Sunday, December 17, 2023

Christmas Eve 1956

Christmas Eve as a child in the 50's was always an exciting night—wondering what we would find under the tree in the morning. Would we awake to a white Christmas? That was always very important to me.
This memory—Christmas 1956—is a special one to me.

O come all ye faithful. Joyful and triumphant, O come ye, o come ye to Bethlehem.....My eyes were drawn to six stockings hung beneath the mantle and quickly matched each glittered name with a brother singing his very loudest, carols reserved especially for this night. As we encircled the piano, Dad played with purpose, "This is the real meaning of Christmas, " each resounding chord reminded us. Tomorrow at the first glimmer of dawn we would find each stocking overflowing...just as my young heart felt at this moment; my brothers, Dad and Mom, Christmas eve...what more could a five year old girl want? I glanced out the window behind the piano into the night so still. Snow was falling silently, draping our familiar world in soft flannel...It would be a white Christmas for sure!A muffled voice broke through the darkness, as a stranger lost in the storm, desperate for someone to hear. Faintly it came. The playing stopped as we stood motionless, hoping to hear it once again.

"It's a BOY! We have a BOY!"

Dad threw open the window and a gust of chilly winter air swept in the joyous news. Little Nanny Lucy leaned out our neighbor's window, waving her arms ecstatically, heralding the birth of her great grandson. Jimmy John would be a welcome addition to the family of three daughters! Waiting hot chocolate topped off the excitement before heading up to bed.As I lay awake gazing out at the full winter moon I pondered the words we had sung.... "Joy to the world...The Lord is come...Let earth receive her King..."An only son had been born tonight, bringing joy which could not be contained. They wanted to share it with the world...Kind-of like the angels so long ago. God's only son, born on a night such as this...Yet more than just a babe he was...
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor
Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace

I thought back a year remembering my oldest brother pointing out the silhouette of Santa's reindeer crossing in front of the moon out my window. I was sure I saw it too! How could I sleep? But this year was different.I closed my eyes and slept so peacefully...
I was not looking for reindeer..
....for I had heard the angels sing!

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Christmas morning I was thrilled to receive the most beautiful doll I had ever seen.
I was always told she was a large Madame Alexander Doll-but I'm not sure that is what she actually was. I'd love to know!
Update: In August 2011, I received a pleasant surprise. My youngest brother, Chris found a doll like the one I remember  after months of searching and sent it to m. It was like being reunited with an old friend!

Friday, December 1, 2023

....Iron along with Liberace!

(Original artwork—if you can call it that!)

September 1958

....Now for some cookies and milk and some after school TV; maybe some cartoons and if I can get control of the TV knob—Liberace!

That’s right, Liberace!

My brothers laughed at me and ran outside to play, but I sat, eyes glued to the set, fascinated by this piano player; dressed in his brocade jacket, rings glittering on his hands as they danced up and down the keys of his grand piano complete with a candelabra. His smile was so broad and white it looked like another set of keys.

Today I would describe him as.... flamboyant; but to my seven -year old mind, he was spectacular!
And I wasn’t the only one who thought so. Housewives across the country got out their ironing boards and ironed along with Liberace's afternoon piano concertos.
When the half hour was over, it was my turn. I would sit down and play our piano—by ear—mimicking his techniques. My mother, realizing the seeds of genius here, encouraged my father to find a piano teacher for me. And he did—my first lesson would take place on a Saturday in September and would continue, every Saturday at 1:00.

I could hardly wait to meet my piano teacher. All I knew is that he was a “Mr.” “Mr.Lipman”
Hmmm…..didn’t sound much like “Liberace”— but I was still excited.

Whether I had any intentions of impressing my new piano teacher, (after all, I’m sure Liberace would have been impressed!) or it was just a coincidence, I do not recall; but early Saturday morning before my first lesson I was playing next door and my little friends and I discovered a bottle of blue nail polish in their big sisters room. Her room was almost as fascinating as Liberace. She was boy crazy—Elvis crazy—and finally talked her parents into allowing her to have her very own telephone in her bedroom. It was a white Princess phone, a brand new model that was streamlined with a light up dial. The first thing she did when it was installed was to paint it with pink nail polish and while it was still wet, sprinkled it with silver glitter. I guess blue nail polish was her latest fad. The three of us painted our finger nails while big sister was in the shower, and I headed home to wait for my piano teacher to make his appearance.

I stood at the window watching the end of the driveway.
Would I see a great big flashy convertible with fins turn in? I had no idea. All I knew is that I had butterflies in my stomach for the first time in my life.
At exactly 1:00 on the dot, a little, tiny grey Volkswagen put-put-putted up the driveway. My piano teacher very slowly got out, ducking his head to avoid hitting it on the roof of the car.
“He’s very tall and very bald” was my first impression.
Dressed in his gray herringbone jacket, tie, and navy blue pants-- glasses thick with black rims. He was scary.
“Mary, Mr.Lipman is here. Go to the door and greet him,” my mother said.

I slowly, very slowly, opened the door and let him in. My mother introduced us and walked us to the living room where our piano sat by the window.
“I’m going to put the baby down for a nap. Have a nice lesson.”

Now we were alone. Me and Mr.Lipman, my piano --and one chair.

“Oh, I forgot, our piano bench is broken! I’ll be right back.”
I walked to the dining room and retrieved a chair for him. I returned and placed the chair next to mine and sat down beside him—nervous, but ready for my first lesson. Mr.Lipman, obviously perturbed that there was no piano bench, sat down abruptly in the chair. One of the four legs immediately collapsed beneath him and Mr.Lipman fell backwards, legs extended heavenward and let out a disgruntled “…OUGH!”

This lesson was not off to a very good start.

Finally, the chair replaced, Mr.Lipman’s striped tie straightened, glasses back on his nose—we were ready to begin. He asked me to place my right hand on the keys and…oh dear. How does a seven year old little girl explain to a bald man in a herringbone jacket that it was Liberace who made her think that blue nail polish would be acceptable to wear for her first piano lesson?
It was not.

Mamie…..” he said and then paused for what seemed like a very long time.
“ Please go into the bathroom and wash that nail polish off. I will wait.”
I guess neither of us knew that soap and water would not remove the blue nail polish. I sure tried but I returned ten minutes later, fingernails just as blue. He tolerated the disturbance—but only this time.

From that lesson on, I looked forward to Saturday afternoon with a great big knot in my stomach. I watched for that little gray Volkswagen, and secretly hoped I wouldn’t see it. I did learn my lessons, however, when we finally got around to them.

Oh, and he really disliked bubbles blown during my lesson---two pieces of Bazooka Joe and the bubbles were amazing; but NEVER during my piano lesson.
Never again.

One Saturday after my lesson I overheard my mother telling my father that Mr. Lipman called me a “child prodigy.” I wondered if that was something like juvenile delinquent and if my father would punish me.
Must have been the broken chair, and the blue nail polish. Whatever it was, I was in for it.

You can see pictures of Liberace and his amazing grand piano here at the Liberace Museum.

...and you can listen to Liberace's fantastic piano playing here!

No wonder I wanted to play the piano!

Friday, November 3, 2023

"Quick Henry —the FLIT!"

(original artwork-all rights reserved)
…now my mom was probably among the most loving and caring of moms that ever lived; but I remember her doing something that would probably be grounds for child endangerment today!

Living in the country with seven children who were in and out of the house all day long on hot summer days—the screen door practically swung on its hinges. Flies were plentiful as I recall but were not welcome in our house. So my mom—along with other caring mom’s of the day, had her FLIT can ready for action!

She would pump the handle and spray directly at flies that landed on the kitchen table, or directly into the air—wherever she saw those little flying menaces.

In her defense, the advertising of the day was
very convincing.

Remember.. this was the same era when testimonial ads convinced my parents that Camel cigarettes were actually good for you!

Long before the Cat in the Hat ever made his appearance (..very interesting story there of the origin of the book) , Theodore Seuss Geisel (Dr.Seuss) created very convincing ads for FLIT.

They are priceless!

This ad campaign actually began during the depression— my mother grew up hearing "Quick Henry the FLIT!"which became a common catchphrase.
So my mother, like thousands of other mothers in the 50's thought she was doing something "good" for her family.

..I have to wonder what I did for the "good" of my children that they will write about in the future!

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Seventeen Years Ago Today—A Hero to Remember

This is not my usual light-hearted "nostalgic" post—though the hero I will be writing about is a Baby boomer. This memory is one I must write about today, October 25th.

It was a day much like today—autumn, sun shining, leaves covering the ground, though the trees not completely bare. Normally, a day I would consider to be among the most beautiful of all the days of the year. But this day began for me at 3am with a phone call—that call we all dread—a police dispatcher on the other end of the line.
Of all scenarios I could imagine—the one that was about to unfold, was set aside in my mind as one I could never face.
I went to bed at 11 o'clock and woke up at 1am realizing my husband Ed was still at our office two miles away. He had taken his motorcycle and gone in to fix the computer system that was down. He said it might be a long night—it had to be up and running by morning. Our employees were in the middle of a big job that had to ship the following day.
I was awakened again at 3am to the sound of a Medevac helicopter. It sounded like it was about a mile away, "Oh my God, he's not this it?" I just found myself praying, "...have mercy on my husband, if this is for him, please spare his life!"

Within a short time the phone rang—the state police dispatcher,
"Is this Mrs.Walsh? Your husband has been involved in a motorcycle accident. He has some head injuries and is being Medevaced to the Lehigh Valley Trauma Center. I'm sending some officers to your house, can you give me directions?"

Within minutes two state police officers were walking toward my front door; one holding Ed's helmet and the other his back-pack and the shirt he had been wearing, shredded, in pieces. My son Chris had come upstairs and when he saw them coming started crying, holding me. "We have to be strong for each other," he said. For the first time, I started to panic.

The officers told me he had a leg injury and head injury but could not tell me how serious it was. They also had no idea how the accident happened. There was no deer, no car, he had not hit a tree; but there was glass all over the road. They were going to investigate and get back to me.

I went to see Ed in the hospital and amazingly, his injuries were not life threatening. He did, however, break his neck; but thank God it was in such a place that it did not kill him or paralyze him. He had a puncture wound to his shoulder, 50 stitches on his right knee, several broken fingers, and dislocated toes. His right side was hit pretty badly, but no broken legs.

While Ed was in the hospital he got a call from a lady, also named Mary. She was so interested in knowing how he was and how badly he was injured. He remembered very little about the accident and she told him this amazing story.

She said she runs a little drive through coffee shop a few miles from here. Every morning at 2:30 she picks up bagels for the business and opens at 4am. She said she was driving down the road which was very dark, very dimly lit and saw what she thought were garbage bags, perhaps dragged into the road by a bear. She slowed down to avoid hitting them and realized it was someone lying face down in the middle of the road with pieces of a wrecked motorcycle all around him. She pulled off the road, put on her 4-way flashers, called 911 but realized if this person stayed there he was going to be run over by a car.
As she got out of her car a truck drove by dragging a piece of the bike underneath. He stopped his truck, removed the piece from beneath it—and kept going. She said she went through thinking about how you're never supposed to move an injured person—would she be sued—but then determined she HAD to get him off the road.
She tried to talk to him, explained that he had been involved a motorcycle accident and she had to get him off the road. He told her he didn't own a bike—but his leg was injured. Somehow she had him lean on her and use his good leg to help her get him off the road. This was all happening while about ten cars flew by, none stopping to help her.
The ambulance arrived, took over and the police told her to "move on," not realizing what she had just been through. She was so traumatized she couldn't drive.

That's not the whole story...

The police determined that this was a hit and run. The glass all over the road at the scene of the accident was from a car. Ed had hit the car and smashed through the glass with his head.
Ed did recall riding down the road that night and seeing a car coming in the opposite direction—no blinker—begin to make a left hand turn right in front of him. He tried to slow down, but knew he was going to crash into him—and it was going to be bad. He was going close to 40 mph, slower than usual since it was late and he was tired and watching for deer that often crossed the road in that area. The police believe the car that hit him was yellow because there's yellow paint on parts of the bike.

Ed's bike—before

Ed's bike—after the accident

When I talked to Mary on the phone the following day she said, "I believe in God, but I don't pray very much, so please pray that we find this person! Anyone who could leave a person to die or get run over like that should go to jail!"

It is now seventeen years since the accident that dreadful night. We are very thankful that Ed has healed from most of his injuries—following the initial surgeries. 

To this day, the person who left Ed for dead has never been found.

But, as Mary wrote in the letter she sends to Ed each year at this time,

"Pray for the person who did this to you, because he needs all the prayers you can offer. He will have to answer to a higher power one day and answer for what he did."

Mary was honored by our township with an award for her heroic deed that night. She literally put her life on the line to save my husband's life.

How do you thank a person like this?
One way is to tell this story to at least one person
on this day each year—
and the deed will never be forgotten.
.....And I guess I've done that!

God bless you, Mary Hardy!

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Family Camping-Are We Having Fun yet?

Family Camping....what a romantic idea! Bonding—building teamwork-facing challenges together–getting close to God's creation....economical... well...

Preparations for our first camping trip as a family in 1964— destination Lake George, N.Y.— were almost as exciting as the actual trip. Very characteristic of my dad, (Mr.Sawdust) we were going to do this right! One Saturday he escorted my six brothers and me to a large Army-Navy surplus store in Manhattan, a forty minute drive from our home in Upper Montclair, NJ. These stores were equivalent in the 60's to the sports outfitters of today. Each of us was fully equipped with a comfy flannel lined sleeping bag, a denim duffel bag, a compass, a whistle and a flashlight. Every purchase was multiplied nine times-the clerk was loving it! We filed out of the store wearing matching tee shirts and white sailor caps. ...Now if that wasn't a classic scene for the makings of a great family musical!
We had collapsible canvas water buckets, even a portable toilet with a curtain for the utmost privacy. All we had to do was dig the hole.
After careful consideration, figuring how much room the nine of us (..and the dog) would need for sleeping, Dad purchased a tent that would house a circus. Tents back then were not made of lightweight nylon. They were made of heavy canvas so this tent was not only huge but weighed a ton! I remember the center pole was about nine feet tall when the two hardwood poles were assembled. But not to worry—dad and the boys had built a car top carrier that was so big it would easily transport all we had purchased that day...and much more. It extended the entire length of the top of the Dodge wagon. My dad's excitement was contagious! By the time we returned home that night I felt like I had already been on vacation.
The actual camping trip turned out to be much more exciting than that trip to the city for supplies; in fact, it was far more exciting than Dad could have possibly anticipated. That "great family musical" was about to become a hair raising drama.
Dad was always proud to have the family together, crowded into the big Dodge station wagon, along with the family dog. Our basset hound, Boots accompanied us on this trip, claiming his spot behind the driver’s seat. He’d position his stubby hind legs on the edge of the back seat and drop a paw over Dad’s shoulder. Hanging his head out the window, he’d let his long, pendulous ears flap in the breeze. He would rest his head on Dad’s shoulder when the ride became wearisome.
“How many kids have you got there?” attendants would inquire curiously as we stopped for gas. “Seven! Six boys and one girl!” he’d reply. “She must be treated like a queen,” they’d inevitably respond.
It is remarkable how many times I heard that growing up. I guess it was, in fact, true. Taking my place in the middle of six boys, with the understanding that any mistreatment of the one daughter would result in an unhappy situation, made me feel like somewhat of a princess in a strong fortress. I’m sure my “special” position was resented at times, especially on nights when Dad found an interesting movie on television. I would sit up on his lap eating popcorn, slide down from time to time and run up the stairs. “Now, you boys go to bed! We’re downstairs eating popcorn.” I’d skip eagerly back down the stairs.
They loved that, I’m sure.
Yes, we were well equipped, no doubt, but totally unprepared for the violent storm that blew up and threatened to relocate our enormous tent in the middle of the night. I can still see my Dad leaning the weight of his entire body against the massive wooden center pole, in an attempt to keep it standing. The large canvas tarp that had been attached to the pole at the peak of the tent was being hoisted by the winds. Lightning flashes revealed our frightened faces as we sat clutching pots and pans to catch the dripping water.
Thoroughly exhausted from the night, we left the soggy camp site for a site-seeing drive the following morning. The day was damp and chilly and it actually felt good to be back in the crowded station wagon—dog and all. Dad still had his sailor’s cap on, pipe in his mouth, clenched securely between his teeth. He was no doubt a bit shaken by the storm, but didn’t show it. He was still ….on vacation! We drove until lunchtime. “Well, what do you say we head back to….wait a minute—I know where we are! We’ve got to stop up ahead. We’re at the Ausable Chasm!” There was that whisper of suspense in his voice.

Note: See the USA the Easy Way put out by Reader’s Digest describes the Ausable Chasm as follows:

“Here sheer walls of rock rise some 200 feet above the rushing waters of the Ausable River. A tour of the chasm includes a 3/4 mile hike on dangling suspension bridges and winding walkways, past plunging waterfalls and raging rapids, culminating in a boat ride through the swirling waters.

We received a few instructions. I was to keep the dog on his leash, Mom had my youngest brother Chris close by her side. Bruce, Jeff, little Wally and Carl were to follow Dad. We climbed carefully down some boulders, wet and slick with moss, not an easy feat for a basset hound. We could hear the deafening roar of the mighty rapids, rushing furiously due to last nights storm. Soon we could see for ourselves why Dad had made the stop.
It was breathtaking!

This great photo of the Ausable Chasm
by Bryce Koechlin, (AddVision Studios) is as I remember it!

As we stood together looking warily down into the chasm, I recall my Dad’s words, “I seriously doubt a man could fall in there and come out alive. Let’s head back.” With that, he turned to leave. Seconds later, my brother Bruce, who had been mesmerized by the water, was falling headlong down into the rapids. It was one of those moments in time when you are awakened with a jolt from a terrible dream, so relieved—but this was not a dream.
“BRUCE FELL IN!!” I screamed, straining to be heard above the water.
Without a moment’s hesitation, Dad made his way to the edge and jumped in. I could see Bruce’s arms flailing out of the water as he was tossed around and pulled under by the rapids. Within seconds, my mother made her way to the edge, jumped in and was pulled down the river as well. I grabbed as many little hands as I could and walked along the chasm, hoping to see all three, remembering all too well my Dad’s ominous words. Would they come out alive?
What a wonderful sight it was to see my Dad, sailor cap still on his head, and—I kid you not—pipe in his mouth, standing beyond the rapids in an alcove of rocks, embracing Bruce and Mom.
It was a very tearful, thankful, crowded ride back in the station wagon. Bruce cried the loudest however. Thankful, yes, he had not lost his life, but a comparable tragedy to him — he had lost his harmonica.
We sat quietly at the picnic table in the stillness of evening, humbled by the day. “Do you see this frail little mantle in this lantern?” Dad asked. We gazed in to see the delicate mantle providing the only light in the campsite. “That is how frail our life is. In one second, it can be taken away!”
We were dirty. We were tired. We were sick of being on vacation. But the following morning we filed into the nearest church we could find, just to say, “thank you” that we would all be heading home.

This picture of Boots and me was taken while swimming
in lake George-the day before the incident at the Ausable chasm.
*No wonder my teacher thought I was telling tales when I returned in the fall and turned in my “What I Did on My summer Vacation” essay....and hard to believe there would be a second family camping adventure.

Monday, March 6, 2023

The Creature

 Growing up on rural James Street in Morristown NJ, we got to know the neighborhood homes and parents like our own.  Kids in the 50's and 60's had tremendous freedom to explore the surrounding wooded area-- check in for lunch and dinner. Though we were out of sight much of the time, the neighborhood  moms kept tabs on us.  "I have eyes in the back of my head!"  Mrs.McGrady often reminded us.

We got to know each mom's 'specialty.'  Any one of the neighborhood kids would agree that Mrs. McGrady made the BEST cinnamon toast. We filed to her front door one by one early in the morning just to hear those words--"Come in and have some cinnamon toast!"  Little Scotty Engleman was so smitten by her cinnamon toast that he wanted to marry Mrs. McGrady one day.

Mrs.McGrady was also a nurse.  So all accidents; skinned knees, bee stings, bleeding cuts in need of stitches--choking children were rushed to her door.  And she was always ready.  I remember one Easter a babysitter gave me my very first home permanent while my mom was in the hospital.  It was such a disaster that my dad rushed me to her door--"Marge, can you please do something!"  I'm afraid even Mrs.McGrady could not make it better!

Mrs Engelman knew everything about nature--birds and plants and animals. Her children were named appropriately Holly,Scotty, Forrest and Heather....

If we had a question relating to anything in nature, we would go to her--and she would always be interested and have an answer.  

One hot summer afternoon I was digging in the dirt to find worms for our fishing trip back at the stream.  Nancy and Sue always wanted me to dig for the worms. They were fat and plentiful that day.  As I unearthed each one I  dropped it into a can.   I poked my shovel into the dirt once more and discovered something horrifying; so shocking that I gasped and dropped my shovel.

It was a creature--but one I had never seen before. I ran in the house to find a little box but told no one about my discovery.  There was only one person I wanted to tell.  I scooped him up into the box shuddering as I closed the lid.  Mrs.Engelman was in her yard gardening-as usual.  I ran over and got down on my knees next to where she was digging. 
"Mrs. Engelman-look what I found!"  I opened the box and her eyes widened just as mine had.
"Well...what could this be?"  she said. as perplexed as I was.
She told me she would take it inside and see what she could find out.

At that time, the only resource available for researching such things was the encyclopedia.  Mrs Engelman must have searched to no avail.  From that time on though, when we saw each other we would look at each other and nod--we had a secret--an amazing discovery.  Only time would tell what I had unearthed.

 I never did find out what this creature was--and I always wondered --UNTIL  the writing of this story!
And thanks to the internet--Google search more specifically, I finally have the answer! 
(...after 65 years!)

And here it is-with that creepy eye on the top of its head!  Meet the Cyclops Worm!

If only I could tell Mrs. Engelman!




Sunday, March 5, 2023

Five Year Old Hits the Jackpot!



That’s me in my mother’s arms—1952.  I remember many shopping trips at the 'Food Fair' during my first nine years living out on James Street in Morristown, NJ.  I grew up with six brothers, so my mom did a LOT of food shopping.  As a young child I looked forward to being given a penny  or a nickel to put in the gum ball machine on our way out of the store.  I loved bubble gum!
I remember one particular shopping trip when I was perhaps four or five—it was like a dream come true!
One of my brothers and I were bored so we walked ahead of my mom collecting little cardboard circle cutouts we found on the floor throughout the store that had come out of boxes being unloaded.   Well it suddenly occurred to me that this little circle was the size of a coin.  (I was not a naughty little girl-just curious and inventive)  While my mom was checking out the groceries I walked out and slipped the cardboard circle into the gum ball machine and turned the crank—to my utter shock and delight….the ENTIRE gum ball machine emptied out onto the floor!  Talk about a jackpot! 

I’m sure my mom was embarrassed and I’m quite sure I did not get to take my ‘winnings’ home….but it sure was fun to imagine that I did!

    Saturday, February 4, 2023

    Remember when permanents were....PERMANENT?

    Home permanents had come a long way by the 50's. But not quite far enough!
    This ad promotion from the 50's featured identical twins, with identical looking hair styles. One was done professionally, the other was done at home.

    In his role as radio announcer for the long-running mystery series, Casey, Crime Photographer, sponsored by Toni, Bill Cullen would often deliver the commercial as if he was a character in the program. He would ask his radio audience..

    "...which girl has the Toni?"

    From my one experience as a child, I don't think either one of them did!

    But before I take you back to the first time I saw my father cry— lets go back to 1909 and the day Karl Nessler's wife Katharine Laible had her very first home permanent. Her husband Karl had been working several years perfecting a method to curl hair using chemical treatments, electrical heating devices and brass rollers each weighing about two pounds. It was a complex system, using countering weights suspended from an overhead chandelier and mounted on a stand to prevent the hot rollers from touching the scalp. The process took at least six hours. History records him using a mixture of cow urine and water.
    (urban legend? Perhaps!)
    Now it's hard for me to imagine Katharine willingly subjecting herself to this process. But it is even more unbelievable that she allowed her husband to give her a
    second permanent after the first one completely burned her hair off, scalding her scalp.
    .....He didn't quite have it down the second time either–she lost all of her hair again.

    He did eventually perfect the method and his electric permanent wave machine was patented in London in 1909 and went into widespread use.

    Unlike Karl Nessler's wife, I had only one permanent as a young girl.
    By the time it was my turn, Toni had produced a product that women could use at home for $2 (compared to $15 if done professionally at a hair salon)
    The cow urine was gone-but it had its own distinct smell—not a big improvement.

    In April of 1957 my mother was in the hospital after delivering her seventh child, my brother Chris—son #6. At that time mothers were kept in the hospital for at least a week following the delivery of a baby. A live-in baby sitter was hired to help take care of the other six children at home. My Dad thought it would be nice to surprise my mom on Easter Sunday morning with a visit from all of her children. We were not allowed in the hospital, but we could stand outside on the lawn and wave up to her at her window.

    The babysitter, a very capable elderly woman, thought it would be nice to surprise my dad and give his little girl her very first home permanent. Wouldn't she look nice waving up at the window with all those curls?
    The picture was not quite as dreamy as she envisioned. When the curlers were removed my head was covered with a mass of frizz and gnarled, kinky curls. When my dad arrived home he took one look at me, covered my head with a towel and escorted me next door. Mrs. McGrady was a nurse and she could fix just about anything.

    "Marge! Can you do something?!

    "I'll try Wally! I'll try!"

    She did try. I remember standing in front of her full length mirror and watching her brush, and brush, and brush— and watching those PERMANENT curls pop right back up to where they were, springing about six inches off the top of my head.

    My dad waited outside the door. But sorry to say I looked exactly the same when I walked out.

    ('s not an actual photo. There were no pictures taken of me that day)
    I'm sure I'm not the only 50's Baby Boomer who had a bad perm experience!
    We learned to do one thing when we caught a whiff of that pungent Toni solution—


    Update:  May 21, 2013
    I have never seen this photo before today.  It is a photo from that day.  I think that my Easter hat is covering the rest of the FRIZZ!