B is for Bonnet #AtoZChallenge

When we were kids, my sisters and I got bonnets when we were on vacation. We read Laura Ingall’s Wilder’s books and we were the biggest fans of the tv series Little House on the Prairie, which aired from 1974-1988. bonnet
We were tolerant of the differences between the books and the tv show because we loved both so much.

One of our favorite things to do was to pretend we were Mary, Laura and Carrie, although my youngest sister was not amused at how much we giggled at the opening of the show and little Carrie’s unfortunate tumble down that hill.

I was always Mary because I was the oldest. I secretly wanted to be Laura but if the truth be told, her fearlessness terrified me and I knew I could never be as courageous as she was. I really was more like Mary.

We would run down hills re-enacting the opening of the show while humming the theme song. Even though we were wearing shorts or jeans, in our heads we wore dresses and petticoats and laced up boots and our bonnets were tied around our necks, flapping against our backs as we ran. We created make shirt covered wagons and rode on endless journeys. I actually wrote Melissa Gilbert (Laura) a fan letter when I was around twelve years old. One of my prized possessions was the signed photograph and form letter I received in return and I’m pretty certain that it is tucked away in a box somewhere. There’s no way I could ever let it go!

Oh how we loved Pa, played by Michael Landon! I’ll never forget that day in 1991, turning on the news as my phone rang… my best friend’s voice distraught as she asked, “Did you hear the news…?” And she didn’t have to finish her question because I was staring at the screen in shock, as if I had just lost my own dad. We loved him so much!

Do you have a favorite childhood book or tv show that brings back fond memories? I would love to hear about it!

-Kat

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The Sound of Music

As I prepared to take my youngest son to a music retreat, I asked if he wanted to pick out some new music for the car ride. I handed him a stack of my lame CD’s, fully expecting him to hand the stack back intact. He surprised me by pulling out The Sound of Music soundtrack. He commented on how he remembers hearing the songs from the movie when he was growing up and thinking it sounded like such a happy movie.

If you are unfamiliar with the movie, (and can I just say- how is this possible? LOL) Wikipedia says it all-

The Sound of Music is a musical with music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II and a book by Howard Lindsayand Russel Crouse. It is based on the memoir of Maria von Trapp, The Story of the Trapp Family Singers. Set in Austria on the eve of the Anschluss in 1938, the musical tells the story of Maria, who takes a job as governess to a large family while she decides whether to become a nun. She falls in love with the children, and eventually their widowed father, Captain von Trapp. He is ordered to accept a commission in the German navy, but he opposes the Nazis. He and Maria decide on a plan to flee Austria with the children. Many songs from the musical have become standards, such as “Edelweiss“, “My Favorite Things“, “Climb Ev’ry Mountain“, “Do-Re-Mi“, and the title song “The Sound of Music“.- Wikipedia

Listening to the CD as we drove brought back so many childhood memories for me. I grew up without cable tv (which we would get in 1981) and people were still deciding whether to get a their tapes on VHS or Betamax for their brand new VCR’s (which was still not until the later 70’s) so without the internet, Netflix, DVD’s, On Demand, Cable….. (the list goes on and on), our only opportunity to see our favorite movies was in theaters or when they finally aired on television. Like my other favorites- The Wizard of Oz and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, my siblings and I had to wait for the annual showing to get our Sound of Music fix.

Before the movie began my siblings and I would gather up our pillows and blankets and bicker over who got the prime spots of laying on the ground in front of the television, which was probably quite small by today’s standards. My mom had this special garlic dip she would whip up, consisting of cream cheese, garlic salt and milk. She would divide it into 4 separate small (empty) butter containers so we could each have our own. Back then potato chips came in a box- 2 bags to a box. Now, these weren’t just any bags- they were made of some wax-like material which my dad just could not open. No matter how hard he tried, he ended up ripping the bag, practically in half, resulting in chips flying all over the place. We each got our own bag of chips and it was up to us to ask Dad or open them ourselves. (I opted for stabbing at the bag with a sharp knife trying to puncture it to gain a hole as a starting part for opening it. Sure, scissors would have been safer but where’s the fun in that?) We would already be in our pj’s because the movie was 3 hours long, and that was without commercials. We got to stay up late to watch it, if we were able to stay awake until the end.

And at long last, it would begin- Maria singing that the hills were alive….

We loved this movie so much. Some years we stayed awake until the end but mostly we didn’t. This was evident when I sat down to watch it with my own children and had to look up how long it was when it seemed to be going on much longer than I remembered. Sure enough, the last half hour was just a vague memory, hardly even remembered by me.

And then came the real fun.

We would spend weeks afterward listening to the record and acting out the movie. We took turns playing Fraulein Maria and the eldest daughter, Liesl. Well, my one sister and I did. We made my youngest sister be the youngest daughter, Gretl. We all glided around with towels on our heads portraying the nuns in the Abbey, trying to solve a problem like Maria. We took turns being Maria and the children singing Do-Re-Mi. We jumped from coach to chair and back again singing My Favorite Things. One of our favorite parts was re-enacting So Long, Farewell. We loved lining up, with each one of us popping out to say “cuckoo” and we were tickled when the audience sang “Goodbye” back to the children. And at the end, we trudged around the basement as we sang our hearts out and climbed every mountain. 

There were so many times during that ride that I wanted to turn off the CD player and share yet another story from my childhood but Andrew has heard them all before. And as I felt the urge to share this here, I started having second thoughts about writing it when which song should happen to play while my music was on shuffle? Edelweiss. That was my sign and so here we are.

I’ll leave you with my favorite children singing-

Are there any movies that take you back to childhood at the opening scene? What are they?

Thanks for sharing this time with me!

-Kat

Looking Back at Suzy Snowflake and Friends

The holiday season tends to bring out a nostalgic feeling in me. You can tell who grew up in the Chicagoland area if they know who Suzy Snowflake or Hardrock, Coco and Joe are. Right now the YouTube videos of these two cartoons are making the rounds on Facebook among all my childhood companions.

“Suzy Snowflake” was a cartoon-short based on the song written in 1951 by Sid Tepper and Roy C. Bennett, and sung by Rosemary Clooney. The cartoon, made in 1953, was aired annually during the Christmas season on WGN-TV in Chicago.

“Hardrock, Coco and Joe” was another cartoon, often paired up with Suzy. This short cartoon was based on a song written by Stuart Hamblen. It tells the story of three of Santa’s helpers who ride on his sleigh. While Hardrock and Coco have duties, the littlest- Joe does not but he’s brought along because Santa loves him. He is the cutest and his very deep voice only adds to his charm.

Before the day and age of videos and cable, my siblings and I would wait in anticipation for these to air on tv because that meant it was most definitely the holiday season. We never tired of them. By the time we saw them, they were already 15+ years old but I don’t remember thinking anything about the choppiness or black and white film. If anything, it made me love them even more. I’m not even sure when I realized that they weren’t seen across the US. I was probably an adult at that point and I felt bad that everyone had missed out on these gems. 😉 These two short videos were an important part of my childhood. They bring back memories of happy times with my sisters and brother. We spent so much of our time either watching tv or re-enacting what we had seen. It was a simpler time. (I sound like I’m 90, don’t I?)

Are there any shows that remind you of your childhood Christmases?