Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Rock Skipping

My sister was talented in so many ways. She could draw and I couldn't draw a straight line with a ruler. She could also skip rocks across the lake. Every time that I tried, they sunk. I was certain that my rocks had tiny anchors attached to them.

My grandparents lived out in the country some 60 miles from where my parents, my sister and I lived. To get to their home you had to drive down a tree lined lane. There was a lake at the bottom of the hill with a boat dock and benches. I never could quite understand how my grandmother could be in the kitchen and hear a car turn off the main road and approach the house through all those trees.

We would go and collect rocks from around the lake or would bring them from the city. I thought I had chosen good ones. However, I was soon going to find out that I hadn't.

Arriving at our grandparents, we didn't even take the time to say "hello" or get a hug from grandma. We went scampering off to the lake with mom shouting after us, "Don't get too close to the edge." My sister pulled her rocks out from her pocket and laid them out neatly on the dock bench. I laid mine out on the other side of the dock on the other bench. She went first. Tossing her rock at the water it skipped across as if it were gliding and on a mission. I picked up one of mine and tossed it at the water. Not even a skip for it sank on the spot. My sister continued without any effort at all, skipping one after the other across the water. I, on the other hand, decided after three tries, that I was never going to win the stone skipping contest and left for the house with tears in my eyes. As I was heading up the hill to the house, my sister shouted after me, "It's really easy. Watch, I'll throw one of yours." I turned in time to watch the rock that she had chosen from mine, skipping across the lake.

Recently, three of my friends were telling me the art of rock skipping. They concurred that it is all in the flick of the wrist and that the rock had to be flat. Who would have known?

©Karen A J Rinehart

Monday, February 15, 2010

That's a Bad Word

As children we learn many things from our peers but sometimes nothing more powerful than words. At that age we pick up words because of the way they sound or we like that they annoy our parents.

My sister was more outgoing than I was at an early age. She had many friends while I was content just staying home with my mom or watching television with my dad. This one particular day, she was aggravating my mother to no end.

We lived in an old two story house where the ceiling met the banister at the top of the stairs. I always thought it was a nice place because if my mother needed something from upstairs, I didn't have to go all the way down to ask her what she needed. The view from there was the kitchen and living room.

The outcome of my sister's aggravation of my mother gave her cause to send my sister to her room. As she reached the top of the stairs, my sister promptly stuck her head through and said to my mom, "You are a Mother*%$#@&!" Needless to say this made her very mad. She was sitting at the kitchen table, got up, grabbed the broom from the utility room and proceeded up the stairs.

From the kitchen, I could hear the sound of the broom hitting the wall as my mother jabbed it under the bed at my sister. Of course, never hitting her and hearing her laughing very loudly. Mother came downstairs, breathless and put the broom back into the utility room. I asked her, "Did you get her?" Mother told me that she didn't and couldn't understand why she hadn't because she wasn't jabbing the broom in one place but up and down the entire underneath of the bed.

Many years later and after mom had passed away, curiosity got the best of me and I asked my sister how she kept from getting hit when mom was jabbing the broom. She told me, "Simple, I hung onto the springs of the bed and she was hitting too far below me."

©Karen A J Rinehart

A Three Year Old's Mind

Ever wonder what goes through the mind of a 3 year old? My mother did. Mother would always get my father off to work, dress my sister and I for the day and leave us to play in the living room while she would make beds upstairs. There was only 13 months difference in our ages.

Mom came downstairs and went into the kitchen. My sister was no where to be found. One of the neighbor ladies came by and told her that my sister was up on the pole just outside the house. Back then the poles had a guide wire that went from the ground to the top of the pole. Mom headed for the back door with me in tow. There at the top of the pole sat my sister, naked. She had taken her clothes off, including her diaper.

Mom immediately started yelling for my sister to come down. Those were the days when parents used both your first and middle name when they were scared or angry at you. There she stood yelling for my sister to come down. She just sat up there on top of that pole and laughed. I'm not sure if this made her more angry or scared. The neighbor that had told mom about my sister being up there asked if she had a favorite food. Mom answered, "She likes cookies." The lady told her to try that. Mom said to my sister, "Would you like a cookie?" My sister slid down the pole right into mom's arms. I know she was relieved.

The next day, we are going through the same routine only this time, I'm supposed to watch her. Just as mom heads upstairs, I look over at my sister. She gets up from the floor and immediately heads to the kitchen. Standing in the middle of the kitchen floor and looking out the back door, she disrobes. After discarding all her clothes, she removes her diaper. And, as if in a trance, reaches up and pulls the ribbon from her hair and without even looking discards it right in the middle of her diaper. She slowly walks to the back door and opens it. Just as she exits the house, I yell, "Mom, she's going to do it again." My sister heads right for the pole and just as she's about to make her ascent, mom grabs her and they are off to the house.

Mom and I never figured out just what fascinated her about that pole but something did.

©Karen A J Rinehart

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Haven't We Met Before?

Those were the first words out of my husbands mouth the first time we met. Of course, I had to reply with, "All the guys say that."

A year earlier, I was riding around with my boyfriend and a friend. We were doing the "dragging main" thing and our friend decided he had to use the bathroom. Me being the witty one of the group decided to tell him, "Hang it out the window." My response to his urgent call to nature wasn't taken well at all. Into the park we went.

My boyfriend lived on the north end of town and I lived on the south. We would walk from his house to mine almost every night. We'd wave at people we knew and wave at passing policemen as well. Not once did a police officer stop us and ask us where we were going or what we were doing.

Our town had a curfew in place and anyone under the age of 16 couldn't be out without a parent or guardian after 11 p.m. Neither of us knew this at the time and we would walk to my house and always arrived at 11:30 p.m. as this was my curfew set by my mother.

Sitting in the park waiting for our friend to return, a police car pulls in behind us and turns it's lights on. Out steps an officer and asks us what we are doing. We tell him about our friend having to use the facilities and that we are waiting for him. The officer tells us to get out of the car and asks us for our ID's. Well, me being under 16 didn't have an ID or drivers license. I politely told him that I was 15 and didn't have an ID. I was promptly taken to the Police Department.

Upon arriving at the PD, I was placed in an office across from the dispatch center. I was waiting for my boyfriend to arrive and I called my mother to let her know about the situation. While I was on the phone, the dispatcher, was staring at me. I felt very uncomfortable as he just continued to stare.

We paid the fine for curfew violation, received my receipt and promptly escorted to the police car to be taken home.

A few months later, I'm working and a gentleman walks up to me and says, "Haven't I met you somewhere before?" I told him, "All the guys say that." He left without uttering another word.

This gentleman asked me out, we dated and eventually became engaged. The night before our wedding, I was packing up my things so we could move them to my new home. While going through some old papers, I came across the receipt from the curfew violation. Looking down at the signature of the dispatcher, I was shocked to see my husband to be's signature. We had met before.

©Karen A J Rinehart

Where Are You Great Great Grandpa?

I had been doing research for many years. Genealogy books, pedigree charts and family group sheets began to take over my life. I enjoy doing research and finding that elusive ancestor. I almost felt like a detective.

There were many times, I just wanted to throw my hands up and say, "That's it." I would put all the papers in a drawer and wouldn't look at them for weeks or even months. Eventually, I would start working on my family tree once again.

I had information on my parents, their parents and even great grandparents. However, there was one person I just couldn't seem to find anywhere. I figured he must have crawled out from under a rock, married, had children and went right back. He was nowhere to be found. This stopped the progression of that particular branch of the family.

Talking to family members gave me some insight into this gentleman, however, not too much was known about him. Family tradition said he fought in the Civil War and received a pension. No record was found on him.

Spending hour upon hour going through census for this county and that county in the state that he was to have lived in and not knowing his name other than his last name, I searched. A week, a month and then years passed and still I didn't find him.

Just as I was about to give up again, I decided to go through the entire county census where my great great grandpa was born. I read every name. All I could find was his last name but it had one letter missing. Since I knew the names of his four children, I reread this particular part of the census again. There were the four children with the same ages. But, that missing letter was bothering me.

After reading that names aren't always spelled the correct way by the enumerator of the census, I decided that this must be him. I placed him on my pedigree chart, but with a question mark.

Searching for his will and Civil War pension papers led me to the information I needed. There in his will and pension papers was my surname with the missing letter. There was my proof that I had found great great grandpa at last.

©Karen A J Rinehart