Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Soap Bubbles In My Nose!

How funny it is that memories come "floating" to the surface, often inspired by the most unlikely things. Such was the recent article in the newest Family Tree Magazine. The July 2010 issue has an article under History Matters: "Lathering Up" on page twelve that sure did bring up some great old memories for me. The article is on the history of soap, of all things and featured a great old ad with a man standing in a lake, washing up with a bar of floating IVORY soap. I can so clearly envision that man being my Dad, right down to the type of clothes he was wearing and the backdrop behind him.

From the time I was born in 1952, my family has made several trips each year to our favorite lake in the Black Hills of South Dakota to camp. We go to the same place each time but never tire of it's beauty and of the memories that it holds for us. Both of my brother's were several years older than I was but I do have memories of them along on those early camping trips. As time went on, their growing families followed us to the "Hills" and the gatherings became larger and larger. My Mom and Dad had wonderful friends who also often made the jaunt north with us and we all camped, fished, skied and had such wonderful times. Some of the best times of my life were those spent at Sheridan Lake with family and friends. My own two sons grew up around the same camp grounds there as have several of their cousins. We still get together as a family there but not nearly as often as I would like. Both sons try to make at least one annual trip there at least for a few days each year even though they are far away now. My Grandchildren have all been camping in our beloved spot.

Those early recollections of when I was small, all came rushing back when I read the great little article in Family Tree Magazine this month and while scouting for pictures I also came across a great blog: A Full Life with a nice historical take on Ivory Soap. All the years that we camped in the Black Hills also included those wonderful bars of floating Ivory soap. They were a staple that Mom never left home without when we camped. The picnic table always had a bowl of water on the end of the bench that had been drawn by the hand pump from up the hill. Beside it on a washcloth was that bar of ivory soap, often 1/2 of one of those that could be easily broken in two. It sure did take the smell of fish off your hands! Dad had an old enamel wash basin that he carried for years to use for his morning shave. I clearly remember him using another bar of floating soap each morning to shave with. His small mirror hung from a tree branch and he lathered up with his half of the bar of Ivory. I still have that enamel washbasin in my family room, but now it holds magazines as well as those memories- perhaps I need to find an old bar of Ivory and display that washbasin and and old soap bar in my spare bathroom for the Grandchildren to see.

More than any other, was the picture in my mind that came back of Mom and me. Often our camping trips would last up to two weeks and sometimes longer if Dad was working at the same time. He worked for the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad out of Alliance, Nebraska and often the crews from here would man the little narrow gauge Railroad that ran as a tourist attraction out of Hill City, S. D. If he was working we would stay out at the lake which was a few miles from town. The evenings would be spent fishing for trout and looking for crawdads along the shore. Night fishing was a big sport there in those days and all the men worked the little train during the day and fished at night if they were on a shift up there. Night time was not just for fishing however, that was when Mom and I would put on our bathing suits, after full dark and head down to the lake to take a bath, our big bar of Ivory in hand. It just floated there on top between us in the moonlight! Looking back on that with what is now known about soap and such things in our native lakes, it was probably not the best thing, but I would not trade those wonderful memories, well over 50 years old now- for anything. I have often told my husband about my soapy recollections but who would have thought they might warrant a blog? I wish I had a photo of me and Mom along the lake shore but I do not, still those precious memories with the old photos that I do have will last a lifetime and that lowly bar of Ivory Soap has it's place in my family's history!

( P.S. All these photos were taken by my Dad and are printed from original slides, except the scrap booking collage which I made from a photo of the old soap bar taken from the internet and old ads scanned from my personal collections of old magazines. )

Thursday, April 1, 2010

My Easter Parade!

With the traditional celebration of Easter about to dawn this coming Sunday, I have been thinking of many of the Easter Sunday's from the past. As a child in Alliance, Nebraska; I remember that my family was always together for that special day. Our gatherings always included Grandma and Grandpa and often my aunt and uncle with their children. The day always started with an early morning Easter egg hunt. I usually got to do that in the house as the weather was often cold or rainy. To this day, over fifty years later, I can still taste the candies and hollow chocolate eggs. I always got lots of those colored hard shell eggs with a soft center that were wrapped in cellophane- pure sugar but they were really good! It was great fun and because my brothers were gone from the house by then, the Easter bunny was always very generous to me. I could even go so far as to say I was spoiled! Candy and goodies were plentiful. The city always had a big egg hunt in the city park later in the day which was great fun too. We lived right across the street so I had the added advantage of seeing all the "bunnies" hide the elusive eggs ahead of time. My cousins would come and we scoured the park with our bags in hand. That was during the 1950's and the park was full of children and parents.

Attending Easter Sunday church services was always on the agenda. After the big egg hunts, we all got dressed up in our finest to go to church and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus on that special day. My Dad was a railroad conductor and we got free passes to ride the passenger trains. Mom and Dad and I usually made a trip on the train to Denver in the weeks before Easter, as it was a fun tradition for all of us to shop for our new Easter outfits there. We always went to the big Montgomery Ward store, riding the bus was out to the south side of Denver. Next stop was downtown to the May D & F, and to the Three Sisters Store where Mom and I liked to shop(I also got my wedding dress at that store many years later). All of us would come home with new outfits for the upcoming Easter Holiday but I think most of mine were worn out by the time Easter Sunday came as I spent days just dressing up and modeling before hand! The memories of those trips and spending time with my Mom and Dad will always be associated with Easter time for me. If the weather happened to be nice we would walk to church and back, about the only time I remember doing that rather than driving.

Our family always had the traditional Easter Sunday feast with family. Most of the time there were lots of family gathered, usually at our home but I do remember at least once at Grandma and Grandpa's house and one Easter at the home of my cousins, but it seems like we were usually at our house. We had a large extended family and my Mom was always a great host for meals of any kind. She knew how to cook for a crowd and loved doing so, Easter was a special gathering for her and she loved all the family around. All the kids could play in the park and go to the egg hunts from our home after church and the big feast.

My Easter parade photos which are all over fifty years old now, include several from my childhood, all with special memories attached to them. We never missed taking new pictures as each Holiday rolled around. One of the special Easter scrapbook pages is of our twin granddaughters which was taken in 2006 while they visited Grandpa and I. That too was a special day and was added to my album of Easter Memories! I was so lucky to have had a wonderful family to celebrate with and cherish the memories with them. Looking to the future generations for new memories and being thankful for them is part of what Easter means to me. I hope you enjoy my short Easter Parade of photo memories.