Monday, April 30, 2012

Week 18 of 2012 - My Town

Well, I have several home towns but I think I will talk about Romeo for this week's blog. I was born in Lapeer, Michigan but we moved to Romeo when I was one year old. Well, technically we moved to Macomb County and our address was Romeo. We lived on the corner of 29 Mile Road and Mound Road in a new small subdivision. It was the first subdivision to be built by Fritz Builders. We lived on Fritz Drive and I believe that there were three houses when we moved there in 1956 with more scheduled to be built. So we lived in the country...maybe six miles from town.

Smith home on Fritz Drive and 29 Mile Road
This is our house in 1958. When we moved into it, the inside was not completed. My father worked nights and weekends putting up drywall and paneling. I did not remember this fact until a few years ago when I began the project of scanning in our old photos.

This is a photo of my 3rd birthday and you can clearly see that there is insulation in between the studs and that Dad is working on the drywall. On the lower half of the walls he put up tongue and groove knotty pine paneling. From left to right circling the table : Everett Smith(Grandpa), Sue(sister), Pam (sister), Lillian (Grandma) , Leah (Mom) and Janet (me)...I do not really have memories of this event.

This was a neighborhood picnic which I believe the Fritz family organized. I do have vague memories of this event. All the families from the neighborhood come. My father took several pictures of the picnic. In this photo, many of the neighborhood children gathered around to get a ride on this sweet pony. I believe that it was a pony which the Fritz boys had in a field next to their house. This would have been my first pony ride.

It is cute that it is most of the neighborhood girls. My sister Sue is on the back and I think she is riding with one of the Deneer girls...I can not remember for sure. When it was finally my turn, Pam and I got to go for a ride! As you can see I am pretty excited but my sister seems pretty bored or wishing that I had not tagged along! This I do remember!

And here Pam gets to ride by herself that seems to be what she wanted. She has the grin from ear to ear. She looks like she is thrilled! 

I find these photos interesting. Our house is the one on the far right, notice the roof which is covered with soot from the fuel oil furnace. The other houses are more recently built because they do not have soot yet on their roofs. It makes me wonder if there had been a problem with our furnace or something. Wish I could ask my Dad.

When we first moved to Romeo, Dad worked for Egleston's (not Engleston...) Clothing Store in downtown Romeo. He eventually went to work for Mitzelfeld's in Rochester after a few years. I do not remember when Dad worked in Romeo. 

Our church was in Romeo and it played a very prominent role in our family. It was on Main street but I can not remember what the side street was. It was the First Methodist Church then and would later become the United Methodist Church.

Our grocery store was an A&P in Romeo. I remember going to town with Mom and Dad on Saturday. Dad would drop Mom off at the grocery store and we would go around the corner to the church where he would spend the next 30 minutes to an hour playing the big pipe organ. I loved to hear him play but I also love to be in this massive building. It was like being in a palace to me! So I would beg to go with him.  He cautioned me every time we went that I would have to behave and sit quietly while he played.  " There will be no running in the sanctuary!"  he would tell me.  I would try very hard to just sit in the first pew and listen but first my little feet would fidget.  Then I would just sit on the floor and then under the pew...and before I knew it I was three pews back rolling and playing on the floor.  When I reach the back of the church I could usually get a few minutes of dreamy play in the sanctuary before he noticed I had left my seat. He would call for me and I would return to my spot! Wow... I have not thought about this is a long time...what fond memories of a time when a little girl got to spend with her Dad!

Such fond memories,


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Week 17 of 2012 - Pam

NEW BIKE......

There was a new bike in the Smith house, located at 63021 Fritz Drive in Romeo, Michigan.  Unfortunately, I'm not sure which birthday I was celebrating...I am guessing #7 or #8.  I remember waking up and looking out my window and there on the porch was a brand new, 26" Huffy bike.  It was a white paint job with red and blue trim.  AND...if you look in the picture that Jan just posted, that's the bike!  Notice the extra fancy trim on the a little seat or platform.  I'm not sure that's what it was for, but I immediately gave my younger (the less weight the better or it tipped me over) sisters rides. There was no place for your feet and it didn't take long and I had little feet caught in the spokes, screams and sometimes, blood.  I remember racing with the boys on that bike and it took alot of  "ditch shortcuts" as all our yards had a grass ditch between the yard and the road.  With 50 kids in the neighborhood, you could tell where the hang out was by all the bikes gathered in the yard.  I don't know whatever happened to my one and only bike.  I'm sure that with 6 kids, it was well worn and retired. 

My first real two wheel bike experience, however, was several years earlier, in Lapeer, Michigan.  I remember as a 5 year old, riding a bike that belonged to the Hill family from next door.  It was a full size, 26" women's bike and was missing the handle grips.  I couldn't begin to sit on the seat, but if Dad helped me up, I could balance and go until my legs got tired.  However, one day on the corner of Main and Park Streets, I rounded the corner going north, was going too fast and hit the mammoth tree on the corner.  My only lasting scar is the mark that I still have on my right eye....where the sharp handlebar left its mark.  I didn't get stitches...just the good 'ole butterfly bandage once they cleaned up all the blood!

And does anyone remember putting cardboard or "tin foil" on the back wheel with a would flap and make a racket until it softened up and we replaced it and started all over again.  Sometimes...Topps Baseball Cards were used.  They were a perfect shape and thickness...shame on those that used their Mickey Mantle cards that later were worth big bucks.  Not a problem in the Smith boys (at that point) baseball cards.  Some kids had bikes with lights, bells and whistles...even mud flaps on the back.  We were doing pretty well if we had tassels that came out of the handle grips.  WOW!

So, bikes were pretty important and a right of passage to be able to balance and steer and discard the training wheels.  Times sure have changed.....

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Week 17 of 2012 - Jan

Learning to ride a bike.

Now that is a good topic to start with for my shared memories. We spent a great deal of time on our bikes when I was a kid. All the neighborhood kids had a bike; big bikes mostly, old bikes and “hand me down” bikes. I do not remember anyone ever getting a new bike. I do not remember who taught me to ride a bike. It was likely my father, Harold Smith, because I do remember him going through this ritual with my younger siblings so surely he did the same for me. It would have had to have been a Sunday because he worked 6 days a week back then. I do remember that he occasionally had Saturday off and a few years later, he had every Tuesday off.

During the week, my older sisters, Sue and Pam helped with the lessons. The bike I rode had no hand grips on the handle bars and it was far too large for me. I could not sit on the seat as I peddled, so I stood the whole time I rode. So imagine the skinny little spidery looking girl trying ride this over sized bike. That was me! The lessons started in the grass. I do remember that. It was suppose to lessen the hurt when you fell but it still hurt. I remember so many road rash sores on my knees and legs, I fell down a lot at first and got very frustrated. 
The bike shown in this photo may have been the one I learned on but it would have been several years later when I was 8 or nine years old.

But having said all that, my best memory was the first time I realizing that I was actually pedaling and riding alone! The warm sun is soaking my face and the wind is blowing my pigtails back as I was pedaling as if my life depended on it...and it kinda did! From the top of Fritz Drive to 29 Mile Rd could not be more than a tenth of a mile but when you could ride it the whole time you knew that you had learned to ride a bike.. Now I see 29 Mile Road looming...I am getting closer...oh no, now what do I do? How do I stop? What did they tell me to do now? You see, 29 Mile Road was a pretty busy road with a steady gravel truck traffic so it was very important that you did not go darting across it before looking both directions. Oh yes, I thought, go in the grass, it will slow you down and give me time to think. Well, it slowed me down alright and then I fell. One more skinned knee was better than darting across 29 Mile Road. An now I realized I have a thing or two more to learn about bike riding! The rest of the summer would be used to perfect my bike riding abilities. I knew that this bike riding would be a ticket to much more freedom! And it was.

Janet Smith 1965 - 10 years old