Lost Items, Lapses of Memory, and Not Seeing What is Right in Front of Me

I found it.

I couldn’t find this picture when I was writing Little Rockers. My pictures are a mess.

Holding Cousin Cherie

And I found this picture of Grandma Abbie after I published Amana Rocking Chairs.

Abbie in her Amana rocker

It was taken when my grandmother had moved to an assisted living apartment. She usually smiled for pictures. I don’t think she was ready.

I’ve been corrected.

When I wrote about My Big Tall Italian Wedding Cake, I made at least one mistake. Dad(Jim) tells me that, although he was already in Odessa, TX at the time of my wedding, Mom and my sisters were still in Clovis, NM, which makes Mom even more of a super mom – driving my wedding cake and my three little sisters the six hours to Waco during the time she was preparing to sell our house and make a move. Dad drove in separately.

And on the subject of faulty memory…. I write many of my personal memories here. I believe them to be true. Maybe they’re not. You might want to read You Can’t Trust Memory! from the Heart and Craft of Life Writing blog.

I’ll just keep writing like I remember it. I hope people will comment or otherwise tell me their version of the story!!!

Here’s the picture to prove it.

The day Dad(Jerry) and I were in Bethel Cemetery, we couldn’t find the headstone for Ann Rutledge’s mother. Dad returned a few months later with cousins Alice and Adele and they found it right off the bat. Here’s a picture they took.

Grave of Ann Rutledge, Bethel Cemetery, Van Buren Co., Iowa

I know I looked on that row. How could I have missed the tall headstone with a GAR marker?

The sun was really bright that day.

An Excuse, An English Lesson, and Memories Shared

It’s been a little quiet here recently.

One reason for the lack of posts is my volunteer job. I teach English as a Second (or Other) Language at my church twice a week. We have a fantastic lead teacher who prepares all the lessons, and all the rest of us have to do is show up and work through the lesson with a small group of students.

Well, our fantastic leader is on vacation and she left me in charge. She gave me some lessons from a couple years ago (she’s recycling) that I could use – but they “need some work,” she said. I knew that any changes I made would not improve her lessons, so I decided to write my own instead.

I am not a trained teacher – I just stumbled my way into this. Preparing a lesson takes me a lot of time. So I’ve been writing lessons rather than blog posts.

I think I’ve found a way to recycle a blog post into an English lesson and then recycle that lesson into a blog post. Lazy?  Or brilliant?

The Spit-Up Chair

If you are a regular reader here, you know that I have a few posts that I refer to as “Chair Memories.” I decided to use my cousin’s poem, “The Gold Recliner” as the starting point for yesterday’s ESL lesson. Then I took an excerpt from my memory of “The Spit-Up Chair” to expand on the idea of an object that evokes a memory.

I was concerned that the sadness of the poem could be upsetting to some of our students who have suffered losses. A few of our students are refugees from war-torn countries. Others have grieved the loss of loved ones, as we all do. And I didn’t want the morning to be depressing, so I tried to “soften” things a bit by adding discussion questions about memories elicited by music, or a smell – and whether or not one has a good or bad memory…. that kind of thing.

The last part of the lesson asked the students to write about an object that holds memories for them and to share the story with their group.

I am sorry to report that I made Mrs. Li cry.

As Mrs. Li, an older woman from China, told us about the china tea cup (a real Chinese china tea cup) given to her by her younger brother who has since died, tears began to roll down her cheeks. I wasn’t sure if she could finish, but she did.

A woman from Mexico, here in town to visit her grandson, told us that her grandson reminds her of her son when he was a baby and that her wedding ring brings back many happy memories surrounding her wedding.

A young woman from Korea read her story of a pair of white athletic shoes – a gift from her boyfriend (now husband)… how the left shoe was too tight but then stretched to fit perfectly; how she would not wear the shoes in the rain or on unpaved surfaces; how she met her fitness goals in these shoes; and how she lost the left shoe. No longer in possession of the left shoe, she threw the right shoe away.

I think I saw tears begin to well in her eyes as she talked about a pair of athletic shoes.

A woman from Russia related memories of her first days in school and the kindness of her teacher.

A man from Mexico told us about his first watch – a gift for his 8th birthday. He was so proud of his watch with the Roman numerals on the clock face that he was constantly reporting the time to anyone within earshot. Eventually the watch needed a new wristband – and his mother accidentally lost the watch.

A young man from Spain told us about summers spent at his grandmother’s house in a small village and the good times he had there.

A young mother from Japan told us about a trip she took to Cambodia with her American friend (he was just her friend!). They visited the Killing Fields. They volunteered at a school where they taught a little Japanese and English to the children. To thank them, some children reached up and picked leaves from a coconut tree and formed them into two rings, then placed the rings on the ring finger of her left hand and her friend’s left hand. It was then that they knew they were to be more than friends. Now they are married with one child and another on the way.

An older man from Vietnam arrived very late to class. The other students were already writing so I gave him a quick summary of what he had missed and what the students were doing. He sat and thought while the others wrote. After the students had shared their stories, I asked if he wanted to share a memory. “No. I try to forget. Not good for me to remember. Like her (nodding to Mrs. Li), I would cry,” he said.

Photo Credit: Coconut Flower by Mohammad Mahdi Karim/Wikipedia/Creative Commons Licence


Sepia Saturday – Chair Memories: The Barber Shop

Sepia Saturday provides an opportunity for genealogy bloggers to share their family history through photographs.

I was pulled in several directions by today’s prompt, but finally decided to go with the appearance of the room. It looks like it is a place of business, so I’m going with a family business with chairs lining the wall and a clock on the back wall.


You may remember the man on the left from last week’s Sepia Saturday post.

Joe Loverde (L) and Johnny Trippodo (R?)

Yes, that’s my husband’s grandfather, Joe Loverde, on the left. I asked my husband to tell me everything he could remember about his grandfather’s barber shop. Then I called my mother-in-law for her input. I’ll do my best to share their memories.

The  Medical Tower Barber Shop was located on the ground floor of the Medical Tower Building, a high-rise of medical offices on Main Street in Houston, TX. near the Texas Medical Center.

Nelson Eddy

Joe Loverde and Johnny Trippodo were co-owners of the Medical Tower Barber Shop, which opened around 1950-51. Johnny must be the other man in the picture. My MIL thought Johnny looked like Nelson Eddy. What do you think?

Before they opened this shop together, both had worked at other barber shops.  Joe had been a barber at the Joe Chestnut Barber Shop in the Shell Oil Building, where most of his customers worked for Shell Oil. Johnny had been a barber at the famous Shamrock Hotel. When they opened their shop, both had customers who followed them.

The barber chairs were aqua and beige. The little white things at the top of the chairs are rolls of paper. Each time a new customer took a seat, there was fresh, clean paper for resting one’s head. Husband liked to play on the barber chairs – they went up and down and spun around. His grandpa would fuss at him to stop playing on the chairs. The sinks were aqua too.

Angela Parlati Loverde

Joe’s wife, Angela, also worked at the barber shop. She sat at the front and worked as the cashier.

Juanita was the manicurist. She had a little cart and would pull up beside the customers getting a hair cut to give them a manicure. That little table on the left is Juanita’s table (but maybe not the one with wheels).

James shined shoes in the back of the barber shop. He called Grandfather “Mr. Joe.” James worked at the barber shop for many years and Joe often took him to Galveston to fish on their days off.

Quite a few Italians and a few notable Houstonians came to Joe for their barbering. One was Joe Lucia, Sr., owner of Rudi’s Restaurant. Another was Frank Meyer, whose family developed Meyerland – he would come to the barber shop every day to have Joe give him a shave. If Joe had a customer who was in the hospital, he would go to the hospital to give them a haircut or a shave. MIL remembers that he would massage his customers’ heads – no wonder he had a loyal clientele.

At some point in time, Joe and Johnny had a parting of the ways and Johnny opened up a shop a couple of blocks away. Joe’s brother, Roy, joined him as the second barber.

The barber shop also served as a kind of babysitting service when husband’s mom had things to do. Besides hanging around the barbershop, husband would often go to the pharmacy in the building. They had a coffee shop in the pharmacy that his grandmother Angela frequented for a cup of coffee and a cigarette. Husband liked to go there for the comic books. Next door to the Medical Tower Building was Bill Williams’ Restaurant. In this picture, you can see the Medical Tower Building in the background. Inside the restaurant, husband liked to play the fortune teller machine.

Joe was also the family barber. Here is my husband getting a haircut in the kitchen of his grandparents’ and great-grandmother’s house (they always lived together). Kitchen haircuts were the norm for husband and his brother when they were little. Joe cut everybody’s hair…  sons-in-law, grandsons, nephews, grandnephews. When relatives from out of town came for a visit, Joe cut their hair too.

Husband says that the burr – or is it butch? – haircut his grandpa gave him came in handy during the years he was in Catholic elementary school because the nuns couldn’t get hold of enough hair to pull it. (He felt sorry for the girl with the long braids who sat in front of him.) Getting a haircut from Grandpa hit a snag, however, when husband was in high school. It was the late 60s-early 70s and longer hair was in style. Joe didn’t do long hair; he cut hair the way he liked it. After getting a couple of haircuts that husband and his brother thought were too short, they refused to let their Grandfather cut their hair again.

I don’t know exactly when Joe closed his barber shop, but the change in men’s hairstyles may have played a part in his decision to close. He didn’t retire, though. Joe worked part-time at another barbershop at Greenbriar and Holcomb until his late 70s, when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

I have shared other “chair memories” in previous posts. It all started with The Gold Recliner and continued here, here, and here. I’d been wanting to write a chair memory about my husband getting his hair cut and today I had the perfect opportunity!

And take a look to see what others did with today’s Sepia Saturday prompt.