Goodbye to one of my Heroes

We have recently said goodbye to one of my heroes in the “car world”, Tom Magliozzi. I can’t imagine you wouldn’t know who this is but if you don’t, he is the “Click” or the “Clack” (I don’t believe it was ever decided which was which) of the Tappet Brothers from NPR’s “Car Talk”. He and his brother Ray could turn any car, situation or person into something to laugh at, nothing and no one spared. Believe me sometimes Tom’s laugh, just listening to it and not even hearing what had been said would make me break into a huge laugh. It must be said that one of the chief things he laughed at was himself and of course, his brother. I don’t know but think that antique cars weren’t the passion for him as they are to several people I know but he seemed to love cars in general, different makes which there were a few he seemed to like better than others. Have to say that he did beat on a certain make of cars and on his ex and present wife. (I don’t know if he had an ex or not). There are very few things that you come away feeling good every time but “Car Talk” was certainly one of the things that did it for me. When VPR stops airing the reruns and quiets Tom’s laugh forever, will be a sad day for all of us who love to laugh. The lesson I take from him is laugh as often as possible and realize most things shouldn’t be taken so seriously and in the ‘scheme of things’ most things deserve a good old fashion belly laugh. RIP dear friend.

Ask for Help?

My mother raised four children in a single parent home and to my knowledge, never asked for help. She raised our food, canned and froze everything for the winter, baked bread (you can imagine 4 children when they were given the “treat” of Wonder Bread) of course now realize what a “treat” we were having every day with her homemade bread, tapped 4 maples and boiled the sap on the stove, she made stuffed toys, clothes and she could cut anything that needed to be cut with a big meat saw. I didn’t mention that she was a full time secretary in a department store at this time. We lived in a small town in southern Vermont and for 13 years of my life, we lived in a house on my grandparents’ farm. Being from a small town and living on the farm was a definite help to both my mother and us but again at the time we probably weren’t convinced of it. With saying all this, the outcome was 4 adults growing up and realizing that we had to take care of ourselves and we weren’t to run for help every time things got rough, though I think sometimes she went too far with the lesson. All my siblings and me are always ready to help but go to great lengths not to ask for help.

This brings me to this summer when Gary and I went on a 7000 mile trip to Montana to pick up 2 of our grandchildren and bring them to Vermont. On our 10 day trip from Montana, we went to Iowa (car auction with Vin Cassidy), visited every place President Lincoln lived except Washington, to Mammoth Caves in Kentucky and to the largest insane asylum in the world (late 19th century). Arriving home, we picked up our other 2 grandchildren in Waterbury and headed for camp. In all we entertained the children for about 2 weeks when their parents came for 10 days and then took them home. Have to admit mixed with sadness of seeing them go was a bit of glad-ness at seeing them go! Gary and I agree we have never been so tired in our lives (that we can remember). It wasn’t that hard raising our 2 boys! Guess I forget that we were about 40 years younger!

Now “the rest of the story” and the point of my rambling. Last month I received an email from Gary Fiske telling me that it was my turn to write for Wheel Tracks (thank you for reminding me, Gary, I would never remember on my own) also saying that if I wasn’t up to it that maybe Mary Noble would trade months. Though it went against the grain to ask, I did. Mary graciously agreed to write the arti-cle in my place and did a fine job of it! She helped me out, for which I will forever be grateful, while entertaining her grandchildren, gardening (on a scale that would put the Green Giant to shame) and raising pigs. Lesson: Always go to a busy person if you need help. I have to tell you it really didn’t hurt at all asking for help but please, don’t turn and run when you see me coming because I’m probably not looking for help.

Postscript: I wrote my article before the Stowe Car Show and want to tell you about a couple of things that happened there. The first was Sunday morning about 7 AM when I pulled into the entrance for “Antique Cars only” and two gentlemen came to my window to ask what I was up to. I explained that I needed to drop off our young friend, Ryan and meet up with Gary for a few words and I assured them I would come out this entrance to prove I wasn’t sneaking in. They looked a bit skeptical but helped me out by letting me in (I did go out that way and thanked them).

Next, I had another favor to ask (imagine needing ‘help’ twice in less than an hour!) well, Lloyd Harvey stepped up to the plate and helped me out. Thank you Lloyd (and Steve for looking at Lloyd ‘like help the woman’) I think I see a pattern forming so if you see me coming – maybe you should RUN!

Living Easy

vermont ice stormA couple of weeks ago we had an ice storm that knocked the electricity off at our place for 30 hours. While lying under a thick quilt, double shirts, socks and a wool hat on my head, it brought thoughts of our forefathers and mothers who went through the whole winter without electricity and of course, no central heat, electric blankets, heaters, lights, indoor plumbing, electric stoves, dryers – get the picture? I barely survived 30 hours and the temp outside wasn’t that bad. The house temp got to 50 but the worst part was no hot tea or coffee on demand. To top off the insult, it was almost Christmas! I was brought up with no dryer, no central heat but did have a good heat source, hot water and a great radio. What I am getting at is that I have become so “soft” in such a short time. How did they do it? Get up in the freezing cold, start a fire (not turn up the thermostat), bundle up and run to the well or river – break the ice on top and get a bucket of water. The first water hauled maybe wasn’t for you but for the animals. After chores, then you get some breakfast which might be plentiful or not depending on what you did to put up provisions in the fall. I’m sure there was-n’t any fresh fruit or great coffee. I have been trying to think of something that you cannot get year round now. Sure you may have to pay more for something ‘out of season’ but you can have it if you are willing to pay the price. Fifty years ago we were eating only what was in season at the time. We all have grandparents who had never had a banana when they were children. It boggles the mind! Now having ram-bled on about my hardships, I want to talk about all the people that make our lives so comfortable. Behind every convenience that fills most of our houses, there are many bright, hardworking people. Just think about what and who is behind getting that banana on the table and that is just one tiny thing that makes life (or Gary’s cereal) better. Right now my hat goes off to all the men and women who worked hours and hours in freezing rain and snow and cold to get my electricity back on. Some of them traveled from miles away to help the Vermont crew in our hour of need. Also, thanks to those who came to cut downed trees, branches and clear roads, lines for the electrical workers. I would add that these jobs were done in what were very dangerous situations and done round the clock and some gave up their Christmas with their families to see to it that we had a bright, warm Christmas with our families. So I would like to say a big THANK YOU to all those behind the scene that make life ‘living easy’ for me.

End of Summer

I would be lying if I said I was sorry that summer is over but I am! Now it would be a bigger lie if I said I was looking forward to what is coming, winter! I have never enjoyed winter. I tolerated it better when I was younger but couldn’t say I really enjoyed it. Do find that with winter, if you can get out and do something like ski, sledding, cross-country skiing or snowshoeing, you are less apt to hate the season. Should have included snow-shoveling (one of Gary’s favorite sports!) I have done all these in years past but no more. My focus is now on trying to stay upright and not going down on the ice!

Summer- this was supposed to be the summer of sitting at camp, swimming and growing heirloom tomatoes! I stayed one night at camp, went swimming twice and those tomatoes – nota!

We started in May preparing for a yard sale, helped plan the VAE Bennington tour, had the yard sale, greeted our grandchildren and son from Montana, took our son to airport for trip back to Montana, grandkids stayed, took in our Vermont grandchildren (now we have two granddaughters 5 and 7, two grandsons 8 and 9). We hosted the group for a couple of weeks. It was fun but so much harder than I remember. On July 20, we head west with the Montana grandkids in the big red truck with the ‘old’ basic pickup camper. First highlight was Niagara Falls with a ride on ‘Maid of the Mist’, then onto Ontario to a Butterfly Sanctuary, so far so good. Back to the USA and headed toward Mt. Rushmore, stopping at the largest truck stop on I-80 in Iowa. Can’t think of anything you can’t get or do there! (legal or illegal), about half way to Montana, Grace and Quinn decided that going by airplane was the way to go! There was quite a discussion on the fact they would be home and with family and friends and this way they would probably never get there! Thankfully, these thoughts were short lived as Grandpa found something fun and interesting to stop and see. We stopped and explored places, went through the Badlands and many, many more. We camped all the way out and back (about 6000 miles). Have to say that the ride back was extremely quiet. Some thought we were crazy and I guess we were a little. But, looking back, we are so glad we went this way. There were some tense times, some tears (mostly mine), a lot of laughs and a lot of talking (on their part and ours), we traded a lot of stories and tried to solve many world problems. Our wish is that a cross country trip with Grandma and Grandpa will be remembered and passed on to their children (with or without embellish-ments!) Should be good for a few laughs in years to come.
Now you would think that after a trip like that you could kick back and relax- not if you are ‘car people’! Just back and we headed to New York State for the ‘Slowspokes’ tour planned by Bill and Jan Sander. Great tour including train ride, boat ride on the Erie Canal and many wonderful sites. A great time was had by all. Is it over? No way. After a short time to clean your clothes, get a new toothbrush and pack, we were off for a 4 cylinder Plymouth tour, planned by Gary and Wendell. Beautiful tour of Ludlow, Grafton, Bellows Falls area (my home area). I think there were 31 people (from VT, NH, NY, Ohio, Texas and Ontario), there were 9 Plymouths and again, a great time was had by all. As I write this, Gary is on his yearly pilgrimage to Hershey with 2 batches of brownies and 5 dozen chocolate chip cookies. I’ve gone back to work.

We will still have to put the cars to bed for winter and there are leaves to rake, camp to close and then all that will be left is to find the perfect piece of cardboard and just wait for that first snowfall!

Old Age – Comes At A Bad Time

To be honest, my age never really mattered to me until last December when I received my Medicare card in the mail and I was informed that as of February 1st, 2013 I was eligible! I didn’t want it but there it was and now there was no turning back or trying to fool myself. That small little card was staring me in the face saying ‘you are getting old’!! Isn’t it amazing how ‘old’ 70 was when we were 40! But, how young it really is, right? When I found a few gray hairs, I found a great hairdresser. When I told Gary I was coloring my hair, his comment was “Emmylou Harris let her hair go gray” – my comment back “when I can sing like Emmylou I’ll go gray”! I can’t get over how age just creeps up on most of us. One day you are working 40-60 hours/week, shopping, laundry, cooking, cleaning, gardening, raising vegetables and two boys. Then, the boys were the first to go! I didn’t throw them out they just somehow grew up and left. Or maybe it was the cleaning first, but the garden was next, reasoning that the ‘Farmers Market’ does a great job and we DO need to support it, next, Gary took over the laundry (I wash – he dries and folds), he also took over the dishes, then the 40-60 hour/week job went to about 10 hours a week and the paycheck disappeared!, still shopping and cooking (but far less of both). Unbelievable, one day I was doing it all and with what seemed like overnight, my body feels like it still is, but certainly isn’t! My question is when did I cross ‘the line’? Maybe it was back when I realized I needed singing lessons. Got to close, I have a 4 o’clock audition to sing back up for Emmylou. Just think of the time and money I’ll save not coloring my hair!

Out of the mouths of babes!

On the 29th of April, Gary and I will have been married 41 years. We probably should have “big” plans to celebrate but have found that, like so many couples, we have settled into a fairly quiet and comfortable existence. I bring this up because sometimes something happens to make you at least take a step back and reflect.

What happened in our case was a comment made to Gary from a 12 year boy who was doing a history project on ‘How automobiles had changed’ and he interviewed Gary, here at the house with his teacher. Gary gave them the ‘grand’ tour and thankfully he could get the 29 Chevy started and gave them a ride around Derby Line. As you can imagine, Gary has plenty of interesting ‘stuff’, especially to interest a 12 year old boy! Of course, Ryan invited Gary to the History Expo to see how he put his project together. Fast forward a few weeks and it is Expo day. Gary takes his camera and heads to Derby to meet Ryan. When he saw Gary, he was so excited and asked Gary not to move while he went and got his mother so he could introduce her. When Gary went to leave, Ryan said, “Mr. Olney, you are the most awesome man I’ve ever met”!! Gary got home and told me what had been said and I, of course, laughed! This is where the ‘reflection’ part comes in. I asked myself if this 12 year old was seeing something that I saw over 40 years ago but after raising 2 boys, preparing approximately 30,750 meals, about 1000 batches of chocolate chip cookies, and over 10,000 loads of laundry, not to mention all the cars, motors, fenders, etc., that I have helped move from one place to another, had kind of forgotten. Had I gotten to the place his mother was, when Gary, after having a full beard for years (I had never known him without one) shaved it off? His mother looked at him and said ‘have you gotten new glasses?’ Knowing something was different but hadn’t really looked at him. Is the term ‘taken for granted’? When I met Gary, he had traveled over the world, been in the Air Force with 2 years in Turkey and 2 years in Japan, been to college, had a great interest in cars, parts, post cards, signs, and many other things too numerous to mention. After we married, he graduated from Vermont Technical College with a degree in Land Surveying, which he worked at and loved for many years. What I’m getting at is, that this is Gary today with all his interests. Back then I thought all this was awesome and have to admit, I guess I lost sight of it all but thanks to a wonderful, articulate, and interesting 12 year old, I’m reminded- maybe I will plan something big for the awesomeist man in the world for our anniversary. I’ll start right after I get supper, get the cookies out of the oven and – hang on, Gary is calling me from the warehouse, he’s in the ‘31 Plymouth and needs a push!

The 40s (Part II)

1940s womans suitAmerican designers came to the forefront in the fashion world with the closing of the Parisian fashion houses, boosting such designers as Clare Potter, Claire McCardell and Carolyn Schnurer in sportswear.

Lilli Ann suits were made in San Francisco and Hattie Carnegie designed fine dresses in New York City.

Very fashionable dresses were designed with sweetheart necklines, side zippers and drapery that flowed from side to side. Casual wear consisted of pleated pants, print cotton dresses in patriotic motifs, polka dots, checks and abstract designs in bold colors.

Suits and dresses were worn with platform-soled shoes. Cork wedge was used in place of leather and steel during the war. Suede and fabric platform sandals and mules were fashionable and in Italy, bakelite was used for soles and heels.

The outrageous hats of the previous decade were replaced with turbans, crowned hats, hand knitted caps, and calots worn at the back of the head. Kerchiefs and veils tied under the chin were a chic trend, with hats becoming frivolous again after the war with veiled turbans adorned with fruits and flowers. Hairstyles were rolled or pageboys.

In 1947 Christian Dior’s “New Look” was a totally different design with unpadded soft round shoulders, padded hips and full skirts with pleating at the waist, calf-length skirts with crinolines in rich feminine fabrics. Hats were very small and designed to coordinate with specific dresses.

Men’s clothing also had fabric and design restrictions. No cuffs, pleats or overlapping waistbands. Vests were limited, and the two-piece suit replaced the traditional 3 pieces. Backless vests were used for eveningwear, with narrower trousers and shorter jackets made with rayon, rayon blends and flannel. Battle jackets were popular casual wear.

The “Zoot” suit made a brief appearance, but was considered a waste of too much fabric. It was styled with oversized coats, big shoulders, slash pockets, full knees, cuffs, trousers hiked up with suspenders and oversized bow ties. Does this look similar to what the boys are wearing today?

The Hawaiian shirts picked up by servicemen as souvenirs became casual wear in the late forties. (Original shirts are very expensive and highly collectable today.) The bold post war look contrasted with the somberness of the war years with broad shoulders, wide lapels, wide spread collars, large cufflinks, plaid socks, and colorful ties.

Ties were the mainstay of the forties with patriotic colors during the war. Hand painted designs and photo ties in vivid colors inspired by art deco. After the war luxurious silk ties were manufactured once again.

(Missed Part I? Read it here…)

The 40s (Part I)

Wartime saw many restrictions in fashions and clothing in general. The United States stipulated the amount and types of fabric that also affected European nations. With nylon, wool, and silk in short supply, women were forced to turn to fabrics such as rayon crepe, black faille and velvet chiffon for evening clothes. Rayon gabardine was the replacement for wool.

As a direct result of wartime restrictions standardized button and pocket limitations were introduced. Women’s clothing became much more masculine as boxy suit jackets with large shoulder pads, fitted waists, and dresses sported a peplum with narrow skirts. Later on the A line skirt was shown with suits.

Hollywood still greatly influenced the American fashion world and the forty films were filled with the fashions of the time; Suites, sweaters, skirts, pants, bathing suits, shoulder pads and sweater sets were made famous by Rita Hayworth and Lana Turner.

In the evening beaded sweaters and jackets were the choice as sequins were un-rationed and were widely used along with rhinestone buttons. Costume jewelry was large, consisting mostly of pins and brooches made in sterling silver.

Expensive gloves were replaced with knitted or crocheted ones. Stockings were thick rayon. Pocket books were tremendous in size, elongated, and with the metal shortage, made with wood or plastic closures.

Broadcloth or calfskins were used with many women crocheting their own with gimp or cording. Crocheted bags were manufactured in great numbers along with envelope bags, panier handle bags, pearlized plastic bags and hatbox bags, all designs of the forties.

(Read more in Part II…)

Could this be a dream?

I want to tell you about the perfect car tour I was on recently. We stayed in a hotel that had once been a single family “summer home”. The living areas were plush and cozy. My room was quite spacious and the height of comfort with a lounging area and the most remarkable bathroom, equipped with all the “necessaries” and a large soaking tub with the most fabulous shower you have ever seen! I could go on and on about the accommodations but we are on a car tour aren’t we?

In the morning, we would gather for breakfast and listen to the tour guide tell the days agenda. I must tell you the breakfast was just fabulous, a large assortment of muffins, scones, pastries, fresh fruit, yogurt, maple granola and coffee, tea and juice of your choice. The day’s tour was a short ride to the resort’s spa where you could have a pampered day filled with massages, manicures, pedicures and of course, lunch. There is a place provided for anyone (probably the men) to park their cars and walk around them and talk and talk and take a few pictures and I guess I did say talk didn’t I? Then the short ride back for “happy hour” and get in a little more talk before dinner. Dinner and then back to our luxurious rooms for a little TV and a good night’s sleep preparing for day 2.

Day 2 – We gather for the same wonderful breakfast and briefing for the day. Today we take a short drive to the local flea market known for its’ many artists, crafters, and a wonderful food market where we will have lunch. Of course, there is a place to park the cars and let (probably) the men, walk around and talk and meet more men and talk, take a few more pictures and talk a bit more before heading back to our wonderful accommodations and have dinner. A little after dinner talk and by now there are some repairs or tweaks to be made to the cars and some discussion on how to make them. Another day gone and a good night’s sleep needed. We leave everyone today. The goodbyes take time and the next tour is discussed and we say goodbye until next time. You would think this is the “dream” car tour and you would be right! It was just a dream. So boring!!

Are You Mannerly?

I do a lot of shopping at a small village store known for their meat and deli department. For some reason I have an aversion to buying such at the big grocery stores. Why is this? I guess it’s that I trust the village store to sell me quality and for the 27 years of shopping there they have never had a “recall”. This store also served as employment for our 2 sons when they were in high school and still hire a very young staff. Excuse me, but I could, if not careful, get off the reason for this writing. I want to talk about manners or lack of.

The subject is brought to my attention nearly every time I step out my door. I want to tell you that I don’t go with that thought on my mind or “looking for trouble” but there it is!

On a recent trip to the Derby Store, I parked, got out and almost immediately started gathering stray carts. I can’t tell you why but I feel a need to move them from the random areas they have been left. I guess some of the reason is the parking lot is small and it is hard to park with carts taking up space and I have to admit it annoys me that people won’t take an extra minute to put their carts out of the way of others. On this day, I got to the doors with all the stray carts. I need to tell you that the doors are not automatic open. Well, I was having a bit of trouble pushing the carts through the door, when I noticed two young people behind me. Get the picture – 2 people about 20-25 years old, looking very physically fit waiting for an “older woman” to push carts through the door. Now, “the rest of the story”. They saw the situation and (quick thinkers that they proved to be) went in the exit door which gained them a quick entrance and avoided having to wait or help me! Oh, I’m sure their elderly, sick mother was waiting in the car (with no heat) for them to pick up some chicken soup and get her home to bed! Maybe they weren’t raised by a mother but by wolves. Isn’t there a story about that very thing? By the way, I watched them and they were getting a deli sandwich. Well, that explains their behavior. They were hungry. All is forgiven!!

At first I thought that the lack of manners was only in some young people but sadly it seems to cover all the age groups. All this said there are some very mannerly people out there and if you are one, I personally thank you and ask that you pass it on to your children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, friends, neighbors, and car enthusiasts. We can win this. For me, I’ve got carts to gather and maybe I’ll review my copy of Emily Post.

Before I sign off, thank you Gary for printing this, thank you members for reading it and a big Thank You VAE members for pushing in your chairs, picking up your empty cups and plates and finding the recycling bin!