At Easter Time…

Bunnyland 2a

Gosh, does anyone still put their children through this ? I look completely puzzled in this picture. I’m not so sure I was having such a great time!

Bunnyland 4a

They did it again a few years later. At least I’m not afraid to look it in the face. I think I’m smiling. Of course my Mom probably convinced me it was just another photo shoot. I must have been given some candy or something.

Anyway, Easter is such a beautiful time of year. But these photos got me wondering about the connection between eggs, rabbits and Easter. So, I found an interesting article on Discovery.com. A couple of statements from the article state:

According to the University of Florida’s Center for Children’s Literature and Culture, the origin of the celebration — and the origin of the Easter Bunny — can be traced back to 13th-century, pre-Christian Germany, when people worshiped several gods and goddesses. The Teutonic deity Eostra was the goddess of spring and fertility, and feasts were held in her honor on the Vernal Equinox. Her symbol was the rabbit because of the animal’s high reproduction rate.

*  *  *

The first Easter Bunny legend was documented in the 1500s. By 1680, the first story about a rabbit laying eggs and hiding them in a garden was published. These legends were brought to the United States in the 1700s, when German immigrants settled in Pennsylvania Dutch country, according to the Center for Children’s Literature and Culture.

The Easter bunny, colored eggs and parades are all well and good but this is why Christians around the world celebrate Easter:

John 20:11-17

11 ¶But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,

12 And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.

13 And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.

14 And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.

15 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.

16 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.

17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

Luke 24:5-7

5 And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?

6 He is not here, but is arisen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee,

7 Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.

Mark 16:6

6 And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is arisen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.

Matthew 28:5-7

And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.

6 He is not here: for he is arisen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.

May you all have a blessed Easter.

Letter to Polly

Polly Ann Burgess Arthur

Polly Ann Burgess Arthur

Polly Ann Burgess Arthur is my paternal grandmother. The transcribed letter below is from her sister-in-law, Elizabeth Miller Arthur, written on November 21, 1910, while in London, England. Elizabeth and her husband, Luther Arthur (brother to Polly’s husband, Benjamin Baxter Arthur), were on a cruise from America to England to Cape Town, South Africa, to Australia. I have been unable to determine to date whether this trip was for business or pleasure or both.

Elizabeth makes reference in the letter to J.P. (John Preston) and wondering what he thinks of his little brother. At the time Elizabeth was writing, she did not know that Polly had given birth to a second son. She tells Polly that Lou says if it’s a boy he wants it named after him. Little did they know, he had already been named Luther Paul (my father) and so Lou (Luther) got his wish. What no one knew at the time was that Polly would pass away in 1912 of pulmonary consumption at the tender age of 24.

Letter from Elizabeth

Nov. 21, 1910

Dear Pollie, No doubt you are wondering where we are at by this time. We are also wondering where you all are and how everything is. I certainly hope all is well with you. Lou says if it is a boy you must name it after him. I don’t know where to address this but will send it to Pa Arthur’s and they can forward it to you wherever that is.

We have been here for three weeks and don’t leave until the 15th of Dec. on the “Medic” of the White Star Line. And then we are due in Sidney the 5th of February so we will be nearly seven weeks on the water from here. We like the sea very much. Lou said he didn’t care if we ever landed. We were seven days getting here. Lou was not sea-sick at all but I was sick the 5th day out. It was very rough. The “Arabic” would nearly turn over on her side and the waves sweep over the deck. Nearly everybody was sick that day. But it is a grand night to be out at sea and we had a fine time.

The “Arabic” has a five piece orchestra of its own and there was an opera troupe on board so we had all kinds of music and singing. Some of it was as fine as I had ever heard too. The meals were fine.

We came from Liverpool to London by rail and so got to see quite a great deal of the country. It is lovely. Far ahead of the U.S.A. but I hate to say it. We don’t like London very well, though, of course, there is plenty to see here and all that but it has rained nearly every day since we got here and when it don’t rain there is a fog that you can’t see across the street. I said the other day if it looked that way in the U.S. we would think the world was coming to an end. We have been taking in everything and have seen some wonderful sights. Last week was Lord Mayor’s day here and there was a parade about two hours long and the Royal carriage with the King himself was in it. We were real close to him and so had a good chance of seeing what a real king was like! Which is very much like any other man only he looks pretty well fed and well dressed. I will try to tell you about it some day.

Everything seems to be about the same price as the U.S. that is to take it all around. Clothes are some cheaper. But little things that you can buy at the 5 & 10 cents store you would have to pay fifty cents for here and markets are about the same only some fruits are much cheaper. Postal cards are 2 cents each and poor ones at that. You can get the best in N.Y. ten for 5 cents.

Now you can write me at once and tell me all and where you are and what Bro. Ben is doing. And how everybody is at Pa Arthur’s, and how J.P. is and what he thinks of his little brother and please don’t forget. Write anything for Lou as he’s been wondering if Ben is in war yet and if it’s a boy ever since we left. So write as soon as you get this and address it with ink to Mrs. Luther Arthur, S.S. “Medic”, c/o Messrs. W. Anderson and Co., Cape Town, South Africa.

I am enclosing a postal of the “Arabic” the ship we came over on. One each for you, Jennie and Helen from London. They are not good ones but the best ones I have to send at present. Will try to send some better ones later. I hope this finds you all well and happy and to hear from you soon. Lou looks well, also myself.

We stop at Cape Town and will get your letter then if you write at once. I guess that is all for this time. With love to all. Elizabeth

Everybody here speaks very highly of Australia. I can’t hardly wait until we get there.

The SS Arabic was an ocean liner which entered service in 1903 for the White Star Line. She was sunk on 19 August 1915 by the German submarine U-24, 50 mi (80 km) south of Kinsale. Her sinking caused a diplomatic incident.

The SS Arabic was an ocean liner which entered service in 1903 for the White Star Line. She was sunk on 19 August 1915 by the German submarine U-24, 50 mi (80 km) south of Kinsale. Her sinking caused a diplomatic incident.

SS Medic was a steamship built by Harland and Wolff in Belfast for the White Star Line in 1899. Medic was one of five "Jubilee Class"ocean liners built specifically to service the Liverpool-Cape Town-Sydney route.

SS Medic was a steamship built by Harland and Wolff in Belfast for the White Star Line in 1899. Medic was one of five “Jubilee Class”ocean liners built specifically to service the Liverpool-Cape Town-Sydney route.

My Downtown Playground – Part 3

Downtown Van Wert, Ohio

Downtown Van Wert, Ohio

Growing up in a small town in the 50’s really did have that Mayberry feel to it. Most of the kids knew each other and hung out together at one point or another. It’s true when they say that everybody knows everybody else in a small town. That’s pretty good for the kids. I won’t speak for the adults – I didn’t live there as an adult!

School Days

School days were pretty regimented. Girls had to wear skirts and boys had to wear long pants. There were rules and regulations and the adults were treated with respect. By golly, it actually gave the teachers an opportunity to teach instead of constantly worrying about discipline and lawsuits. Okay, this isn’t intended to be a soapbox entry so I’ll get back to the story.

I walked to and from school each day, just under a mile each way. No, really! If I didn’t walk, I was riding my bike. At least it wasn’t uphill both ways although it did feel like it most of the time. Especially on Tuesdays and Thursdays when I had to take my violin. Those were the days I was always sick but couldn’t get my mother to believe me for some strange reason. But I walked to and fro through some of the coldest, snowiest days. This was Northwest Ohio after all. I will never forget the one afternoon I was walking home through the very deep snow. Try to picture this. I was always very small. I was probably not even four feet tall yet at ten years old. Here I am walking through the park on my way home after school. Suddenly I disappear into a snow bank. I’m not buried but I’m deep enough that no one can see me and I’m having a heck of a time trying to climb out. So, as panic began to set in and I didn’t want my body to be found in the spring thaw, I finally managed to claw my way out and make it home. Not one person I told my story to seemed the least concerned. I still remember that and I still remember the reality of my fear of the possibility of not being able to get out.

I thought so highly of my third grade teacher, Miss Spridgeon. Gosh, she was so pretty. I suppose I was called the teacher’s pet because I was always volunteering to clean the blackboards for her. She really set me on Cloud 9 when she told me one day that I reminded her of Grace Kelly. Everyone, even kids, knew who Princess Grace was. I look at my pictures and I just don’t see it. But I keep telling myself it must be in there somewhere! HA! No wonder she made the top of my favorite teachers list! And all the while I’m sure it was a ploy to build my confidence. It worked!

4th Grade

Mrs. Weck’s Fourth Grade Class – Franklin Elementary School

Naturally, recess was our favorite time of day and it came once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Since that time all of the playground equipment we played on has long been destroyed as being unsafe for children —

The Swings

The Swings

Maypole

The Maypole

merry-go-round

The Merry-Go-Round

monkey-bars

The Monkey Bars

A lot of the time was spent playing girls after boys. Yes, you read that right. Girls after boys. We would chase the boys around the playground. What would we do when we caught up with the ones we were chasing? Why, we’d hit them on the arm, of course. What else would you do to the boys you liked? Silly!

Since my best friend, Mary Beth, lived across the street from the school, a lot of our afternoons were spent participating in the national pastime:

Americanbandstand1957

I don’t know about the rest of the nation but watching Dick Clark and his American Bandstand is how I learned to jitterbug! Of course when you’re 8-12 years old there’s really not much call for the jitterbug. Truth be told, it was years later before I discovered that I had learned it backwards from the TV! It turns out it didn’t matter anyway. By the time I was ready to rock and roll we were experiencing the British invasion and we were twisting the night away or doing the Bristol Stomp among other dances!

Summer Fun

School’s out, school’s out, teacher let the monkeys out. Now who on earth made that one up? And to think we used to chant that when we were kids. We didn’t even know we were insulting ourselves. Kids sure were naïve then.

We had about three months of what we called freedom. And one thing is for sure, we didn’t spend it lying around indoors in front of a TV screen. Almost every day, we’d be out the door early morning, meeting up with friends either at somebody’s house, at the YWCA or at the school playground for a day of play. Our days consisted of roller skating or swimming at the Y. We would play ping pong or checkers at the Y or badminton at someone’s house. We would go to the school playground and play on the swings or the jungle gym or the merry-go-round. Or we would just walk around town and visit friends. We were always on the go. The rest of the time we were off riding our bikes.

Riding Bikes

Schwinn

There was lots of bike riding around town. I don’t remember which Schwinn model I had. I just remember it was turquoise and chrome and had the carrier on the front like the one in the picture. I sure loved that bike! A bunch of us used to gather over on Race Street. What an appropriate name. It had a sort of incline. I don’t think I’d go so far as to even call it a hill! Man, was I crazy. I used to get my bike going as fast as I could and then do crazy things like let go of the handlebars or take my feet off the pedals or both! Sometimes I would hold the handlebars and stand on the seat. I think back now and my poor Guardian Angels were working overtime. One little rock in the road and I would have been a grease spot on the road. But all went well. I still marvel at our bravery (stupidity!). Ah, the foibles of youth. Youth knows no limits. There’s no such thing as mortality when you’re a kid. I suppose that’s why we can usually get away with so much more.

There was the time Mary Beth and I took off on our bikes one day. She wanted to show me where she used to live in a little town called Middle Point about 7.5 miles from Van Wert. So, sure, why not! Did we give any thought to the traffic? No. Did we give any thought to the time away? No. Did we give any thought to food? No. Did we give any thought to water? No. Did we give any thought? NO! So off we go. Two 10-year-old girls alone on their bikes on the highway. I don’t know what we were thinking. Oh, that’s right, we weren’t thinking. We pedaled for what seemed like hours. We were hot, tired, thirsty and hungry. So, we decided to turn back around and go home. We learned a hard lesson that day. It’s a miracle neither one of us ended up sick or hospitalized. We were literally on the point of exhaustion. But we survived and lived to tell the tale! And we never tried another stunt like that again!

Sleepovers

sleepover

There’s nothing more fun for young girls than getting together and spending the night together to giggle and talk about growing up, watching TV and driving their parents crazy. Something inevitable is always bound to happen. Not anything drastic but usually just enough to get into some kind of “trouble”!

I remember one night Mary Beth was spending the night with me. My mother had this beautiful black ceramic cat that curled around a glass fish bowl. Instead of keeping fish in the bowl, she had several colored glass balls in the bowl. I loved that statue and knew better than to mess with it. But I had company and, of course, wanted to show it off. Well, wouldn’t you know, instead of just pointing out the piece, I just had to pick up the bowl. CRASH it went and shattered at our feet. Of course, it just had to be one of Mom’s favorite pieces. Once she determined that neither one of us was hurt, she made us go to bed – lights out for the rest of the night. Bummer! Poor Mary Beth. She had nothing to do with it. Ah, but we survived!

And then there was one time when I was sleeping over at my friend Carrol’s house. It was a Friday night and guess what was on TV? Here’s your first clue!

FridayNightFrights

Picture this. Here are two little girls all decked out in their pajamas huddled on the sofa in a pitch dark living room in front of the old black and white TV. Shadows bouncing on the wall from the TV. Godzilla We are so intently watching Godzilla. Yes, I said Godzilla. Everyone else has gone to bed. It’s just the two of us – or so we thought. We’re getting to a really scary part of the movie and BAM! Up from behind the couch roaring his head off comes Carrol’s older brother. Picture two little girls screaming their heads off and waking up the entire house. I don’t remember how long it took him to stop laughing. And, if I remember correctly, Carrol and I were the only ones not laughing when it was all said and done. Yes, folks, that stuff really happened in the 50’s. Kids were gullible. I’m here to testify to it.

Conclusion

There are so many thoughts and stories to be written down and shared about living in and growing up in a small town in the 1950’s. It was a wonderful time. It was a different kind of time. I feel very blessed and fortunate to have been a part of that time. There are so many more things I could write and as time goes along I’m sure I will. I hope you’ve enjoyed my brief little trip down memory lane. Your thoughts and comments are always appreciated. God bless.

My Downtown Playground – Part 2

Downtown Van Wert, Ohio

Downtown Van Wert, Ohio

This picture doesn’t do downtown 1950’s Van Wert justice! Of course, this particular picture is not from the 50’s but it’s the best I can do for now! But this was a big part of my playground. Growing up in a hotel without having other kids around to get into trouble with, you learn to find your own trouble!

Mary BethMy best friend (then and now!), Mary Beth, and I spent a lot of time walking Main Street, stopping after school for French fries and Green Rivers. We would occasionally switch out the Green Rivers for Cherry or Vanilla Cokes!

Directly across the street from the Hotel is the historic County courthouse. Click here for a brief history of the courthouse.

Van Wert County Courthouse

Van Wert County Courthouse

Cannons in front of Courthouse

Cannons in front of Courthouse

Mary Beth, and I used to hang out a lot at the courthouse. No, we weren’t in court. We were in and around the courthouse. We were just kids and we weren’t juvies. To continue. We’d roam the halls sometimes but mostly we spent time climbing around on the cannons. It’s amazing how fast those “horses” could go.

Memorial Hall at Courthouse

Memorial Hall at Courthouse

See that little white building with the green roof in the lower left hand corner of the picture? That’s a War Memorial building that houses a collection of photos of soldiers from Van Wert. Mary Beth and I used to wander through there looking at the pictures of the men and women who served this great country. We didn’t know any of them but it was fascinating. I know some of the photos went back to WWI.

William Edwin Carter

William Edwin Carter

Viet Nam Memorial

Vietnam Memorial

Of course, at the time, neither of us ever suspected that one of our dear elementary school friends would end up on the Vietnam Memorial Wall and have his picture placed in the Memorial Building (I don’t have a copy of it or I would post that). Dead at the age of 20. So sad for so many. But I digress. William Edwin Carter, R.I.P.

Across from the Hotel is a restaurant called “Balyeat’s Coffee Shop” that has been there what seems forever.

Balyeat's Coffee Shop

Balyeat’s Coffee Shop

Well, okay, forever to me is from 1922! That red neon sign can be spotted a mile away. The sign and the coffee shop are still there and they’re still serving excellent down-home cooking. Their pies are to die for. In fact, I wish I had one now. My family and I used to eat in there quite often. In fact, that’s one of the locations I was chatting with Cisco and Pancho.

In this old postcard, you can see the old movie theatre across the street from the Hotel at the end of the block.

Cinema

I used to spend time in there. I suppose you could say there were some perks living in the Hotel. I’m guessing now but I’m pretty sure my Dad had made some arrangement with the theatre owner to let me in for free. Otherwise, how could you explain all the times I just walked in? I know there were a few times I would take a friend or two with me. I loved that old movie house. Some Saturday mornings they would have games and contests for the kids followed by cartoons. It was a few hours of Saturday morning freedom for lots of parents! I still remember one of the contests I entered. We were supposed to fill our mouths full of saltine crackers and then whistle. For some reason, I didn’t win. Could it be that I have trouble just whistling even without anything in my mouth? Nobody would do that today because they’d be so terrified of a kid choking and the parents suing. People didn’t think that way then. Kids actually were allowed to have fun. I can still hear the roar of the laughter from probably a hundred or more kids. Boy, it got loud in there. But fun.

When you walk a couple blocks or so the other direction from the Hotel, there was Fountain Park.

Fountain Park

Fountain Park

Two acres right in downtown. It was a pretty park with swings and paths. I don’t think I spent a lot of time actually in the park because there was just so much other stuff to do. I did cut through it a lot, though, on my way to friends’ houses!

YWCA

YWCA

Last time I was home the YWCA was still there. I think Van Wert is one of the few towns that had separate YWCA and YMCA facilities. Now, this is one place where I did spend a lot of time. Nearly every Saturday morning when I wasn’t at the movie house, I was in there roller skating. Yep. I loved it. I was never a fancy skater or anything but I had fun doing it. I remember one time, a bunch of kids formed a chain and put me on the end of it. I think it was because I was small. Boy, I never let them do that to me again! I was flying. It’s a miracle I didn’t crash through a wall or something! Of course, it might not have been as bad as my memory serves!

My Mom was such a fashionista. I remember I had a special roller skating outfit. It consisted of a red satin blouse and a short black velvet skirt with red satin trim and matching red satin pants. I had a rhinestone roller skate pin that I would always wear.

Rhinestone Pin

Rhinestone Pin

I still have the pin and, as you can see, it’s missing a few of the rhinestones so I don’t wear it anymore.

I used to go swimming a lot at the Y. It was an indoor pool and the smell of chlorine was so strong I can still conjure it up. And, of course, after all that exercise of roller skating or swimming or ping pong or checkers, etc., I always had enough money in my pocket to buy a snack. It was always the same thing no matter what.

6 oz. Coca-Cola

6 oz. Coca-Cola

MoonPie

MoonPie

But my absolute favorite downtown playground activity has to be The Brumback Library! There is no way I can do justice to the beauty of this library. I’ve never seen anything like it before or since. Click here for a brief history of the Library. The Brumback Library stands as the first county library formed in the United States. The building was dedicated on January 1st, 1901. It’s been renovated a couple of times and expanded but they’ve done a magnificent job of maintaining the integrity of the building. I saw it a number of years ago after the expansion.  They did a fabulous job of making everything match.  It’s such a beautiful place.

The Brumback Library

The Brumback Library

I have such wonderful memories of this library. It has been likened to a CASTLE! That’s how I always thought of it. I spent more hours in this library when I was in elementary school. Maybe that’s why I love reading so much. Not only was it a treasure trove of books, it was a fabulous place to explore! I don’t know if they still have them, but some of the upstairs walkways were made of heavy frosted glass. They were so cool! I think they may have been removed or replaced when they remodeled. There were so many stairways and alcoves to explore. I doubt the kids today would have the run of the library like we did back then. Migosh, I miss it!

Library Interior

Library Interior

Library Interior

Library Interior

Library Interior

Library Interior

I could go on and get really detailed about all the stores and alleyways and things to explore downtown. But I’m sure you’ve read enough for now. Besides, I’ve got to save some for the third and final installment on Van Wert in the 50’s.