The title of this blog is probably misleading, but it’s the best I’ve got this morning. I’ve had my first cup of coffee as the television keeps me company. About every third commercial had a dog or cat in it, and these ads made me think of my friends and their pets.
Most every day I tell Ernie he is the cutest pug in the world. He’s so lovable. As you can see, he really hams it up once we put on a silly hat or other apparatus on his head. His happiest time is when he’s sitting on my lap or Ken’s lap. He is content to just be near us. At eight years old, he could care less if he plays. He doesn’t even want to chew on rawhide bones any more.
Yesterday I visited with Jackie who took in a boy Maine Coon cat who has quite a personality. She is the process of moving and “Poe” is totally confused because she keeps eliminating his hiding places. She said he looked at her when he went to one of his favorite spots and it had vanished. He let out a loud “meow” as if to say, “What the heck?”
Then there’s my friend Kay who recently took in three stray cats to go with her one house cat. Yes, she has four cats, and no, she’s not nuts. She moved to Florida last year and has found the move more difficult than she ever imagined. I believe the universe sent her these three little boys to keep her laughing and happy. If you have cats, you know you don’t need any other entertainment when a kitten is in the house.
I think we all have these little creatures in our lives because none of us has any grandchildren. Our pets fill a deep seated need to spread our love onto some little being. We always talk about our four-legged children, catching each other up on the latest antics of our pets. A little crazy? I suppose. But that’s okay. When our animals follow us from room to room, none of us feel alone. These little souls give us unconditional love just what we all need.
APPLE PIE AND STRUDEL GIRLS – Book 2
Lacrosse, Wisconsin – June, 1939—A few weeks into her summer vacation, Donna Jean became bored with hanging out at the beach, listening to the radio soap opera, “Ma Perkins,” and writing in her diary. Since graduation, her father nagged her every day to go out and find a job, but Donna Jean refused. In retaliation for disobeying him, Donna’s father got physical with her. Any saucy comment resulted in a hard slap to the face.
After the Fourth of July celebration, Josie and Donna met at Joe’s Diner for a Coke and french fries.
Donna sipped her Coke. “The fireworks knocked me out! God, I think every year they get better.”
“Yeah, I love fireworks. So many colors against the dark sky. I only wish I had a boyfriend to keep me warm in the damp summer night.” Josie teased Donna.
“Just because I came with a date and you didn’t doesn’t mean you get to give me the raspberries.” Donna grinned.
Josie said in a dreamy tone. “I can’t believe in six weeks I’ll be off to college.”
“At least you got to enjoy a little bit this summer. Rumors at Joe’s tell you and Bobby did some sparking in the cornfield.”
“You bad girl. I did nothing of the sort.” Josie blushed.
“Josie, you aren’t as pure as you pretend to be. ‘Fess up.”
“I won’t ‘fess up. Bobby just helped me get the tractor started when the old thing stalled in the middle of the field. That’s all. Nothing happened.”
“Oh, really.” Donna didn’t believe a word.
“Yes. Really. Besides, he’s too old for me. Good looking, I’ll admit. But too old.” Josie got a dreamy look on her face.
“You realized with that dreamy look you just confessed the rumors are true, don’t you?” Donna said with confidence.
“You and your gossip. One of these days you’re really going to hurt someone by spreading stories that aren’t true.”
“I’ll never hurt you, Josie.” Donna said seriously. “You’re my best friend.”
“Then as your best friend, I’m telling you the truth. Nothing is going on with Bobby.”
“Okay. Okay. I’ll drop the subject.” Donna Jean said. “After graduation I vowed I would enjoy my summer and not look for work until you left for school.” Donna never talked about her father’s abuse.
“Well, right now I’m bored. I can’t be with you because you’re working on the farm. So, how would you feel if I got a job? I’m going stir crazy with all this alone time.”
“I think you should go for it. I’m surprised you think you need my permission to go to work, especially with the way you like new clothes and shoes. I’m surprised your Dad hasn’t kicked you out of the house by now.”
“Gee. Thanks.” Donna pouted.
“Go get the best job you can, Donna, and I’ll be very proud of you.” Josie said.
Donna said, “First thing Monday morning I’ll be out pounding the pavement, but right now, let’s go down by your pond and skinny dip for a while.”
Josie jumped out of the booth and headed for the door. “Last one to the pond is a dumb blond!”
Donna Jean started her job search early Monday morning. She dressed in her navy blue “career girl” dress, a pair of sensible high heels, and a smart hat to make a good impression. She submitted applications with the city’s biggest employers including Autolite, Allis Chalmers, Northern Engraving, and G. Heileman Brewing. Several of the personnel managers gave her a typing and shorthand test. All day she filled out applications and other paperwork as she walked from one company to the next. By evening the soles of her feet burned, and she acquired a couple of blisters on her heels.
Three days after visiting G. Heileman Brewing, Donna received a phone call from the personnel manager. He told her she scored high on both the typing and the shorthand tests, and he wanted to meet with her for a more informative interview. Donna maintained a calm voice as she spoke with the manager, but the second she hung up the phone, she jumped and screamed, “Mom! G. Heileman wants to interview me!” She grabbed her mother and whirled her around the kitchen. ”
Her mother frowned and broke Donna’s hold. “Don’t get your hopes up. You’re not as good as you think you are, young lady. At least now I your father might stop screaming at you.” She walked into the living room.
“Gee, thanks, Mom.” Donna’s eyes moistened. Why did her mother enjoy bursting her bubble?
Berlin, Germany — July 1939—Heidi sat in the kitchen with a glass of milk and piece of strudel as she dreamed about escaping Germany and getting on with her life in a different country. The nanny position might be a good experience. She loved children. She enjoyed teaching and caring for them, and she even didn’t mind doing some light housework, if required by her employer. A job in Poland would also give her a chance to meet some boys who didn’t fall under the spell of the Nazis.
Since she spoke with her mother about working in Poland, Heidi got more excited about leaving home. She went to the library and read about their neighboring country and wrote a letter to her Warsaw cousins. The day she received a reply from her Uncle Hans inviting her for a visit, she and her mother went straight to the train station to buy a ticket.
Heidi’s father didn’t think his daughter should be influenced by the inferior Poles. He never understood why his brother didn’t return to Germany after his Polish wife died, but Heidi’s enthusiasm to see her uncle and cousins made denying her difficult. But at least she didn’t talk about dancing so much any more.
Heidi kept her eyes on her parents through the train window as the train pulled away from the station. Her father put his arms around her mother as she dabbed her eyes with a handkerchief. For a second, Heidi wondered if she shouldn’t take the trip.
When her parents faded away, Heidi pulled out a book from her bag and began to read in Polish. At an early age her father insisted she speak two languages, so she learned Polish. Learning a new language was fun, so Heidi learned French and English too.
Between children screaming and the jostling of the train, Heidi didn’t sleep the entire ten hours of the trip. She thanked God the train trip ended as she stepped onto the Warsaw train station platform. All around her other languages bombarded her; and her fear of speaking Polish and making a mistake when asking for directions scared her. All of a sudden crippling shyness took over. How strange to hear foreign words. Before she could understand the conversations around her, she needed to translate each word into German. And because the native speakers talked fast, she fell behind and got lost.
Out of the din, a man shouted in German, “Heidi-hier dren!”
She turned around to see a man waving. When she studied his face, she realized he must be her Uncle Hans. His image matched the photograph her father kept on the mantel at home.
“Uncle Hans!” Heidi shouted and ran toward him.
The tall man with bushy eyebrows took her bag. “Did you enjoy your trip?”
“No. I am so tired. Between the train noise, passengers talking, and children screaming, the journey proved difficult to sleep.”
“Perhaps you are just a little bit nosy to block them out?” Her uncle teased and chuckled.
She laughed with him. “Perhaps a little.”
He escorted her to a waiting car with three children in the backseat. “Heidi, these are your Warsaw cousins – Gertruda, Michal, and Anka.”
Heidi said with a broad smile, “Hello everyone.”
Anka spoke first in German. “We are very glad you are here, Heidi. Father told us about where you live.”
Then Michal said, “Yes. Papa told us that you live in Berlin. What is the city like?”
Gertruda, the youngest said. “Papa said you are a dancer. Will you teach me?”
Heidi appeared a bit flustered at the bombardment of questions.
Her uncle came to her rescue. “Heidi is very tired. How about we let her rest and after dinner she can answer all of your questions.”
“All right, Papa.” They said in unison and settled into the backseat.
Heidi sat forward in the passenger seat to avoid their disappointed faces.
Hans smiled as he drove home.