Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Tender Years: Dutch Chocolate and Other Delights




"A grownup is a child with layers on."  -  Woody Harrelson

Peeling back the layers.





In my early years, Mama didn't buy many store bought treats and sweets.  She had the richest recipes on earth and cooked all of our own desserts.  Certainly, I liked some of them early on, but my most favorite thing was chocolate:  deep, rich and dark.   

There were three households in my young days, that always had ready for me, any time I was there, a special store bought chocolate treat.  Today, I am sharing my memories of each of these special people and how special their attention and supply of these treats made me feel.

Aunt Billie,  Mama's sister.  A very special lady in my life, for all of my life.  Virtuous Christian woman personified.  Homemaker, mother of three boys, worked in a secretarial position at one time and owned a fan shop at another.  Clean, neat and impeccable in her appearance, attire and housekeeping.  As perfect as she may sound, she is also just as warm, friendly and easy going.  No haughtiness or putting on airs for her.  She would keep on hand Hershey's chocolate bars.  Quiet often she'd treat me to one.  Never waited for me to ask (asking was frowned upon in children in those days when visiting, be it family or not),   She'd merely offer.  Quite often she'd keep me happy and content at her kitchen table pasting her S&H Green Stamps and others in books for her.  I felt important, helpful and special!  Thank you, Aunt Billie!

In Carthage, our landlord and neighbor, Willie Tompkins, was a kind, friendly and warm woman. With her own daughter all grown up, she treated me more like a niece than the tenet's child.  Her and mom grew quite close.  Willie made me a sparkly, silky red and white checked dress that had a huge red net petticoat underneath.  I remember wearing it to a football game (why? Maybe it was homecoming?)  In the stands I kept wanting to stand up, turn around and look through the cracks in the bleachers at the people walking around underneath.  Daddy told me to sit down before the camera came on me and my hiney was on TV for all the world to see.  I doubt if  we were at a game with a camera, but Daddy knew I watched enough football with him, I believed him.  But, I digress.  Back to Willie.  I still have that dress buried down in Mama's old cedar chest.  Willie had tables in her garage. She didn't drive, so on those tables she stored every copy of the Reader's Digest she had ever received!  At that time I couldn't read, but I was awed by this collection and I went on to love the Digest and be an avid reader for most of my years.  I would write a note in my own hand or draw pictures at the end of  Mama's letters to Willie after we moved away.  Later, I corresponded with her all the way into my college years, when eventually a letter came from her daughter, Sue, explaining Willie had passed on.  Mama would let little me, walk out our back door, across the yard to Willie's back door (for all I know, Mama called her in advance or stood on the back steps watching me the whole way).  When I'd get there, she'd invite me in and we'd sit at her kitchen table.  She bring out a bag of Oreo's (which she couldn't eat, I believe she was diabetic) and pour me a little glass of milk. We'd talk and I'd eat cookies and drink milk.  I liked to take them apart, eat all the white fillings and then come back and eat the cookie parts.  Not because I loved the filling, but because I loved that dark, almost bitter chocolate.  (I'd buy a bag of cookie only parts if they sold them!)  I suppose these times were my first glimpse of independence.  Willie made me feel welcomed, loved and special. Thank you, Willie!

Daddy's brother, Uncle Perra, and his wife, Aunt Elizabeth were the only of  Daddy's family that lived in our home town.  Mama and Daddy would often go over to their house and play rollicking games of Wahoo.  At times they'd let me move their marbles and later on they'd sometimes let me play along with them.  All of Daddy's family was a little louder and more animated than mother's side, but equally loving and warm.  Uncle Perra would always make a show about telling Aunt Elizabeth to give me a glass of that milk from the brown cow.  I have no clue if they kept it on 
hand just for kids, or if they enjoyed it to, but there is nothing any better for a chocolate lover than Borden's Dutch Chocolate Milk! So rich, so velvety smooth and definitely chocolate!  I wrote another entry in another challenge about my own Wahoo board. Aunt Elizabeth took me downtown one day to the drugstore and bought it for me.  I felt special and excited to have my own game the grownups played!  Uncle Perra was the first of my uncle's to pass away.  So, I don't have many memories of him except for those Wahoo games and teasing about the brown cow.  My times with Uncle Perra and Aunt Elizabeth made me feel "bigger" than my years, special, and loved.  Thank you, Uncle Perra and Aunt Elizabeth!
What about you?  Who in your young world made you feel special in some way?  How'd they do it?  

Thanks for sharing!

Barbara

36 comments:

  1. I don't have any strong recollections, but I enjoyed your reminiscing.

    Keith Channing A-Zing from http://keithkreates.com

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  2. Let Oreo know you want only the cookie part.
    Food does bind people and memories. People used to sit down and eat dinner together for a reason.

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  3. My Nonna (Italian Grandmother). We only saw her once every few years, but it felt like yesterday :)
    Suzanne from
    Suzannes Tribe

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    1. That's sweet! We lost Daddy's mama when I was still very young. My strongest memory of her with her apron on coming towards me with a smile and her arms open wide as I ran to her.

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  4. I recall visiting an aunt in the hospital. She was dying from leukemia. But she always had a stash of treats in a drawer for us kids when we came to visit.

    Mary
    Literary Gold - Free and Bargain priced books
    Jingle Jangle Jungle

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    1. She must of been a true gem! Thinking of others when she had so much to deal with, takes a special person.

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  5. probably my mom--she's really good at making you feel special

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    1. That's so sweet! My mom could, too. When she'd bake her chocolate pie, she'd bake a little one in a small skillet she had, just for me!

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  6. My grandma always kept soda in the house, for when we were just visiting. (Not so much when we lived there) Great-grandma always shared her Werthers:-)

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    1. Oh, I remember people seldom keeping sodas in the house. That was a treat when you went out. In fact, my sisters taught me to ask for a coke when I first started talking, so they could take the car to get me a coke!

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  7. My Uncle Eddie always went out of his way to entertain me. He was very intelligent, and quite funny.

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    1. I'm sure he enjoyed having you around as much as you enjoyed being around him!

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  8. I barely remember those G&H stamps. I was very young when they must have stopped being given out.
    Oddly enough, I was never very familiar with most of my aunts and uncles growing up. Most of them had moved out of Milwaukee and I rarely if ever met them. But my grandmother lived near enough and we'd go visit her once or twice a year. She owned a pizza restaurant so we'd also stop in, get a pizza for dinner, then stay till after close associating with the family. She passed away in my early 20's and I regret to this day not visiting her more often when I had the chance.

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    1. What a fun, special way to visit Grandma! We all think we have all the time in the world at that age. We have to simply cherish the memories we have.

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  9. What a sweet post. You brought tears to my eyes. These were very sweet things for these folks to do for you. You were obviously a very loved little girl. :)

    I loved putting the S&H Greenstamps in the books for Mama. It was lots of fun to do that and then go to the store to redeem them.

    I also remember it being a big no-no to ask someone for something if we went to their house. If they offered, it was one thing, but if we asked, that was a spanking coming!

    My Grandma made me feel special. I was a mini-her...looked just like her. We were/are both on the short side (not even 5' tall). People would tease me and she'd tell them that I was just fine because this is how God made me. Grandma's sister, my Aunt Mae, also made me feel special. I got to stay with her during the summer time some years, without my siblings coming along. It was me and her. It was great. My granny made me feel special in that she told me the hurts of her heart. She gave me an understanding of the real her that not many others knew. With that understanding, she taught me how to love those that seem unlovable (or at least unapproachable). It made me feel special that she trusted me with the deepest secrets of her heart. These were the beautiful women in my life. I sure do miss them something fierce.

    Thanks for sharing such sweet stories with us!

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    1. You are welcome! I'm thrilled someone is enjoying them. What a close and wonderful and unique relationship you had with your Grandma!

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  10. I had a sitter, who shared making homemade clay out of household items.. she was a sweet lady, I have some many good influences in my life now... I don't know where to start. Very Nice Post... but you know that, that's why you posted it! Right!

    Welcome in the letter "D"... thank you!
    Jeremy [Retro]
    AtoZ Challenge Co-Host [2016]

    Stop over and find a free "SIX STRINGS: BLOGGING AtoZ CHALLENGE" Here: http://www.jmhdigital.com/

    HOLLYWOOD NUTS!
    You know you want to know if me or Hollywood... is Nuts?

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    1. Thank you, Jeremy! My sister, Edna, used to make the homemade playdough for the kids.

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  11. What great stories. You should find that dress and take a picture of it so we all can see it.

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    1. I know exactly where the dress is, in the Cedar Chest. But all of my granddaughters videos are piled on top of it. If I find another home for them, I'll do that!

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  12. We didn't have any sweets growing up either. Our special treat opportunity was each summer when we would stay up at my aunt and uncle's cottage and they had HONEY NUT Cheerios!!! We were so wild!! Visiting from the #AtoZChallenge!

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  13. Teacher Miller made me feel special. We called her that because there was another neighbor Miller. When my sister and I knocked on her door she always made time for us and invited us to sit on her Gallery which to me was a screened in porch.

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    1. That's an awesome memory, Paula! Thanks for sharing. She must of been a real lady.

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  14. Sweet stories :) When I stayed with my grandma in the summers, she would give me responsibilities to carry out to help her at home and with visits she would make to people from her church. It made me feel more grown up to have an "important" task to complete.

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    1. Those are some good memories! Your grandma knew how to lead by example.

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  15. Oh, my, what lovely memories these are! I remember all these treats from my childhood too, as well as pasting S & H stamps. My strong childhood food memories involve steamed beet greens sprinkled with apple cider vinegar and sparkling green Mountain Dew in cut-glass juice tumblers.

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    1. I have never had beet greens, lots of greens, but never those.

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  16. I'm a big chocolate lover, too, but I can't really say anyone kept some in stock in case I came over. I remember pasting mama's S&H green stamps in books for her and dreaming of what we might get out of the catalog.

    Fun post!

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    1. I have no idea really if they kept those things just for me, but they made me feel like they did. Seems lots of folks are having fond memories centered around those green stamps.

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  17. My dad's cousin was really supportive of my writing when I was little. He's be eager for my stories and even help me with them. When I wrote about a family of bats, he decided the kid should be called, "Son of a Bat!"

    I've never forgotten that. :)

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    1. That's too funny! Every kid needs a "cheerleader" in their life.

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  18. When I was growing up we had fruit for dessert, more often than not. I grew up in California, land of plentiful fresh fruits. And, my dad worked in a cannery so he was often gifted fresh fruit or dented cans that he'd bring home for us. The other, and more desired dessert, was whatever my mom bought at the Dolly Madison Outlet store. She always got day old bread but once in a while there were also Twinkies or fruit pies!

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    1. Notice how everything seems more special if you don't have it all the time? Seems these days everyone indulges themselves all the time until there is nothing "special" anymore.

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So glad you stopped by! Come 'round any time. ~ Barbara

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