Tuesday, November 26, 2013

50 years together

My Grandparents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1990.  The celebration went great, I was immensely pregnant with my second child and the only dance I danced was with my dad.
I'm sure everyone knows by now that my dad has been gone for a couple years now and I'm still getting some of his stuff in dribs and drabs…I guess my stepmother doesn't get the concept of ripping a band-aid off all at once and must drag it out over years…but more on that later.
Anyways, getting to the point…she found the speech that was written for the anniversary party…so long ago and when everyone was still around and still speaking to each other.
This is as written by my aunts, my uncle, and dad too...a bit long but I really enjoyed being taken back again.
The place is Chicago, the year was 1940 and Charles Earl Hueckstaedt decides its time to take a bride, and after knowing her only 3 months, Alma LaNora Beach became Mrs. Hueckstaedt.
Within a year they start a family, its ok…we've all counted…they didn't HAVE to.  By the late 40's they decide its time to raise the family in a better place.  After moving to McHenry they had 3 homes. They must have liked the neighborhood, because they were all within 2 blocks of each other.
By the mid 50's, their lives were complete with 4 kids, one who sang 'Goodnight Irene' on the toilet in the middle of the night (Dutch), 3 dogs with the same names, (it was less confusing that way), and that's why we all got our own names….right Dutch…a cat that would scratch your eyes out if you pulled its tail, and a floor furnace you had to dance over in the winter.
Our parents exposed us to such food delicacies as fried noodles for breakfast, spaghetti that Cherie was always blamed for flipping to get that strange orange spot pattern on the ceiling, and Rusty's favorite red and green oatmeal cookies for Christmas.
Always safety around the house too, from Dutch getting his arm caught in the ringer washing machine, to Michael, the eldest grandchild, sailing across the living room into the unlit fireplace, or Dad showing Rusty how to make a nest of hornets mad while standing on a ladder.  Dutch also got his nose caught in the refrigerator door while trying to watch the light go out, and Laurie's famous haircutting technique with a rubber band—yeah that will make it straight.  Always safety first, when Dad was showing someone how the safety on a gun worked and a bullet went through the kitchen floor almost hitting the deepfreeze in the basement.
Our home for more than 30 years on Southside Avenue took on some drastic changes too, such as the removal of the foxtrot furnace grate (cha-cha-cha).  The crawlspace changed into a family room that you could stand in comfortably.  From a single car garage that was so rickety that it might fall from a slight breeze to the mid 60's addition of a 2 car garage and a driveway of dust changed to one of concrete.  
The living room doubled in size, the kitchen tripled and the addition of another bedroom.  The yard that was over populated with trees was turned into somewhat of a showplace with a sculptured lawn and many flowerbeds.
Mother/Daughter relationships are made of special moments.  Like finally deciding you're old enough to tell your mother an off color joke while eating pistachio nut ice cream at 3am at a tollway oasis.
Yes!  We were a modern family; we went from one phone in the hallway to having one in almost every room.  Because you can never make everyone happy, we had two and sometimes 3 tv's , one of which came with a box of Kleenex because Rusty would cry every time The Lassie Show was over.
Our father also taught us the trick of sleeping on the floor while pretending to watch tv…or just 'resting my eyes.'
Dad had quite the body of fitness.  He was able to jump a 6 foot fence to protect Laurie from being chewed on by a dog and swim underwater to fight off killer seaweed.  And because he always refused to wear a belt, many times his pants would fall down showing off his firm buttocks.
Mom also had unbelievable powers, only 4'11, she was able to get in the middle of Dutch and Rusty while fighting to push them apart. Another time while Dutch and Rusty were fighting, they were able to manage blowing up the tv.  She also had the ability to stay awake until we all came home, no matter what the hour.
The 60's and 70's brought grandchildren…10 of them to be exact.  I don't remember if dad actually had the 'birds and bees' talk with us, but I do remember how both of them avoided the subject.  I do remember one time while in the store with mom, I asked her what those boxes were that were labeled K-O-T-E-X, she said 'ask your father', so I assumed it was none of my business.  Dad, on the other hand, told the story to me by taking me to watch our German shepherd 'rook' to get mated and the miracle of birth came a few months later, March 19, 1968 to be exact, when the puppies were born.  It didn't seem too bad; no screaming in pain or calling the father obscene names, the mother eating the placenta…boy, isn't that realistic.
The 80's brought great grandchildren and the search for that perfect retirement spot.  Well, in 1984, The Hueckstaedt's decide to relocate to a warmer, drier climate.  After all those years of battling snow storms and lawn care, they move to Chino Valley, Arizona where there is no lawn to care for and the winters are shorter and less severe.
The new home took on some drastic changes, adding more rooms and another attached garage; they have 2 bathrooms, making us all feel cheated, all those years on Southside having to share just one. But they don't have a concrete driveway—YET!
Cactus beds instead of flower beds decorate the yard and a cow skull welcomes you to the residence.  The have 2 tv's because they still can't agree on what show to watch.  There is still a phone in every room, including one of the bathrooms.
I guess they will watch Chino Valley grow the way they watched McHenry grow for those many years on Southside Avenue, where most of their memories still remain.

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