Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Equal Time for the Armstrongs!

As mentioned in an earlier blog, Mom has two sisters, Marion and Doris. Marion and Arthur had 7 children, Stephen, Lynne, Jeannie, Arthur, Paul, Jimmy and Trisha. There was always fun in store when the Armstrongs came to visit, at least for us kids! Now Mom, I'm sure she might have had another opinion! It's not that she didn't love her sister and nieces and nephews (and still does!)-it was just "different". See, Mom and Dad still have the furniture pieces they bought when we were a young family, 60+ years ago. It wasn't like there was a velvet rope keeping the living and dining room "off-limits"-it was just clear to the four of us that the play room or family room was were we belong unless it was a special occasion. The living room was "the one room in the house where we can entertain our friends without kids". Well, all that flew out the window when Marion and our cousins arrived, and we loved it!
We'd cheer (and Mom would probably cringe) when the green VW bus pulled in the driveway! Out they'd pop one after another with Auntie Marion following behind. Mom used to say that before the last one made it from the van to the house, Paul would have been standing on the kitchen counters going through cupboards looking for something to eat! Auntie Marion always brought lunch for her brood, a loaf of Wonder bread, mayo, some lettuce, and one can of tuna! Yes, one can! And somehow that can, (some what like the loaves and fishes) was able to make a lot of tuna sandwiches! Then after lunch we'd play and run like wild Indians from room to room and in and out--pounding on the piano (we were NEVER allowed to do that!) and having a grand time until it was time for them to go! Mom probably had a giant headache by then and I'm sure we all beat feet outside to stay out of the way until she recovered!
Much more fun than them coming to our house, was going to theirs! They lived and still do, in a cape in Plantsville CT. And with so many kids it was always an adventure to be part of their gang! Auntie Marion, just to help you get the picture worked nights as a nurse in the ER of the local hospital as a "break" and some "peace and quiet!" And not just from the kids, Uncle Arthur was a riot too! He smoked a big stogie cigar (when he could get away with it!) and at all special family occasions, especially with little coaxing from a few beers or family members would recite the complete version of Casey at the Bat from memory! Some random memories from the Armstrong's house--Lynne sitting on the window ledge of the second story bedroom window screaming to the neighbors she was gong to jump because she was mad at her father, Paul got permission to paint the his bedroom and choose the color--he chose black--and painted walls, ceiling, floor and all furniture (and maybe the windows, too)! Auntie Marion once got so mad at Uncle Arthur for having to wait for him to put a new window in the bathroom, one day she just got fed up and while he was at work she sawed a hole in the bathroom wall so he'd HAVE to put in the window! Stephen, of course, being the oldest and most responsible at an early age would save his money from jobs for things he wanted--that is when the rest of them didn't steal the money! I remember he saved up for a transistor radio when they were all the rage and Paul decided the batteries needed to be "heated up " so it would work better and put it on the gas stove and melted the whole thing! At Joanne's wedding, and all grown up, Paul was doing some kind of "funky dance" of his own creation and ripped the entire crotch out of his pants--did it stop him? No way--he danced on in the video with underwear showing for the whole party! Wonderful memories that are all part of our terrific, crazy, loving, family. But not all memories are happy ones--sadly for all who love and miss them, Uncle Arthur, Stephen, and Paul have passed away. Auntie Marion even placed a couple of big cigars in Uncle Arthur's suit pocket--I'm sure he appreciated that--she wanted to put them in his hand, but was afraid the priest might be offended! Their memories live on though, and I'm sure they are up in heaven creating some new ones to share with us all some day when we are together again! Sometimes when I'm outside all alone, I even think I hear a little "Casey" in a soft breeze. XOX
Until next time, (remember no one is safe!) Nancy

1 comment:

  1. Nancy...I LOVE this post!

    " The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville nine that day;
    The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play,
    And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
    A pall-like silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

    A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
    Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
    They thought, "If only Casey could but get a whack at that —
    We'd put up even money now, with Casey at the bat."

    But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,
    And the former was a hoodoo, while the latter was a cake;
    So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat;
    For there seemed but little chance of Casey getting to the bat.

    But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
    And Blake, the much despised, tore the cover off the ball;
    And when the dust had lifted, and men saw what had occurred,
    There was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.

    Then from five thousand throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
    It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
    It pounded on the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
    For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

    There was ease in Casey's manner as he stepped into his place;
    There was pride in Casey's bearing and a smile lit Casey's face.
    And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
    No stranger in the crowd could doubt 'twas Casey at the bat.

    Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt.
    Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.
    Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
    Defiance flashed in Casey's eye, a sneer curled Casey's lip.

    And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
    And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
    Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped —
    "That ain't my style," said Casey. "Strike one!" the umpire said.

    From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
    Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore;
    "Kill him! Kill the umpire!" shouted some one on the stand;
    And it's likely they'd have killed him had not Casey raised his hand.

    With a smile of Christian charity great Casey's visage shone;
    He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
    He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the dun sphere flew;
    But Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said "Strike two!"

    "Fraud!" cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered "Fraud!"
    But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
    They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
    And they knew that Casey wouldn't let that ball go by again.

    The sneer has fled from Casey's lip, the teeth are clenched in hate;
    He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
    And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
    And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey's blow.

    Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright,
    The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
    And somewhere men are laughing, and little children shout;
    But there is no joy in Mudville — mighty Casey has struck out."