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Weather – 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History
Dec 6th, 2011 by Jessica

Week #18 – Weather – Do you have any memorable weather memories from your childhood? How did your family cope and pass the time with adverse weather? When faced with bad weather in the present day, what do you do when you’re stuck at home?

DaD uses an ice pick on the Mustang in April 1976

DaD uses an ice pick on the Mustang in April 1976

Ice, snow, sleet, hail, severe thunderstorms, floods…  We lived through it all in central Michigan. We had several major storms every year where we lived.

The major memorable weather events for me were:

  • Lightening Strikes – I was staying at our neighbor Chris’ house because my sister dislocated her shoulder on my birthday.  I think it was around 1984 or 1985; I was about 6-7 years old.  I was upstairs in a bedroom alone, terrified of the thunderstorm, when lightening struck the roof of the house next door right outside my window, about 15 feet from the bed I was sleeping in.  The neighbors were not home but their car was still in the garage, and the alarm started up due to the jolt of the lightening.  That damn car alarm didn’t go off for hours until the battery in the car died.  Not only did I get the scare of my lifetime, but the rest of the night was spent trying to cover my ears with pillows and blankets.
  • Saginaw’s Flood of 1986 – I wrote about it in a recent post under Natural Disasters.
  • Flood after flood after flood – Our basement was never dry.  Never.  It flooded practically on an annual basis.  No box, no book, no memory was safe down there.  The sub pump my DaD installed helped a little bit, but it still flooded all the time.
  • Missing Duane Cole’s Funeral – A freak snowstorm wouldn’t allow me to drive safely to Indiana, so I missed my Grandpa Cole’s funeral in December 1994.  My DaD drove down there when he heard the news, and I had stayed behind to finish final exams at school.  By the time exams were over, it was no longer safe for me to drive down there.  I regret it to this day.

Weather is the reason I left Michigan for Arizona.  I went from a four-letter environment (SNOW, COLD) to a three-letter one (HOT, DRY).  Living in the desert definitely has its disadvantages, but at least our cars don’t rust out as quickly.

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Pets – 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History
Nov 29th, 2011 by Jessica

Week #17 – Pets – Did you have any pets as a child? If so, what types and what were their names. Do you have pets now? Describe them as well. If you did not have pets, you can discuss those of neighbors or other family members.

Jessica holds Bambi the Chihauhau

Jessica holds Bambi the Chihuahua

Kathleen with her kitten Patches

Kathleen with her kitten Patches

Before I was born, Kathleen had a kitten named Patches.  She said that it only took about a week to realize that she was highly allergic to kittens, so that was the beginning and end of kittens for the Cole household.

Bambi was our Chihuahua.  His tongue was too long for his mouth.  I believe the story goes that he showed up on our back porch one day and my sister Kathleen fell in love with him.  He never left, so we took him in.  Bambi was a sweet little dog.  I don’t remember him too well because I was very young when we had him.  I know he had arthritis in his back legs, and eventually we had to put him down when he got too sick to walk.

Kathleen holds Bambi and sits with Sheila

Kathleen holds Bambi and sits with Sheila

Sheila was our Sheep Dog.  She was Mom’s dog.  I used to ride Sheila around the back yard like a pony!  She was large and clumsy and incredibly protective of our family.  She was black and white and her hair grew so fast it was crazy.  My Mom used to shave her in the back yard with a pair of clippers.  Mom took Sheila through Puppy Training but I swear it never did any good.  She would drag me up and down the street on her leash and generally misbehave all the time.  Getting her to slow down or sit down was nearly impossible.

I had some hamsters during my childhood but I don’t remember much about them.  I know I used to carry them around in my hands throughout the house and enrage my mother by leaving them on coffee tables, counter tops, or running loose in the living room.  One of them got placed on the hamper in the bathroom, promptly nose dived off the top and I stepped on him.  He died a few hours later, much to the dismay of my sister and our babysitter, our cousin Ruth, who cared for him as he was dying.  That was the end of my hamster ownership until college.

After I finished college, I adopted a kitten named Olly from the local pet store in Burlington, Massachusetts.  He was a white long haired Turkish Angora.  I named him after Olly from Sifl & Olly, a sock puppet show on MTV by creator Liam Lynch.  You can see dozens of posts about Olly on my blog with a simple search for his name.  I also recapped the story of his arrival in a blog entry called Excerpt from Chapter 23.  Olly recently left our family for a better place.  He was born Jun 20, 1999 and passed away on October 13, 2011.

Our current kitties are Cheetoe, Tumbleweed and Lucky.  There’s a lovely entry that describes each of them in full detail that can be found here.

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Restaurants – 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History
Nov 22nd, 2011 by Jessica

Week #16 – Restaurants – What was your favorite local restaurant as a child? Where was it located, and what was your favorite meal? Did you know the staff personally? What is your favorite restaurant now?

Growing up in Bridgeport, Michigan we didn’t eat out too often in my early years.  I remember my parents would take us to Bob’s Big Boy once in a great while.  Sometimes we went to the Chinese restaurant but my Mom never made me eat there.  She would feed me something before we went and I would eat a fortune cookie and color on the placemats while the rest of the family ate dinner.  We also used to go to a place up the street called Pompeii Pizza and they served incredible calzones. I was intrigued by the history of Pompeii and read about it a lot after I learned what it meant at the restaurant.

Most frequently, we ordered pizza from Little Caesar’s on Dixie Highway in Bridgeport.  My favorite pizza was always ham and green olives – and it still is to this day, except now I like to add garlic to the mix.  I went nuts for Little Caesar’s crazy bread, just like I do today.  My Mom used to take me to McDonald’s a lot where I always ordered a Chicken McNuggets Happy Meal.  I remember getting little toys inside the Happy Meals.  My favorite was one year when they had a promotion with a little paper gingerbread house for Christmas that had scratch and sniff stickers with gingerbread men, gumdrops, peppermint sticks and more.  I loved that thing!

Christopher, Jessica and Kathleen in the Firebird

Christopher, Jessica and Kathleen in the Firebird

I remember most fondly the trips we used to take in our 1967 Firebird Convertible a the local ice cream parlor.  That Firebird was cherry red – it was a dream car!  I didn’t know how lucky we were to have it at the time.  It had a black cloth top and black vinyl seats that would get so hot, it burned the hair off your legs in the summer.

Aunt Colleen, Christopher and Diane in the Firebird

Aunt Colleen, Christopher and Diane in the Firebird

The ice cream parlor was a tiny shop with two little windows out front.  You walked up two or three wooden stairs and ordered at the window on the left, then moved over to pick up your ice cream at the window on the right.  It was in the parking lot in front of a dry cleaners on Dixie Highway, just north of the intersection with Williamson Road next to the railroad tracks.

1967 Firebird Convertible

1967 Firebird Convertible

I loved getting ice cream with my family.  My favorite flavors were mint chip, rainbow sherbert and old fashioned vanilla.  Kathleen and I would sit in the back of the convertible with the top down as we drove home, our hair whipping all over in the wind!  It would flick me in the eyes and boy did that ever sting.  I was never smart enough to remember a band to hold my hair back.

I was always covered in ice cream by the time we got home.  One time, the top of my cone flung off and landed inside my sister’s flip flop.  She was angry because I made a mess – I was angry because I lost half of my ice cream!  It was a travesty for sure.

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Sports – 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History
Nov 15th, 2011 by Jessica

Week #15 – Sports: Did you have a favorite sports team as a child? If so, which one and why. Did your parents follow the same teams? Do you still support the same teams?

Growing up in central Michigan, I think ice hockey was somehow bred into me.  It’s part of my blood.  It runs through my veins like every other Michigander on this earth.

DaD took me to dozens of Saginaw Generals games when I was growing up. They were the local league that played at the Saginaw Civic Center downtown. One time, he took me down to meet the team after the game. I instantly started lusting after #8 Jeff Pyle after he autographed his hockey stick and gave it to me. I loved that hockey stick! Eventually Jeff went on to play with the Chicago Blackhawks. The hockey stick was thrown out by my DaD in a fit of rage because I didn’t clean my bedroom. I still miss it.

Other than hockey, there weren’t many things related to sports in our house. Unless you count bowling, that was the extent of our sports related activities. My DaD never watched sports on TV. My Mom never watched sports. Neither of them participated in any kind of sport that I am aware of.

Even today, I occassionally watch the Red Wings on TV and tune into the Superbowl to watch the commercials. Andrew doesn’t watch sports at all. He never has, and probably never will. I think competition makes him anxious.

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Grandparents’ House – 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History
Nov 8th, 2011 by Jessica

Week #14 – Grandparents’ House: Describe your grandparents’ house. Was it big or small? How long did they live there? If you do not know this information, feel free to describe the house of another family member you remember from your childhood.

The Coles

Duane and Florence Cole's House

Duane and Florence Cole's House

My DaD’s parents, Florence and Duane Cole, lived in a beautiful house at 719 Long Run, Valparaiso, Indiana. We used to make the 5 hour car trip to visit them for holidays, usually Thanksgiving and sometimes Easter.  Grandma and Grandpa Cole had a huge house by my standards. They moved in during the 1970’s and Grandma lived there until just after Grandpa passed away in 1994.

You walked into the front door into a formal living area where Grandpa spent a majority of his time in “the chair” watching television from behind the daily newspaper.  My cousin Christopher and I spent most of our time in this room with Grandpa and the TV, playing on the floor together.  We most frequently played with his He-Man figures, Legos and board games like Connect Four and Battleship.  Chris lived with Grandma and Grandpa.  This room was also the room I slept in on the couch when we stayed overnight.

If you walked a little further into the house there was a formal dining room with a huge wooden table, a grandfather clock and a beautiful china cabinet.  This room was used as the computer room.  It also had an old organ that I used to play often while Chris was playing on the computer.  In all the years of going to Indiana for Thanksgiving and other holidays, not one single time did we actually eat dinner in the formal dining room.

Duane Cole with Patrick Johnson in The Chair (November 1985)

Duane Cole with Patrick Johnson in The Chair (November 1985)

Venturing a little further there was the kitchen which my Grandma spent a majority of her time occupying.  Just past that space was a little informal breakfast nook that we ate all of our meals at.  I remember Grandma always had a stockpile of bendy straws on the table for Chris to drink his cans of Dr. Pepper from.  She often served me chocolate milk with a bendy straw.  Past this space was an informal living area with a couple more couches and a television where the family typically gathered.

Back at the front door you could go up the stairs to the bedrooms.  I think there were four of them.  One was a guest room that the adult visitors slept in.  One was Christopher’s room which I always thought had more toys than Toys ‘R Us!  He had so many fun things to play with on shelf after shelf after shelf.  Another bedroom was Grandpa’s and another one was Grandma’s.

The Romaines

Alex and Mary Romaine's House on Owen

Alex and Mary Romaine's House on Owen

When I was two my Mom’s mother, Mary Romaine, moved to an older home at 3113 Owen Street in Saginaw, Michigan.  The house was previously owned by her fourth husband, Alex Romaine.  Mom’s father, Walter Anthony Dreffs, died in 1958 when she was six years old.  He did not live with my grandmother when he passed away; they were divorced by then.  Grandma Romaine lived in this tiny house from the time she married Alex in 1979 until her death in 1994.

Alex and Mary Romaine (1983)

Alex and Mary Romaine (1983)

When you walked into the home, you entered a living room with lots of things piled all over the place.  Grandma might possibly have been referred to as a hoarder and her house was always cluttered.  She always saved the Sunday comics for me and left them in the living room.  When Mom and I went over to visit, I would sit in the living room and read the comics.  When I got bored, I would wander into the kitchen where Mom and Grandma were sitting at the small kitchen table chatting.  Grandma always had tons of magnets and pictures plastered all over her refrigerator and I would stand there and rearrange the stuff.  She had Cabbage Patch Kid magnets that I loved to play with.  One day, she let me have them.  I still have them in my box of memories.  In the back of the house there were a couple of bedrooms and a bathroom but I was never allowed to venture into those areas.

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Sweets – 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History
Nov 1st, 2011 by Jessica

Week #13 –Sweets: What was your favorite childhood candy or dessert? Have your tastes changed since then? What satisfies your sweet tooth today?

Candy Cigarettes

Candy Cigarettes

Mom once told me my first word was “Sugar.”  While I think she was joking, I know I ate a lot of sweets growing up.  One of my favorite things to do was the ride my bicycle up to Damore’s and spend my allowance on candy, usually a dollar or two per week.  Damore’s Grocery in Bridgeport was located on the corner Dixie Highway and S. Ohio Avenue.  It was about a quarter mile from our house. I used to buy Lik-M-Aid Fun Dip, Mambo, SKOR bars, Three Muskateers and candy cigarettes.  Any pennies left over would be used to purchase Tootsie Rolls.  My pockets would be overflowing with various candies as I rode my bike home and proceeded to eat it all within the hour.

When my best friend Jennifer and I got a little older, we started to venture a little further away from home on our bicycles.  I lived on California Avenue on a dead end, east of Olive Street.  Jennifer lived on Nebraska Avenue near the corner of Peach Street.  All of our streets in the neighborhood in Bridgeport’s Genessee Gardens were named after states (Oregon, California, Montana, Nebraska, Iowa, Indiana and Kansas) or fruits (Olive, Orange, Apple, Peach and Pear).  We started to venture south on Olive Street, all the way down to King Road.  There was a large open field with a ditch we used to cross over with our bikes to reach the Rite Aid on Williamson and King Roads.

Hubba Bubba Soda

Hubba Bubba Soda

Rite Aid sold pink gold.  It was in the form of Hubba Bubba bubble gum pop.  (In Michigan, it was known as Pop.  When I moved to Arizona I had to change my vocabulary to fit in with the locals, and I now refer to it as Soda.)  Hubba Bubba was pure liquid sugar and I drank it like it was water, as if my life depended on it.  I loved this pop.  Forget the candy – in 5th grade, it was all about the pop.  I also drank a massive amount of Pepsi but I hated Coke.  My sister Kathleen was the opposite, however; she loved Coke because the popular drink was Pepsi.  She just wanted to be different.  My babysitter was my cousin Ruth Karpuk and she drank Diet Coke, so I learned to drink that after a while too.  It was always kept in the refrigerator for her so if we had no other pop in the house, I would settle for Diet Coke.

Once I got into high school, my tastes changed away from candy and more into crunchy snacks.  My favorites were Double Stuf Oreos and regular Nacho Doritos.  I continued to drink Pepsi throughout high school.  I prefer my pops (aka sodas) in aluminum cans.  I never liked fountain drinks or ones that came from a 2-liter.  Cans are my preference.  For some reason I really like the flavor of the aluminum can which is probably really, really bad for my body.  I realized in my early 30’s that anything but water is pretty bad for my body, so I don’t really drink soda any more.  It took me years to change, but I now prefer plain old water.

Nowadays I prefer salty snacks to sweet ones.  While I do enjoy the occasional Dove milk chocolate bar and snacking on Indoor S’Mores, my favorite snack is Archer Farms brand Parmesan Garlic Homestyle Kettle-Cooked Potato Chips.  Archer Farms is a store brand sold at Target stores.  I refer to them as my “CHEEEEEPS!”  I eat these chips almost daily, and I have for the past couple of years.  I fear the day they stop manufacturing them.  If I get wind of their retirement, I’ll be stocking up on a warehouse full of these chips and plan to savor them for many years to come.

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Movies – 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History
Oct 25th, 2011 by Jessica

Week #12 – Movies: Did (or do you still) see many movies? Describe your favorites. Where did you see these films? Is the theater still there, or is there something else in its place?

I’ve been going to movies in the theater since I was quite young.  My DaD took me a couple of times before I could drive.  We usually went to the Quad Theater in Saginaw, Michigan during the 1980’s and the early 1990’s.  As the name implies, there were four theaters to choose from.  They usually played about 8-10 different movies at a time throughout the day. I believe the Quad is still functioning today.  It’s located at 3250 Kabobel, Saginaw, MI 48604.  According to my earliest ticket stubs in 1991, a matinee movie cost $3.00 and an evening show was $5.50.

Movie theaters are very different today where we live in Gilbert, Arizona.  Twenty years later in 2011, movie tickets are $9.50 for an evening show and $12-$14 for an IMAX or 3D experience.  Within a five mile radius of our house, we have over 100 theaters available.  Popular movies today start every 10-20 minutes, and you can go anytime you want.  There aren’t any lines.  You just walk up and use the ticket machine like an ATM to purchase your tickets or buy them online at home before you go.  I predict in our future, movie theaters will die out like the DVD is.  Most of our entertainment will be viewed at home in “the cloud” at the push of a button.  Many people now are getting 3D televisions for their home, so it is no longer a requirement to see movies in the theater.  Going to the theater will someday become a special event like it was in the 1930’s.

I have four scrapbooks that I created to store and present the ticket stubs I have collected over my lifetime.  I love looking through them to see all the fun things I have been privileged to do.  One of them is for Movie tickets, while the others are for Concerts, Sports and Arts & Theater.  The first page of the Movie ticket scrapbook has the earliest movies I attended.  My DaD used to drop me off at the Quad so I could hang out with my friends.  He would pick me up a few hours later, or I would hitch a ride with my friends’ parents.  Keep in mind this was still a decade before the cell phone was introduced.  These were the days of waiting on the curbside for someone to show up, not knowing where they were or if they forgot about you.

My earliest movie ticket stubs are:

  • Beauty and the Beast (1/2/1991)
  • Fried Green Tomatoes (2/21/1991)
  • Hot Shots (5/26/1991)
  • Drop Dead Fred (6/5/1991)
  • The Rocketeer (7/12/1991)
  • Child’s Play 3 (9/1/1991)
  • Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (9/2/1991)
  • Father of the Bride (12/22/1991)

Here are some of the most memorable movie theater moments in my life.

Poltergeist II: The Other Side
Poltergeist II: The Other Side

Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986) – Although I don’t have the ticket stub for it, I remember seeing Poltergeist II in the theater with my DaD.  This movie had the abduction of a young girl, ghosts, dead people and a possessed chainsaw viciously sawing apart the family’s car while they were trying to escape the Beast.  How is this PG-13?  I was nine years old and absolutely TERRIFIED.

Drop Dead Fred (1991) – Listed in the ticket stubs above, I saw Drop Dead Fred after my 8th grade graduation from Bridgeport Middle School.  A group of my friends got together and rented a limousine, splitting the cost 8 ways. I think it was about $20 per person.  The limo picked us up from school on the last day of 8th grade and took us to Chuck E. Cheese for pizza and games.  Then it drove us over to the Quad Theater so we could watch Drop Dead Fred.  I think the 8 of us were the only people in the theater although that may have been because of how we were acting.  We made a big, noisy giant mess.  The movie was terrible.  We threw popcorn and laughed obnoxiously, making fun of the movie the entire time.

Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999) – I am not a Star Wars fan.  This movie is not memorable because I enjoyed the movie itself.  (I only went because Andrew wanted to go.)  Instead, this one is a perfect indication of how movie stubs can be a value method of outlining your personal history.  When looking through my Movie ticket stubs you will notice that I saw Star Wars: Episode I on May 19, 1999 just after graduation from Arizona State University with Andrew.  The theater was Harkins Arcadia 8 Cinemas (matinees were $3.75, evening shows were $6.00) in Phoenix, Arizona.  The very next movie stub I have is Star Wars: Episode I again.  This time, the theater was the Burlington 10 (matinees $5.00, evening shows $8.00) in Burlington, Massachusetts on May 26, 1999.  The viewings were only one week apart, but this tiny observation has much bigger implications than just going to a movie.  Between these movie showings, I moved across the country!  Without the dates on these stubs, I’m not sure if I could have remembered exactly when I moved when recalling my life years later.  I also find it fascinating to see the cost of the price difference between the two theaters.  This is very indicative to the major difference in cost of living between Phoenix and Boston in 1999.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter Series -While not exactly during my childhood, I felt like a kid again every time I went to see Harry Potter in the theater.  I saw the first one in the theater and instantly fell in love with Harry, Hermione and Ron.  I liked it so much, in fact, that I went out and read the book.  Gasp!  I READ A BOOK because of a movie.  I had never done that in my entire life.

My favorite Harry Potter movie is the Prisoner of Azkaban.  I enjoyed the time turner sequence, and when Harry helps Sirius to escape his fate on Buckbeat.  The humor cracks me up, like when Hermione and Harry are hiding from themselves and Hermione says, “Is that really what my hair looks like from the back?”  I loved it.

  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010)
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)

I recently saw Harry Potter the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 while in Fort Wayne, Indiana on a genealogy research trip with my friend Sarah.  It was merely coincidence that we were together during the opening of the final Harry Potter.  She is one of the biggest HP fans I know.  We planned the trip, then realized the release date was the same weekend on July 15, 2011.  We watched the film together on Friday night the day it opened worldwide.  I got chills up and down my spine when it started.  My favorite part is when Professor McGonagall gives Neville a directive to blow up the bridge.  “BOOM!” she confirms.  Then a few minutes later after she sets the castle guards in motion with Piertotum Locomotor she turns to Mrs. Weasley and says, “I’ve always wanted to use that spell.”  I laughed, I cried, I laughed, I cried…  It was ten years of Harry Potter emotions all in one movie experience.  I loved, loved LOVED it.

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Illness & Injury – 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History
Oct 18th, 2011 by Jessica

Week #11 – Illness & Injury Week 11: Illness and Injury. Describe your childhood illnesses or injuries. Who took care of you? Did you recuperate in your own bed, on the couch in front of the television, or somewhere else?

The best explanation of “my burn” is written in my Autobiography called Memiors of a Black Rose:

By this time, Kathleen’s bedroom was locked up with a small hook and loop that she could reach to enter, but I could not.  Or at least, that was the assumption.  Unfortunately I outsmarted everyone by using a little red chair and Kathleen’s baton to pop the lock and trespass in her room when nobody was looking.  I used to drop her Battleship game pegs down the register and listen to them fall into the basement.  I melted her crayons on the register once I figured out it was hot enough to do so.  I flushed her Barbie Doll heads down the toilet because I was fascinated with the spinning action, and how they would disappear inside!  I just couldn’t figure out how it all worked.

Recovering from my burn, 1982

Recovering from my burn, 1982

That little red chair would get me into a lot of trouble.  So much trouble in fact, that its next use landed me in the emergency room at St. Mary’s Hospital in Saginaw.  Just before my fifth birthday in August 1982, I was definitely considered Daddy’s little girl.  Being Daddy’s little helper, I waited for his coffee to ‘ding’ its completion in the brand new microwave we had just bought.  What I didn’t know at the time, was that my Mom had just made the fresh pot of coffee.  My Dad wasn’t paying attention, and he poured some and put it in the microwave for two minutes on high power.  Our new microwave had an aeration tray to allow heat to move around all sides to heat it better.

Ding!  As I slowly pulled the coffee cup toward the front of the tray while standing on the little red chair, I was so careful not to spill it!  Then I heard my name yelled as part of the argument that my parents were having, and I swirled around fast to see what I had done this time!  As I turned, my hand caught the mug handle and pulled it partway into one of the giant holes in the aeration tray.  The boiling coffee spilled down my front and boy did I scream!  I screamed and screamed as my father grabbed me off the chair and layed me down by the kitchen sink.  My Mom was frantically grabbing washclothes out of the hallway closet, soaking them with ice-cold water and draping them over my stomach.

My Mom called the hospital and told them what happened.  They said to bring me to the emergency room.  My mother drove, and my father sat in the back seat with me, changing the washclothes frequently.  I don’t remember arriving at the hospital, but I do remember after a few days I was allowed to go down to the Arts & Crafts room to make projects.  I loved the neat stuff they let us make, like Styrofoam birds glued together with feather hats, a Styrofoam and pipe cleaner monkey cage with a red plastic monkey and lots of coloring projects.  It really helped to pass the time during my stay.

I was at St. Mary’s for four days, and then sent home.  When I was asleep the night I finally came home, I scratched the bandages around my body open!  My burns became infected and I had to go back to the hospital, although this time it was St. Luke’s Children’s hospital.  I spent five more days there with an infected burn, where a nurse would come in every day to “frost my tummy” with the ointments.  She said, “It’s just like frosting a cake, honey!”

I did not go near a microwave for more than six years after that.  To this day, I refuse to handle coffee of any kind.  Ironically, I do like the smell of fresh coffee beans.  But I will never drink it, and I will never again pick up a cup of coffee.

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Excerpt from Memoirs: Chapter 35
Oct 14th, 2011 by Jessica

Here is an excerpt from my autobiography, “Memoirs of a Black Rose.”  This is from chapter 35.

Kathleen and I had sort of an unwritten rule that we don’t get each other gifts for holidays.  I’m not sure how this all came about, but at some point years ago we decided not to spend money on each other and it just stayed that way.  Both of us are notorious for finding loopholes in rules that provide an advantage, so we often get gifts for the “family” instead of each other.  This year was no exception.  We always send the kids gifts, usually with a $50 maximum price tag.  This year we sent then each a crisp $50 bill in a card.  In exchange, the Schaar family sent us William Sonoma’s “3 Months of Cheese.”

Andrew and I had recently started having “Cheese Parties” at our house.  Since we don’t drink wine (or alcohol) at all, we can’t call them “Wine and Cheese” parties.  Our cheese parties were always done with just the two of us.  Our friends don’t seem to want to get involved because there is no wine to pair it with.  These parties consisted of 3-5 different cheese varieties neither one of us had ever tried before, along with some new type of crackers or olives.  We would bring the cheese to room temperature, and then try it plain and toasted on a cracker in the oven for a few minutes.  We rated the cheeses on a scale from one to ten, and kept track of the results in a Google spreadsheet document online.  The next time we wanted to have another cheese party, while at the store we consulted the Google document on our phones to determine which new cheese to try.

The Schaars gift of “3 Months of Cheese” provided us with home delivery from some of the dairy farms throughout the United States, such as Utah, Vermont and California.  Out of curiosity, I looked up the price of this subscription, and was astounded to discover it exceeded any reasonable amount one should spend for a gift.  Andrew talked me out of trying to one-up Kathleen and instead, I simply thanked her for the lovely gift.  We thoroughly enjoyed our three months of cheese!

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Disasters – 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History
Oct 11th, 2011 by Jessica

Week #10 – Disasters: Did you experience any natural disasters in your lifetime? Tell us about them. If not, then discuss these events that happened to parents, grandparents or others in your family.

The Flood of ’86.  That’s what it was called.  Saginaw, Michigan was under several feet of water.  They sold t-shirts and bumper stickers with the words, “I Survived the Flood of ’86” emblazoned across them.  On September 10, 1986 the Tittabawassee River flooded after the Tri-City area received 14″ of rain in about 12 hours.  It was quickly classified as a 100-year flood.

Our basement flooded literally halfway up the staircase.  I remember trying to go down there and DaD absolutely panicked.  He must have been terrified at the thought of me wandering down into the water and drowning.  I didn’t realize how dangerous it was.  We lost everything that was downstairs during that flood.  For years afterward, my DaD tried in vain to salvage hundreds of photographs and documents.  Most of it was far too damaged to be salvaged.

I remember standing in the living room looking outside to the neighbor kids floating around in the street on intertubes.  There was nothing but water in every direction, with trees sticking out where the woods stood across the street.  I wasn’t allowed to go outside for the same reason I couldn’t go downstairs.  Our home was elevated approximately 3 feet off the ground, which is the only thing that saved it from being completely destroyed.

Read more about The Flood of ’86 here.

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© 2013 Jessica M. Green