After a week away, I am ready to start blogging again. I think that a week off to do research, organize my office, spend time with family and generally "have a life" is going to be something I schedule in more often. I caught a cold last week and it is annoying. But, I did have time on the couch to listen to webinars, read and catch up with social media.
My daughter gave me this @ sign for my office for Valentine's Day but my minion seems to think it belongs to him. Fat chance. Get back to work minion.
See you tomorrow for Tombstone Tuesday!
Saturday, March 01, 2014
Friday, February 28, 2014
Memories can't always be explained. Every fall when the light is low and the temperature has a little chill, I think I remember a few seconds of a day long ago when I was very little. It is something to hold on to because it carries a feeling of well being with a clarity to it that I can't explain. Yet, nothing really happened to make this memory stand out. Here's the memory:
I am standing or sitting facing the open back door of the house. I can hear music playing in the house and I can see and hear wet laundry flapping on the clothesline through the window in the kitchen. I'd swear my mother is humming. I know my father is in the garage. The memory fades as quickly..
No photo captures that moment in time. Maybe it is a dream. It is so short, I wish it would stick around longer. The Plat will always live on and it will always be the neighborhood called home.
Here's a link to the location of my parents house at Google Maps. To see the house, look at Street View
Thursday, February 27, 2014
|The tiny kitchen table|
Happy Retirement, a photo by midgefrazel on Flickr.
Happy Retirement Days
One day you wake up and your parents have grown old. Now, it is me that is getting old!This photo reminds me that it was NOT yesterday, that I took this cute photo of my dad and my daughter with his little ice cream cake for his retirement.
I wish my parents had enjoyed their last years together. It was all too short and filled with worries, illness and loneliness. Dad couldn't play golf anymore. Mom began to forget things.
As long a I can remember, this drop leaf table was in my parent's kitchen. It only seated two people perched on stools with cushions. It mostly was used for breakfast and lunch. Groceries were set on it. Mail was opened on it. It is a symbol of the simple life of the 1950s and 1960s in "The Plat"
I left it there for the new owners. Maybe they ate a snack on it before they got rid of it. Most of the other furniture I sold because it had value. This little table just belonged to the house and I wanted it to be the last thing I saw when I shut the door. I patted it and said, "Goodbye", locked the door and we drove away.
I have many more photos to organize, scan and archive that are of "The Plat." A few have my grandparents in them. As I have been writing, I have been planning another project about their life and what I have learned about them as I have been on this genealogy adventure. Maybe I will get that done. Should I do this?
The last post of this Family History Challenge will be a collage of a remembrance of the house.
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Boyfriend to Husband
When Steve came home from Viet Nam, we got engaged and set a date for our wedding. While he was overseas he had ordered this new car (see below) and while he was away my father wanted to go to the car dealer in Providence and look at the car. On the way there, he told me that he (my father) bought a new car just before he left for World War II and his brother was in charge of it while he was gone. Uncle Bill bought the car from him eventually because my mother already owned the Ford.
Since I don't like cars, my father was trying to get me excited about this cute car. My father thought it was going to be a brighter blue. I couldn't drive it anyway because at that time, RI drivers had to take their road test on a standard transmission car to get an unrestricted license. Steve's mother was very disappointed in the car and my father in law loved it. She asked where we we going to put "the baby" in this tiny car? My father in law loved everything that was for bachelors. It was a good lesson for me that the generation above mine was not going to be happy with decisions we made.
The photo of my parents and the photo of the new car were taken the same day with a 35 mm camera that Steve got cheap at the military store (by catalog order). I was more interested in the camera than the car. I love the photo of my parents because it was taken in the back yard of their house and on an ordinary day. I am now much older than they were in this photo and my husband looks so young.
|Steve's new Car a Volvo 1800e, Summer, 1971|
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Our Favorite Holiday
Think about it. As a neighborhood, Halloween was the only one that was associated with the streets of "The Plat." In addition to that, Halloween is a favorite family holiday for my parents, my daughter and now, my grandsons. It is a photo-op-fun holiday. I have a lot of photos to choose from but these are the four I love the most.
As my mother went to RISD, she could sew really well and she was creative to boot. She made the French maid costume for an adult party that she and my dad attended. It is one of my most looked at photos on the Web. It's also pretty darn controversial. I wore that costume to a Halloween party and I can tell you, I got a lot of attention. Yes, I got pinched. That's all you need to know.
My gregarious father, loved telling stories and writing poetry. When I grew up, I used to get Halloween cards from him with special poems inside. It was OUR holiday. Here's one that has survived.
In the early years of "The Plat", fathers took kids out for Trick or Treat to just the nearby neighbors. I had to sing a song to get a treat. Dad told me, many years later, that we couldn't go to too many houses because it was customary for the father to drink a shot at each house. Of course, as I got older, we roamed the safe neighborhood streets, guided by the street lights, in huge groups. My mom told me that kids still came to our house on Hilltop Drive every year.
When I got old enough to wear the "hobo" costume shown here, I was going to Halloween parties held at houses. That year, 7th or 8th grade, I went to the Girl Scout Leader's house in Oaklawn for a party. She had a haunted basement where you followed a rope walkway around and got slapped with wet strips of sheets blown by small fans and touched icky "eyeballs". The screaming of young teenage girls is quite an experience.
Halloween was fun in my neighborhood in Bridgewater, too, so my daughter loves this holiday. I pay for the costumes for my grandsons. Dad would approve. Tell me, what are the odds that I now live in a neighborhood where Halloween is celebrated with 80 trick or treaters? To top it off, I live next to a young family that has a yearly Halloween party. Places may change but good times remain the same.
Life in "The Plat" can live on. You can go home again. Just ring a doorbell in October and you are there.
Life in "The Plat" can live on. You can go home again. Just ring a doorbell in October and you are there.
Monday, February 24, 2014
|Photo collection of Midge Frazel|
There are so many photos of my dad in or near the garage, I had a hard time choosing these photos. My father kept a low lawn chair near the door and was known to sit there and watch the cars go by.
[Photos left to right: dad and little me, Dad's "Oh s%&*t photo, mom and I sitting on the "woodie", and dad holding his granddaughter in his lap in the garage.]
In the early plat years, the man who lived across the street also liked to sit in a lawn chair on his grass. Ray Fraser, was dying of cancer, and couldn't do much but he could water his grass. My dad would help him with the chair and the garden hose and they would harmoniously water their lawns. I'm sure beer was involved!
One day, a nephew of a house owner, was driving in his uncle's convertible with the top down. Evidently, he did this quite often and he drove too fast for my dad's liking. Dad talked to the uncle about his nephew's speed but the teenager continued to drive fast when his uncle was not watching. Dad had a plan. The next time Ray and my dad were watering, they aimed their hoses at the car as it sped by, blasting water all over the car and the driver. You can imagine the kids reaction? Dad called the uncle right away and "gave him what for" and that was the end of it. Problem solved.
One spring, my dad began to shop for a new station wagon and went to his local car dealer, Dick Cranston, and wanted to test drive a car. Cars were getting bigger and my dad was concerned that he would lose valuable garage space. So, mom and I went with him to pick up the new car. Dad drove the car into the garage and immediately backed out again. "Too big", he said and without another word we returned to the car dealer to get the smaller car.
My mother was annoyed. I thought my father's logic was great. I wonder what Mr. Cranston thought? Remember, if you can't open the car doors while in the garage you've got a really big problem. I also wonder what people in "The Plat" today are doing with their small one car garages.
After my father died and mom sold his car, the door to the garage began to malfunction. I swear the garage missed my father.
Sunday, February 23, 2014
|Photo collection of Midge Frazel|
The photo on the left shows little seven year old me with my first big girl bicycle. My tricycle and my little pedal car were kept at my grandparent's house. This girls bike was blue (I think) and was brought by the Easter Bunny on that very snowy winter where there was no Easter. The bike basket and the horn were part of the big egg hunt which I am sure was held the next weekend at my grandparents house. This was the last Easter my grandfather would be alive. He died in June of 1955. I see my mother's yellow forsythia bush is blooming despite the cold from April's snow.
The best thing about bikes is that there is a taste of freedom that comes with them. I could now go all the way to both edges of "The Plat". The kids who were on my school bus and lived at the end of the development became real playmates and I could walk or ride to the Pontiac Library in nearby Warwick. There's a little history on that Web page and Miss Knight gave me my first library card. I love to read. This web page shows the library and All Saints Church which is next door to the library. I went to preschool Sunday School there. After that, my parents decided to join the new Woodridge Congregational Church near Garden City. Dad was raised as a Baptist and didn't like the "high church" Episcopal All Saints. Compromise was in order. My aunt and uncle became my godparents and joined the church with my parents. I sang in the adult choir instead of attending Sunday School by the time I was in the 6th grade.
The other photo, taken by me, in 1962, is in the beginning of my own photo collection albums and gave me the idea that my grandparent's and parent's photo collections should be scanned and put in archival bags and be put in chronological order. That's not how my mother organized them.
In 1962, my friend Donna, who is wearing a scarf on her head, got a collie puppy named Tammy. I am not a dog person but Tammy was a good animal and loved playing with us girls. Donna lived on Hilltop Drive and her dad still lives in the same house in "The Plat".
The other girl in this photo is deceased. Her name was Barbara Burque and she lived with her parents and (very cute) older brother at 168 Hilltop Drive. Barbara grew up and became a medical technologist and worked at the Rhode Island Hospital after I got married and moved to Massachusetts. She married a man who lived in our "sister" neighborhood and they had a little boy. Barbara died far too young.
On weekends, I would go to the other end of Hilltop Drive looking for kids to ride bikes with. My neighborhood in Stow has streets like "The Plat" with a convenience store with a Dunkin Donuts inside. Soon, the kids will be riding around in here, past my porch and out into the nearby world. Our streets here are named for varieties of apples. A reader of my blog asked about the names of the streets in "The Plat" and I don't know why they are named that. It was hilly so that's probably a reason for part of the names. I know this because we had to really push to ride our bikes uphill to my house.
Life is an uphill battle, isn't it? But, the adventures and people along the way are worth the ride.
Saturday, February 22, 2014
Our dining room table was an antique hand me down from my great grandparents. It had a separate leaf that made it bigger for holiday dinners. When my grandmother moved in with my parents, she brought her dining room table and eventually she sold it since my house in Bridgewater didn't have a dining room and I didn't want it.
My mother favored putting the table on this wall overlooking the backyard. This table made a great fort when a sheet was placed over it. This wall doesn't exist anymore as it was torn out to add an apartment for my grandmother when she turned 80 and came to live with my parents. I think she was convinced that she would die soon. She lived to be 98. Be careful what you think!
Grandmother brought a lot of furniture with her and so eventually, the dining room table was put in the center of the room and used only for holidays. My husband remembers my grandmother's last apartment and I rely on him to help me remember when certain events happened.
Along with me, hubs remembers how the house at Hilltop Drive changed from 1970 to 2002 when we sold it. I do wonder what my parents and grandmother would think of my daughter's lovely home and us moving to our condo to be near her. So many people comment on how long we lived in Bridgewater. "How could you move?", they asked. "Easily", I answered. Home is where you hang your hat.
Friday, February 21, 2014
|In the Kitchen Photo from the collection of Midge Frazel|
While researching and writing about my neighborhood, I have learned how important it is to your future to have a loving family. As idyllic as life in the 1950s and 1960s seems in retrospect, it is essential to write that there were families that struggled living in "The Plat".
One early family on our street was especially troubled. Using the 1950 city directory, I have identified the family that was the parents of a little girl that I will call by her first name Carmella. I remember that she was fun to play with and that my parents gave her one of my coats and mittens. She had none. My dad fixed the chain on her bike. One day, the family moved out. In the "dead of night". I didn't understand why they moved.
There were rumors of unpaid bills and alcoholism. Just up the street from them, another couple took in a brother and sister as foster children. Another family didn't cut their grass in a timely fashion. Not everybody got along. I remember a huge shouting argument two adult brothers had. The wife cried and pleaded with them to stop. The police came. We were mesmerized by watching them out our kitchen window.
I was lucky to have loving grandparents and parents. My father did not have a loving father but his sister's husband was a great substitute. Dad was always vigilant to ward off neighborhood situations. Men stood in driveways and discussed troubles. Kids got in trouble for fighting and throwing snowballs and baseballs broke windows. Older people died.
The imperfection of a neighborhood makes it memorable. You tend to remember it by certain incidents. One of my dear childhood friends moved away and then she died suddenly of a brain tumor. My mother and I met her mother in the grocery store and all of us cried. The store manager ushered us out. She was an only child like me. I began to appreciate all that we had. Family and good neighbors are everything to the study of your past.