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Archive for August, 2010

They say Ohio is a great place to raise corn, pigs, and children. I absolutely loved the way that I grew up. The neighborhood was our playground, and the plethora of neighbor kids – who ALL owned bicycles – were our playmates. We didn’t take Family Vacations during our summer breaks, but every summer day was filled with adventure. We didn’t need money to have a good time, just a little ingenuity.

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The Battle Field

One year, when I was 12, my girlfriend Deb and I – with my sisters – summoned all the neighborhood kids to my house to announce that were having a neighborhood water fight. The teams were chosen and the battle date set. We had 24 hours to plan our major attacks on the enemy. After a bit of scheming, we figured that 2 coolers filled with water balloons, the largest squirt guns we could find  (Super Soakers hadn’t been invented yet), and water hoses would be our arsenal. We really wanted to beat the other team, because my sister AND Eddie Fisher were on it and Eddie always gave us trouble. My sister and I fought most of the time, so it seemed natural that she be on the opposing team.

The secret weapon to winning the water fight, was the placement  and strategy of our water hoses. You see, all war is based on deception. We had one hose bib that didn’t work and a hose that have several holes in it. We connected the impaired hose to the malfunctioning water hose bib and make THAT water hose very visible to the enemy. Then we connected several good hoses to the hose bib that was around the corner of the house and hid the hoses behind the bushes. We figured we had 200 feet of distance with that piece of hose and the nozzle on it worked quite well to send quantities of water in the direction of our enemies.

It took all night to fill the water balloons and carefully place them in the coolers for safe keeping. Our team met late into the night to plan our first, second and third lines of attack. The war was going to be won with the element of surprise. After launching all of our water balloons and getting the other team to think that we were on the verge of defeat, my friend Deb was to run to the hidden hose bib and turn it on. I was to man the connected nozzle and drench the enemy.

We could hardly sleep the night before. It was going to be much fun to win the bragging rights of being the neighborhood champs. We could just see the defeated look on my sister’s and Eddie Fisher’s faces. It was going to be great. I also had gathered intelligence that the other team hadn’t planned anything at all. They were only coming armed with squirt guns.

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An Overview

The next morning around 10am, the neighborhood kids arrived on their bicycles, bathing-suited up, for the Great Neighborhood Water Fight. It didn’t take long for the trash talk to start. Our team was smug, confident, and prepared for battle. The rules for the battle were simple. We stretched a piece of rope across the side yard to separate the starting territories for each team. After the water fight started, there was no safe territory at all. When one team wanted to surrender, they would run to the center of the yard, grab the white flag and wave it to the other team. At the blow of the whistle for the start of the war, we all kicked our sandals off, and warfare ensued.

Well – the Great Neighborhood Water Fight didn’t turn out as we planned. First off, our water balloons didn’t break when we threw them. They merely landed at our enemies’ feet. The balloons were supposed to explode on contact and soak the enemy. Instead, we supplied the water balloons to our enemy, much like the time-delayed hand grenade. They were using our weapons against us! We eventually learned to throw them at their feet and they would break on ground impact to soak the enemy. Then to make matters worse, the other team stole our coolers filled with the remaining water balloons. We lost round one.

They ran to get the water hose that was visible from the battle field. But as we planned, they couldn’t get it to work. When they were trying to figure it out, it was time for us to pull out the big guns. On our prepared signal, Deb ran to the hose bib and turned the knob to open the flow of water. Ha! We had them. There was no escaping the torrential pelting from the hidden hose. Then my sister – from the other team – grabbed the hose and kinked  it to stop the flow of water. They continued to pelt us with their only prepared weapon – their squirt guns. Even though we had carefully prepared, it appeared that it wasn’t enough to win. We ran to the white flag and slowly waved it in the air. It was difficult for us to do, but we conceded defeat.

They say it doesn’t matter whether you win or  lose, it’s how to play the game. Losing the Great Neighborhood Water Fight was heartbreaking – we were razzed about it for the rest of the summer. But losing our sense of play would have been the greater tragedy. As I think back now about how we played hide and seek, had our summertime sleep-overs in the tent, arranged kickball tournaments, slurped on Kool-aid popsicles, and chased fireflies at night, we gained much more than we lost. When I was a child, play was the celebration of what is possible.

Picture This! will help you create the gift of a lifetime. Call us to scan your heirloom photos or to preserve your videos. 512-263-0546

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Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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My mother - age 8

My mother grew up in the Cumberland area of Tennessee during the Depression. They had no electricity or running water – unless you counted the mountain spring that ran beside her house. My mother was the only female in her house and therefore was in charge of most of the household chores. She cleaned, did the laundry, and cooked for her older brothers and father. According to my mother’s story, all the boys had to do was to provide the wood for heating and cooking. They were free to play all day long.

Her father was a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse and also owned a store that was adjacent to their home. His wife – my grandmother – ran off with another man when my Mom was 6 months old and proceeded to rob a train. My grandmother served 4 years in prison. (See Archive the Photo AND Tell the Story My grandfather wasn’t home much due to his jobs, but managed to be a rather good single-parent to his 3 sons and young daughter – my Mom. It was a hard life for them all.

Birthdays were very special days for my mother. It was the one day that stood out among the difficult days in her life. It was the one day when she was given the day off from her chores. It was also special to her because her father gave her a dollar bill and told her that she could spend it on anything she wanted in the store.

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My Grandfather's store & house

What my mother wanted was candy. It was a precious commodity in the hills of Tennessee, but for my mother’s birthday, my grandfather would stock up on the sweet stuff in his store. My mom was a smart young girl and her father’s favorite. She cleverly asked her father to keep the dollar bill for her for safekeeping. She spent a little bit at a time. For one whole year, all she had to do was to approach her father and ask him for a little bit of her birthday money.

It was the best birthday present – mostly because it lasted an entire year. My mother told the story that she is sure that spent $10 per year on candy – a sizeable sum in the 1920s. That birthday dollar bill was perpetual. Her Dad would play along with the charade and hand her some coins each time she asked for “her birthday money.”

This birthday gift might explain some of the dental problems that my Mom had later in life. But it also explains how her father made her life just a little bit better for my mother when she was growing up. And it only cost him a dollar a year.

Picture This! will help you create the gift of a lifetime. Call us to scan your heirloom photos or to preserve your videos. 512-263-0546

  • VHS or reels to DVD
  • Scan your photos or slides
  • Preserve your Memories.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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Paul and Kim current Photo scan We knew each other before we were born. Or so it seems. The way we think alike, our inherent understanding of each other, our imprint on each other’s souls has been there since the beginning of time. Our families lived 3 miles apart from each other when we were growing up in a little farming town in Ohio. I met Paul when we were in 4th grade – or rather he was in 4th grade and I was in the 6th grade. I am one year older than he is, but was two years ahead in school. I was a writer for our elementary school newspaper and I was assigned to write about Mrs. Benson’s 4th grade class. My younger sister was in her class and so was Paul. Paul was going to be President of the United States, he said with certainty. I noticed and recognized him. He was the other part of me.

Kim and Paul Picture This Photo Scan

Paul and Kim in high school

In high school, we were both trumpet players in the band. I was first chair and he was second chair, chairs we won by audition with the band director. Paul had an opportunity to challenge me for first chair, but declined to do so. He quickly became my best friend. I helped him find dates for the homecoming dance and he made me laugh. I was not too surprised when he asked me to the spring dance at our school. It was a bit weird to go with my best friend. But even though I was very young – and he was even younger, I knew I wanted to be with him as much as possible. He was my sure thing. He had answers to questions I hadn’t even asked yet. That school dance sealed our relationship for all time.

We married 6 1/2 years later on St. Patrick’s Day. Father O’Toole blessed our marriage that day – with an Irish blessing. The road did rise to meet us – but it was a rocky one to start with.

Our Wedding Photo

Before we left for our honeymoon, we opened gifts at the wedding, sorting them as we opened as to which ones would accompany us to Texas in our Plymouth Horizon and which ones would be stored. Immediately after the wedding, we left Ohio and headed for Texas for a 6-month internship job for Paul. I had already graduated from college, but Paul had two more years of school. On our wedding night, we stayed at a hotel one hour outside of our hometown in the direction of Texas. The next morning, we woke early to start the long drive and found that our car window had been smashed in and all of our packed wedding presents taken. We filed a police report, patched the car window and continued our journey.

We arrived in Houston, took a few days to move into our apartment, and then Paul started his job. In his first week of work, a car ran into Paul in our Horizon as he was turning right at an intersection. I walked over to the accident scene after Paul called me from a pay phone. He was not physically hurt, but our car appeared to be totaled. As our car was removed from the scene by a tow truck, Paul and I walked back to our apartment to figure out how to put the pieces back together. It seemed we needed to  cling to each other, as our few material goods were taken from us and all of our family was all back in Ohio. When Paul held me and we discussed our options, I knew we would be OK. What God has joined together, let no man pull apart.

A few weeks later, as Paul and I were getting ready for bed, we heard a man outside making quite a bit of noise. It seemed like an argument at first, then as we listened we could tell that someone was in immense pain. Paul ventured outside and I stayed by the balcony to our apartment to watch for his safety, but also to be close to a phone to call for help. Paul found two men and a 2-year old baby that had been in a motorcycle accident. The men, with the baby, had stolen a motorcycle and were traveling at a high rate of speed when an elderly gentleman pulled out at an intersection and clipped the bike. Both men were severely injured  – with body parts scattered at the scene. The baby was intact, but crying uncontrollably.

I went with Paul to try to figure out how to help. I tried to keep the baby still and assessed for injuries. Paul directed the emergency workers to the injured men and the older gentleman in shock. We returned to our apartment hours later, but didn’t sleep that night. We longed for the security of being with extended family and the comforts of home.

But all we had was each other and the faith that we could get through adversity together. Adversity is like a strong wind. It tears away from us everything but the things that cannot be torn. God is still holding us in the palm of His hand.

Picture This! will help you create the gift of a lifetime. Call us to scan your heirloom photos or to preserve your videos. 512-263-0546

  • VHS or reels to DVD
  • Scan your photos or slides
  • Preserve your Memories.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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