Category Archives: Places

Memories of the Ocean

Writing Prompt: Write about a mysterious or fantastical place in our memory. Like a visit somewhere as a child that, once you were an adult, seems far away and perhaps remembered slightly askew from reality. Or a structure or natural location that enchanted your imagination even as an adult.

I was positive I’d been on a beach at the ocean. I just assumed that it was that time we drove from Elgin to Virginia Beach, up through Washington, DC (through being the definitive word because apparently my dad would not stop), and onto New York city where I was sure our driver was Jack Paar.

When I clarified it with my mom she said that we never stopped at a beach on that trip. When I pushed her she thought that perhaps I was confusing it with our trip to Two Rivers when I was very young. Since I didn’t remember Two Rivers and since I absolutely knew the difference between a river and an ocean, I was sure she was mistaken and that she just could not remember that time we went to the ocean I continued to believe we went to the ocean.

Many years later I found some old photographs that proved we’d been to the ocean. Grandma Green and Aunt Ginny were there and they did not go to Virginia Beach with us, so that was a little confusing. My confusion was cleared when I showed the photographs to my mother and she told me that was the beach in Two Rivers and the water was Lake Michigan.

Many more years later I saw it for myself, probably the very beach where young Dona, Grandma Green, Mom and Aunt Ginny sunbathed.

I know there are photographs, or maybe videos of my mom and me at the beach. Maybe not this trip — I was not even 2 years old, so how could I remember this?

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

Just found this card that Dean must have sent with the letters above — or the other way around.

How Could You!
Have been so nice? Thanks so Much!
Dean wrote: I just wanted to send a line expressing my appreciation for your helping me move. I’m not quite sure how to express this but… I’d expect you’d have some reservations about Dona & my situation and yet you helped us. To me that was an amazingly nice thing to do. I can only say think you sincerely & that I’ll always remember your generosity. Love, Dean P.S. You’re nice people too!

Some Chetek photos

My grandmother would have loved Instagram. She liked to document everything, even the most mundane things. Here are a few shots around the cabin in Chetek. The captions indicate what she wrote on the back. I suspect there were more photographs, but this is what I have in front of me

More tree

February or March 1974

Taken in November 1975. Lake is down 4″ Putting in a new bridge.

Taken November 1975. Lake is down 4″.

Coots October 1975. Took this closer as I wanted the coots to fly.