I took pictures of some of our Christmas decorations thinking I would do several posts during Advent. But between medical appointments and the occasional bad days, Christmas in less than two weeks and my daughter’s wedding in less than three weeks – it looks like it isn’t going to happen. Maybe I can squeeze in one or two ….?
My husband and I married in the spring of 1975 and celebrated our first Christmas together that year. We got a little Charlie Brown Christmas tree that we decorated with a popcorn garland and some tinsel. One of the craft trends at the time was making things out of bread dough. You can see a few of our cookie cutter bread dough ornaments hanging on the tree. They lasted for several years, but they are all gone now.
But what I really intended to write about was the gift we received from my mother.
Mom crocheted a tree skirt for us that we have used every year now for 38 years and it is just as lovely today as it was the day we received it.
As I look closely at this picture I see that the skirt is wrong side up. There isn’t really much difference and I’m probably the only one who would notice. Did I mention that some really special Christmas elves came to my house a week ago to set up my tree and help me decorate? What a gift that was!
The last time I was at my parents’ house and going through papers and magazines and pictures like I always do looking for family history gold, I found the instructions Mom used to make the tree skirt. The November 1975 issue of The Workbasket magazine had been folded open to reveal this picture. Otherwise I might have passed right over it.
The opposite page provided the instructions.
I can’t remember for sure if Mom gave us these knitted bells at the same time as the tree skirt or the following year. I love the little red bells and space them carefully throughout the other tree decorations.
It seems like I have stumbled upon the instructions for these bells at one time or another. If I find them again, I’ll add them here.
Another year Mom gave us some Christmas coasters made from the same yarn.
Every year, out come the decorations mom made for us with Christmas Green and Christmas Red yarn and the work of her hands. They set the stage for sticking with red and green as our seasonal colors of choice. And they set the stage for enjoying any and all DIY decorations. Ours may not be a tree (or a house) worthy of Southern Living Magazine, but it would do The Workbasket Magazine proud.
I started writing about more of the Christmas decorations that have Mom’s handprint all over them, but decided this would get too long, so I’m going to try to do a few shorter posts. Hope I get them done!
A little update about me if you are interested… My 6th and last chemotherapy for this phase of treatment for lymphoma is tomorrow – Monday, December 16th. Then I’ll be having some tests to see how effective the treatment has been and to determine if I am ready for a stem cell transplant. The transplant should happen in mid-January. Can’t say that I am looking forward to it, but how can I not look forward to it? A transplant increases my chances for long-term survival from 5-10% without transplant to 50% with transplant. Much better odds! I appreciate the prayers and well-wishes I have received from my blogging friends! If you feel so inclined, you can email me at abbieandeveline at gmail dot com.
I asked all branches of the family to send me their memories of JFK. My memories are here. Memories from the Webber branch of the family are here. Today’s edition are those I received from the Hockensmith family (my steps) and the Morales family (my in-laws).
My memory of the JFK assassination is more about me than the “big picture”. I was pregnant, had gone for my doctor appointment in Junction City, KS. for what I hoped was my last appointment before Alice was born. The receptionist (a Mrs. Eisenhower who was the widow of President Eisenhower’s brother Roy, a pharmacist in Junction City), was quite upset and told me as I was leaving that President Kennedy had been shot. We were glued to our little black and white TV for days.
On the following Sunday, after Church and Sunday dinner, I had taken a nap. When I wakened, Bill told me that Jack Ruby had shot and killed Lee Harvey Oswald. I just remember the news showing the two shootings over and over. AND—I waited two more weeks for the birth of our daughter, Alice.
I guess the uniqueness of my story is my “connection” with 2 presidents that day.
I’ve pieced together the following from talking to my husband, calling my mother-in-law, emails from my husband’s siblings and a little internet research….
As a Catholic Italian-American family, my husband’s family was very happy about the election of John F. Kennedy as President. The women especially – my husband’s great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother – were quite taken with him.
Rick (my husband’s brother) and I remember that Nana (their ggrandmother Tenna Mamola Parlati) had a picture of JFK displayed in her home. My husband, Martin, assembled and painted many a plastic model (mostly airplanes) as a child and made a model of JFK sitting in a rocking chair for Nana. There a few for sale on ebay today – with quite a wide range of prices!
I found these two pictures clipped from the newspaper and glued to cardboard (probably for display purposes) among some of the family memorabilia.
Martin thinks they belonged to his grandmother, Angela Parlati Loverde, or Nana. They were clipped from The Houston Post published Friday, November 22, 1963 – the day of Kennedy’s death. The photos were taken during Kennedy’s visit to Houston on Thursday, Nov. 21st, 1963. Of course, the paper was printed and delivered hours before the shooting in Dallas.
Martin’s 4th Grade Class 1962-63
Both Martin and his sister, Janet, remember walking from the house where Nana and their grandmother and grandfather Loverde lived to Rice University to see President Kennedy. It was September 22, 1962 and JFK was about to give his famous speech to get the country behind him in supporting the space program. Martin was 9 and Janet was 7, so their memories of the day are a little vague. Their mother was with them and possibly his great-aunt Rosie and a couple of other women in the family.
They all remember watching the car driving down Main Street close to Herman Park and into the parking lot at Rice Stadium and watching JFK and LBJ sitting up on the back of the convertible. My husband took a home movie with their 8mm camera, but we unfortunately don’t have access to it right now. (We think it is in storage while brother Rick is building a new house.)
Rice stadium is quite large so the stands were not filled, although newspaper accounts report that 40,000 people were in attendance. The President was scheduled to speak at 10:00 a.m. and it was apparently a hot and steamy day. Classes had not yet started at Rice University, but incoming freshman were on campus for orientation. Reports say that the stands were mostly filled with young people – the incoming Rice students as well as bus loads of high school and elementary school children.
Martin and Janet don’t remember much except for being in the large stadium, far away from the President, and the crowd of people. Their mother said that the president’s complexion look reddish/ruddy to her – something she said you wouldn’t notice in the mostly black and white photographs of the time. The following video contains snippets of the speech, the context of the speech, and photos from the day.
Martin’s mother said she heard that the president had been shot while shopping with her mother at Craig’s Department Store in the Village – a retail area also known as Rice Village because of the proximity to Rice University. She doesn’t know if there was a radio on or if people were talking about it and they overheard. They left and went home and started watching the coverage on TV.
Martin and Janet learned about the President’s death at school. Janet said: My memory is of watching the funeral on TV and Mom crying. The other thing that has always stuck in my mind was that I was sitting in my 4th grade class at Holy Ghost (Mrs. Agnes class) and they announced it over the intercom. One of the boys in my class – Larry Corti turned red in the face and ran out of the classroom crying.
Nana, Janet and Martin 1955
Like nearly everyone else in the country, the family was glued to the television set until the funeral was over. Martin’s mom especially remembers how they all saw Jack Ruby shoot Lee Harvey Oswald live on TV.
And there were a lot of tears. Martin’s youngest sister, Marilyn, was not born at the time, but had heard that her mom and Nana had cried about it for weeks. When I talked to my MIL today, I asked if she had been watching all of the 50th anniversary specials that have been on this week. Of course, she had, and had been brought to tears again. Long after President Kennedy died, my husband painted a plaster bust for his mother and it is still displayed in her home.
I also found a publication from Holy Ghost School devoted to student writing after the death of President Kennedy. Neither Martin nor Janet have a contribution included, but it provides a look into the thoughts of these young people attending a Catholic school in Houston, TX as they reflected on the death of their president.
I’m linking this to Sepia Saturday, so I’ll include today’s prompt picture and encourage you to visit the other participants.
I asked all of the branches of my family to send me their memories of President Kennedy and of his death. I shared my memories in a previous post. Here are the memories I received from the Webber (my paternal grandmother) side of the family – in the order in which I received them. (I have added photos and video clips.)
Bea Webber Haskins: I was in a large lecture hall, one of those tiered rooms, at the University of Maryland, College Park. I don’t remember what class. All of a sudden, there was a gasp from someone way up high in the back. The professor stopped and asked very sarcastically if he was interrupting someone. A girl’s voice said, very haltingly and seriously, “Oh, my God. The President. The President. He’s been shot.” In the stunned silence that followed, the professor said something like, “How do you know?” or “What are you talking about,” something like that. She held up a transistor radio and said she was sorry, but she had been listening to it during the lecture and this news was just announced. The professor, to his credit, realized the student was not fooling around and asked her to bring her radio to the front, where he turned it up as loud as he could so we could all hear it. I don’t know if he dismissed us or if an announcement came over the P.A. system, or what, but eventually we left. Classes were cancelled and it was almost time for the Thanksgiving break. My then boyfriend, later husband, picked me up. He was not a Kennedy fan, but he was as saddened by the assassination as I was.
Photo credit: By ArnoldReinhold (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
Tom’s parents – Woodrow Wilson Webber and Orville Kessler
The election of 1960 when JFK was elected was the first one I remember. I would have been 6 at that time, and Dad took me with him when he went to vote after work. I have dim memories of a long voting line and feeling very excited about getting to go along. I was 9 years old and in the 4th grade in November 1963 and can remember learning about President Kennedy being killed from my teacher in school that day after lunch. I don’t remember much about the discussion except for one boy saying that when he first heard about it he thought it was a bad joke.
I had forgotten that the assassination was on a Friday, but that would explain why I have a sense of time sort of standing still and not going back to school until after the funeral which was on the following Monday when school was cancelled. By that time we had a TV in the house, and I watched all the funeral coverage – including of course the iconic images of the funeral procession with the riderless horse, the flag draped casket and the Kennedy family with JFK, Jr. saluting the casket.
Wilda’s “Vava” – Myron D. Webber and Dorinda Webber (my ggrandparents)
I graduated from high school in 1957 and went to American University in Washington DC to study political science. I grew up under the influence of Vava (Grandfather Webber), so of course I joined the Young Democrats (Vava named his youngest daughter Woodrow Wilson Webber; that is pretty strong evidence of his political proclivities).
In the fall of 1960, the Young Democrats succeeded in arranging for John F. Kennedy to speak briefly on campus on October 7, the same day as his second televised debate with Richard Nixon. I was, of course, in the crowd of excited students listening to and cheering Kennedy. I was also among a small group of American U students who headed up Nebraska Avenue to WRC-TV, the NBC station where the Kennedy-Nixon debate took place. We stood along the
street by the driveway into the station and eagerly awaited the arrival of both candidates. Security wasn’t nearly as strict in those days as it is now. I could have reached out and touched Kennedy’s and Nixon’s cars when they arrived (though of course I didn’t). After the candidates went into the station, we returned to campus and watched the debate on the TV in the lounge of a dorm (In those days students did not have TV sets in their dorm rooms.).
The 1960 election was the first presidential election in which I was eligible to vote. After I received my absentee ballot from Johnson County, Iowa, I went with a Republican friend to vote and have our ballots notarized. If my memory is correct, we did that at the Registrar’s Office. We joked about cancelling each other out, though we were voting in different states.
There were evidently not many Iowans vying for tickets to the Kennedy inauguration. At any rate, my Congressman responded favorably to my request for a ticket. I had to pick it up at his office the day before the inauguration. On that day, eight inches of snow fell in D.C., more that DC knows how to handle! A lot of cars were abandoned, and traffic was a mess. It took longer than I expected to get to the Capitol Office Building, but I succeeded in getting my ticket. Standing on a street corner, waiting for a bus that would take me back to campus, I got very cold. I decided it would be better to walk than just stand there. I hiked the bus route, so I could catch the next bus, but it was a long time before one got through.
My roommate had two reserved-seat tickets to the inaugural parade. The temperature had dropped drastically so she decided she did not want to go. A friend (whose name I cannot recall) and I were happy to receive the tickets. My friend did not have a ticket to the inauguration itself, but she stuck close to me. Whenever I had to show my ticket to go through a gate, she just followed me in. No one stopped her. My ticket was for a standing-room section—we had to stand through the whole ceremony, including the new president’s speech. But we were so happy to be there that we didn’t complain. The standing room area was pretty crowded, which helped keep us warm.
After the ceremony, my friend and I walked up Pennsylvania to find our seats. We were quite fortunate, for the seats were in front of the US Treasury Building, just east of the White House. As the parade approached our seats, every act came alive. The bands began to play their best songs. Everything designed for the delight of the new president and his family happened within our view. With our coats buttoned up, our scarves tied tightly, gloved hands in our pockets, and our legs wrapped in blankets, we stayed through the entire parade.
I graduated from American University in 1961, but stayed in DC for the summer, working fulltime in the Registrar’s Office. I met Edgar Morris briefly on the last Monday evening of the summer—shortly before we both started graduate school at the University of Illinois. After we were married on August 31, 1963, we moved to College Park, Maryland, because Ed had a job at the National Bureau of Standards. As a result, we were back in the Washington area at the time of the assassination of President Kennedy. I was at home, straightening up the apartment and listening to the radio when I heard the terrible news. I called Ed at work to tell him, but I think he had heard the news there. I remember the radio playing mournful music between updates. The Bureau of Standards closed and Ed came home early. This was the first big shared sorrow of our married life.
Ed and I went to DC to watch the procession that transferred the President’s body from the White House to the Capitol Building. We had the sense that we were witnessing a tragic piece of history as the riderless horse passed by.
Howard and Sue Rees who worked with Baptist students in the DC area knew we were pretty distraught by the president’s death. They also knew we didn’t own a TV, so they invited us to their home to watch the funeral with their family. Had it been just me, I might have gone downtown in hopes of seeing some of the world leaders who came for the funeral. Some of our friends from Calvary Baptist Church did go to the vicinity of Saint Matthew’s Roman Catholic Church, and saw Charles de Gaulle and Haile Selassie, as well as others who attended the service. We only saw them on TV.
I lost some of my naiveté and some of my optimism when Kennedy was assassinated. Before the assassination, I don’t think I believed things like that still happened—they were part of history but not the present. Would that it were so!
Yvonne’s Grandmother Dorinda Webber
On that November 22, I was at my sorority house in Iowa City eating lunch in the dining room downstairs when our house mother came into the doorway and said, “Girls, the president has been shot.” It is a freeze-frame moment for me. We all went up to her apartment and huddled around the TV. Another memory I have is that soon after he was killed, I took my Grandmother Webber for a ride in our car. I remember her weeping and saying, “It’s like losing a member of the family.”
P.S. It’s not too late to share your memories, Webber (or any other branch) family. I’ll just add them on.
And any other readers – please share your memories too!
I’m linking this to Sepia Saturday as it fits the prompt theme for today.
Please feel free to read my personal memories of JFK here and my memories of the space shuttle Challenger disaster here.