Monday, July 23, 2012

"Heirlooms we don't have in our family. But stories we've got." ~ Rose Cherin

Although he passed away from a heart attack before my second birthday, I can not remember a time when I did not know about the man my mother called Dad.  

Born in a time when horse and carriages outnumbered automobiles on the road, he lived to see the Apollo Missions.  He was born to a good-sized middle class family.   He had two sisters, one elder and one younger, both of whom were very involved in my life while growing up.  

Growing up in the Roaring Twenties, he was in high school when the crash came and the Great Depression hit.   According to family stories, my great-grandfather had passed on early in his life. When the hard times came he did what he could to help keep food on the table.  Up to and including- ahem- extra legal means.  

Most people remember Prohibition as part of the Roaring Twenties that ended with the Crash of '29, but it wasn't until 1933 that the 18th Amendment was actually repealed.  Bathtub gin, moonshine and other hard liquors were commodities that people wanted for the cachet at first, and then, the comfort found in alcohol during hard times during those first years of the Great Depression. 

More than one illicit still was kept busy and profitable during this time, and according to the stories, my grandfather was part of the trade as a bootlegger.  He (allegedly) smuggled sugar over state lines to avoid the various taxes assessed against cane sugar by the revenuers.  Being a suspicious sort, I would not be surprised if there was also some deliveries made of the final product and cigarettes as well.  

Fortunately,  he either never got caught or his best customers were among the local law enforcement; because he graduated High School, went into the Merchant Marine and from there the US Navy.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"I reverently believe that the Maker who made us all makes everything in New England but the weather. I don't know who makes that, but I think it must be raw apprentices in the weather-clerk's factory who experiment and learn how, in New England, for board and clothes, and then are promoted to make weather for countries that require a good article, and will take their custom elsewhere if they don't get it". - Mark Twain "The Weather" speech, 1876

C'est quotation has to be one of the best descriptions of NE weather I have come across.  I admit that I don't speak with the weight of years behind me compared to some, but if anyone is an expert on the weather, they reside in NE.

 If it's not hot, it's cold or wet and can change in an instant.   The forecasters are frequently suspected of using ancient prognostication methods for their daily reports.   I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the reason for the long stable prices on poultry in NH is due to the meteorology profession.

The weather has fluctuated in true NE fashion from gorgeous to the fields of hell, which this weekend was.  The unrelenting heat and humidity hit like a sledgehammer and left everyone cracked and shattered around the edges.

The oppressive humidity of the last several days finally broke me enough to actually go out and buy an air conditioner.  Since returning to NE, SSG and I have stubbornly refused to buy even a small one.  Why get an AC for at most a week of nasty weather?   We lived in both South Korea and Georgia for several years and knew what a humid summer was like.

This past weekend convinced me that summers in NE are trending warm and hot for the entire season compared to the seasons I remember from childhood.  Back than the summers were slow to warm and quick to finish.   I remember attending school in the fall in sweaters and jackets with killing frosts before October.   Now, the fall colors remain until the week of Halloween when the chill dreary weather I remember from childhood returns to NH.

 In some ways I revel in the seasons now, but not when it's so hot I'm dragging the dogs into the shower daily to cool them off so they don't suffer.