Wednesday, November 16, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History: Nicknames

I’ve had many nicknames through my life, but my longest running was given to me by my dad:  Shorty.  I don’t know where it came from, but I know that to this day, I can count on being Shorty when I talk to Dad. 

Marc has always called me “Moo” so that would be my second longest-running nickname.  And the reason for the cow in his pocket at our wedding…

Monday, November 14, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History: Smells

When I think of childhood smells, all my mind stops at is the smell of Dad’s baking sourdough bread.  He had a starter going for months, if not years, and he’d bake the bread in our wood-burning stove and the smell of that delicious bread would permeate the whole house.

I made sourdough starter.  It promptly turned a scary black and smelled like death itself.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History: Wedding

Some girls dream about their wedding day, planning all the details and perfecting it in their minds.

I was not that girl.

Within five minutes of meeting Marc, at the grand ol’ age of 17, I knew that I would be with him forever.  A paper signed by the State wouldn’t make me feel any differently.  We moved in together nearly right away and after three years, we found ourselves getting married.  Neither remembers proposing, but suddenly we were engaged.  And Marc wanted a wedding (rather than my idea of running away to Vegas), I agreed, and then a wedding was being planned.  For the most part, we let our moms do whatever they wanted. 

Our ceremony was at Grace Lutheran Church in Palo Alto, California, despite us not being Lutheran (the church was so pretty…).  We had to go to a pre-marriage class where Teri Garr portrayed a wife in scenes showing the right and wrong ways to hash things out.  We hated the classes, but loved the Teri Garr part.  Can't find it on YouTube, though.

Our reception was in my friend’s parents’ house and yard.  It was catered and there were flowers, but I really have no serious recollection of any details of any of the day.  I remember no one went into the pool.  I remember that Marc had a plastic cow in his pocket at the altar.  I remember family and friends and The Guy.  You know, the guy your friend is dating and brings to your wedding and he’s in all the pictures but they break up a week after your wedding?  That guy.

I also remember my dress.  I refused to spend a lot of money and I refused to wear something foo-foo-ey.  I wanted cheap, pretty, and simple.  Yeah… good luck with that.  I went to twenty seven billion bridal shops and perused a jillion magazines and found nothing I even remotely liked.  My friend was with me one disappointing day and I was so annoyed and discouraged that we decided to go to Nordstrom (they had a bridal department at the time).  We thought it would be a hoot to check out their hideous, hideously expensive dresses.  There was one that was over $10,000 and so elaborate and awful.  Our giggles began.  We went through the racks laughing out loud at them.  Then we came to one and I said, “Hey, I actually like this one!  It’s simple but elegant and different.”  Then I laughed to find out how much.  “TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY THOUSAND DOLLARS?!?!” I shouted.

The invisible sales woman who we’d banished so that we could laugh appeared and said, “No, it’s $250.”  And so I bought it.

We’ve now been married for 23 years, three months and 6 days.  We have two awesome children, two cats, a dog and the dress is somewhere in the garage.   

Guess what decade this was... and we thought we were so cool...

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day Solute: Phil Giadone

On March 20, 1941, against his own wishes, Phil Giadone was drafted into the United States Army.  It was World War II and he was sent to Hawaii and shipped out to Java just a day or so before Pearl Harbor was attacked on the morning of December 7, 1941.  In the nick of time- a theme in Phil's military life.  In Java, he ran the motor pool, once even driving Doolittle Jr.

He was transferred to the Air Force (I think it was the Air Force...) in Java and ran the motor pool for the artillery division.  Java was part of the Dutch East Indies conquest.  Because it had rubber and oil, it was valuable to Japan, who was cut off from all resources.  Japan has no native source of oil, so once President Franklin Delano Roosevelt froze all of Japan’s assets and embargoed all oil in July of 1941, they needed a new country to get oil.  Japan took control of Java and the other islands early in 1942. 

Phil was part of the last exodus.  Japanese air raids had become morning routine.  Every day at the same time, the sirens would start and the soldiers would run for the jungle.  One day, instead of running to the jungle for cover, Phil ran for the airport and got out before the bombing trapped him.  In the nick of time.  He spent the rest of his time in Australia running a motor pool.

In 1945, his term was up and he thought he was going home but he was shipped to Arizona and had to wait to August 1945 before he was allowed home to California.

Phil is Marc’s first cousin, once removed, although he has always been more like a grandfather to us.  Phil recently had a bout of shingles, which for a 92-year-old is not an easy thing.  But he was released from the hospital yesterday and off to an interim home.  We hope to have him back to his own home within a few weeks- he just has t o get his strength back.  Phil’s a good person, a fun person AND a veteran!  So today, I honor him (as I do all days). 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Joe Frazier and Vampire Birds

I woke this morning too early (forgot to change the clock in the bedroom...) and when I checked my emails, I had a CNN breaking news that Joe Frazier had died.  I never liked boxing or followed it one bit, but my cousin Jeff and I spent a lot of time talking about Joe Frazier. 

For a time, we lived with my aunt and uncle and their three boys.  During this time, about 11 years old, I was obsessed with my tape recorder- you know, the old rectangular kind with big buttons.  Pressing PLAY and RECORD at the same time brought magic.  I had signs that said, “Shhhhh.  Taping,” that I’d pin on the door.  I had a microphone that I would interview people with.  My cousins and brother and I would do skits.

Jeff’s specialty was doing the sports casting for our news show.  He was 11 months younger than me and the funniest kid around.  I would do serious news in a manly voice and it would make no sense.  But Jeff would do an impeccable impersonation of Howard Cosell and yet spin it to make it hilarious.  He could also do President Jimmy Carter.  The best was when he did both.

“Ha-i.  I’m President Jimmy Carta.”  “I’m Howard Cosell.”

Then he’d call a fight between Mohamed Ali and Joe Frazier as both and I’d nearly wet my pants laughing.  Once, he had a bird fly in and bite Joe Frazier on the neck.  “And he died.”

Really, can it get any funnier?  Not to an 11-year-old with an amazing cousin.

So thanks, Joe Frazier, for whatever it was you did in boxing AND  for the good times we had with birds biting you on the neck until death.

Friday, November 4, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History: Earlies Memory

My very earliest memory is a very odd thing to remember.  But I do remember… I was standing up holding the side of my crib looking over the side at my dad, who was peek-a-booking with me from the floor under the crib.    The side of my crib came loose and fell down and I tumbled onto Dad.