Category Archives: Writing

Birthday Card from Grandma Green

Sometime after 1981 I drove from Pittsburgh to Shorewood, Illinois to spend a few days with my Grandma Green, then drove up to Elgin to spend time with my parents. I brought my cat, Cinder.

While with Grandma we reminisced about old times and ate Kraft Macaroni and Cheese (R) with tuna fish. We also played cribbage and drank banana milkshakes like we used to do when I’d visit her in Chetek.

She sent me this card for my birthday that year with the following message:

Dear Dona!

It was so nice to have you with me for just those few days.

I am sorry, but gift will not be ready for your birthday. How about for Christmas?

Having a bit of trouble finding the right kind of fabric.

I am not positive what she means by material. I don’t recall her making anything for me for my birthday or Christmas.

…who is loved so very much!
Have a wonderful birthday!
With love — :-)
Grandma and John

Old Writing: Part 31::My first diary

I received a one-year diary from my parents for Christmas in 1968. I wrote in it a few times.

Inside the cover I wrote:

The property of
Dona Patrick
240 Heine St.
Elgin, Illinois
and nobody better read this or ELSE!


Wednesday January 1, 1969

Dear Diary,

Last night I was playing Yahtzee [1] with Ginny and Mommie [2] and Kevin and I won 2 out of 3.

I saw the parades this morning and they weren’t very interesting. [3]

Bob and Marge were over early and Kevin, Marge and I played Yahtzee and Kerplunk. We had pork chops and I did the dishes in 15 minutes give or take a couple minutes. I just got done watching Hawaii Five-O and it was about a man who was big who strangled a girl. [4]


Thursday January 2, 1969

Dear Diary,

Uncle Ray came over to finish the paneling but he didn’t feel too good so he went home. He said Ronnie had the flu and Cindy just got over it and Aunt Alvera was fighting it.

Mom and Dad painted the living room ceiling today. I got a letter from Mrs. Anderson [5] today she said she liked the sachets and she signed it “Much love, Mrs. A. My mom just read it to Kevin.


Friday January 3, 1969

Dear Diary,

Colleen and Dawn came over and I was still in my pjs. They wanted me to come over and play so I went and is their room a mess! [6]

Well, anyway, I ate lunch there and a boy named Mark Goalson said Jeff [7] picked up his noodle soup bowl out of it and his Dad pushed his nose in it so we call him noodle nose! I am going to sleep overnight at Colleen’s tonight. I’ll tell about it tomorrow.


Saturday January 4, 1969

Dear Diary,

I had fun last night even though Colleen always talked about Jeff! We watched The Incredible Mr. Limpet who turned into a fish! [8] When we finally got to sleep it was 12:50. We woke up at 8:15 and had to rush-rush.

We got our shirts today and they are red and black! [9]

Well, Debbie and Julie are over and they want me to play with them.

My scores were 61-54-80. [10]


Sunday January 5, 1969

Dear Diary,

I went to bed at 3:00 last night and got up at 12:00 and thought “school tomorrow, ick!” I sat around all day and got weak from not eating. I don’t really have anything to talk about so I’ll end.


Monday January 6, 1969

Dear Diary,

School again! Guess what, Eugenia broke her arm. She said she broke it the day we got out of school. She broke it at the wrist.


Tuesday January 7, 1969

Dear Diary,

Nothing happened today except I took my old violin to Mr. Christensen.


Wednesday January 8, 1969

Dear Diary,

I can’t remember what happened today.


Thursday January 9, 1969

Dear Diary,

Tomorrow’s the day when my mom goes to the school conference. (see, I’m scared)


Friday January 10, 1969

Dear Diary,

Mom went to school today for my conference. She said they didn’t say very much except that I am a very good student.


Saturday January 11, 1969

Dear Diary,

We’re going over to Pam and Jeff’s tonight. When were went Pam jumped up and down. We made Rings and Things and Strange Change Time Machine. [11]


Sunday January 12 1968

Dear Diary,

Nothing interesting happened today.


And that’s it. I only lasted 12 days.

 

 

 

Notes:
  1. I loved this game — still do []
  2. that’s how I spelled it in the diary []
  3. are they ever? []
  4. so television has been violent for a long time []
  5. my sixth grade teacher []
  6. I don’t remember hanging out with Colleen and Dawn that much after early grade school so this surprises me []
  7. Jeff was my obsession for a few years []
  8. I don’t remember that I saw that film for the first time with Colleen []
  9. bowling shirt []
  10. bowling scores — pretty bad []
  11. I don’t remember either of those toys. Pam and Jeff always had cooler things than I did []

Old Writing: Part 30::Upstairs, Downstairs

I have had a nearly life-long love of British television starting with the Avengers when I was in 3rd grade. Here I talk about Upstairs, Downstairs. I was in my freshman year of college. I don’t remember writing this though.

English Comp. 102
T-TH- 8:00 – 9:15 am
1-26-76

Upstairs, Downstairs, one of public television’s most popular programs, owes much of its attractiveness to the credibility of its characters. This BBC program portrays life in Britain during WWI as seen through the eyes of one certain upper class household. Both upper and lower classes are shown. Masters and servants (Upstairs and Downstairs) interact, giving the audience glimpses of the happy and sad times of each class.

One character who comes to mind is the overbearing but sensitive butler, Hudson. The viewers can sense the pain felt by Hudson when he is told that, because of poor eyesight, he can’t be sent to “the front” to fight for his country. He overcomes this pain by joining the “Special Constables” and the pain turns to pride.

Upstairs has believable characters as well as downstairs. Richard Bellamy is the kind and patient, but troubled former master of the household. He’s the quiet member of Parliament who loves his son’s wife, Hazel, like a daughter, yet wishes that he were twenty years younger and in his son’s place because that his son doesn’t really love Hazel.

Finally, there is Georgina, the nineteen-year-old niece of Richard Bellamy. She, though not like her uncle, is a believable character. She is a young woman who is afraid of being hurt, yet wants to serve her country in its time of crisis, so she befriends many soldiers, letting take the memory of her charming personality to comfort them to whatever fate has for them. She lets them love her, but never allows herself to love them back.

Every one of the members of the Bellamy household, upstairs and down, has at least something about them that their audience can believe in. An insecurity shown by Hazel or a jealous rage by the master shows us that they are as human as ourselves.

Journal Entry in Three Voices 7-22-04

Ha! I already wrote about this

Backstory: For some reason Clare, Andrew and I drove to Illinois from Bethesda in July of 2004. Actually, this may have been when we went for Clare’s 13th birthday where she got her ears pierced. Dean must have gone to South Africa.

We drove halfway to Illinois the first day, stopping in Fremont/Port Clinton Ohio. I don’t recall if I’d planned on having us all keep a journal of our travels or if the events of the day made me want to keep a record of them.

The entries are written on Holiday Inn stationery. I wrote my entry first:

7-22-04

Left home at 11:10 this morning. Had hoped to get an earlier start but no luck. Kids were fine — great first few hours then they began watching LOTR-FOTR. Stopped in good old Breezewood for lunch and gas. Bought too much icky food.

Arrived at Motel in Fremont, Ohio around 7:30. Checked in. Kids wanted to stay in the car.

When I got back Clare was doing something to Andrew’s back. I jokingly asked Clare what she did to Andrew. Then I saw that he had the seat belt all tangled up and around his belly. I helped him escape but was on the verge of calling 911 to get him cut out of the seat belt. He finally did a backwards somersault and slipped free. Dinner was good. Kids watching TV now.

Dona

Andrew went next:

72204

We left a lot later than I wanted but we had TV. We ate lunch at a fine place. Then I had to go to the bathroom really really bad. Then we went to a place we went to last time. Then stuff happened and then… I got stuck in my seat belt and I got to do 2 somersaults. It was weird.

Clare was last:

Today was funny… Halloween woke me up. Awwww. Mom was mad. Dad left blah blah. Ok later, Andrew got stuck in the seat belt umm, I have no clue how. He had to do a backwards somersault errr…

Dinner was odd… umm Mom probably told you, a cute kid (adorable) waved. He was 2, then a thunder storm came. I went to our room and am watching TV now.

The seat belt disappeared in his tummy. GTG.

~*Clare*~

Old Writing: Part 29::How Doth the Little Termite?

I don’t remember this — but I noticed that I didn’t finish. I only wrote one stanza and that stanza was pretty lame.

How doth the little termite
improve his appetite
by eating wood and nothing else
O that fussy termite.

(the assignment is below in mimeograph color)

Against Idleness and Mischief — An Excerpt

How doth the little busy bee
Improve each shining hour,
And gather honey all the day
From every opening flower.

How skilfully she builds her cell.
How neat she spreads the wax
And labors hard to store it well
With the sweet food she makes.

Assignment: Using Mr. Watts’ poem as a model, make substitutions of the underlined (bolded) words with your own. Try to be as clever, original and as interesting as you can be. YES, you may change any of the other words to suit your idea. Keep the same rhythm if you do decide to change the original plan. YES, you may leave some of the underlined (bolded) words. Be imaginative!

 

Old Writing: Part 28::Sibling Rivalry??

I have very little memory of writing this, but I remember reading it. I was a weird teenager.

May 1, 1973

“Sibling Rivalry”

“But mother, I want one too! You can’t give a doll to Heather without giving one to me, you know that!” cried ten-year-old Megan.

“Oh Megan, stop being difficult. You are making a scene. Grandma gave you a new nightgown last week, and this is Heather’s eighth birthday,” whispered Mrs. McLaughlin impatiently.

“If you give Heather a present without giving me one I will tell her what it is!” warned the near hysterical child.

“Oh Megan, whatever shall I do with you?” said Mrs. McLaughlin, turning back towards the toy department. “All right, pick out something under five dollars.”

With an almost satisfied gleam in her eye, and a sinister smirk on her face, Megan eyed the toys with exasperation. “But Mama dear, whatever can I find for under five dollars? Besides, Heather’s doll cost fifteen dollars!”

“Oh well, how about a party dress? You can wear it at Heather’s party.” angry that she couldn’t keep her own child under control, and defeated, afraid of what Megan could do if she didn’t give in, Mrs. McLaughlin gave in.

“All right, if it will make you happy I will get an old dress — but only if it costs more than Heather’s china doll!”

“We’ll see, honey, but now let’s pick out a dress for you.” She then led a satisfied little girl to find a dress.

“Oh Mama! What a beautiful doll, I shall call her Amy,” cried the joyous Heather at her eighth birthday party while Megan looked on in her new dress with envy.

“The doll is okay, but look at my dress everyone, it cost twenty-two dollars. Heather’s doll only cost fifteen! Heather never had a dress as pretty as this one, Mama even said so!” said Megan, distracting attention from Heather’s many gifts.

“Shh, Megan, this is Heather’s party.” whispered Heather and Megan’s mother.

“Shut-up! I hate you! I never get any presents. I hate you all!”

“Megan! I am sorry, kids. Megan is just tired from shopping today. You just on on with your party,” said Mrs. McLaughlin, running after her hysterical child.

Later…

“Megan, do you want this top that Kim gave me? Or this Barbie doll from Sandy? Please don’t be angry with me,” pleaded Heather.

“I’m not mad,” said Megan, picking up Heather’s new china doll and looking at it with an odd smile, “but I would like this!”

“Oh, no, Megan, please, not that. Mama gave it to me and I want to keep it. You can have anything else though,” said Heather in tears.

“No! I want this, it is mine anyway. A nice rich man gave it to me and Mother gave it to you because she hates to spend money on you, only me!” lied Megan.

“You are lying, Megan. Go out of my room, you can’t have anything!” screamed Heather.

“Oh yeah” Well how about this?” screamed Megan, throwing the fragile china doll to the floor. “So there, I wouldn’t want that old doll anyway, now!” Megan ran out the door slamming it behind her.

“Oh Amy, Amy, don’t die, don’t be broken please.” sobbed the heartbroken Heather, picking up the shattered doll and rocking back and forth as if trying to comfort the doll — only getting the comfort from the “dead” doll instead. ” Oh, Amy, Amy…”

Old Writing: Part 27::The Lady or the Tiger? Conclusion

I remember writing this, but that’s about it. I think I’d heard the story of The Lady or the Tiger before, or perhaps not.

My last line, “it was best for all involved” is really harsh. If I were to write this today, of course the princess would indicate the door the maiden, her rival, was behind. Now that is the best for all involved. Good grief, who was I back then?

May 7, 1973

The Lady or the Tiger?
Conclusion

Which came out — the lady or the tiger?

Judging from the princess’ character, her savage jealousy and hate for the woman behind one of the doors, it would seem as though she would have the tiger come out of the door and devour her lover. It is an “if I can’t have him, no one shall” attitude.

Of course, her “savage” love for the youth may dent her jealousy a bit — but not enough to let him live and marry the maiden.

I don’t think I have a “savage” nature, but I know that I would be awfully jealous in the princess’ place.

The man who loved the princess may have wanted the tiger to come out. Since the story said only that “his eyes asked the question, ‘Which one?'” not “Which one will the maiden be in for me to live?” He may have felt miserable without the princess, a sort of “fate worse than death.”

So my conclusion is that the tiger leaped through the door that the princess indicated and pounced upon her lover and devoured him. It was best for all involved.

Old Writing: Part 26::A Certain Reunion

I barely remember writing this but I vision my childhood room and closet when I read it. I always enjoyed books about dolls with inner (or outer) voices, although I didn’t really like to play with dolls all that much.

Strange how my teenage self thought that grownups forgot about things from their childhood.

English 3-4
Period 4
April 30, 1973

A Certain Reunion

Oh goodness, how lonesome one can become in here day after day, night after night, never any company. How I long for the old days back. The days when Cindy would play with me — pick me up and dress me for parties or bed. It ended when she turned 13 — her friends convinced her that playing with dolls was immature.

It wasn’t long ago — perhaps five or six years — that Cindy held me once more — and looked at me strangely. I wondered why she looked so old — but now I know. Cindy left soon after that — she found me while cleaning her closet and remembered her long-gone childhood. Cindy is probably married by now and has children to look after.

Let me introduce myself. I’m Jenny. Well, that’s what Cindy called me. My manufacturer’s name — Betty Wetty — warns people of my bed-wetting habit.

It is about time for my nap. Life is so boring when one belongs to no one, no where…

“Jenny, Jenny, where are you?”

I must have been asleep for hours — is someone calling me?

“I’m here mama, What room is this?”

“This was my room when I was a little girl.”

Hmm, the door is opening. I can’t remember the last time it was open. Who is that little girl standing in the doorway? Is it –? No, it couldn’t be. No it isn’t Cindy the child. Cindy is long gone.

“Mama! Look what I found — a doll! Can I  have it? Please Mama, please!

“Why, it must be my Jenny — I haven’t seen her in years.”

“No Mama, I’m your Jenny!”

“Yes, dear, but this was my Jenny long before you were my Jenny.”

Now I understand. Cindy has grown up and has a child. What  pretty little girl. She looks like Cindy did, and Cindy is a beauty too.

“Mama, can I have Jenny? I will be real nice to her and she will be a good friend with my other dolls. I will love her just like you did. Please!”

Yes, Cindy, please! It will be just like old times — for me anyway.

“Why yes, of course dear. Let’s go home and see if Daddy is there. Maybe he will like to meet Jenny.”

“Okay Mama, let’s hurry home!”

Home, that’s such a nice word.

Old Writing: Part 25::Reflections on a Life

English 3-4
Period 4
May 21, 1973

I remember writing this. I think I must have been a little obsessed with Shakespeare at the time since the beginning sounds like the opening lines of Romeo and Juliet, and then I mention a quote from Romeo and Juliet later on.

Reflections on a Life

One solitary tree, alone in its beauty, simple but majestic. This tree, not yet reached adulthood, stands alone, apart from other, older trees. Isn’t it appropriate that this tree be on a high school lawn?

Our tree can pretend to be grown — a giant among dwarfs — for it is surrounded by a forest of elvish tree-like plants. An array of dandelions encircle it. So our special tree is not lonely; it has friends. The sun, the wind and the rain are some. Elements that let it live or die.

What kind of tree is ours? Elm? Locust? Maple? No matter, for to quote William Shakespeare, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet.” That which we call a tree by any other word would be as grand. It still, no matter what kind, will give shade to a weary traveler, protection to a squirrel, and a home to a nest of birds.

In time our tree will grow old, and eventually die, as we will, but before then it will, again as we will, see much happening in its life, changes and the same old things time cannot change, remaining constant.

Old Writing: Part 24::On Growing Up

I remember writing this — it was after seeing the Disney documentary Beaver Valley. I also think I did a report on beavers and must have been fascinated that their parents kicked them out of the lodges after a certain age.

English 3-4
Period 4
May 2, 1973

On Growing Up

Now, when I look back, I had a great childhood. Of course, at the time I thought being a beaver kit was the worst thing in the world to be — so much to learn about building lodges and dams, caring for a family and such. I also thought, then, how wonderful it would be to be grown up — a two year old beaver — and be free. Free? If one is free, one can be anywhere, can’t one? I have been thrown out of my home. I must fend for myself now, build a new lodge somewhere — but far away from the family.

My sister — Cathy — had the good sense to leave before she was humiliated by being kicked out of her own home, by her own parents.

Well, enough feeling sorry for myself, I had better eat something so I have the strength to build my lodge. That looks like a tender tree over there.

Mmmm, it is tender — and sweet, and ……

“Hello.”

Who is that? Oh, a beaver, probably wants to steal my tree.

“Hi.”

Hey, it’s a girl! Gosh she’s cute, look at that tail, great shape.

“That looks like a tasty tree.”

“Want some? It is really very good — sweet, like you.”

Oh why did I have to say that? I’ve made her blush, now she will leave.

“Sure, thank you. Mmmm, it is good. Tender — like you.”

Oh, wow! I think I am in love.

“What is your name? Mine is Christopher Q. Williams. Q stands for Quincy.”

Now why did I have to go and tell her my middle name? She will laugh at me.

“I’m Marie G. Larson. The G’s for Gertrude.”

Hmm — she has a dumb middle name like me. Well, here goes, I will ask her for a date.

“Are you doing anything tonight? Do you want to help me build a lodge?”

The most she can do is refuse.

“I’m not doing anything, and I’d love to build a lodge with you.

She didn’t refuse!

“I’ll pick you up at seven, okay?”

“Oh, that’ll be fine.”

What a beautiful smile! Now I know I’m in love. I guess growing up isn’t so bad after all.