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Debbie Sharp Loeb, teacher by training but full-time mom to a disabled son, craftsperson, bead artist, great cook, creative homemaker & terrific spotter of cool new products for everything under the sun, presents Hodgepodge: recipes, household hints, stories about children, friends & relatives, cool stuff, music, & much more.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2005


Today is the 16th anniversary of my mother's death and I thought this was a good time to share this special letter.
The following was read for me (by my dear Aunt Sylvia) at the funeral for my uncle. His wife, my Aunt Rozella, Aunt Norma, and my mom, Rowena, are all gone, as too are Sylvia's husband, my Uncle Daryl, Uncle Doyle, and Dwayne, who died in infancy. Only two of my mom's siblings remain: my Aunt Oma and Uncle Robert.

When this happened I was compelled to write down all these memories and share them.
Do you have similar memories that you can pass on? It doesn't have to be written perfectly. This is just a list. Do it now. Let those who are special know how much they mean to you.

Dear Sheila and Neal,

I was so saddened to hear of the death of my dear Uncle Gene. I thought that with his passing, as well as those who have passed before him; it was a good time to think back on all those great childhood memories of my time spent there in Kansas. So here they are, in no particular order, just as they popped into my head, with smiles, and some tears, I wistfully reflect on the remembrances of times gone by ...

  • the smell of the old barn, playing in the hayloft, and barn swallows
  • feeding a calf with a bottle (or a bucket with a nipple on it) in the little shed up by the big barn
  • gathering sticky black walnuts and putting them in the old house to dry out, only to have the raccoons steal them
  • hundreds of grasshoppers everywhere, hearing and seeing them splat on the car
  • swimming in the cow watering holes with the yucky muddy bottoms and trying really hard not to touch my feet down there
  • floating on the giant tractor tire tubes
  • fishing in the ponds and catching a long string of sunnies and the picture of Johnny and me holding them (which we seemed to have misplaced)*
  • me catching fish faster than Granddad could bait the hook for me
  • Granddad taking his teeth out without me seeing, and I couldn't figure out where they were
  • Grandma taking her long hair and putting it up into that bun she always wore -
  • Granddad helping Gene on the farm
  • riding with my Uncle Gene on the tractor or combine
  • playing see-saw on the trailer used to stack the bales of hay and once falling off only to have it come down on my foot
  • my Uncle Gene lifting us up on the big fork that was on the tractor to move hay, screaming half in fear, half in delight
  • mooing at the cows and the pet cow down by the barn
  • cattle coming into feed by the barn
  • watching the bales of hay come out of the bailer
  • seeing and hearing the crop duster's overhead
  • getting zapped touching the electrified fence by mistake
  • Gene and Rozella's great old house with the big side porch and the creek running in the back of it
  • Rozella grinding horseradish on the back porch and me thinking I could do it without my eyes tearing
  • my Uncle Gene's big smile with a gold filled tooth, and his sparkling blue eyes, wearing bib overalls
  • Rozella's sense of humor and making us crack up, even just with the funny faces she would make
  • riding a horse down to pick up the mail from the mailbox
  • Rozella having Sheila, Neal, Johnny and I, clean the carpet with scrub brushes and Glamorene, (which was basically sawdust with chemicals) after which we all fell asleep on the floor, no surprise in that after inhaling the fumes)
  • Uncle Gene taking us on the hilly back dirt roads in an old pick-up truck, driving fast and calling it the Loop-de-Loop road
  • Uncle Gene giving me the best foot massages
  • riding down shale hill on sheets of cardboard or just in jeans
  • my brother shooting me with a B-B gun at Oma's house
  • sitting on the propane tank in the backyard at Oma's
  • going to the bathroom in the out house at Grandma and Granddad's (not to mention the smell of it) and then later, when they had indoor plumbing, the bathroom being so big! It took years before I figured out that it was a converted bedroom and that's why it was so large.
  • taking a bath in a galvanized tub in the kitchen at Grandma and Granddad's
  • pumping water at the kitchen sink there
  • Grandma's homemade quilts that we all got
  • senior High School pictures of Doyle, Daryl, and Robert grouped together on the wall at Grandma and Granddad's, as well as other pictures of her kids and grandchildren
  • Grandma working the switchboard in the living room
  • Grandma's fried eggs and her making me eat scrambled ones, which I didn't like, so I ate them with grape jelly
  • helping to build the church in Paradise, although at my young age I don't think I could have been much help
  • Ringing the dinner bell
  • dinner and supper (not lunch) and such big meals at noontime
  • saying grace before meals
  • making and eating homemade, hand-cranked ice cream
  • going swimming at Wilson Lake
  • milking cows at Daryl and Sylvia's with cats all around looking for squirt of milk
  • my dear Uncle Daryl's very deep voice, which at times was a little scary to me when I was little, but I knew it had such a sweetness behind it
  • Mc Neal reunion's at the school in Paradise, and elsewhere
  • rings being carved from a peach pit
  • the weird Garden of Eden House in Lucas
  • riding in the back of a pick-up truck
  • no air conditioning pretty much anywhere so you often took a change of clothes with you when you had to go somewhere dressed up

  • the total darkness of nights out there on the farm with crickets chirping and stars twinkling
  • fields of sunflowers along the road
  • and last but not least... hours of playing with all my cousins, love and attention by my grandparents, aunts and uncles, and a lifetime of memories to cherish forever

  • Lovingly,

    Your cousin,


    P.S. - I read this to Johnny and this pretty well encapsulated his memories too, as well as, some of his own.
    Oh, and one more thing..................
    Grandma made him eat the fried eggs!

    Copyright © 2005 Deborah Sharp Loeb

    (My Aunt Oma has since passed away, on May 30, 2007)
    *[A special thanks to Aunt Sylvia for finding this picture and sending it on.]


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love this picture!!

11:16 PM  

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