Me in the Middle of Memories of Opening the Door ~ 3rd Week

This past Wednesday was the third class of the Memories to Memoirs  writing course that I’m taking with OLLI ~ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute @ UVA.   The assignment was to write about ‘Opening the Door’ to a room in our childhood home; describing the room, what was happening and how I felt.  Here’s the link to the second class ….. (Me in the Middle of Memories to Memoirs 2nd Week)

Opening the Door

Cellar door #1

The Basement of our home was a special place holding a lot of memories for us kids when we were growing up.  It had three entrances:  the stairway leading down from our kitchen; the slanted cellar door that you pulled up from the outside and descended down a set of cement stairs; and the coal chute that slid the coal deliveries into a pile next to the furnace.  Each corner of the basement housed interesting things: the huge sink that the clothes washer would drain into; the piles of magazines; the old furniture not in use; garment bags hanging on a hook; even an old locked treasure chest that we’d play with imagining what might be inside.  Later we would learn that our grandfather, in the early days, used the basement as a still for making alcohol  

The basement was also the place where my father worked on carpentry projects and  my brother, J, would keep frogs and fish there that he collected in the swamp during the spring and summer.   During the wintertime, on days when it snowed Mom would have us go downstairs in the basement to take off all our outer clothes after sleigh riding and building snowmen.  I could recall the smell of the musty-dusty air and feel the damp darkness as I started down the steep wooden stairs from the kitchen.  I could almost feel again the tingly feeling in my toes as I pulled off my boots at the bottom of the stairs, picking off the clumps of ice that had been captured inside my boot and plastered to my socks.  Peeling off those stiff, frozen socks would reveal bright red toes that I was sure would never feel alive again.   The saving grace was the coal furnace in the corner at the opposite side of the cellar that would be chugging away with the sounds of the roaring fire.  It was kept fueled by my father who, every morning in the winter, would shovel the daily supply of coal into it.

There was a sense of freedom and adventure for me in that basement on the gray winter days that kept us more indoors than outdoors.  There was a pole in the center of the room about half a foot round.   I would hang onto that pole and skate around in the new roller skates I got for Christmas.  There were also the pretend games of me being Dale Evans and I would throw a paper lariat that would hum in a low continuous tone when it circled at top speed over my head.  When we were ready to climb back out of our fantasy worlds, there would be hot chocolate and oatmeal cookies waiting for us in the kitchen, where Mom was ready to listen to our adventures of the day.  In recalling the feelings of safety and security I felt while having the freedom to let my imagination soar in the basement of the only home I knew as a child, I’m grateful for these early beginnings in the 40s and 50s.



Images from Pixabay

Me in the Middle of Memories to Memoirs 2nd Week

Candy Stripers

This past Wednesday was the second class of the Memories to Memoirs  writing course that I’m taking with OLLI ~ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute @ UVA.  The assignment was to find a memorabilia and write about it.  Here’s the link to the first class ….. (Me in the Middle of OLLI)
Teenage girls in the 50’s, who were thinking about becoming nurses, could volunteer at the hospital as a Candy Striper.  I came across my service badge ~ Holy Name Hospital (Our Lady’s Service).  It sparked a lot of memories for me …….. so long ago …….. and so many changes since then.
Badge Candy Striper 1950s

Photo by mlq

I remember well the day that I received the badge!  We were all gathered in the auditorium at Holy Name for the Service Ceremony …….. and Pat Boone, the 50’s pop singer, gave each of us our badge and a rose.  He and his family lived in Teaneck where the hospital was located.  We all wore pink and white striped pinafores which is where the name Candy Striper came from.

Pat Boone ~ April Love

(I was a Rick Nelson fan, myself.  😉 )


The responsibilities I was given as a volunteer included sterilizing the baby bottles in the autoclave,and cleaning the circumcision boards and baby bassinets after each use.  I would string the alphabet beads on elastic cord to make the ID bracelets for mother and baby.  The Maternity Ward was a happy place for a fifteen-year-old Candy Striper as she went about refilling water pitchers with fresh water and delivering flowers and mail to the new moms.  More than any hope of becoming a nurse, I dreamed of one day holding my own newborn.

Maternity Ward Candy Striper

*Images by Pixabay*

Me in the Middle of OLLI

Wednesday was the first class of the Memories to Memoirs writing course that I’m taking with OLLI ~ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute @ UVA.

My hope is to become inspired for more blogging material to be shared with any visitor that might wind up here at my website.  We were given a few questions to help us stir up some interesting stories from our childhood ……… What were your prized possessions? was one that I chose to write on.  This little brown piggy bank has been with me for over sixty years!!    

Piggy Bank 1940's

Thinking of my first Valentine………………. I remember when my dad walked in the door, dressed in a business suit from work, and handed me this piggy bank. It had chocolate heart lollipops sticking out of it. I still have the bank and it’s got cracks around the slot from me trying to get the money out with a knife.  


………….. And this is my piggy pitcher.  I used it at breakfast time to pour milk on my cereal …………….. Cheerios, Puffed Rice, Rice Krispies, Shredded Wheat, Wheaties.  On the bottom it says ‘Patented ~ Smiley ~ USA’ .  It helps me remember where I sat at the kitchen table when my siblings and I had meals …… with my back to the window and facing the doorway leading into the hall.  My two brothers sat across from me (giving them every opportunity to annoy me with their goofy faces 😜 ) and I vaguely remember my little sister in the booster seat at the end of the table.  I’m not sure if piggy pitcher was one of a set?  I believer she was.    

Piggy Pitcher 1940s


One of the men in the first class, Steve, talked about remembering sending away for his deed to 1-inch of Land in the Yukon.  I remember Sergeant Preston of the Yukon and I remember this on the box of cereal.  I wonder if my brothers sent for this too?  😀

50 Greatest Cereal Box Prizes

Yukon Gold


What’s your prized possession from your childhood?