Monday, November 11, 2013

Week 43 of 2012...Soda Fountains and Local Restaurants

It seems like many, many years ago, but soda fountains and restaurants were a REAL treat, unlike today when sweet treats and/or a restaurant meal can be a daily occurrence. Living in a large family, "eating out" or "sweet treats" were a rarity. A large family in Romeo was 6 children. The Harold Smiths were one of the two largest families, the Obrecht's on 29 Mile Road was the other.  Interestingly, both large families lived on 29 Mile Road west of Van Dyke Road.   We ate out a couple times a year...once while on vacation and it was usually McDonald's golden arches for a burger, fries and a pop and once during the holiday season.  We would go to view Christmas lights in the city and would eat in a sit down restaurant.  A big deal would be Howard Johnson's or Sveden House.  Can you imagine...twice a year?  I enjoyed eating out when on dates...Big Boy, Burger King or A and W were my favorites growing up.  I will never forget my hamburger loving husband introducing me the the Burger King Whopper!  OMG...I was in heaven!  I also enjoyed going to Grandpa Vanoff's restaurant in Romeo.  The Semps ate there are Wednesday nights and Sunday noon.  While dating Mike and and during our early married days, it was a treat to visit via the back door and eat in the back kitchen.  Grandpa's pan fried chicken was the best.  Any of Grandma Vanoff's desserts were spectacular...all kinds of pies, cake, and cherry torte.  YUM...I still enjoy making Grandma Vanoff's Chocolate Fudge Frosting and also her Chocolate Cream Pie.  She also made me a fabulous birthday cake...white cake with lemon filling and vanilla frosting.  It was the best!  I also remember my mother in law remarking that she wouldn't have to learn to make pies as Pam could take over once Grandma Ruth retired.   And that I have done.

Soda fountains were a part of my growing up...but we didn't get to indulge very often.  I remember The Dairy Bar on West Lafayette Street with a U shaped counter and stools all around it. I also remember the one at the Dairy Bar in Washington, MI where we would ride our bikes and get a treat before pedaling back down Campground Road to 29 Mile...close to 3 miles one way.  There was another soda fountain at Bill Knapp's in Rochester, which is still in operation today. When visiting our cousins in Harbor Beach in the 60s, there was a soda fountain at Klump Drug.  I have photos of my store, The Corner Store, which shows a soda fountain in the back corner.  I also remember in my short stint in Imlay City, enjoying sweet treats at one of the drug stores there.  One of the finest and most recent soda fountains, was at Diana's Sweet Shop in downtown Port Huron.  A fixture for dozens of years, my Mom told stories of enjoying Diana's during her youthful years.  The wooden booths and unique lighting in each, sweet treats and tasty meals made it a destination for almost a century.  It closed in the last 10 years and the beautiful wooden fixtures were sold to a business in Tennessee.  One can still find sodas, malts, shakes, sundaes and banana splits today, but somehow they don't seem quite the same as what we used to enjoy at a soda fountain.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Week 5 of 2013 - Remembering Mom

Leah Anderson Smith – February 3, 1928 – January 4, 2009

Happy Birthday Mom! Today, you would have been 85. I think about you everyday. I suppose that should be no surprise. You taught me to do so many things that I can't help but think of you when I am doing them.

Sewing, which I do a lot...makes me think of you. I remember sitting on the black wood chairs in Romeo in front of the sewing machine. I remember that I wanted to learn to make doll clothes for my doll. I thought sewing little things would be easier than sewing big things! Funny how a young brain works... Took you a long time to convince me that sewing small things were much more difficult than larger things because they are so small. So we started with a doll blanket for my doll. A nice square piece of left over fabric would work for this job!

Cooking makes me think of you. I still make many of your recipes, just like you did...dumping a little of this in and a little of that in...I don't remember if you even owned measuring spoons when I was a kid...... I will never forget that first grilled cheese sandwich you let me make for myself. It was by far the best grilled cheese sandwich I ever tasted! And your trick for fixing a slightly over done grilled cheese sandwich....I have used it many time just scape the burnt part off with a butter knife and it is a good as new!

Doing dishes... everyday when I do dishes, I think of you. I remember standing on a small stool in front of the sink and barely able to reach into the dish pan to wash dishes... (or play in the water.) At that time I was too young to realize it was work! It is one of my first memories of me and you....Pam and Sue went to school and I had to stay home because I was not old enough to go yet. You let me do dishes after lunch. It took me a long time but it sure was fun. It became my daily chore. I usually needed a change of clothes by the time I was done because my whole shirt would be wet. You know what, Mom? I am still like that today. Rarely does a day go by that I don't splash water down the front of me when I am doing dishes even though I have a new deep sink. When I do, I hear you..”Jan, be careful, you're getting water all over!” And I remember when I was a few years older and now I had to do dishes and it didn't seem like too much fun. There was always something else I would rather do. Remember it?  All three big girls standing in front of the sink, arguing over who had to do what!

“I don't want to dry!”
“You washed last night!”
“Stop splashing me!”
“The washer has to rinse too!”
“ MOM!”

I am sure that you remember the time well! Today, washing dishes has become a bit of therapy. Gives you time to remember, time to think, warms your hands on a cold day and it warms your heart. When “the sisters” are all together, we all join in. No yelling, mostly laughter and fond memories.. No fighting over who gets to wash or dry anymore. It has come around full circle!
Every time, I open a jar of canned tomatoes. I remember the year that you helped me learn to can. We had moved into the house on South Almont Ave...our cracker box house. It was all we could do to afford the mortgage much less buy food so I needed a plan B. Plan B was the need to learn how to grow food and preserve it so we had something to eat in the dead of winter. I helped our neighbor, Lyle, with his garden. By mid summer I realized that we would have a bumper crop and I was going to be very busy! I bartered and traded vegetables for fruit and you taught me to preserve what was left. You came and spent at least one afternoon a week with me showing me how to preserve everything. We bought a small used freezer and what did not go in jars, went in the freezer.

We think of you every time we sing Happy Birthday. You would beg Dad to sing the birthday song nicely and that was Dad's and our cue to sing it even more off key. And it warmed my heart on your 80th birthday when you proudly sang it with us off key and in front of all your friends!  And just so you now, our method of singing has caught on in other Smith families too!  So when you hear a loud ruckus you know we are just singing Happy Birthday to you!

We think of you every time we go camping as each one of us tries our best to poke the fire just like you did. When the fire died down camping, you were always able to get one of us to get it going again. Once we had our fireplace in Romeo, I do not remember too many winter days that we did not have a fire in it. You were always able to get Dad or one of us to light one. In the years that  you spent Sunday afternoons at Sharon and Micheal's,  in the winter, Michael would start a fire for her.  You did not start them but you sure enjoyed them! 

So today Mom, I am thinking of you again on what would have been your 85th Birthday. 

So her goes in my best electronic off key birthday song.....

HaPPy biRThdaY 2 U, haPPy birTHDay to YOU, HapPY BirtHdaY, Dear MoM!

hapPY BiRtHdAy 2 YOU! 

Happy Birthday!

Love, Jan

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Week 4 of 2013 - Sleepy Creek - Fairmount, Illinois

I am sitting here tonight drinking a really cold glass of Three Amigos wine from the Sleepy Creek Winery in Fairmount , Illinois. I thought I would tell you a bit about our wonderful weekend in central Illinois last weekend. 

 My granddaughter, Heather Snook married Evan Davis in Danville, Illinois on January 19, 2013. It was a beautiful wedding and family event.  Since we live three hours away, we would need a place to stay while we attended the wedding and reception.

In the fall, we were introduced to the Sleepy Creek Winery when we attended a bridal shower for Heather. We were given a tour of the vacation rental or B & W part of the Winery and decided that we would stay there for the wedding in January. We had an unknown number of relatives who would come from Michigan to attend this special family event so it seemed like a perfect place to stay.

I did not get a photo of the entrance. But here is a link to their website :

And their Facebook page:

Wine tasting bar and service desk
View of the winery from the tasting room

Wine tasting and event center

Winery Gift store
My sisters arrived in the Chicago area on Thursday after taking the train from Michigan. On Friday morning, we loaded up and headed for Danville. In the afternoon, we assisting with the decoration at the Knights of Columbus Hall where the reception would take place the following day. We made our way to Fairmount, Illinois, to check in at the Sleepy Creek Winery around 5PM. We had just enough time to sample a couple of wines before hauling our suitcases up to the second floor living quarters which we would use for the next couple of nights.

The second floor of the winery has a two bedroom living quarters with a sleeping loft which is warm and inviting. It is a post and beam barn structure full of rustic charm. It easily provided ample room for my husband and I and my three sisters to sleep and remain refreshed during the busy weekend of family events. I was a little concerned about the fact that there was only one bathroom but it is large and we had no problem getting ready for the Saturday afternoon wedding.

Well equipped Kitchen
The kitchen was well stocked with everything we needed. I wished we had an extra day to actually make a meal in this kitchen. It would have been fun. So that just means that we will need to come back! 

Living area with a leather couch, two chairs and cable TV was very comfortable.

Loft with two beds and spiral staircase
The loft with it's wine bottle windows were beautiful in the early morning light of sunrise.

The Winery side of the wine bottle window! So creative!

 Looking down on the living quarters from the loft.

The deck and entrance from the back of the Winery overlooking the vineyards...

Bedroom1 with queen bed

Bedroom one

Bedroom 2 with a king Bed
 I apologize for not taking this pictures before we hauled all our things in or after we hauled all our stuff out but when I took these pictures I had really not planned to blog about it. I had planned to just have fond memories of a wonderful weekend.

We were so impressed with the staff, the beds, the living quarters, and the whole atmosphere that here I am blogging about our wonderful weekend in central Illinois. And the WINE! It's awesome. At least one of the resident cats begged at the door nightly, in an effort to get to know us better, as only a cat can. We are cat people and would have loved to let him in. SO if you are ever in the neighborhood of Fairmount, Illinois, make sure that you stop at Sleepy Creek Winery. And if you are there for the weekend...It is the best place in the area to stay!

Sue, Sharon, Greg, Jan and Pam
We are happy customers with fond memories of a winter weekend in central Illinois! 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Week Three of 2013

It is my brother's 50th birthday! Wow...It is a great day for a party, don't you think?  We had a surprise birthday party for him on New Years Eve this year because some of us can not be there with him today. For the party, I made him a slideshow of old photos of him. It turned out pretty today  I made a shorter version and posted it on Face book. Check it out ...It's a few minutes long with some of the same pictures and some other favorites.

On the blog here, I have the ability of sharing with you some of the stories behind the photos...

Sharon is checking out her new baby brother - 1963
 Mark was the first baby brother we had in our house.  Sharon  had to inspect him pretty closely to make sure that everything was OK!

Mark is making sure that this baby brother is real! - 1964

In 1964, Matt was born and now there were two brothers.  Mark had to make sure that this little guy was real and not just a noise maker!

Mark driving his first car at the Peach Festival in Romeo - 1965

September always brings the Peach Festival to Romeo and with it comes the carnival with it's rides and cotton candy.  In this picture the older kids are anxious to get to go on the "big kid" rides but Mom makes sure that we all  wait patiently while Mark gets his turn!

Cooking Hot dogs in the Fireplace. 1966

 Sometime in the dead of winter, my dad would start a fire in the fireplace and we would roast hot dogs for dinner and marshmallows for dessert!

Teaching her son to fight. - 1966

Mom teaching Mark to box.  What is funny about this is that my Mom was so gentle.  She was the last person who could teach someone to fight.   But she would watch the Red Wings with my Dad and get so excited when a fight broke out!!!!

Vanderbilt Vacation - 1964
Mom took the watering can away from Mark to use it to rinse Pam's hair.  Needless to say Mark was not very happy! Yes, sometimes when we were camping we did wash our hair in the lake!

Losee Reunion in Lapeer in 1964

 Mark go bored at the Losee Reunion so the big sisters took him to go play on the playground toys!  Check out the old cars in the parking lot.  They were new then!!!!!

Ready to go camping - 1965
Sue and Mark are checking out the Camper. Getting ready to go on another Smith Camping adventure!

Sharon and Mark - Boston 1967
Sharon and Mark in Boston in 1967. We were following the Freedom Trail along with a bunch of other tourist.  We tried to duplicate this photo in 2010 when we all returned to Boston together when my brother Matt ran the Boston Marathon.  Not quite right but a great photo anyway...

Sharon and Mark -2010

Mark in Arizona at the time of his wedding...Mark loves his Raider!!!  Can you tell?
Mark and his favorite meal in Denmark - 2010
Mark and his hotdogs in Denmark.  I do not know how many of these he ate but he got the biggest kick out of theses long skinny hotdogs!

I am wishing my brother the best birthday!!!

Happy Birthday, Mark!

Love, Jan