"The Book of Me, Written by You" - Halloween

This is a journey of finding yourself and how your loved ones see you in their eyes. Further, this can be online and carried forward to share, if you wish, to future generations.
This is a journey of finding yourself and how your loved ones see you in their eyes. Further, this can be online and carried forward to share, if you wish, to future generations. - See more at:
This is a journey of finding yourself and how your loved ones see you in their eyes. Further, this can be online and carried forward to share, if you wish, to future generations. - See more at:
The prompt for the week is:  

The Brief:
Have you ever participated in a Halloween event?
When was it?
Where was it?
What did you dress as?
Trick or treat?

The video at over at the YouTube Channel

2012 Halloween Costume
When I was growing up, I most years I would get dressed up and go trick or treating. Normally, my 3 nieces from my sister, Theresa, join me. We would all go as a group. As I got older, Theresa and I normally would take my nieces each year. Once they reached an age, then we wouldn't go any longer. Further, once my sister, Debbie, had my nephew, Eric, I would then join them in going. I would keep my sister company. After a few years, I stopped doing that and would then sit at home giving out candy. Sometimes I would dress up and other times I would just hand out candy - it just depended on what was happening.

Once I moved to Australia, the first few years we lived with my father in law and he never gave out candy. This was not a big deal as Australia is not big for celebrating it. However, in 2000, we moved into our own home and now I lightly decorate the house and give out candy. Since approximately 2009, Halloween has been more widely accepted as something to do on 31 October. Sometimes I do dress up a tiny bit, but other times I'm lucky just to remember to get candy for it.
2013 Our House Decorations

This year, 2013, is one of those years where I have been so busy, I basically threw decorations up and put together the candy bags very quickly. This is because my husband's family is visiting from Queensland and New South Wales. That being said, as tonight is Halloween. Tonight we had a slow start, but we have had about 24 kids through and its 6:45pm. Normally, we have kids show up until about 9pm.

Jo's 2013 Costume
The weirdest trick or treater we've had is someone on horseback show up dressed like they were going to compete in the Olympics. They actually rode the horse up onto our front yard - not a sight you see every day that's for sure!

On about 2009 upwards, we have even adults show up. However, unlike in the US, they come to the door wanting candy. I have started taking to saying no to them because its a children's holiday. The
kids get the candy and not the adults. I know my brother would take my nephew out and would dress up, but he would never approach the houses for candy. He did it for fun with the kids. I think adults who think its for them as well and expect candy is just plain wrong.

Bad Apples

Halloween is about having fun and dressing up. However, there are some kids, and adults, that take things too far and throw apples or frozen fruit at kids as they walk by. Further, I know in the US there was a time when people were putting pins in the candy as well. I have to ask - why do some people have to be idiots and ruin a fun time for kids? Kids have to grow up and deal with harshness of life, why not give them a few years of fun before that reality has to set in? Let kids be kids for goodness sake.

Check back next week for the continuation of "The Book of me, Written by You" series.    


"The Book of Me, Written by You" - Time Capsule

This is a journey of finding yourself and how your loved ones see you in their eyes. Further, this can be online and carried forward to share, if you wish, to future generations.
This is a journey of finding yourself and how your loved ones see you in their eyes. Further, this can be online and carried forward to share, if you wish, to future generations. - See more at:
This is a journey of finding yourself and how your loved ones see you in their eyes. Further, this can be online and carried forward to share, if you wish, to future generations. - See more at:
The prompt for the week is:  
Time Capsule

The Brief:
 1.      You can choose who to create the time capsule for as that will influence what you put (or would put into your time capsule)
2.      The creation of a time capsule
a.       you can do this in the literal sense or
b.      you can simply write what you would place into your time capsule and why. It is much more fun to create though!
  • You may choose to create a time capsule for your children, or a niece/nephew, for grandchildren – A physical item that you will give to a named person.
  • Why have you chosen that person and when do you intend for them to have it?
  • You may choose to create a time capsule of your home and leave it for someone in the future to find.
  • You may want to create a time capsule relating to an actual event or anniversary
  • If you create a physical time capsule, what did you choose to use as your capsule and why?

Time Capsule - Yes or No?

I have had the thought of a time capsule come up when I was in high school, when someone suggested it. However, no one, until now, brought it up for discussion and it was only through this group I'm in for doing the "The Book of Me, Written by You" topics.

In the sense of creating something for the future generations, I am putting the research I do for my
family, up on DropBox for anyone in the family who wants to look, add to and/or check information. I also have part of this done in, so I can keep track of information. Further, I do have a binder (that was once a group of pages) which has much of timelines and backed up information.

In the upcoming months, I plan to start recording verbally some memories. Further, all information and photos will be on either external hard drive and/or DropBox. I am taking to doing quite a bit of scanning due to the drastic conditions here in Australia. This way, I can have information in multiple locations and if a fire does come through (as it had a few years ago in the neighbourhood which we lost 10 houses nearby in the Black Saturday fires), the information and history won't be lost. I don't care about having the physical paperwork - only electronic and our lives are more important than anything.

My husband recorded the video on his way and during his breaks of fighting the fires

That being said, having the tiny objects which belonged to either myself, my grandmother and/or other memories will be sad, but we can live with the memories as long as they are recorded some place.

A small cup my grandmother gave me
The last Christmas card my grandmother gave me

The Future

As for when I'm gone, and hopefully this won't be for awhile yet, it will probably fall to my nieces as they have shown interest in the family history. I can hear people thinking "why not to
her children" and that is a simple one. My husband and I have been trying for over 14 years, at this point, to have children, and so far none have survived. As I only have a few reproductive years ahead of me, I have to face that we might never have children, so as my nieces have shown interest, the information will go to them, if they want it, so it will stay within the family. If they do not want it, then I guess it'll be lost, but I'm hopeful they will want to continue with the research I started.

I understand that some people will want to do time capsules, and I support them. However, over the years, I've moved enough to know what is buried today, will stay, but I probably won't be there in 10 years time due to moving.

 Check back next week for the continuation of "The Book of me, Written by You" series.    

"The Book of Me, Written by You" - Grandparents

This is a journey of finding yourself and how your loved ones see you in their eyes. Further, this can be online and carried forward to share, if you wish, to future generations.
This is a journey of finding yourself and how your loved ones see you in their eyes. Further, this can be online and carried forward to share, if you wish, to future generations. - See more at:
This is a journey of finding yourself and how your loved ones see you in their eyes. Further, this can be online and carried forward to share, if you wish, to future generations. - See more at:
The prompt for the week is:  
The Brief:
What were their names?
Where were they from?
Were they related? – Cousins perhaps
Where were they born, another Country or state/area
What did they do?
Did you know them?
What was your relationship with them?
If you didn't know them have you researched about them?

Growing up, I saw many of my friends visit and be visited by their grandparents. I never gave it any thought to where mine were at that point. Its interesting how much we remember.


On My Mother's side
My grandfather on my mother's side was Louis P Gauquie. He was born in Salisbury Mills, NY in September 1909. He lived on a dairy farm that his father owned. A census shows in 1930 he was a Painter for the railroad in New York. By 1940, he moved to Pike, PA had was married to my grandmother Janet and had 2 children. One of those children being my mother. He was a riveter on the railroad. In 1946, his father, Jules or Juluis, died and according to the will, Louis received about 2/3 of his father's estate which was split among each of the 5 children. According to my mother, the family seen nothing of this inheritance - it was spent on drinking, gambling and prostitutes. He lived in Pike, PA until about 1950, when they moved to Newburgh, NY where he worked as a plumber. In January 1975, he died according to the Social Security Death Index. I have heard that he died from falling off of ladder when he was cleaning out the gutters and from the complications of that he passed away. I have not proved this fact - its still something to be investigated.  I do know that he is buried at the Calvary Cemetery in New Windsor, NY with his sister Florence.

As you can see, from 1950 until 1975, its a pretty big blank space for this relative. This is because I never met him (despite being born in 1972). In fact, he was never a subject that was brought up anytime. My mother still does not talk about him other to say that he was a drunk, gambler and was a very nasty man and because of that he wasn't to be talked about.

On My Father's side

In 1956
My grandfather on my father's side was Matthew Schmitz. I was told that he was born in Germany. I Linden, NJ in 1935 and he was living with a wife and son at the age of about 29. He was a painter in a New York State Hospital. About 1945, he was in the Army do know that he had a residence in Medical Corps according to my father. I do know in 1946, according to the Price and Lee Co's City Directory, he was living at 46 South Water Street, Newburgh, NY. At this point they owned Riverview Bar and Grill, which they lived above. In 1949, he worked for C-PLMCo (which I haven't been able to find anything about) and he was still living at the same address with my grandmother. By 1954, he lived in Old Blooming Grove Turnpike in New York and was working as a painter. In 1956, he was working at Stewart Air Force Base as a painter, and still living at the same address. In 1958, he moved to Old South Plank Road and he was still at the base. In 1967, he died at Castle Point, New York which is a veteran's hospital. I was told he died of complications of diabetes.

Again, you can see by the gaps in years in the information above, is a blank space. Like my other grandfather, this was another subject that was really never talked about by my father. My grandmother did talk about how he used to drink. She would go around the apartment and pour the alcohol down the drain and he would run from the room and go into another room where he had more alcohol hidden and start to drink while giggling. When she told me this growing up, I thought it was cute. Now years later, I think how sad it is he thought that was a huge drinking game. My main question is was he always like this or was the military responsible for making him this way? I have many more questions to ask my father regarding this topic.


On My Mother's side

Her sister, Genvieve, but Janet looked very similar to this
My grandmother on my mother's side was Janet Jagodzinski. She was born on 10 May 1911 in Pennsylvania. Most of her childhood I'm not certain about due to not being able to find much on her. I know in 1935, she was married and living in Salisbury Mills, NY on her father in law's dairy farm. In 1936, she had her first child. In 1951-1954, according to a Newburgh, NY business directory, they are listed as living there. I know shortly after this, she was committed to a mental hospital in by her husband. From what I've been lead to believe, this was due to going through the change (or menopause). Everyone in the family says that she has "emotional issues" and is known as such.
Newburgh, NY

I have met this grandmother, which is my middle name, 3 times in my life. The first was in the institution, which she just sat there dazed and my mother went to talk to the nurses. The second time was to pick her up to spend a Thanksgiving at our house when I was about 8 or 9 (I think). That time, I sat next to her and she didn't say or do much throughout the day. I know sometimes she got a spark in her eyes when she looked at the kids (the younger kids - and my nieces and nephews - that were there). The last time was like the first time I described. Although, I was told to sit in the corner. Upon sitting in the corner, I could hear the nurses talking about my grandmother - about how nasty she is and how she broke some nurse's collarbone and arm. They were also discussing why her family was there. This is an issue in the family - no matter how many times my mother would give the nurse's contact information, they never used it. The next time we went to visit my grandmother had disappeared - vanished. Every now and then my mother did go back but the nurse's would not release any information even though my mother was next of kin for my grandmother.

I when I started the family history research, one thing that I did find on my search was that my grandmother had died in Newburgh, NY in September 1999. The sad part was we, my mother and I (until I married in 1997), lived within a 30 minutes drive of her. Even more disturbing was no one ever contacted my mother, who was her next of kin. We have no idea where she is buried or what she died of. I cannot find out because my mother does NOT want to know because she believes she is finally "at rest". However, I plan on searching once my mother passes and I have access to the paperwork I need.

On My Father's side

in 1956
 My grandmother on my father's side was Genowefa (Genevieve) Wojtkowska. She was born 10 August 1910 in Malkinia Gorna, Poland when she was 10 on a Ship Named New Rochelle from Danzig (German) or Gdańsk (in Polish), Poland on 5 August 1920. Keep in mind, there was fighting going all between the Polish, German and Russian armies her entire life. She was born when it was part of Russia. In 1912, her father left Poland (or Russia Poland as Poland did not exist at this point) for the United States.

During her years there she seen the Nazis walk through and take everything and anything they wanted. Then in 1915, the German's made many advances into the area she lived and as there was a main railway line, it was constantly being looked at as needed to control the train line even though the tracks were different to those used it the main part of Russia, the armies still wanted the line. This includes "Taube aeroplanes and Zappelins make daily visits to Malkin, a wailway town north-east of Warsaw, and many civilians have been killed." which comes from The Queenslander a Brisbane Australia newspaper on Saturday 21 August 1915. By the time 1919 comes and the Treaty of Versailles starts to take shape, Poland becomes independent for the first time in about 175 years. Meanwhile, the Bolshevik's are setting forward to get to and capture Warsaw, which isn't that far away. The Bolshevik War or The Great War has started. The 81 Regiment, made up of Polish on both
81 Infantry Regiment
the German and Russian armies, converged and were heading to her hometown at the same time. Meanwhile, my great grandmother and grandmother headed to
Danzig (German) or Gdańsk (in Polish) to catch a vessel which her father, Adam, had paid their passage. I'm sure they either walked or caught the train in order to leave Poland. I do know, from talking to both my grandmother and father, they were the last people out before they closed the Polish boarders. They now traveled to the Port of New York which they arrived on 19 September 1920.

My grandmother was so malnourished from not getting enough of the right foods, she could barely walk. However, they were found fit and healthy according to her records of the US Immigration Officer at Port of Arrival paperwork. When her and her mother walked out of the processing area and into the United States, they both became United States citizens according to the immigration laws at the time. Under the law, my grandmother was under 16 years old, automatically became a US citizen because by this time her father was naturalized. Her father was there to pick them up and take them home to Linden, NJ. They had a small apartment which they had boarders and their family. It was very cramped but at least they had a roof over their head and food in their bellies.
A cigarette girl in a speakeasy

I do know she went to school, but only to grade 4. She tells me she was actually a cigarette girl when she was younger. The owners liked her because she was so tiny. When the raid's happened, she would hide in the bottom of the telephone booth and put her tray above her head and the cops would walk and run right by her. Then when they were done, she would get up from the booth and go back to work. I believe from some research, this was done about 1929-1933 in speakeasy's. By 1940, she was married and had a son - my father and was known by the name Jean now. In 1946, they had moved from Linden, NJ to Newburgh, NY and ran Riverview Bar and Grill located at 64 South Water Street. They had a small apartment above the bar and grill. In 1951 the business directory shows she was still living at the same address, but now she was by herself (and her sons)running furnished rooms or a boarding house. 

Jean & Charlie in Florida visiting Matt & family
About 1961 or so, she lived with a gentleman we called Uncle Charlie, but his real name was Charles Gardner. I believe they sold the South Water Street business and moved to an address on Broadway in Newburgh, NY. My sister tells me, she would come in and run up and sit on Uncle Charlie's lap (she was young) and he would have her sit on his lap and watch the huge parades as they went up and down the street. There have been rumours which said grandma and Uncle Charlie had married whereas I've also heard they lived together. This I still have to do research on.  

I know in the 1970's and 1980's she still lived on Broadway. I used to spend 2 weeks a year with her during school holidays in the summer. Sometimes I would spend the time at my Uncle's where she would be staying. Other times, it would be at her apartment. During those times she would try and feed me various melons and prunes for breakfast (it wouldn't work - I did try them and didn't like them, but she was insistent and I was just as insistent back!). We would watch countless episodes of
Me visiting with my grandmother in the summer
Days of Our Lives, she would tell me about my cousins. Sometimes she would ask me to check her back as she had an accident growing up and went through the windshield and always had glass tiny bits coming out of it. She was a spunky old lady. No one ever worried about her because the times people either broke into her apartment, she was standing there with the gun telling them to get back up through the skylight or, when at her Bar and Grill, people knew better than to start or try anything because she would take them out. My grandfather always got the brunt of it because she would get so upset she would throw pans and knives at him and she was a really good shot with those too.

That being said, she could take a joke - when Uncle Charlie threw a cherry bomb under her bed when she was sleeping and she jumped up when it woke up and she swore like a sailor at him and threatened him but never hurt him. I remember the tiny plastic girl she had. You moved the thumb and you could see all of the female bits. She kept it and kept telling me that it was dirty, but when she went out of the room, boy did I take a look! 
Kruschiki cookies

She made clothes for me (usually dresses), and for herself. She could afford to do things, but she would be thrifty about it. Although she did have this obsession with me wearing white lacy socks with white Mary Jane shoes and needing for me to have flowers and barrette's in my hair. I could never understand why and it wasn't until I started researching Poland and I found it was common for girls to wear dresses with flowers in their hair.

She also made the best Polish cookies. We call them BowTies but in Polish they are called Kruschiki Or Chruschiki. She also made some other white dessert things that are Polish, but never passed along that recipe. You take the white batter and when a pot full of water comes to a boil, you drop the white batter into it. I did grow up with other Polish dishes as well. She loved her Jellied Pigs Feet and other types of dishes, but some I could not like. 

She died on 6 July 1988 in St. Luke's Hospital in Newburgh, NY. She was later laid to rest in Cedar Hill Cemetery, next to her beloved Charles Gardner.

 Check back next week for the continuation of "The Book of me, Written by You" series.  


"The Book of Me, Written by You" - Journals & Diaries

This is a journey of finding yourself and how your loved ones see you in their eyes. Further, this can be online and carried forward to share, if you wish, to future generations.
This is a journey of finding yourself and how your loved ones see you in their eyes. Further, this can be online and carried forward to share, if you wish, to future generations. - See more at:
This is a journey of finding yourself and how your loved ones see you in their eyes. Further, this can be online and carried forward to share, if you wish, to future generations. - See more at:
The prompt for the week is:  
Journals and Diaries
The Brief
The Brief
The Brief:
Do you keep a journal or diary?
How far back do they go? What do you record?
Where do you keep them?

Do you always buy the same one or vary them?
Have you inherited any?
Do you intend to pass along your journals or destroy them?
Do you have a favourite?
What do you use to write with – biro, pencil, ink or fountain pen?

Do I have one?

Over the years, it has been mentioned to me countless times about keeping a journal or diary. However, I have to admit, I have tried over the years, but I don't have one and never really kept one for any time except for school assignments which I don't even have. 

When we did an IVF round, I did have an IVF Blog that I wrote in Microsoft Word. That's an interesting one and as we're getting ready to do our second IVF round in early 2014, its been interesting to go back and see some of the things that happened if we cannot remember. I'm going to  try and do another blog for the second IVF round as well.

There has been some updating of apps, so I might see if I can find the time (which is part of my problem), to start a journal of daily life. It might be interesting for those future generations to look back and see what I do in a day, even if its not very interesting. As we don't have any children, the journal and blogs might just be wasted time. A fact is that I'm going to sit down and record my memories of people, places, events as soon as I can. At the moment, my life is pretty full with life events (going away, having in laws visiting, classes that I'm taking are pretty lengthy, and sporting events - Bathurst on but we're not camping there this year) and that's only in the next 3 weeks this is happening.

I know I'll have to find out who wants to be the keeper of the family history information before I pass away, this way everything I've spent the last 8 years doing won't be lost and future generations won't miss out on the past.

Online Blogs

I do have 2 online blogs. One is for IT content that I talk about using WordPress. The other is entitled "Jo's Personal Blog" and that one I've had for a few years using Blogger. However, it doesn't seem like that, because when I lost my job this past year, I figured to start that blog up again and as the term blog had changed (from basically what you are going to do during the day to your thoughts on overall topics), so I went through most of the posts and either deleted them or put them into draft form where others couldn't see them. The upon talking to one of my teachers, I decided to start up my Jo's IT Blog to talk everything IT related. 

These I post in every week (Personal Blog over the weekend I publish, and IT Blog on Wednesdays I publish). On each I'm getting a pretty good handful of people - my personal blog has an average of about 30 views and my IT blog has about 200 people viewing and following. In the personal blog, the areas people access my blog from is unexpected - Australia, US and.... Europe! Yes, Europe and that I wasn't expecting. Hi to everyone that's in Europe!

Family Journals/Diaries

As far as I know, no one in my family has had either of these. I know when my grandmother was alive she would tell us about having the Nazis come through her childhood hometown and the
The Nazis at my Grandmother and Great Grandmother's hometown of Malkinia Gorna
fighting, but she never, to my knowledge, wrote any of it down. As I'm the family historian, or have been after asking questions for years and 8 years ago I started searching for some answers. As I've been looking for answers, I've been reading old newspaper clippings of the time right before or around the time my grandmother left Poland. I have to say, what she told me was one thing and reading newspapers back then give me the chills. Oh how I wish she was still here to ask even more questions!  Thankfully, my father is still with us, and I'll ask him more questions, but I have to wait until we visit again; however, I fear, that he won't know as much as I'm hoping he does. 

Warsaw Newspaper in 1920 a few days before my grandmother left Poland for the US.

I think the closest thing one side of the family ever got was a family bible. However, I was told, by my father Matthew, in August 2013, this bible was in shreds and couldn't really be read any longer, which broke my heart. This was a very old and pretty bible. It had gold leaf on the outside pages, very detailed pictures inside and there was a 2 page family history pages all filled out. To be told that all that information is gone is just heartbreaking.

Check back next week for the continuation of "The Book of me, Written by You" series.   - See more at:
Check back next week for the continuation of "The Book of me, Written by You" series. 

"The Book of Me, Written by You" - Your Childhood Home

This is a journey of finding yourself and how your loved ones see you in their eyes. Further, this can be online and carried forward to share, if you wish, to future generations.

This is a journey of finding yourself and how your loved ones see you in their eyes. Further, this can be online and carried forward to share, if you wish, to future generations. - See more at:
This is a journey of finding yourself and how your loved ones see you in their eyes. Further, this can be online and carried forward to share, if you wish, to future generations. - See more at:
The prompt for the week is:  
Your Childhood Home

The Brief
The Brief
The Brief: 
When did you leave home?
Where was it?
Where did you move to?
Was it rented or owned? – with parents/Grandparents
Was it inherited
What was it like – describe it – each room.
Were there a favourite room?
Is there anything you particularly remember from the house?
The road & area

Where was it located?

When I was born, my parents had recently bought the house and picked the location which was near where they actually grew up. As my father was in the US Navy, they were sent all over the US, which depended on where my father was sent, and we had a house in various military housing neighbourhoods. 

By the time I came along, my mother was tired of packing up and moving from base to base, so they decided to buy the house where they lived when I was born. It was purchased, with my grandmother's help (my father's mother Jean) and the savings they had. 

Like I mentioned above, it was in the area where both my parents grew up. My father was raised around Linden, New Jersey and then when he was around 10, the whole family unit moved from there to Newburgh, New York,  where he stayed until he met and married my mother. Shortly after, he joined the US Navy and the moving was on. 

Linden, NJ Map

My mother, on the other hand, was born in Pike, Pennsylvania.  She moved to Newburgh, New York when she was about 10 as well. From then onwards, she lived around the area until she met my father and he joined the US Navy and moved with him. 
Pike, PA Map

As I said and showed in an earlier post, I was born while living in Newburgh, New York. At that point, all my sisters, brother, mother. and when he wasn't on the submarine, my father all lived in the house. 
Taken from Wikipedia

What did the house look like?

The house looked small from the outside, but was actually pretty spacious. When you walked into the front door, you were taken into a huge living room area. At one point this room had a flat window, but my father later changed it to a bay window. There was a window on the side of the house which looked out onto the driveway and next door's lawn. This area lead you into both the dining room and kitchen areas. In the dining room, it once had just a door going out to the backyard; however, while growing up my father changed this to a sliding door. The kitchen was pretty small overall. It had a sit at table with the refridgerator at the end of it - giving you just enough room to open the door and walk by it. Next to that was the sink which had a window looking out to the backyard. Next to that was a small bench which had storage and then the oven. The phone was on the wall next to the table, which always seemed to have mail and other paperwork on it. Then you could walk out of a doorway and be looking at the door which we walked into. 

Next you had a choice - up stairs or downstairs. First we'll go upstairs. At the top of the 10 or so steps up, you had the bathroom. It was just big enough to hold the toilet, a sink next to that and the combination of bathtub/shower. Walking back out of there you looked directly into a small room straight ahead - it was only about 7 steps to the door. To the left of the door was a linen closet. Anyhow getting back to the room, it was small. Enough for a small dresser and a single bed and not much else. This used to be my room, before my mother left my father (they eventually divorced). I can still see the small plastic picture of that was the only thing in the room - a small tiny Jack Russell type of dog with very sad eyes that looked like he was going to cry, which was understandable due to it looked like someone left him in an alley with no food. 

Anyhow, when you turn to leave that room, you make a right after about a step on the left there was a wall but it was once a laundry shoot. I remember growing up, we used put things down the shoot - at one time it was my brother (I watched), we put some boxer puppies down it, and a list of other things. I remember my mother and grandmother always yelling about what they'd find when they went to do laundry. After taking another 2 steps, you had bigger bedrooms - one of the left and one of the right. The one on the left was the one my sister's shared and the one of the right was the one my brother had. 

Upon returning to where we had the choice of upstairs and downstairs, we will now go downstairs. This has changed over time. When I was born, it had wood paneling on the left and a handrail on the right and went down about 15 steps. At the bottom of the stairs, on your left you had the laundry room, with the laundry shoot and small crawl space I was always playing in when I was a kid. 

Take about 3 steps and the other door was to another bedroom. This was the one my parents shared when we were growing up. It had an attached bathroom that included a sink, toilet (which had a handle made like a spring and you pressed that down to flush the toilet), and bathtub/shower combined. In later years, the bathtub/shower became just a shower.

The rest of the room was a game room with a bar with alcohol in it. At first it just had a room big enough for a small sofa with a TV on a stand with some sitting room on the floor and the bar with some bar chairs. However, my father then built onto it enough to have a game room - and big enough to hold a full sized pool table. There was a small window looking out to the other side of the house and a door leading to stairs going up about 15 or so into the backyard. This was the room which they always had their holiday parties, as I mentioned in my last post
1970's - Me with boxer pups, my grandmother looking on in front of the house in Newburgh, NY
The house was located almost at the end of a cul de sac on Fleetwood Drive. It was a different street - you had a party house on one side, on the other side a house left to riot with windows boarded up and doors that were broken from the hinges. There were 3 regular looking houses around the cul de sac a gap where there was a field and then more regular looking houses on the other side of the street to us. As you can tell, the street held about a dozen houses.
2013 - What the house looks like today in Newburgh, NY

When did you move?
My mother, middle sister, brother and I all moved out when my mother left my father in 1975, I believe. She had stored some money up and left while my father was at work during the night. My sister, brother and I left very early the next morning - we were running out the back of the game room when he was walking in the front door. 

Like I mentioned, my mother had limited funds and so we ended up moving in with my oldest sister while she looked for work to afford a place. This was in Walden, New York. We finally were able to move out of my sister's place in 1976, I think it was. 

We then moved about every 3-5 years around Walden, Montgomery, and Maybrook all located in New York. 

My father, on the other hand, lived in this house until he moved in 1994.

When did you leave your mother's "roof"?
I left from under my mother's roof, the first time, when I went to SUNY Institute of Technology at Utica Rome in Utica, New York in 1995. I went here to get my Bachelor's degree - only I ended up never completing it. 

The second time was when I left the US and moved to Australia to get married to my husband in 1997. As I'm still in Melbourne, it was a good choice.

I hope you enjoyed your tour of the house when I was born.

Check back next week for the continuation of "The Book of me, Written by You" series.   - See more at:
Check back next week for the continuation of "The Book of me, Written by You" series. 
Check back next week for the continuation of "The Book of me, Written by You" series.   - See more at:

"The Book of Me, Written by You" - Favorite Season

This is a journey of finding yourself and how your loved ones see you in their eyes. Further, this can be online and carried forward to share, if you wish, to future generations.

This is a journey of finding yourself and how your loved ones see you in their eyes. Further, this can be online and carried forward to share, if you wish, to future generations. - See more at:
This is a journey of finding yourself and how your loved ones see you in their eyes. Further, this can be online and carried forward to share, if you wish, to future generations. - See more at:
The prompt for the week is:

My Favorite Season
The Brief
Do you have one?
A Happy/Sad Memory or association
Close your eyes and imagine your favourite season – write down what you see, feel, hear.

My Favorite Season
My favorite season is ...none. I used to like winter and the beauty of it. However, since moving to Australia, not only do they not have a real winter, to me, but the reasons why I liked winter - the crispness, the prettiness of the white snow, and the feeling that family time is just around the corner - are just not here. If you can imagine growing up having a hot summer, a wet and slightly cool autumn, or fall, then having freezing, snowy, icy and then you go to sprint which is mushy, muddy but getting warmer seasons. Then compare that with a hot summer, jumping into rainy, depressing days, then into a wet, muddy, mushy days which lead back into the warmer weather.  The whole experience of a true winter just isn't here. I think this plays into the way I feel about the seasons. As you can see by these pictures, this is as much "snow" (it was hail) that we get here in Australia. Even though Christmas is our summer, we still had hail on Christmas Day but it was gone within a few hours. My husband ran around taking these pictures on the day as he was excited about the "snow".

What I will do is take you on the adventure of what I used to like/love about the winter when I lived in the US. This way, you can see why I liked or loved it so much compared to what I have now.

Memories of why I like winter
The good times
I can remember growing up, as the year went along, the temperature would get cooler and then colder and colder. When this started to happen, I knew that snow would start soon. I always loved the snow. Growing up in a small town, I would love it when it snowed because there was no sound, there were very few cars on the street, and the snow looked like pixie dust coming down and covering everything in its magic. Usually, it was loud by people shouting at each other, music or the TV being turned either on or up, cars that kept going past in either direction - all the time and every day. When it snowed it was like everything was taking a huge break and was quiet because it was scared it would run the pixie's off. Once it had been snowing awhile, you'd look out and things - any toys, bikes, tree branches, tables and chairs - would start to disappear. It would vary in the speed - sometimes it only took an hour and other times it was a full day - before these things would disappear. Most of the time during the height of winter, you wouldn't see these items again until the snow started to disappear and temperatures started to get warmer. However, for those few months of the entire year, the yard looked well kept and magical.

When the snow arrived it also meant there would be time for family to be spending some kind of time together. My family did not do much of this, but we always tried to be together during either Thanksgiving or Christmas. Most of the time it was Thanksgiving, but there were a few occasions where Christmas was the chosen holiday to be together for the year. I enjoyed these times, because it brought the family together and we would catch up on the entire year, or try to, in a few hours.

The not so good times
That being said, there were times where I hated winter just as bad as I liked it. There were some major snow storms. Two of the major ones growing up are in 1977 and 1978.

The Great Blizzard of 1977
 The North East Blizzard of 1978

One of these times, was when my mother and father just divorced and my mother didn't have a car. We had to walk from the house all the way to the elementary school which was about a mile down the road in the blinding snow storm which was so bad that we had to walk in the middle of the road and couldn't really see anything. However, my mother thought that I would still have school and she had to go to work. By the time I got to the school, I was completely frozen and shivering. The days when we arrived only to find out there was no school and had to walk all the way back home or to my sister's (who would watch me) had me crying my eyes out. My figures were so icy cold that they tingled and my feet had been completely numb before we even got to the school and now we had to turn around and go all the way back home was a miserable thought.

However, once the temperature came up a bit and it stopped snowing, and we had to do the same walk, my mother was forever pulling me along because I just wanted to stop and look around at all snow - how much taller it was than me, how pretty everything looked covered in the snow and with the sun shining off of it, it looked like diamonds were trapped underneath just waiting for someone to come along and get them. I would walk around trying to look at all the yards, trees, and sidewalks all covered in, what I would consider, magical dust that looked like pretty diamonds. On the flip side of that walk, was my mother trying to keep her timetable of dropping me off at school so she could get to work on time a further half a mile away.

Family, to me, is important. These were the times family would take the time and sit down with you and talk about the happenings are, what the plans are and how did their last plan do. You can catch up on what's happening and who has done what. There's good times and bad to be had, but each person took the time to sit back and just relax and catch up with others.

I remember the times when everyone took the day, came over sat around in the living room to talk and catch up. Then as the day would go on, the evening meal was cooked and by mid to late afternoon everyone would pitch in and help in some way. Then we would sit down and enjoy the meal, dessert and meet back in the living room. Shortly after that, everyone would say goodnight and go home. In fact, the last time I saw my grandmother Janet, was when we actually signed her out of her home, brought her to ours for a dinner such as the one described. All the family made the effort to be there - all my sisters (which is a real feat as 2 of my sisters weren't on speaking terms), my brother, my mother, all of my nieces and nephews (and as they were young - under 10 years old) that were born, it was a huge group of us - about 15 of us in total. However, I think my grandmother did know what was happening because I could see the enjoyment sparkle in her eyes when she looked around the table.

Why stop liking the season?
I believe I stopped enjoying the season when the family had really started to stop getting together during this one time of the year. It seemed like no one had time to take just a few hours out of their busy schedules to just sit back and enjoy being with each other. There were the other times when I would get invited over to my father's house, only for his friends to arrive and it was like I was puppy instead of being sent outside, I was sent in the front room rather than be with or be acknowledged by anyone else.

My memory is of being welcomed into the house. They told me to go into the living room until people start to arrive. I go in and sit looking at the Christmas tree lights flashing on and off. I especially loved the tree topper which lit up and flashed lights all over the room. When I looked outside, I could see the faint glows of the Christmas tree lights on the snow that looked so light and fluffy because no one had walked on it yet. I could sit there for hours. As people started to arrive, I got up and my father, and in some cases, his second wife, came out and opened the door to people and welcomed them in, directing them to the downstairs area where the game room area was. If they seen me they told me to go back into the living room and they would come and get me shortly. I went back to watching the tree lights and the lights reflecting on the snow...while listening to the music, laughter, talking and the clinking of ice on glasses. After about an hour after all the guests arrived, I knew they must have forgotten about me.

This picture was taken from
Over the years, I have tried to get people together, usually when I'm visiting, but like I said, everyone's too busy these days just to take a few hours to be with others. This I find a shame because it is destroying what family is all about. 

In closing, I'm sorry this week's post is such a down post, but keep in mind sometimes the smallest thing will bring you more riches than all the money in the world. If I had all that money in the world, I would use it for bringing the smaller things to the forefront - taking time out to:
  • look at the snow
  • catchup with others
  • just be together because you love one another
After all, all the rushing around in the world, will never bring these things back if you don't stop to enjoy them. Besides, they are the cheapest things around they only cost you your time. Sometimes in life that's all that matters...

Check back next week for the continuation of "The Book of me, Written by You" series.