Tag Archive | North carolina history

Sam Singer and the Sunday Schleps

SAM SINGER AND THE SUNDAY SCHLEPS

[schlep: Yiddish word meaning to carry, tote or steal]

Sam Singer worked hard every day from early in the morning to prepare food for the luncheonette until closing time on many days. However, in that day and age, Sunday was a “blue” day and most stores were closed. That was their family day.

Marcia in front of the Store

Marcia in front of the Store

Sunday was also Chinese dinner at various places they liked. One special place was “The Dragon Seed” which was a little more upscale than other local joints and Sam was friendly with the owner. This required a car trip even though it wasn’t all that far from our home. The food was delicious though even if a little more pricey than other places. It was always a treat when Sam would tell the family that’s where they were going.

 Sometimes, they went to an Italian place. Another favorite was La Bilbaina, a Spanish restaurant in Manhattan. This was definitely a car trip and it was up a flight of stairs. They loved the authentic food and after dinner looked in the gift shop window down below it. Martha would often order a dish that had a green sauce that was ripe with garlic and they would all laugh and tease her on the way home about her terrible breath!

There was also, at one time, a huge Swedish Smorgasbord that was in a hotel in Manhattan and they went there sometimes also where it was impossible not to find something for everyone.

Mr. Peanut

Mr. Peanut

They especially loved the Sundays when they would go to Times Square and just walk around looking at the sights. It was a thrill when they saw Mr. Peanut, a guy in the peanut suit and cane who walked around greeting people. They loved looking at all the schlock shops that lined the street and Sam bought Marcia these little realistic mice holding a piece of corn. She had a number of them over the years and still has one left in her miniature collection.

Mouse

Mouse

East Side

East Side

Another special trek was when they went to the East Side which is an area in lower Manhattan where Jewish vendors had small shops or vendor carts full of wholesale goods of every kind imaginable! It was a fascinating place and they bought things there if they needed them. Marcia’s enjoyed it because Sam would get her a bag of red pistachios. By the time she was finished eating them, her fingers and mouth would be bright red from the food coloring. She still loves them and they remind her of this special time, but she opts for the plain ones now. Much less mess!

Marcia at Chisolm Park

Marcia at Chisolm Park

It’s likely that Martha was the one who suggested many of these outings, but Sam had no problem shlepping everyone to them. They often went to Chisolm Park in Queens which was near the water because there were rocks between the path and the water and Jeff and Marcia would walk on them trying not to slip and fall. There was a hill leading down to the path with places you could slide down. Many of the trees were huge with many low branches that Marcia was able to climb up on them! Jeff, being the monkey he was, could climb to the very top of the trees. They would also get Button Candy from a little shack at the park. It’s hard to say why they were so much fun to eat, but they were. They also liked those little wax bottles that had colored sugary water inside. Shops also used to have chocolate candy cigarettes! They wouldn’t fly today.

They had their choice of beaches too. Rockaway Beach in Brooklyn was small, but close and they often went there in the summer. Sometimes, they would take the car out to Jones Beach which was out on Long Island. It was a huge beach and it seemed the water was a mile from the parking lot. They all had to schlep the blankets, chairs, umbrella and coolers with food all that way! Still, it was a fun  time.

Sam and Marcia a Whitestone Pool

Sam and Marcia a Whitestone Pool

Another popular place for fun in the sun was Whitestone Pool. They had a large pool for adults, two tiny pools for babies and one medium sized pool for in between kids. They would arrive early because they loved to get a spot underneath a shade tree that faced that medium pool and that was the one Marcia swam in because she wasn’t big enough for the big pool where Lynn and Jeff would go. Sometimes, Jeff would play with Marcia in the big pool so she could go down one of the slides they had and he would catch her. There was also a small playground they could play in. Other areas had picnic tables and grills for those who wanted to do that. They would get lockers and could change clothes in the locker room so they wouldn’t have to be wet on the drive home. They spent many glorious Sundays there and enjoyed it immensely.

It was a fun time going occasionally to Aunt Adele’s place for a cookout. She was a beautiful, special person and everyone loved Adele. She had a huge bell collection and took up the guitar and played us songs and sang. They also played games at the Singer get-togethers. It was always fun. The kids loved when their cousin Alvin joined the festivities because he was a ‘little person’ who was their size! He was only about 3 ft, 6 in. tall, but a grownup and would smoke cigars. He too was a smart and special person who they all enjoyed being around.

The Danbury Fair in Connecticut was an annual event they attended for many years. We have a lot of photos from that time. Marcia recalls one year in particular. She was only about five years old and that year they were selling blow up dinosaurs and she wanted one badly. However, her parents told her no. She was disappointed. As they were walking around, she saw a person coming at her dangling a cigarette in his hand and didn’t see her. The cigarette touched Marcia in the neck and she screamed! It hurt terribly, and she told her parents what happened in between sobs. They searched for a first aid station, but it took a long time to finally find it. They put something on the burn, but it was too late. Marcia still has a circular scar there. For some reason, no one else seems to remember this incident and Martha said the scar came from a bout with swollen glands. Sorry, Mom, but it looks just like a cigarette burn. The upshot was that since they felt so sorry for her ordeal, they bought her a green blow-up stegosaurus! She kept it a long time until the rubber became rotten.

Howe Caverns

Howe Caverns

One year in the 1950’s, they all took a trip upstate to visit the Howe Caverns and the Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame. It was a long drive in their Studebaker with no air conditioning. Once they were out of New York City, they saw nothing but cow farms. Cows after cows. They had never seen so many dairy farms!

Marcia can remember the dark caverns and Sam holding her on his shoulders at one point so she could see. There was a small river of water that ran through the cavern and small boats they rode on. Marcia was too young to remember much more than that.

Baseball Hall of Fame

Baseball Hall of Fame

Sam went into the baseball museum, but Martha, Jeff and Marcia waited outside and they watched a group of roosters peck the ground.  Jeff tried to annoy them and probably succeeded.

They also had their yearly trips South to visit Martha’s relatives. Often, Sam couldn’t leave work except for one week, so the others would go by train and spend a few weeks. Then Sam would drive down by himself to stay the last week.

When the World’s Fair came to Flushing, New York in 1964, it was just a short subway ride from Elmhurst. Sam bought a large packet of tickets so everyone could go over and over. Some of Martha’s family made the trip north during this time so they could experience this wonderful entertaining extravaganza. Nothing like this would ever be near Smithfield, NC. Marcia, 13 years old at the time, often went with her friends. They all went to the best pavilions time after time. It was a once in a life time event for everyone.

Swedish Good Luck Horses

Swedish Good Luck Horses

At the fair, which had an international section, there was a Swedish pavilion. Marcia was so excited when she discovered they sold the famous orange, wooden good luck horses there and there was a basketful of the tiny, tiny ones she loved. She already had a few and they were among her prized possessions. One time long before the fair, Martha took Marcia to a Swedish store in Manhattan and bought her the biggest horse they had! It was 8 inches tall while her tiny one was 1 ¼” tall. They became her favorite toys.

Martha also joined Marcia’s class on field trips and they went a few times to the Brooklyn Museum and lo and behold, they sold those Swedish horses! Marcia was so excited to be able to add a few more to her collection each time they went.

In her later years, Marcia found more Swedish horses on the internet being sold on Ebay! Not only were they different sizes, they were different colors: blue, green, yellow and pink. She went a little crazy over this fantastic find and now her collection of horses numbers 22 which includes one soft, stuffed one. The smallest is 1” tall, but the biggest is still the one that Martha bought for her.

Joe King autograph

Joe King autograph

Another time Martha took Marcia to the Hammer Galleries in Manhattan when the internationally known artist, Joe King, known as Vinciata, was going to be there. Joe King was a native of Winston-Salem, NC which made him all the more special. His paintings of people include the Queen of England and he was quite famous. They all met and he graciously gave Marcia his autograph which is very special to her and is in her scrapbook.

Sam and Martha later on went on a number of cruises, but the first one was in 1967, when Marcia was sixteen. She, along with Sam, Martha and her brother Jeff, took an Israeli cruise ship from New York up the coast and down the St. Lawrence River to Montreal where the Montreal Expo was being held. The ship docked right there so they only had to walk a short way to attend the events. They had a fantastic time not only on the ship and at the Expo, but they also toured the City of Montreal, Canada.

Expo 1967

Expo 1967

As the kids got older and were doing their own ‘thing’, these Sunday trips stopped. However, they still attended Mets games at times and Sunday was always Chinese food day. Even after Marcia moved to North Carolina where her parents had also moved, they found Chinese restaurants to eat at although they were, sadly, not quite as good as they were used to. In New York, Marcia always ate the roast pork appetizer with white rice, Won Ton Soup and sometimes egg rolls. The Chinese places in North Carolina did not have this style pork so eventually she learned to eat other dishes and enjoyed them.

Another special memory is their New Year’s Eve tradition. Martha always fixed dinner rather early in the evening, usually around 5:00 p.m.  So late in the evening on New Year’s Eve, everyone was going to stay up late to see the ball drop and they would get hungry, especially Sam. That late at night, the only thing open was Chinese take-out and maybe pizza, but he didn’t eat pizza, to take-out it was. They didn’t get a full meal, but soup, fried rice and egg rolls were no doubt a staple for a late snack. It became a tradition after doing it for so many years.

Marcia introduced this tradition to her husband Phil and he too became a big fan of Chinese cuisine. His family had never eaten it! Now, even after all these years, they have Chinese at least once a week and always on New Year’s Eve.

There are many languages of love and not all of them are verbal. Case in point, Sam never told his kids he loved them, but he showed them love every day he got up early to go to work at the Store. No one ever asked him if he liked it. He did it because he had a family to care of. He showed his love every time he took them places so they would have a good time. Was he often really too tired for this? Probably. They all saw how exhausted he would be after a long day at the Store. Still, he made the effort and they had a full and happy childhood and no one ever questioned his love. He showed it every day. All they had to do was see it. Perhaps at the time, they didn’t, but now it is so obvious. They can only hope that he knew how much they loved him also.

CULTURE SHOCK: BAGELS VS. BISCUITS

CULTURE SHOCK: BAGELS VS. BISCUITS

Love knows no religions, no country or state boundaries or even different upbringings. Love can just happen to the most unlikely pairs and somehow, someway, it works for them. My parents were such an example. Theirs was a marriage between a Yankee Jew and a Southern Belle.

Sam Singer came from a family with Russian Jewish roots. His parents were both from the Kiev area of Russia and had immigrated to the United States in the early 1900’s so Sam was a first generation American who grew up in Pennsylvania and New York City, the heart of the North. He quit school early to help support the family and so did not have much of an education.

Martha Sugg could trace her ancestry back hundreds of years and her line includes some famous people. Her ancestors came originally from England and Scotland, but lived and died in North Carolina for generations. Their roots grew deep in the Southern soil and her family was steeped in the Southern culture and lifestyle. While Martha did not attend college, she did graduate high school, but loved to read and reading is always enriching in so many ways. She was also a talented artist and even wrote a book which I published for her posthumously: “Aquilla, Indian Captive”.

World War II changed the lives of millions of people and set about events that would not have happened otherwise. It was due to this war that Sam, in his army uniform, happened to be stationed in Durham, North Carolina, in the early 1940’s.

Martha was there too, working at a job, possibly also in connection with the war effort. There was a dance they both attended. They met and dated. Often, the uncertainties of war and all that it implies, heightened senses and made people more aware that lives could be changed all too drastically and quickly. Perhaps it was this or whatever reasons, Sam and Martha were married on February 6, 1943.

Can you imagine the shock experienced by her family when she announced she was going to marry this soldier none of them had met? Not only that, but he was a Yankee. In the South, this was still a dirty word and DamnYankee was all one word. They weren’t still fighting the Civil War, but the memories of the atrocities done to their people and land at the hands of the Northerners were not so easily forgotten. Add to this the “Jewish” factor and they had to be totally perplexed. After all, they had never actually ever seen or met a Jew. What were they like? Did they have horns? A Jew was as foreign a thing as an alien from outer space and probably just as frightening. ‘What was Martha thinking?’ had to be going through their minds.

However, once they actually met Sam, their misperceptions changed and they embraced him when they realized he was just like any other man, except perhaps for his accent.

Meanwhile, just to show that ignorance and prejudice wasn’t just on that side, Sam’s family were at first quite aghast when told that he was bringing home a Shiksa from Tobacco Road! [Shiksa is a Yiddish term for a non-Jewish woman. Tobacco Road was a play derived from a novel that was popular around this time, but depicted the South as nothing but dirt roads, shacks and poor white people]. Martha did get quite annoyed with the ignorance of so many people in New York. She felt quite insulted when they would ask her if they had schools or things like washing machines or even indoor plumbing. Many had never been to the South and were clueless. However, she would just say that yes, they did have all those wonderful modern contraptions.

So Martha was just as much an “alien” to them as Sam was to her family. Again, once they met her, they too came around. Still, there were so many differences between them, how could they possibly make it work?

Not long after their first child, Lynn, was born, Sam had to go overseas. Martha took Lynn back to her home in North Carolina and stayed with her family for the five years it took for the war to finally be over and Sam could come home for good. So Lynn had a very Southern upbringing for her first five years. After that, she and her siblings, Jeff and Marcia, were reared in Elmhurst, Queens, New York. But every summer, all or some of them would make the trek down South for a visit. Whether by train, bus or automobile, Martha had to return to her roots to soak in good times with her own family and rejuvenate herself for the rest of the year she spent in that foreign culture of the dreaded North. She stayed there for Sam because she loved him and that is where he made his living, but she never truly belonged, like a captive wild animal having to live in a zoo. While her physical being was there, her heart was always in the South.

This odd couple did, however, create some very entertaining verbal experiences for us kids especially. When misbehaving, we were often threatened with a “potch in the tuchas” which was a slap on the butt. Sam would say “stood in bed” when he meant he was sick and didn’t get up. He mentioned a place we thought was fictional, “Pennsyltucky” but I later learned there actually was an area that was called that. He bandied about many Yiddish words learned from his own home life that we too learned long before many of them became mainstream. A “clutz” was a clumsy person; a “kvetch” was a whiner or as a verb: to complain; “meshuggenah” meant crazy; “mespocha” was family; “shlep” meant either to steal or carry as a heavy load; “alter kocka” was an old man; “kibitz” was to kid around; “schmatte” was an old rag or dress; “schmo, schmuck, shmegege” were words for fools or idiots and “shnoz” was a big nose. These were just some of the words we learned. He would sing a little ditty about “feet up, pat him on the pippick, let’s hear him laugh”, “pippick” being the stomach.

Sam would call my boyfriends “Chaim Yankel” instead of their names (not to them directly of course). It means basically Mr. Nobody. I could only assume it was because he didn’t much like them and couldn’t even bother to remember their names. He called my girlfriend Tracey “Dickless Tracey”.  He thought that was funny. I did too actually.

Because Yiddish and German are similar in many ways, Sam could understand the German spoken in old World War II movies and we enjoyed that he could translate for us.

In later years, I dubbed the TV series Bonanza as “Ben Yenta and the Whole Mespocha”. “Yenta” in this sense meant busybody more than matchmaker because Ben Cartright and his family were always getting involved in everyone else’s predicaments.

On the other hand, we grew up hearing many quaint Southern expressions: “in the short rows”, eating “high on the hog”, “as slow as molasses in January” and more.   My favorite one of her sayings was when she was very annoyed at something and she’d say, “It just makes my a$$ want to chew tobacco!” It defies explanation.

When faced with a situation Martha didn’t much like, she would often say, “I can’t be bothered with that!” It reminded me of Scarlett in Gone With The Wind who puts off hurtful things by ‘thinking about it tomorrow’.  It was definitely a discussion ender! Sadly, I find myself using that expression at times also. They say we turn into our mothers so I guess that shouldn’t be a surprise.

On those years when we would all travel in our car to North Carolina, Sam would wake the kids up in the wee hours of the morning so we could get out of Manhattan before the traffic picks up. So around 4:00 a.m. we would have to eat or drink a little something before being loaded into the backseat of the car where we usually went back to sleep. Unfortunately, this created the perfect situation for carsickness and Sam would often have to stop the car to let a sick kid puke by the side of the road. Marcia was especially prone to this and so hated that part of the drive.

FRESHLY SQUOZEN

FRESHLY SQUOZEN

FRESH SQUEEZED

FRESH SQUEEZED

On time, we were in southern New Jersey and the sun had finally risen in the sky and everyone was ready for a real breakfast. As we turned off the highway, Martha exclaimed, “Oh, I can’t wait to get some freshly squozen orange juice!” No, that’s not a typo. She said freshly squozen and we all laughed riotously over this obvious malapropism and then had to figure out what the real expression should have been. After some discussion, we decided “fresh squeezed” was correct, but frankly, we loved her way so much better. After that, it was always freshly squozen for us!

Another time, also on one of our road trips south, she came up with another jewel that just shouldn’t be forgotten. At a certain point, the billboards begin proclaiming the upcoming business establishment of Stuckey’s, a well known roadside store in the South. The name probably rhymes with ‘lucky’, but my mother pronounced it as if it rhymed with ‘cookie’.  Every mile at least, there is another billboard: “Stuckey’s – 5 miles!” “Stuckey’s – 4 miles!” “Stuckey’s – 3 miles!” “Stuckey’s – 500 feet!” They wanted to be very sure you didn’t miss this place and it wasn’t even all that great. We did actually stop there once. No one was very impressed. Sorry, Stuckey. Once you pass this Stuckey, they start advertising the next one: “Stuckey’s – 50 miles!” You get the picture. Apparently they had a HUGE advertising budget. Finally, Martha was so tired of these signs, she proclaimed, “I’d like to stick a stick up Stuckey’s tooky!” [Tooky being her Southern pronunciation of tuchas]. We all cracked up and remember this every time we think about Stuckey’s or long road trips.

Martha would often ask me to get her a pin (rhymes with sin). I would dutifully look around her sewing items and bring back a pin out of the pin cushion.

“No, I need a pin,” she would tell me again and I would say, “This is a pin!”

“I need a writing pin,” she clarified.

“You mean a pen,” I would correct her pronunciation making it rhyme with ‘men’.

“That’s what I said, pin,” she would answer saying it exactly the same as before. I shut up and found her a pen. This happened often.

Sam could be much the same. When he came down South, he had to learn a whole new language almost. My husband and I were talking with him one day and he was ranting about the Kudzee vines that were taking over. Phil gently said, “It’s Kudzu” (pronounced correctly with a zoo on the end).

“Yeah, that’s what I said, Kudzee,” Sam replied and kept talking. We gave up trying to get him to see the error of his ways and so to this day, it’s Kudzee to us and we remember Sam fondly because of it.

Growing up in this multi-cultural home had its effect on me also. While in North Carolina on our yearly vacations, I would say something to my cousins such as ‘dawg’ for dog or ‘bawl’ for ball. They would laugh hysterically and says it’s ‘dahg’ and ‘bahl’. I was so embarrassed and it made me feel so out of place. But then, it got worse. One day in art school in New York, I said something about a foster home pronouncing it like ‘fahster’.

“You mean ‘fawster’ don’t you?” one of my classmates asked.

“That’s what I said, foster.” Everyone laughed at me. They wanted to hear what other words I said wrong (in their eyes) and ‘chocolate’ came up. I said ‘chah-co-loht’ to their ‘chaw-co-lawt’. I couldn’t win no matter where I went. My words, like so many other things, were a mish-mash of Northern and Southern.

When I first moved to North Carolina, people would often say, “You’re not from around here, are ya?” I would have to ‘fess up that I was indeed from the notorious New York. “Yeah, I thought so,” they would say. “You talk funny.” Now that I’ve lived here a long time, I rarely get that question anymore. I’ve changed my ways.

While we were still dating in North Carolina, Phil and I went to the movies to see “Blazing Saddles”. It is full of Yiddish words and sayings, most of which I knew which was funny in itself to me. However, they got to one part that really got to me because I thought it was only used in my own family. Mel Brooks and another person were dressed up as Indians and were sitting on their horses on a hilltop looking down at the last wagon in the wagon train trailing the others with a black family in it. Mel simply says, “Hmm. Schwartzes.” Well, I was laughing so hard at this I couldn’t even answer Phil when he wanted to know what was so funny. I was also the only one in the entire theater that was laughing at this. I was almost on the floor with hysteria.

Later, I explained. While I was growing up, the adults would talk in whispers about ‘the Shwatzies’ as I heard it which may have just been my mother’s southern pronunciation. It just means black in German or Yiddish and it was used to talk about black people without them knowing it. I don’t think it was meant in any derogatory way and I quickly figured out what it meant. But I had never heard it used anywhere else until that movie. Anyway, I thought it was amazing that it was more common than I realized.

Another great story we have is this one about Martha again. Lynn married a man whose mother, Katie, was also from Russia and while she had been in this country since she was a young girl, she still spoke with a very heavy accent and was difficult to understand, much like my grandfather, Pop. So one day, Katie meets her son Seymour’s betrothed and her family. Later, he told us what she said about Martha.

“Mahta iz veddy nice, but she spicks mid a hacksent!” Seymour roared with laughter and said to her, “And you don’t?” It’s all about what you’re used to.

Martha may have lived a long time in the City, but she never relinquished her accent either.

Differences in speech weren’t the only ones between my parents. There was also food. New York is bagels, pastrami, Chinese, Italian and more. The South is fried everything, vegetables cooked with fat back, country ham and biscuits. The food at our Store was strictly New York, but my mother tended to cook food like she had grown up with and he had to learn to eat it. Biscuits were fixed at most meals. However, to her credit, Martha did learn to cook many dishes that Sam liked. She fixed corned beef and cabbage at times, blintzes, arroz con pollo and matzo ball soup. My mother came to love Chinese food and on many a Sunday we had that. I’m pretty sure she never got Chinese food in Smithfield, NC!

Fortunately, I asked my mother to show me how to fix a few of the dishes she made that I especially liked and pimento cheese was one of them. So many times I would drop in to her house and she would have fresh pimento cheese made and it was so delicious especially on fresh bread. I later learned to make matzo ball soup and fed both of these to my husband and son who grew to love them also. One of our favorite meals now is just that: a combination of pimento cheese sandwiches and matzo ball soup – what a culture clash that is, but boy, it’s so good!

For me, it was so strange to go from the city environment to a place where grass and trees are everywhere, where you go barefoot the whole time, where there’s a lake to swim in, where people have horses, cows and chickens right down the street, where the town is only a few blocks long and everybody knows everybody else and their entire family history, where no one locks their doors or cars, where you catch June bugs and tie a string to their legs, where you wind through acres of tobacco or cotton to get to the forbidden river where you weren’t supposed to be, where some of your cousins worked in the fields to make money, where the movie theater cost $.50 which included popcorn and a drink, where Fred’s was the best place for a hot dog, where you had to snap the peas and beans that were going to be served for dinner, where you hung clothes outside to dry, where you could climb the chinaberry tree, where the days were hot, but the evenings cool, where the sky was Carolina blue and the air pure, where the tallest building was maybe three stories, where you play cards all day sometimes, where mosquitos, bees, wasps and spiders abound, and where there was an abundance of love from all your family that lived there.

Then, after a week or two of this, I would return to the land of skyscrapers where the air was filled with soot, the sidewalk hard and hot in the summer along with the roads, where grass and trees were hard to find, where pigeons crapped everywhere and were about the only wildlife you saw, where many of the people were foreign from different countries, where it was hard to make friends, and where the streets were considered dangerous.

I was always glad to be back in own little room, but I was often saddened and depressed when first arriving back in the city. Having seen both places, I always felt that I wanted to get out of New York one day and eventually I did. It was the best move I ever made. I returned to the South, my second home, met the best husband and have had a great life. No regrets.

Don’t get me wrong: I had a lot of good times in New York and will talk about them in another story, but I didn’t belong there in the long run. I appreciate my Jewish cultural history even though I don’t practice the religion. I think I’m lucky to have experienced both sides of the coin so to speak, but in the end, I opted to be thrown into the Briar Patch and I love it here.

When my sister’s husband heard I was leaving New York, he said to me, “Why would you want to leave here? [He hated the South and was a die-hard New Yorker]. “New York has everything! Museums, Broadway plays, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty!”

I’d already been to all of these things and they were great, but how many times can you do it? Besides, all he ever did was work and go bowling. That’s it. He’d never been to a museum or play in all his life! When I pointed out that he didn’t take advantage of any of the things that the city offered, his answer was, “But it’s there if I want it!”

Maybe so, but where I am now has everything I want.

Sam Singer Wreaks Havoc on the House

SAM SINGER WREAKS HAVOC ON THE HOUSE

 Around 1975, while living in their home on Crestwood Drive in Winston-Salem, Martha took a trip to Smithfield to visit family for a few weeks.

Meanwhile, Sam was alone in their house and having to fend for himself.

It was an unusual situation because Marcia had rarely spent any time with her father, just the two of them, but this time offered her that opportunity. They met and ate out for dinner a few times and had good visits. Marcia was now grown and not afraid of her father like when she was little. Sam had also mellowed out when he moved South and no longer had the stressful job of working in the Store. He was truly a different person and fun to be around.

However, some things don’t change. Sam was still messy.

Just a short time before this was a very sad time. In 1974, Martha’s mother, known to all as Mama Rose, became deathly sick with cancer. The family was trying their best to keep her at home and so the siblings were taking turns caring for her. Martha went to Smithfield to do her part and be near her beloved mother. A few weeks passed with Martha holding vigil by her mother’s bedside, but she was finally ready to come home. Surely it was a tiring task.

Marcia decided to go to the house to make sure it was in decent enough shape for her mother’s arrival. It wasn’t. There was much cleaning up that had to get done and so she did it.

During this time when Martha was away, Phil and Marcia became engaged and decided to share it with Sam and then they called Martha to tell her also. They were both thrilled and happy for them. This was in April around Easter time.

Mama Rose Gordon Sugg died June 6 of that year. It was a sad day for the whole family.

Marcia and Phil were married on August 4, 1974.

So this time around, Marcia had a pretty good idea what she might be up against with her mother gone for so long. She knew her dad well enough to know he wasn’t the neatest guy around. However, she was not quite prepared for what she found!

She walked through the house and each room was worse than the one before. The kitchen was a total disaster. Dried out flowers in a vase had curled up, died and fallen on the table. Newspapers were piled up. The countertop was adorned with egg shells and was crusted with dried egg that had dripped on it. Toasted bread crumbs were scattered around. One look in the fridge told her that food in there had rotted and turned moldy. Ugh! An assortment of dishes was piled up in the sink, unwashed.

The den where Sam watched TV had remnants of peeled oranges lying on the table and general messiness. His bed had obviously not been made and the coverlet was all over the floor along with various items of clothing. The bathroom had not been cleaned and was just plain nasty looking.

Marcia just about fainted, but realized that if her mother came home the next day to this disaster, she would probably want to walk back out the door! She couldn’t let that happen so she got to work.

Marcia worked harder that day than she ever had in her own home! She picked up everything that needed it, made the bed, cleaned and scrubbed the kitchen and bathroom, threw out the flowers and papers and even tackled the fridge. Most of that stuff went right into the trash, container and all! The contents were beyond putrid and she wouldn’t even open them up. Out they went. When all that was done, she dragged out the vacuum cleaner and was sucking up the dirt when Sam came home.

“I was going to clean up,” he calmly told Marcia.

Yeah, right, she thought. He let it go this bad for weeks! His idea of cleaning up wouldn’t have been too great either. At least this way, her mother would not come home to a complete mess. She was exhausted, but knew she’s done the right thing.

“I know. I just thought I’d help out,” she told him so as to not hurt his feelings. “Why don’t you finish the vacuuming?”

Carolina Mudcats vs. Dash Experience

CAROLINA MUDCATS EXPERIENCE

(click on photos for larger view)

 Our home team, the Winston-Salem Dash, were playing the Carolina Mudcats in Zebulon, NC and we decided to take a road trip and watch them play on July 18, 2012. It was clear but hot when we gassed up my Toyota for the 2-hour trip to Five County Stadium which is east of Raleigh. It was a day game starting at noon so we left about 9:00 a.m. and arrived just a little past 11:00 a.m. Perfect timing! We were both dressed in Dash gear and I had on my bright red Bolt shirt and Bolt Hat and Phil had on his purple Dash shirt and hat signed by all the Carolina League All Stars. No doubt who we were rooting for!

Water Tower

Water Tower

The first thing you see as you near the stadium from the highway is the Mudcats’ water tower which looks like a huge baseball with the Mudcats logo. Very cute! We pulled into the vast parking lot which was not paved and paid our $5.00 which gets you a free playbill. Whoopee!

We had a nice chat with the ticket ladies while trying to figure out what seats we wanted – the most important feature being in the shade. Apparently, there isn’t much, but the first 5 rows were under the upper section and so afforded a place out of the direct sun. When our lady found out we were Dash fans, she jokingly almost didn’t sell us tickets! Yeah, right.

Entrance to Five County Stadium

They needed all the sales they could get on this weekday day game. Let’s just say the crowd was sparse, as most games at this time would be. There were a bunch of kids’ groups there and they seemed to enjoy cheering on the Mudcats even if they didn’t really know the game.

Stadium outside

We spoke with another employee about the stadium and learned it was about 20 years old, but had undergone a ton of renovation and updating in the late 90’s and beyond so now it was quite a nice stadium seemingly in the middle of nowhere. However, one of their sponsors’ signs boasted that a Wal-Mart was only one mile down the road and so civilization is nearby.

Stadium seats

Stadium seats

As you can see from the photos, the seats are a bright orange like their logo which has a catfish in it, an unusual choice of a mascot, but minor leagues are known for some strange mascots! They did have a guy in a Mudcat suit who was known as Muddy, of course. He played in some of the games and tossed out T-shirts once. In the fifth inning he signs autographs and after the game you can get photos with him (as I did). Our first stop inside was the Team Store where I purchased a Mudcats pin for my hat.

Marcia with Muddy

Marcia with Muddy

Cafe

Cafe

The theme in the ballpark concession area was fishing. I guess no surprise there. Bait Shop was the name we saw a lot among others. I was scoping out the food places and noticed that “Catfish Sandwich” was on the menu. Yes, they assured me it was really catfish too. I declined. I found another stand that sold BBQ, more to my liking.

I spoke with Bev White, a wonderful lady at the Info Booth and she saw the many baseball pins on my hat and said she and her husband, one of the ushers, traveled around to many of the stadiums also. I soon found out they will be at the Dash game next week and so hopefully she will find us to say hello.

Scoreboard & ads

Scoreboard & ads

We had some conversations with our usher, Frank, also, so I would have to say the employees we spoke with were quite friendly. Our seats were great: in the shade and the concourse apparently acts like a wind tunnel and we had a boisterous breeze cool us off. We were so close to the Dash players on deck, we could see just how big or small they really were. I said Hi to a few including pitching coach Gary Ward. I hope they appreciate that there were some fans there for them.

Scoreboard #2

There were two scoreboards, one of which posted the pitch velocity, but no pitch count or strikeout tally. However, that was not a big deal although we do enjoy those new amenities at the Dash ballpark. The entertainment though was definitely not as quite as enthusiastic and enjoyable as the Dash and some other places. They did have a few games, but much of the between inning stuff was advertisements and announcements on their Jumbotron which was more a Mini-tron. (It was quite small compared to most. Perhaps it shows up better at night.) It was okay, but maybe a little boring. No dancing girls or even dogs. I guess there’s not much you can do with a catfish.

The game was exciting and included errors, great plays, lousy plays, pitching both good and bad, lots of runs and even homers. For a short time, the mother of a Dash pitcher sat behind us and was cheering on her son. Unfortunately, he was not having a good day on the mound. She was visiting him and following the team around the area. Another Dash groupie like us.

Field

Field

Apparently, for the home team, a siren sounds with a home run and they shoot off fireworks for multiple runs with a homer. Unfortunately, we heard those a lot. Going into the last inning, the Dash were down 11-4. They did make a great offensive rally in the top of the 9th inning with 5 runs, but still fell short and lost 11-9. Ah well. This is baseball and you have to learn to accept disappointment. Can’t win ‘em all!

Speed Pitch area

Speed Pitch area

We headed home about 3:20 p.m. and hit some hard rain for a short time, but then it cleared off and it was smooth sailing the rest of the way home. I give this experience 4 ½ stars.

Aquilla, Indian Captive: the story behind this book

Aquilla

Aquilla, Indian Captive

Ava Gardner and my mother both were born in 1922 and 1921 respectively and were both raised in the same area of North Carolina: Smithfield, the County Seat of Johnston County. Ava was actually from a small patch of ground called Grabtown, but Smithfield has claimed her for their own as the closest actual town. Smithfield has a small but nice downtown area which they spiffed up one year and won awards for their efforts at beautification. While I actually grew up in Queens, New York, I spent time in Smithfield every summer so my mother could visit her family. They knew the Gardner family and my uncle is rumored to have dated Ava Gardner a time or two, along with many others. Smithfield is also the home of the Official home of the Ava Gardner Museum which I visited last year. If you love Ava and her films, I highly recommend a visit there. So I can claim 2 degrees of separation to Ava!

So Ava and her beauty found their way to Hollywood and stardom.  My mother, Martha Ann Sugg, met and married a Yankee from New York during World War II.

My father, Sam Singer, was a soldier and was in Durham, NC for a dance and that’s where they met. Can you imagine the shock of her family when she announced that she was going to marry  not only a ‘Yankee’ but also a Jew? I don’t think Smithfield had ever seen a Jew! And you know that DamnYankee is one word in the South. On the other hand, Sam’s family wasn’t too thrilled about him bringing home a shiksa from Tobacco Road, so to speak. They didn’t think anyone in the South had indoor plumbing, electric appliances or schools. Yet, they loved each other.

Martha ended up living in New York City in a small 2-bedroom apartment (and some in-laws for a while to boot) and eventually had three children to raise. She didn’t work outside the home because it just wasn’t really done in those days and she had plenty to keep up with anyway. She did not go to college, but was certainly well educated and read a lot of books.

My mother is my hero for a lot of reasons, but I will tell you about one of them.

One of the best things she did for me was to take me to the local library as soon as I had learned to read in the first grade and got me my very own library card in my name, not hers! This card was, and still is, the key to my becoming an avid reader from then on and a pathway to any future endeavors I might pursue. I also received a good education in the public schools of Elmhurst, but probably the majority of what I have learned came from the books I have read.

In 1973, Sam had sold his business and there wasn’t a lot keeping them in New York and my mother must have lobbied to move elsewhere. They considered Florida where my father’s family had moved, but one visit nipped that idea in the bud!  Neither cared for the heat and humidity. We were then informed that they were going to move to Winston-Salem, NC.  My mother wanted to be in North Carolina, but in a slightly bigger, more sophisticated town than her hometown, but it was within driving distance. I followed later that year and Winston-Salem became my home too.

No one was more surprised than I was when my mother asked me one day if I knew anyone who could type up some pages for her and when I inquired more I found out that she had an entire book she’s written on the sly! Apparently she had been working on it for about 10 years and yet told no one. Who knew she had it in her! It would have cost a fortune to pay someone to type up pages and pages of practically undecipherable handwritten notes.  So naturally, I offered to do it because I had a computer.  This was in the 80’s and I had WordPerfect 5.1 and DOS was the only operating system.  Microsoft wasn’t even out yet. She gave me her manuscript and it was a mess, but I dove in and worked on it. I had a very hard time reading her handwriting, but would call and ask What’s this say? I finally finished and printed it out. I loved the book! It was actually quite an interesting story and I felt it had a lot of merit. It was about a 15-year old girl, Aquilla Lloyd, who lived in Bath, NC in 1711 and was captured by Indians for a while. There was even a little romance. The book was intended for teens about that age, but it will appeal to people of all ages. However, she sent out a few chapters to a number of publishing companies, but was rejected each time with form letters that it just wasn’t what they were looking for at this time or some such excuse.

Time went by and she died in 1993 with brain cancer. A very dark time in my life. Everytime I saw the box full of her notes, I wanted to do something with her novel, but had no idea, so there it sat. When I finally got Microsoft Word, I converted my computer files of the book into that, but still, no ideas came to me.

Finally, not long ago I read an article in our local newspaper about a woman who had self-published her work as an eBook. Now this was something I decided to check out and when I found out you could publish books without a publisher, I was all over it. I did some research on the internet and found out how to format the book and got to it. I used a story I had written as a test book. Originally it was just my venting about certain events that I put to paper for ‘therapy’ and it was not intended for publication, but I decided, Why not? Then I would know more about getting Aquilla out there. After more work, I was able to get “Aquilla, Indian Captive” published on the various sites.

This spurred my interest in writing my own books and I came up with a great idea in a dream that I am working on now: the Jonny Dimbo series.

Regardless of whether I sell many of my own eBooks, I am just so happy that Aquilla has found her voice and that other people will hear her story. I did this as a tribute to my sweet mother and I hope that wherever she is now, she will know that her dream to publish her book is now a reality. I hope that everyone who reads it will find it worthwhile and appreciate the woman behind the story. Aquilla and my mother share many of the same qualities: a sense of humor, the ability to stand up under hardships and make the best of it, putting the welfare of other’s above her own, doing what has to be done without complaining or whining, never being judgmental of others and a profound sense of who she is and proud of it.

Ava Gardner had the same roots as my mother, but because of her beauty, found fame in the bright lights of Hollywood. Martha became a wife and mother, a different, yet important role.  I am so proud of my mother for what she did for me during her lifetime and I am honored that I am able to perhaps find just a little bit of fame for her.

I thank anyone who reads about Aquilla for their part in making this happen. Please feel free to send me feedback because that is what helps to make this all worthwhile.  The book about Aquilla is selling very well on Amazon.com.

Mom, I love you. Marcia

P.S. I sometimes wonder how different things would be if Ava had married my uncle!