All posts by Dona

About Dona

Mother of two twenty-somethings. Recent empty-nester. Adjusting to the new normal.

I’m in Good Company shirt

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At least 28 years ago my friend Rosanne gave me a shirt that, while huge on me, I loved. I think I was supposed to wear it with leggings (which were “in” 28 years ago, along with big hair) or maybe she meant to wear it when I was pregnant.

The front of the shirt has dozens of women’s names on it in an inverted triangle, with I’m in good company in lilac in the middle of the names. The bottom of the triangle (the tip) reads “Me!”

The back of the shirt has an image of a man who resembles the Fallout Shelter guy fishing and the caption reads, “Good Catch!” which I assumed was the name of the company that made the shirt.

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I wore the shirt with pride for many years, until it started getting ragged at the neckline and holes showed up in spots, then I wore it as a night shirt.

At some point I figured out that many, if not all, of the women named on the shirt fell somewhere in the LGBTQ+ community and I wondered if I was telling a lie by wearing it, or could even be accused of appropriation. Nevertheless, I still loved it and wore it with pride.

Sure enough, this shirt can still be bought at the Good Catch website and is called the Famous Lesbians Shirt.

I wonder if Rosanne realized that about the shirt. It doesn’t matter. I still love it, even though it is even too ragged to be worn as a nightshirt.

Poem Grandma Green wrote on a small piece of paper

Ever Close in Mind and Heart [1]

(Marjorie Frances Ames)

No further away then a picture
A smile or remembered phrase
Our loved ones live in memory.
So close in so many ways.
For how often does a sunset
Bring nostalgic thoughts to mind
Of moments that our loved ones shared
In days now left behind!
How often has a flower
Or an crystal autumn sky
Brought golden recollections
Of happy days gone by!
Yes, memory has a magic way
Of keeping loved ones near,
Ever close in mind and heart
Are the ones we hold most dear.

Notes:
  1. This must have been written shortly after Grandpa died []

Letter to my parents and brother from me: August 1981

Dear Mom, Dad and Kevin,

So this is the second letter I’ve written. Letter #1 is stale (and besides, I’ve already told you everything that’s in it) [1].

Like I said on the phone — the apartment actually is livable now. Each room still has a lot to be done, but at least we can move. Today we cleaned out the desks and put some books away. Our next big project is making the shelves for the stereo and albums and remainder of the books. [2]

We have no hot water yet. The plumber never showed up. I guess it’s quite a job. Ask Dick Palmer why he thinks we are having so many problems. :-) (actually I think our landlady is over-worried about $$$$) [3]

My birthday was really special. Dean made me a wonderful breakfast of strawberries and cream, kippers, pink champagne, soft-boiled eggs, bagels and toast (this was all before we knew how poor we were :-)).

The we went to a festival downtown at Point State Park. That’s where the 3 rivers come together. We watched the speedboats and Dean “frolicked” in the fountain.

For dinner, Dean made a roast and Yorkshire putting. It was all very wonderful.

Dean gave me my favorite cologne, a blue rose, peppercorns, kerosene for my lamp, a bottle of wine, and, from a local garage sale, a salt shaker and  pepper mill set, directly (long ago) from Italy [4]. [5]

After dinner and cake (yes, he baked me a cake complete with 25! [6] candles) we took a long leisurely walk around our new neighborhood.

Cinder has settled in very nicely. It’s almost as if no move ever took place.

We still have to thank you properly. I wish I could have said more in the way of thanks when you left, but I was ready to cry at any moment. [7]

Also, we owe you money for gas, etc. That will soon be paid as soon as we can.

Well, take care.

Love,
Dona

P.S. Got the checks today. Thanks for the loan. I feel awful asking for the money — thanks so much. [8]

Hi again —

Enclosed, you have found the two checks. Thanks, but the bank won’t accept it except to go into our account and that won’t be good until the 8th of September. (That’s the $50.00). Then the $15.00 check — it’s not certified. Seems that certified means the bank guarantees the money. We even went to the assistant manager. But luckily we found that the book store takes VISA (Dean needs books) and that leaves us with enough cash to get by — there is $40.00 in my change bottle. I appreciate your help very much. If you can’t get your money back (but I’m sure you can) [9] send me the check back and I’ll be able to cash it and send you back one of our checks.

Don’t worry — my fingers are still pink — not blue. [10]

I called the school district and they are sending applications for subbing. One district (Pittsburgh) isn’t accepting subbing applications until next week. [11]

Love,
Dona

Notes:
  1. Dean and I had just moved to Pittsburgh []
  2. I think my mom was not impressed with our apartment when she and my dad, brother and cousin drove us to Pittsburgh from Elgin []
  3. I’d forgotten about this []
  4. I remember these — the were a rusty-red with a gold crackled finish []
  5. All I can say is WOW! Dean sure knew how to treat a gal back then []
  6. Damn we were just babies! []
  7. Knowing what I know now about the pain when a child leaves town, I know my mother must have been heartbroken []
  8. None of us realized that even though we had money to put in a banking account, we would not see that money for a couple weeks. We lived on change for a week. Never underestimate the value of a change jar. []
  9. It is apparent here that I had no idea how checks worked []
  10. Mom was worried about my Raynaud’s syndrome kicking in because I was stressed []
  11. I’d forgotten I’d applied to more than one school district []

Letter to me from my mother: January 13, 1979

Dear Dona [1],

We woke up to another snow storm [2] . We already have 39 1/2 inches on the ground [3]. (That is accumulation since the first of winter). Snow fell all last night and is supposed to continue today and tonight.

Your dad took the van to get a new windshield this morning. On the way up north we were going under an overpass just as snow and ice fell down on us and cracked the window — also scared the hell out of us.

When I got home from work on Monday there was a note to call your Aunt Pat. She had fallen Sunday night when she took a garbage bag out to the street. I waited til 3 o’clock and picked Kevin up in case I needed help with her. When we got to her house she answered the door. She had a slipper on her foot because it had swelled. At the hospital I couldn’t find a close parking so I dropped her and Kevin by the emergency entrance. They had to walk up a steep ramp (I didn’t know until later that I could have driven right up to the door). Anyway to make a long story short (we were there in the emergency room until 7) she ended up with a broken ankle and will be in a cast from 6 to 8 weeks.

You’re right, Dona, Cinder doesn’t miss you [4]. She spends most of her time downstairs being scratched and petted. She is even friendly with your dad.

There was an article in the Courier News this wee about your friend from Carlson’s Paint Store complete with pictures of him dressed up as Frankenstein’s monster [5].

Our TV burned out last night. The picture went black and it snapped and crackled. I was afraid to touch it. After I turned it off the room smelled like burnt plastic.

Purcell’s address is Box 308, Minocqua Wisconsin 54548.

This has to be short — your dad wants to leave.

Take care — I hope everything is O. K.

Love,
Mom

Notes:
  1. I was student teaching in England []
  2. This was the Chicago Blizzard of 1979 []
  3. I think that’s a little high based on what I just read in the earlier link, and here’s another []
  4. Cinder was my black cat. I don’t remember thinking she wouldn’t miss me, but I guess I must have predicted correctly []
  5. This was someone I knew from the Manor Restaurant where I waited tables. He was a bit of an asshole, but kind to me. He used to wear stilts and dress as Frankenstein’s monster []

Letter from Grandma Green: October 1968

Dear Pat and Al,

Now that I’ve gotten that long awaited letter off to Dona (I feel bad that it wasn’t sooner) I’ll answer yours.

You asked me for a list of birthdays and anniversaries. I’ll put that on a separate paper.

Did you get to read the letter we sent Ginny, I know sometimes she lets you. In it I wrote about what we planned to do with the farm. Don’t remember if I mentioned how many trees will be planted — there will be 5,000 white spruce.

Dad and Slim put a pump in the pump house, right now it’s a hand pump. Saturday, when we went there we took a 5 gallon thermos and filled that with. It’s good clear water, as you know we’ve been going to town to get water for making coffee but also for vegetables as it forms a rust color foam that clings to the food.

We’ve been going to several auctions up to Barron to an auction, I knew they had a copper boiler, and I’ve been looking for one. I bid on it and then there was this man, he was bidding too, just he and I. When it was up to $5.00 I asked Walt if I should keep going, he said if you really want it, well I wanted it. So kept on, cost me $7.00, it’s a real good one with a cover. I’m using it as a wood box, it just fits between the stove and sink. I shined it and it looks real nice. About a week later your Dad and Slim came home with another one, someone had a garage sale and three were several, so he bought one for $2.00. Will be using ti for the same thing, right now it is outside, with wood in it.

Last week at a garage sale we bought a carpet sweeper for $1.00, a large picture for $2.00, a sewing cabinet, $1.50, set of dishes (for the farm) for 25¢, a T.V. & stand for $3.00. The swivel stand is worth much more than that. We hooked up the T.V. it worked as far as voice, just could’t seem to bring in a picture. Dad wanted it for the farm. It’s sitting in the garage, really don’t know what he intends to do with it. Just another thing to fill up the garage, although we have taken some things to the trailer & farm for winter storage.

The past couple of weeks, I’ve been busy doing some canning. Slim was bringing those zucchini squash over, some were so huge I would keep a small one for myself and gave the others to Fritz or Blonde Bomber. Then I bought a Family Circle and in it were some pickle recipes. One was for pickling zucchini. I fixed one and they’re real good. Tastes like a bread and butter pickle. So instead of giving up the three I had left to Fritz, I canned them. Canned strawberry jam two days ago, fixed one quart of tomatoes, also made a pot of chili yesterday. Now I have two pumpkins that I should cook and then freeze. This stuff is all given to us. We bought 5 pounds of onions from an elderly man, who has a vegetable stand. He stops in the Spot every day, when open, and with the onions he put in two eggplants, one cabbage, one rutabaga and at least 8 pounds of  tomatoes. And then some people Peoria brought up some tomatoes and gave them to Dad. Oh I also made chili sauce. Still have about 6 or 7 left to eat with our meals.

The neighbors are busy building that extra room on. Mr Lorentz had been working weekends but he took two weeks vacation and the weather has been just terrible. It’s been cold with rain and snow, just a couple of really nice days.

Today is October 16th, it’s raining now. Last night it was a mixture of snow. We stayed in last night, watched T.V. Dad read a while and I crocheted, but first I read the Sunday papers, and Elgin papers.

Your Dad got out a jigsaw puzzle with more than 1,000 pieces. (bought it at a sidewalk sale). You should see this house this morning, not having a card table, he put up the 4 T.V. tables and has sorted the pieces by color on each table and is trying to put it together. Then we have moved the refrigerator in the dining room, have our table up against the room divider. Papers on all the furniture, what a mess.

We moved the refrigerator with the intention of fixing the floor.

Friday, 17. 8:30 a.m.

Didn’t do a darn thing yesterday so this place looks the same. Went to town after the baseball game We had money on the game at 3 places, but didn’t win. Rexall has a 1¢ sale, started yesterday, so we took advantage of it. Did some grocery shopping then stopped at B&B.—– Walked over to Millie’s, it was around 5:30 when we left. Instead of going home we went to the Spot to eat. Naturally we were drinking. On the way home, your Dad turned off 53 and went over to Anchor Inn. So I started on beer and whisky at the Spot, then beer, I sure didn’t feel good. I did put things away and then lay on the bed. I woke up when Dad started getting ready for bowling about 9:00. I felt worse. Had good intentions to finish your letter last night.

Last week from the 6th and until this weekend the 14th the carpenters were on another drunk. Last Wednesday Dorothy had an accident on Main Street. She hit a car in front of Lutz’s drug store, then further up the street, crossed the street and hit a car, tree and broke a telephone pole. She didn’t get hurt.

After all those dreary days we finally have some sunshine. It’s not supposed to get very warm, maybe in the 40’s.

Have a birthday card to send to Geo. His birthday is Sunday. Phyllis’s invited us to surprise party for him. She had that Wednesday. Took all who came out for dinner.

Read in the Moose Events, Al, that you were lucky. Good deal. Also see that Chuck Greenwald joined now. I wonder if Jack will. He and Chuck used to be good friends.

Well, this is it this time. Next time I won’t take so long in writing again. You all take care of yourselves. Miss everyone.

Bye now, and with lots of love to all,
Mom and Dad

P. S. The fall colors are gone up here. Suppose you have them now.

Letter from Grandma Green: Unknown date (after 1973)

This must have been in a card for dad. It was after 1973 because she was alone.

Dear Al and Family,

What should I write first. I’m relaxed and content. Saw so many of our friends at the Spot [1] when Dick and I ate there. Marion asked me to call her, I will in a day or two, don’t want to be too forward. What we’ll do I don’t know. There will be drinking involved. She likes her brandy [2].

Millie and I (she came down) [3]  went over to check the Wackers’ [4] cottage last Wednesday. She asked if I’d like to go to the Legion, said I didn’t bring any money. That’s O.K., you can buy me a drink next time. This I did last Friday when the Wackers came to town. Later we four went to the Legion and had dinner. Very good and reasonable too. Sunday about 10:30 am I started walking to the Wackers, but didn’t get very far, as they were coming down the road. It was Les’ birthday Sunday, I had a card for him and a half a loaf of Russian rye. Bought it Friday evening, at bakery, there so large told Verna I’d give her half. I got in the car and dropped Les off at Brass Rail, then we went to Snug Harbor to see Myrtle. Went back to Brass Rail, place was crowded with old friends. Had two beers, again I left my money at home. They’ll be back in April, so they’ll get paid back.

Sure is good to see the squirrels and birds again [5]. Instead of the willow tree, I now have piles of wood, but Jim and Lorentz will move that when the snow is gone. Jim cut one tree trunk that looks like a chair, for me when I fish. Hope all that saw dust doesn’t kill my wildflowers at that spot.

Looks like another nice day. Have to go to town today and put money in the bank and drop off my tax junk, hope I’ve done it right. Rita will let me know.

Have a good birthday, best of health to all. I’m fine.

Much love,
Ma Green

Notes:
  1. After retiring to Wisconsin, my grandfather worked at The Spot which was a supper club []
  2. so did Grandma Green []
  3. Grandma didn’t drive so she had to rely on friends to take he places after Grandpa died []
  4. the Wackers were Elgin friends who had a cottage in Chetek too []
  5. Grandma loved her birds and squirrels []

Harold Jones’ Head Cheese Recipe

My husband’s brother’s wife’s father, Harold, was an amazing man. Dean and I often joked that if an apocalypse happened we’d want to be somewhere near Harold because he knew how to live off the land.

Years ago, friends of my parents somehow ended up with a pig head, or perhaps a whole pig, and said they wanted to make head cheese. I knew that Harold had made it so I asked him for a recipe. He gave me detailed instructions on how to make head cheese. I just relocated the recipe. I fear I never gave it to my parent’s friends. Or maybe I made a copy and gave it to my mom to give them.

Harold Jones’ Head Cheese

  • 1 head of pig, split head in half.
  • 2 T. Salt
  • 1 crushed bay leaf
  • 2 cups vinegar
  • 1 T. Louisiana hot sauce
  • 1 T. mixed spices (garlic powder, onion powder, sage, mace and cloves)
  • 2 gelatin packages to insure firmness

I do the splitting with an ax. Remove snout, brains, skin, eyes, ears and any extra fat. Soak in cold water and clean. Quarter head if so desired, then put in pan of water that [the water] doesn’t quite cover the meat. Boil until meat falls off bone easily. Separate meat from bone and grind to desired firmness. Let brother cool so that the lard comes to the top. Then scrape off the lard and dispose. Mix broth with meat to make a soft batter. Add the seasonings after the batter comes to a boil put in glass cake pan or bread pan to cool. Cut to desired size.Wrap and freeze. Head cheese will stay in the refrigerator for months.

Note: This recipe is for about 3 lbs of meat. When I measure the spices I sometimes spill a lot. 2 cups of vinegar makes a strong mixture. But the twins and myself like the vinegar. Hope you have good luck.

Harold

P. S. You can also use a 3 lb pork roast

Harold’s wife Gladys added a note as well:

I told Harold I didn’t think you would have access to a pig head so you can easily buy a roast pork.

Gladys

Patrick vs Green

An empty envelope found at Mom’s house that leaves me full of questions.

Who was Mr. Charles Lowry? What did he mean by Patrick versus Green? Why did the back of the envelope have Andrew J. Nowakowski, M.D. of 479 Bluff City Blvd, Elgin Illinois embossed on the envelope flap? What, if anything, did Dr. Nowakowski have to do with my parents? And what was in the envelope?

Dr. Nowakowski did indeed live, or at least practice at 479 Bluff City Blvd in 1951 according to city directories. Interestingly, according to this article, he treated people with mental illnesses. Was Mr. Charles Lowry one of Dr. Nowakowski’s patients?

Also according to the article linked to above, when Dr. Nowakowski died, his widow, Opal, married an Alex Nowakowski. One Ancestry.com record hints that Andrew had a twin brother. Could Opal have married her husband’s twin brother?

But I still know nothing about Charles Lowry. Or what was in the envelope and why the envelope was from a mental health professional.