“Hey, you’re not really mad at me,” I said, gently tugging on his curly chest hair, already graying and smelling so deliciously of him. “Look, look, that’s a smile coming out, I can see it, I can see it!” And, as if my very words cast a magical spell, his facial expression changed. From a puckered brow and a frown, my powers of alchemy brought light into his eyes and a smile broke into blossom on his lips.
He wasn’t mad at me; I could regain my sense of invulnerability, at least in the present moment. Sitting in his lap, I felt at ease, warm, loved, and, above all, safe. Maybe I could even talk him into taking me for a piggyback ride! He would stroll through our small apartment, his strong hands holding on firmly to my ankles, and I would delight in my newfound height, being on top of the world, literally and figuratively! I could gaze intimately at the patterns in the ceiling plaster; I could glory in the texture and feel of the upside-down tulip-shaped light fixture. I was above it all. From this vantage point, I was the monarch of our apartment and thus the whole world -what joy!
I was born in India and given a name which originated at the time of Alexander the Great, who when reaching the Sindhu River with his armies, could not pronounce the word Sindhu because his language had no sound for the letter “s.” And so, Sindhu became Hindu. The name morphed to India during the British era when a classical education was highly prized. Yet where the classical Greek has the Iliad and the Odyssey, Vedic India has the longer epic poems Mahabharata and Ramayana, texts which explain my first name. The origin of the word Aryan enters modern use after the linguisticlinkage by William Jones in his 1794 translation of the Indian Laws of Manu. Read more
He was her first love. Their romance was mercurial, as many high school romances are.
Lois Wessling, my mom, graduated from Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, Iowa, in the spring of 1939. Ray, her boyfriend, planned to attend local Drake University. Of course, Lois wanted to live near him as a college student, but her parents did not want her to attend Drake and be near Ray. Lois came up with a Plan B: she was accepted at Iowa State University in Ames, 35 miles north of Drake, so she and Ray could visit each other on the weekends. One problem with Lois’ plan was that she chose home economics as her major. Her family was wealthy enough to have live-in maids, so she had not honed any domestic skills. Nevertheless, Lois prepared for her move to Iowa State in September.
One August evening at dinner with her parents, Lois’ future changed forever.
Oh, I’m not talking about a President or famous patriot. Oh no, I’m remembering an ordinary farm boy who knew his duty and joined up to bring the tyrant Hitler and the Japanese militarists to their knees in WWII.
Do you remember December 7, 1941? Probably not unless you are over 90 years of age. I was 28 months old, so my memory is lacking. But soon after that horrific event, the United States declared war on Japan and Germany. And then an incredible thing happened. Uncle Sam called on Americans to join the fight and guess what–the Greatest Generation stepped forward. This story is about one of those Great Americans, Don T., a farm boy who grew up in a rural central Illinois village (population 1200 in 1940). In 1943, he graduated from high school with the war raging in Europe and the Pacific.
The whistle screeched from the old kettle, heralding its success in having boiled the water. Louise turned off the gas under the kettle and poured the boiling water into a chipped mug. As she stirred the tea in the mug, she thought again about how that mug had gotten chipped. Davey was almost two when he tipped the empty mug, hoping for a taste of the sugary tea. His little hands couldn’t contain the weight of the mug, and the edge of it fell against his beautiful left incisor, leaving chips in both the mug and the tooth. Louise recalled the hoop-la when Davey lost the chipped tooth the day he turned five. The new permanent tooth had so far lasted the rest of his life…
At this time of year we celebrate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. We members of the older and (hopefully) wiser generation often take a moment in the midst of being entertained by our children and grandchildren to pause and reflect on our own parents. Looking back through time at the choices they made and at the memories their presence built in our own lives is both poignant and beautiful. This week’s blog features two short memoirs, each a richly detailed and lovingly scripted reminiscence of a beloved parent—because, after all, we stand on their shoulders.— Editor Read more
Stories like the ones you are about to read satisfy our common need to share the experiences of our own past, our family histories and the singular events that helped create our individual life path and personal identity. And now we ask you to please share a part of your story in our upcoming Memoir Challenge. More details are given at the end of this week’s edition. — Editors
It is a little-known fact that millions of Italian families, whose ancestors arrived during waves of immigration in the late 19th and early 20th century, mark an ethnic and cultural celebration in mid-March. Overshadowed by the overwhelming popularity of St. Patrick’s Day on March 17th, this holiday and other traditional Italian observances are hinted at in films like The Godfather, where an iconic scene features bystanders lined up along a parade route following a statue adorned with dollar bills. On March 19th, Italians commemorate the Feast of Saint Joseph (Festa di San Giuseppe) with parades and processions throughout the northeastern states and in New Orleans. Bakeries and families eagerly anticipate the sale and purchase of special fried and baked sweets native to the cuisine of Sicily and the Neapolitan region of Southern Italy. This week’s blog honors those traditions and sentiments with an ode to Italian ancestry and a recipe for the Italian confection most associated with “the festa,” zeppole, a sweet delight which holds an honored place in the pantheon of Italian cuisine. — Editor
My 13th birthday was on Sunday, July 18, 1965. We three sisters usually had separate parties with our friends and our family. Six-year-old Jan celebrated her birthday in March, while three-year-old Michele and I celebrated together with our family since she was born just four days before my 10th birthday.
This birthday was different. Mom (also known as Lois) was undergoing a hysterectomy the following day. Mom had had three very difficult pregnancies and we three sisters were lucky to be here. Nine days after Michele’s birth, Mom started hemorrhaging at home and had to be taken by ambulance to the hospital for an emergency D&C. The fact that she had a bleeding disorder made the hysterectomy a necessity and a worry at the same time. Would she recover okay or have complications?
If you live in Tampa Bay, you know about Krewes. But most of us see them only from a distance–bead throwing distance–during a parade. Long-time OLLI-USF member, Ray Ann Favata, has recently had a more personal Krewe experience. — Editors
On a recent Saturday night [January 7], something wonderful and surreal happened to my family. My son, Ramon, from the house of Favata, the grandson of one of the founders of the Krewe of the Knights of Sant’ Yago, Joseph, from the house of Granda, and the son of Charter Member John Favata, became the 50th King of the Krewe of the Knights of Sant’ Yago. My granddaughter, Demmi, from the House of Parrino, became his Queen. We were all part of this four-generation event.
I kept telling myself that this was a really big deal for a special group of people from a small place called Ybor in a little town on the Hillsborough River called Tampa.
“…and that adds up to 26 dollars”, sighed my mother Nancy. Worry lines played over the soft, beautiful skin of her face as she consigned thin dollar bills into little brown envelopes, each marked with its own label: “groceries”, “rent”, and so on. Those little packets were the kind you got from the bank, small enough to hide secrets, wrapped securely with rubber bands to keep their precious contents in place, and softened from years of handling.
In the background Ricky, the turquoise budgie bird, chirped along with the RCA Bakelite radio. Maybe it was Kay Starr belting out her 1950 hit, “Wheel of Fortune”; we could have used one of those. Read more