enjoying each other's company.

There was a gaggle of girls --

And a bevy of boys!

There was a gymnastics show --

And the American Girl Doll fashion show --

There was lots of water fun --

I brought along this bubble machine, and it turned out to be a very good idea - can you see the huge bubbles?

One of the highlights of the week-end was when we gathered for Sunday morning worship --

The kids led us in a rousing chorus -- and then my brother (in the background) led us in "Great Is thy Faithfulness."

Chad and Amanda shared with us about their mission work in Puno, Peru. (There was a reason for the Superman shirts - long story!)

Dr. Dwight shared scripture --

Luke, the youth pastor, shared a devotional challenge --

We celebrated Mom and Dad's 65th anniversary during this time -- the ones who started it all!

The "originals" minus one, posed on the deck just before departing --

What a blessing it was to be together. We missed those who weren't with us. It is difficult to get that many people together who are so far flung in distance apart. But we savored every moment and look forward to the next time.