Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sweet Traditions

Charlotte Ilene Butler

Thursday we drove to Pueblo. It was our last visit to Auntie Pinky. She was resting peacefully in a comfortable room decorated in a mountain lodge theme – a happy reminder of her beloved Estes Park. She was very weak, but aware of our visit. And in typical Pinkie fashion - people-lover, gracious hostess that she was – when I kissed her cheek to tell her good bye, she softly murmured, “Oh, don’t go yet.”

On the way home I reflected about the Pinky that I know. As a CD filled the car with beautiful music of the season, I remembered how much Pinky loved Christmas And then I remembered all the holiday goodies she made and shared with friends, family, teachers, and neighbors. Sharing home baked sweets -that was how she loved to celebrate the Christmas season.

I had never heard of pizzelles, much less tasted one, until I became a Butler and had my first Christmas with my new family. The round and almost lacy looking cookies were a staple in Butler family celebrations. Every December Pinky made dozens and dozens of the crisp, light treats and stacked them so carefully with waxed paper between. I have only vague memories of watching her make them, but I know it was a labor of love as a pizzelle iron only bakes 2 or 3 cookies at a time.

Her divinity candy, snowy white and flecked with chopped nuts, was to die for! Making divinity involves pouring a boiling cooked syrup over beaten egg whites and beating that mixture until it is too thick for the mixer to handle, and then adding chopped nuts or cherries. I know Pinky burned up more than one mixer during a candy-making marathon, but she just considered that part of the process!

A few years ago, I asked Auntie for her recipe for Date Nut Loaf. Of course she had it memorized – one couldn’t bake a million loaves and not memorize the recipe! I wrote it down just as she told it to me, including the step “Add a gob of vanilla.” I’ve used her recipe, but I think I need to make it many more times before the finished loaves are as yummy as hers were.

As I savor my memories of Pinky’s Christmas sweets, I feel a pull to introduce my children and grandchildren to these family favorites and make her tradition our tradition.

Thanks, Auntie, for the memories - I’m off to buy a pizzelle iron!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Honorable Discharge

On December 14, 1945 I received my Radioman 1st Class Technician rating. Technician does not mean the ability to work on radios, but that I had special duties as a radioman.

I also received my discharge on this day at the Separation Center in Shoemaker, California. They tried to talk us into joining the Naval Reserve, but I wanted no part of it at that time. Since I signed up later, I would have been ahead to have joined then. I left California and headed for home by train on 15 December 1945.

Award received for service from 7 December 1941 to 2 September 1945

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What's for Lunch?

One day at Park View I received a call from a parent who said, “How do you take lunch count at Park View?” I though it was odd for a parent to ask, but I explained that we needed to know how many were going to eat the lunch prepared for students because the lunches were sent from the high school cafeteria.

She said, “I know that, but what does the teacher say to the students to get the number of lunches needed?”

I said, “They just ask, ‘How many are going to eat hot lunch today?’”

The parent laughed and said, “My daughter insists I make her a lunch to take, because her teacher says, ‘How many of you are going to eat that slop in the cafeteria today?’”

This teacher really hated the cafeteria and lunch duty and didn’t see why the children couldn’t go home for lunch the way we used to do (and with an hour for lunch). She also resented so many free and reduced price lunches. But she was chagrined that I had been called, and she agreed to change her lunch count method.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

O Christmas Tree

In December of 1958 we decided that we would get a permit and go to the mountains to get our own Christmas tree like we had read in so many stories about people doing. We would have sloppy-joes to eat (because we could take it up and keep it hot) and hot chocolate and wouldn’t need to have a fire.

Five men on a mission!
Lou, Jr - Don - Tom - Jim - Lou, Sr
blurry picture, but it documents the infamous day

We had our tree hunting expedition in the mountains near San Isabel, above Rye, Colorado. It was a cool, crisp day with snow on the ground and a lot of sunshine. It was a great day for a Christmas tree hunting party!

Leona has always been very particular about her Christmas tree. It had to be of excellent shape with well filled out limbs in the right places, etc. So as soon as we got out of the car, the four boys went in four directions - each going to find the perfect tree that would suit Mom. As they each would find one, they would call for her to come see it. Since they didn’t stay together, she was having to run all over the mountainside to inspect the finds of each boy.

Naturally the boys never found the same tree, nor were their trees together, so she had a long walk between them. They were not finding very good trees that were satisfactory to her. As time went by, and after many trips across the little valley between the two ridges that the boys were on, she became less critical and finally said, “Just take any one; I’m tired!” Jim and Don carried a tree in from the forest, and we tied it on top of our station wagon. Leona got the lunch ready for us; we were all starving.

Christmas tree lunch
Jim - Don (front)
Lou, Jr - Tom - Leona (back

We had a good time, and the tree was satisfactory, but for some reason we never went back to the mountains for another Christmas tree!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Picture this . . .

Louis Butler in Adak - 1944

Check out that hair!
One of the first pictures he sent home to Leona.

He really was just a kid -
21 years old when this picture was taken

Winters are cold in Adak!

Do you think he knows how to use that?

Cleaning duty

Looking a little more grown up. . .

We all love a man in uniform -
especially this one!