Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Give me back my glass bottles!! Please.

Not so long ago, we drank soda from glass  bottles. Then we recycled them....and it was fun!

I'm not talking about way back in the "olden days" either. It was as recent as the 80's.

When I was a kid, we had a designated space in the kitchen (or on the steps from the kitchen leading to the basement) for six-packs of glass bottles.

They were in cardboard covers and after you drank one, you simply put it back in it's cozy little case.

Once you got a good stack going you would load up the back of the car and take them to a local grocery store to exchange them for money.  You didn't just take them to a recycling plant, dump them and leave. You actually got some money back.

My stepmom loved Pepsi in the bottle. One of my favorite memories of her was when I would help her load the car with the bottles and we would go to our local mom and pop grocery store called Town & Country.

The front of the store were slightly tinted windows. The storefront sign with the logo on it had some dark brown wooden shingles.

You entered to a warped floor with patterned tiles, like the ones you had in school. (I still love those tiles). The aisles in the store were filled with food, drinks and an assortment of candy.

We would carry in our bottles and  take them to the cashier. There was no motorized belt or electronic cash register. You had to scoot your groceries and goods to the cashier and she had to manually type in each price. She would count each bottle and then give us money back for them.

I was always allowed to buy a candy bar with some of our winnings and this store had a variety like no other.

We would then drive home and go about our day. Chores, playing, cooking, baking, etc. It wasn't that hard to do. I don't understand why things are not still done that way.

Back then, if you wanted the treat of soda, you put in a little effort and didn't destroy the planet with plastic while doing so. You put in just a little work and not only helped preserve the environment, but also got a little money back.

I see recycling plants today and they are good, but they certainly do not minimize me love for glass, even if it is based on nostalgia.

I wish glass would make a comeback. I miss working for my privileges. I don't feel I'm entitled to drink soda from plastic and then just throw it into a pile in the earth, yet I am guilty of doing so.

I miss glass bottles and all they represent to me. I miss those simple moments with my stepmom.


Friday, July 27, 2012

Home on a Friday night? Never!

When I was a teenager you would never find me home on a Friday night.

Picture me at sixteen... long dishwater blonde, mile high hair with a spiral perm. Braces on teeth, tight-rolled stonewashed jeans and some type of t-shirt. Frequently, a Hyper Color shirt that changed colors when you touched it or, perspired *cough*.

A typical Friday for me would begin by driving myself to school in a 1987 Chevy Cavalier with a bumper sticker that read "Hey Dude"...yes you read that correctly. Arrive to school, sometimes late. If not late, would park my car and hang out in the smoking area in front of my high school.
(Some grown ups thought it was a good idea to have a smoking area at school...for the first time ever, I agreed with an adult)

Feeling happy that it was Friday, I would hang with my friends til the bell rang. Go to first hour and each class after. Usually, a mid morning nap in history, then finally....lunch time!

More smoking area after lunch. Finish rest of the day, all the while getting more and more excited for that last bell to ring and then SWEET WEEKEND FREEDOM!

Talking to everyone in the halls, trying to figure out the most happening events for the weekend ahead.

Drive home from school with radio blaring Poison or some other hairband. Usually would have a few passengers to drop off and then head home for a nap.

Wake up from nap, take a shower. Redo mile high hair and 80's makeup and head out the door to a party somewhere. Anywhere! Sometimes it was a field, sometimes it was a house. It really didn't  matter as long as I was NOT at home.

Back then there were no cell phones. Not even pagers yet. If they existed, we didn't know about it. No communication with parents whatsoever! Just out causing trouble and having fun. Not a care in the world.

That is how I spent my youth. From my teen years all the way through my twenties.

When I think of it now, those days seem so far away. Now, you're lucky to see me at the grocery store on a Friday.  I am such a homebody.

There is something intriguing about your teen years. That first step toward freedom from your parents is something words can't describe. It is almost an anxious feeling, but a good anxious. The possibilities seemed endless.

Funny, now when I drive away from my parents house, I cry.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Savannah Smiles + Tory= Memory Love

Back in 1982, my mom was trying to help me get through my parents' divorce. It had already been a few years but I just wasn't coping. However, there was one glimmer of hope for me in the form of a big sister. Not a real big sister, but from the actual organization. Big Brothers, Big Sisters program.

Raising two kids on her own was hard enough for mom, add on top of that, a child who was angry and out of control (or constantly sobbing). It was hard times all around. She did all she could and then one day, brought me a gift by the name of Tory.

Tory was my new big sister and I was instantly drawn to her. I was happy around her and felt like maybe someone understood me. She was a teenager with long, curly brown hair and I couldn't wait for my visits with her!

She would take me out to dinner or to her friends apartment to go swimming in the pool. But one time, she took me to the movies. She took me to see Savannah Smiles.

It is a film about a little girl who feels ignored by her parents so she decides she must run away. A little extreme, even for the 80's, but it had an incredibly relatable context.

I sat in the theater next to my big sister, watching the movie. I felt so connected to Savannah. I loved her little bedroom. She had a framed Strawberry Shortcake poster hanging on the wall. Her brass bed was covered in frilly, yellow and white bedding. There was a gumball machine next to her little t.v.

But alas, even amidst all these wonderful "things" all she really wanted was her mom and dad's affection and attention. She ends up sneaking away from a park and climbs into a beat up car which happens to be the automobile of two escaped convicts named Alvie and Boots. They turn out to be  wonderful people (thank goodness) and return her safely to her family, but not before a whirlwind adventure.

By the end of the movie, my eyes were welling up with tears. This is the first movie I remember crying at and I was so embarassed. I did not want my big sister to see me cry but I know she saw. From that moment on, Savannah Smiles was embedded in my memory bank. I still think of her, all these years later.

There are but a few fictional characters that I hold this close to my heart. They are the only ones I could relate to. No real person could give me comfort at that age, no matter how hard they tried. That was, until I met my Tory. I still think of her often and sometimes, long to see her. I don't think I would even recognize her today. The details of her face have slipped from my memory.

I moved out of the state and lived with my dad around fourth grade and thought I'd never see Tory again. But I did, one time! My dad took me to a Michael Jackson concert (The Victory tour) which I believe was in July of 1984 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.

We were walking to our seats and there she was, sitting at a booth, selling t-shirts. She was working the summer concert. There was my Tory! We hugged tight and said our hellos and goodbyes. That was the last time I ever saw her.

I think it's kind of magical that the concert tour was VicTORY and her name is TORY.
My memory of her (and Savannah) is pretty epic!


Saturday, July 7, 2012

I met a celebrity at Worlds of Fun! Well almost.

Worlds of Fun. It is one of the biggest and best memories of my youth. A theme park that has been in my memory since as far back as I can recall.

In elementary I remember going with my family. When I lived with my mom in Kansas, we would occasionally drive to KC, Mo to stay with family. And sometimes during those visits, we would go to Worlds of Fun!

The night before, my cousins and I could barely sleep! The anticipation of the next day's events were almost unbearable. Finally, the sun would come up and we would load into the station wagon. I loved sitting in the very far back with no seat belts, of course.

Once you saw the giant, colorful water tower, you knew the fun was about to begin! And it did. All day of fun at an amusement park. I saw several concerts there with the likes of The Charlie Daniels Band and one of my favorites, Juice Newton.  I have a few photos of myself on rides and I cherish them.

Fast forward to middle school. I was now living in KC with my dad. I had a season passport every summer to World's of Fun and I used the heck out of it. Went ALL the time! My friends and I would stay all day  until the park closed. At one point they opened up kind of a party tent. It was incredible. It was called Exit 54 (I had not yet learned about the infamous STUDIO 54) It opened in the evening and had the loudest 80's music you ever heard. You just danced your 80's hair flat until the park closed.

One time in eighth grade, word had spread that a celebrity would be at Worlds of Fun. Now, this was not uncommon as there were many concerts there. But this was different. There would be a celebrity using the park. Just walking around like a normal person! That celebrity was Jason Batemen.

I don't recall everything he was doing in the 80's acting wise, but I did know his sister was on Family Ties and I knew who he was without a doubt. A total fox.

So I went that day. I looked at every turn to catch a glimpse. I knew if he met me he'd want to marry me. I just knew it.

Word was out that he was on the Orient Express roller coaster, my favorite ride. So my friends and I go and wait at the exit for him. Suddenly people start stirring, I can tell he will be in front of me soon. I see him coming off the ride. Closer, closer.....and gone. Passed right before me. We didn't even make eye contact.

Well that was that. I literally went on with the rest of my day, went on with my summer. Went on with my life.

Since then I have looked at celebrities in a different way. You feel like you know them because they are in your life so much. Sometimes every day. But, we are not in theirs. I know now they are just working stiffs like the rest of us. They just happen to make big bucks, which is fine by me, I am very happy living the simple life.

That doesn't change the fact that pop culture is a huge part of my life. Music and movies have been my constant companions since I was very young.

Entertainers are valuable to me. I want to know everything about them. Who they are married to, what they eat, what is their favorite color. But unlike the  paparazzi,  I only want to know what they want me to know.

Despite popular opinion, their lives are not (or should not be) on display. Their WORK is what is public and what is on display.

P.S.  I am a huge Jason Bateman fan :)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Ramona Quimby, My BFF

Looking back at my early childhood I have to remind myself that in the midst of a family torn apart by divorce and turmoil, there was a bright and imaginative little girl. Me.

I sometimes think of the painful things, but more often than that, I think about the good things. I think about Ramona Quimby. If she and I had ever met I'm certain we would have been best friends because she was the only person who could possibly understand me.

In my youth, I checked out every Ramona book from the library. I've carried the memories with me forever. Sometimes I would stay up late in my room reading about her adventures. We were about the same age and how could I not want to be just like her?

From the time she squeezed an entire tube of toothpaste into the bathroom sink out of frustration, to the time she got her hair shampooed, cut and styled by a big time hairdresser. She even secretly wore her pajamas to school. I found myself having similar events in my own life.

One Saturday morning, my Mom took me to a hair salon and I felt just like Ramona. The sudsy shampoo smelled so good and it was relaxing to have my hair washed by a professional. When I was dried and styled I skipped up and down the ramp from the waiting area to the salon area, glimpsing in every mirror along the way, so proud of my new hairdo!

When I was in 4th grade we got to watch a movie in class one day (The Neverending Story).  I was sitting at my desk in the corner of the classroom. It was cloudy and rainy outside. I was next to the window enjoying the moment. So cozy. I was wearing my friend's jacket. Not just any jacket, this was a baby blue satin jacket with pink sleeves and a giant roller skate patch on the front. The best jackets ever created, in my opinion. Once again, I was feeling like Ramona.

I realize now that my love for Ramona Quimby was awakened by words and amazing writing. That is the sign of an extraordinary writer. Someone who can make you feel like your in the book alongside the characters. Like you are right there with them and emotionally attached. Feeling, smelling, tasting every written word. Stirring imagination without even a photo.

So thank you, Beverly Cleary. Thank you for sending me Ramona Quimby, my best friend forever.



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