Tattered Past

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





Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Remember When: The Old West


I've been giving a lot of talks around Phoenix the last few months. I write my bio and introduce myself through my love of the Old West. 

I mention that I was born near Dodge City, Kansas "The Cowboy Capitol of the World."
We then moved about 80 miles east but visited regularly as my grandparents and aunt and uncle lived near Dodge. 

I loved Boot Hill: a western town built to resemble the original town of Dodge City. Back then it was free and you could just roam in and around at your will. I developed many a story while roaming the boardwalks, the Long Branch Saloon and the old museum. 

My family had even lived in Dodge City. I don't know for sure if this was before or after I was born but my sister always told of heading to Boot Hill after school and if she was too late mom would call the security guard and have him track her down and tell her to go home.

One special visit to Dodge City was with my friend. Lydia. She had moved in across the alley from us and we became life-long friends. She went with us one weekend to visit my cousins and we stopped at Boot Hill. 
Here we are in front of the Long Branch Saloon, made famous by the show "Gunsmoke."
We had stick candy and surely a sarsaparilla. It was a great day. My mother and I moved to Arizona soon afterwards and then Lydia returned to Florida with her family.

During Lydia's short stay in Kansas the Old West didn't get into her blood but it runs deep in mine. I am happiest when visiting historical towns, watching re-enactments, and well, just about anything to do with the west. Including writing and research.

Do you have something that has always interested you? Something that is "in your blood" even if your life has led you in a totally different direction? I spent many years doing other things but the era of Wyatt Earp has always been there in the back of my mind and in my heart.

Write about those parts of you that bring a little spark to your heart.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Remember When: Childhood Home


I recently saw a memoir prompt that said to draw a map of a house where you grew up. This is my sister in what we always called "the little house." That wall heater is all we had and it was in the living room. The bedrooms are in the back and although I don't remember it I wonder about how cold it must have gotten in those back rooms during the Kansas winters.

We never had any kind of a/c or cooler. I don't remember ever thinking about it. My aunt and uncle had a window shaker but we never did.
My sketch:
I think when I have some time I'm going to go through the old pictures and see if I can do a better job.

Here's the front of the house:
That's my sister on the left, me and then my mom on the right. My sister was ten years older than me.

What memories do you have of a childhood home?
Could you draw a floor plan?
Where was it and what kind of heating and cooling did you have?













Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Remember When: Song Titles


In my teen years I loved Herman's Hermits featuring Peter Noone. Okay, who am I kidding: I still do.
I just can't resist his smile and they have some of the best songs from that era. One of my all-time favorite songs is "There's A Kind Of Hush." It hit the charts in the spring of 1967 which was when we also moved to Arizona.

In Kansas we had Junior High which was grades seven through nine. Here I was at the end of eighth grade looking forward to becoming a "bigwig" at school and my mother decides to move away. I had to leave one of the best friends I've ever had and was so heartbroken.

To add insult to injury we ended up with a one bedroom apartment so I had to share the room with my mother. And I had to go back to grade school for that last couple of months. So much angst. So much anger.

I still listen to Herman's Hermits in the car. I even got to see Peter Noone perform when I was in college, one good thing about moving to a bigger city, I guess. He's still performing, by-the-way. I love the music from that era and also listen to Gerry and the Pacemakers, the Beatles, Freddy and the Dreamers, Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, Jay and the Americans and the list goes on-and-on.

I made a list of some of the songs from the albums above and gave everybody that list to use as a prompt in my writing group. It was a lot of fun. Some wrote about memories from those prompts, others made a story out of the song title and others wrote about how they didn't like that style music.

Here are some of the song titles:
Listen People
I'm Henry the VIII, I Am
There's a Kind of Hush
Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter
Silhouettes
Wonderful World
The End of the World

What memories do Herman's Hermits or some of their songs bring to mind. What about a short story based on one of these titles.

Now Write!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Swim Lessons


Today a friend posted a photo on Facebook of her granddaughter taking her first swimming lessons. It brought back so many memories.

Living in Arizona, where many homes have pools in the back yard, water safety is a must. Even though we didn't have a pool we decided to start out daughter in swim lessons. The program was called Swimfants and became the basis for many other programs around the state and country.

This is her first swimsuit. I'm not sure how old she is here but you can see I have her propped up with a pillow so she wasn't sitting up on her own. 


We drove to the instructor's house and eventually to a big facility where there were four pools. I'll ever forget one day we were in the locker room and I had her all dressed up in pink and somebody came along and asked HIS name. That was when I first started realizing people don't really pay attention to anything.

Here's she's obviously older by a few months and already swimming on her own. 
I think this was taken at one of the little swim meets the center had.


This was her instructor and founder of the school. The show "That's Incredible" 
did a segment on the swimming infants. Here's part of the filming. 


We went on to Parks and Recreation swim lessons and meets as J. got older.
I remember visiting pools all over the Valley of the Sun. 

She still talks about how the kids used to laugh because they knew their parents were 
screaming and yelling them on but they couldn't hear a bit of it under water. 

Funny the things we remember.

What memories do you have of swim lessons or competitions?
What about other members of your family?