Attention Please!

I grew up as the oldest of five children and then, as only karma can dictate, went on to raise five of my own.  As the oldest I probably had the lions’ share of attention, since I was usually the first to do something (walking, talking, stealing cigarettes).   Getting Mom’s individual attention was rare and certainly worth gloating over to my siblings - at this very minute, for JUST this minute, she’s all mine!

My Mom rarely spent time chatting on the phone.  Evenings were reserved for dinner, homework and baths, usually en mass.  But when she pulled up a stool next to the phone and sat down, we knew she wasn’t going to be moving for a while.  Whoever got there first usually got to sit on or near her, where she would absentmindedly stroke our hair as she gossiped on.  Pure bliss!

My own children, I hope, had a little more individual attention, from both Mom and Dad.  Traveling to and fro - sports, school, church - we made a point to turn the radio off (no rear tv, headphones or ipods to distract!) and to clearly state, whatever you have to say is way more important than that silly radio.  Many a great conversation took place from the darkness and safety of the back seat. 

When the youngest arrived ten years after the next oldest, he had to find another way to command attention, competing against the clamor and excitement of the teenagers.  As a toddler, he would literally throw himself at Mom’s legs - hey, don’t forget I’m down here!  I would say, “what’s the matter; you need a little attention?” and then scoop him up.  He quickly figured out that if you asked for it, you got it.   Today, this way taller than me young man still sidles up to me from time to time - when he wants to talk, or when he just needs a hug - to say, “I need some attention” - our private way of connecting 18 years later.

Halloween in the ‘60’s

Halloween is one of those events that was so much cooler when we were kids than it is today.  I know that growing up those “back in the day” stories put many of us in a stupor, although my mom had a great one about getting her pants stuck on a fence in a cemetery on Halloween back in the 40’s. 

But these are my Halloween memories, so let me stop and get a sweater on because I’m cold just writing about it.   In the 1960’s, Halloween advertising was virtually non-existent.  Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin did not appear on TV until 1966, so there were no tv specials to whet our appetite.  My house had a “working” mom (I know, we’re all “working” moms now) so if she did pick up candy to hand out, it was on her way home from work, THAT DAY.  

In Wisconsin, the average temperature during prime trick or treat hours hovered around the freezing mark - unless our costume fit over our winter gear, you couldn’t see it.  There was no money to outfit the five of us in store bought costumes anyway so our favorite costumes were bum, ghost or pajamas.

In our cul de sac neighborhood there were literally one hundred kids (that poured out of maybe 25 houses!) set free from homework and a regular dinner to run around in the dark, sans parents, to collect candy.  Holy Moley, we thought we’d died and gone to heaven. 

And the bounty we brought home (in pillowcases, not plastic store bought pumpkin things) would last at least until Thanksgiving, hidden away from snooping siblings.  A quick plug here, but except for the handful of pennies, the goodies we poured out onto the living room rug looked exactly like the Candy aisle at Hometown Favorites - Broadway Licorice, Chocolate Babies, Bonomo’s Taffy, and of course my beloved Candy Raisins!

Good times, good times.  Anyway, I need to get my Hometown Favorites Halloween order in or lose my title - coolest trick or treat candies on the block! 

The Scent of Football

On calm evenings, I can hear the sounds of Friday night football coming from the high school campus about three miles from our house.  Without football players or cheerleaders in residence, we didn’t attend a whole lot of high school football, but we rarely missed a Homecoming Game.

When I was a teenager, a million years ago in the early 70’s, I recall a lot more action at Homecoming games BEHIND the bleachers than on the field.  Not that I can personally attest to any of this mind you, but with a high school class of over a thousand kids and not a security officer in sight, who the heck could keep track of any of us? 

Fast forward a dozen years, and there was no way my kids were going by themselves to a dark football field full of big, hormonal teenagers.  We went as a family, but, full disclosure, that wasn’t as Pollyanna as it sounds.  Once Mom and Dad were safely ensconced in seats, the kids took off, invisibly melting into a frenetic mob of preteens, all safely corralled into a grassy, open area, monitored on the outskirts by vigilant parents, sheep dog style.  We would pick up our sweaty and happily worn-out offspring on our way out, a good time had by all.

When I take a deep breath on our evening walks, the smell of high school football is there.   It’s much more than the crisp fall air, markedly different here in Florida than my childhood Wisconsin.  Freshly popped corn, brats on the grill, sweet cotton candy and caramel apples.  For me, no other sporting/social event is as closely identified by food as fall football.  If you haven’t experienced a high school football game this fall, your local high school would love to see you.  Does the school snack shack menu offer some memory evoking favorites or are there new noshes to discover?  As for our house, brats will be on the dinner menu tonight!

Hey Colleen, why can't I ever seem to find Ralston cereal in my local store? Seems like this is still a popular item, isn't it?

Very popular at Hometown Favorites, not so much at your local grocer.  There is the long answer about the domination of larger manufacturers on your grocer’s shelves, available shelf space and market share advertising dollars and promotional allowances, but in reality Ralston makes very few breakfast cereals and may not promote Ralston Hot Cereal to the extend that the other manufacturers do.  We’re so happy to stock it regularly; it’s been a Hometown Favorites staple for over a dozen years. 

You’re gonna miss the bus!

This fall season is the first time in 25 years that my morning routine doesn’t revolve around the school bus.  With the last of five off to college, I’m still an early riser, but the “five minutes ‘til the bus” warnings are a thing of the past.  For the rest of the baby boomers out there, let’s just say “amen”.  If you’re not there yet, be patient.  This too shall pass.

In thinking about those many mornings, I have to admit, we had a very structured routine and relatively peaceful send-offs.  I strictly adhered to the Mom code, 

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