(Published in the Houghton Lake Resorter, Houghton Lake, Michigan, weekly newspaper)
Even the rules change in 56 years. Conversations change even more. It was my privilege to have a weekly column in our local newspaper for almost three years. I’ve added a little here and there. But you’ll get the idea.
MUSINGS OF A HOMEMAKER by Mary Anne Tuck
Is it really the weather that makes us disagreeable, or are we just naturally hard to please?
Seems like just a few short weeks ago, we were pining for summer days.
Summer days arrived and we began to long for cooler fall weather.
Our nature is to search for lost opportunities and unfulfilled dreams.
At the age of ten, we wish for things we don’t possess. It would be nice of my name could be Susie instead of Mary.
How wonderful it must be to have beautiful red hair instead of brown.
Then we reach high school. In high school we yearn for a steady date and find to our amazement that the steady daters have visions of playing the field and dating around.
If our choice is not to attend college, we may soon nurture envious thoughts of those who went on to higher education.
The bride who marries young sometimes wishes she had waited a bit for that magic moment. She’s surprised to learn that the woman who works outside the home may sometimes feel she has wasted those precious years when she could have been staying home and raising a family.
We may be overflowing with discontent from childhood to adulthood of one sort or another.
Keeping up with the Jones family is a desirable way of life for many. The wish to have as much or more as the folks next door may never go away.
When your neighbor belabors the fact that the days are much too long and the weather is much too hot, your neighbor is following the rules of the game.
The game is called “Making Conversation”.
The objective is to see how much better we can make our everyday living with good-natured complaining and a few constructive thoughts.
What can we do to make our lives more blessed than they are already?
Maybe we should change The Rules Of The Game. Let’s talk about it!
I’m seeing myself in these words at the age of twenty-eight.. It was during a time when I had three little boys ages one, four, and six; no more working in an office and dressing up each day to go to work and meet with people.
Maybe I just wanted to be different; different from what, I’m not quite sure.
Maybe I thought I’d missed out on the opportunities that had once been before me and now had seemingly disappeared.
I married at twenty and had my first child at twenty-one. At twenty-seven I’d become a full fledged Mom of three and homemaker.
Establishing a home and family may sometimes begin at a later time in life, but there was never a career pursuit for me. From the age of twenty I was faced with laundry, dishes, meals and cleaning.
The house we lived in, although we loved it dearly, was much less sophisticated than the homes of our friends and neighbors. Of course, I knew the future was out there, somewhere. At the time, though, I couldn’t see it. What is it the jokesters say, “just another day in Paradise”.
My Christian walk had not yet begun. Or maybe it had and I just hadn’t recognized it.
Times have changed..the sweet smell of pine can always be purchased in a spray can from the store.
The Houghton Lake Resorter
A weekly newspaper in Houghton Lake, Michigan
MUSINGS OF A HOMEMAKER..Written by me at the age of 28..
The Christmas tree stands in the corner, colorful and lonely. Gaily wrapped gifts no longer gather beneath its branches. The sweet smell of pine no longer remains in the air.
Shiny bicycles and curly haired dolls have disappeared from view.
The annual celebration of the birth of Christ
has filled our expectations.
Glittering and once lovely wrappings lie crushed in empty cartons awaiting their disposal. Under the tree lies a ribbon of red reminding us of our passion for loving. Nearby lie wrinkled bows; blue for the richness of living, gold for the bright rays of learning, and green for the promise of new life in the coming year.
Mixed emotions now wrap our package of memories; sadness and laughter, hope and regret, faith and tenderness, and a colorful memory of the quickly fleeting twelve months.
1963 has flown away as swiftly as hummingbird’s wings, never pausing for more than a fleeting moment to enjoy the sweet nectar provided by the flowers of life.
The approaching year offers twelve new months to store more gifts. Once again, at the end of the new year, we will have a treasure of memories both happy and sad. We’re starting anew.
The final design will be original, personal and full of colorful hues shading the months ahead with a rainbow of memories.
Gracious living to you and yours in the new year of 1964.
And now…at the age of 84..
(How times have changed.)
The sweet smell of pine can always be purchased in a spray can from the store.
The artificial tree is stored in a box to be retrieved from the storage room each December.
There are no pine needles to be vacuumed and no shiny trucks in the corner. There are no more snowy excursions to the nearby woods to look for the perfect tree which was to be evenly proportioned on at least three sides.
(We always turned the flat side toward the window.)
We now delight in flannel shirts and an occasional bottle of after-shave. Perhaps there will be a sweater for me and a current book I’ve been thinking about.
The family is here and that’s the best part of all.
In a few moments the gifts are unwrapped and the shirts are checked to make sure they will fit the intended one. Paper and bow must be carefully folded and used again next year.
The grandchildren are now in their thirties but determined to spend Christmas morning at the farm.
Our Christmas morning tradition is to have breakfast together, open gifts and visit. It’s a time for recalling all the memories of years gone by.
We now have two daughters-in-law, a granddaughter -in-law and a grandson-in-law, bringing us three beautiful great granddaughters.
It’s a happy time.
We once gave our 6-year-old granddaughter a goat for Christmas. Recalling her expression when she found “Peppy” in a special pen in the barn with a big red bow tied around his neck, brings a sweet memory and laughter each year.
The years bring new beginnings.
Life becomes more precious as each year passes. The future is shorter and the years went by too quickly.
One year can bring many changes.
My husband, Don and our son Tim, have passed on to another life. I’m blessed with our three great-granddaughters to love and enjoy in the coming years.
A small artificial Christmas tree stands proudly before the east window. Sixty years have passed in this wonderful old farm home where memories are enjoyed every day.
It has always seemed unusual to me that a horse named Mable will win a race in which a horse named Star Of Glory will come in six lengths behind.
AMERICAN LITERATURE ASSIGNMENT….1952
Mary Anne Whitchurch….10th Grade High School…
West Branch, Michigan
I am intrigued by the names of race horses.
My observation has been, the most beautiful names are given to the plain horses while the most beautiful horses get the stupid names.
For instance, you will notice such beautiful names as Show Boy, Black Beauty, Silver Star, Arabian Knight and Princess Ann are attached to the old plug who can pick up only three of its feet.
Then, of course, there is Beetlebaum.
On the other hand, a really beautiful and fast race horse, who leaves all the others in the dust, is named Blackie, Dutch, King, or Major.
Then, of course, there is Beetlebaum.
It has always seemed unusual to me that a horse named Mable will win a race in which a horse named Star Of Glory will come in six lengths behind.
I don’t know how Beetlebaum entered this little story although it seems to be a good name. I wish he would leave the same way he came in.
To continue…………It is now 2019…I’m surprised (at the age of 84) how many people don’t remember Beetlebaum. However, as times change and so do we, I can now share “him” with you. Spike Jones will tell you the story.
Ever wonder what kind of an impression you left on folks today? Think about it.
How can I tell you my story without letting you know the main character? Would that be the sheriff, the little girl, or my grandson?
At the age of seventeen, our grandson entertained an interest in bull riding, Yes, I said bull riding. His grandfather and I had taken him with us to several rodeos when he was very young.
His main interest was the activity in the bull pens. There was always a place to stand behind the area where the contestants began their ride.Visible to us from our place in the grandstands, there was no need to wonder if he was okay. Closely watching the riders, his attention was riveted on their every move.
We shouldn’t have been surprised at his fairly unusual pursuit of the sport of bull-riding. Beginning in junior high school, interest was maintained in many sports including wrestling, weight lifting and football. Those were well known teen sports throughout the high-school years.
Nothing could keep him from attempting to become successful at the projects he decided to pursue. With personal determination and a plan for accomplishing the goals he set for himself, his dedication brought results.
We planned to be at every bull riding event in which he participated, but there was one in the northern part of our state which we were unable to attend.
Sometime after the event, a letter arrived for him from the sheriff in a northern Michigan community. In the letter, the sheriff was asking our grandson to consider sending him an autographed picture of himself. In explanation, he wrote that he was counseling an eleven year old girl who was having difficulty, as he explained it, in finding a good path to follow in her life.
The sheriff went on to write that during his counseling he had asked the girl if she had any heroes. She said yes. The girl then indicated our grandson, who she had seen riding in the rodeo in the northern part of our state, was her hero.
Think about it. The young girl must have indicated our grandson by name or there would have been no way for the sheriff to make this personal contact. Bull riding events are well attended and the grandstands are usually filled to capacity. There was no personal contact between the girl and our grandson.
This scenario amazed me. Being the grandmother I am, I didn’t miss an opportunity to offer a lecture on good behavior. “What do you suppose you were doing when she saw you?”, I asked. “You had no idea you were being watched other than when you were actually riding. Were you chatting with other riders, were you watching the activities?”
At bull riding events, the young riders I’ve noticed, are neatly dressed. Our grandson always pressed his shirts with a crease in the sleeves. (Only a Grandmother notices things like that, or so I thought.) He didn’t smoke, or drink or chew. Any of those things could be noticed by someone watching him at an event.
This time, a confused young girl was watching him and later counting him as her hero. He found a photo of himself, as the sheriff had asked, and penned a message on the back. In the message he indicated hope that she would find good paths for her life in the future.
Since this incident happened, and it was a long time ago, I’ve had many opportunities to think about people who may be watching you and me right now. What are they seeing? What are they hearing?
It would be unusual to be aware of someone observing our actions. We may never know when it’s happening. Are they noticing the way we’re dressed? Can they hear what we are saying? Have we influenced someone’s life? Did we make them wish they could be like us? Or, did they wish they would never be like us? Were we an influence for good? Do we present a pleasant space around ourselves?
Perhaps, in an off moment, we may convince someone never to act as we do. It’s quite possible something we’ve done, or said, or the way we have planned our lives, has influenced someone to change direction, or maybe to continue in a direction they’ve already chosen.
Someone is watching and listening to you and me right now. We will never know who it is or how our lives may have influenced them to direct their own life.
I’ve shared this story with many people over the past years. The incident has made a difference in how I see myself, Sometimes I hope no one is looking or hearing; other times I hope I made a good impression.
I don’t remember what it was I said that day. I must confess, from a very young age I was prone to say things without thinking. Whatever it was, it offended her. I was banished from the County Farm for a year when I was twelve.
What a wonderful lady! Mrs. Kelly and her husband and family came to be caretakers of the farm across the street from my childhood home.
The ironing will be much easier if all the clothes are hung on one clothesline. Install your clothes posts so you will receive a strong West wind. When your clothes are dry, you can sprinkle them with a garden hose all at the same time. As you remove them from the clothesline, roll each one up in preparation for later ironing. If you cannot iron within a day or two, place them in the freezer
I was young when the Kelly family came to live in our neighborhood. I adored the majestic old buildings easily seen from our front yard. The house was a very large, very old two-story building in which elderly folks who couldn’t afford a home came to live.
Some townspeople called it the Poor Farm. But to me, it was never poor. It always displayed a dignity which deserved the regal title, “County Farm”.
When I was very young and began my visits to the Farm, there were seven people living there. A section of the large house was set aside for their comfort. Mrs.Kelly cooked the meals for the residents. One of the more able ladies, whose name was “Rilla”, helped with the table settings on the long dinner table in their special dining room.
Rilla always turned the plates at each place upside down when setting the table before each meal. First the plate, then the cup was placed upside down on top of the plate. Mother wasn’t happy when I tried to set the table at home in the same style. It seemed quite picturesque to me. I could never understand Mother’s disdain for it.
On the front side of the house, which I passed on my way to visit Mrs. Kelly, there was a porch. The older ladies often sat there in rocking chairs, watching the world (and me) go by.
On one such occasion, I noticed one lady had a newspaper spread out across her stomach as she sat quietly in her chair. I asked her why she had the paper placed there and she said, “It’s to keep my bowels warm.” Now that’s a remedy I would never have thought of on my own.
The Kelly family had a grown son and daughter pursuing careers in far off parts of the country. Their youngest daughter, Jeanne, still lived at home and was soon to graduate from high school.
I don’t remember what it was I said one day, I must confess. But from a very young age, I was prone to say things without thinking. Whatever it was I said, it offended Mrs. Kelly. I was banished from visits to the farm for a year when I was twelve.
It was to be a lifelong lesson. Be careful what you say. Be aware, if you can, of how the other person may be receiving your words. For the next year I didn’t follow my favorite path to the County Farm. At thirteen, I ventured a return. No ill feelings were shown toward me by Mrs. Kelly. Our friendship continued.
Many times, I watched Mrs. Kelly kneading a very large pan of dough in the County Farm kitchen.
Her homemade bread was wonderful. I now bake my own bread and would never be able to knead such an enormous amount of dough at one time. My recipe dictates kneading the dough for ten minutes. I’m sometimes able to stay with it until five minutes have passed. ( Mrs. Kelly would no doubt suggest to me that the bread would be finer if I followed directions.)
When visiting at just the right time, the aroma of her baking bread greeted me near the kitchen door. Not far behind me, there were bread customers waiting to purchase a wonderful loaf of Mrs. Kelly’s homemade bread. As I recall, she charged $1.00 a loaf.
Mrs. Kelly’s long gray hair was always braided and carefully wrapped around her head. She never walked anywhere slowly. Always on the move, she hurried to get things done. The kitchen and her family’s living quarters were always neat. The dishes were done; everything in place. In the pantry next to the kitchen,always sat a basket of eggs waiting for customers who wished to purchase the freshest eggs in town. Sometimes, Mrs. Kelly allowed me to go the chicken coop with her to gather the eggs. I loved it.
I once observed Mrs. Kelly preparing a bountiful meal for the eight men who had come to help Mr. Kelly with the threshing. Never have I seen nor smelled such a wonderful array of food. I remember the table and men filling their plates again and again. No one ever left Mrs. Kelly’s dinner table hungry.
As years went by, Mrs. Kelly and I became closer friends.
When I graduated from high school near the top of my class, as had her own son and daughters, Mrs. Kelly invited me into the room where graduation pictures of her children were displayed on an old upright piano. She was very proud of her children. She had displayed my graduation picture next to those of her children. This was her way of showing how much she cared for me and was proud of my achievements too. There couldn’t have been any clearer proof.
After high school, I became employed in the same town in which I had grown to adulthood. Mr. & Mrs. Kelly still lived at the County Farm. Arranging to arrive for work a half-hour early, I could spend time visiting with Mrs. Kelly in the County Farm kitchen. She was often baking bread for her special customers. The aroma of those wonderful baking loaves greeted me as I left my car to approach the kitchen door.
A few years later, I married and moved to a neighboring town. Opportunities to visit Mrs. Kelly were few. I often felt lonely and sad without friends I’d left behind in my home town. It was easy, as always, to share my feelings with Mrs. Kelly. She offered me the understanding of a caring friend.
After the birth of our first child in the hospital in my former home town, Mrs. Kelly came to visit me. That is the only occasion on which I ever saw Mrs. Kelly outside the walls of her home at the County Farm.
Putting her hand on my arm as she stood near my bed, she said; “Now you’ll never be lonely again.” I needed to hear that.
One day, while I was visiting my former hometown, I decided to go to spend time with Mrs. Kelly. She wasn’t home. I was told she was in the hospital. Going directly to the hospital, I sat down in the waiting room.
Just then, Mr. Kelly came through the inner door. He was crying. I was informed by the nurse, Mrs. Kelly had suddenly gone into cardiac arrest, and died.
Our times together had ended, but my memories of Mrs. Kelly remain in my heart.
Knowledge of her presence has allowed us to face the seemingly insurmountable challenges of life…
IN THE BEGINNING…
“When I was young”..hmm..how I dislike the phrase. I “am” as young as I think I am. So much for my feelings on the subject. When I was a young HOMEMAKER, 27 to be exact, I had an opportunity for two and a half years to write a column in our weekly newspaper. (The Houghton Lake Resorter) The friendly editor was kind enough to give me a by-line, MUSINGS OF A HOMEMAKER.
The little picture at the top was always placed above my weekly offerings.
I wasn’t sure what a by-line was at the time. It was nice of him to offer it to me. I was told I could write on any subject. People were invited, by me, to share favorite recipes to be printed at the base of my column. It’s so much fun to look back on those articles realizing where my thinking was in my late twenties. The years were 1962-1964 and a few in 1965 before I ended my newspaper career.
Perhaps you will enjoy reminiscing about my HOMEMAKER years with me. If you do, please let me know.
He Cared Enough To Send The Very Best
One day each year is not often enough to proclaim the affection and love we hold
for the one whose apron strings we liked to be tied.
We can never repay her, nor does she expect us to, for the hours of love, labor and devotion so happily bestowed upon our little heads.
How many times have childhood cares of monumental stature, been patiently reduced to a size easily handled with the love of our thoughtful and caring Mother?
“Mother is here.”
Knowledge of her presence has allowed us to face the seemingly insurmountable challenges of life, growing up and learning to give. One day we will find a new and different kind of love. Mother’s love will carry us through many more of life’s challenges and decisions.
From diapers to dates, it’s mother to whom we turn for loving advice.
Marriage and family may renew our impressions of mother. She always cared and always loved. How did she manage?
Ever changing times have altered the role of motherhood.
The mother who works outside the home still manages, loves, and cares for her family.
When all is said and done, whether or not she works inside or outside the home,
Mother finds a way to be there for us when needed.
Whether she is young and vigorous or silver haired and content,
she’s Mother and we’re pleased that when He sent our Mother,
He cared enough to send the very best.
I never saw her angry. My mother was a pleasant woman, a nurse by profession.
She cared as much for her patients as she did for her family. I don’t remember ever hearing her talking about anyone in a negative way. Everyone was her friend and to this day, many who remember her do so with love in their hearts.
Mother died thirty years ago.
Never a day goes by that I don’t think of something she said to me or shared with me. She cared for my sister and me and our Dad just as she did her patients, with love.
When I was seventeen, our family moved away from the home in which I was raised. We settled in a town thirty miles away. (Houghton Lake, Michigan) I was crushed. I had attended school from kindergarten through the eleventh grade in my home town. Now I wouldn’t be able to graduate from that same school with my friends and my memories.
Mother decided to seek employment as nurse in a doctor’s office in our former town. That allowed me to finish school and graduate from there. It didn’t impress me at the time, but my parents had to pay a tuition in order for me to continue my schooling there. I learned, in later years, the price was $200 for that year. (Calculating to $1,888 in 2018). Two hundred dollars doesn’t seem like much in these times, but calculating the difference in the value of money now, it was quite a bit then.
Mother and I drove the miles back and forth every day until I ended my school years at graduation. The uninterrupted time we spent together in the car and the chance to visit with each other alone, offered a special opportunity to share which we would never have known.
The passing years now filled with memories will live forever.
We don’t often think about the hours of love and hope and caring which our mother shares with us.
Ahead were only dreary, boring days and years of waiting to get “old.” There was nothing new to do nor places to see or ROADS to travel.
“When you come to a fork in the ROAD,
(Yogi Berra had the right idea.)
I love to reminisce and write about bygone times, remembering the people I’ve known, especially those who have made a difference in the ” me” I’ve become at the age of 83. I once thought 83 was really, really old. It isn’t.
Actually, I once believed that 50 was old. As I recall, 50 was old when my grandmothers were alive.
I was devastated the day I turned thirty. Life was over, I was no longer “twenty-something”. Looking forward, there was nothing left to life.
Ahead were only dreary, boring days and years of waiting to get “old.” There was nothing new to do nor places to see or “roads” to travel.
There were no college years for me.
When I am required to check off my level of education on an application, the box to check must be “graduated high-school”.
My Dad always commented, ” Some folks attend college and still don’t have enough sense to come in out of the rain.”
I feel good about his comment because my high school education helps me to remember to carry my umbrella on a cloudy day.
That reminds me, a week or so ago I purchased a new umbrella. It was very easy to raise, but for the life of me I couldn’t figure out how to lower it when I got inside a building.
You’ll be happy to know, with a great deal of concentration, I finally figured out how to return it to its original closed position by pushing the little “down” arrow located right underneath the “up” arrow.
Who says a high school education isn’t worth much?
I grew up in a small northern town in the lower peninsula of Michigan. My family moved to another town, thirty miles away, when I was seventeen. When we are living them, the years seem long.
One could hardly think of me as a world traveler, but I’ve learned much about life from the shores of Michigan’s largest inland lake; Houghton Lake.
Married sixty-two years, my husband and I raised three sons. It’s difficult to imagine someone as young as I, having sons who are now in their fifties and sixties. Facts are not always as they seem.
Life is like a dream.
I heard someone make a statement just the other day about “alternative” facts.(Perhaps I should research some of those when describing my attributes.)
And looked down one to where it bent in the undergrowth.
And took the other as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day,
Yet knowing how way leads unto way,
I doubted that I would ever be back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood,
And I, I took the road less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost
We traveled to New Hampshire many years ago and found this old mail box. It resides on the narrow gravel road in front of one of the summer homes of Robert Frost. It’s a lovely place. This writing of his has always been my favorite. I carry a copy of it with me at all times. I read it over and over.
I’ve often wondered at the intensity of thought of a 16 year old girl, (that was me), considering the awful event of PEARL HARBOR. This was written in 1951. The event had happened only ten years earlier. Although it seems to us in 2018 as only a point in history, it was very real to a teen-ager in those days.
The war had been over for 6 years at that time. It remained fresh in the minds of our people.
The men and women who served in the war, some of whom are still with us today, can never erase the images of horrors they witnessed during their time of service to our country.
December 7th is a date to remember.
If we cannot remember what happened on that date, investigate the history books.