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Susan Sleggs

Flash Fiction and personal thoughts

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BabyBoomer

Trees in My Life – memoir

Irene Waters asked writers to share memoir about trees. Following is the link if you want to join the fun. She asks for our generation and location so we can compare differences.

Trees: Times Past

Baby Boomer from rural western New York State.
Currently I look out our family room window and delight at the action of many different kinds of birds that visit the feeders. The Niger seeds and suet hang from a crabapple tree. There is a “fake tree” everyone perches on made from large branches stuck into the hole in a patio table (where the umbrella would go) and a large cedar that wiggles constantly because there are so many sparrows and other birds perched in/on it. Keeping the feeders full is a daily job, but the entertainment is worth every penny the seed costs.
In the 1950’s and 60’s my parents owned an acre of pine trees that my grandfather had planted to sell for Christmas trees. As the youngest of four girls I can remember going “out to the woods” to cut our Christmas tree. They were not trimmed like today so looked a bit scraggly and were soon to big to be used. Then the trees became the play area for the town children. Both boys and girls had separate forts. Our mother’s would scold us for getting pine pitch on our clothes.
From my sister Paula… “I think Tilley (our cat) would spy on me when I climbed trees and checked on bird nests. Then they would get robbed!!
Joanne and I played, for hours, out in the back left corner. There was a pussy willow tree there we cut branches from each year.
I knew the whole area very well and ventured farther out back, across fields (don’t know who owned them) and on into Uncle Louie’s woods where he had an old sugar shack. On one of my walks I saw a beautiful Snowy Owl. Dee (Our dachshund) would go with me and dig up baby mice and voles, and eat them!
One warm afternoon, Joanne came looking for me and asked, ‘WHAT ARE YOU DOING OUT HERE?’ I was lying on the ground, watching the clouds float by and listening to birds and bugs singing…… near a pile of fence row trees that had been bulldozed up to make more space for growing crops. Dee loved snooping all through the brush and would chase rabbits, howling as they scooted away, because she couldn’t keep up.”
Trees have always been an important part of my life, like good friends.
Thank you Irene for the walk down memory lane.

Remembering High School Graduation

High School Graduation: Times Past

Was high school graduation a big event for you or did it pass unnoticed. As a city baby boomer high school graduation was not an event that my school, at least, made much of a fuss about. I believe that this may have well have changed with different generations and certainly by geography. I know from the American television shows (Gidget, Happy Days and numerous movies) that in the States high school graduation was quite different to what mine was.

My memoir:

Baby Boomer, rural central school in western New York state, graduation 1971

A central school in the sates means it services multiple towns. I attended K – 12 in the same sprawling building with essentially the same 60 students all 13 years. There was a Catholic school that fed us about ten students at the start of seventh grade. We not only knew each other, we knew the whole family and pets too.

Up until my junior year I was one of the popular kids and included in their activities. My mother had gotten sick during my freshman year and my grades fell so my senior year I was in classes with students I knew, but had never been close with. Mom died November of my senior year and that distanced me further from the “crowd.” I recently talked to a high school classmate, first time in 45 years, and she told me, “We didn’t know what to say, so we didn’t talk to you.” It’s nice to know, finally, it wasn’t all me. I’m really glad there are now grief counselors and people talk about death and it’s repercussions.

Graduation itself was cap and gown with Sunday best underneath. Each student was limited to five tickets because of the size of the auditorium. People with large families had a problem with that. My father, who until my mother’s death had rarely attended anything to do with school, was there, along with my Aunt, my older sister and her boyfriend, and my boyfriend. Dad reached in his suit pocket and pulled out his reading glasses that we had been searching the house for on a daily basis. We had a good laugh, the last time he had worn his suit was at mother’s funeral. He probably said something like, “Guess I should dress more often.”

I received a $200.00 award for having the highest average of a student entering a near-by two-year college. A couple of my fellow male students kidded me they would have done more homework if they had known there was money to be had. It felt good to be ahead of them for once.

My guests and I went back to my aunts to cut a celebratory cake and that was that.

 

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