Category Archives: Memories

Peonies

As much as I love the deeply fragrant smell of lilacs in the spring, I think I prefer the lighter, less heady smell of peonies.

Peonies from my garden

Peonies smell like warm, late-spring afternoons on Heine Avenue where several plants grew on the south-facing side of the house. That smell is wafting through my dining room right now bringing me memories of my childhood at 240 Heine.

The smell foretold the end of the school year and the long, carefree warm months of summer just around the corner. Soon there’d be fireflies. Soon we’d be barefoot all day.

I only have one peony plant that produces flowers. Usually I only get two or maybe three flowers, but this year I got five — likely because the neighbor cut down a tree that was casting shade where the peonies grew. I hope to plant more of these, perhaps in front of something that we’ll plant for privacy instead of the weeds that grow there now.

I’m in Good Company shirt

 

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At least 28 years ago my friend Rosanne gave me a shirt that, while huge on me, I loved. I think I was supposed to wear it with leggings (which were “in” 28 years ago, along with big hair) or maybe she meant to wear it when I was pregnant.

The front of the shirt has dozens of women’s names on it in an inverted triangle, with I’m in good company in lilac in the middle of the names. The bottom of the triangle (the tip) reads “Me!”

The back of the shirt has an image of a man who resembles the Fallout Shelter guy fishing and the caption reads, “Good Catch!” which I assumed was the name of the company that made the shirt.

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I wore the shirt with pride for many years, until it started getting ragged at the neckline and holes showed up in spots, then I wore it as a night shirt.

At some point I figured out that many, if not all, of the women named on the shirt fell somewhere in the LGBTQ+ community and I wondered if I was telling a lie by wearing it, or could even be accused of appropriation. Nevertheless, I still loved it and wore it with pride.

Sure enough, this shirt can still be bought at the Good Catch website and is called the Famous Lesbians Shirt.

I wonder if Rosanne realized that about the shirt. It doesn’t matter. I still love it, even though it is even too ragged to be worn as a nightshirt.

Letter to my parents and brother from me: August 1981

Dear Mom, Dad and 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) ((Dean and I had just moved to Pittsburgh)).

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 the shelves for the stereo and albums and remainder of the books. ((I think my mom was not impressed with our apartment when she and my dad, brother and cousin drove us to Pittsburgh from Elgin))

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 over-worried about $$$$) ((I’d forgotten about this))

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

The we went to a festival downtown at Point State Park. That’s where the 3 rivers come together. We watched the speedboats and Dean “frolicked” in the fountain.

For dinner, Dean made a roast and Yorkshire putting. 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 local garage sale, a salt shaker and  pepper mill set, directly (long ago) from Italy ((I remember these — the were a rusty-red with a gold crackled finish)). ((All I can say is WOW! Dean sure knew how to treat a gal back then))

After dinner and cake (yes, he baked me a cake complete with 25! ((Damn we were just babies!)) 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. ((Knowing what I know now about the pain when a child leaves town, I know my mother must have been heartbroken))

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

Well, take care.

Love,
Dona

P.S. Got the checks today. Thanks for the loan. I feel awful asking for the money — thanks so much. ((None of us realized that even though we had money to put in a banking account, we would not see that money for a couple weeks. We lived on change for a week. Never underestimate the value of a change jar.))

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 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’m sure you can) ((It is apparent here that I had no idea how checks worked)) 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. ((Mom was worried about my Raynaud’s syndrome kicking in because I was stressed))

I called the school district and they are sending applications for subbing. One district (Pittsburgh) isn’t accepting subbing applications until next week. ((I’d forgotten I’d applied to more than one school district))

Love,
Dona