513 Lincoln Avenue Waukesha Wisconsin

My home,

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in my 1950’s neighborhood.

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This was the East side Five Points of Waukesha, as opposed to the larger downtown Five Points. The city was, and remains, a maze to navigate, but my neighborhood was a microcosm; a small village connected to the whole by streetcar tracks, intersections, the bus line to Milwaukee and the Soo Line Railroad. The streetcar ran a sidewalk away from my bedroom window, and I could hear the bell that signaled the zinging hum as it accelerated from the corner stop. Only once did it come to a screeching halt as my terrified mom scooped my toddler sister, Duff, from the tracks.

In those days it was safe to play kick the can way past dark. I could walk where ever and when ever I wanted to or needed to. First, to Hadfield Elementary three blocks east, having to walk the day I got my first period wearing what felt like a giant marshmallow; followed by middle and high school about a mile away, waving to the old men who sat on the wide porch watching traffic. We ran errands for our mom just doors away – to Cody’s meat market, Klein’s bakery and the corner grocery store. In her beauty shop Ethel turned my pigtails into a duck tail. And I walked to Rode’s Drug Store on the corner where Fred hired me when I turned 14, and left to begin my freshman year at Madison. From my front porch I watched Mr. Kinne make out in his car with Irene who managed the Custard Cup he owned across the alley. Peter Larson kissed me for the first time in Silurian Park, and I remember the coat I was wearing. My Latin teacher, Grace Fardy, lived across the street with her sister and parents, and next to them our friends, Emmy and Martin Frings, who were proud Polish immigrants. She was a beautiful seamstress, and he was a barber just steps away from their apartment. Our next door neighbors, the Sheild’s, were like extended family. Lefty was a cop, and Mary was the epitome of a loving Catholic mother. Good people who raised good kids, and who I’m certain, kept a few of our misdeeds to themselves.

My sisters, Jud and Duff and I, were fortunate to live in a time and a place where ‘most everyone knew our name’ – and where it was safe enough to walk a few blocks to Jimmy’s Grotto on Main Street at midnight to get an Italian Sausage that simmered in their big Nesco.

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Just Wishing…

I wish I could hear him call me Sorrel. I wish I could feel his big arm around me. I wish he could have grown old loving his grandkids, and I wish his grandkids could have loved him…img_0936
This morning, Monday September 19th, I made coffee in this small kitchen just as I have for 34 years, but I’ve missed my Bill for 18 of them. It’s his birthday today, and he would be 82. As I filled the coffee pot, I was thinking he would approve of my faucet fix.img_1399
Remembering that he temporarily used a huge vise grip to stop a leak, I attached two small ones that have worked just fine for a very long time. That, and the addition of a bunkhouse are the only changes we’ve made to our 1940’s cabin. When we were looking for a place up here, my only stipulation was – no knotty pine. I’ve lived with nothing but knotty pine everywhere and loved it. The other constant has been one, two or three Labradors. Having lost my old Josie at 16, Betsy and Hud have loaned me Francy, one of her last litter, to keep me company for the summer. She’s a very sweet girly dog!img_0933
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This morning Bill might have walked down these steps to the lake with his fishing pole, and when I look down there from my bedroom window, in my mind, I can still see him. img_1133

Just wishing I could have wished him Happy Birthday today.

The Essence of Emily

It’s the middle of May, and soon homework at the kitchen counter will be a thing of the past. The last prom, looming finals and finally – GRADUATION!  Growing Up Emily has been everything, you name it, but never a dull moment:

dead on with a bow and arrow; beautiful in a prom dress

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working at it ’til she got it right:

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that began and ended with fine results:

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A fierce competitor on the volleyball court:IMG_0646.JPG

a terrific bunch of best friends:IMG_0152

and a special more than good buddy:IMG_0007.JPG

always ready for fun and a dare:IMG_1365

 

I watched her as a toddler determined to lug this huge rock a long distance to the cabin.        Little wonder that being Emily’s grama has simply been amazing:IMG_0321.JPG

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ROCK ON, MY DEAR – can’t wait for what’s next!