Friday, January 27, 2012

Sepia Saturday 110 Movie Theaters and how we were

About 1954 me and my Grandma
ready to go to the movies
 A challenge this week with Theater as our theme, but I think back to growing up in New Kensingon, PA in it's glory days when we had 3 movie theaters in a town that is all ashambles to the dregs today. Stroll along my memories with me to back before televisions became  a standard home furnishing, many Sundays, after mass and family dinner, from as early as I can remember, my grandmother,  Rose and I went to the matinee movies downtown and would stop for a big ice cream cone on our way home.  She enjoyed her movie theaters which she always referred to as just that, "movie theaters".  Some Sundays we'd  catch  two, a musical or drama  for her and cowboys and Indians  in technicolor for me.

Baba which I called her all my life, from the Polish word for Grandmother, made her money for our day out and about by playing the numbers at the local bookie who took bets at the butcher shop.  She was quite lucky most times and kept her stash for our treats, saying that was for us to have fun.  I spent lots of my time at their house and each morning when I awoke she'd ask me about my dreams and then get a small black book from the cupboard drawer.  I learned years later from her that was her Dream Book which translated the subject of dreams into numbers and those were the bets she placed,  always winning when she played Patty's dreams.  How I wish I knew what became of that book, imagine if  today I could use it for the lottery.

 I  learned that the reason we could afford two movies was we frequently got in free at the Liberty where her brother Bill worked as a projectionist, when movies came on the big reels.  I have shared photos of Bill before, here's a newspaper clipping she  saved of the  man at work.  Notice the name Walter Austin, somehow Bill came from Walter and he'd changed the  Polish Ostroski aka Ostrowski to Austin, generating much  fuss and disdain from his sisters.   But today's theater theme  showed photos of the buildings and I  had to dig and  search to find any photographs of the big time days in New Kensington when we had the Liberty, the Dattola, the Circle and the Ritz theaters.  I was amazed to find a Library of Congress photo of our own old Liberty theater which was demolished.   These movie theaters were grand seating from 700 to 1000 with more balcony seating, plush carpets, draperies, gilded to the max.  Wish I had photos of the insides, they sure don't make 'em like that anymore.  Todays movie theaters  use a sardine pack seating system,  superior technology does not make up for lack of grandeur and class. 

Downstairs  where I watch movies today
Back of my recliner looking toward the big screen
Today, I wait for DVD's and the latest Netflix offerings and take my self downstairs to our own big screen, surround sound put my feet up in the recliner and enjoy the movies, I often think how Baba would have loved this.   

A Westmoreland county historical site shows  that:  On May 2, 1921, the first of the new theaters, the Liberty Theater (demolished 1996) opened on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Eighth Street and the Ritz Theater (958 Fifth Avenue) opened the next year.

The Liberty courtesy of the Library of Congress

Dowtown  Fifth Avenue as it looked when we walked to the movies
The old Liberty  is on the left

From a historic website the Dattola theater

The Dattola movie Theater on the other end of Fifth Avenue
Photo from 1969 coverage in the Valley Dispatch,
taken sometime in the  1960's.

The newspaper article tells the sad tale of the Dattola.

I have no photos of the Circle nor the Ritz.  At one time they had both become bingo halls and today that is likely gone as well.  Will New Kensington ever  be revivied to it's glory days when  we grew up in the  50's and 60's.  Who knows

To see more wonderful Sepia posts go to the Sepi site here:

Friday, January 20, 2012

Dolls for Sepia Saturday 109

About 1947 me with doll

Our prompt this week is Dolls which should be easy for me because I was the oh so very typical little girl with dolls, dolls, dolls.  Being from the sheltered good old days, times of  years ago, in a small town in Pennsylvania, I enjoyed my dolls a long time, and had them across my bed into my teen years.  But I have few photos of me with my dolls, as you can see I was not a very careful mama here....

I took a doll or two with me everywhere I went which was not that far in that town,  mostly down the hill to my grandparents. I had another stash of dolls at their house as well as dolls at home....someone (likely my aunt Jinx who was a working bachelorette for many years, living with her parents)  decided that it would be easier for all concerned that I keep dolls at their house where I spent most of my time anyway.  This decision came likely after I was walking in the rain with my grandma and dropped one of my dolls, soaking  her and generating my tears and fussing.  Shortly after that, my Granpap fashioned a miniature umbrella for my dollies, wonder what ever became of that.  My dolls had an extensive wardrobe made by my grandmother and aunt and even myself, who learned to sew early and had my own miniature sewing machine, something else I wish I had today.

About 1949 me and my talking doll, Marcella
I  still have this doll today

These next photos show me at my grandparents' with dolls; I am guessing the years because they were not marked on the photos..

About 1950 with  2 dolls, the one on the
left survived from a few years

Prize bride doll today
original dres, shoes and a
green plastic  trim I  glued on her veil  to the consternation of
my aunt.

Still today I have two of my most cherished dolls, Marcella, a  talking doll who still utters a few words, "pick me up"  and my  prize bride doll acquired from a tantrum I demonstrated in the  former GCMurphy Five and Ten Store while shopping  with my aunt Jinx when  I was about 9 years old.. I spotted this bride doll and had to have her; while my aunt tried to reason with me to wait until my birthday, I was not to be dissuaded and she could not bear my pout or worse so she bought her on the spot.  The first time my aunt Jinx met Jerry, husband, she told  that story of when she was forced to buy me that bride doll as an example of how far back (and thereby well ingrained) my stubbornness and determination could be, this was to warn him about my traits, and that I would pull out all stops to get my way as I was used to having it....but it was too late, he'd already experienced the same by then.  She talked about the bride doll until she died in 2009, so you know it was really a master tantrum and an example of how I could get my way as a child.  Such a shock to grow up and learn life doesn't work always the way we want, expect, demand...

Marcella today, talking doll..Like the bride doll all original dress & shoes

While scanning other photos I  found these of my cousin Paula Jean with her father and her own big dolly, across the country in California in about 1952. 

About 1952 Paul and Paula Jean
I don't ever recall having a doll bigger than me, but her mother, my aunt had written across the back, "I won this at the Carnival for her, it's bigger than her but she drags it all around."     Our family genes have determination embedded, here follows Paula with Big Dolly, "stay there," she seems to demand.  She will get a laugh when she sees these two photos, especially with the "babushka" on her head, no match for the Big Dolly's big hat!

Paula Jean positioning her Big Dolly
Clck here to go to the Sepia Site to see what else is shared this week.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

How did I function in a professional career for 34+ years

I ask myself that question because tomorrow AM I should arise about 6:45AM for a medical, , appointment to which they request my presence 15 minutes ahead of the appointment time and to which I will be driving across the river, a mere 10 miles but nevertheless not just up the hill in our little town.  I groan because this means use of an alarm clock to awaken me before I am likely to be ready to depart the covers. I have become allergic to alarm clocks in retirement.   I"m ever so comfortable in getting up when I am good and ready, which is usually around 8:00AM when Jerry who has been  up for awhile returns to the bedroom to check in on me  inquiring if I intend to greet the day and grace the morning with my presence. I remind him that for  so many years I had a much earlier  wake up call than he did; he was just thinking of arising as I left.  This is now my turn so I have this phobia of arising before he has been up and around.   

It took me over a year into retirement to shake my habitual 4:30 AM risings endured for the commute all those years.  Gradually I phased  to sleeping mornings until 5:30, then 6:00 and finally 7:00.  But now for this  winter I have surpassed my own hopes and mastered an  8:00 sleep in.  But then why not, this is the beauty of this phase of life, I can operate on my own schedule not the alarm clocks.  

In a moment of unawareness I booked this appointment for 8:30 AM when it could have been much later in the day.  So here I am  in my  years of freedom from work and very resentful of anything that interferes and inflicts a wake up call on me , even when it is of my own making.  It makes me laugh, how did I do that for so long?  Well, I often found a dark seat on the commuter bus and slept the morning commute into downtown Sacramento, and I  used mass transit as much as I could, so preferable to sitting on those bumper to bumper California freeways. Today we live in an area with minimal traffic so that is not a concern, and most places are 10 to 15 minutes at most from my garage door to inside wherever I am going.  About the only complication can be the winter white weather, fluffy snow which has now returned to create a Minnesota winter wonderland.  Roads and highways are clear, but there is care to be taken.    

I found this blog link today in between computer "chores"  by a blogger who knows just what I'm talking about with retirement time and spurts and how life changes.... what caught my eye was the "Time Wasters"  tab

I also found a more opinionated, inspirational blog site suggesting what we ought and ought not to do in retirement,  way too ambitious  for me, but I do appreciate that someone went to the keyboard to solidify what I do automatically, like not spending my time with people I don't enjoy.   

What I like most about retirement is the freedom to float along and not schedule myself hither an yon, not planning moment by moment but having float time.  Lollygagging, dabbling, I have almost perfected those arts.  Yes, I do have many hobbies and accomplish tasks, but when someone asks, "what are you going to do the rest of the day?" I am mostly mystified.  Huh? Did I miss something?  I worked all that time so that I could amble and even this attitude took a few years to adjust into.  But I have mastered it. 

I hate alarm clocks...
I spent six hours today at the computer on genealogy research, and scanning photos which I enjoy as well as financial analysis on our "investments" which is not quite so enjoyable but a necessity.  Of course I had the freedom to wander around and interrupt myself which I do readily.  I recall wishing I could "work at home" in my  p j's during career years telecommute the staff called it but  my profession/position  did not lend to that, nevertheless  I held that fantasy.  Well, now I can say it is  good thing I did not have that opportunity--it surely would not have worked for someone like me who can be easily distracted by herself.  And to think, I   closed my office door to minimize the bureaucratic interruptions between meetings and  more meetings back has changed, how did I not only function back then, but  function rather successfully which affords today's lifestyle  I  ponder, "how did I do that."  And another thing, "how did I even have time to work, because I seem to waste more time now than I could ever have dreamed of whiling away back in the day.....Truly I have overcome!

Well, so here I have done it again, sat at the keys and shared my thoughts with whoever happens by....what's your schedule these days,  like it  or not?     

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Oh woe is me with this blog and Sepia Posts

Blogger is adjusting the unknown with it's codes and that has made a mess for many of us got bothered this weekend by that, even the Sepia Site....but not to fear, if you wandered here from Sepia, scroll below this to  my feathered ladies...and if your comment does not get through, that's Blogger too.  Some (few) comments are reaching me.  I have not been able to access my comments here other than to publish them.  There is nothing as fascinating and frustrating as the blog world.  It's a good thing when it works and after these years to have a glitch is not too bad, I suppose, but  patience and acceptance do not come naturally to me.   

Friday, January 13, 2012

Ladies with Feather Hats Sepia Saturday 108 (Click Here to Sepia Site)

Ancestress of the hats
         Meet my  unknown ancestral ladies of the big  magnificent feather hats.  I have not been able to identify these women by name but the photo was with Rose's, my maternal grandmother's, small leather box of  family photos and I believe they have a limb somewhere in the Ostrowski (Ostroski) family tree.  They do not appear to be the simple immigrants from Poland nor the regular coal mining town relatives with hats like that; on the back someone wrote in pencil only, "Eastern girls"   How much farther east than Pennsylvania?  For a time I thought that the woman on the left could be Helen Sajikowski (Salkowski) my grandmother's step mother, third wife of her father, Frank.  After studying the  faces very closely I don't believe it is the same woman.  There is quite a bit of stunning detail on the dresses, seam work and  ornate fitted stitching.  The two appear  related.  But most of all, the hats are an untold  story, how heavy were they.  How straight did these women walk to carry a hat full of plumes atop their heads?  Where did they wear such headgear? 

So many questions and most of all who are they?  Did the photographer supply the hats to have their photo taken?  I know that happened in the earlier times when itinerant photographers supplied costumes for folks on the farms, hills,  small towns to adorn themselves. 

Here is a photo of Helen, my grandmother's step mother so you can compare; let me know what  you think.   Quite a lace collar that she sports atop her dress but no feathers,  nor hat.

"A hat is a flag, a shield, a bit of armor, and the badge of femininity. A hat is the difference between wearing clothes and wearing a costume; it's the difference between being dressed and being dressed up; it's the difference between looking adequate and looking your best. A hat is to be stylish in, to glow under, to flirt beneath, to make all others seem jealous over, and to make all men feel masculine about. A piece of magic is a hat." (Martha Sliter)
This last tidbit is from the Audubon Society Website:  At the turn of the last century, stylish women wore hats with the latest feather-topped design from Paris, New York, and other centers of fashion. Millinery houses in Europe and America traded internationally and indiscriminately for birds and bird feathers. The more exotic or unique the hat design and feather display, the larger the sales.   By the 1890s, women were wearing whole bodies of birds on hats and clothing. In 1886, noted ornithologist Frank Chapman counted 40 varieties of native birds, or bird parts, decorating three-fourths of the 700 ladies' hats that he had observed in New York City.

This has been my Sepia post for the week , click on the title to my post to visit the Sepia Saturday site, see Alan's feathery hat prompt for this week, visit other contributors in  our inernational community.  You will be tickled ....( sorry could not resist...)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Sepia Saturday 107 Year Post (Teofil and his dogs and pets)

About 1942 Teofil and his coon hounds
I can't match that  angora rabbit that Alan showcases this week, but I have some different pets, photos from the family archives.  In this family we have an animal;/pet loving gene, that goes at least as far back as my maternal grandfather, Teofil.  He was crazy about his dogs whether they were his coon hounds and hunting dogs which were carefully tended to outside or whether in later years domestic pets.  In this photo it was a Sunday so he was dressed up, notice the white shirt and tie.  But before they could journey across the river to Rose's (my grandmother and his wife) family gathering, Pap (as the family called him) insisted he had to first go home to check up on his dogs.  This gave him a break between church service where he attended reluctantly and the busy noisy activity with his wife's sisters for the day.  He enjoyed  the gatherings where he would adjourn with the men outside for a cold piwa (beer) and cigar after dinner, but he stalled going each time.   Rose, my grandmother would be very frustrated because they could have taken the bus  right from church across the river to her sisters and ridden with her sisters.  But Pap would have a respite using his dogs as an excuse.  She said he  liked those dogs better than anything; after enough weeks of that she began to  take the bus immediately after church with her sisters and let Pap go home alone to  pet his dogs, feed them or  whatever excuse he had.  He would take the later bus and join them later, problem solved, schedules rearranged, every body was happy.   They had no vehicles so it was bus or by foot. 
1956 Teofil has a woodchuck to tame, but it was summer
and Rose allowed it outside
I heard stories that Teofil could easily hunker in a bush and snare birds to tame them as caged pets; I do remember they always had beautiful canaries.  He  was intrigued with making pets out of groundhogs aka woodchucks. About  1930 he brought a groundhog into  their family  home in a coal town; it was cold outside, winter time and he'd found the poor furry creature shivering on his way home from the mine. He was a softy for animals.  He picked it up and brought it home; he would tame it later but for tonight, unbeknownst to Rose, it needed to warm up. Teofil  set the  creature in a small box near the wood stove that heated the home and went to bed, it was late, he'd worked an extra long double shift and Rose and the kids were already asleep.  Rose got up early in the morning and was not amused to discover the animal there, so she immediately  tossed it out side, or so it is speculated.  Later on when Pap arose, he looked at the small box where he'd left his rescued ground hog and found the box empty.  "Rose, where's  the guy?"  Something like that he asked.  She looked straight at him and  asked what he was talking about.  He told her how he'd found it cold, shivering and she looked at him and said he must have been dreaming, she'd never  seen a ground hog and what would it be doing in her kitchen anyway.  He had no proof and Rose admitted to nothing, so that was the end of that although he did have the kids scurry round about and search for it.  Rose did not bat an eye but went on cooking breakfast.  I thought this was so like my grandparents when I heard this story several years ago from Uncle Carl; if I'd known about it as a kid I would have found out the truth, but I can believe my grandma tossed the critter out with a good hurl.  She was an eat off the floor housekeeper.  I can only imagine her  keeping quiet and not admitting a thing.

This is my Sepia post...for more click on the title to this post and see what others are sharing.   

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

1945 Germany Uncle Carl and the Totem Pole (Sepia Saturday) click here

1945  Carl with "German  totem pole"
I have been busy writing a memorial about my late Uncle Carl Konesky to be posted on a website established by Rob Haldeman to honor the US Army Tank Destroyers of World War II.  I have shared several photos of  my late uncle here on this blog and while going through more photos I found this  from  1945 in Germany, on the back he had written "myself beside a German totem Pole."  He was with the 809th Tank Destroyers  all through  Europe and on clean up operations in Germany,  end of the war, Olsenburg is one of the places he mentioned and on other photos, Goettingen.  I was taken by this photo because I have read much on World War II but  I have never seen anything like this.  It survived amongst his belongings all these years, a tiny 2 inch  by 3 inch black and white photo. I scanned it hoping to learn more.   I wonder if this statue was carved from a tree or something else?  Does it stand today somewhere?  I am glad Carl found it of interest and took that photo but I sure would like to know more.  

I have now other mysteries which will take research, letters to the US Army records center and crossed fingers.  I am assembling Carls ribbons from his military service and I find that he received a Distinguished Service medal, something not commonly awarded.  

  It is  "awarded to any person who, while serving in any capacity with the United States Army, has distinguished himself or herself by exceptionally meritorious service to the Government in a duty of great responsibility. The performance must be such as to merit recognition for service which is clearly exceptional.Exceptional performance of normal duty will not alone justify an award of this decoration. For service not related to actual war, the term "duty of a great responsibility" applies to a narrower range of positions, than in time of war, and requires evidence of conspicuously significant achievement. However, justification of the award may accrue by virtue of exceptionally meritorious service in a succession of high positions of great importance."   Although Carl kept meticulous records, there is nothing about that medal, only the medal itself, a red and white ribbon.  Another family mystery lingers; there was no talk about the "war"  around me because of the circumstances of my father, a US Army Air Corp b-24 pilot whose plane and crew disappeared months before my birth.   Everyone was quiet, and Carl who was always like a father shadow figure to me never said anything.  So now I want to know and will have to ponder and dig, there is no one to ask.  And really other than myself, no one who would be interested, so I share this here for the wide web.  

Looking over his honorable discharge I see that he also had a bronze star, which is an " individual military decoration that may be awarded for bravery, acts of merit, or meritorious service. As a medal it is awarded for merit, and with the "V" for valor device it is awarded for heroism. It is the fourth-highest combat award of the U.S. Armed Forces and the ninth highest military award (including both combat and non-combat awards) in the order of precedence of U.S. military decorations. " 

 I found only this tiny photo of another soldier from the 809th (logo patch on shoulder pinning a large star on Carl in Germany.  How I wish I knew this story.  Maybe I will find out maybe I won't.   Carl was not one to brag, but I wonder if he ever thought how curious I would become about all things military.   I doubt this is a bronze star, it looks so big, but maybe they did what they could with what they had.  He had sent these photos home to his parents, who kept them for his return home.  All photos passed by the U S Army inspector as stamped on the back. 

These would all make suitables for Sepia Saturday to which I have not posted, but  suppose I should share these there.   So  click on the title to this post to get to the Sepia site, lots of interesting tidbits there from others world wide and across the sea...

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year 2012 Ponderings

New Year's Day...Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions.  ...   Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual............
Mark Twain

I used to be religious about writing down my New Years' resolutions, the first page of my journal, each year for so many years.  But sometime ago I stopped doing that, I still keep a general mental list of things to do in the New Year, all the niceties, striving to be a better, kinder, gentler person, more tolerant, patient, etc  all those humane attributes with which no one quibbles.  And there was usually an accompanying  effort to increase physical fitness and then after the years, was it around my mid 50's when weight emerged as something to fight, there was always a resolution to lose 10 to 15 lbs. 

Now I skip the written list, I can peruse past journals and see if there was ever one or two things I did accomplish over that year....and yes  there were some.  Retirement fully in 2005 was a significant achievement, of a resolution I first recorded in 2002, planning ahead.  Moving to MN from CA fully also occurred in 2005, which was first recorded in 2004 months before we purchased what is now our home, while we  were still living in CA and I was still at it in career time.  Looking back over how much effort the career took, I am amazed; was it all really so relevant?  The verdict is mixed, I think, but I have slid off into not even thinking about those days.  So much so that when a friend mentions something I have to pull deep into my minds folded recesses to recall it. 

Someone, unknown to me said that many people look forward to the New Year for a new start on old habits.   

Is it now in retirement that I have found fewer things to strive for or to perfect when I fully recognize that there is no perfection and we can accomplish without time lines or not.  New adventures, travels and new things to learn abound.  And some old attributes, patience for one still need my work but I have traded patience for ignoring the annoying and that way I go merrily along.  Yesterday we stopped at the grocery store on our way home from New Years eve burgers and Best ever Bloody Mary's at Tom Sawyer's here on French Island, a tavern/restaurant that was long closed and is now renovated and open.  I like the English designation of "pub" for that is what Tom Sawyer's would be called, a nice friendly bar and food can be ordered.  The burgers were delicious, 1/2 pounders and made with fresh ground beef, not frozen discs;  they also make their own  potato chips which were so good, warm and crunchy, but I am rambling so that you can salivate.  My  comment was to be about patience and my lack of it; we only needed a couple things and were  quickly ready to check out; I spotted only one woman in the aisle with a few items and thought that would be fast, but I thought wrong.  There she had 3 or 4  huge trays of  meats and crackers from the deli and was attempting pay for them first with a credit card that was denied  and then with a check that also did not meet the smell test.  Jerry looked at me and shrugged his shoulders.  The woman said to us, "well this is going to take me some time while I pay for all these...."  Oh, sigh, I already had our few purchases on the register belt.  Then I saw she had other items in her cart.  I mentioned to her, "you  still have items in the cart" thinking she might have forgotten them.  "Oh I know those are for other people and I have other money for that."  Oh, blather!  I'm thinking, why don't you pay for them and settle it up later on your own time and dime.  But it is too late.  The folks behind us made a bee line to another cashier and there we were.  The woman finally found cash to pay for her trays and then, here is where it gets good and where my tolerance escapes.  She pulled out food credits, aka food stamps to pay for a couple items; and then she  dug into another  pocket to use yet another credit card to pay for some other items and yes, are you still with me, she had two more items for which she went through the tedious process of counting out change from yet another envelope. By this time, my eyes  had rolled more than once, the poor cashier had lost her smile and I had no further  visions of "peace on earth..."  Later I commented to Jerry that someone relying on food stamps might try to save a dime or several by slicing and cutting up their own cheese and meats.  My tolerance is gone.  Perhaps I am uncharitable too, perhaps she is the neighborhood food runner and was buying for many folks although she did make a point of explaining that the trays were for the New Years Eve party.  It was all too much information for me and yet it was yet again another time I had chosen the wrong line to be in.  If Jerry had not been with me with his  normally  calm attitude, I would have taken our purchases off the register belt and followed the other people to another line.  But he assured me we were already here and so what.  So what, indeed....the so what is people are  a challenge everywhere!   

I did not greet the stroke of midnight.  I used to think I was a night owl, but no more, when the eyelids say it's time for bed, I go along.  2012 holds promise, our 50th high school reunion in September in PA, hope to sell Uncle Carl's home to clear the estate and taxes, and  travel Alaska beckons as well as a Christmas week cruise in 2012. 

Today is the day to imbibe from the bottle of Korbel Dry bubbly purchased for  last night's eve.  And while I enjoy that I am posting.....Happy and Best and Blest 2012 to all.