MV Obsession

My obsession with Martha's Vineyard.. phototography..genealogy and life in general and this and that…


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Rag Tag Daily Prompt: Uncle…

Never had the right challenge to use my favorite picture of my Uncle Steve for, until today. This picture describes him perfectly, a bit of a comic and a mischief maker. All kids loved him because he was pretty much always one himself.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2020/06/12/rdp-friday-uncle/


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Honoring My Great-Grandfather On This Memorial Day 2019…

 Joseph Pettey Littlefield

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My great grandfather Joseph P Littlefield was injured in the Civil War. He was a member of Co. C, 9th Maine Regiment. He was wounded at the battle of Cold Harbor in Virginia and sent home to Maine to die. He died on Sep 3, 1864 of his massive injuries but also of typhoidal pneumonia. His wife and the 3 oldest of his 8 children died within months of him from it as well leaving my grandfather Charles G Littlefield at age 9 the oldest of the five remaining children. A tragic story and once we learned about it felt compelled to find their graves and honor them. Their small plot is off the beaten track in Rome, Maine we found it and traipsed through the brush to get to it. Worth the trip indeed.  This was very emotional in that Joseph, Martha Jane, Margaret, Adison and Atwood have become very real to us and we feel very close to them.  We weren’t able to bring them flowers but left 5 pennies to indicate we were there and remembering them.

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Take a moment to remember the original reason for Memorial Day and the men and women who fought for, and gave their lives for our country.

 

 


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The Sisters First Christmas…

The sisters first Christmas, 52 years ago.

Patty and Debbie became sisters on Nov 6, 1966 but they did not meet until Dec 21, 1966.

Dec 1966.. Patty & Debbie

Patty was almost 2 1/2 when Debbie was born.   Deb, who was due the end of December arrived 7 weeks early and didn’t come home from the hospital until Dec 21, the first day of winter, 1966.

As you can see from the picture Patty was delighted and happy to be a big sister.  Debbie, I’m sure was happy to finally be home.

Patty was a terrific big sister right from the beginning.  She helped me take care of Debbie and when I would give Deb her bottle Patty and her new dolly would join us.   Her doll was almost the same size as Deb, Debbie had been only 3 lbs when she was born and had to be 5 lbs before she could come home… so yes, she and the doll were almost the same size.

Since it was so close to Christmas when Deb came home I wanted her to be a surprise to her grandparents when they arrived on Christmas morning.   Patty was under instructions from Santa Claus not to tell anyone that her new sister was home, and since the request was coming from the big guy himself she didn’t utter a word to anyone.

However…   my mother called one evening and just at that moment Debbie, who was in the same room with me, began to cry.  Oh oh.   My mother asked if that was a baby and I said no.  She said she didn’t believe me.  She asked again… ‘is that baby home from the hospital?’   I said yes but that I had wanted to keep her a surprise until Christmas.   My mother kept her composure but I could hear the crack in her voice when said how happy she was but that we shouldn’t tell my father… let him be surprised on Christmas morning.

So Christmas morning arrived, along with a 24 hour stomach bug which hit me pretty hard. I managed to get out of bed long enough to greet my parents at the door. Patty was all bubbly and happy to see her grandparents and they were showering her with plenty of attention.

Christmas 1966

Then my dad glanced at the tree.   He looked closer.  I could see his eyes moisten when he realized that the baby in the baby carrier under the tree was NOT a doll but his new granddaughter Debbie.    My dad wasn’t one to let his emotions out or show on his face… but he did that morning.

It was definitely a very merry, happy and blessed Christmas that year.

Christmas morning 6 years later in 1972, my favorite Christmas picture of Patty and Debbie…

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Merry Christmas everyone and especially to my girls ❤ ❤

 


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Our Santa…

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My dad was a police officer in Newark, NJ. For many of his years on the force he worked in the Emergency Squad division. During the long hours between calls the guys would keep themselves busy in various ways like cooking. Near the Christmas holidays they always came up with a special project, like candle making for instance.

In 1956 they made Santas.  I still have ours.  Santa stands about 3 and 1/2 feet tall and is made from press board. After the outline was drawn the guys cut out the Santas and my dad set to work drawing the features, clothing and bag of toys.  At that point our Santa came home and my mother and I painted him.  I’m not sure how many coats of paint we used but Santa was spread out on our kitchen table for about a week before he was completely dry.  I don’t know what kind of paint we used either but here it is 59 years later and he’s not chipped or faded.  This was the only time I ever remember the three of us doing a family project together.

I love everything about this Santa, even the buttons being on the wrong side… but the thing I love the most is that he looks like my dad… a self portrait so to speak.

My creation

Below is my daughter Patty age 2 and 1/2 in 1966…… and her daughter (my granddaughter) Tiffany age 2 and 1/2 in 1991.

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Here’s to Christmas memories, old and new. ❤


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Unexplained …

I repost this post often as it touches me deeply.

My daughter Deb is a twin. Sadly her sister Susan was only here for a few hours.

One of my favorite pictures of Debbie (age 3)

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Katy (Katama) was Deb’s first Boykin Spaniel. She was the first dog to go on vacation with Deb and me, no big surprise that it was to MV. Katy left us after 20 months and we feel that she’s now with Susan. Here’s Deb with Katy at Sengekontacket Pond on Martha’s Vineyard.

 

Katy

My creation

 

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Chappy (Chappaquiddick) was Deb’s next Boykin Spaniel. Here they are enjoying the window seat at the inn we were staying at in Oak Bluffs.

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We took lots of pictures of Chappy’s first trip to the Vineyard, especially on the beach and in the water. He really enjoyed splashing about and barking at waves. These pictures show a little of his fun at the beach.

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Chappy

My creation

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And then there’s this picture…

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Is this a double exposure, or is it Deb and Chappy with Susan and Katy ? You be the judge.  Just let me say that my camera, not a digital one, had never, until that day, taken a double exposure and never did so afterwards.

Happy Halloween !!!


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Maine – Cemeteries and Meanderings Part I…

My daughter Deb and I made a recent pilgrimage to Maine, not only to enjoy the beauty and crisp autumn weather but to visit the graves of our relatives.

Our first night was spent in Ogunquit at the beautiful Colonial Inn.

 

You cannot go to Maine, or Ogunquit and not do these two things… have lobster roll and maybe blueberry pie too, which we did at Barnacle Billy’s.  Yum.

 

…and walk on Marginal Way and down on the beach.

 

One of the main reasons for our trip was to visit this tiny little cemetery in Rome, Maine where my great-grandfather Joseph P Littlefield, my great-grandmother Martha Jane Ellis and their 3 oldest children (they had 8), Margaret, Adison and Atwood are buried.

My great grandfather Joseph P Littlefield was injured in the Civil War at the Battle of Cold Harbor, he was sent home to Maine to die, which he did, not only of his massive injuries but also of typhoidal pneumonia. His wife and the 3 oldest of his 8 children died within months of him from it as well leaving my grandfather Charles G Littlefield at age 9 the oldest of the five remaining children. A tragic story and once we learned about it felt compelled to find their graves and honor them. Their small plot is off the beaten track in Rome, Maine but Deb found it and we traipsed through the brush to get to it. Worth the trip indeed.  This was very emotional in that Joseph, Martha Jane, Margaret, Adison and Atwood have become very real to us and we feel very close to them.  We weren’t able to bring them flowers but left 5 pennies to indicate we were there and remembering them.

That’s Deb’s car parked on the side of the road by the telephone sub station box, the path to the cemetery is where the flag is.

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From Rome, Maine we headed to Waterville, Maine where my mother was born and where my above mentioned grandfather, Charles G Littlefield is buried in the Pine Grove Cemetery. Although my grandmother’s name, Albra Mae Littlefield is on the stone she is actually buried on Martha’s Vineyard with her third husband.

Also in this plot is my mother’s sister Tessa Mae Littlefield Robertson Poulin,  her husband Joseph Ezra Poulin, one of their daughers, Helen Brown and her husband Laurence Brown.

 

Thus ends our first full day in Maine and our cemetery visits.


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Memories of October 1995…

In October of 1995 my daughter Deb and I went to MV and Newport, Rhode Island for an autumn get-away.

 Part 1 – Martha’s Vineyard

We were supposed to leave NJ on Saturday. Due to the forecast of heavy rain my husband suggested she and I leave Friday after Deb got home from work and stay over night in Mystic, Ct.  Deb got off from work early and we left around 3pm.  Things were going smoothly for oh, at least an hour and then 7 or so miles before the dreaded Tappan Zee Bridge things came to a dead stop.  We decided to get off at the next exit and wend our way through the smaller back highways and eventually rejoin good old route I-95.  Sounded like a good plan.  Actually a lot of motorists thought so too and before we knew it we were stuck in a worse traffic jam.  And…. that rain that we were trying to avoid…well, it came early and it was heavy and oh, it was also getting dark !  Nine hours later at 11:30pm we arrived in Mystic, Ct… a drive that should have only taken 3 or 4 hours at the most.  And so our adventure had begun.

IMG_3918 The next morning we arrived in Woods Hole and got an earlier ferry to Martha’s Vineyard… we like when that happens.

2503091152_e4b6b53cb0_m We checked into our inn and spent the day walking and relaxing.  After supper it began pouring,  I half kiddingly said we should take a walk in the rain and before I knew it that’s what we were doing.  I never like walking in the rain, especially in the dark, but for some reason it just seemed the right thing to be doing.

The following day after breakfast we rented bikes.

 

Mind you it had been years since I’d been on a bike and I’d never used hand brakes… but how hard could they be !! Off we trotted to the bike shop by the harbor in Edgartown. After a few instructions … most of which I’d missed we got on our bikes and headed out of the shop. Somehow I wound up not on the road but heading for a hedge of flowers and before I knew it had made contact with them… it was all in slow motion so it seemed like an eternity until I hit the ground. I laughed and so did the rental guy, my daughter though after showing concern for my well being was convinced I’d want to turn in the bikes and forget about our ride. But no, I was determined to carry on after we’d gone back to the inn however so I could bandage my cuts and bruises. So back on the bike I got and we headed to the inn just a block or so away. I was doing pretty well until I turned into their driveway and sort of, well, bumped into one of the cars in their lot. Finally got myself put together and once again started off on our bikes… my daughter still wasn’t convinced we’d make it out of Edgartown. You’ll be happy to know that I was finally getting the hang of the hand brakes even though I automatically was using my feet too… sometimes dragging them on the ground as a back up maneuver.

 

The road between Edgartown and Oak Bluffs is 6 miles of scenic beauty… for most of the ride the ocean is on one side and Sengekontacket Pond is on the other… it’s one of the prettiest bike paths (or roads) on MV.   We stopped several times to take pictures and for me to catch my breath.   At one point the bike path changes from one side of the road to the other… there are big signs telling you about this…  I missed them.   When I saw my daughter move across the road I figured I should follow suit… as I have a problem turning my neck I didn’t see the truck that was coming down the road.   I made it to the other side still not aware how close the truck had come… I do however remember the scared and horrified look on my daughter’s face.   She claims to this day that I gave her several grey hairs… I say, turn about is fair play.

It was a fun day… the company, the weather, the experience of hand brakes… I’m glad we did it ……. once.

MV-Dawn (74) The following day was spent driving around the Vineyard. Not too much walking was done due to the sore leg muscles one of us had… not mentioning names but I’m sure after reading about our bike trip that you can guess who it was ! Tuesday was also the most normal of our four day get away… a ploy perhaps to coax us into a false sense of security! That remained to be seen!

Part 2 – Newport, Rhode Island

Our plan called for us to stay overnight in Newport, RI… a place Deb had never been to and I raved about.

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I had made reservations at a bed & breakfast, which is NOT pictured here. We figured we’d check in and then go have lunch by the harbor. The best laid plans often go astray as we were finding out… this part of our trip was no different.

15407899186_d80c1f1912_m We pulled into the circular driveway of what once had been a gorgeous mansion. Once. The first thing we noticed was the roof being torn off and being tossed onto the driveway. OK, a little renovation is a good thing. There were no other cars in the driveway (an omen perhaps). The spider webs by the front door, not such a good thing, even if Halloween was only days away. The door was locked so we rang the bell. Lurch opened it. All right, it wasn’t Lurch, but this man was big and wore an eye patch and had a low gravely, grumbly voice. Maybe there wasn’t an eye patch but there should have been.

We walked into what at one time had years ago must have been a beautiful mansion but was now drab, threadbare, and frankly creepy. The circular staircase was beautiful wood covered by the most horrible ugly green carpeting imagineable. We signed in and were lead us upstairs to our room (cue ominous music). Walked in… it was large, queen size bed, a cot, bare floors, nothing matched, high drafty ceilings with no lights, everything was worn out looking. I didn’t want to put my suitcase down. Deb looked at me and I at her mumbling things like “I don’t know” “I don’t like it here” “this is spooky”. She asked if I wanted to go home? We made a beeline down the stairs, mumbled a few words to the owner, flung open the seemingly stuck front doors, threw our luggage in the car and high tailed it out of there. Another slightly askew incident in our adventure.

IMG_2922 (2)We did however have one of the best lunches ever. We drove to the harbor and ate outside at the Mooring. The whole time we were eating we were laughing and talking about the weird bed and breakfast and the strange owners. At one point our waitress came over to ask the usual “how is everything” question and before I knew it I was telling her about our … um, episode at the b&b. She told us she’d heard some stories about the place that were on the weird side. We agreed we’d definitely made the right decision in leaving.

We left Newport with 3 minutes to spare on the parking meter and headed home to NJ. Since we were coming home a day early it was only fair to give my husband a heads up. We called him from a rest stop, no answer so we left a message on the machine to alert him to our earlier arrival. We called once more to update him and drove happily along. Meanwhile, at home he hadn’t bothered to listen to the messages and was completely surprised when we arrived a day early.

 

Thus ended a slightly off kilter, lovely and very memorable trip 🙂

 


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My Great-Uncle, Louis A Young … The Incredible Man With No Hands…

 

Louis A Young 1887 – 1952

When he was 14 years old in 1902 Louis lost both his hands in a chemical explosion in Newark, NJ where he lived.  One arm gone above the elbow, the other several inches above the wrist.  A devastating accident but did it stop Louis from living a full and productive life… absolutely not.

He dressed himself, played baseball, boxed, he shoveled snow and coal for exercise. He  was an avid fisherman who could rig his own line and reel in his fish without any help.  He also supported a wife and family and his father.  He could use artificial appliances but did not advocate them which he believed to be too heavy and rendered muscles insensitive. Instead he used a simple leather strap, between the strap and his arm he placed the object he intended to use, such as a knife or fork and by tensing his muscles he could hold it firmly.

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By vocation he was a news dealer in New York City.

His newsstand at Union Square.

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He was a volunteer instructor at The Institute for Crippled Men in NY and for the U.S. government in its rehabilitation work among soldiers.

He was an amazing man and although he was my great-uncle I never knew about him until recently.  He was one of my paternal grandmother Josephine’s brothers, but she never talked about her family… that generation seems to have been very closed mouthed about a lot of things unfortunately.

But… along comes Ancestry and all kinds of  information becomes available.  I want to take a moment here to thank Ancestry and our new found cousins for the opportunity to not only know about this particular uncle but in gifting us with new family members 🙂

Back to our story.    My daughter Deb got notification from Ancestry about a possible match. The match is Louis’s grandson, Bob Jr whose father, Bob Sr is Louis’s son. Bob Sr was turning 89 in July and would we be interested in meeting the family and celebrating Bob Sr’s birthday with them???????? Um… yes, very much so.

On a beautiful Sunday afternoon in July off we went to Long Island to meet the family and what a wonderful day it was.

 

So not only have we found out about our incredible relative, Louis Young, but we have also met the nicest people you could imagine…and… they’re family… how terrific is that.

It is great to connect with new found relatives and to find out about ancestors, but also, in my opinion, is finding out the stories about them.   With Louis Young it’s an awesome story about fortitude, bravery, perseverance and optimism and I’m glad and proud to know his story and pass it on.  🙂

 


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MV 1982…

 36 years ago in August 1982 was my first trip back to the Vineyard in too long a time.  I was excited, anxious and also looking forward to showing my family the place I love so much. Both my teenage daughters were supposed come, however, my older daughter Patty decided she didn’t want to, so that meant my younger daughter, Deb would have to face the vacation alone with her parents.  Not a situation a teenager really looks forward to, especially when your mother turns into a crazy woman for most of the trip. Talk about embarrassing, I was the definition of it in her eyes… and quite frankly, I was a tad embarrassing once in awhile. Deb survived the trip mainly by escaping into her books… she can tell you what she was reading and where we were at the time… she still does that.

Aug 1… We drove to Falmouth and stayed there overnight.  Why,  I don’t know.  The fact of being so close to the Vineyard and not actually on it seemed like torture.  We actually drove to Woods Hole that evening just so I could look at the ferries and see the Vineyard.

Aug 2 – 6… I awoke early, okay, not really awoke since you can be sure I didn’t sleep much at all.  After a quick breakfast, we drove to Woods Hole to await the arrival of the ferry.  I was thrilled to be landing in Oak Bluffs, the town I grew up in as a summer kid.

   Then: 1982

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 (The pictures from 1982, the originals are 3×3.. they are somewhat blurry and the colors are not vivid.  I took pictures of them with my digital camera today and have not altered them).

Now:

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We drove into Edgartown and checked into the Kelley House.  The Kelley House hasn’t changed much at all.

Then: 1982

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Now:

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Unpacked, rested maybe 10 minutes and then back to Oak Bluffs to see the sights and maybe do a little reminiscing… maybe a lot.

Oak Bluffs – Lower Circuit Ave… and  Circuit Ave

Then: 1982

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2009 (below)   lower Circuit Ave                                               Circuit Ave 2017

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Ocean Park… the Flying Horses.. and yes, I did take a ride on them 🙂

Then: 1982

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Now: 2017

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Then into the Campground where seeing the Tabernacle for the first time in so many years was kind of emotional for me.  Anyone who reads reads my blog or knows me knows I have a deep attachment for the Tabernacle.

Then: 1982

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Now: 2017

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After dragging leading my little group around town for quite awhile I took pity on them and back to the hotel we went to relax.  It had been a long first day and there were still 4 more to go.  Yippee.

The next morning we headed Up-Island to see Gay Head.  Look closely at the pictures to see the difference in the cliffs from 1982 to 2010.  There’s been erosion and the colors have changed but they’re always an awesome sight to behold.

Then: 1982

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2013:

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On our excursion the next day out to Menemsha we drove past my mother’s relatives house in Indian Hill.  This is where I unknowingly at the time, embarrassed my daughter Deb.  I wanted to get a picture of the house and while doing so notice a man in the backyard I thought I knew.  To get the picture of the house I was standing half in the car and half out… I thought I was being inconspicuous. The man in the back yard didn’t see me but my daughter did and buried her nose deeper into the book she was reading.   I can safely say she laughs about it now, but back then, major mother embarrassment.

Then: 1982

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Now: 2017

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On arriving on the Vineyard I was thrilled to find out we’d be there for Illumination Night.  It had always been my favorite event of the summer (still is) and I was beyond excited to be there for it.  (Cue another embarrassing moment or two) When the community sing began I was amazed at how quickly the words to all the songs came back to me.  I sang, clapped my hands, and was 8 years old again… and my daughter sat as far away from me as she could get… can’t say I blame her, I was a little on the excited side.    I cannot believe I only took ONE picture.

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Now:

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Our four days on the Vineyard came too quickly to an end.  I was sure that I would never get back again… I still feel that way after each trip.

Was I a little on the frenzied side?  Yes.  I had dreamed about being back on the Vineyard for a long time and the reality of it was intense for me.  Quite frankly I still get a touch of it each trip.  My heart still beats quicker the closer to Woods Hole I get and try as I might I just can’t not burst into smiles.

Has my daughter Deb gotten over the embarrassment of her mothers behavior?  Yes she has.  She and I have made more than 20 trips to MV by ourselves and she smiles at, and enjoys my Vineyard persona.

Did my daughter Patty ever make it to the Vineyard?  Yes, finally in 1996 she, her husband Mike, their daughter Tiffany, and son Tyler joined me on the Vineyard.  I loved showing them everything and passing my love of the Vineyard on to my grandchildren.

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But I truly cannot believe the paltry number of pictures I took in ’82… I mean really. ONE picture of Illumination Night. ONE picture of the Tabernacle. ONE picture of Gay Head. Well, things have definitely changed and now with digital cameras I can snap up a storm… and I do… and sometimes with two cameras.


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Flirting and Dancing At The Tivoli…

The Tivoli building… Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard (circa 1920)

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The two story, full block Tivoli Dance Hall stood from 1901 until 1964. The bottom floor housed shops and an ice cream parlor. My godmother worked in the ice cream parlor and I always enjoyed visiting her there… one time in particular jumps to mind.

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I was 3 years old and had newly mastered winking and was anxious to put it to use.  Sitting at a table behind my mother and facing me was a sailor.  Being that I was wearing a sailor dress I figured we had something in common and so I began winking at him… it did not take long for my mother to notice.  She turned around and as she did the young sailor headed for our table.  He smiled and said he was alone on the Vineyard for the day and wanted to tell my mother how charming he thought I was (blushing here).  Not only did my mother invite him to join us at the table but she invited him home for dinner (this was mid 1940’s). I was amazed at how powerful this winking thing was.  I’ve never forgotten him… I do however keep the winking thing to a minimum.

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The entire second floor of the Tivoli Dance Hall was just that, the dance hall. It was huge, at least in the eyes of a 4 year old being dragged there against her will for a dance lesson. I did like all the windows and how far you could see out of them, I liked the clicking sound my shoes made on the floor, I loved the brand new sundress I had on …

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   …but, I did NOT like the group dancing part.  I remember reluctantly getting in line with the other victims children, but my feet did not move, they planted themselves firmly in one spot and stayed there.  Everyone danced around me but I did not care to join in, not only didn’t I dance I wouldn’t talk to anyone either.

 

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My mother was not happy with me… we did not stop for promised ice cream at the Frosty Cottage on Circuit Ave for ice cream and we didn’t come home with a sailor for dinner either.