Tag Archives: San Joaquin Valley

Spirit of Christmas

scrooge-1My father could have been a double for Scrooge’s in A Christmas Carol—minus the greed. Both scoffed at the hectic holiday hubbub that floated like fresh snow. Real snow never fell in Chowchilla, our small San Joaquin Valley town, but it glistened on Sierra mountain tops looking north from Robertson Boulevard. Downtown merchants became amateur artists and created snowmen from spray cans on front display windows. They painted a tophat, a plaid neck scarf, and brown twig arms. They daubed eyes and a row of coal black buttons on the white globes.  Merry Christmas in glistening red foil stretched above the winter scenes.

A few local Scrooges dampened the community Christmas Spirit, my father vying for the top position. His Bah, Humbug! list of no’s at Christmas was longer than Scrooge’s. No Christmas tree. No Santa. No gifts. Mama agreed to skip the decorations, but she silently put gifts on layaway each spring to be opened before our family meal at noon.

One December Saturday, Papa agreed to go with us to the lighting of the community Christmas tree. Anticipation built as darkness approached. The walk downtown was an easy ten blocks in the warm summer, twice as long in the winter chill. Papa bent into the fierce wind and pulled the brim of his black felt hat down over his forehead. Mama tugged the ties of her headscarf tighter and turned up her thin coat collar against the cold. My twin and I skipped along the sidewalk too excited to feel the cold.

Christmas TreeAt the City Hall, we sipped hot cocoa from paper cups while we waited. The mayor activated the lights. Colors glowed from the lowest branch to the star on top of the live tree that reached upward toward the roof of the one-story building. A siren sounded and Santa arrived, sitting high on a blazing red fire truck. Papa stiffened and cast his eyes downward, away from the smiling red-suited man waving at us. We each received a brown paper lunch-size bag filled with an orange, an apple, a handful of unshelled nuts, and two or three pieces of hard candy.

Back home, Papa sent my twin and me to bed without a word about the magical evening. I had pleasant dreams that night because he had abandoned his Bah, Humbug attitude and celebrated the spirit of Christmas.

Merry Chistmas Vintage


Ebenezer Scrooge, Bah Humbug, Chowchilla, California, San Joaquin Valley, Christmas, Violet Carr Moore



Filed under Uncategorized

Making Do

Thanks (maybe I should say no thanks) to Lani Longshore blog who nominated me for the Quote Challenge blog hop. My father had a saying for everything. Whether they were his originals, revisions, or compilations of sayings from others, I heard it from him the first time—and many times thereafter.


My father was a frugal, no-frills man. He sold the family car when we moved to a small town in the California San Joaquin Valley during the Great Depression. A mile square, we walked everywhere. The Greyhound bus took us to distant destinations, or we rode with married brothers who kept their automobiles. Our home furnishings were sparse. If we didn’t need it, we didn’t have it.


Elementary school gave free text books and materials, but they stayed in the classroom. At home, my twin and I had a small box of crayons, scissors, and pencils for homework. One project needed glue—something we didn’t have. I greeted Papa with my request as he returned home from his lawn-mowing job. I held the colored cutouts in one hand and the construction paper in the other to demonstrate the unfinished project. “I need a dime to buy glue.”

EducationCrayola stampScissors


Without a cusory glance at my proof, my father said, “If the school didn’t give it to you, make do or do without.”

After eating, the dishes done, Mama made do with a flour and water paste in a small bowl so my twin and I wouldn’t have to do without.

P.S. I donate glue sticks to students at the start of each school year so they won’t have to make do.

Elmer's Glue Sticks

I’ll be back with my second and third quotes. Meanwhile, I nominate these three busy bloggers to accept the Quote Challenge. If they have to decline because of writer overload, it’s worth a click to see where they’ve been and where they’re going next.


Filed under Events, Memoir

Say that again

Pill BottleHeart

In a search for heart medication information, I read this this important warning.

Do not take this medication if you have ever had a heart attack without first consulting your physician.

What if I don’t have time to get my physician’s permission before I call nine one one?

But, of course, the message was a warning that anyone with a history of heart attacks should avoid this medication. It’s a simple case of a misplaced modifier.

How about this twisted sentence?




The new student sat in the corner seat wearing blue running shoes.

Wish I could have seen that chair tying its shoes.

Special thanks to Dr. L. Kip Wheeler, Carson-Newman College, Jefferson, Tennessee for these two hilarious examples of misplaced modifiers.



The robber was described as a six foot-tall man with brown hair and blue eyes and a mustache weighing 150 pounds.

That thief must have had a difficult time carrying the mustache and the loot.


Dog pulling luggage


The time had come to leave at last. Deciding to pack up for college, my dog stared sadly at me as I bustled about the room.

His dog packed up for college? I couldn’t get my dog to put her toys in the box.

My twin and I have spent a few hectic weeks editing short stories for Double Take, our shared memoir about growing up in the California San Joaquin Valley. I know some readers will stumble over that Spanish name, so I decided to insert a simplified hint in the press release.

Vi Parsons and Violet Moore, the Carr Twins, reminisce about their childhood, recounting similar memories of growing up in the agricultural San Joaquin Valley (pronounced san‑ wä‑ˈkēn).

The hint looks out of place following Valley. Where should I add the pronunciation key? I’ll check Wikipedia.

 San Joaquin Valley /ˌsæn hwɑːˈkiːn/

Hmmm. The Wikipedia authors don’t know how to pronounce San Joaquin either.



Filed under Blogging, Editing, Memoir, Reading, Writing