Saturday, April 30, 2011

nora at thirty-nine

Dad and Nora

I really loved this summer. I was working at the coffeehouse and had a great schedule. I'd work from 6:00 in the morning until 2:00-ish and actually had two days off a week. 

Dad's cousin, Rosemary was moving to town from her childhood home and the farm was filled with generations of stuff. Dad and I would travel the hour or so to Cass County a couple of times a week to help sort. 

I loved hearing the family stories as we sorted through balls of twine and wood and baby food jars of nails and screws. Dad and I rescued an old dresser that chickens had roosted in and was missing parts of wood -- it is now a beautiful piece in my bedroom. 

Rosemary let me pour through old albums and several of the photos you've seen here are from her. I loved spending the afternoon with Dad and Rosemary during the day, meeting my boyfriend in the evening and working at the coffeehouse in the morning. Good days, good days - despite the photographic evidence that I wore white socks with black shoes and shorts (sorry Cliff). At least once, anyway. 

Friday, April 29, 2011

nora at twenty-two

Ann Herr and Nora

Ann's husband and my college boyfriend were boyhood friends and another one of their friends got married in Iowa. Got it? 

The trip was fun and I really remember the feeling that washed over me that weekend -- that  Ann and I were lifelong friends and always would be. It felt like a new grown-up phase -- a new level of best-friendness. 

I loved that pink dress, but I remember people teasing me about it. It was appropriate for the late 80s, but not so much in our buttoned up preppy crowd. I've allowed myself one plastic tub of nostalgic clothes, and that dress is in there. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

nora at nineteen

 In full Benihana garb. 

I started working in a nursing home when I was 16 years old - Ann Herr and I were nurse's aides. I worked as an aide in various hospitals and nursing homes for the rest of high school and during summers in college. 

After three semesters at Purdue it was painfully clear that I was a horrible student and just not ready for college. I moved back home and joined my friend Kassie in working at the Japanese steakhouse, Benihana. I was a hostess and Kassie was the bookkeeper. 

Benihana was my first-ever hospitality job and it didn't take me long to realize that I was smitten with the industry and it felt natural and at home. You can tell two things by my giant smile - I'd just gotten my braces off and I loved my job. 

I adored wearing the kimono, it was just beautiful. I learned a smattering of Japanese - mostly how to say, "I don't understand," and to count. Most of the chefs arrived straight from Japan so Kassie and I did everything from helping the guys find apartments to Kassie cutting hair by the dumpster. 

If you've ever been to a Japanese steakhouse you know that the chefs are also big on showmanship. Twirling salt shakers and knives and flipping shrimp tales into shirt pockets. I still giggle when I think about Kassie teaching one of the new chefs that the proper way to greet new tables was: I want to feed your fingertips to the wolverines. Can you imagine the terrified customers if he would have delivered that line?

I worked at Behihana in various capacities for two and a half years. Those were fun and carefree days, even though I was taking classes at a community college and working part time in a nursing home. That was defiantly my feeling my oats era. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

nora at thirty-two

Mr. Herr got off the combine long enough to say hello. 

If you want to visit with a farmer on a good weather day during harvest, your timing better be good. You can either wait at the end of a row and jump on the combine for a lap around the field or stand by the wagon where the farmer will eventually stop to empty the grain from the combine's hopper.

Option one is fun, mostly because you get to ride on a combine, but not very good for conversation. Harvesting takes concentration. And you're picking corn it's important to stay within the rows that were hopefully planted straight in the spring.

I like the wagon scenario. It is noisy - the auger is running and the grain hitting the wagon is loud. But generally the farmer is happy to be stretching their legs and once the grain is in the wagon it is that much closer to being money in the bank. It's hard to be in a bad mood when the equipment is working and the sweet sound of grain hitting the wagon is background to your conversation.

Annie and Ben (Ann and Jerry's son, and my Godson) and I waited for Mr. Herr to unload. It was a fun sun-shiny day October day in Indiana and good to be home.

I can't believe that it has been three years this month since Mr. Herr died -- click here to read all about him.

The proof is in the photo, but I would have sworn that I never owned, let alone wore a long sleeved pocket tee shirt and pleated pants, let alone khaki ones. And tennis shoes. Yikkes.

I wrote on the back of the photograph:
October 1993
Sam Herr/Nora Spitznogle
Boone County, Indiana
from Ann Herr Mitchell
Christmas 1993

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

nora at eleven

Betcha didn't know I was a cheerleader? Yes, sir. Fifth grade.

Here's the proof. I'm in the bottom right corner and Annie Herr is in the top left. Do you like our fancy uniforms (culled from the racks of J.C. Penney's at Lafayette Square Mall)?

GO Perry Worth whatever-the-heck-our-mascot was!

In looking through old photographs I found a packet of old report cards. Decent grades in first, second and third grade. And, shockingly enough, to me at least, I was a horrible student in fourth and fifth! All Cs and Ds.

When I asked Mom about it she said that they just cared if I was nice. That explains the A in Citizenship. And why a D was acceptable in spelling.

When cheerleading tryouts came around I decided to try, even though I couldn't do a cartwheel to save my life. All of the other girls tried out in groups or at least pairs. I couldn't find anyone to tryout with, but Mom convinced me to give it a shot anyway.

Dad taught me a cheer from his stint as a high school cheerleader.

B.E.A.T. Beat 'em.
B.U.S.T. Bust 'em.
Beat 'em, bust 'em
That's our custom.

I delivered this 1950s cheer on one shaky knee, in a squeaky voice.

I was terrified, but the only thing that scared me more than a multi-purpose room full of my peers was telling Mom and Dad that I didn't go through with the tryouts.

Pity votes carried me to victory.

I don't remember much about the actual cheerleading stint, except that my usual duty was to kneel in front of the group on one knee with my arm straight up and my index finger pointing out a number one.

Very appropriately, my parents wouldn't let me wear makeup or shave my legs. Mom did buy me some shiny lip gloss. Ann didn't get to wear makeup either.

And that was the end of my cheerleading career.

B.E.A.T. Beat 'em. 
B.U.S.T. Bust 'em. 
Beat 'em, bust 'em
That's our custom. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

nora at thirty

While we're on the subject of ice skating, this was taken at Rockefeller Center in New York Center in 1991. Dad skated too, and took this photo.

I was working in Philadelphia at the time. Dad and his sister, Lucille came for a visit. We had fun touring Philadelphia and checking out the fancy department store displays and historic sites. One morning we took the train to NYC and jammed in a whole bunch of fun. My friend Marty, joined us and treated us to lunch at the brand new Planet Hollywood.

As restaurant people we tend to order a bunch of stuff to try. I think we ordered every appetizer on the menu, including calamari and passed it around the table. On the train ride on the way home, Aunt Lucille commented that the "onion rings" were the best she'd ever had. I didn't have the heart to tell her that she'd just eaten squid.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

nora at fourteen

Even though this photo is in bad shape I have it framed and love passing by it each day.

It was taken through the window at Grandma Leona's house, December 26, 1975. I'd gotten ice skates for Christmas that year and the sidewalks at Grandma's were icy enough for me to clomp along.

The living room was full of the people that I loved the most - Mom, Grandma, Aunt Rita and my siblings. I was feeling stylish in my fancy embroidered coat, I'd just learned to knot the scarf I'd also gotten for Christmas and Grandma had tied her chiffon scarf around my head.

When I was outside I pretended like I was on stage performing for the audience inside. I remember been happy as can be and feeling loved and smart and beautiful.

Aunt Rita wrote on the back of the photo:
Christmas, 1975
Nora Spitznogle
outside the window
at Grandma Leona's

Saturday, April 23, 2011

nora at six months

I'm just guessing about my age here - and to be honest, I'm just assuming it's me. There is nothing written on the back. It's another one from Great-Aunt Mamie's collection.

I love this photo because it is in Grandma Leona's kitchen. I can't remember ever having a bad time in that kitchen. I loved the smell of coffee and bacon and the sound of the local station coming through the radio. And best of all, standing as close to Grandma and telling her every little thought that popped into my head, knowing that I was loved unconditionally.

Grandpa Don's rocker was not far from the bouncy street. I'm sitting on it now as I type on my laptop. Who could have imagined such a thing in 1961?

nora at eight

This snapshot has been well-circulated. Mom enclosed it in Christmas cards that year. This one came from one of Great-Aunt Mamie's albums.

It was taken in 1969, our first year in the new house - which is now what us kids consider home. The mantle is cut from the walnut tree that had to be cut down for the house. I think that at least two of the things on the mantle are still there.

I've always adored Beth's stripped dress. J.R. is sporting some serious boots. I'm wearing the classic white shirt, jumper and knee socks that was popular among the eight year-old set in the late 60s. Sailor suit Annie is sitting her little chair that now belongs to the twins.

Mom wrote on the back of the photograph:
Beth (7 - December 31) roasting hot dogs
J.R. (5)
Nora (8)
Ann (2) 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

nora at thirty-one

I remember this night clearly. That is the old Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia in the background. The Phillies played the Chicago Cubs - you can read the box score and game rundown by clicking here. Sister Beth and her then-boyfriend and now-husband Ron were in town for the series. Ron is a life-long Cubs fan - in fact he's named after Cub's great Ron Santo.

The game was awesome - not only did the Phillies win - which was sayin' something, they were worst in their division that year, but the game was chockfull of interesting players.

The Cubs had Ryne Sandberg, Luis Salazar and Heathcliff Slocumb. The Phillies had Terry Mulholland, Micky Morandini, Darren Dalton and my favorite, John Kruk.

I've had several closer-to God moments in baseball parks. That night was one of them. Baseball and family. That beer in my hand had nothing to do with the feeling. Swear.

[on a side note, that was one of my favorite dresses. ever. I wonder what happened to it...]

I wrote on the back of the photograph:
Nora Spitznogle
31 y.o.
Vet Stadium
Philadelphia PA

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

nora at five

I'm not sure where this photograph was taken. And yes, I'm eating a sandwich. I wish I could tell what J.R. was holding.  I rocked a pixie hair cut for most of my childhood, so it is fun to see my little self with longer hair. 

I found this in a photograph album that Dad's cousin, Rosemary let me take photos from.  The album belonged to my Great-Aunt Mamie (Grandma Nora's sister). Aunt Mamie was lovely. She was a tiny woman -- I have a couple of her great coats from the 1920's. I assume they must have been long on her, or maybe she was taller as a young woman.

She kept albums full of photographs - one was filled with each cousin's graduation photo. Another of baby pictures and others with pictures like this. 

Mom's writing on the back: Nora -5, Beth - 4 on New Years Eve, John - 3 in February. 
I forgot there was ever a time that J.R. was called John. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

nora at four

Since I will be 50 years old in exactly one month, I thought I'd drag out some old photographs. My baby book got soaked in a basement flood at the Farm several years ago, but a few photos survived.

I love this picture from 1965. I wish I still had this dress - in a bigger version, of course. I wonder what I was eating - it looks like at must have been a treat that we didn't get very often.

This birthday is one of my earliest memories. I think this is the year that I got a swing set for my birthday. We lived in a sweet little house on a hill near Zionsville. I don't remember much about the house, but I do remember spending time in that kitchen. I remember the yard the best - plenty of room to run around and play. You felt like king of the world on the top of that hill.

I can't imagine how Mom was keeping it all together - Beth would have been almost two and a half and J.R. just fifteen months. The fact that I'm in a pretty dress and there are fancy paper party cups is more than I could have pulled off.

My favorite part of the photo is Grandma Leona's writing on the back: Nora's birthday 1965. Isn't she precious? 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

i can see clearly now....for a whole year

I've worn glasses for exactly a year now. 

I was afraid that I'd never adjust to them. I thought it was going to be a big crazy deal and that I'd either lose them with alarming regularity or run them through the washing machine or smash them. 

And I really like being about to see. 

I only misplaced them once and they were on the top of my head. 

Of course, I just jinxed myself. 

Better order the replacement pair now.