Category Archives: Life

Thank You Card from Mr. Topolewski

In 1974 I was minding my own business in the fabric section of our local Ben Franklin where I worked. A tall man approached me and asked if I’d be willing to help him play a practical joke on his son for his son’s 18th birthday. Apparently just as he left the house to go shopping he called to his son and asked if there was anything he’d like his dad to pick up at Ben Franklin. The son allegedly replied, “Yeah, bring me a cute checkout girl.” After some internal debate (and checking in with my parents) I decided to go ahead and do it.

The plan was for me to wear my uniform to their house and have dinner with the family after being introduced as Dan’s birthday present. Then I’d stick around and attend a basketball game, then stay for a party at their house.

It turned out fine in retrospect — although I told my journal a different story — and I had a fun story to tell people throughout the years.

I appreciation, Mr. Topolewski gave me this card along with a necklace with a dove of hope.

Thanks a whole bunch!


Thanks for making my son’s 18th birthday one he’ll never forget.

You’re a good sport and have a great sense of humor.

Mr Topolelski

Sadly Mr. Topolewski passed away a couple of years after that. I blogged about him on my first 365 project.

My Letter to Kevin from Chetek

While other parents sent their kids to sleep-away camp, mine sent me to my grandparent’s house in Wisconsin. I think I got the better deal.

I would have been 15 and Kevin would have been around 9 when I wrote this.

June 18, 1972

Dear Kevin,

Hi, I told you I would write. How is my bed? I have to open my bed every day (night really). How are the gerbils? Did they have babies yet?

I have not caught any fish yet. Grandma caught four good ones one night and forgot to clean them so they died. Then she caught three that she cleaned right away. (ICK!) I am learning to fish, slowly but surely. It has been too cold to fish though.

Ginny and Jack are coming up today and Jack will be fishing most of the time I bet.

How are you and Billy getting along lately? Is he giving you trouble?

I saw a movie a couple of nights ago. It was called Toy Tiger. It was about a little boy who made up stories about his father (who he never had). Timmy said that his father was a great explorer. This big bully didn’t believe Timmie so he kept teasing him. Timmie found a guy and told the kids that he was his father. It all ended up happy.

We had spinach the other day and I put vinegar on it and ate it! (I nearly puked though)

You should have been up here last Monday. Four trees fell over/down by the dock. Grandma and I were sitting looking out of the window and all of a sudden we heard a loud crack (we thought it was thunder. Then Grandma looked out and said “Holy Cow, look at that, the tree was struck by lightning!” We all looked and a bunch of trees were lying down with the ground sticking up 3½ feet.

Kevin, will you mind if I write in cursive? I’m getting tired of writing like this.

I also wrote a letter to Chad — give it to him (go to his house) and have his mother read it to him. Does he wonder where I am? Or has he forgotten about me?

Oh — ask mom to send my white shorts with the buttons up with Uncle Dick or someone — even the Pasholks if they see you. O.K.?

Is it nice and warm in Elgin? It’s freezing up here. I can hardly get any tan.

I can’t think of anything else to write so I will write more later.

I will have to go pretty soon because we are going to eat. I will try to finish this page though. I will write later (next week or so).

Have you seen Cindy Jordon around? She isn’t in Maine. To be honest I wish I was home but I am having an okay time up here.

Do you sleep with Cinder? If so does she keep you awake? You will have to write and tell me all about everything. Are you taking swimming lessons? All I do is sit around — it’s kind of boring.

Well, I miss you and don’t forget to give Chad his letter. Maybe he will let you read it.

Love, as always,

Love to all!

PS Write!
PPS Okay?

First Letter to Parents After Move to Pittsburgh

Dean and I started dating in 1979. He moved in with me summer, 1981. We moved to Pittsburgh mid-summer 1981. My parents, brother and cousin helped us move. Here’s a letter I wrote to them.

We had no idea that we would not be able to use the money we put in a bank for two weeks after opening an account and could not cash any checks that were not certified. Not only my parents try to help us out, so did Dean’s. We lived on $40 worth of change that I’d serendipitously been saving since moving into an apartment in Elgin.

The comment about pink, not blue, fingers was because of my Reynaud’s syndrome and stress sometimes made my fingers turn blue.

Also the description of my 25th birthday makes me tired just reading it!

August 26, 1981

Dear Mom, Dad & Kevin,

So — this is the second letter I’ve written. Letter #1 is stale (and besides I’ve already told you everything that’s in it).

Like I said on the phone — the apartment actually is livable now. Each room still has a lot to be done, but at least we can move. Today we cleaned out the desks and put some books away. Our next big project is making shelves for the stereo and albums and the remainder of the books.

We have no hot water yet. The plumber never showed up. I guess it’s quite a job. Ask Dick Palmer why he thinks we are having so many problems. 🙂 (Actually I think our landlady is worried about $$$)

My birthday was really special. Dean made me a wonderful breakfast of strawberries & cream, kippers, pink champagne, soft-boiled eggs, bagels & toast (this was all before we knew how poor we were 😑)

Then we went to a festival downtown at Point State Park. That’s where the three rivers come together. We watched the speed boaters and Dean “frolicked” in the fountain.

For dinner, Dean mad a roast and Yorkshire pudding. It was all very wonderful dean gave me my favorite cologne, a blue rose, peppercorns, kerosene for my lamp, a bottle of wine, and from a small garage sale, a salt shaker and pepper mill sett, directly (long ago) from Italy.

After dinner and cake (yes — he baked a cake, complete with 25 ! candles). We took a long leisurely walk around our new neighborhood.

Cinder has settled in very nicely. It’s almost as if no move ever took place.

We still have to thank you properly. I wish I could have said more in the way of thanks when you left but I was ready to cry at any moment.

Also we owe you money for gas, etc. That will be paid as soon as we can.

Well, take care,

P.S. Got the checks today.
Thanks for the loan — I feel awful, asking for the money — thanks so much.


Hi again —

Enclosed, you have found the two checks. Thanks, but the bank won’t accept it except to go into our account and that won’t be good until the 8th of September. (That’s the $50.00) Then — the $15.00 check — it’s not certified. Seems that certified means the bank guarantees the money. We even went to the assistant manager. But luckily we found out that the book store takes VISA (Dean needs books) and that leaves us with enough cash to get by. There is $40.00 in my change bottle. I appreciate your help very much. If you can’t get your money back (but I am sure you can). Send me the check back and I’ll be able to cash it and send you back one of our checks.

Don’t worry — my fingers are still pink — not blue.

I called the school district and they are sending applications for subbing. One district (Pittsburgh) isn’t accepting subbing applications until next week.