Sunday, May 28, 2017

Potica Just Like Grandma Used to Make, Only Store-Bought

Potica Just Like Grandma Used to Make, Only Store-Bought

Oh, how fun to find Potica at the store today! Usually, we can buy some near Christmas time, but I think since it has become somewhat famous in recent days someone was smart enough to make it available now. The price has climbed a bit since we last bought any, but when the Pope refers to Potica by name what could you expect? Grandma would be so happy the Popa mentioned Potica, but I'm sure she would not approve of "store-bought" bakery items. 

Grandma baked all her own bread and pastries, grew huge vegetable gardens, canned the vegetables, washed clothes in a wringer washer, hung them on the line to dry, and did everything that needed to be done whenever anyone asked. She was no stranger to hard work. 

I'm sure we managed to visit when it just happened to be baking day more than once. I remember everyone fussing about Potica but I don't remember much about it, just that it was a lot of work and very special. I do remember liking pie crust cookies made from leftover pieces of pie crust and shaped every which way. They were baked in the oven for a few minutes with cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on top. I thought those were extremely special! 

I remember that Grandma made a salad from dandelions She made her own oil and vinegar salad dressing. She could can venison meat! She could do anything. I am good at buying Potica from the store, so I hope she forgives me. 

Thank you for reading, Carolyn Wilhelm of Wise Owl Factory

Friday, May 26, 2017

How to Post to This Blog or Any Blogger Blog

How to Post to This Blog or Any Blogger Blog

This post has a YouTube video Carolyn made to help demonstrate how to write a blog post for new participating writers. Really, a blog post form looks like an email form. There is a place for a title and another space for the text. Of course, there is more to learn for those interested, but just to get started this is the necessary information. 

If you write a story on a Word document or other such file, you can copy/paste and add it to the spaces on a new post. 

Several people have asked if comments may be turned off. Yes, ask Carolyn by email right after you post, or just look to the right sidebar on the new post page. Click on options, click on the radio button in front of the words don't allow, and finally click on done in that little pop up area. No one will be able to leave comments! 

Thank you for reading, Carolyn

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

When Recycled Newspapers Were Toys

When Newspapers Were Toys

ate to school, I stood in the living room, crying.  “I have to leave now!” I said.  My coat was on, I was ready to walk the mile to school in the spring sunshine after going home for lunch.  Third grade was important and I was worried about being in trouble.
“I’m not ready.  Your teacher is going to LOVE this!” my mother said as she cut strips of newspaper and used cellophane tape to fasten the ends together.  She was filling a bag with such strips. She couldn’t drive me to school as she didn’t drive, typical of many mothers in our 50’s neighborhood.
I think I cried off and on all the way to school. I could take no short-cut for fear of Officer McCloud (the Minneapolis school safety policeman). He would publicly announce our misdeeds through the loud megaphone on top of his car, and make us go back and walk again. I didn’t have time for a lecture.  I thought it would be the end of the world when I arrived to hang up my coat in the full class coat closet, but funny thing, the teacher was smiling when I presented the bag of newspaper strips to her. I wasn’t in trouble that day. Now, thinking back, my mother must have called school on our telephone’s party line ahead of my arrival.
Apparently these strips were something good, in the teacher’s eyes.  I didn’t know what the big deal was, we were always playing with newspapers at home.  That is, on the days my father a printer at the Star and Tribune was able to bring home extra copies due to some grammatical error in the printing. He showed us many tricks with the newspapers. If there was a single copy, it was treated with the utmost respect. Many times, a letter to the editor with my father’s name, his pen name, or the name of a willing neighbor who would be proud to sign it was in the editorial section.
Mobius Strips ready for cutting to see it ends up with two connected circles

We thought misprinted newspapers were toys.  First, there was the Möbius strip that my teacher liked. The Möbius strip was a one-sided surface obtained by cutting a single paper strip, one end twisted twice, and taped closed.  When cut down the middle, magically two circles appeared chained together.  It was some kind of math, but I didn’t understand that at all. 
Mobius Strips prepared for a classroom activity ready for school

Other tricks Daddy showed us were how to grow a tree out of newspaper.  Rolling up a few pages, and tying a string around them, he cut strips at one end.  When he pulled, a tree “grew” right before our eyes. Sometimes he folded the paper in to hats, boats, or other items.
    My father didn’t just bring home newspapers. He was very interested in science and math, and would check out the telescope from the Minneapolis Public Library. When he brought that home he would show us stars and planets.  He taught us about telling time with the stars. 
He would do science experiments and ask me to explain what happened.  A cold, empty, glass pop bottle was used in one such experiment.  My father would put a dime on the top of the bottle and say magic words.  The dime would move a little and click as the air warmed and would escape a little. He would say, “Abracadabra,” and names of exotic places as if they were magic words while the dime performed.
 As a graduate of the University of Minnesota in geography, my father demonstrated cartography to us.  He made his own invention to copy a map from a picture in a book, something called a pantograph. You could trace and enlarge or reduce, creating an exact resized copy of a map. There was life before copy machines!
We actually had few toys as was fairly common then, but my father showed us many ways to entertain ourselves and learn without much money. When I became an elementary teacher, I demonstrated some of his experiments to my students. I appreciate them more as time goes by. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Skating and Playing Outside in the 1950's

Skating and Playing Outside in the 1950's
In the 1950’s when I got a brand new pair of roller skates, so did my sisters! Actually, it was the same pair because we could share the skates.  A 1971 song was named Brand New Key and started with these lines:
“I got a brand new pair of roller skates,
You got a brand new key.”
Skating and Playing Outside in the 1950's blog post story
So, skates that clipped on to shoes were around for many years. The reason for the key was the skates were adjustable, thus fitting all three girls in the family. We wore the key on a shoe lace around our necks and if anyone lost it, oh dear! However, the keys were all the same so we could share with a friend. The skates could be pulled longer or shorter to fit over our shoes before being locked in a size.  It took organization for everyone to take turns with the newest pair we owned. We skated around the block in our south Minneapolis neighborhood. The skates were made of metal and are now considered to be vintage.  Boys also had such skates.
metal roller skates with straps from the 1950's
Once in a great while we were overjoyed to get a chance go to an indoor roller rink where we rented skates with laces. However, they still had four wheels (two on the front, two on the back).  We thought the roller rink skates were so wonderful, and couldn’t image ever being able to have anything like this ourselves. Skates today also have four wheels, but they are in a straight line.

In the winter, our father built an ice skating rink for us of snow and water in the backyard. Our first ice skates were also metal and adjustable. They strapped over our shoes or boots. I remember all of us three girls skated together. When we finally got shoe skates with single runners, we were given ones that were too big so we could “grow” into them. That meant we had to wear two or three pairs of socks the first year, and fewer the next year.
Skating and Playing Outside in the 1950's

We walked to and from school each morning and afternoon as our school had no lunch program.  It was about a mile one way. During winter, we would play in the snowbanks along the way and still usually be on time for class.  We might get a ride if it was below zero. The neighbors took turns driving. At that time there were no seat-belts or car seats, so as many children as possible could get in one car.

During summer, the neighborhood kids would organize themselves to play baseball or kickball.  Kids would run races to see who could run the fastest. We had our own contests to see who could throw a ball the furthest.  Winners were admired.

When we went to the beach we could use air mattresses and other toys not allowed today. My parents liked to go to Cedar Lake, which was the coldest one of the Minneapolis lakes. We preferred Lake Nokomis and Lake Harriet as they were warm enough to run right in and start playing in the water. The older kids could swim to the floating dock and drive in the water. My father swam with me the first time I went to the dock. I might have been twelve or so. A big treat was going to the drive-in on the way home for a nickel pop such as a lemon-lime. 

A game I really liked was about throwing the ball over the roof of the house. Some kids stood in the front lawn and some in the backyard, making two teams. I am not sure why but we yelled Ollie Ollie Over (or Ante Over) when we threw the ball.  When one team had everyone on both teams, they won. I do not remember who won or lost, but I remember having lots of fun.

I liked playing Statue Maker. The statue maker twirled us in a circle and we froze in a pose to make a museum. I think we gave creative names to our statues. We had to stay “frozen” for awhile as part of the game.  Four square was another fun game and that is still played today.  It marked on playgrounds with a square divided in four parts with one part designated for the highest player.  Bouncing the ball and following rules, we played to eliminate people in higher squares to advance in the game.

Children often rode their bikes. A bike was a prized possession. The bikes were only one speed. A topic of debate was whether bicycles should be red or blue. Green bikes were out of the question! It was a big deal to have a bell and a basket. All the bicycles were single speed. My first bike was 24” and I was only five, but I was able to ride it standing up. Fourth graders and up could ride bikes to school when the weather was good, and it felt like freedom. My father would go biking with me for miles. I would also ride my bike for miles, alone. Our parents thought exercise and fresh air was good for us.
Skating and Playing Outside in the 1950's

There were some woods by our house, and a few friends would go there and build forts with sticks. When we went back, the fort would be torn down, so we would build it again. We realized no one owned the woods and it was fair. In short, we played outside year round. Summer, winter, most kinds of weather -- we were playing. We were outside so our parents knew where we were!

Thank you for reading,
Carolyn Wilhelm, Wise Owl Factory

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