Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Never Too Young To Pitch In

Born with a "Time to lean, time to clean" attitude.

My clothes were always folded, shoes all lined up with the toes pointed out, and dolls played with but kept pristine. Could spend all day playing in the yard and not come in with dirt.

My family has a film, (yes film), of my first birthday. They put a slice of cake in front of me. My older sister and other various family members all have the same type of milestone on film. All the other babies are covered in frosting in no time. I just lightly touch the cake and neatly have some.
To get the baby covered in cake take for the film library my dad smudges cake on my face. They now have the first 'if looks could kill' shot of me.

Around four years of age I decided fresh sheets were on the 'daily' agenda. Had learned how to make the bed. My mother, being of above average intelligence gave me my own shelf and basket for my sheets. She simply folded the set in my basket and put it back on the shelf until they were actually dirty.

When I was seven I received a "Betty Crocker First Cookbook" and a whole new chapter of my life was opened. The very next day my father okayed the first on my own cooking. I made three whole loaves of french toast. My family helped me eat all that they could. And, coming from the philosophy of 'waste not - want not' was told that all the rest had to be eaten before more cooking could be done. I ate french toast morning, noon and night for three days.

Made every recipe in that cook book. Dad even made me a bench that ran across the full width of the stove. By the following year I could make bacon, sausage, eggs and pancakes at the same time. Not so good at coffee - still can not master that.

Looking back I think my dad made that bench for more than just feeding my passion. He always said that our mom was a religious cook. She was great at making burnt offerings.

Our Uncle Bill was not a biological relative. He was my dad's best bud. Used to drive my mom bonkers by calling her Soph and smackin' her butt. He also ran his own television repair shop in the city, on Belmont. Married and father of two.

Uncle Bill gave me my first money making opportunities. I do NOT count my dad paying a quarter to scratch his back for half an hour a money making opportunity. In fact, it could be considered child labor.

The summer after 7th grade and on weekends throughout 8th grade I worked at the TV shop. My older sister and I would take the bus to work. We started at 8am.

Swept the front area by the tube tester, and in back by all the work benches. The back was all guy. It smelled of cigarette smoke, smoldering solder, and silicon.

When a set came in it was my job to find a shelf spot for it. And, when a item was done I would have to relocate it to a spot, and update the work ticket so the counter person could find it.

In the winter, when things came in they did not go directly on a shelf. They would get put in two large garbage bags out back. Then, you would have to spray raid in there between the bags. The majority of the customers were lower income, so the bugs would climb in the sets for warmth. Every time I smell insect spray I think of the TV Shop.

At times people would decide it was too expensive to repair their item. These things would become throw aways. They would then end up next to the parts bench. I could sit at that bench for hours on end. You would take apart the TV, radio, stereo, whatever and just keep going. If part of a board was fried I would get to use the soldering iron and take apart the board diode by diode. Then I could sort and store them up front.

Loved working there; and thought that I was making a killing. My uncle paid me $13.00 a day and all that I wanted for lunch. This is where I thought I was pulling one over on him. I could eat two burgers, an order of fries, a full kosher pickle and a shake every day at lunch.

It seemed that as soon as my mother could, she would pimp out her daughters as baby sitters. So, by the New Year's Eve that I was to watch my uncle's two children, a five year old boy and some month old baby girl, it should have been a cinch.

How do I describe the boy? He was obsessed with Spectre Man. He would jump off furniture yelling it, fly around a corner yelling it, appearing out of nowhere with another Spectre Man, Spectre Man. But, I could handle it - a little discipline and artful distraction.

Let me tell you, he ran circles around me. Every time the baby needed feeding or changing he was up to something. Climbed the cabinet to get to a bowl of sugar that he was eating by handfuls. Under the sink pulling everything out.

Well, during one diaper changing he put ammonia in the dog's water dish. The dog was vomiting everywhere.

Had to call mom. No way to contact my uncle, there were no cellphones. She came with two sisters in tow to help with the baby sitting and left with the dog.

The dog did come back home. They pumped his poor little stomach. And, from then on babysitting there was a two sitter job.

Learned so much from this experience. My mother became part of the Mr. Yuck campaign. It is a round green sticker, a sickly color of green, and face similar to the smiley face with it's tongue sticking out and eyes squinting to put on chemical and medicine bottles.

I talked with the local fire department and set up a babysitting certification program. Baby sitters could go to the fire department and learn CPR, Heimlich maneuver, poisoning prevention and basic emergency care.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Grace Lutheran

4th - 8th Grade

What an incredible learning opportunity. We had the luck of being some of the last classes in Concordia Teacher's College student laboratory. We always had music, art, and religion as a full class. However, all the other studies could have student teachers involved. We had the newest teaching techniques, smaller student to teacher ratios, and one heck of a great time. We would compete to learn more - happily.

4th Grade - Mr. Krauss
Not much to say about Mr. Krauss or 4th grade for that matter.

Spent most of the year adjusting from moving from the city to the suburbs.

Our neighborhood in the city had drastically changed. We used to play outside in the streets until the street lights came on. When they cut down a big tree we would all climb on it over and under for at least a good week.

By the time we moved there were prostitutes on the corner, and daily gunshots in the street.

Was strange moving into a house 1/3 the size without a dog kennel in the yard.

Not as strange as my grandfather's funeral the first month of 4th grade. While at his gravesite standing beside the casket I looked down and saw my name.

We had pets, a kennel and much older relatives so death or a funeral was not so weird. No, just out and out unsettling to see your name on a gravestone with a birth and death date.

Started reading my mother's parapsychology books. Also, Edgar A. Poe became a good read.

5th Grade - Ms. Kruse: Actually had "Common Sense" listed on school supplies, and sent one of my classmates home for coming to school without it. She had a dried out Iguana in the classroom. Owned several kitties - a white one that was deaf. Would always point to things with her middle finger - a gas in 5th grade.

We made a rock in Ms. Kruse's class. Many of my fellow students have said they still have their's. She taught us about types of rocks, plus the difference between stalagtites and stalagmites.

Every year her class would draw think green shamrock drawings. Every year it snowed the next day.

6th Grade - Mrs. Uitti: She reminds me of Ms. Crabtree from the Little Rascals. She was sweet, quiet, and had everybody's attention. She was also the mother of one of our classmates. She was also in charge of the 7th and 8th grade cheer leaders.

In 6th grade we had to make a Country Notebook. Import, export, population, location, language, history, food... We had a student teacher from Mesopotamia that year. He talked to us about where he lived.

I think that was the year that one of the teachers brought us chocolate covered insects. Let's just say that if you have the choice between grasshoppers or ants - choose ants.

7th Grade - Mr. Mortensen: What can I say about him? Reminds me of Pat Sajak. A mighty nice guy I must say. Enstroms were the bane of his P.E. existance. Well, at least us first four were. He used to verbally push us around the track. I don't run - I walk.

8th Grade - Mr. Koenig: He was very professional. The next year he became principal of the school.

Mr. Bauman - Our choir teacher. He had once taught the Vienna Boys Chorus. He could get music out of a tone deaf child's head. We won state competitions year after year. Saw him drag a student out of class by his ear. We once practiced for the Christmas pageant to the point of three students passing out at the front of the church. Good times. Good times. In all actuality, I love this man dearly for the music he brought into my life.

Gunther - the bus driver and school custodian. He was old school German. All of us children were respectfully frightened of him. You got on the bus, sat down and behaved. The year of the big blizzard with all the school closings never affected us. Our school was heated and free of snow. He made to every house on the pick-up route and also picked up students and teachers not on the regular route. Most amazing thing I ever saw him do, and he did it often, was to kick a ball OVER the three story school.

In 8th grade you could take on added responsibilites. I got to run the schools supply store before school. A small roll out desk with pens, paper, pencils and erasers. And, at the end of the school day would help the kindergarteners get on their shoes and button up for the bus.

Every year Grace had a large school fair. I can still remember all the fudge and homemade pickles. YUM!

St. Paul Lutheran

Kindergarten to Third Grade

Mrs. Busch was my kindergarten teacher. She was a twin. Her sister's name was Ella. Her name was Mirella. Insisted on calling me Marilyn. She took our entire class out the her house. There was a swimming pool; and we had hotdogs with chips for lunch.

You always remember your kindergarten teacher.

Mr. Reichardt was my first crush. He was the third grade teacher. Taught our class the Lord's Prayer and Silent Night in German. He also would let our class watch Bozo's Circus during lunch. He would bring in albums and play them at the back of the classroom - The Singing Nun's Lord's Prayer and Oh What a Feeling are the two I liked the most.

Can still remember parading across the street to the church for morning prayer. It was always cold. In winter we would sit in coats and hats. In summer we looked forward to our time with God.

Had to leave St. Paul Lutheran when we moved.

????? Nursery School

Went to nursery school for an entire week.

At the end of the second week of school my mother received a call asking if I would be returning after not going for a week.

The call surprised my mother.

That entire week she had put me out at the end of the driveway with my older sister - snack bag in hand.

Each morning that week I waited for my sister's bus to pick her up. Then, went and hid under the front porch until the nursery school bus rolled back down the street around noon.

My mother freaked. When she asked why I didn't go to school. I explained that we had the same games and toys at home. Plus, I didn't have to share a swing set at home.

She gave in on sending me to nursery school, and waited until the next year when my sister and I took the same bus.

Mom made her hold onto my hand until I was on the bus.


???? Nursery School
September 1970

St. Paul Lutheran
Chicago, IL
1971 - 1975
Grades: K - 3

Grace Lutheran
River Forest, IL
Grades: 4 - 8

Oak Park and River Forest High School
Oak Park, IL
Grades: 9 - 12

Washburne Trade School
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Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Chicago, IL
October 1990
Food Service Sanitation Certification

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Ohashiatsu Institute Chicago
Evanston, IL
Massage Therapy