Flowergirl and a Bow

 

My mother made my flower girl gown. It was 1942 or ’43 and I was four years old. We lived in Des Moines, Iowa. Mother was almost finished when she decided to add a bow about two inches above the hemline of the dress. The bow made it special! She finished sewing my dress, pressed it, and oh, it was beautiful! It was a perfect fit!

 

Anita Flower Girl, 4 yrs.

Anita, the flower girl with a bow.

Hmmm…do you wonder why she sewed a bow near the bottom of the dress? Well, I had a baby brother, Billy. I suspect he was crying and needed attention! Whatever the reason…my dress ended up with an ugly scorch mark! I don’t know who came up with idea of a bow covering the spot, but it was a good idea! Mother was an excellent seamstress so she may have thought of it herself. There was enough material left over so she made a beautiful bow!

Not long ago I was looking at pictures of President Polk’s wife. She was known for her beautiful gowns. One had a beautiful bow on the skirt of the dress! Hmmm, I wonder if someone made a mistake and covered it with a bow?!

Bow on a gown Mrs Polk

Mrs. Poke’s with a bow on her gown!

Here’s a picture of the entire wedding party in 1942 or ’43. My dad assisted in the ceremony. He’s the first man on the left, second row from the top.

Anita flower girl wedding

Anita (Williamson) Archer, flower girl; 1st row: ? French; ? Matheny, bride; ??, groom; Norma French; 2nd row: ??; Wyla (Notbohm) Skeen; Annabelle (King) Kerestly ; 3rd row: Rev. Glen Williamson; Rev. J.K. French; Rev. E.W. Walls; 4th row: ??; ??; ??.

Growing Up…White

In 1944 to 1946, I began my education in Des Moines, Iowa  at Nash Elementary and Kirkwood Elementary. The schools I attended were racially mixed. Race meant nothing to me. I played with anyone who would play with me.

I was raised in Iowa, except for three years, 1946 to 1949, when we lived in Oklahoma and Illinois. It’s interesting how impressions are made on children. Because I’m writing about the 1940’s and ’50’s I’ll use the word, Negro, rather than Black.

When we moved to Oklahoma, we lived in a town that was all white. I remember seeing a negro man walking along the railroad tracks one day. The thought that came to my mind was, he’d better keep walking because negro people can’t be in this town! If he wants to sleep overnight, he’ll have to sleep in the jail!  What a thought for a little child. What a thought to remain in my mind after all these years! Anita 1947

We moved back to Des Moines and for 8th and 9th grades I attended Washington Irving Jr. High. I have many memories of my two years there. There were many, many negro students. I don’t remember any negro teachers.

I wasn’t very athletic so gym days were tough for me. I couldn’t serve a volleyball and get it over the net… My hands stung every time I tried to hit the ball back over the net. One day a girl, who was getting very aggravated with me, yelled, “Niger”, at me! I couldn’t believe it…she was a negro! Later we became good friends.

A negro boy in my homeroom was named Matthew. I’d never heard of anyone named Matthew. I thought it was interesting his mother named him a Bible name! Today it’s a common name…I have a fine grandson named Matthew!

I had a very long way to walk to and from school. One day as I was walking alone, one of my classmates, who was also walking alone, caught up with me. We started talking as we walked. We enjoyed each other’s company and laughed a lot.

We were walking down a very busy street. All of a sudden, a car veered and nearly lost control. We jumped quickly, staring at the car. The driver caught my eye. He was staring, in disbelief, at me! Oh my goodness, we’d nearly caused an accident! Yes, my friend was a negro boy! So what! We were friends…simply that, friends. And good friends, at that! We continued walking together until we came to where he had to turn the corner but our mood had changed. We said good-bye. We were still friends but we never walked together again. I felt bad then and I still do today.

These are just a couple of memories I have of growing up white in a country of both whites and blacks. I have lots more, but these stand out in my mind.

Years later, I understood why I had such a feeling of comradeship with my black friends. My parents, though never saying so, had the feeling of equality with black people and had always encouraged me in this way. But it was more than that. My dad became Director of Interracial Evangelism, in the 1960’s, in our denomination, Free Methodist Church of North America. I was so proud of him then and still am. What a legacy my parents gave me.

 

 

 

Bucket List 2016

  1.  Enjoy time with each of our five children. It’s only the middle of January and I’ve already accomplished this! Rob's family  Our youngest son, Rob, with his family, was here for the week between Christmas and New Year, 2015. They left January 2, 2016! All Here  Our other four children, January 9, 2016, celebrating and surprising Jerry, for his 80th birthday, which is the next day! Pam and Ted on either side of the window. Christy and Tim on either side of Jerry.
  2. Travel to Iowa with granddaughter’s, Sydney and Bella, to visit LeRoy and Carolyn and their horses!
  3. Travel to Ireland.
  4. Travel to Norway.
  5. Downsize.
  6. Sort books, keeping only precious books!
  7. Clean out and throw away non-essential ‘things’.
  8. Remodel downstairs bathroom and reading room, making it one larger bathroom.
  9. Go to E. Michigan Conference as a delegate.
  10. Go to E. Michigan family camp.
  11. Plant flowers in Flower Bed.
  12. Yard Sale.
  13. Finish my writing on My Big Brother and send it to him!  Accomplished in March! 
  14. More later…!

Cousin LJ

I was a little girl when I first got to know my cousin, LJ. He was already a man. I probably saw him before he was married, but I don’t remember. I do remember his brown, thick, wavy hair!

LJ was in World War ll. Scan_Pic0054  Thanks, LJ!

I do remember him after he was married. We were living in Oklahoma and were visiting family in Iowa. LJ and Ermadel were newly-weds. My mother, being a wise and patient woman, talked to us children, before we arrived at our grandparents house: “LJ’s wife has a birthmark on her face. You’re not to stare at her. You’re not to ask what it is. LJ loves her and the mark doesn’t matter to him. So just remember that when you see her.  She’s a wonderful person.”

I learned two things that day. 1.)  I learned what a good man LJ was! He loved Ermadel for who she was and probably didn’t even see the flaw on her face, even though he knew it was there. 2.)  I learned what a loving and wise person my mother was! Preparing us ahead of time saved a lot of nervous embarrassment for LJ and Ermadel, and for us.

There is something else I’ve always remembered about LJ. He always smiled at me with a tender, loving smile! When I think back, all those years ago, that’s the main thought that comes to me! I would shyly smile back. Today, I think he probably was thinking and hoping for a little girl to be born to him and Ermadel! A few years later, Iris, and then Keith were born to them. I think LJ and Ermadel must have been very loving parents!

LJ’s dad and my dad were brothers, making LJ and me cousins.

My parents became born-again Christians when I was about two years old. They were the only ones born again in both of their families and were very often ridiculed by their siblings. But in 1948 LJ made a life-changing decision to live for Christ. A special bond was formed between LJ and my dad.

Years went by and LJ and I hardly had contact with each other, but being cousins, we still had that bond between us. A couple of years ago another cousin, Erma, died, and my daughter and son-in-law, Pam and Gene, drove Jerry and me to Iowa to attend her funeral. Who else was there? LJ with his daughter, Iris. We’d not seen each other in years!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Then last year we had a cousins reunion in Iowa. LJ and I had a time, just for the two of us, to visit and reminisce about our lives. I told him about his smiles when I was a little girl and how much they meant to me. He didn’t even remember! But I do! FullSizeRender (78)  I took this picture of him during our little visit. He was 90 years old!

There was a sign on his door of the nursing home he was living in. LJ's door sign  I was surprised to see the date of when he was born-again! I don’t know why I was surprised…after all, that’s the most important date in a Christian’s life! LJ died on November 23, 2015 at age 91. I’ll see him again…some day!

This is a picture of LJ and Ermadel when they were married 50 years. LJ & Ermadel 56 years

 

 

Halloween Birthday

Yes, I was born on Halloween day. When I was a little girl I dressed up like a witch every year for trick or treating! How could I be anything else? While my siblings were fidgeting, wondering how they should dress up, I was quietly making my tall, pointed, black hat, finishing off my costume of all black clothes, and Mother’s broom!

The only problem with having my birthday on Halloween, as I saw it, was that my siblings didn’t care about a birthday, they only wanted to go trick or treating! And that’s all I wanted to do too. I don’t remember ever having a birthday party. But we sure had fun and we got lots of candy!

Then I grew up and got married. At that time, in Jerry’s family, a party was held for each one on their birthday. So for my birthday, I made a birthday cake, and everyone came over from the oldest- Grandma, to the youngest- baby, Marilyn. The thing I remember most about that party was that my cake wasn’t big enough!

So the years have gone by. Our family grew and our kids loved to go trick or treating. I remember one year, 1970, we had a Halloween party and invited our neighbors and friends. It was a lot of fun. Everyone, including parents, wore Halloween costumes. Halloween party We played all the common Halloween games: bobbing for apples, counting the pumpkin seeds. In this picture, Carolee is trying to eat a donut hanging from a string! We even had a small ghost house! I can’t remember all the games we played, but it sure was fun! Halloween party, Carolee One of the mothers, knowing it was my birthday, baked a birthday cake for me! Surprise!!! It was decorated like a jack-o-lantern!

I’ve continued to have birthdays and Halloween has also continued. We live in a woods with a long driveway today so we don’t even get any trick or treater’s. Jerry always takes me out for my birthday supper.

Three years ago I had an unforgettable birthday! I turned 74! Yes, it was Halloween, but we were on the Norwegian cruise ship, Pride of America,  cruising the Hawaiian Islands! What a special birthday! Jerry and I were with Pam and Gene, daughter and son-in-law. They celebrated their anniversary! Kay, second cousin, was, also, with us. What a fantastic time we had! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Two years ago, I had another fantastic birthday! I turned 75 and we went to Iowa to visit my Iowa cousins! It wasn’t a birthday trip. It just turned out to be the best weekend for all of us concerned! Tim, our Canadian son, came down to visit us. We traveled to Chicago where Pam and Gene, daughter and son-in-law, joined us and we all traveled to Iowa to visit our cousins. It happened to be on my birthday. I had requested to, please, keep still about it being my birthday. Well, the first thing that took place was Leroy, my most favorite cousin in the whole wide world, bringing out a huge cloth bag and handing it to me, with a huge smile on his face!

I looked at Jerry and Pam. They both looked as surprised as I did! I slowly opened the bag and inside was a BEAUTIFUL AMISH QUILT! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  Leroy!  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  Carolyn!  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  Rose of Sharon quilt, hand-stitched by Amish ladies! Carolyn said she knew it was my birthday because of facebook!

Well, that wasn’t the end of my birthday! That evening we went to an Amish dinner! Oh, my! Other cousins joined us! FullSizeRender (79)  The only lights were kerosene lamps.  IMG_0216 (2)  My birthday dinner plate! Everything was so delicious!  FullSizeRender (84) My beautiful birthday cake made by one of the Amish ladies!

So, today I’m planning on a normal Halloween birthday! Jerry will take me out for dinner. I’ve already gotten some phone calls from some of our kids. The mailman must have chuckled when he delivered my birthday cards today! They were addressed to Grandma in various ways!

So begins another year in the life of me! I don’t feel 77! I don’t think I look 77! I know I don’t act 77! I am blessed!

Fun Loving Dad

My dad was a baby,  Scan_Pic0108  who started out racing with the doctor! Dad won! The doctor arrived at the Iowa farmhouse after he was born! My dad was a boy, who lived on a farm until he was ten, then his dad retired, built a house in town, Scan_Pic0006 and Dad became a city boy. You can see their  1916 Saxon, which my Grandpa bought brand new!  My dad was a brother, the youngest with six older siblings. My dad was a college student until the financial crash in 1919. He was going to be a lawyer!

My dad was a cook’s helper and later a chef. Scan_Pic0103 Dad’s the cook in front.

He was a husband 3905_1067392805078_6714086_n and a  daddy. Scan_Pic0107 He was Dad 45 a minister, pastor, evangelist, and a writer, Scan_Pic0254 He published 13 books!  And he was an executive.

My dad was an actor! He portrayed B. T. Roberts, Glen as BT Roberts the founder of Free Methodism.

My dad was a world traveler, having traveled to various countries in four continents: North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. Because of all his experiences and knowledge he was bestowed an honorary Doctors Degree of Letters!

Then he became a student again, earning his BA and his MA at age 70!

In all of these roles. he still loved to have just plain fun. Scan_Pic0127  This was in the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago! Dad & Mother relaxingDad and Mother relaxing in the park!

He walked me down the aisle and gave me away. Wedding June 13 '59 001  Then he walked up onto the platform and married Jerry and me! wedding-day J & AGo-cart0098  Here he’s having fun riding my son’s go-cart! Anita & Jerry Merry-G-Round 79 Portland0001  He’s riding a Merry-Go-Round! Scan_Pic0059  He’s letting Annie drive his scooter!  Yes, I have many fond memories of my dad. He was a man with a mission…who loved to have fun! He lived four days shy of his 96th birthday. I loved my dad.

Dad’s Roast Pig Story

This is a story my dad told many times. It’s a true story and he’s Glen.

Dad’s Pig Story

Glen’s first job in a hotel kitchen was as a cook’s helper. He bought a white cap, white apron, neckerchief and Scan_Pic0102 seersucker pants. It was a large hotel, where they served lots of private parties. Jack was the head chef and he was tough!

A dinner was scheduled for one of the most prominent families in the city. It was a dinner celebrating the 80th birthday of the former editor of the city newspaper. Everything had to be perfect.  A roast pig was the main entrée on the menu. Glen was scheduled to be helper of the cook who was in charge of roasting the pig. It was the first time either one of them had roasted a pig.  The pig was delivered to the hotel kitchen. He had been butchered, but the head and feet were still on him. But he was  too long, even kitty-cornered to fit in the roasting pan! The cook said to Glen, “Hey, let’s do something a little different! What if we set him up on his haunches’? I think Jack would like that!” They’d do anything to please Jack, just so they could keep their jobs!  So the pig was set up in the roasting pan. Some blocks of wood were set up under his chest to hold him up. Another block of wood was in his mouth, so they could put an apple in later.  They cocked his head just as they wanted it, but his ears looked out of character, hanging down like pigs ears do! So they took skewers and stuck them down into his ears and pinned them up so his ears were sticking straight up. He was the most alert looking pig! He looked like the dog in the Victor advertising, listening to his master’s voice! They, very carefully, shoved the pan, with the pig sitting up, into the oven.

The cook told Glen, “It’s your job to use a ladle and baste the pig every half hour. “We have to do a good job with this pig, or we could lose our jobs!” So, every thirty minutes Glen pulled the pan out and basted the pig. He enjoyed it and the pig was looking good! It took most of the day to roast the pig.

When it got near time for the banquet everyone was busy and somehow the pig got neglected! But It was time now to get the pig ready, to take him out of the roaster pan and put the apple in his mouth. As Glen opened the big oven door, SMOKE came rolling out! And oh, the poor pig! His ears had been dangerously close to the top of the oven. They were gone! They had crumbled away like crisp bacon! The sticks were still there, but even they were burned. But, that wasn’t the worst! The worst thing was that the skin on his back had bust open and had left a gaping hole in the middle of his back! Grease was popping up out of the hole and his backbone was exposed! The cook shook his head and said we’d better call Jack.”

When Jack got there, he was so angry he couldn’t talk! He just stared at that poor burnt pig!

Well, over in the bake shop was an old man, Bill, who had been a chef, in his day, but now he was old and worked in the bake shop. But he was an artist! He did the ice sculpturing, decorating of the cakes and so on. They had been to him before when they needed help fixing something up. Jack was actually jealous of him,  but now he ordered us to fetch Old Bill. Someone ran to the bakeshop and told Bill to come quickly!

Old Bill came walking over, taking his time. Jack wanted to reach out and grab him! When Bill got there he took a big long fork, stuck it into the pig’s back in several places and then said, “It’s done.” Jack jumped up, waving his arms in the air, “I don’t care if he’s done…what are we going to do about that hole in his back?!”

Bill calmly told them to take the pig into his bakery. He covered a large oval shaped plank with white, fluffy mashed potatoes. They, very carefully, set the pig up, on his haunches, in the middle of it. He, then, filled a large pastry bag, with mashed  potatoes, like one used to decorate a cake with icing! The first thing he did was work on his ears. He pulled the skewers out and threw them away. Then he cut out some ears from heavy brown wrapping paper, put them in place, and covered those ears with mashed potatoes! Then he worked on the face to make it look attractive. He put cranberries in the eye sockets! He put the apple in his mouth! The pig was looking good!

But what was Bill going to do with that hole in his back? They soon found out! He took his big pastry bag filled with mashed potatoes and made the most beautiful saddle right over that big hole! Oh, he was the most beautiful roast pig they’d ever seen! In fact, it was the most beautiful piece of culinary art they’d ever seen!

Glen and the other three men, carefully carried the pig into the dining room. Old Bill followed along behind, with his pastry bag, ready to fix up any part they messed up.  The party was ushered in. They had been to lots of parties and thought they’d seen everything! But they were in for a big surprise!

When they came in and saw that pig sitting right up on his haunches, beautiful saddle on his back, beautiful ears standing straight up, apple in his mouth, they were amazed!  “Oh, Father,” one of the daughter’s exclaimed, “Look what they did for your birthday!” The old man came over and shook his head. He never dreamed they would do anything like that for him!

It was soon time to carve the pig.  Jack had put on a clean apron and cap, found his sharpest carving knife, and was ready to carve the pig. He was smiling from ear to ear! He carved away but stayed away from the saddle on his back! When it was all over, he was given a big tip! In those days, money was scarce but they thought he deserved a big tip! He kept it, too!!! He didn’t even share it with Old Bill!

This is a true story and happened in about 1929. My dad was trying to work his way through college. Then came the big financial crash! That ended his college career. He was fortunate to keep working in various hotels in the kitchen and eventually became a chef! A very good chef!

Years later, after a life-changing experience with God, Glen, my dad, became a minister and this story became a favorite among his listeners, especially young people.

It was a perfect illustration for how God can take a ruined life and make a masterpiece out of it! God can and does!