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Archive for December 25th, 2012

The Queen Of Christmas Cousin Donna by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

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The Queen

of

Christmas

Cousin Donna

Christmas Stars in Tacloban City 2012 Nikon D 70 Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr 021

Christmas Star

Cousin Donna DeLong has always been kind of camera shy, so here is and arts and crafts project that she can relate to. The blue rice paper covers a bamboo framework to create this Christmas Star that was for sale in Tacloban City , Leyte, Republic of the Philippines for the holidays of 2012. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

 

 

by Samuel E. Warren Jr,

Martha Lou Marcum DeLong was the Matriarch of the Charley Herman DeLong Family,

 

christmas-tree-logo-photo-two-thumbnail_thumb[1]In my childhood, my grandmother, allowed those matriarchal duties to pass to my mother, Opal M. DeLong Warren. Momma inherited the task of planning and preparing for the family social celebrations like Thanksgiving and Christmas.

 

While I was on active duty in the United States Air Force, the matriarchal duties of the DeLong Family were passed to my cousin, Donna DeLong.

 

Momma had used the training of her life experiences in Texas to plan and host the annual family Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations.

 

Likewise Donna used her life experiences that made the annual family Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations a big hit with Aunt Mary and Momma.

 

Once I experienced Donna’s interpetation of the annual holidays, I christened her:“The Queen Of Christmas.:

 

While I was in the US Air Force, momma would tell me about “Christmas at Donna’s” over the telephone.

 

Life after the United States Air Force meant I returned to “my home of record” and retirement in Stone County, Missouri.

 

Momma’s “Polio Syndrome” from her younger years had returned. Her cane gave way to a walker that eventually had her in a wheel chair by the end of the 1980s.

 

 

 

Aunt Mary DeLong

 

Aunt Mary” DeLong, Donna’s mother was always a creative person. When Donna and I were kids we would walk along the shoulder of the road and pick up pop bottles and Hamm’s aluminum beer cans.

 

We took the empty pop bottles to the Keithley General Store in Abesville, Missouri and got some “spendin’ money.”

 

The Hamm’s aluminum beer cans went to Aunt Mary, who would take her scissors and cut the aluminum into strips to curl to create a Louis XIV chair for a pin cushion.

 

Aunt Mary used dark purple yarn to crochet over pop bottle caps and connected them together to create a bunch of grapes to hang on the wall.

 

Aunt Mary really was one of those Ozarks’ women who could make ‘a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.’

 

When I would come home “On Leave” from the US Air Force , I would hear stories of Cousin Donna doing crafts type projects. Momma always made a point to brief me at length about “Christmas at Donna’s.”

 

Just Another Day

 

My mother was one of those people who always referred to “a holiday – any holiday — as just another day.”

 

Momma always “pretended” not to be interested in holidays and social events. When you watched her reaction; it was obvious that Momma actually enjoyed birthday parites, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day celebrations.

 

A few minutes into any celebration, Momma would say, “Son, get in the cupboard there and get my little camera and take some pictures.” Momma always kept an inexpensive 35 millimeter camera loaded with film in a kitchen cupboard to take pictures of family celebrations.

 

The Kitchen Table Magick

 

At Grandma DeLong’s house conversations always began at the kitchen table over a cup of coffee. Entire afternoons and evenings would pass with family discussing and conversing about the day’s events at the kitchen table.

 

When family came Home For The Holiday, family members would settle at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee and would talk about their trip and things that had happened in their lives over a cup of coffee at the kitchen table.

 

In the Opal M. DeLong Warren Family Home, the kitchen table still had the “magick” that allowed family and friends to sit down at the kitchen table and talk about the events of the day.

 

Momma’s Review

 

When I made my telephone calls from overseas back home, Momma would tell me what was going on back in Stone County. But, when she took the time to comment on an event at length I knew it had made an impression.

 

Momma would tell me the smallest details that she could remember about Christmas Dinner at Donna’s. It was obvious that she had enjoyed the day and was already looking forward to next year.

 

Momma always enjoyed her Birthday Party” planned and hosted by Christy. She always looked forward to “Christmas At Donna’s.”

 

Snowed In

 

One year, while I was in the Air Force, Momma had went to Donna’s for a Thanksgiving or Christmas and the weather turned so bad, so suddenly, that she had to call for a ride home over the icy roads and through the deep snow.

 

Momma candy apple red 1980 Chrevrolet fleet side pickup did not have chains on the tires. Sometimes in the winter, in the southwest Missouri Ozarks, rain or a light snow will freeze on the pavement and before the road completely “thaws out” then, inches of snow will fall and blanket the road, which hides the icy layer that is still slick and slippery underneath the snow.

 

According to Momma’s story, the road was clear and free of ice, but, the sudden snow fall came so fast and heavy that the county road plows did not even have a chance to get out on the highways before a thick blanket of snow had covered the highway and had drifted in the hollers.

 

Momma was one of those Ozarkers who always remarked, “I like to sleep in my own bed at night.” Thus, she called for a ride home.

 

Christmas Creativity

 

Cousin Donna, I describe as a “Christmas person.”

 

As kids, Donna was always the person who would raise a runt pig or baby goat on a bottle. And, she taught some of Grandma DeLong’s baby goslings to swim. . .sort of. I decided to help and I accidentally “drown” one. Obviously, Donna knew more about baby geese than I did.

 

As kids, Donna had a “Green Thumb” and she is only person I know who raised “A Pineapple In Missouri.” I never would of thought it possible. Pineapples are a tropical vegetable and Missouri’s moody temperate climate can be a challenge for plants that normally grow under the southwest Missouri Ozarks sunshine. I saw the pineapple, so I know it is possible.

 

Donna’s Decorations

 

When Christy and I returned home after the Air Force, Donna showed Christy how to make floral arrangements for Memorial Day. Donna showed Christy how to wire wrap stones to create fashionable jewelry. And, then, Donna and Christy went Christmas shopping for Christmas decorations.

 

Inspired by Donna’s decorations, Christy soon had her own way to use crafts materials to transform the sun room into a branch of Santa’s Workshop at the North Pole and a small Christmas Cathedral style in the living room.

 

It would not be right to reveal Cousin Donna’s “Christmas Secrets.” The reader will simply have to meet and talk to Cousin Donna.

 

It is fair to say Donna always decorated a huge Christmas Tree. And, Donna always arranged the activities that would keep guests talking and entertained until dinner.

 

Donna understood her mother and her “Aunt Opal”, so in her Christmas shopping Donna would find “bargain items” to wrap as “gag Christmas gifts”, while she cooked dinner. Aunt Mary and momma would open a couple of their gag gifts.

 

The sheer genius of this Christmas activity allowed Aunt Mary and momma to always be surprised. They would talk and compare their gifts for several minutes. Usually the process would remind them of a Christmas story of earlier celebrations.

 

Christmas Cuisine

 

Food is one area of life people should always talk about. Cousin Donna is a great cook.

 

I am a food critic at heart. I love to eat. I enjoy food.

 

Anyone can “nuke” food.

 

I “nuke” TV dinners and noodles in the microwave – that isn’t cooking – that is snacking.

 

My mother was a good cook.

 

I make no distinction between chefs and “great cooks.” Cousin Donna is a great cook.

 

Cousin Donna’s Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinners always featured the traditional Ozarks cuisine of mashed potatoes, candied yams, i.e., sweet potatoes, green beans, turkey and honey glazed ham cooked with pineapple slices on top.

 

Donna would add homemade biscuits or rolls and usually add a pecan or pumpkin pie. Donna made a wonderful fruit salad that I could never get enough of. She made a green pea casserole that my wife, Christy loved.

 

The Secret Of A Delicious Turkey

 

One clue of a great cook is Turkey. Many cooks serve up a “dry turkey.” One taste and you dash for a glass of water.

 

A great cook knows the turkey is never dry.

 

And a great cook, usually has their own way to keep the turkey juicy or moist. A great cook knows turkey has to be moist, tasty and the meat falls apart on your fork and in your mouth.

 

Donna always serves a turkey that is “Ambrosia – the food of the gods.” I have always been a “picky eater.” Often at social functions, I nibble on food like a baby bird.

 

At Donna’s house, I always “pig out.” I go back for “seconds,” “thirds” and sometimes “fourths” in the number of servings of food.

 

Leftovers Left Over

 

The nice thing about the Texas’ Warren Women and the Missouri Ozarks’ DeLong Women is they always put enough food on the table to serve a platoon of hungry United States Marines, just in case, for whatever reason, Uncle Sam sends the troops through the door on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day.

 

Usually food is always left over. But, the Warren and DeLong food motto is food never goes to waste. Thus, the food goes in the ice box and ends up as ham sandwiches and turkey sandwiches, which usually last a week.

 

Momma was right.

 

From 1997 to 2010, I always looked forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinners at Donna’s house. I always had to loosen at least one notch in my belt to accommodate my full stomach.

 

Donna’s Christmas Dinners

 

One major factor of Cousin Donna’s Christmas Dinners were she continued the DeLong Family Traditions “For The Next Generation.”

 

Someday in the future, her grandson,Michael can tell people about his Grandma DeLong’s great Christmas dinners and traditions. And, Michael’s Grandma DeLong, will be called, “Donna.”

 

In our lifetimes, as kids, Cousin Donna and I had those Ozarks family dinners that read like a movie script straight out of the 1800s. The small rustic house in the country, with no indoor plumbing. The outhouse was down on the hill side.

 

Donna,Ronnie, Bert and I could climb up on the old tree in the yard and sit on the trunk or climb up the branches and play, while the grown-ups would talk and cook dinner inside the house.

 

By the time, I retired from the Air Force and returned home, the natural processes of life was removing the family members of our parents generation.

 

Donna like my Grandma DeLong makes great biscuits from scratch. Momma had added black-eyed peas to the traditional Christmas menu. I always looked forward to Donna’s “Fruit Salad” and my wife, Christy, always looked forward to her “Green Pea Salad.”

 

What I always appreciated about Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinner’s at Cousin Donna’s Home is like the Ozarks Christmas Dinners at Grandma and Uncle Richards’ I always felt “Home For The Holidays.”

 

Christmas Eve, Monday, December 24, 2012, Barangay Baras, Republic of the Philippines, members of the Saldana Family have come to our home for the annual Christmas Eve Dinner celebration, “Noche Buena”, which is a part of the Filipino culture’s traditional Christmas Celebration.

 

I am dining on a large plate of steaming white rice and deviled eggs. Leneil Saldana, sits to my left, and my wife, Christy Warren sits to my right, at the table.

 

I glance at Christy’s watch and notice it is 9:30 pm.

 

It is already Christmas Eve in the States,” Christy tells Leneil. “Donna will be fixing Christmas Dinner. She usually cooks food for two days before Christmas. Umm. I love her green pea salad. Then, she would have a fruit salad. And, pie. If I know, Donna, she will bake a pie. Pecan pie. Pumpkin pie. And, if she has time, maybe, another pie. I always loved Christmas Dinner at Donna’s,” said Christy.

christy sets the table_resized

 

 

Christy Warren sets the Christmas Eve Dinner Table. In this photograph, in the foreground, banana pancakes are shown, In addition to the steaming platters of rice is the octopus in the white bowls. The Ozarks’ Christmas Dishes of macaroni salad and potato salad will find their way to the table along with pork before the table setting is finished. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

 

Family Traditions” is when you can travel half-way around the world and sit down to dinner on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day and have a crisp, sharp memory of the “Home For The Holidays” celebration underway on the other side of the globe.

 

In my mind, Cousin Donna will always be:

 

The Queen Of Christmas.”

 

Merry Christmas, Donna !

 

Sam

 

Christmas Links

 

One estimate states 400 million people each year worldwide celebrate Christmas. Here are some links to get you started on your search for more information about Christmas and holiday menus.

Christmas Stars in Tacloban City 2012 Nikon D 70 Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr 007_resized_resized

 

This Christmas Star that is a series of star was on display for sale in Tacloban City, Leyte, Republic of the Philippines, during the Holiday Season of 2012. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

 

Holiday Menu Food Network

http://www.foodnetwork.com/holiday-central-menus/package/index.html

 

Holiday Menu Kraft Foods

http://www.kraftrecipes.com/recipes/holidays-and-entertaining/holidays/holiday-how-to-center/holidayrecipesmenus.aspx

 

Holiday Dinners Southern Living

http://www.southernliving.com/food/holidays-occasions/holiday-dinners-00400000033202/

 

Christmas Wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas

 

All Things Christmas

http://www.allthingschristmas.com/

 

Christmas.com

http://www.christmas.com/

 

North Pole. com

http://www.northpole.com/

 

Merry Christmas.com

http://www.merry-christmas.com/

 

My Merry Christmas.com

http://mymerrychristmas.com/

 

Christmas Catholic Encyclopedia

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03724b.htm

 

Hanukkah Wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanukkah

 

Kwanzaa Wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kwanzaa

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

Too Old For Toys by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

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Too Old For Toys

TOY ROBOT PHOTO ONE_resized

Toy Robot

I bought this toy robot in the 1990s. I was amazed at all the fuctions. It can walk, talk and grumble. It can dance. It doesn’t do “Gangnam Style” dancing, but, it does a nice “Ah, ha” and moves in a robotic dance fashion. There comes a time, when adults tell kids, “You’re Too Old For Toys.” What the adults are trying to explain to kids is when you get ready to go to the “Prom” your prom date isn’t going to want to sit down on the floor in her ball gown, while you set down on the floor in your tuxedo “to play with your toy plastic Army men.” Adults “forget” that “Toys Are Tools Of Imagination And Creativity” that keep toy companies in business, are symbols of your childhood, and are models that inspire stories, novels, movies, and creations in “The Real World.” Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

 

 

by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

christmas-tree-logo-photo-two-thumbnail_thumb[1]In living Life we learn many lessons. Grandparents, parents and other relatives pass on their wisdom and advice by their stories and their actions. A person’s actions does not always match his or her words.

 

Listen to what people say and always pay attention to what they do.

 

In school, teachers, coaches and professors are paid to teach children basic knowledge as well as specialized knowledge that is used to earn a living working a job.

 

Community leaders usually represent some level of authority. Authority, as a rule, is a system that gets the majority of people to be able to live together in a manner of “public order”, i.e., people learn to get along and live with one another in a fairly friendly and helpful manner.

 

Life overall never plays by society’s rules.

 

On a day to day basis, we all have our place in the global status quo and we live our lives.

 

The 12th Christmas

THE TOOL TRAY OF MY ANTIQUE TOOL BOX_4979_resized

 

Tool Chest

This is the tool chest that I got for My 12th Christmas. It came in handy for minor projects around the house and the farm, but I never built a house with it. I never renovated a house with it. I never even worked on an automobile engine with it. When we decided to move to the Republic of the Philippines it was one of the items that ended up in a yard sale, rather than, the household goods. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

In childhood, my greatest disappointment was when I was told, “Your are ‘Too Old For Toys.”

My 12th Christmas would be “The Greatest Disappointment Of My Childhood.”

 

No organization on the planet currently publishes a global instruction that states: “Children Of The World you will be required by law to give up your toys at age______.” Of course, some level of authority will decide a number to put in the blank.

 

In The History Of The World, apparently global society had been “winging it” for centuries, when the time comes to tell children to “Give Up Your Toys.”

 

I had turned 12.

 

Maybe, there is an “age” when a child is suppose to quit playing with toys, but it isn’t publicized.

 

Maybe, parents know. Then, again, maybe, parents just “wing it” and decide on an age.

 

In life, people usually only give up actions, when they become tired or those acts or some level of authority “forces” someone to change.

 

In farming, farmers learn when to “wean” livestock. There comes a time based on the Real World financial reality of the farmer.

 

Sometimes the parental livestock know when the time has come to “wean” their kids. In my childhood, young farmers starting out would talk to older farmers to determine how to go about “weaning” different types of livestock. One method is to learn to read an almanac and use the information.

 

Kids aren’t livestock. Parents try to learn how to help their kids made important decisions in life.

 

Perhaps, people just assume when you start looking at “The Big 1 – 3”, you are suppose to know this.

 

This Kid Loved His Toys

 

I was a kid, who loved his toys. I was a kid, who enjoyed playing with his toys.

 

I was an ‘only child’ so it wasn’t like I had brothers and sisters teasing me because I still played with toys. I was an ‘only child’ so I didn’t always have other kids to play with, especially when I moved to the country.

 

As the 12th Christmas approached, Momma hinted that I was becoming “too big for toys.” I didn’t take the hint.

 

Finally, she said, “Son, you are becoming too big for toys.”

 

I didn’t think I had grown that much, during the previous year. “Son, you are becoming too ‘old’ for toys.”

 

There is an age,” I thought ?

 

One of the wonderful characteristics about my mother is if I didn’t understand something, I could ask her a question and she would always give me an honest answer.

 

Teenagers Don’t Play With Toys”

 

You will be a teenager soon. Teenagers don’t play with toys,” she explained.

 

As a child, I knew many teenagers. I saw none of them as a future Einstein. I missed Momma’s point entirely.

 

Of course, I had no doubt that she was right. It is just, when you are young there are things you take for granted. You know the day will come when you quit playing with toys, but, it is not some issue that gets publicized and advertised.

 

What Do You Want For Christmas ?

 

A day or two passed. “What do you want for Christmas ?”

 

Ah, the irony of life, first, you tell a kid, he has to give up ‘toys” and then you ask him what he wants on: “The Biggest Toy Day Of All Creation ? “

 

I had wanted an electric train set for Christmas.

 

Now, I didn’t know what I wanted.

 

Christmas is the global holiday about toys, presents and gifts.

 

People will tell you Christmas is about many things. Listen to their words, watch their actions and make your own decision.

 

To me, Christmas is a day about toys for kids. When I was told I was “too big for toys” the significance of the holiday quickly began to loose personal meaning for me.

 

Without toys, What Is Christmas Good For ?”

 

Without toys, What Is Christmas Good For ?”

 

Christmas was coming. People give presents at Christmas.

 

What kind of holiday is Christmas without toys ?

 

Kids focus on the toys at Christmas. The other information about Christmas is ether that will over time be absorbed into their gray matter. In the 1960s, there were no electronic sources of information like computers or the Internet to turn to.

 

The Suggestion

 

Momma suggested “A tool chest.” Daddy worked at the plant and he was an electrician. He had lots of tools. He should have been a “Craftsman” stockholder, because he was a loyal Craftsman tool buyer.

 

I didn’t really think about the tool chest suggestion I just kind of nodded and went with the flow.

 

Psychology In The Ether

 

Dr. Benjamin Spock had written his popular “baby” book that parents used in the 1950s.

 

But, I didn’t know of any books written by any doctors entitled: “The Kid’s Guide To Growing Up”?

 

People were still “experimenting” with psychology in the 1960s. Sigmund Freud looked very official. He was a snazzy dresser for his day and age. The cigar was a nice prominent publicity prop to get people’s attention. Throughout history, the successful showman always needs a working gimmick or prop to serve as a logo.

 

Freud choose to “work with the mind” to earn a living. A risky job choice.

 

Before Freud, people who tried to understand and work with the human mind were usually labeled: charlatans, frauds, confidence men, confidence women, bunko artists, scammers, grifters, snake-oil salesmen, and phonies – just to mention a few of the terms.

 

Fortune tellers, psychics and mediums were usually considered frauds. Society expects educators to educate and certify people for jobs. God is not suppose to interfere with the global education process, otherwise words like “superstition” and “religion” get tossed around.

 

In the early 1960s, in the United States, people would notice psychiatrists on talk shows, but society wasn’t jumping up and down to to create a new profession, especially one that throughout history had been controversial.

 

Psychiatrists were doing the talk show circuit and making public appearances to ensure the population at large that psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists were just “Fortune Tellers In Business Suits.”

 

The “Know It All Psychiatrists” wouldn’t start to be popular until the 1970s.

 

And the idea of support groups would have to wait until around the 1980s and allow the psychiatrist and psychologists of the 1970s to prove they weren’t just fortune tellers in business suits.

 

In the 1960s, Americans weren’t rushing to “shrinks” for advice or to be patients.

 

Newspaper Advice Columnists

 

There were newspaper advice columnists, In the 1800s, a girl named Virginia had wrote an editor a letter about Christmas. He had answered.

 

In the 1960s, newspaper advice columnists seemed to focus on place settings and matters of the heart from letter writers like “Heart-broken In Houston.”

 

I couldn’t see a columnist choosing to answer “Toyless In Galena.”

 

When you are a kid, you do not have the “Adult Thought Processes.” Thank God for Gut Instinct.

 

The initial shock to my mind of no toys for Christmas was: “Now, what ?”

The surprise became confusion, which became numbness as I tried to imagine life without toys. When you are a kid, your toys are important symbols and realities of your day to day life.

 

In a few days of trying to think through the situation, I came to grips with the idea of “No More Toys.”

 

Still. “Once you take away the fun stuff of Christmas; what is left ?”

 

Trading Tools For A Train

 

A bright, shiny, new crescent wrench just didn’t seem as exciting as flat cars, box cars, locomotives, cabooses, transformers, tracks, and scenery layouts.

 

I would tell myself the tools would come in handy. I couldn’t get a picture of me looking at blueprints, in front of the rising wood skeleton of a house.

 

I could not get a visual imagine in my mind of me lying under a Plymouth Barracuda with socket wrenches spread out on the ground by my head. I ease out from under the car stare down at the engine and wipe my hands on the oily pink work rag. “Yep. I need to see if I can’t get a bigger motor.”

 

My mind kept blurring the image of me in a crawl space, wearing a tool belt, reaching up to look in the junction box at the electrical wires. My mind just would not “light up that image.”

 

I’ll learn to use the tools I told myself.

 

A faint voice in my mind, snickers, “Yeah, right.”

 

Dreaded Derailment Day

 

 

Wednesday, December 25, 1968

 

My 12th Christmas

 

The dreaded 12th Christmas arrived.

 

The Christmas Tree was another brightly decorated cedar tree. Daddy had used his Thanksgiving vacation. At least, he would not have to witness my disappointment at the packages under the tree.

 

The days of the Dick Tracy Cop Mobile, the Wham-O Monster Magnet, the Batman Utility Belt and all the other great toys and games were all behind me.

 

The whole adolescent issue is rough on a kid.

 

You open the Christmas presents. There is no need to rip into the boxes. The childish excitement and expectation is gone. After 12 years of being a devoted player of toys; what can possibly replace them ?

 

Of course, in the 1960s all the electronic gadgets, gizmos and golly gee-whiz devices are still about 20 years in the future.

 

You smile.

 

Clothes.

 

I did my best “Thank you.” It was right to be polite. I just didn’t have the energy to make it seem heartfelt.

 

When your heart and your emotions are numb, it is dumb to even try to “wing it.”

I was a closing Broadway play that never even bothered to open. I just wanted the day to end.  I always remember Christmas Dinner.  That year, I don’t even remember Christmas Dinner.

 

Clothes Controversial Choice ?

 

In the 21st Century, I still hear parents and relatives talk about giving kids clothes for Christmas.

Yes, we all wear clothes.

 

Clothes are a part of society. Parents and relatives buy kids clothes. Christmas is a holiday that focuses on a child’s reaction at the Christmas Tree. The Christmas Tree is a family theater production of drama and comedy.

 

In my lifetime, I have never seen clothes work as a Christmas present on Christmas Day under a Christmas Tree.

 

The reaction of the child is like an adult , who gets an expensive bill in the mail. You know it is coming and the arrival is always annoying, frustrating and usually devastates you based on the large amount of money demanded by a utility company, phone company or other business.

 

Personally, I never give clothes to children for Christmas. A gift should have meaning and mean something to the person giving it to the child. Clothes are a necessity; not a gift. Unless a child asked me for clothes for Christmas, I would not consider it as an option for a Christmas present.

 

A Big Deal

 

The whole “Too Old For Toys” and “No More Toys For Christmas” became “A Big Deal” for me because in adolescence being a kid you do not grasp the meaning of concepts like “roll with the flow” and be “flexible.”

 

When you are a kid and someone tells you that “Effective Immediately, this major change is being made to your life. Oh, and, incidentally, you have absolutely, no say, in the matter.” I remember as a kid, “I would freak out.” My mind and my emotions would rocket into the stratosphere as I tried to understand, “why would a grown-up do this to a kid ?”

 

In my mind, the whole issue became a “Big Deal” because I did not understand, “Toys Are Tools.” Your Tools that you work with changes over the course of life.

 

The natural flow of humanity forces us to give up our “toys”. But, life relies on us to keep a flame of imagination and creativity burning. We keep our fantasies in our minds, read them in books, watch them on TV and in theaters.

 

Yet, imagination and creativity is important in our adult lives because it reminds us to have hope and have faith in ourselves in our lives.

 

Toys To Tools ; Tools To Toys

 

The 12th Christmas served notice I would no longer get toys for Christmas to play with.

 

I had come to understood the 12th Christmas to be “The Death Of My Imagination And Creativity.” My toys had been taken away.

 

I had really wanted an electric train. I never got the electric train as a toy for Christmas.

 

I would be in the military before I realized I had a couple of great “toys to play with: a typewriter and a camera.”

 

Christmas Epiphany

 

December 1989, in the Republic of the Philippines at Clark Air Base I was strolling through the Branch Exchange not looking forward to a “Single G.I.’s Christmas” as the days of December counted down to the “Big 2-5”. I had a girlfriend, Christy, this year.

 

It would not be an “alone” Christmas.

 

I had no idea where the Christmas celebration would go on Christmas Day.

 

The Republic of the Philippines is on the global record of breaking out the big, brass bands and doing their best to make Christmas, “The Day Of Days.”

 

Over The Top,” is the way many Americans would describe the traditional celebration of Christmas in the Philippines. As early as October1, Filipino children in Angeles City, outside the gates of Clark Air Base, would begin “Christmas Caroling” and expect a few pesos for their songs.

 

After My 12th Christmas, I had become Ebenezer Scrooge incarnate. My solution to Christmas in college and the military was usually to get through it as quickly and as painlessly as possible.

 

Walking Wounded

 

Christmas Day celebrations as a single man from college into the military had left me “Walking Wounded.”

 

Christmas Day had to be dealt with like a hangover the morning after.

 

I knew Christy wasn’t going to let me “86 out the side door on this celebration,” at some point, I would have to “Be Present And Be Accounted For.”

 

I looked up and noticed my stroll of boredom in the BX had taken me into the toy section. I smiled and turned. My eyes were awash in gaudy, glitzy, over the top, attention designed colors and artwork of toy boxes designed to get a kid’s attention.

 

My eyes scanned a familiar looking word in the distance. I walk toward the word :T-R-A-I-N.

I pick up the box off the shelf and read the descriptions. Meanwhile, my mind remembered “You never got the train as a toy.”

 

Inside Sam’s Head

 

I could imagine the tiny employees of my mind scrambling around their enclosed mental work stations. No doubt, the klaxon horn was blaring loudly. The huge red interior warning light would have been in strobe mode and flashing erratically.

 

The tiny civilian commander, she would have yelled, “Flash, Level 1 ! Unsatisfied childhood desire ! Strap in ! This will be a bumpy ride !”

 

She slams her palm on the big red button to stop the annoying klaxon blaring.

 

The data input from my optic nerves would of flooded the gray matter circuits. The tiny civilian employees would be earning their mental pay.

 

Bio systems ? On line “

 

Heightened state of awareness !”

 

Emotional systems ?”

 

Lit up like a Christmas Tree !”

 

Emotional,” emphasizes the commander. “Mam. . .he is intently reading the description on the box. Emotions maxed out, but maintained. How is that even possible ?”

 

The tiny mental executive looks around her. “Relax. Sam is in his curious mode. Back to your stations.” She presses the button to stop the mental strobe warning light.

 

I start to place the box back on the shelf.

 

Then, my feet move me toward the checkout counter.

 

I imagine the tiniest female voice in my head, “Christmas is coming.”

 

I pay for the American Flyer train set at the register and smile.

 

I get to my off base quarters and set up the train underneath the Christmas Tree.

 

All Aboard !

 

Since 1989, a Warren train of some kind, size, color description, with an alternating cargo of cars has made the Christmas run around the tree.

 

In 2011, we had to pack away the train for shipping. Christmas 2012, I have yet to discover, where I put it.

 

In life, you get too old to sit on the floor and “play with toys.”

 

But, in life, you should NEVER get too old to rely on your imagination and creativity to move you through the daily tasks of life.

 

By Christmas 2013, I expect: “The Train and Christmas will be back on track.”

 

Merry Christmas !

 

Sam

TOY ROBOT THUMBNAIL ONE

Toy Train

Tracks

 

Kids – Here are some links to get you started if you are interested in researching “toy” and “model” trains and railroads.

 

IF you ever have the opportunity to go to a “Toy Show” – go.

 

Try to talk to one of the toy dealers and ask them questions about the different types of scale like HO and O.

 

If you are interested in model cars, trucks and tractors, then, ask the toy dealer questions about the types of “scales” like 1/16th, 1/32nd, and 1/43rd.

 

Kids, take care of your toys. Some of the toys from my childhood in the 1950s and 1960s have been sold through the years and have resulted in some people being able to put a nice amount of money in the bank for the future.

 

Yes, toys can be an investment in your future.

 

Sam

 

Lionel

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lionel_Corporation

American Flyer

http://www.americanflyertrains.com/

 

Lehmann Gross Bahn

LGB Wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGB_(Lehmann_Gross_Bahn)

 

Bachmann Trains

http://www.bachmanntrains.com/home-usa/index.php

 

Bachmann Big Hauler

Trainweb.org

http://www.trainweb.org/girr/tips/tips1/big_hauler_tips.html

 

Aristocraft Toy Trains

http://www.aristocraft.com/

Collectors Weekly American Flyer

http://www.collectorsweekly.com/model-trains/american-flyer

 

Collectors Weekly Marx Toy Trains

http://www.collectorsweekly.com/model-trains/marx

 

Model Railroader Magazine

http://mrr.trains.com/

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The Toy I Did Not Get by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

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My Chilhood Lesson On Credibility And Integrity

 

The Toy

I Did Not Get

LT UHURA ACTION FIGURE_resized

Lt. Uhura

This Lieutenant Uhura “toy” is one I bought in the Branch Exchange at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana. I am a “Trekker.” I was one of those American kids that fell in love with “Star Trek” from the first episode when it aired. I never had G.I. Joe action figures, but, I did have a “Captain Action” action figure. Have you ever noticed when a boy has a toy person that toy is called an “action figure” and when a girl has a toy person that toy is called a “doll” ? Of the swell and nifty toys that I had in my childhood there is one I never got for Christmas. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

 

by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

 

Twice in my childhood I did not get the toy “I really wanted.”

 

Being an “only child” made me “fortunate” and “spoiled.”

 

The first instance was my fault. The second instance was “an age requirement issue ?”

 

Momma had the 1960 Chevrolet Impala packed and parked in the driveway in Houston. She had some tasks to perform in the house. I was playing in the yard, with the next door neighbor’s children.

 

The Pedal Patrol

 

At the time, I had a pedal car, a pedal tractor and a tricycle that the three of us could ride and drive. The other two children choose the pedal vehicle they wanted to ride. I rode on the tricycle.

 

Our driveway was a slender ribbon of concrete squeezed in by the side of the house to the cyclone fence on the property line. If you tried to ride past a car or pickup in the driveway on a tricycle or pedal vehicle you had to be careful not to chip off part of one of the white shingles of the house or scratch the automobile.

 

The three of us did well . . .to a point.

 

We had rode up an down the driveway. We could race around on the wide driveway area, in front of the garage, but we had to carefully ease by between the automobile and the house on the driveway.

 

There was a wider section of driveway at the back of a parked automobile that extended to the two closed cyclone fence gates, but the width of the drive way was still narrow.

 

An incident occurred. I made a bad decision. I did not tell my mother.

 

The neighborhood kids went home for dinner and I knew we would be on the road to Missouri soon.

 

Toy Texaco Trucks

 

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, toy companies were still manufacturing and selling tin and metal toys like trucks and jeeps.

 

Samuel E. Warren, my father, was a regular customer at Fikes Texaco, just a few blocks from our house. Whenever Mr. Fikes got a new toy from Texaco he would call my dad. Texaco had some beautiful tanker trucks.

 

Daddy had bought me a plastic Texaco tanker ship, the S.S. North Dakota. Unfortunately, it sunk in “The Wild Warren Sea”,one of the farm ponds on our land.

 

I had better luck keeping my fleet of toy trucks ship shape.

 

The nice thing about the trucks is they were of a size and scale that you could sit in the yard or on a drive way and roll them. The trucks that had trailers had doors that would open and you could put other toys in the trailer to haul,

 

They were tin pressed or metal trucks, so you might knock some paint off of them, but you weren’t going to break them. You could switch the trailers with the cabs to create different looks and payloads.

 

By the 1980s, some toy companies decided to add batteries to the metal trucks that would create “The Engine Sound”, a horn, and the backing up whine of a real semi tractor trailer truck. But, these innovations came around the 1980s. In the 1950s and 1960s, kids, we used our imaginations to create the special effects.

 

Southwest Missouri Ozarks Trucker

 

Ray Glidewell, a friend of momma and daddy’s,was the livestock trucker that I knew in my childhood. He had a semi, with a huge, shiny, silver, double decker livestock trailer. Sometimes he would park his rig, near our house to visit Mom and Dad.

 

I would watch him get in the cab of the semi. In his straw cowboy hat and wearing cowboy boots, he would sit high up on the seat, reach out and slam the door.

 

The holler shaking groan of the semi’s engine would echo through the trees and the massive long livestock trailer would ease along the state highway into the night.

 

Highway 13

 

Mr.Glidewell would often drive a semi along Missouri’s “Old Highway 13,” between Reeds Spring and Galena. It was a dangerous stretch of highway because it was a narrow two lane highway with sharp curves and deep hollers that appeared first on one side of the road and then on the other.

 

The Old Timers of Stone County, Missouri would joke,”You drive a Volkswagen Beetle on the sharp curves of Highway 13 and the rear end will come around and kiss the front end on those curves.”

 

In the driveway in Houston or in the driveway of Galena, my little boy’s imagination always allowed Mr. Glidewell to drive one of those metal toy trucks over old crooked Highway 13 and across America.

 

I loved my metal toy trucks.

 

Night Road Through The Boston Mountains

 

Momma and I had been on the road now a few hours. The bad thing is we were coming into the Boston Mountains in Arkansas.

 

In the 1960s, the road around the Boston Mountains was a narrow two lane road with drastic drop off on either side. Once the sun went down, usually the fog would start to rise. The fog in the Boston Mountains was a wall of gray that headlights sometimes found hard to penetrate.

 

Dangerous Drive

 

One time, I remember Momma tried for awhile to turn the lights on, roll the window down and stick her head out of the window to try and see the white line on the shoulder or the center line. Fortunately, she didn’t do it too long because she said it was to hard to try to hold the steering wheel even with her long arms.

 

The headlights did not shine through the fog. You could see the beams travel to the fog and then they spread upward like a loose light brown sheet on a laundry line.

 

The car literally crept inches forward in the still night.

 

FEAR” was the capital four letter word that consumed my body as I inched nearer my mother on the car seat. It was a still night, No stars. No moon. For once, there where no semi tractor trailer trucks moaning toward you from the total darkness.

 

I didn’t relax until she eased the car over on to a wide shoulder and decided we would have to wait for a break in the fog to continue on.

 

The Decision

 

This night, I looked at the lights knob by the steering wheel. Twilight was fading fast into night, Before long, Momma would pull out the lights knob for the headlights,

 

When she did a driver’s side headlight did not come on. We stopped at a gas station. The gas station had a neat “Fillup the Billups” metal tanker truck. I asked Momma about the toy. She looked at it.

 

The Confession

 

Then, the mechanic came back and told her what I did not. The headlight had gotten busted out. She looked at me. The mechanic went ahead and repaired the headlight. I told Momma what had happened. I did not get the toy.

 

I did learn a lesson,

 

Rat Fink

 

Damage to an automobile is more important than protecting a neighborhood kid from possible punishment.

 

In the 1950s and 1960s, kids would warn other kids not to “rat them out” or be “ a stool pigeon” or “a rat fink.” It was a bad game kids played. Obviously, no one wanted to be a “rat fink.” so you kept your mouth shut.

 

Lesson Learned

 

The childhood incident taught me to be aware of the people you socialize with and work with, so you don’t get in a situation where you might be tempted to protect someone who has done something wrong.

 

I didn’t get the toy truck, but I did learn a valuable lesson about credibility and integrity.

 

Merry Christmas !

Sam

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

Written by samwarren55

December 25, 2012 at 6:16 PM

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