Monday, February 28, 2011


What’s that sound?
My sleepy brain awakens
to the patter outside
on my window.

It’s sleet; how neat!
Now contemplating
the hour and hoping
it continues;

For 6 AM
is winter’s magic hour
when decisions are made
for school buses!

Will school be closed
or just delayed?
My brain chooses to return
to sleep!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Birthday Tribute to Daddy (part 3)

My junior and senior years in high school found me, my nephew Ricky and some of our friends working for Daddy. I worked afternoons and evenings. It was tough. It certainly was not as much fun as when I was little. Daddy was exhausted; burned out; physically ill. Years of smoking was catching up to him and the summer of my junior year found Daddy so ill, he could not work. He could not breathe. He was hospitalized with emphysema and they were not sure he would live through the night. Helplessly and hopelessly terrified, all I could do was work. I went to see him the next night; a Tuesday night and sat with him while he struggled for air. I remember the All Star game was on and he didn't have a clue...that was not like Daddy.

I don't remember who worked for me. I do remember going back to work and essentially firing the afternoon who demanded his pay, when the paymaster was at death's door. The only worker who did this, he threatened to quit and I told him it might be a good idea! He did. Then, alone, I cried. My older brothers, Bill, a postal worker who took on the morning cooking and Jack, a worker at IBM who took over the books for Daddy both said it was ok ... that it was probably a good thing since all the others had agreed to a late pay envelope. His type was not needed in our diner family.

David S, a long time summer employee, who had left just a few weeks before for a better paying job found out Daddy was in the hospital and that we no longer had an afternoon cook. He offered to come to work from 3 -9 and didn't want to be paid. Jack would have none of that and hired him on the spot. Dave helped us through those weeks of summer and Daddy slowly got better, returning to work, grateful for the support of his family and friends.

Sadly, times were changing. It was difficult to watch what was once a lovely and lively diner, begin to crumble financially. Sadly, it wasn't just us. Our resort town of Cairo didn't seem to have the draw it used to. People were looking for more exciting places to eat and take vacations. Daddy never said anything but he didn't have to. I helped him do payroll and realized that as he filled the pay envelopes for the cooks, waitresses and dishwashers; paid the bread man, the milk man, the meat man and the egg man, he was leaving what was left for our family. It wasn't much. It wasn't long before he knew it was time to sell and he put the diner on the market.

When I was 18, I had saved enough money for a down payment on a car. I was looking in the paper for a used one and thought I found it: a 1965 Volkswagen Beetle. It took the paper into the diner kitchen to show Daddy. I never saw him look like this before, his face was red, his eyes were, too .. and then he sobbed. He choked out the word, "No!" Recovered enough to speak he said, in a controlled but somewhat angry voice: "Don't you remember? I'm supposed to buy you your first car!" Instantly I remembered my childhood scrapbook picture, his promise to me, and blurted out before my own tears took over, "Daddy, I don't want a pink convertible!" I hadn't thought about that pink convertible in years! We hugged each other at that counter in the diner kitchen and I told him I understood. Things were different; times had changed and everything was really ok. He then told me that he did NOT want me driving a "death trap" beetle but we could go car shopping.

Daddy was now closing the diner on Mondays so on that very next Monday, we answered an ad for a 1969 Opel Kadette Station Wagon; such a cute little car and only a year old. Traded in by it's owner because it was a little too small for his liking, it was just right for a college bound girl with lots of church youth group responsibilities. I could also reach the gas pedal! It had a standard transmission! Daddy didn't have time nor patience to teach me how to shift, but thankfully we lived in the country and the back roads soon recognized the sound of me grinding gears! The same back roads that just a few years earlier found my sister, Barb, teaching me how to drive! Though Daddy could not buy me my car, he took over the payments after I made the down payment. It was more than I had hoped for! Daddy gave me his best and I was so very thankful!

Daddy sold the diner in 1971 but what was to become of the man who always worked? What now? He refused to work for anyone being so independent all these years. So, he was content to sit in his chair by the window. He finally had the chance to read more than just the daily newspaper and read he did! Everything interested him and there was always a book or two waiting by his window.

Daddy took pride in his family and especially enjoyed the company of his granddaughter and her guitar, though she had no idea he was listening! He had the undivided attention of Mommy perhaps too much so, becoming cranky and demanding at times and with his health beginning to deteriorate, needed to have oxygen on a daily basis. For respite, Mommy took great delight in going shopping with her daughters and grandchildren! Daddy took great pride in my sister's ability to cook and manage restaurants. He taught her well and she enjoyed serving the public as he had done.

In 1974, Daddy gruffly told my then, boyfriend, Billy we were too young to get married all the while stifling a smile that soon spread across his face. He loved Billy. He loved that Billy loved me and loved his own family. He knew that our marriage was one made in heaven and Daddy was not about to argue with God! He gave me away to my handsome groom on a grand June day and danced at our reception. I had never seen him dance before. There is a first for everything!

It wasn't long before Daddy was able to take great delight in reading stories to his little grandson and watching him play and grow. He enjoyed the letters from Cary and Carole, even traveling to Arkansas to visit them. Their family was growing and he enjoyed reading of the events of their life that revolved at that time around their growing, little boy, Ethan. He enjoyed visits from Bill and Jack, now with grown families of their own, eager to hear stories of their successes and of the things he missed while being too busy during their growing up years.

A few regrets of course, but at 73 Daddy realized the forgiveness he had through Jesus Christ and this made such a difference in his last years. Comfortable, now, with who he was; where he'd been; that "the sins of his youth" had been forgiven, at 75 Daddy suffered a stroke late one night. After one last "talk" with his children, with only his eyes, he spoke volumes to his boys. Then sweeping his only good arm, he motioned to his son-in-law, my husband, to come closer. He reached out to Billy and with power that could only come from God, himself, grabbed his hand and pulled himself up to search his eyes. Billy, 'replied', "Dad, I'll take good care of her, you know I will!" And with that, Dad relaxed his grip and slowly sank back to his pillow. That was the last time I saw those beautiful blue eyes.

Daddy went home to be with his Savior the next evening; leaving a legacy of hard work, pride and love behind. Thank you Lord for my daddy...remembering him on the 108th day of his birth, February 16, 1903.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Birthday Tribute to Daddy (part 2)

We had nice, large tables in the dining room of the Rockface Diner and since we weren't busy at 3:30 or 4:00 in the afternoon, it was a great place to do homework and school projects. My friends were invited to come to the diner to work on school projects as well and Daddy would feed them, too.

He felt school was extremely important and talked often of my going to college. I would have to work hard and save my money. My brother, with the help of a friend went to college in the 60's and Daddy really wanted that same opportunity for me. His plan was to buy me a car for my 16th birthday, with the understanding that I would continue with my education. When I was little I decided it was going to be a pink convertible and even cut out a picture of one for my scrapbook.

Weekends were difficult as Daddy worked 7 days. I always wished there was some way he could be home with me during the day. I don't know what we would have done, really, but it would be our decision and not one already made by this business of "work." One day stands out in my mind above all the rest. We awoke in the morning to a sudden snowfall. I was already dressed for school when the radio announced that school was closed. Daddy was ready to go to work and the snow was continuing to fall, heavily. I remember being a little nervous about Daddy driving to work and prayed that God would keep him safe. God kept him safe and brought him right back to me in a matter of just a few minutes. It seems that his car and others in front of him just couldn't make it up Aratoga Hill! It made no sense for him to keep on trying so he returned home and called the diner to talk to his workers. No one there wanted to try to venture home, though home was where they really wanted to be. He decided that if the day workers could make it in, the night workers could go home, if they could. If not, they could sub for the ones who couldn't make it at all. There would be no cook as this was Daddy's job but this worked out fine as there wasn't a whole lot of customers looking for dinner, anyway. Short order was the order for the day.

I got to keep my daddy all morning, something I had never done before! Usually, He skipped breakfast but he couldn't resist having pancakes with Cary, Mommy and me! He went to work in the early afternoon after the plows and sanders had taken care of the roads. Funny thing is I don't remember what we did all morning. I guess it was enough for me just to have him home!

I remember two times, though there were probably more, that Daddy found someone to take his place at the diner and took us on vacation in the springtime. It was absolutely thrilling for me to ride with him all the way to NJ, watching snow melt along the NYS Thruway near Kingston; the forsythia begin to bloom on the Garden State Parkway in Union and warm air would greet us on Werstville Rd. in Ringoes where he would spend the night with us at the farm of family friends. Sadly, he had to leave us there in the morning, so he could be back to work in time for the dinner hour but it was just one more time I got to have him almost to myself! He enjoyed his brief "daycation" with our friends, often commenting how he wished he could stay on the Hill and Drake Farm just a little longer. Sometimes he would come back to get us but usually, time and a replacement worker would be scarce so our friends, the Drakes or Aunt Jane and cousin Barb from the little river hamlet of Andalusia, PA; near Philadelphia...another lovely and delicious vacation destination, would drive us home a week or 10 days later. I loved our spring vacations but I loved my daddy more.

As I got older, times were changing. Progress was making it's way to our area and a 4 lane highway being built, literally by-passed the diner. In fact, they called it the Cairo "by-pass." Business dropped off as tourists in the summer time drove right past the road that lead to town. Long distance truckers just kept trucking, not even knowing the diner was around the bend on that little access road. Locals still came by and that was good, but not good enough and as business dwindled, so did our income. I was old enough to understand, but too young to do anything about it. My lunch money was kept in the change box in Daddy's desk drawer. I just took my quarter every morning; 35 cents when I was a senior. I also got an allowance each week. One day, I simply decided to use my allowance for lunch money and never said a word; ever and I realized there wasn't going to be a car for me when I turned 16.
to be continued

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Birthday Tribute to Daddy

Daddy was much older than most men, being already 50 years old when I was born. He had always wanted a baby daughter, having had 2 sons of his own and finished raising a step daughter and was raising a step son. He had also always wanted his own diner.

He grew up the youngest of seven children of Albert Andrew-Alverson and Alice Elsie (Bunting) Lester in Accord, NY. His parents, hardworking, urged their children to be the same. Leaving school after 8th grade, he worked several jobs always being drawn to diners. He married much too young, tried an unsuccessful stint in the Army, then returned to face his responsibilities. He had a wife and two young sons and was always looking for his place in this world. I have gleaned information from old newspaper articles and know that as difficult as life was for Daddy, God was there the whole time, protecting him from others and from himself. He had a plan for him and nothing stands in God's way. Daddy, successfully this time, joined the US Army and served overseas during WWII as a cook, saying "No one in my unit ever got sick when I was cooking!" My brothers, Bill and Jack also joined the US Army, serving in different capacities during the same war. Though difficult at times, they all grew to love him, even working with him. My brother Bill also found himself leaning towards cooking in diners and owned one for a short time with the help of Daddy. In the late 40's Daddy co-owned the Rockface Diner in Cairo, NY with the Rose brothers whom he knew from his Army days. By the early 60's, Daddy had become the sole owner of the diner.

We started our working years there, eventually wandering off to other local establishments but we knew where our roots were. My brother, Cary and I knew no other way and had nothing to compare it to. We had no choice but to compete with the diner and make the best of it. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em and in our teen years that's just what we did as our sister had already done.

But what was it like to have a daddy who worked 14 hours a day; 7 days a week? Growing up in Sandy Plains, we all woke together in the morning and Daddy tucked me in at night. We didn't get to play as afternoons were meant for naps; his, not mine! We joined him at work on Wednesday evenings, as that was shopping day for Mommy. The grocery store where my brother was now working was across the street from the diner. We would have our groceries delivered there and then enjoy a table reserved for us in the dining room and all the sights, sounds and smells a diner had to offer. The waitresses were called to pick up their orders by listening for the buzzer. One buzz was for the dining room waitress; two buzzes for the counter waitress; three buzzes was for me. Happily, I would hurry into the kitchen where Daddy would have prepared my supper and Mommy's, too! I was never allowed to eat it there by him, but I could have my dessert there ... most always home-made chocolate cream pie. Dad would take breaks at the counter where that very pie was made earlier in the day by our baker. It was also where Daddy read the paper, had his supper ... and I had my pie. I would also have the chance to watch Daddy make mashed potatoes in the big mixer, and I would be a big help to him by adding chunks of butter! Mommy and I would enjoy our supper and converse with those who wandered over to our table. Usually, I would hear 3 more buzzes a little later and would scurry to the kitchen to find Daddy smiling with some quarters in his hand for the jukebox. I could choose any songs I wanted as long as I gave at least once choice to Mommy!

Homework was done at that table many nights, especially as I got older, staying after school and then needing a ride home. I could walk to the diner, but walking home was 3 miles and would have been most often in the dark so that was not really an option. Instead, after cheerleading practice I would wander down to the diner, arms laden with notebooks, text books, etc...back packs were not cool in the 1960's. There I would spread out at our table and work away. Sometimes, teachers would come in to eat... and find me busy! This was good for my reputation as my grades were not stellar! At least they knew I was trying. They also knew that Daddy was too busy to help and in those days, many mothers had only an 8th grade education...something they were trying to change.

To be continued...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Generous Blogging Friend

A blogging friend who, without realizing it, prompted me to share my poetry. She has a wonderful story to tell.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Limerick style ... just a little fun poem for the L-O-N-G month of February!

Erika and  Queen Anne

I like summer better than winter
with AC instead of a heater;
when my brain doesn't freeze
and my cold nose can breathe
with my nostrils not sticking together!


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Winter Vacation

Frosty faces;frozen laces
children skating on the pond;
sleds competing; saucers spinning
wildly down the hill and beyond.

Snow flakes falling; north wind blowing
winter down each un-scarved neck.
Friendly shoves with snow caked gloves, now
homeward they begin their trek.

Smiles beaming; cocoa steaming;
soothing to their snow stung smiles.
Shower warming; outside storming;
more snow gathering for awhile.

Now they sleep; dreaming deep of
kings and castles, mountains; then
awaken, hasten, breakfast chasing
to capture winter once again.

The week after this one coming, many children and educators will have a week off from school. It was meant for a "recuperation" time so that all the little sniffles, sneezes, coughs and wheezes would go away; all the stomach viruses would, too, hopefully.

I have many friends and acquaintances in the education field who feel the best place to recuperate is any place there is no snow or temps below 50 degrees! Y'all have fun down south, but I'm waiting and hoping for at least one BIG snow storm before spring begins to peak through the clouds. March will be here before you know it and THEN you will find me hastening spring's return by heading south.

Will you be going anywhere special? Praying safe journeys for all my traveling friends :-)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Pricker Bushes

I mentioned pricker bushes a few posts back and said it was for a another story. Well, thanks to my friend Anne, I came across the picture to go with the story. LOL!!! There isn't much of a story and I don't have a poem to go with it but... Once upon a time there was a hill behind Anne's house and a bunch of kids from church who wanted a "winter weekend." So we complied. One of the featured activities was sledding on Morgan's Hill. It was an interesting hill, with bumps and a few little turns and a rocky drop off at the bottom that we never actually reached, but a nice long ride nonetheless. Well, after a few trips down which made the track nice and fast, it was my turn again, and for no good reason, other than it was going to be her turn next, Anne screams, "Peg! Look out!!" Since there was no danger in front of me, there had to be danger coming up behind me so I did the most sensible thing. I bailed from the sled as soon as I could, giving absolutley no thought to where I would land. Anne just happened to have her camera on hand and when she arrived, safely by sled .. she took my picture. She was laughing so hard, I can't believe this picture didn't blur; but it didn't so you can all see what I looked like climbing out of the pricker bushes :-) End of story! Well, not really; I got even with Anne when she was wearing her bunny slippers LOL!!!! but that's another story...

Making Do

Winter Azure Sky

Cloudless sky,
deep azure
Seamless ice,
hard frozen
Hatless child,
log sitting
Lace-less skate,
loose fitting
Smile-less owner,
quick thinking
Hopeless scarf,
Useless threads,
skate lacing
Scarf-less boy,
fast skating!

A different style of poetry ... I never know how the words are going to form.

Another giveaway on my blogging friend's site: I really enjoy her blog!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Mr. Groundhog

Oh, what will he do
on the 2nd day
of the month with the fewest days?

Will he scurry right out
and give a big shout
to frighten his shaddow away?

Will he peek o'er the edge
of his hole in the ground
and look to see if it's clear?

Will he blink and look tired
or be bouncing and wired
and start running as fast as a deer? (I doubt it.)

Well, today is no problem
as the skies have snow in them

so pop up and party away

From morning til noon
but remember this June,
from my garden stay far away!