Tag Archives: Violet’s Vibes

Treasure Hunters

The Gulf Coast was my break in the cycle of work, home, and community responsibilities. I always chose a room with a patio facing the water. The evening sound of lapping waves lulled me to sleep. I woke refreshed, eager for a morning walk in the crisp fall air. I inhaled the smell of the sea, felt the brush of the wind on my face, and tried to sidestep the debris washed up from high tide while I searched for unique seashells. On the nearly deserted fall weekends, I encountered a beach walker swinging a metal detector side to side across the white sand. Treasure hunters. Dreamers, hoping to find something valuable as a reward for their early morning trek.

When I returned to California after what seemed a lifetime in the South, there were no quiet moments on serene beaches. Overcrowded, the rocky shores were for the adventurous. That’s when I became a different type of treasure hunter.

I browsed flea markets and antique stores away from the beach crowds. My goal was not rare coins or other valuables. I rescued old photos with identifying information. My goal was not to collect or sell the photos but to search for descendants of the stray picture.

I still have one unclaimed photo on my bookshelf. Even my twin, a family researcher, could not unearth the history of the mysterious girl in the photo. She rests on a bookshelf surrounded by memorabilia. I’m tempted to donate this photo along with other mementos to a local thrift shop, but she is a reminder that somewhere, someone may be searching for this special treasure.

Are you a treasure hunter? A puzzle solver? Or maybe—top of my treasure list—maybe this is your ancestor. She stands outside, her feet on a rug hastily thrown over tall grass, as though the photographer wasted no time in setup. But perhaps this was a special event for her like a birthday or school graduation.


Faint penciled words at the top on gray cardstock are illegible except for something that resembles a price in the upper right corner. Identification handwriting on the center back looks like ink retraced over penciled words.

Goldie Burleigh

189_ [illegible year erasure/rewritten, possibly 1891 or 1892] – Aug 13

14 years old


Are you searching for this treasured photo of Goldie? If not, reblog to help her find her family. She is ready to come home.




Filed under Events, Memoir

Holiday and Holy Days

In a July 4 post, I mentioned that my father did not like holidays. I suppose a more appropriate word would have been didn’t celebrate those days. It wasn’t his religious faith (our church recognized the main religious celebrations) or that he didn’t like the food. His philosophy was to treat every day the same. Or so he told me. But Sunday was always different at our house.

No work on Sunday, a holy day. None. Nada. Zero. If something broke, an emergency fix held it until Monday. No cleaning beyond mopping up a spill or a quick sweep of the broom to pick up food crumbs after a meal. Mama cooked Sunday dinner on Saturday. Foods that could be refrigerated and eaten cold—fried chicken or ham, potato salad, deviled eggs—or foods that could be warmed on the gas stove burners. Sunday was a quiet day at home. Church first followed by lunch.

We wore our church clothes all day, so resting, napping, writing letters, reading, listening to gospel music or preachers on the radio, and light play for children were the acceptable activities. Then leftovers for dinner before we departed for Sunday evening church. My father frowned when we skipped Sunday evening church with him and Mama to go to an amusement park while on vacation in Missouri, but he didn’t punish our defiance.  Ah, the taste of freedom.

My mother continued most of the Sunday traditions after my father died that fall. “It would be disrespectful to his memory not to,” she said. Energetic twin teens changed that. We tried to keep the morning and evening church schedule with Mama, but we visited neighbors or friends on Sunday—sometimes in church clothes, sometimes not—and we abandoned Sunday quiet times.

And holy days and holidays, no matter what day of the week, became our favorite times to get away from home.


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Filed under Holidays, Memoir, Reading, Writing

Man on the Moon

Today, July 20, 2019, marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. As many reflect on this historic event, I remember well the day of the blast off from Cape Canaveral on July 16, 1969.

My mother was visiting with me in my new home in the planned community of Irvine, California, on launch day. Before I left for work that morning, I showed her how to change TV channels so she could see the best views of the Saturn V rocket liftoff with astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and Michael Collins.

Televisions and radios were taboo at the Santa Ana bank where I worked on the lower floor of the three-levels with no reprieve even for this historic event. But we received glowing reports from what customers had told employees on the main banking level. My anticipation of watching a news replay kept me moving all day. That is, until the Santa Ana Freeway (Interstate 5 South) presented its evening snarl.

I pulled my car into the garage and scampered through the connecting door to the living room. I sat on the couch beside my mother just as a replay showed the rocket launch followed by Walter Cronkite’s words, “What a moment! Man on the way to the moon!”

“Those poor boys,” Mother said with a headshake. “That’s the fourth time they’ve sent them off today.”




Filed under Events, Memoir

Whose birthday celebration?

My Independence Day memories zero in on waterside family picnics. Married brothers and brothers-in-law carried ice chests through weeds, across rocks, toward a flatter surface of gravel and gritty sand. Gladys, my oldest brother’s wife, stepped carefully while she guarded a homemade birthday cake for James, her third child. The other ladies carrying fried chicken, bowls of potato salad, plates of deviled eggs, and other picnic foods dodged children, including me, who were dashing unencumbered toward the gentle river. Children frolicked in the water while the ladies spread the food and shooed away the flies. A few fellas tried their hands at fishing upstream of the children, but a fish fry seldom happened.

One Fourth of July when James was about nine or ten, the family scattered different places, some with in-law families, some with friends. Some, like James’s father, chose to do farm work, then grill burgers and hot dogs in the evening. James was devastated.

“But what about my birthday picnic?”

“We’ll have cake at home after supper,” his mother said. “Just us.”

“But, school’s out for the summer, and the whole family always takes off work because it’s my birthday.”

Gladys shook her head in dismay. “Fourth of July was the birthday of the United States long before you were born. We don’t work on the Fourth of July because it’s a holiday.”

“You mean like Jesus’s birthday when we all eat at Grandma Carr’s on Christmas day? Not because July 4 is my birthday?”

         Find A Grave Photo


This Fourth of July, I decorated my front porch railing with wired flag ribbon and secured a hand-size flag to my metal security door with a white chenille wrap. I lunched alone at In-N-Out Burger. This evening, I watched the city fireworks from the sidewalk a half-block from home surrounded by people I don’t know shrouded in the darkness. My last thoughts as I returned home was how that simplicity might have been James’s choice if he were still living.


Happy birthday, America!







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Filed under Events, Holidays, Memoir

June bugs, Little Orphan Annie, and Leapin’ Lizards

It is the month of June,
The month of leaves and roses,
When pleasant sights salute the eyes,
And pleasant scents the noses.

Nathaniel Parker Willis

Mr. Willis didn’t mention June bugs. Perhaps because he was a Yankee (no offensive intended) who spent much of his time in New York.

Wikipedia defines a June bug: “Cotinis nitida, commonly known as the green June beetle, June bug or June beetle, is a beetle of the family Scarabaeidae.”

My dislike of June bugs is not poetic. They left June, the month of leaves and roses, with an unpleasant sight to my eyes—devastation in my garden.

They hid in the daylight, waiting until I went inside in the evenings to can or freeze the vegetables I had harvested. They targeted me when I rested on the front porch swing. They swarmed toward the floodlight when I ventured to the back yard to dump the trash. But I finally rid myself of those pests. Not with pesticides. By moving to Northern California.

I propped open my front door to enjoy the fresh air. Leapin’ Lizards! James Whitcomb Riley never put Little Orphan Annie in danger like this. I am invaded by geckos. The late spring rains push the lizards inside to dry comfort. Not the cute little critter from the insurance company ads. Skinny, from babies to foot-longs, they slip through the smallest gap where my security screen door doesn’t reach the metal threshold.

I haven’t seen an alligator since I departed Louisiana. I’m grateful my insect-eating invaders are petite compared to this AP news article about a full-size Florida reptile with an appetite for red wine.




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Filed under Events, Memoir

Flying Holiday Flags

My father disliked holidays. My mother cherished them. My father’s rule was to treat every day equal. Mama made holidays something to remember. Not with elaborate decorations but from basics.

On New Year’s Day, we ate black-eyed peas and ham hocks with cornbread. Maybe because of Mama’s superstitious ways. Probably because there was no work for farm hands in the winter and that was the cheapest menu that would spread to two meals. I suppose the flag flew over the local post office and City Hall to declare it a holiday, but we didn’t venture out on that cold day.

The next month brought Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on February 12 and George Washington’s birthday on the 22nd. Flags flew again, on each day, declaring it a holiday, a day to stay home from school.

Spring brought Easter. Mama gathered eggs from our backyard chicken pen for several days. On Saturday, she filled an aluminum canning pot with water and carried it to the old gas range. She deposited the eggs one by one and hardboiled them. She rinsed the cooked eggs in the kitchen sink and spread them to dry on flour sack dishtowels on the mottled gray linoleum countertop. While the eggs cooled, she arranged a row of cups.  She filled the cups halfway with water, dropped one round colored tablet into each, and stirred until she achieved colors worthy of celebration. Hours later, the colored eggs rested in two Easter baskets, ready to be hidden in the yard for our personal egg hunt. Lots of fun but no flags.

On Decoration Day, we rode to the local cemetery with a brother-in-law to watch the somber task ahead. Young World War II veterans and a few survivors of World War I placed American flags on each veteran’s gravesite. A ceremony followed at ten o’clock. We listened to more somber words. Marines marched in precision, flower arrangements peeking between shined black shoes as they passed civilian graves along the paved route.

“Why, Mama?” I asked. “Why do those graves get flowers instead of flags?”

“Because it’s Decoration Day,” she said.

“It’s called Memorial Day now,” my brother-in-law said.

“Who named it that?” I asked.

“The gov’ment,” Mama said.

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson established June 14 as Flag Day. Not a holiday, but our neighbors displayed flags from the size on veterans’ graves to five-footers angled from flagpoles on porches. We would have joined them if we had owned a flag.

“Why all the flags? Is this another Decoration Day?” I asked.

“No, it’s Flag Day,” Mama said.

“Who named it that?”

“The gov’ment,” she said.

Armistice Day on November 11, brought another federal holiday. A somber tribute to the end of World War I in 1918 brought more parades and flags.

Today, May 27, 2019, is Memorial Day in the U.S. I clipped a six-inch flag to my door. There are no parades in the city where I live now. A few people will gather at the local cemeteries for brief ceremonies, a few words from a city official, and a military-style presentation of flags. Boaters fill the lake south of the city. Picnickers lounge in the sun, if it appears on this cloudy day. On the west side of town bordering a neighboring city, the freeway and city streets near the premium brands outlet mall are jammed with cars and tour buses transporting shoppers, some visiting from as far away as Asia.

Wait. Who moved Decoration Day from May 30 to the last Monday of May and renamed it Memorial Day?

My mother’s words echo the answer.

“The gov’ment.”



Filed under Events, Holidays, Memoir

Discount Exclusions, Limitations, and Stratagems

Discount coupons abound. Most are accompanied by limitations such as “Limit one total purchase discount per transaction.” Some say “No photocopies” or “Reproductions not accepted.” Most say “Must be surrendered at time of transaction.” That fancy phrase means you have to give the coupon to the store associate. Then there’s the familiar phrase, “Excludes clearance items.”

But wait! It gets more complicated. There’s a list of other items that don’t qualify for the discount. Here’s a sample quoted from a craft store $5 off coupon (capitalization is theirs).

“Offer excludes clearance items; doorbusters; previous purchases; all gift cards; classes; custom & personalization services; Sample Swatches; all patterns; irons & steamers; AccuQuilt Go!® products; sewing machines & sewing machine department merchandise; remnants; all cutting and laminating machines & accessories; all Cricut® products; all cameras, film, printers & accessories; Hatchimals™; LEGO®, LOL & other kids’ products; all magazines; all As Seen on TV items; all Purchase with Purchase & Gift with Purchase items.”

What is that Purchase with Purchase tongue twister?

And don’t forget the “Taxes not included” disclaimer.

The stratagem ($5 off) is part of a battle plan to get me into the store. It’s similar to the first paragraph of a book that compels me to turn the page. Both are like fishing. I am lured by the discount. I’m hooked. Browsing turns to buying.

I’ve become a master of using discount coupons, (I used the $5 off coupon in the knitting department), but I don’t dare read beyond the cover of a full-price book.




Filed under Rants and Raves, Reading