Thursday, May 1, 2008

I Must Be Insane...

Don't ask me why, but I somehow got the idea that it would be fun and cute to take Herbert, the giant stuffed duck, with me grocery shopping today. I thought I'd take him with me and take pics of him doing various grocery store type things. I don't know what I was thinking. Yes , I do. I was thinking it would make a really cute layout. (pics to come..I want to get this down before I forget.)

So, I loaded him into the van..being safe of course I put him into Ben's car seat and put his seat belt on him.

Then, it was off to Tops. Once we got there, Herbert got to ride up front so that I'd have room to put groceries in the back. Right from the first moment I put him into the cart, the looks started. I could almost hear people thinking I must have escaped from some sort of loony bin, especially when I would stop and snap some pictures. A couple of people approached me and I told them that I was doing it to send the pictures to my kids...shame on me for dragging my poor, sweet innocent children into this. Now I'll send them the pics just so I'm not a liar!

I stopped to get a slice of pizza and a soda from the deli (I hadn't eaten lunch yet) and went to sit down in the eatery area and this woman thought that I had a baby in a very yellow parka in my cart..right til it didn't move. Then, I had to explain that it was a giant stuffed duck. She thought it was rather amusing.

So, things were going...ok...until I got to the aisle that had the pastas and such in it. While I was standing there trying to decide if I wanted to go with a wheat pasta or what, this sweet older lady came up and asked me if I could afford to feed such a large duck. I laughed and said he was rather big. She told me this story of when she was young...

They lived on the edge of a valley that had a stream that ran through it. One day a fire tore through the valley and their house burned to the ground. Her father went to someone and had them build up the walls of the valley and basically dammed up the stream until it was like a small lake. Ducks of course love the lake and came to nest there. Her mother would go out and clap her hands and call to the ducks and they would line up in formation and walk up to the house to be fed. Then, they would jabber at her mother and go back down to the water. She said it was like they were saying thank you. She said they had 1000 ducks.

Another lady came up about then and told me that she got a giant 5' monkey for Christmas that she took with her to play penuchle (how do you spell that?) one night but he got more attention than she did so she didn't take him anymore.

So shopping continued til I got down to the other half of this aisle and the first older woman was standing there. We got to talking again and she told me how she'd spent her whole life taking people in and feeding anyone who needed to be fed. Her husband had always told her that he didn't care what she did with the weekly paycheck, that he'd get a 2nd job if need be..just make sure their bills were paid and there was food on the table and after that she could do what she wanted with the money.

She lives alone now, but has a tenant who has lived in part of her house for 6 years. She charges him $300/month and won't allow him to pay her a dime more. He's asked her to let him pay her more and she refuses.

She also told me this story about a friend of hers..she has 2 friends who are like sisters to her Anna and Lula (her name is Anna, as well). Well, her friend Lula has led an extraordinare life.

When she was just 8 years old, her family was captured by the Nazis in Austria and put into a concentration. Her father and her 5 brothers were lined up and shot in the head, right in front of her. She stayed in the concentration camp for 3 years until she was somehow freed. From there, she was forced to run and hide. While walking down the road one day, a car pulled up beside her and a drunk man asked her to marry him. She said yes, but neither really knew what the other had said.

Time went on and these two ran into each other again, this time they did get married. They couldn't get married in a church though, so they went to a priest who married them in his home. After they were married though, they somehow crossed the border and he was arrested and she was put back into a concentration camp. The nazis wanted to use her for...well, I'm sure you can imagine what they might want a pretty young girl for.

The Americans freed them and she was forced to run and hide, without any money or even shoes on her feet. After a while, she ended up sleeping in a park. On her 3rd day there, a man walked up to her. It was her husband! They ran and hid together. A friend told them about a farmer who would let them work for him, but they mustn't be seen. They went there and worked for him for a while.

They decided that they wanted to leave and the farmer paid for the plane to take them to someplace safe. From there, they went on to Canada. They lived in Canada and he worked at a gas station. By then, she had 2 children. One who was born in Austria and another who was severely handicapped. She had been pregnant in between but the baby had died inside her..and in this woman's words, she had prayed so hard that the baby slipped right out of her, but it left her sick inside which caused the last baby to be handicapped.

Her husband's boss decided to go to the US and offered to take the family with him. They moved to Lockport (NY) and he got a job working at the locks. After a few years, she wanted to buy a home to raise their family in. Her husband said no and said that the only home he would have would be right there...pointing at a huge tree just within a a cemetery. Ten days later, he fell into the locks and drowned.

She had $3 to her name and so she couldn't afford to bury her husband. Two priests from different churches buried him, right where he had pointed. During the funeral, another woman stole the $3 that she had, leaving her penniless, homeless and with 2 small children.

Social services stepped in and told her that they were taking the children away from her because she couldn't afford to take care of them. She told them no, that where her children went, she went as well. And she did. They took her children to a home for handicapped children that had been built by Rockefeller. She got a job working there cleaning.

After a few years of working there, she decided that she was going to buy a home. She went to a realtor who asked her how much she had to put down. She told them nothing and they told her they couldn't sell her a house then. So, she went to her Union because that's where all of her money had been going and told them that she wanted $10,000 because she was going to buy a house. They told her to come back the next day and they would see what they could do. That night, she went back to the realtor and told them that she would have the money and to show her some houses. They showed her one. Nearby was another home and she said, "What about that one?" They told her it would cost more and she said it can't cost that much more. I want that house. The next day, she went back to the Union and they gave her the money. She bought the house that she wanted, a 2 family home and paid for it with the $10,000.

Her son (the handicapped one) only lived to the age of 23, but according to Anna, her friend Lula is one of the happiest people in the world.

As for Anna, she will be 91 at the end of this month. She still lives on her own, in the house her and her husband bought together and paid cash for. She has never had a bill, nothing outstanding. She still drives and does all of her own yard work. She's part of 3 senior groups and very decidedly feels that I shouldn't get remarried. Why should I potentially put myself through that kind of pain again or let a man tell me what to do? I think she is an incredible woman and I only regret not asking her if I could take her picture. Maybe one day I'll see her again at the grocery store. I know that she lives not far away on Dick Rd.

After wishing our new friend goodbye, Herbert and I finally finished our grocery shopping and headed home. A couple more people stopped us and he got his photo taken a few more times. Now, nearly 4 hours later (we left at 4:15 and got home at 7:45) were home and relaxing before I start putting all those groceries away. I think he's taking a nap.


Jim said...

OK, loved this post. Loved the personal history stories and I saw the pics on Flickr .... they are absolutely adoreable!

kraftyladyincali said... what you're realllly trying to tell us after not hearing from you in over 3 that you're on drugs?
too cute!

Klo said...

we are so going to hang out....I LOVE this story...and I can tell Herbert and I would be very good friends too

Dona'Scrap said...

amazing story...all from a stuffed duck...

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