Good Old Days Newsletter
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Who was Alvin C. York and for what is he famous?
A Dollhouse Designer
I have mentioned in previous newsletters that my family and I have been on a cleaning and purging binge this year. We have tackled closets, storage rooms and cabinets, and we are now on a first-name basis with the fun folks at the Goodwill donation door. It's a great feeling to pare down and simplify, but it's not without pain from time to time.
One such painful experience was when we unearthed an old dollhouse of mine from its inappropriate storage in a basement crawlspace. The dollhouse was an original, to say the least. My dad fashioned it back in 1969 from a wooden soda-bottle case he garnered from his previous job as a Coca-Cola distributor. He had turned the case on one side and attached a peaked roof made from thin paneling he found in his garage. Voila! I then had a five-section dollhouse ready to decorate.
My mom and I spent hours cutting scraps of wallpaper, fabric and carpeting, and then gluing the pieces to the "rooms." I picked the colors myself, and my mom cheerfully went along with the choices, despite her more refined decorating instincts. A gray-paneled kitchen with a flowered border was next to the orange-wallpapered living room with brown "hardwood" contact paper on the first floor. On the second floor of the case, a blue-and-white bathroom adjoined a master bedroom in bright colors of green and yellow. And on the very top floor, right under the peak of the roof, we created a shockingly pink nursery with shag carpeting. We painted over the scrawling red "Coca-Cola" script on the sides of the house and added more brown contact paper to the rooftop. Until such time as there were funds to buy real dolls and authentic-looking tiny furniture to go with the dollhouse, dolls were made from more fabric scraps. Furniture consisted of things like overturned shaving cream caps for chairs and green plastic strawberry containers for the baby's bed. I thought it was a most beautiful home, and I played with it for years.
When we rediscovered the dollhouse, it had irreparable moisture damage. A hasty decision when we moved into our new home years ago resulted in the destruction of a beloved keepsake. Almost as disappointed as I was, my carpenter husband vowed to construct a similar new one that we can enjoy decorating with our grandchildren someday.
I decided right then and there that I would let them pick all the colors.'Til next time,
Mary Beth Weisenburger,
Good Old Days® magazine
PS. Do you still have a dollhouse or other treasured toy from your childhood? Send a brief response to me at Editor@GoodOldDaysMagazine.com and it could appear in a future newsletter or in Good Old Days magazine! Here are several email responses from the Aug. 27, 2014, newsletter question: How did you creatively beat the heat in your younger years? Keep your replies coming!
Ginger C. responded: "We had a two-story house that was built in the late 1800s. We had lots of large windows, 18-20-foot ceilings in every room, and ceiling fans in all the bedrooms. My bedroom was octagonal and faced southwest. I cut open an old burlap feed bag, fastened it to the outside of one of my windows (in the shade), wired up a hose set to a drip, put an old oscillating fan on a stand inside that window and closed all the other windows and doors to my room. It was the coolest room in the house until my folks got a window unit for their bedroom (used at night only) in 1959 or '60. I really enjoy your magazine ... those really were the Good Old Days!"
Deborah C. shared: "Before Castro's revolution hit Cuba, my family spent 2 1/2 years in an apartment in Havana. There were ceiling fans but no air conditioning. The bedrooms all connected to a small square anteroom where my father put a large cylindrical floor fan to contribute a little more circulation at night. There were nights when my 6-year-old self just couldn't take the heat anymore, and I would curl up on the tile floor wrapped around that fan! I used the side of the fan facing my room, so the other rooms still got some relief!"
Bev K. commented: "After reading your article, it brought back so many wonderful memories of the dog days of summer. We never thought about the heat, as we were fortunate to have the big box fan. It rotated from room to room as each went to bed. Summers were a carefree time to just play. We rode our bikes to the community pool or to the beach. Can you imagine kids of 9 years old today being allowed to ride their bikes 2-3 miles to go swimming? It was a gentler place in time. Thank you for bringing me back to Memory Lane!"
Mary Beth Weisenburger has been with Annie's since April 2011. She has 25 years of experience in the marketing, advertising and publishing fields. In addition to her job as editor of Good Old Days, she has been writing a family humor column for over a decade. She and her husband, two college-age kids, two dogs and various other critters live on five acres in the country, where she enjoys reading on the back porch, refinishing furniture, feeding the birds and digging in the dirt of her perennial gardens.
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Alvin C. York was drafted into the U.S. Army during World War I. Only a corporal then, he nearly single-handedly took out an entire German machine-gun battalion on Oct. 8, 1918. Taking command after his senior officers were shot, York himself killed over a dozen German soldiers and, with seven of his comrades, managed to capture 132. After the event, he wrote in his diary:
And those machine guns were spitting fire and cutting down the undergrowth all around me something awful. And the Germans were yelling orders. You never heard such a racket in all of your life. I didn't have time to dodge behind a tree or dive into the brush ... As soon as the machine guns opened fire on me, I began to exchange shots with them. There were over thirty of them in continuous action, and all I could do was touch the Germans off just as fast as I could. I was sharp shooting ... All the time I kept yelling at them to come down. I didn't want to kill any more than I had to. But it was they or I. And I was giving them the best I had.York's efforts enabled the 328th Infantry to secure a railway position that was important to the Allies. Promoted to sergeant afterward, he was later awarded the Medal of Honor and the French Croix de Guerre for his heroics. Gary Cooper later portrayed York in the 1941 movie, Sergeant York.
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