Monday, February 29, 2016

Week 9 of 2016 - 10th Grade Forensic Team

I wasn't much into sporting teams.  Basketball, softball...none of that really interest me. Not really the physical type I guess. I was involved with Band until I quit in 9th grade.  (That is for a different blog.) We had lived in Imlay City for two years and I had developed my new group of friends. Friends whom I had shared classes with since the move to Imlay City. The school district grouped kids together based on academic level. We were in the college prep group.

For tenth grade English, we had Mrs. Wilson.  She was a typical English teacher.  Middle aged, a little portly, she sometimes wore glasses except when she got her picture taken and at the time I thought she was pretty old and about ready to retire.  But in all actuality she was probably in her mid to late 40's. In the mind of a 10th grader, that is old. She did not always have control of the class.   She was sometimes taken advantage of by some of the students.

She was  the Speech / Forensics coach. I did not even know what the Forensic team was but was convinced to participate soon after the beginning of my Sophomore year. In case you do not know what the forensic team is, it is Debate, Speeches and Dramatic readings...You know English type things and of course there are district, regional and state competitions  that we would be participating in.

I have my whole life been a talker...but then YOU all know that .  Many times during school I would get in trouble because I could not keep my mouth shut.  Almost all my report cards said "She talks too much!"  So what better way to harness this issue than to join the speech club!   There were five sophomore girls who joined......  We would get extra credit, we could do much of the prep work for the competition during English class as long as we kept up with our regular school work.  And through our remaining years of high school, there would be continuing benefits to us that we would find out later.  The brownie points for being involved  were great and what else did we have to do. I was too young to date as far as my parents were concerned but old enough to work in my Dad's Dime store if I did not have a school activity I needed to attend, like Forensic practice. 

Forensic / Debate Team 1970-1971

Mrs Wilson recruited us for the category that she called, " Multiple Reading".  SO what is a "Multiple Reading" you ask??  It is like voice overs used in animated movies without the movie! A group of people tell a story, each person becomes the character or characters that they are assigned  to play.  You might even call it storytelling but it must be a team effort. As I recall, we were given the option to pick a piece of known children's literature. I can not remember if the category was provided for us by the region or district or if  Mrs Wilson picked it for us.   There were three groups in our team, one from the Senior class, Junior Class and then us, the Sophomores. The Senior group did a Charlie Brown reading.  I can not remember what the Juniors did. We did "Pooh Meets the Heffalump".  Our team consisted of Jean Brinker, Diane Rankin, Carol Schmucker, Laraine Crake and me.  I was assign the role of Piglet, Loraine was Eeyore,  Jean was the Narrator, Diane was Pooh and Carol was the Christoper Robin.....

Jean Brinker

Diane Rankin
Carol Schmucker

Laraine Crake
Jan Smith
We memorized all our lines and practiced for weeks and weeks.  I can remember practicing at our house in the living room and at Diane's house in the basement as the competition drew near.   I had a particularly difficult set of lines toward the end of the reading that was a real tongue twister...When Piglet thought he had discovered the Heffalump.  I messed it up so many times...I did not know whether I could ever get it right. We worked so hard at it.

When it came time for the nine school Blue Water League Competition, our Imlay City Team  was ready.  I had never participated in a live event. We took the bus to a big school auditorium in Flint.  You sat watching as all the other school / groups performed. The longer you sat there the more nervous you got.  While I was a talker in school,  I did not like speaking by myself or with a group in front of an audience.  We were all very scared.  Our turn was near the end of the event.  Our reading, by nature, had a bit of a rhythm to it,  it started off slow just like Pooh who just ambles along and builds up to this frenzied pace as Piglet believes he has discovered the elusive, never seen before, Heffalump! After  a few seconds of jitters, we all settled into our roles and gave our best performance ever.  Over all, Imlay City took the 3rd place trophy in the competition,  The team trophy is for the school and all its forensic teams combined scores...Debate, Speeches, Dramatic reading, Humorous reading, Multiple reading, Oratory.

Our Sophomore team took first place in the Multiple reading category and advanced to the fourth round of the March 1970 Blue Water Competition beating our Senior team who came in at third place.  We moved on to the District level where we won Second place in the 10 school Blue Water District level which took place in fall of 1971.   

I included the year book page for the Speech / Forensic  team.  I found it interesting that they talked about the Senior and Junior teams before they talked about the first place winning Sophomore team.  They have my name spelled wrong in part of the article but right in the second part.  They list Kathy Irish as a team member for the second half of the year which I do not remember and then added Jean Brinker back in as if there were six of us. Not sure who supplied the facts for this page.  I wish I had a recording of one of our practice sessions. It would be fun to listen to all these years later...

So there you have it...I guess that the years of "talking too much" did pay off in the end.. Hope you enjoyed this high school shared memory..



Sunday, February 21, 2016

Week 8 of 2016 - Singing Sweetly and OffKey

Singing was always an important activity in our family. My Dad was often the instigator. We would sing in the car during long car rides and short jaunts. We would sing “Clementine, Coming round the Mountain, Row your Boat, 100 Bottle of Pop on the Wall, (it had to be pop, not beer because he would not let us sing about beer!), Three Blind Mice, Twinkle Twinkle, Jesus Loves me”...I know there were others but I can't remember right now. Anyway, it was Dad's way of helping to past the time when we got antsy in the car.

Lapeer Church Choir
 Mom and Dad were both in the choir at church. They had really nice voices and so do we... I can not really remember how old I was when our traditional birthday song got started. I was just a kid. My Dad would lead us in the most off key version of Happy Birthday. Through the years Mom would plead with Dad to sing it nicely and we sang it worse and worse. As each of us found our spouses, and married, there was always that first “birthday song event” when we would wonder what would they think?  Mind you, we really did not care, after all this is our family tradition but at that vulnerable time in a budding relationship, we did wonder if this new person would think we were crazy... They all seemed to jump on the band wagon if not right away...then eventually when they realized it was just the way we did it. The grandchildren came along and they never heard the “nice” version so.... .It is just the way we do it....

After Dad died, Mom stopped asking about singing nicely... Even though she sang it nicely, I think when she heard us singing out off key it brought Dad right into the celebration again. For Mom's 80th Birthday celebration at the church...those attending sang her a nice Birthday song...and after the nice version was done. I announced that it was time for the Birthday song the “Smith way”...and all the Smith's including, Mom, belted out the Birthday song in the best off key version yet with many of those attending joining in!

About two weeks ago, Greg and I were sitting in the Stone Lodge in Port Sanilac eating dinner. There were two rather loud and large parties going on at other tables in the big dining room. It was obvious that they were Birthday Parties. Shortly after we ordered, a waitress went to one of the tables with a small cake with candles and all of a sudden the group began to sing the Smith Birthday song...I was so surprised to hear another family with at least 4 generations singing the Smith Birthday song! I felt this over whelming urge to join in...and I did! It was so much fun! I had never known another family who sang Happy Birthday offkey. (except our cousins who followed Dad's lead..) . And in public no less!!! They sang it just as exuberantly as we do!
After we had eaten, I could not resist the temptations to go visit them to tell them that we, “the Smith's”, do the same thing with the Birthday song. Like our family, the Father started the tradition with the mother begging him to stop!...We laughed...

Sweet singing memories...

Love, Jan

Friday, February 19, 2016

Week 7 of 2016 - (Been way too long) First remodeling project.

It has been way to long since I have posted here and I really did love it when I regularly recalled memories from my childhood and shared them. In the spring of 2014, we sold our house in Illinois, packed our belongings and moved to Harbor Beach....and through the business of it all I left this project behind. I am ready to start again..It is overdue...

It is week 7 of 2016, I am 60 years old and can hardly believe where the time has my mind...I certainly can not be 60, must be a mistake...I must be only 30. My mind says I am 30 but my body confirms otherwise.  I am in the middle of a remodel project that while I was 30, it would have been done in a week but...I will be lucky to have in completed in a month...It all started with an unusual Christmas present that I gave my husband...a new toilet...(that is for a different blog.
Romeo House that we moved from in summer 1968

Which brings me to a great idea for a post... Our first remodel project.  In 1968, we moved from a tiny three bedroom house in Romeo to Imlay City where my Dad purchased a house that used to be Dr. Brab's Office and residence with an handy in-law suite for his mother...We went from four girls all sleeping in one room which was always in utter chaos, to all having our own rooms!  Talk about heaven!
Imlay City House that we moved to in 1968

The window right underneath the eves...that was my room.  My room was on the south west corner of the house.  My windows were barely off the floor so I had a great view looking down at Almont Ave and into the parsonage window to the south. If I sat on the floor by the south window I could look down Almont Ave to the south and see the trains on the railroad tracks as they passed.
It was a pretty big room and soon after we moved in I asked Dad if we could paint it. "Sure," he said, "but I need you to help me too."  The room was a old drab yellow with an open clothing rod hanging on the east wall of the most old homes lack but I did not care because this space was all mine!!! I picked pink, of course, which at the time was my favorite color.

Dad had bought this monster of a house for $18,000.00 which in 1968 was pretty cheap for a house this size but it needed a lot of work.  We did not see the "lot of work"...we saw the big house nor did we realize that "we" were apart of the "lot of work " plan until after we moved in. Dad decided to make an apartment and a master suite on the first floor out of the doctor's Office.  So he spent most evenings, Tuesdays (his day off) and Sunday afternoons with his wrecking crew (his kids), busting down walls, replacing windows and doors, running wiring and plumbing. At first, it was rather fun using a hammer to break up plaster and lathe. We did find some drugs and things in a closet size room that was Dr Brab had used as a small drug dispensary.   Dad promptly disposed of it ....down the toilet as I recall... those were the days long before we realized that we should not do that. 
We broke down most of the walls from the 6 or 7 small exam rooms and made a pretty large apartment out of it. The waiting room became the living room, 2 examining rooms became a bedroom, 2 became a kitchen and then a bathroom/laundry and finally the large back bedroom which had been the Master on the first floor.  Dad took the drug dispensing room and parts of hallways and the front desk area and that became their bedroom downstairs in the main house.

 My Dad would just love all the HGTV/ DYI shows on TV today.  He was an early example of buying some that needs work and fixing it up.  He did it with every house he every lived in!

After we complete it the following fall we rented it to a wonderful couple who came to Imlay City from Minnesota.  Gregg and Sharon Jewett.  Gregg got his first teaching job in Imlay City fresh out of college.They did not rent from us for long but we have remained friends with them ever since.  The apartment was always rented. I think it was a two bedroom but it might have been being very small.

Enjoying memories....

Love, Jan