Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sixteen Four Year Olds Invade Post Office!

Today we were blessed with the presence of sixteen four year olds at our post office. Now if you know the size of our post office, you might wonder where we put them all--some here and some there.

Each one had a letter to mail to their home and I let them hand cancel the stamp and then put the letter in the correct slot for their home--whether it be a post office box or a slot on the carrier's case. We have done this for a number of years and I should not be surprised of the firsts. This was much better than the time one of the kids threw up at the post office. I think they were coming down with something--not a reflection of their opinion of the tour. Poor kid was embarrassed. I thank my clerk for handling that dirty job while I finished the tour.

This year we did have two other firsts. Some of the kids don't have a slot to put their letter in because it goes to the west side of town and has to ride on the "big truck that will take your letter tonight and then deliver it to your home tomorrow", as I told them. Perhaps she found that scary, or perhaps she had heard about lost mail, or maybe her parents only grumble about mail and don't like to receive it; but for the first time we had a little girl who did not want to part with her letter. No matter how we tried to tell her what fun it would be to get it at her home tomorrow in the mail, she was tearfully clinging to her letter. The teacher even tried demanding. She was steadfast. The teacher and an aide stayed with her while I continued with my tour. Somehow she finally decided to mail her letter and we cheered. (Now I pray it doesn't go astray.)

As the group was leaving, I gave them, as is the tradition, a postal coloring book. The teacher encouraged them as to etiquette when someone gives you something and here was the other first...A little girl raised her hand. I acknowledged her and she said, "Thank you, but no thank you. Coloring is just not my thing." From a four year old!!

Well, they made my day. As I get closer to retirement these tours will just be memories that will make me smile long after I'm gone.

Friday, February 20, 2009


I wish I had taken this picture yesterday when it was clearer. These are the tracks in the snow that I found when I came home from work yesterday. I often find the tracks of a neighborhood dog who comes to our front yard. I have also seen rabbit tracks. Here, side by side as if they were walking together down the path, are dog tracks and bird tracks.

I didn't know that Snoopy and Woodstock came when I wasn't home! It's little things like that that I love.
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, February 7, 2009

My Uncle Jack

Posted by Picasa

I say "My" Uncle Jack because this is the Uncle Jack that I knew many years ago. I haven't seen him in over thirty years and have not really been in touch except for sending him Christmas cards. I have heard about him through others and some know him differently than I know him. I was his only niece on this side of the family and to be honest, maybe I was the only one who could really call him uncle. Here I want to share about "my" Uncle Jack so others can know what he was like back then.

When we lived in Granby, we had this huge flat green front lawn that was ideal for croquet. I can remember this time when my Uncle Jack came to visit and he played croquet with me. I was probably around 5 and he around 17. I loved playing with him. When we got to the last wicket, which was near the road, I won. Now, of course, in retrospect, I'm sure he let me win.

I remember him putting down the mallet and pretending to be mad and walking off down the road. He said he was leaving. I was crying and upset and my mother, his only sister, had to tell him to stop that. He was a tease.

Years later I remember the time my mother was listening to the birds and whistling back to one. It was a cat bird, who are known to sometimes mock noises. At first I was amazed too but then I saw my uncle. He was whistling back as the bird. We shared the secret for a few moments. When Mom caught on she could have hit him. He was a tease and he had a sense of humor.

After he came home from the Navy and we lived in East Hartland, he came to live with us for a bit. I was thrilled. It was like having a big brother. I did learn that big brothers have certain issues. I learned to fearfully respect his pride in a clean car--inside and out. I remember being warned not to get dirt in it when I stepped inside.

Two of the pictures above are from Thanksgiving. I have to laugh now--suit and tie for a special home cooked meal for just the four of us. Things sure have changed.

One of the worst things about my Uncle Jack was what a grouch he was when he woke up. My Mom often made me wake him--that was something no one would want to do. He woke up so angry. I hated it. You learned to keep your distance in his waking hours.

The most special memory was the time he took me on a date with his date, Denise. (I still run into Denise and she has asked about him.) If I were to guess, I think I may have been around ten years old. This was my first time to a restaurant. I felt like such a lady ordering off the menu. I believe I had pork chops. Then we went to the movies and saw "Lady and the Tramp". That was my first time to an indoor theater. Our family always went to the drive-in. I always think of Uncle Jack when I see "Lady and the Tramp". To top the evening off we went to Denise's home where her mother gave us iced coffee--how grown up! I had never had it and I didn't like it, however, that did not ruin the perfect date--one I have never forgotten. I love that fond memory.

I will be honest all was not perfect. Uncle Jack had money problems. I was too young to know, but I think he spent beyond his means. I remember one day being home alone with my mother when a bill collector came. In those days they would come to your door. It was pretty scary.

In retrospect, perhaps a few of the gifts that he bought me, perhaps he shouldn't have since money was an issue, but I treasured many of the things that he gave me. Some were mailed to me after he was married like the peppermint stick that had to be two feet tall and three inches wide--we had to use a hammer to break off pieces to eat. I clung on to other gifts that he gave me like the donkey pinata. Never had the heart to use it for it's intended purpose--hung it as a decoration for a while, but now it's stored in my basement. I finally donated the UCLA sweatshirt to Goodwill a few years ago. The ocean in a bottle was a fun and relaxing gift which I loved and still have. He introduced us to See's chocolates which we learned to love.

My favorite gifts were a birthstone ring and an ID bracelet. The bracelet was gold and engraved, "Deb"--that was a nickname mostly used by him and my parents. Most other people call me Debbie. I was heartbroken the day, as an adult, that I lost it. I re-traced my steps and did everything I could to try and find it. I know that someone "inherited" my treasure in Torrington. I was sick about losing that.

I vaguely remember going to his wedding in New Jersey. I remember when he had his first son and meeting him. It wasn't long after that that they moved to California.

In 1975 I was so pleased that he spent the time and money to come to my wedding. He also gave a very generous money gift. That was the last time that I saw him (and the last time my mother did too). He always talked about coming back to visit, but it just never happened.

I am so glad that a few years ago I wrote him a note about the memory of the "date" and how much he meant to me. I am glad I did that while he was alive. As I write this he is dying of abdominal cancer in a hospital in California. We are just waiting for the call. I am sad we lost many years of our relationship and to know that I won't see him again in this lifetime, but I am so thankful for the happy memories that I do have and I will cherish those always. Thank you, Uncle Jack. I love you and I hope you rest in peace.