Tattered Past

Tattered Past: My ongoing journey through genealogy, history, writing, self-exploration and art. ~~~ Rita Ackerman





Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tuesdays With Rita: Life Changes, Graduation

June is the month of Father's Day, weddings and graduation. Isn't it funny how that works? Father's Day I understand, I just wrote an article about the history of the holiday for the Tombstone Times. It is in honor of a Washington State woman's deceased father's birthday. She didn't think it was fair that there was a Mother's Day and not a Father's Day.

Graduation is obvious. The kids got out of school to help on the farm in the summer. I often wonder why we still follow that schedule but that's the way it is. And maybe that also has to do with the brides. The young ladies graduate and it's time to move on. Or was it because travel was easier in the summer? I haven't studied the history of weddings and frankly I enjoyed my October wedding...especially here in Arizona; although we almost got snowed in in Aspen on our honeymoon which would be fine but most of our stuff was still at my sister's in Denver.

But, I digress. I brought up graduation because I was thinking about my sister and how her graduation affected my life. She graduated from Great Bend High School 1961.

 She was 19 and I was 8. It was a time of new beginnings for her and I know she was excited to move on with her life. This is actually one of the few photos where my sister smiled.

With the ten years difference, and no siblings in between, Betty's graduation and leaving home brought major changes to my life, too. Especially when she got married and moved to Colorado a couple of years later.
I had my own bedroom for the first time. Since mom worked full-time I spent a lot of time alone.

It was much later that I realized how much that change affected me. Betty was my idol. She was an artist, selling oil paintings and doing other artistic work while still in high school. She controlled the tv and totally influenced my love for Westerns. She had me convinced I couldn't stand hard-boiled egg yolks...because she didn't like the whites.

Betty always protected me and I could always turn to her. Sure we had our problems as siblings but as the years went on they ironed themselves out. I never became the artist she was. I do like egg yolks and popcorn and fried okra which she always ate just like popcorn.

Here we are on the pink couch I will never forget. Betty was 15 and I was five. Another reason I looked up to her... she had beautiful red hair and got to wear all those wonderful petticoats, full skirts and the other 1950's stuff that we all look back on with great nostalgia. Of course, I didn't realize that until much later either. (Besides thatm she was able to do her own hair by that time. Oh the things my mother did to me.)
 
She was my sister, my sometimes "mom," the artist I wanted to be and she was off living her life long before I even thought about it. Sometimes I miss my sister terribly...sometimes I still feel her near.
 
How did a major change in somebody else's life affect yours? How did you grow from that experience? What things are you still learning from that part of your life?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tuesdays With Rita: First Gifts, Shopping

This ad is from the Great Bend (Kansas) Daily Tribune of October 31, 1961. It was my sister's senior year in high school and I had just turned eight. Gibsons officially opened the first week of November and was the first discount center in my home town. It was out on Washington Street which was also the highway that went through town. I can still remember the "feel" of the store. It was the place where I bought the first gift for my mom...on my own. Or at least the first one I remember.
Mom loved chickens and the color orange. I don't remember if there were any chickens but I got her this very orange toucan hanging planter and it hung over her kitchen sink from that time until the day she died.

Since then it has hung in my bathroom with the same plastic plant that mom had put in it long ago. 

It's odd but I can vividly remember buying this toucan. Of course mom was in the store but in another section. I was on the right hand side and there were plastic flowers and such in the area. I imagine mom wasn't too excited about a toucan but she cherished it and later when we went to Disneyland for the first time it fit in to memories of the Tiki Tiki Room.

What memories do you have of buying a special gift for somebody in your family? Is the item still around? 

Friday, June 17, 2011

How Does Your Garden Grow

It's finally over...my second cataract surgery was Wednesday and now I'm on the road to better sight. I like to take times like this to think of beginnings. Since I can't drive and I'm supposed to be somewhat quiet this seems like a good time to get some projects organized. To think about some articles I want to write and even get a start on some of them.

Meanwhile, life is going on around me.


My garden is growing and we are both looking forward to harvesting zucchini, lettuce, and okra in the morning. The tomatoes are lagging behind but I'm sure they will be worth the wait.


I worked really hard before the surgery to get as many weeds pulled as I could. Now Doug has taken over and I think he is enjoying the peaceful time among the green plants.



About a year ago I took Mary Ann Moss' "Remains of the Day" class. I love these wonderful journals. The yahoo group that came from members of the classes is supportive with sharing of ideas and techniques. We also have various swaps. This week I received ten pages made by other members and now I can't wait to put them in to a brand new ROD style journal.


Always generous other goodies were included with the package of finished pages. Aren't these wonderful bits and pieces of things for future ROD pages or collages?
The huge paper clip cracked me up.

So midst the renewal of my eyes I'm renewing my focus and some of my immediate goals. Are there any changes going on in your life that can be a catalyst for other positive changes?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tuesdays With Rita: Concession Stands

I've been on a cozy mystery reading kick. I've always loved cozies but in recent years I've tried to broaden my reading list. However, I always come back to cozies.

Cozies are just what the name implies. There's a murder off-stage and a group of people, usually friends living in a small town with simple lives that continue on after one of them solves the mystery. Think Agatha Christie and Jessica Fletcher.

Right now I am reading "Writers of the Purple Sage" by Barbara Burnett Smith. I found this on a sale rack quite a while back and of course it caught my attention because it is about a writer's group in the town of Purple Sage, Texas. Besides enjoying the book itself I'm learning some interesting tricks about writing from the characters. I have always wanted to write a cozy. One of those dreams I just never follow up on.

While reading last night this particular sentence stirred some strong memories. The main character, Jolie Wyatt has just arrived at the baseball field to watch her son play.

"I got out of the car and walked across the hard-packed dirt toward the small cinder-block building that served as the concession stand."

Suddenly I was back in the park in Great Bend, Kansas. Just behind the pool and probably near the fields, although I can't remember that detail, was the concession stand. The concession stand was small and usually manned by a high school girl bored out of her mind. She barely had to get off her stool to reach everything on the shelves. I don't remember if the stand was open during big events in the park but I sure do remember stopping paying it a visit.

After swimming in the public pool my friends and I stopped there for a snack to munch on as we walked home. My favorite was a frozen Zero candy bar. I still get them occasionally although but my adult self and my older teeth don't enjoy them as much as I did then.

Did the description of the concession stand jog any memories for you?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tuesdays With Rita: Embracing New Technology

Things in the communication world change so quickly these days. I can't keep up with the names let alone owning or learning all this new technology. I have a plain flip phone and no real desire to move on to whatever is available now.

Today as I was on my way to lunch with a friend I saw a billboard announcing "Qwest is now..." something or other. Oh boy. More changes. As companies change or are bought out not only do we have to deal with new technology but new policies and probably higher rates.


This picture is my great grandmother, Nellie Keith Martin, running one of the first switchboards in Southwestern Kansas. She was a young single mother trying to make her way in the world. Can you believe that chair? Oh, how her back must have hurt at the end of the day.

 The back of the photo shows it was once in a black Victorian style album. The writing is my grandmothers: "Nellie Martin" and then mine "Fowler Meade, 1914" The penciled part I can't make out except for the date of Dec. 24, 1930 or 1936.

What wonders we have seen in our life time. Computers, cell phones, microwaves. We seem to take technology and new things for granted...our society accepts and even demands a constant array of new stuff.

I try to imagine what it was like to get the first telephone in your area. Or the first stove. Or sewing machine. Or electricity. We hear stories of people who wouldn't accept these "new-fangled contraptions" just like some of us don't have the latest iPod or tablet or mobile device or whatever...

Do you know any stories of your family embracing or ignoring new things?