HODGEPODGE: Mom’s ‘Club,’ Squirrelympics, Vintage Hodgepodge

Mom’s “Club”

“I fixed you some sandwiches. You’ll have to go upstairs early and play quietly until bedtime.”

We knew that if that was my mother’s message to us, it meant that the “club ladies” were coming.

We could have guessed that though, because since we arrived home from school we had been dusting and vacuuming and picking up all our “stuff” and putting it “where it belongs.”

We had to be reminded that the living room floor wasn’t “where it belongs.”

My father observed the same strictly outlined rules as us kids on “club night.”  He usually spent a couple of hours each evening at the dining room table doing his “homework,” which consisted of filling out orders for his bakery route.

On club nights he scrunched himself up to sit in the small chair at the small desk in our bedroom.

Our house was small and one of the problems that fact presented was that there wasn’t room for the ladies’ coats downstairs, so during gatherings when coats were necessary they were neatly spread out on my parents’ bed, so my accommodating father had to lay down with my brother or me in one of our small bunk-size beds until the ladies went home.

Most of the club members lived on Kenmore Avenue, one block from our house. At one time five club ladies lived in three houses next to each other.

To observers, it didn’t seem that the club ladies, most of whom saw each other on a daily basis, had an exciting agenda at their meetings. The ladies would entertain themselves when they got together by talking; some of them sewed while they talked.

The club’s custom was the hostess would serve “lunch” sometime around nine o’clock. The appetizing aromas of that late evening meal often caused a problem for the upstairs campers whose gulped down supper of sandwiches was a long ago memory.

There were leftovers the next day, but they didn’t seem the same without the club ladies’ lively chatter.

Not only did the club members have their evening get-togethers at each other’s homes, they gathered many times in the summer at picnics when they brought their children along.

Kids’ birthday parties were also a frequent event. So all the kids saw each other often and were, more or less, members of their own club.

The club ladies were visiting each other’s homes and enjoying their frequent parties long after their children had grown up.

As the years went by, there was a new era for the club ladies when some of the members were joined by their daughters for their social evenings.

Sometimes the memories from many years ago come back to me and I return to a living room full of my mother’s friends; to the enjoyment that those ladies received from each other and to the enduring friendships which were nurtured during those evenings with the “Club Ladies.”

Squirrelympics?

I entertain myself quite often by watching some of our neighborhood’s many squirrels flying from tree to tree around our backyard.

In an article that I wrote in 2012, I called them “The Flying Squirrellendas” (do you remember Ringling’s Flying Wallendas?) as they performed in our backyard every day:

“I am happy to say that their performance arena is right here in our backyard … One problem is that you never know when the show might begin. … As I sit here one of the performers has appeared … I can’t tell what color his performance tights might be … He is being very cautious, this is obviously just a warm-up session … and then he disappears … no show for now.”

Two years later, they are still at it, and there are times when I am at the kitchen table just in time for show time. A couple of days ago I got so excited watching the tree tops activity that I spilled my coffee all over the table.

I’m sure our neighborhood squirrels belong to some kind of a social/athletic club. Often times one or two squirrels will be chasing each other from branch to branch and soon I can count 10 or more participating in the games.

There is another large group of squirrels across the street in the park and still another smaller one further up the road. Who knows? Maybe they are participating in their own Winter “Squirrelympics”.

Squirrel watching and counting has become a winter afternoon fun activity. Squirrelympics — summer or winter, it doesn’t matter.

These athletic, bushy-tailed rodents compete during all seasons and they excite the audience (me and my coffee cup) and score points.

As I watch the neighborhood squirrels these days I wonder if they are trying to tell us something.  When they’re not chasing each other around our yards the squirrels seem to be busy storing more winter provisions.

Maybe we should be paying more attention. Perhaps the squirrels know more than the groundhogs, and even more than the television prognosticators.

And, they’re having a great time.

Vintage Hodgepodge

From The Fulton Patriot, Feb. 23, 1993:

I have been asked a lot of questions during the past couple of weeks. I have run out of answers. I am beginning to dread these questions.

  • When are you going to shovel the snow?
  • Enough snow for you?
  • Do you think it will ever stop snowing?
  • Is it going to snow tonight?
  • Is it going to snow this afternoon?
  • When are you going to shovel the snow?
  • Where are you going to put all this snow?
  • Have we got more snow than Oswego?
  • Is there school today?
  • Is there going to be school tomorrow?
  • When are you going to shovel the snow?
  • Why do you live in Fulton in the winter time?
  • Where is the car?
  • What is that huge pile of snow doing in the driveway where the car used to be?
  • When are you going to shovel the snow?

… Roy Hodge

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