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Saturday, May 30, 2009

In her Own Words: Marge the Sarge

(I've put this off long enough. What follows is a partly-completed series of notes on her life that my mother wrote sometime in the 1980s. There are 58 numbered pages, of which 2 are missing. All written by hand in pencil, this is the fullest account we'll ever have. Although I know some of her dates to be way off, and some of the truth is played with, I'm not going to edit or correct anything. These are Marge's words as she wrote them. Nothing has been altered, even for spelling. I'll post this in several parts, as it's long, and as I can stand to type it up. I take absolutely no responsibility for what she wrote, for any lies or stories. I'll be sending the original to the family archivist once it's done.)

My first memories are from the hamlet where I was born. It was a very cold-snowy morning on March 16, 1924 7:30 a.m. when another small squall of a baby was heard in the small farmhouse alongside the Delaware River in Horton NY. Laura Mae Day Hendrickson + Fredrick Hendrickson had number 7 child- me! There was no doctor present- as the women those days delivered their children with the help of their mothers and female neighbors as I have been told. My mothers mother -and my Dad- and one other relative were with my mother at the time of my arrival in this vale of tears.

From word of mouth -handed down to each generation I was told a little of the history of my parents. My mother was the daughter of Oly+John Day. I was never told if they were born in the USA but I assumed that they were- and that their parents had been here for at least 1-2 generations before them -Grandmother Oly-had -had 2 sons and 1 daughter (my mother) by Granddad Day- who had passed on some years before my birth. She was at the time of my arrival married to my father's oldest brother Alvie and they had one daughter-Helen-

On my father's side his father was Joseph Hendrickson whose people had also been here for sometime. My Granddad Joseph- was the first white man to settle the town of Livingston Manor, NY- where theres still a placque to him- He married the daughter of a local Indian Chief "Big Feather" and Grandmother was called Little Flower- the Indians usually name their babies after the first thing the mother sees at the time the baby is born. Grandmother had a sister named White Flower-my great aunt. Who I was to learn much later is my spiritual guide along with her husband Brown Bear. From the Shoshone tribe- My Dad's parents had 4 sons and 1 daughter of which my Dad was the youngest.

My parents had 6 children before me. The first was Edith who died at around 1 1/2 from a bee sting in her mouth. Then came Madeline (Nettie as we all called her) Bert, Roy, Elvina, Thelma who died at birth- and now #7 me.

My Dad being a half-breed found it hard to get work off the farm- But about a half mile from the farm there was what everybody called the Acid Factory. I have no idea what was made there. Dad was working there along with the farmwork at the time I was born. Our house was very old. It had 3 small bedrooms-living room + kitchen+ of course no electricity- running water or bathroom- the boys slept in one BRM- the girls in the second- and mom-dad and the youngest child at the time in the 3rd B.R. There was an outhouse- with the infamous 3 holes at the back of the house near the Delaware River- and we got our water from the well or from the river when the well was low. The house was heated by a woodstove in the kitchen used also for cooking and baking and a pot belly stove in the living rm for heat- and every Sat. nite baths in the wash tub. We had an old wind up victrola with one record called the "Two Black Crows. that we kids listened to over + over.

The farm was made up. of 2 cows for milk chickens for the table-and the eggs- 3- or 4 pigs that were butchered in the fall and put in big wooden barrels in brine to get the family through the winter months. Along with the deer my father hunted. He used to trap rabbits as well- and my mother and older kids of the family caught fish mainly trout and eel from the river- these were our main supply of food. Along side the house was a sandhole where we younger kids played. Dad had a very old car- a model. T. that was used very rarely I was playing in the sandhole one day- and had my legs up over the top. As I was laying on my belly- Dad came in with the car -and ran over my legs as he didn't see me- I didn't get badly hurt as I got up and ran into the house.

Our clothes were all made by our mother and grandmother on an old peddle machine or sewn by hand. Material was used over and over handed down from oldest to youngest- + from other branches of the family and neighbors.

Our veg were always grown in a small piece of ground near the barn- and whatever wild- leeks etc that we found in the woods.

About a 1/4 mile from the farm was an old covered wooden bridge going across the Delaware to the main road- that led to the general store- gas station- post office- and the one rm school house that all the kids from the surrounding farms went to. We kids used to love to play hide and seek in the covered bridge- and after dark- scare the Dickens out of each other. It used to scare us half to deathwhen the gypsies would make their camp on a field on the other side of the river from our farm- as we were told that if we were bad we would be sold to the Gypsies. Boy were we kids ever glad to see them pack up and move on. In those days. the KKK was all over. And we used to see them ride down the main road in their white sheets- that made them look like ghosts- headed to who knows where probably to their meetings or whatever else they were up to. They threatened my Dad a few times as half-breeds + Indians seemed to be on their hate list too. I never saw a black person around those parts- so guess that the Indians +half-breeds were the only ones they had to pick on.

On Aug. 3- 1926 the Hendrickson's had another addition. My brother Donald- we lived in Horton until he was about a year old- then Dad moved us to a bigger farm in Franklin Depot NY which was about 6 miles from the town of Sidney Center and my grandmother Oly lived on a farm about ten miles away. Sidney Center was made up of- the Cheer Up General Store- a feed store- post office- 2 churches- Baptist + Methodist- a larger school- a steam train station. The rest of the town were homes and surrounding land- were farms- most of them bigger than the ones in Horton- our farm was about 1/2 mile of dirt road off the main hard road going into town. We were what was know as tennant farmers. There was a good sized orchard with apples and cherry trees- a good piece of land for vegs- about 12-15 cows - a bull- and Dad got chickens ducks- pigs and a team of horses- the house was a little bigger than the one in Horton- there was 2 bedrms upstairs- big rooms- 2 bedrooms off the living rm- and another off the kitchen- so we kids had a bit better sleeping quarters. There was a pump sink in the big kitchen- a big wood stove- for cooking baking + heat- and a big pot bellied stove in the living rm. There was an outhouse in the backyard near a small creek. And a little furthur out the barn and chicken house + pigsty- here life was a bit better- Mom still washed clothes in a couple of big tubs in the backyard- we still chopped wood for the fires- and grew our own veg- plus we had a cornfield- across the creek in the back- and the dirt road that went up a hill were woods where Dad + the older brothers hunted for deer - rabbits- muskrats- which they skinned an tanned the hides and sold- an once in awhile a bear. So our food supply was better along with the farm animals- Mom + Dad both baked bread and pies as we kids picked apples cherries and wild strawberries blackberries an blueberries that grew wild around there. We were also closer to my mothers relatives who lived in that area. Dad made the necessary money at the lumber yard about 5 miles from home- by drawing logs out of the woods to the sawmill where he also operated the saws. This money went for the things that had to be bought such as flour -sugar and stuff that wasn't grown or hunted. Still our clothes were made by hand. Shoes were few and far between and only the members of the family like Mom + Dad and the oldest kids had them.

(Ok, I need a break from typing and this story. I'll be back with part 2; we're only in page 7 God help us.)

This was where #9 was born another brother Alvie Earl- in Nov of 1928- the usual way- no doctor- my own birth certificate wasn't made out til about a week after I was born-

Dad raised fighting roosters on this farm which we kids hated with a passion. He trained them by teasing them with his hat until they would attack- then they were puit into competition with the other farmers around the area. They would attack us when we were in the yard.

Here is where I started school. My older brothers + sisters attended the same one room school housewhich was about 4 miles from the farm on the hard road going away from the town. It was named the Chapel Hill School. We walked back and forth -unless Dad or one of the other farmers were going in that direction then we got a lift- usually on hay wagon- we used to stick or toes in the tar bubbles-on the way- so by the time we got to school our feet were pretty dirty. The school had a coat room and a big classroom with a pot belly stove. In the cost room was always a tub of water where all of us had to wash our feet before we were allowed in the classroom. Our lady teacher was very strict. Every morning she made sure she had a good springy switch which was cut from one of the trees in the schoolyard. She never hesitated to use it across our legs- when we got out of line. Each class had its own section of the room to sit- God forbid anybody such slouch at their desk -cause she would come over pull you up on your feet put her knee in the middle of your back and pull your shoulders back After once or twice of that you made darn sure you didn't slouch- whenever or wherever she was around- she gave a prize of a Bilble to the kids who came out on the top of the grade they were in I got one in the second grade, which my parents prized.

(This is gonna be a loooong project. Since I type lefthanded it needs to come out in bits at a time. Unless I have a volunteer from the family who'd like to finish the job. Hint, hint.)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Why Peyton Place Was Written in New England

After 14 years here I'm understanding. When I first moved to a small NE town I was told the cultural difference right away. In NYC if you're a gossip, someone shows up at your door and at the minimum, tells you off. Not so here. If someone gossips here, everyone believes it and sides with the gossiper, and you don't hear about it until the damage has been done. So it goes.

Which explains what has been happening in my life lately. Without grimy detail, a psychotic I once knew and told to fuck off has been the source of lies and gossip about me for some months now. Not the biggest surprise, but annoying nonetheless. And further, my withdrawal from some trendy internetting has fed right into the gossiping under an "AHA!" reasoning, so popular these days to the trendy. This subhuman told tales to some non-friends, they told their friends and so on and so on. It's just come back to me via someone who found themselves hearing this inanity, and suddenly it all made sense. And so now my little town's most reliable gossipers are salivating, most of them men. There's nothing quite as satisfying as "talking shit", as it's so delicately put around here.

The downside is that I'm no longer in shape to beat the hell out of said psychotic. The upside is that I'm just the target du jour, and not only will this stupidity fade away with the next juicy victim, but the people who believed/propagated it will come to know that the source is a chronic liar and complete mess. Unfortunately, seeming intelligence doesn't guarantee sanity. Would that it did.

I look forward to a happier resolution than the victims in Peyton Place had, but I understand why it was written up here now. As for those who believe the word of a psychotic, Gods bless them, because they're not gonna get my friendship back.

Cheryl Barnes sings the hell outta this song:

And apart from my post altogether, please take a moment to watch this:

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Memorial Days

We always went to the cemeteries on Memorial Day. My Dad's mother, grandmother and uncle, all buried at Greenwood, the famous Brooklyn burial ground. Then we'd pile back into the Packard and go on to Evergreen, where his father and father's father's graves are. We'd tend the grave, note how much more sunken, leave a geranium or flag, maybe take a photo or two. At some point we'd get to my Uncle's house in Flatbush and have a meal and that would be where the discussions about the Wars came up.

Uncle Bert served in the Army in WW1, with the 69th Division, NY's "Fighting Irish". He worked for HQ, bicycling around France, delivering maps and documents to the field operators and operating short wave radios at the ripe old age of 19. Though he was MIA for several weeks and turned up in a hospital with mustard burns all over him, he was otherwise somewhat unscathed. Dad served in the Air Force in WW2, but being so old at that point (36) he stayed stateside, in supply operations out of Orlando, Fla. My mother also served in the Women's Marine Reserves, stationed in the Pentagon, with the horrific job of compiling and sending home the personal effects of those killed. And my 3 older brothers enlisted in the Army in the 1960s; Johnny went to Germany, Tommy to Korea, Billy to VietNam. I was and am still, the only one in generations not to have served. That would've been different if my friend Patty-Atty hadn't become pregnant. We were in the process of joining the Air Force on the buddy plan when the rabbit died.

I have a built-in reverence for soldiers and veterans. I have lived with the former soldier, the soldier in an active war, the shell-shocked returned soldier. My childhood friends had brothers and even sisters in Vietnam. We watched Eyewitness News every night, searching the jungle footage just in case. We looked for letters, sent packages, missed them at holidays, talked about them in the schoolyard, brought things they sent home to our Show and Tells. I was particularly attached to a silk "Sister" pillow sham with yellow fringe and a jewelry box my brothers had sent me. Not only were they from my brothers, they were rare beautiful things from a foreign land. When we knew they were coming home on leave, we'd tear up a bedsheet, write "Welcome Home!" on it and hang it out the front windows. There was even a kinship among the youngers at home. If two officers in dress walked up a street in the neighborhood, every kid knew it and what it meant, and thanked God if it wasn't your door they were headed to. Kids with olders in the service may be vile enemies until those moments. But the next day at school we checked that we were all present and accounted for.

While I have my opinions of war, especially unnecessary and unjustified ones, that never changes how I feel about soldiers and vets. I'm grateful and proud of them, respect their call to duty to the nation, and brag about my brothers' and parents' service at every opportunity. In fact, my sister-in-law is just finishing her tenure as Post Commander of a Legion Post next month. She did a helluva job, in spite of some nasty grumpy old men, and is going on to a higher position. She's an Air Force vet. Brag, brag.

And so I feel no conflict in criticizing our government, how our military is run, what they make our soldiers go thru nor how crappily they've been treating our vets. It all sucks. This invasion and occupation sucks. I hate everything about it. But not the soldiers. In most cases, they're just regular people doing what they have to do, what they swore to do, what their country insists they do. I'm proud of them for making that sacrifice of time, money, comfort, their homes and families. They deserve my respect, they get it. But I don't want them to sacrifice their lives and sanity in this present war. I want them all home. Now. Yesterday. President Obama, end this insanity.

It's Memorial Day. Honor the fallen, remember them, comfort the grieving. If you can, adopt a soldier. They need pens, plain stationery and baby wipes pretty badly over there.

And if anybody comes across an Army "Sister" pillow sham with yellow fringe, please let me know. I wore the original out long ago and would really love to have one again.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

To Get One Thing Done

The older I get, the more life reminds me of a framed puzzled. You know the kind, where there are 15 pieces and 16 spaces and you move the pieces around to get them in the right spot. You always have to move every piece to get one piece in place, then two, and so on. It gets tedious and frustrating and can feel hopeless and stupidifying [is that a word? ; } ].

Nothing on earth freaks me out more than frustration. Death, destruction, financial ruin I know how to cope without much ado. But when I see a solution to a problem and the key element is in a framed puzzle, my brain implodes and I lose patience altogether.

This isn't just in one instance in my life right now, either. It seems to be a theme that I'm meant to deal with and figure out. Meditation is good, but doesn't stop that nagging "Godammit!" thing every time something new turns into yet another framed puzzle.

This deal has even become an issue in my itsy bitsy apartment. There is no storage space here; one closet in which stands a water heater doesn't do it for 50 years of crap collecting, much less clothing. I've given away more than I own at this point and don't accumulate things on purpose. Even so, my own home is at the point of being a framed puzzle. It's become even more complicated with limited abilities. Where repotting a plant is a 6 or 7 step process for most peep, it's a 26 step project for me.

So, I'm changing things. Change the puzzle and voila! you have space to negotiate. There are limits- I can't make my apartment bigger, but I can get rid of things that have become obstacles. I try to not invest emotions in material things in general, which makes giving them away quite easy. Still I own some things I'd never willingly part with, but those are distilling, refining perhaps, to the useful and the mirth-giving. Clothes that don't fit? Bye! Books I won't read again or have reread too many times? Outta here. This is my mission lately, to live more simply and without impediments. I have plenty of bureaucracy to fulfill any sick need I may have for complexus.

Which gives me a new view of growing older. I was almost grieving at watching my parents all do this over the years. My Father's apartment seemed so Spartan to me when he died and my brother and I cleaned it out. When my Stepfather died 18 months after my Mother, there was little to keep from their house, compared to the years of life and family there'd been. I understand now.

What I've got to guard against is my judgment of people my own age who are still gathering material things. It's in me. A kind of haughty snobbery that somehow I'm maturing faster than they, and they don't "get it" yet. One of my innumerable faults. Just because I don't need a houseful of stuff doesn't make it bad that someone else does. To each their own bliss. There's gotta be a profound jealousy or denial in me that I haven't dug out yet. But I will.

Another tool I'm using is handing the reins over to someone else who can get a thing done faster than I. If something should be done and it's too tough for me, I'll gladly toss the ball to a more capable hand. It never mattered to me that I get credit for an idea or solution, which makes it easier. All that really matters is that the problem, or idea, gets to fruition and resolution. Some sage said that so much more would be done if nobody cared for the credit of its doing. I believe that and keep that in mind as much as possible.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Waiting Worried

The Daily News, my "hometown paper", has reported that 5 US soldiers were killed and another 3 wounded by a fellow soldier in Baghdad's Camp Liberty. This is a major invasion post and also where the soldier I have as a Soldier's Angel, lives. At least I hope he's still alive.

His name is Devin, and I just got my first letter from him, though I've been sending cards and letters and packages since last October. The letter's date is November 2008...and I wonder if he's ever received what I've sent. A friend has told me that her family members haven't received some of the Care Packages they've sent. Which pisses me off no end. Who steals these packages? Is anyone paying attention to this? Where do you even complain about it? The PO says they can't track them once they get to the APO address.

But back to the issue at hand. The military hasn't yet named who was killed or wounded, nor the killer. As Camp Liberty is a big base, I can imagine so many people across the US, including me now, are anxiously awaiting news that their soldier isn't one of the dead. Or, God forbid, the shooter. But all we can do is wait and hope. Devin's due to come home in June. I don't know any of his family or even the town he's from, but my thoughts are with them and him today. I'll update when I hear anything.

It took a few days, while the world got to hear everything but what the shooter's fave beer is, to get the names of the victims. While I'm relieved that Devin wasn't listed, I'm sickened at the whole ordeal.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Busy Days!

The last week has been so busy I've had no block of time to blog. A few thoughts that I want to throw out there until I have time to write proper holding-forths.

Eisegesis runs rampant, particularly among those who don't know what that means. Or its ramifications. Combined with modern day evangelism, it's the worst of times for anyone who holds a thought on religion.

Michael Savage banned from Britain. Now if we could only do it here in the states.

The US population has become indescribably stupid and ignorant. The more I interact with people, or read discussions online, the worse it appears. No wonder we get no respect.

Foreign newspapers/sites are addictive.

We are already past a third into 2009, soon to be halfway. How is that even possible?

Everyone around me is losing their minds over something or other.

It's May 9th and we've had Summer weather for 3 weeks. The first real thunderstorm rolled thru here tonight. As usual for this town, it neither cleared the air nor cooled us down. I need to start looking around for a dryer, cooler climate. If any are left.

Meantime, thank God for small favors, sleep and all forms of escapism.