Weekly Photo Challenge: Family

November 8, 1980

Boys in the tree

Cory Lemmon wasn’t entirely named after his father, Cory Oscar Lemmon.

“When they had me,” Cory said, “well, the old man said he wanted me to be named after him. My mother said, ‘I’ll never do it.’

“He said, ‘I want him to be named after me,’ and he just really bellered on and she said, ‘All right. But the name’s Cory Lemmon and nothin’ else.’

“He said, ‘Well, how ’bout the middle name?’

“‘No middle name. Cory Lemmon and nothin’ else.'”

“He drank and ran around with other women,” Cory said. Other people thought he was the “best guy that ever lived, but he’d go out and get drunk and his mind would just go. I can remember another thing when I was real small. Dad came home one night, drunk, and had a buggy whip, that would sting and cut. He was gonna whip us all. My brother Freeman was big enough; he run up and grabbed him and took it away from him, and run. He knew the old man couldn’t catch him.”

Cory’s mother, Mary Etta Conner, met Cory Oscar somewhere in Ohio near Perrysville, north of Columbus and just a little east of Mansfield. When she was young, Mary Etta’s family lived in a one-room log cabin. There was a ladder to a loft upstairs and that’s where she slept. It was cold up there and sometimes she’d wake in the morning and there would be snow on her bed that had drifted in through the cracks as she slept.

Mary Etta only went to school until the third grade. Times were hard and I suspect she was needed at home. She met and married Cory Oscar Lemmon in 1896 when she was 16 years old. He was 28. “In those days, it wasn’t too much to get married early like that because they didn’t have nothin’ to look forward to,” Cory’s wife, Anna Adams Lemmon, later said. “And if they got married, the parents didn’t have to worry about ’em.”

Cory was the youngest of the eight children that Cory Oscar and Mary Etta had. Cory was just a young boy when Cory Oscar ran off and started another family with another woman. So Cory pretty much grew up in a single-parent home, but his mother was a strong, capable, and determined woman.

“I went to school through the eighth grade,” Cory said, “and then I had to quit and get a job and help Mom. I only made $3.00 a week during the Depression. The worst part about it was, my mother and I had to live and pay rent all winter on that $3.00. She worked at the mill, but she didn’t make any more than enough to get us some beans and gravy.”

Despite the poor example set by his father, Cory grew up to be a responsible family man and father. He worked as a milkman and then as a used-car salesman.

My mother was his oldest daughter of three children. My father was in the army and stationed overseas when my mother was due to deliver my oldest sister. When the time came to go to the hospital,  my grandfather took her, and then sent a telegram to my father  in Germany.

He and my grandmother held a Christmas party every year for their three children, grandchildren, and eventually great-grandchildren. During these events, my grandfather wandered around the room snapping photographs with his latest toy, a Polaroid camera. He loved auctions and had a garage full of trinkets and boxes of stuff he had bought. Neighbors used to come to him if they needed a cork, or some little random thing. He gave me a brass floor lamp one time after I was rattling around in the garage with him. In later years, when he played checkers with my little boys, he refused to just let them win. He said when they won, they would know they deserved to win.

In 1992 we celebrated Thanksgiving at the home of one of my cousins in Piqua, Ohio. I had all four of our children by then. Our youngest was one year old. So I might have been distracted and my memories aren’t very clear. I remember only a few things from that Thanksgiving. I remember sitting on a sofa in a small, dim room, so characteristic of many of the homes in that small town. I remember somebody brought oyster dressing for the meal, because I’d never had it before. And I remember as we were leaving, watching my grandfather, wearing his overcoat and  dress hat with my grandmother holding on to his arm, shuffling slowly down the steps, and across the sidewalk to his car.

I never saw him again.

Today I am thankful for all the men and women who came before me, who sometimes persevered in less than the best of circumstances, and who had perhaps a large, or even only a small part in making me who I am.

I am thankful for all the men and women who will come after me, and in whom some small part of me may live on.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Circa late 1880s —Boys in the tree: Cory is at the bottom. His brother William Alvey is at the top.

Something to Celebrate – a guest post at The Idiot Speaketh

Today it is my great honor to be a guest blogger at The Idiot Speaketh (otherwise known as Mark). When I first started reading Mark’s blog, he was in the middle of his virtual trip across the US and Canada on his stationary bike. I was enthralled by his energy, commitment, and creativity. His humorous blogs, admittedly 90% fiction at times, keep me smiling at the Idiot’s antics. What kind of a warped mind would think of doing that? I often wonder. Mark also blogs about entertainment in the 70’s and 80’s and has refreshed my memory on many of my favorite musicians, movies, and television shows. Mark also blogs about his disability due to a spinal surgery gone terribly wrong, and the resulting law suit. Well-worth reading. As I’ve gotten to know him better through his blogs and comments, I realize that even though at times I shake my head at the antics of the Idiot, there is a kind, gentle, and very support man behind the curtain.

I hope you’ll take a minute to read my guest post, Something to Celebrate, at The Idiot Speaketh. Then I hope you’ll click around a bit on Mark’s blog where he says, “I do this blog because I like to hopefully make people smile or laugh a little bit each day in these otherwise tough and depressing times.”

Thank you Mark.

The Idiot Speaketh (Mark) in front of the Empire State Building with his stationary bike.

Weekly photo challenge: Wonder

This challenge was very challenging for me. I have seen so many things in my 54 years that have filled me with wonder.

I thought about posting one of the awesome natural features I’ve seen at the parks in this country, or across the ocean.

Grand Canyon Coast of Hawaii

I thought about posting one of the incredible man or woman-made creations on display here or there.

I thought about the wonder of something incomprehensibly large like the universe, or amazingly tiny yet complex like an insect or a newborn fawn.

But when I remember the moment in my life when I was filled with the most wonder, it was the moment I held in my arms my first child.

Weekly photo challenge: Windows

I was on the WWII tour of Europe with some of my daughter’s high school classmates, and a good friend of mine, Jan. Jan was making a point of visiting every cathedral we were near for a project she was doing. Otherwise I would have missed it.

We were in Paris, and had just visited, and been awestruck by the Cathedral of Notre Dame.

Cathedral of Notre Dame, Paris, rose window.

Then Jan said, “My sister told me there is another cathedral close by that she loved and that we shouldn’t missed.” So Jan led the way, and sure enough, a few blocks from Notre Dame, we came across the Sainte-Chapelle. When we stepped into the upper chappel I thought I had been transported to a magical, spirital place.

Sainte-Chapelle, Paris, France

I sat in one of the chairs that lined the walls, listened to very tinkling soft music that filled the space, and soaked in the light that shone through the colorful windows that gave the illusion of supporting the structure. “Supported by slender piers, the vaulted ceiling seems to float above magnificent stained-glass windows.” (http://www.discoverfrance.net/France/Cathedrals/Paris/Sainte-Chapelle.shtml)

Sainte-Chapelle, Paris, France

I’ve never since experienced anything like it.

Rose window at Sainte-Chapelle

Weekly photo challenge—Opportunity

I’d like to take this opportunity to catch up on a couple of things meriting mention.

First, I’d very much like to thank everyone who has bought Dancing in Heaven, and those who have read it and given me feedback. In particular, I’d like to thank Nancy who blogs as dogear6 at My Life in Photos. Nancy was kind enough to write a review of Dancing in Heaven for me that I have linked on my Dancing in Heaven page and that you can read here.

Second, I’d like to thank Sue who blogs at Dreamwalker Sanctuary for the Versatile Blogger Award. You can read interesting facts about Sue and the Versatile Blogger Award at her Versatile Blogger post. As I told Sue, it was kind of her to nominate me, but I would not be officially accepting the award as I have already done so in the past. You can read about my seven fascinating facts, and who I nominated for the award, at my post, Rapunzel Speaks and Gives out Awards.

Now, on to the entertainment portion of today’s program.

In the fall of 2006, I was taking a photography class at the College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati, Ohio. One of our requirements was to prepare a slide show. I decided to do one about the Ohio River, set to the song Old Man River performed by Bee Adair. Which is all rather insignificant. But I spent a lot of days journeying along the river, looking for photo opportunities.

The other thing you need to know is that every two or three years, Cincinnati hosts a Tall Stacks event on the riverfront where riverboats gather and a big festival is celebrated. Tall Stacks was being held in 2006.

One day I was driving east along the river and I pulled over into a park to see if there was anything photo worthy, when a couple of red and blue flags caught my eye. Being curious, I wandered over and much to my delight, found the Mississippi Queen and the Delta Queen moored side-by-side. The river was low and they were waiting until it rose to continue their journey to Cincinnati.

I got there just in time to see them pulling in their landing ramp, untying the large ropes strung to sturdy trees, and casting off up (or maybe it’s down) the river to Cincinnati.

I entered the photograph in a contest and received an Honorable Mention for it. The photograph appeared (in a very small version) in the 2007 Best of College Photography Annual.

The Delta Queen and Mississippi Queen on the Ohio River east of Cincinnati