CLICK

Did you ever take a picture with your mind? I did today when I looked up at the beautiful, vivid blue sky with puffy, stair step, white clouds. *click* It took me back to a day 12 years ago. I was walking my golden retriever down our country lane. My feet were turning to meet the curve in the road when *click* my mind took a picture. The sky was the same vivid blue. The air was crisp. The leaves were drifting from the trees, through the sunlight, floating to the ground. The wind was sweeping the road in front of me making the leaves circle round and round. I can still see that picture in my mind so clearly.

As it turned out, it was a rather ominous day. I was waiting to hear from my doctor about some test results. My mind was also thinking that day about how I should revel in these picturesque moments. Well, the test results were not as I had hoped. I was diagnosed with breast cancer that day. All through my treatment the beautiful picture of that spendid fall day, walking my precious Shelly, leaves drifting through the sunlight and circling on the path before me returned to remind me of the world beyond breast cancer treatment. Twelve years later, I still revel in those moments as I did today when *click* the beautiful summer sky presented itself for a picture to add to that photo album in my mind.

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Mom’s Cherry Pudding

What a treasure to have Mom’s recipe box! It not only holds all her wonderful recipes, but so many wonderful memories. Although this was not my favorite, it was a huge hit at all the family get-togethers. On the back of the recipe card Mom wrote, “Alice Kimmel’s Recipe 1939.” Alice Kimmel was the wife of a prominent judge from DuQuoin. When Mom’s dad forced her to quit high school in order to help support the family, Mom worked as a maid for the Kimmels. She always says the Kimmels were her education. They took Mom under their wing and helped her learn so many things about running a household, cooking, etc. As the daughter of a great woman and mom, I thank you Kimmels for the part you played in making Daphne Morgan the mother and role model she has been for me. Here is the recipe:

CHERRY PUDDING

Filling:

2 cups cherries                  1 cup sugar
1 cup boiling water           small piece butter

Batter:

1 cup sugar                                butter (size of an egg)
1 cup nuts                                 2 (slight) teaspoons baking powders
1 1/2 cups flour to make thin batter

Pour filling into batter. Do not stir. Bake in moderate oven 25 to 30 minutes. Add pecans.
Serve with whipped cream.

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Winter fun….the ice skates.

As a kid, and alas as an adult, I always loved watching the ice skaters on TV glide across the ice and do all their fancy spins and jumps. So one Christmas when I was probably 12 or 13, I asked for ice skates for Christmas. And Santa, as he always did, made that wish come true with a gleaming, white pair of ice skates under the tree when I awoke that Christmas morning.

Even though I was a little apprehensive, I couldn’t wait to give them a try. So, after Christmas dinner at my Grandma and Grandpa Morgan’s, Danny took me to the frozen city reservoir to give them a “spin.” Danny was my cousin. He was five years older than me and was one of my very favorite people of my growing up years. His mom(my Aunt Nita) was my Dad’s sister. I so looked up to him and he always took me under his wing to make a getaway at the big family gatherings. We loved our family, but we were teenagers. That should explain it all. I always felt so special with Danny. And when you’re 13 and your cousin can drive….well, nothing can top that. I digress yet again.

On this Christmas Day, Danny swung by on our way to the lake, to pick up his good buddy, Ed Graves. Well, that put a whole new “spin” on the afternoon. Ed was the best looking guy in the whole high school with a great personality to match. And(drum roll please)he was the DuQuoin High School Indian Chief!!! OMG! This meant he embodied the mascot of our beloved DuQuoin Indians. He would come out in this amazing indian chief costume and dance to the music of our school song before every athletic event. Well…the previous apprehension just doubled.

Okay….yeah….we got to the lake, I put on the skates, made a few feeble attempts to move and we were done. Interesting how sometimes the much anticipated event sometimes changes into a much more exciting and different event. I spent the afternoon with Ed Graves, the Indian Chief!

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Oh What Fun or How I Followed the Exhaust Fumes

My Dad and uncles(Uncle Bill and Uncle Tom)were always providing lots of opportunities for fun and adventure when I was a kid. It was, perhaps, due to the crazy capers of their younger years, which we learned about much later. My grandmother never failed to gasp and shake her head upon the telling of these escapades.

On this particular winter day I remember piling into the car with my brother, Chuck; my cousins, David and Julie; and my Dad and Uncle Tom.  We headed to the fairgrounds with rope and sleds on board. When we arrived, Dad and Uncle Tom tied each of the sleds to the back bumper of the car with the rope. We took turns hopping on the sleds and riding up and down the curvy, snow covered roads of the fairgrounds. I even remember my dad taking a turn on one of the sleds. We had such a great day!

Yep, it was a different time then. It was a time when kids headed out on their bikes in the morning to play with friends and sometimes didn’t return until dark.  Whatever house we ended up at for the day, the Mom always had extra sandwiches for lunch and plenty of bandaids for skinned knees.(And I’m sure they were communicating with other Moms behind the scenes.) I guess maybe safety was defined a little differently back then.

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No Memories of the Cold…just the Fun.

I was blessed to grow up in DuQuoin, Illinois, a small, midwestern town with so many good people and more extended family members than I can begin to count. When I think back to winters growing up, my mind goes immediately to the DuQuoin fairgrounds. The Hayes family owned the sprawling re-claimed stip mine acreage where the Coca-Cola bottling plant they also owned was housed. There were two very large homes-we called them the Hayes Mansions-where the two Hayes brothers and their families lived on the property. They were a very generous and community minded family. The gates to the fairgrounds were almost always open to the public. I remember going to the DuQuoin State Fair every year. There were also lots of picnics on the grounds with  family, church groups, school groups, etc. It was a beautiful place with hills, lakes, and creeks with wrought iron bridges across them. But when I think of my childhood winters, I always remember sledding on the huge hill on the North side of the fairgrounds.

As soon as there were a few inches of snow on the ground, that hill filled with kids from all over DuQuoin. My dad would load the car down with our sleds and winter gear, and take Chuck and I to this very popular hill . When I got older, I remember him just dropping me off with my friend, Sue Bulmer. We would spend the next two or three hours going down that hill and climbing back up for yet another thrilling ride down the hill. Sometimes we would load two or three of us on a sled and all slide down, hopefully upright, to the bottom. Other times, I would lay on the sled on my belly and fly down the hill guiding it with the wooden moveable slat acrosss the front. The best part of the ride was when you reached the bottom, curved a bit to the right and slid all the way across the frozen pond at the bottom of the hill.

I don’t even remember the cold of those winter days, just the laughter, screams of excitement and the knot in my belly as I reached the bottom and curved onto the frozen pond.

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Christmas Memory #8

I’m thinking Pooh was right when he said, “Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.”  I was standing at the stove cooking supper tonight and I suddenly saw my dad standing at the kitchen stove at our house on Roosevelt Street making divinity for Christmas. He always made a big batch and gave it to lots of our family and friends. It was delicious! I have yet to master divinity as tasty as my dad’s. Then another scene from the past, that comes into my mind often, flashed up for view. We are decorating our Christmas tree and are in need of something(which I don’t remember and it’s not really important anyway). It is a very snowy night, but nevertheless, Dad and I get into the car to run over to Grandma and Grandpa Morgan’s house. Everything is covered in snow. Its simply a beautiful, winter wonderland. My dad gets a smile on his face as we back out of the driveway and we go sliding all the way down Roosevelt Street, turn onto Line Street and go the few more blocks to my grandparents, sliding all the way. My Dad delights in making me laugh. I can still see the big smile on his face and hear him chuckling as we slid back and forth across the road. I suppose its one of those rare moments when a child gets to see the child that once was in their parent. It was such fun to slide all the way to Grandma’s house, laughing all the way, as the song goes.

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Regression

I am beginning to think my Mom is right…..we revert back to our childhood as we age. Today I found myself sitting…..well, I’m not going to say where I was sitting…..and, all of a sudden, I found myself making shadow puppets on the floor! Some were pretty good too! Where did that come from? We should never question Mom’s insights.

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