Saturday, June 28, 2008

A Fifties Childhood

I grew up in the 1950s, a sheltered middle-class child. We lived in a modest house with a small back and front yard. It seemed large to me. All the houses in our block were of similar size, but different styles. Tudor, craftsman, Spanish-Mediterranean stucco all blended together to make a homogenuous neighborhood. The street in our block ended in a right turn onto a smaller street, which led to a larger street that went to a major street towards downtown, so we didn't get a lot of traffic. It was safe to play in the street, because we had time to get out of the way of any cars. A neighbor's dog used to sleep in the middle of the street, and he lived to a ripe old age!

oak at midtown corner

Still going

Midtown cottage

Some of my first memories center around playing outside with the other kids in the block. We played hide-and-go-seek (that's what we called it, not hide-and-seek), tag, hopscotch, rock school, jump rope, cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers, football, and softball - just pick up games in our yards, not any official Little League stuff. All the girls had dolls, and we played with them, strolling them up and down the sidewalk in our doll buggies, dressing them, and hosting tea parties for them. We played until our mothers called us in for supper, then in the summer we went back outside and played some more "until the street lights came on" (that was our signal that it was time to go home). Sometimes we played after dark, chasing lightning bugs and scaring each other with tales of the "boogey man." Usually our parents sat on the porches, visiting and casually watching us. They weren't worried, though; the boogey man lived only in our imaginations.

We had a nice climbing tree in our front yard. It branched low and had a convenient limb growing over the sidewalk. I sat there and pretended I was on horseback! I took books up in the tree with me, and spent hours reading, hidden from view. If my friends and I had had an argument, and they wouldn't play with me for a day or two, I wasn't worried or upset. I had my books! The people across the street from us had a book collection, and let me borrow them. I read Dr. Dolittle three times! (The "Talk to the Animals" guy, but I didn't want to see the movie.) I also borrowed books from my friend's brother - all his Hardy Boys collection, one at a time! Other books I loved were the Five Little Peppers series, Black Beauty, Little Women and other Louisa May Alcott books, the Trixie Belden books, The Bobbsey Twins, Half Magic, and The Secret Garden.

We spent hours playing Monopoly on our front porch. We just kept it going for days - the same game. When a neighbor's grandchildren came to visit from St. Louis, they taught us about playing with houses and hotels - up until then we hadn't done that. That's why the games had lasted so long; we went broke pretty quickly when we had to pay rent!

I remember going to the beach. We didn't go often, maybe once a summer, or twice. Coming home was an ordeal. A long drive on two-lane highways in an unair-conditioned car, with sunburned back and shoulders, and still wearing a damp, sandy bathing suit! My! It's a wonder I even wanted to go to the beach, but I still love it. Johnson's Lake was a more frequent swimming destination. It was privately owned, and opened to the public for a fee. There was a big swimming area with a platform, diving boards, and slides, a concession stand, and changing rooms. There were signs on the road leading to it, "No alcohol - in bottles, in cans, or in you!" It was a family place, and so much fun!

Our family didn't have a TV until I was about ten years old. We used to watch TV at friends' houses. I watched Life of Riley at a friend's house, and they were all dying laughing, and I couldn’t see it! I thought, that poor man, so many terrible things happen to him all the time, and people are just laughing at him! I didn't understand about slapstick humor until later. I used to watch the Sealtest Circus and Dick Clark's American Bandstand at another friend's house on Saturday mornings. Her brother watched Sky King after that, but D and I went to play outside. We used to watch Queen for a Day, and mock their pitiful, dramatic stories.

When we did get a TV, I remember rolling on the floor, literally, laughing at Imogene Coca on the Sid Caesar show! I also remember Jimmy Durante singing, and bidding good-night to Mrs. Calabash, wherever she was. I loved the Westerns - Wagon Train and Gunsmoke were my favorites, and I also enjoyed Ozzie and Harriet, and Loretta Young. (she seemed so glamorous, twirling around in those long full skirts.) In the afternoons I watched the Mickey Mouse Club (M_I_C -- K_E_Y -- M_O_U_S_E), but I had already outgrown Captain Kangaroo and Howdy Doody. I watched them when my aunt and uncle and little cousin came to visit.

We played on the telephone when our mothers weren't paying attention. We listened in on party lines, until all our families got private lines. We called strangers in the phone directory and told them they had won a prize. I doubt that we fooled anyone.

Movies were special events. Some of the first ones I remember were Peter Pan (the Disney version) and Davy Crockett. I also vaguely remember something about Benjamin Franklin and a mouse. I think it was animated. Of course, there was lightning and thunder in the movie, and when we came outside I was surprised that it was sunny!

As I grew older, I saw Gone With the Wind (a reissue, obviously; I wasn't born yet in 1939!), Around the World in 80 Days, Rebel Without a Cause, What Did You Do in the War, Daddy, The Sound of Music, The King and I, The Ten Commandments, Lady and the Tramp, South Pacific, Mary Poppins, and a scary Dracula movie that my friend and I watched when we were young teens. We dared each other, but she couldn't keep her eyes open, and I just thought it was funny!

Bienville Square fountain

Band in the Bandstand!

Every Sunday, my parents and I went to Sunday School and church, then to eat dinner at a downtown cafeteria-style restaurant. I always looked forward to Boston cream pie for dessert! Afterwards, we bought a bag of peanuts and walked to the park, an old-fashioned park with a big fountain in the middle and a bandstand. We enjoyed people-watching and feeding the squirrels.

Those were fun times. Thanks for going down Memory Lane with me!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Technophobe - me?

I got a new cell phone last September. It has a camera, ability to text, and all sorts of fancy stuff. I learned how to use the camera, and set my own pictures as background, and even email pictures to Flickr. I don't use the text messaging, as it costs extra. I did download tunes off the website for ring tones (different tunes for different people).

Yesterday - nine months since I got the phone - I noticed that it has a calculator, a tip calculator, a world clock, a calendar, and a notepad! How cool is that, and how dumb am I for not seeing this before???

Please try to excuse the poor quality of these pictures. I was too close and out of focus, and maybe shook a little, too.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Bellingrath Gardens, Alabama

Pride of Mobile

This is a special point of interest and tourist attraction in L. A. (Lower Alabama!). People come from all over the US and the world to visit these lovely gardens. The property began as a fishing camp for a Coca-Cola executive, Walter Bellingrath, in 1918. In 1927, his wife, Bessie Morse Bellingrath, with the help of landscape designer and architect George B. Rogers, designed and began to plant Bellingrath Gardens. The gardens were opened to the public in 1932.

It just so happens that Bessie Morse Bellingrath was my husband's great-great-aunt! That, and $26.00 each, will get us in the gate! To tour the Bellingrath home, too, costs more, but is worth it. Bellingrath Gardens

The gardens are beautiful all year, and at Christmas time (Thanksgiving through New Year's Eve) it glows with the Magic Christmas in Lights. The azaleas in the spring are not to be missed. Stroll through lanes bordered by huge shrubs taller than a person, and bursting with rosy pink, red, and white blossoms!

Under the Live Oak
Under the giant live oak tree in the courtyard, with the Bellingrath home in the background.

Venus statue in a reflecting pool

Rosy pink hydrangea

Entrance to Oriental-American Garden
Oriental-American Garden
Oriental-American Garden

Delphiniums border the Great Lawn

A Rose is a rose is a rose ...
In the Rose Garden

Monday, June 23, 2008

A belated introduction

Hello, my name is Nancy. My screen name is Fancy Horse on some of my favorite sites, Bookcrossing and Flickr, but I don't have a horse, and I am not fancy. Sorry 'bout that!

I live in south Alabama, USA, and I'd like to show you some of the beauty around here, and some points of interest.

We'll start with my own front yard. This is our pecan tree in a gorgeous red sunset:

red pecan

The sun sets on Mobile Bay. The city in the distance is Mobile, Alabama.

Mobile Sunset

This is a Greek Orthodox church near us. It is a landmark, open for tours daily. There are beautiful murals and icons inside (no photography allowed).

Malbis Greek Orthodox church

We live about an hour from the beaches of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach
A day at the beach

Fairhope is a nice little town with shops and restaurants, and a pretty bayside park
Fairhope respite

The Mobile River delta system is a quiet and beautiful place to relax.
Tree and delta

I hope you enjoyed your visit here in my "neck of the woods." Come again!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Welcome to our garden!

This garden is a part of Cielo's The House in the Roses' Garden tea party.

Hope of Spring #2

This little boy and his puppy are happy to greet you beside the driveway. The statue represents my younger son, who loved dogs and is the reason we had a dog for 15 years. She never knew we were really cat people! She thought our cat was her sister. Our son is now a husband, and father of a baby daughter!

Uncle Sam is waiting with his American flag, too! A family friend made the small figure. Two amaryllis are blooming, and the rest are in bud. Azaleas and daffodils welcome them, and you!

A is for American flag, Azaleas, and Amaryllis\

This is the garden we see out our breakfast room bay window. I hope you enjoy looking at it as much as we do! Can I get you a cup of coffee?

Home again!

This little boy likes to read, but he is glad to see you, too! He represents our older son, who loves to read as much as I do. It is not really an outdoor statue (the white marks are proof of that), so he stays in the carport/patio.

boy reading

The alligator statue was left behind by the former owners of our house. He is the guardian of our home!


My husband and I love amaryllis. I wish they lasted longer!

The Few, The Proud, The Red Amaryllis

One amaryllis

Amaryllis, backlit

Red amaryllis

The former owners planted gardenia shrubs all around the garden; they smell wonderful in May and early June! The first photo is "blown out" but here is a better one of a blossom I took inside.

Mmmm! Smell so good!


Red oleander. The leaves are very poisonous. Hummingbirds love the blossoms. We have red oleander shrubs on each front corner of our house.


The crape myrtle in the center of the round garden, in full bloom. I made a calendar from this photo, and it turned out very nicely!

Crape Myrtle

July  2007

My husband rescued this azalea from the trash and replanted it in front of our house. It's doing very well here! It must be grateful to him!

Pride of Mobile

More varieties and colors: yellow daffodil (blooms in February and March), blue salvia, and Pink Perfection camellia (blooms in December and January)
Blue Salvia
Pink Perfection

Red gerbera daisy. They bloom all summer long, and into the fall. This one has water drops on it, from a rain shower or the sprinkler? Probably the sprinkler; it was very dry last summer when this photo was taken.
Gerbera daisy

Red Ruffle azalea, blooming in early March

Pink petunias in our round garden bed.


More gerbera daisies. They come in many colors, but my husband loves red! Can you tell?

Gerbera daisies

Our kitties enjoy the garden, come and join them!
Spite the black cat loves walking and rolling in the garden, while Crystal relaxes in the shade of the deck, and also loves sitting in the window looking out.

Spite in garden
Enjoying the sunshine
Crystal in the shade of the deck
Crystal in window, reflecting

Here is her view:
Through the kitchen window

Yellow, red, and green make a colorful mixture in the early spring.
Azaleas and daffodils

Coleus' and caladiums' leaves are colorful enough to compete with all the flowers in our summer garden!
Red coleus

Butterflies love lantana ~ it's a butterfly magnet!
Lantana and butterfly

Amaryllis usually bloom in March and April, but this one surprised us last July!
Late blooming amaryllis

Pull up a chair and enjoy the shade of the old Southern live oak tree!
I'm looking for some folding chairs that I really like for our deck. We don't have much storage for permanent deck furniture, in case of hurricanes.

Under the shade of the oak tree
A view of the deck

Hydrangeas and a mini greenhouse welcome you to my husband's vegetable garden. A visit to our garden wouldn't be complete without seeing the fruits and vegetables growing, too!
Hydrangeas and mini greenhouse

We have tomatoes and blueberries, fresh from our garden!
Tomato plants
Green tomatoes on the vine
Blueberry bush
Safe tomatoes
Fresh blueberries

My Mother's Garden:
These next few pictues are from my mother's garden. She is 94 years old, and still enjoys gardening! She has help for mowing and the heavy work, but she enjoys digging and planting when she can. These are the azaleas in her front yard.
Azalea season in Mobile!

Mother's coleus and hydrangeas
Coleus on Stucco Wall
What flavor would you like?

My mum's mums
Mum's mums

Mother loved this funny duck when she saw it in the garden shop, and still gets much pleasure from it! There used to be a birdbath on this pedestal, but it cracked. Before that, there was a pecan tree, but it was destroyed by Hurricane Frederick in 1979.
Duck statue in flower bed
My mother's duck

To end your visit here, I invite you to sit down and have a rest! I'll bring a cold, refreshing glass of sweet iced tea or lemonade! (This bench is not in my garden, but in the City of Mobile Botanical Garden.)
Rest for the weary

(Frames and posters on this post were made with the help of fd's FlickrToys, linked from the Flickr site)

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