Things I Miss 

The fifties may have been a simpler time, but they weren’t all birthday cake and ice cream. I remember crouching under my desk, hearing my heart thump and my teacher’s hose rub as she patrolled the classroom during an atomic bomb drill. Then, the next day, she distributed iodine tablets my classmates and I obediently swallowed once a week to prevent goiters; we thought taking a pill was better than a large lump that bulged from our necks so that folks mistook us for turkeys.

That was fun?

My past wasn’t all cowering and goiters, however, and I miss many things that filled my childhood with pleasure. For example, I loved the shiny aluminum tumblers that crowded a shelf in our kitchen. When filled with cold beverages, the tumblers frosted over like windshields on a below-zero morning and made everything — grape Kool-Aid, tomato juice, homemade root beer, even water — taste better.

The tumblers also had the added benefit of being light and unbreakable; so when my siblings and I forgot our manners and hurled them at one another, they bounced off without inflicting I’m-telling-Mom damage. Best of all, their bright red, blue, green, and gold shimmer felt like holding a bit of Christmas every day.

I’d also like to hear the whirling clickety-click of a hand-pushed lawnmower again — though I wouldn’t want to push it. The soft, rhythmic sound of a rotary mower symbolized summer for me as much as bird song, butterflies, and sunburn. I even enjoyed the battles my brothers waged before the quiet clickety-clicks commenced: “It isn’t my turn. It’s yours. I mowed last week. I’m not mowing it, and you can’t make me!”

Sitting with my sister Barbara in our Radio Flyer

Sitting with my sister Barbara in our Radio Flyer

For more than a decade, a 1940’s-era little red wagon, a Radio Flyer, served as an all-purpose toy for my siblings and me. We pulled each other in it, dumped each other out of it, and threw snowballs from behind it. We used it to transport garden produce to the house and to parade Barbara, costumed as Betsy Ross stitching a flag, along our small town’s main street on the 4th of July. Periodically, we tried to give our resident dogs, cats, and chickens the pleasure of a ride in it so they’d return the favor, but the dogs were uncooperative, the cats mean, and the chickens crazy.

Five years later on the first day of school: same wagon, new Bray baby named Blaine

Five years later on the first day of school: same wagon, new brother named Blaine

Bob and I once spent an afternoon playing a delightful game of our invention with the wagon: I ran evasive patterns with it as fast as I could while Bob tried to ram it with an old lawn mower. Mom ended our fun when she saw us putting Barbara in the wagon to increase the excitement. I miss this indestructible wagon, though now I’d probably plant petunias in it.

I complained about cranking our Dazey butter churn as a child, but I actually enjoyed making butter. First, I turned the handle listlessly, thinking my life would end before the cream in the jar began to look milky. Then, when it did, I spun the handle with vigor, making its paddles whirl and blur. Soon, tiny, yellow specks danced by the glass before gathering into bigger and bigger clumps of gold until I declared myself a winner and proudly carried the churn to Mom.

Aluminum tumblers, rotary lawn mowers, a little red wagon, and a butter churn. Everyday items that enriched my childhood. But the thing I miss most from my past is my younger self. And she’s never coming back.

To see some of the interesting things people remember fondly and collect, buy, or sell go to: http://www.invaluable.com/collectibles/pc-BQWOG3FLWY/.

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84 thoughts on “Things I Miss 

  1. Yes. I remember those tumblers coming with cottage cheese, as well. They were the best to drink from. I’ve often thought of them and wished I had a couple. I didn’t think anyone would remember them. Thanks for the memories. Do you remember crackers coming in a tin? My mom saved all that stuff. I think she kept tea in the cracker tin.

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    • I do remember crackers in a tin, Rob, and also margarine that was a white brick and came with a packet of yellow dye to be mixed in so it looked like butter. I didn’t write about it, though, because I don’t remember it fondly. I was used to the real thing.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that all children internally contaminated with (or likely to be internally contaminated with) radioactive iodine take KI (potassium iodide), unless they have known allergies to iodine (contraindications)”

    Were you ‘likely to be internally contaminated’?

    How often did these atomic bomb drills happen? Only once?

    Must be awful to think about it now. And that it could happen again!

    It’s good that none the less your childhood was mostly filled with pleasure. Thanks for sharing all these precious childhood memories, dear Janet. I very much enjoyed reading this post of yours.

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    • Thanks, Uta. It’s so good to hear from you. I don’t know if my peers and I were internally contaminated or not, but I marvel at how many things we did because the medical community said they were good for us, only to learn later that they weren’t so good after all. The drills happened once a month, but had ended before I went to jr. high. I don’t remember feeling frightened, but rather uncomfortable as, a big girl, I contorted my body to get under my desk.

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      • Monthly drills! This looks to me like the authorities must have seen some kind of need for a preparation like this.
        I remember during WW II we had to try out gas masks. I could not imagine being able to breathe with this thing on my face. It felt so awfully suffocating! Luckily we could take the masks off again straight away, and indeed we never had to really use them.

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      • Oh, Uta, donning gas masks seems much more frightening to a child than huddling under a desk, which was really a rather silly thing to do in a rural farming community in Utah, far from where any actual atomic bomb would be dropped. Our danger would have come later from the poisoned atmosphere. But I guess the authorities were doing what they thought best.

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      • I think we had at our home only one gas mask for the whole family. At least .this is how I remember it.. My little brother and I were made to try it out in turn.
        I guess in primary school I would have regarded hiding under desks as just fun. I think, we did it a few times, but I cannot remember why.
        In 1944, when I was approaching ten, I went to a one teacher village school some 100 km outside Berlin. Near the school I think we had what was called a “Splittergraben”. Once or twice we had to spend some time in that trench as an exercise, so that we would be aware what we had to do, when bombers would attack our building. We were pretty cramped in there but did not mind it at all for the teacher read us some beautiful stories from a book. It was fun listening to these stories outside the school building. Yes, we thought it was fun and exciting!

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      • I think you must be a hardy person to see the beauty in written words as a child sitting in a trench, practicing what to do if the school building was bombed. Were all your classmates as calm?

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    • Oh yes, as far as I remember we all were very interested in listening to the stories. I do not believe anybody felt that we were in any danger of air-attacks for we were a fair distance away from Berlin. It was only a short drill. Not the real thing.

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  3. What fun to read about these happy memories Janet. I remember the tumblers and I even used a rotary mower as a teenager. A new neighbor of ours uses one today saying it gives him needed exercise from his computer. A joyous childhood is a much desired beginning for a contented life. Thanks for the memory.

    Liked by 3 people

    • So much truth in “A joyous childhood is a much desired beginning for a contented life,” Kayti. Strange that with so many time-reducing, work-saving advancements, we go to the gym for exercise rather than mowing our lawn with a rotary mower. I applaud your neighbor.

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  4. The picture of you, your sister and little brother standing near the wagon could have been me! Same era, almost the same clothes. Thank you, Aunt Beulah for bringing these amazing memories back to us. I never get tired of it. I think it’s so important to review our past, and what formed us! Today (and you may have already seen it) I posted a story about an experience I had when I was seven years old, and sent home to walk over a mile on a country road. I think those events made us stronger, and added to us, instead of taking away.

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    • When I read your blog, I sense we have much in common, Diane. Did your mom make your clothes the way mine did? I remember how pretty I felt in that outfit. The skirt was black with yellow flowers on it and the ruffled blouse was a matching yellow. Better yet, as you can see, my hair was combed. But then, it was the first day of school. I’ll be sure to read the story of your long walk home on a country road — another thing we share and that did, indeed, strengthen us.

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      • My mother sewed every stitch we wore until we were in our teens, and then we were in town and babysat for some money. I guess I connected with the clothes you wore, because they resembled mine. Our wonderful mothers!

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      • We are so similar. I, too, babysat and did other odd jobs so I could wear store bought clothes. However, throughout high school my mother still made my clothes for special occasions like dances and graduation because, really, even my teenage self could see that they fit better and were more unique than those I bought at JC Penneys.

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      • You are most welcome! I clearly have not been poking around as much as I should be…this was a lovely reminder of days gone by. Is it not sometimes those childhood memories that bring out the best?

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      • AS you can tell, I treasure my childhood memories, most of which are happy and pleasant. I also like sharing them because I find, old as I am, many people still relate to my adventures. I have a family reunion coming up and much of the time will be spent in storytelling because childhood memories do, as you say, bring out the best.

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  5. I have no recollection of either the tumblers or the little red wagon here in the UK – we had frosted glass tumblers in various colours, often with pictures on the sides, and various push-toys like horses and dogs on wheels –but oh boy do I ever remember and miss the sound or a rotary mower! I mentioned that to my husband just a few days ago as something I miss and will always associate with childhood summer days. Did you have a paddling pool or any kind? That’s another thing I remember. Lovely post, thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your interesting comment, Val. I didn’t have a paddling pool when young, but my two little brothers did. And my Great Aunt Bertha had frosted glasses with pictures on the sides that I liked. I’m so glad I’m not alone in enjoying the sound of a rotary mower. Even after the advent of gas-powered mowers, my father-in-law claimed if your kept the blades sharp on a rotary mower, they were as efficient and didn’t create noise pollution.

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  6. I remember those tumblers. I loved the blue one. The kids down the street and I played with the wagon, trying to push it so fast that it would flip over when you had to turn. If it flipped, someone else got to ride and you had to push. We never thought about the inherent danger in that game. Several years ago, my wife bought a new push-by-hand reel mower. She likes to use it in the summer. Thanks for jogging the memories Janet !!

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  7. Thanks again Janet. You encapsulate so much in so few words.
    I can remember the aluminium tumblers – ours were a “picnic ser” and could be stacked in a leather case with a zip up the side. But the butter churn and the wagon were outside my city childhood in Sydney. We did have a push lawn mower, but I never pushed it.
    I’m glad to have left the insecurity and anxiety of my younger self behind, but would like my body and my memory to be a it more responsive than they are.

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    • And another thought. I have seen the wagons, but “billy carts” we’re the norm here – usually made from fruit boxes, wheels often purloined from an old pram. These would be raced down the streets. Dads usually helped in making them. If I can find a photo and work out how to include it in a reply I will post one.

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      • I think we had something similar here called soap box derby cars that boys built, with their Dads’ help and raced. I would enjoy seeing a photo if you can manage it, Sally, then I would know for sure if your billy carts were similar to our soap box derby racers.

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    • I’m sure that, as a child, I would have envied your fancy picnic set of tumblers. I, too, never pushed a lawnmower, but then my brothers never had to clean the bathroom. I think I would have preferred to mow.

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  8. Wonderful post! The lawnmower reminded me of my father, in the eighties we had one and didn’t go electric until after he died when mum couldn’t push it anymore. Incidentally as Zombie and I have grass the size of two car parks we still use a push mower, which we found at a farmers market for about $5. Great deal!

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  9. Dear Janet, Although we’re on opposite sides of the planet, we share many early memories. Those cold tumblers we used to take on picnics, the rotary lawn mower and the unobserved play are all part of my childhood. Thank you for reminding me of those cherished times. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m always amazed by how similar childhoods are, no matter where lived. I like your term, unobserved play, and think it is the best way to play when young. I have so many more memories of it than of play organized and supervised by adults. I’m glad my words reminded you of your own cherished times, Barbara.

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  10. Boy! Did that bring back memories.

    We didn’t have the aluminum tumblers. We used cleaned jelly glasses so we couldn’t go just anywhere we wanted when we had something to drink. Usually we were confined to our chairs at the kitchen table gawking out the window.

    Our pull wagon wasn’t a Radio Flyer but it was a big cumbersome thing. Neither my little brother or I used it all that much, preferring our Schwinn tricycles and bikes.

    We didn’t churn butter seeing that we lived in southeast Denver, but we visited a cousin often who had a ranch on the western slope near Ridgeway. Bruce would make homemade ice cream sometime during our two-week stay every summer.

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    • Our cows — we usually had only two or three milkers — didn’t supply enough cream for us to have both butter and ice cream. We children would have preferred a daily diet of ice cream, but Mom and Dad preferred butter and made ice cream only for for special occasions like Christmas or when our cousins from Provo came to stay with us. My brother saved the money he earned working farmers’ crops to buy a Schwinn bicycle. He let me ride it when I was appropriately humble in my asking. I’m glad my words brought you memories, Glynis.

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    • You know, Neil, I picked a couple of tumblers up at an antique store a few years ago, and drinking from them didn’t seem as wonderful as it did when younger. Maybe because Joel didn’t care which color I chose.

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  11. Janet, you’re so cute sitting in your Red Flyer wagon, and I think you still look like your cute younger self. .
    My dad worked at the Nevada test site and we lived 45 miles away in the desert in an 8×30″ trailer. My brother and I attended a 2 room school with constant bomb drills and we even wore name-embossed dog tags. On “testing days” we watched the cloud drift towards Utah, where you lived.
    On a cheerier note, milk poured from a glass bottle into my purple tumbler was heavenly cold. I loved laying in my red wagon and reading or watching drifting clouds. Once again, your wonderful memories bring back forgotten times. .

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mary, were you frightened by the drills, dog tags, and clouds? Several readers here and on Facebook said the drills frightened them;it seems dog tags and clouds would have added to that fear. I also didn’t realize how many people felt the same fondness for those tumblers as I did. Such a simple thing that brought such pleasure to childhood. Thanks for the detailed comment that describes a bit of the childhood of my dear friend Mary.

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      • Janet, I don’t remember being as frightened of the drills as I was the wild burro that bit me when I tried to ride it. Like most children, I think, I took my clue about danger from my parents and they discouraged unreasonable fears .. of the unknown, storms, the dark, etc. ..and I’m grateful. I do remember my Dad’s outrage about a Life Magazine article that showed a Utah farmer standing next to his dead flock of sheep . “What about the people, what’s it doing to them?” The tests were always planned when the wind would push the cloud towards Utah and not Las Vegas.

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      • Strange, Mary, but I remember my mom saying the same thing about the dead sheep. I think you were fortunate to have parents who discouraged unreasonable fears. I don’t remember that happening in my childhood, and I emerged from my childhood with a few fears: being alone in the house after dark, snakes, spiders. It was Bill’s dad, Ned, who, in talking to Bill’s sister Cathy about hers, helped me discard mine. Did you see Carolyn W.’s comment about you on my Facebook page? She’s a fan.

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  12. Our school still had black-out curtains from the war, every room a portrait of our young queen, (now 90), we had no wagon, but harnessed the dog to a wash tub, to pull us through the snow, the beach and farm were our playground. We did not have tumblers, nasty pineapple shaped plastic cups, and for out side, melmac, from the “Duz” box. The only photo of my siblings and I, we are posed on the manure spreader. I to, miss that bewildered little girl..awesome post, thank you Janet.

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    • So good to hear from you, Sheila. I’ve been thinking about you and worrying about Canada and Vancouver and fires and disaster. Now you pop up and make me laugh about a washtub sled and posing on a manure spreader.Even Bob, our master of destruction, didn’t think of harnessing our dog to a wash tub. How clever you were! I remember melmac, having dined on it so often the surface of the plates were scratched and marred by our eager forks and knives. As always, your comments are a joy to me.

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      • All joy back, Janet, we are aways from the fires, but oh the mess in Northern Alberta!, The dry is a worry here. The street folk below my window are playing harmonica, fiddle, and banjo, between arguing who is the biggest “Effing Alcoholic”, hope they decide soon…all well and normal here.

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  13. What a little poppet you are and I’m sure within the years of life the youngster that is you can be recalled within a moment, especially by those things that trigger our memories: smells, music and photographs. Lovely post … again. I look forward to your posts as they’re always a surprise.

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    • I like the idea that my posts surprise you, QP. That’s good. I also love the word poppet and have since I first read it in some bit of literature long forgotten. It seems like such a perfect word. You are so correct about the power of our senses to transport us to where and what we used to be. It’s always good to hear from you.

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  14. The problem that I have when I read you, Little Buddy, is that I always have to schedule a good portion of my morning to relish in the beautiful memories that you make for us and then before I know it, it’s lunch time and I haven’t done my housework! As usual, you transport me to a part of my past that was fun and comfortable….MY red wagon was never used to shield me from snow balls – smart of you kids to use it that way. I did, however, use it as my “garden wagon” – until the wheels fell off! And those tumblers – I didn’t quite connect with them until you described their colors…then I SAW them, perfectly! Each of your little “snippets” are precious, homey stories for me that I so cherish, Janet. I’m so blessed to have found you, dear friend…so very blessed. Thank you for sharing your talent with the rest of us…. ❤

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    • I appreciate your unflagging support and enthusiasm for my writing, Lucie, and feel equally blessed by your writing and by our status as friendly readers for one another. Tumblers in jewel tones and red wagons; it doesn’t take much to stir childhood memories, especially for writers, methinks. And I like the way you call me Little Buddy. Since I turned 10, no one has ever called me little. Feels good!!

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  15. Hi Aunt Beulah
    I have read your wonderful story recalling fond memories of your childhood, it amazes me that there were so many similarities to many of the things I too remember, even though we live across the other side of the world. Also many of the people commenting took a little trip down memory lane with your story.
    We also had a push lawnmower, my Mum made all my clothes until I too started babysitting and every cent I earned I wasted on clothes, shoes, even a little bit of makeup like lippy and mascara. Surprised Mum let me wear it, I must have done some sweet talking. We used to have milk in bottles delivered to our school and we all drank it at recess and also ate an ovaltine pill. Your pill sounds a bit scary Aunt Beulah, loved it that so many people all had their favourite color tumbler. We had a dairy farm for a few years and Mum made butter, tasted so good on home made bread. We will never see our younger selves again, but we will never forget her either. I look forward to your stories and once again looking at the following you have, we all love the beautiful, always interesting, jolly, amazing ride you take us on everytime Aunt Beulah. Would have loved a ride in your little red Radio Flyer, fun times I bet!!
    Thankyou I love it!!!!
    Big electronic hugs from
    Annie in Australia 🌞 🌴 🌊

    Liked by 1 person

    • You loved my post; and I love your enthusiasm for it, Annie. Since I started writing my newspaper column and then my blog, I’ve been amazed at how people from around the world and of younger ages relate to my memories of my childhood and thoughts about living well and aging well. It has been a most rewarding voyage. But you’re the only reader to respond about homemade butter; I agree with you that homemade butter on Mom’s homemade bread was a treat I haven’t managed to duplicate since. Wan’t it exciting to buy that first tube of lipstick with babysitting money? I think mine was a rather garish color called Passion Pink. I bought some Ben Hur perfume about the same time and when I wore it to a family gathering, my aunt told me my perfume was a bit overwhelming. I don’t know if it was the perfume or the liberal dose I had applied. As always, I’m happy when I hear from you, Annie.

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      • Ha ha!! Passion pink lipstick rings a bell to me too Aunt Beulah, I definitely bought pink and my first perfume was just called eau de cologne, it was in a teeny little bottle and Eww! No subtlety about it whatsoever.
        I dabbed it behind the ears and on the wrists, and a bit on my clothes, ha ha!!! I’m certain I made peoples eyes water, my Aunty Molly used to speak through her teeth and advise me that I was far too young for lipstick, mascara and perfume. Its funny how no matter where we are in the world, the life of oneself can parallel that of other young women, those were the days!!
        I have tried all sorts of butter, I can’t eat margarine, someone recently suggested I try and find a brand of butter called Pepse Saya ( I think that’s the correct spelling ).
        It’s wonderful to share stories Aunt Beulah and you articulate them beautifully, thank goodness you had an Aunt Beulah and my middle name is Beulah or I may have never found you.
        Big hugs always from
        Annie in Australia 🌞 🌴 🌊

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      • Yes, Annie, Aunt Beulah did indeed give me another gift when we became blog friends. Your comments are so lively and amusing, a joy to read just like your blog. My favorite line in this one is “Aunty Molly used to speak through her teeth and advise me that I was far too young for lipstick, mascara and perfume.” I can see her clearly!

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  16. I love the photos of you and the Radio Flyer. How cute!
    Believe it or not, I still have a hand-push mower and I used it—with some effort—just a couple weeks ago.

    These remembrances of times past and things missed are priceless, Janet.
    And, concerned as I am with the passage of time, I especially appreciated your final two sentences. I once heard this quote: “At this very moment, you’re as old as you’ve ever been, and as young as you will ever be.” So, I guess that means we should celebrate our “youth-of-the-moment”??

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    • Thanks for sharing that great quote with me, Rita. I copied it, saved it, and will use it sometime I”m sure; maybe when I celebrate my “youth of the moment” along with you. I admire you for pushing a mower; I love listening to them but am not so crazy about pushing one.

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  17. Reblogged this on It's All Good and commented:
    I loved this; you made me remember and also had a good laugh. Little did we know how we would cherish those memories down the road many years later. I also remember getting peanut butter in retro tumblers, floral towels in laundry detergent, and gold rimmed plates and cups in Quaker rolled oats. My mother made aprons from flour sacks which had tiny colourful flowers on them. Thanks for the memory. It was a joy to read. xx

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    • I’ve been without the internet in my house for several days, Laurel. Some problem with our service provider who couldn’t get a technician to us right away. It is amazing how time slower down when we were divorced from our technology for several days. I think I reconnected with my younger self a bit as I spent more time outdoors, reading, and conversing.

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  18. I am 55, and have only recently begun feeling as if I’ve ‘found myself’. Each of your posts resonate with me and I know I will now be eagerly awaiting more. I’m so glad I found your blog.

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    • I, too, am glad you found my blog,Tammi,and I will visit yours soon. I think one of the great gifts of aging is beginning to better understand ourselves. It’s nice to be found, isn’t it? I look forward to our becoming blog friends.

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