Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Happy Birthday Mom

Mom was born 83 years ago on March 25, 1932

I don’t think I can adequately describe Mom.  She was very direct, very proud, and very protective.  The stories about Mom protecting the family are too many to relate.  But to illustrate the point, think of the story she liked to tell, about some neighbor kids teasing me and John.  She came out of the house, into the backyard waving a large, silver butcher knife.  She told the kids she was going to “cut their damn ears off” if they didn’t stop.  They stopped.  Or, when the Hislop family reunion came around, Uncle John liked to tease the kids and my brother John was afraid of being teased. 

And Mom told brother John to just avoid Uncle John because Uncle John was “just an old blowhard” and to not pay attention to him.  And that was fine, until brother John repeated it to Uncle John’s face.  Mom choked on the peanuts she was eating.

Mom and Dad got married in November of 1953 and had a good life until Dad died in 2007.  In the early years, Dad liked to go out drinking with his buddies.  After a short time, Mom made Dad transfer out of Idaho.  She gave him a choice, either keep drinking with his buddies or stay married to her.  After they moved to Salt Lake, I don’t think they ever seriously contemplated moving back.  Just another example of Mom protecting her family.

There is no doubt Mom and Dad loved each other.  The five years between Dad’s death and Mom, she talked a lot about how much she missed him. 

Mom was a talented woman.  She could play the violin and the organ.  Newspaper reports when she was 16 years old commented on the quality of the recitals she presented.  She was also a pretty good cook, but she didn’t ever enjoy cooking.  I remember the favorite dessert she would make for the Hislop Family reunion was a cherry cheese cake.  Very few people ever got a slice of the cheese cake because it was gone so quickly.  Pizza from hand-tossed pizza dough, and lasagna with fresh sausage, ham and pepperoni tossed in, were just a couple of her dishes.  Unfortunately, as she got older she stopped cooking.  To her, after so many years of cooking for seven, a good meal came from one of several restaurants in the area.  I think Olive Garden was high on her list in the years before she died.

Mom was talented and encouraged her children.  She was very protective of us all.

Anyway, just some memories of Mom.  Happy Birthday Mom.  

Monday, March 23, 2015

Nicknames Are Interesting

For years the family has marveled at the multitude of nicknames we have had for each other.  Inevitably the nicknames would be credited to Mom and Dad.  I won’t go into any of the names we had for each other, because I don’t want to embarrass anyone.  After all, you probably know as many embarrassing facts about me as I about you.  The threat of mutual embarrassment is an excellent deterrent. 

I want to share one set of nicknames for Mom and Dad.  I found this particular nickname in the letters they sent to each other when Dad was working out of town on the railroad.  Dad was stuck in Ogden, Utah or Idaho Falls, Idaho.  Mom was living in Nampa. 

I don’t know where it comes from.  I had never run across this before.  Mom and Dad called each other “chicken.”  A letter from Dad in July of 1953 starts off with the greeting, “Dear Janie, Hi Chicken.”  In a letter dated a few weeks later, in the body of the letter Mom writes, “I miss you so much chicken.”

I am not exactly sure what this says about Mom and Dad.  But, I thought it was interesting.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Food and Dad: An Interesting Combination

Another story Dad liked to tell related to how poor they were growing up.  During the Depression, whenever there was a dinner to be served and not enough fired chicken to go around, Grandma would call the kids into the kitchen and instruct them that would not take any chicken for dinner.  If they were asked why they weren’t eating the chicken they were supposed to respond that they really didn’t like the taste of chicken.  According to Dad, Grandma always chose to eat the neck because that was one of the least desirable pieces of chicken.  But in reality, Dad maintained that it always had a lot of good tasting meat on it.

Dad had some interesting food memories.  He hated homemade bread.  He grew up eating butter sandwiches with two thick slices of homemade bread and a slather of butter.  He grew to really hate homemade bread.

Something I never quite understood.  He hated pork.  He would gladly eat bacon and ham.  But I don’t think we ever, or rarely, had a pork roast at home.

Oh well, just some random thoughts.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Grandma Brubaker: Dynamite in a Small Package

I didn’t ever really know Dad’s mother.  By the time I was born, we were living in Utah and we got to Idaho once each year to visit.  I only remember Grandma as being a sick lady that suffered seriously from Parkinson’s Disease.  Most often, we saw her when she was in the hospital.  She died when I was ten years old.  From the stories I have heard, she may have been small, or short in stature but she was very feisty.  I think of her when I remember the cliché: “dynamite comes in small packages.”  

Dad told us that Grandma was a small woman, very short, probably didn’t measure over five feet tall.  She would chase her children with a broom because she could never get close enough to them to really smack them for whatever crime they might have committed.  And, these boys were very close to juvenile delinquents.  Uncle Pat, according to Dad, was once thrown out of the Catholic School because he kept spitting on the floor.
Grandma could never punish her sons because they would run away.  But they had to eat.  So each night, when they sat down for dinner, she would smack them in the head.  “What was that for?” they would ask. 
“I don’t know,” she said.  “But I’m sure you did something to deserve it.”

Mom also remember Grandma.  When Mom was taking lessons to become a Catholic, she was preparing to enter a confessional for the first time.  “Don’t worry Janie,” Grandma said.  “Tell the priest whatever you want.  The rest is none of his business.”

Grandma was dynamite in a small container!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Some Photos From CBI WWII

I am slowly sorting through several photograph collections.  I wanted to share a couple of images taken by my Father-in-Law.  Mark Nider served in the China-Burma-India theater of  World War Two.  He took hundreds of photographs and gave each one a title.  Here are just two.  The first is entitled "Burma" and the second "paddies."  They are interesting photographs.  It will take some time and thought to really understand his collections.  But here is just an example of what he witnessed and experienced.  It also well documents the work that lay ahead for the men that served in this particular area during the war.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Dad's Navy Portrait

My sister Mary sent me this copy of Dad's Navy portrait.  I don't have a date, but I suspect it was done around 1947.  Dad served in the Navy right after high school graduation.  He liked to tell the story about graduating from high school one evening and going down to the Navy enlistment the next morning.  By the time he enlisted the war was over but the draft was still in place.  Dad really didn't want to serve in the Army.  So he enlisted.  The other story about his Navy service, he wanted to serve in submarines but he liked to say that he must have completely failed the psychiatric test because they made him an airplane mechanic!

A detail about his service that not many people know is that he was injured in the Navy.  One day there was an explosion in the hanger Dad was working in.  A piece of flying metal went into his leg.  I was told that he had an ugly scar for the rest of his life.  I was also told the metal stayed in his leg for the rest of his life.  Dad died a few years ago, so I can't (easily) confirm either of these stories.  But, there you go.

Here is Charles Edward Brubaker, Jr. in the Navy!

Monday, March 2, 2015

I Will Try This Again

Okay, it has been almost eight months since my last post.  And, I know I promised to post more often.  Well, I will try this again.  More information to come in the future.  But to start off, I found an interesting quote that sums up family history very well:

“He who has no fools, knaves, or beggars in his family was begot by a flash of lightning." -- Old English proverb.

I will try to post more often in the year 2015.