Posted by: lafouch | September 8, 2009

Labor Day

Labor Day is here. This was not my mother’s favorite time of the year. I remember her sitting on the back steps of our home feeling blue because the summer was over. It wasn’t as though she wouldn’t have a wonderful time during the next seasons of the year. She just hated people leaving. She saw it as the end of something instead of the beginning of something.

This had an interesting effect on my life. My father was a bank examiner during my early years. Since my mother hated his leaving for work on the road, we traveled with him during my first six years. Ithaca, Syracuse, Oneida, Albany and Elmira were names familiar to me. I traveled sometimes by train and sometimes by car. One of my earliest memories was of snow swirling around the windshield of a car, which my family told me was from a trip to Oneida during a blizzard. I was also told that I caused my family to miss a train by not drinking my orange juice.

One clear memory I had was of dinner in a hotel restaurant with a dance floor. Someone came up and asked me to dance. My family agreed I could dance with the stranger. He asked me what music I would like for dancing. I said, “A Tisket A Tasket”. We went and made the request of the orchestra and that’s what they played. For years I felt extremely embarrassed that I had picked a child’s nursery song. Only when I was fully grown did I discover that it was a popular tune at the time because James C. Petrillo, who was head of the musician’s union at that time, had banned (from 1942–1944) all commercial recordings by union members in an attempt to get better royalty deals for musicians. (The C in his name stood for Caesar.)

We stayed in hotels for weeks at a time. I remember one hotel had a store in its basement. I would get on the elevator and go down to talk to the woman who ran the store. How did my mother ever keep me occupied at this time without the help of people in the hotel?

I also remember green ice cream from this time. There was a restaurant in one of the towns we visited. I remember it was called, “The Green Lantern Inn.” In an internet search I found this possibility, “The Green Lantern Inn has been a landmark in the Rochester New York area for over 125 years. Originally built as a private residence, the Inn was converted to a boarding house, a tavern, a full service restaurant and is presently a banquet facility.” Why would I remember this restaurant out of the many restaurants where we ate during this time? Because for dessert we had green ice cream molded into the shape of a green lantern. I wonder if they still do.

Posted by: lafouch | August 30, 2009

Summer Activities: Play and Exploration

Rock Climbing Early YearsOutdoor play in the summer was filled with imagination. Sometimes we were superheroes (Wonder Woman and Superman) with pillowcase capes and garbage can lids for shields running down the road. Since, the Lake was on the site of Indian summer camps, we often played at being Indians, running through the woods and climbing rocks. There were special places we were sure had been used by Indians for some purpose and we imagined ourselves there with them. We hunted for arrowheads and grinding stones. We made peace pipes of acorns and twigs.

In the woods, we found wintergreen berries, which puckered your mouth, pipsissewa, Indian pipes, mushrooms. Sometimes after damp weather, we would find red efts under the rocks. We ate bits of birch bark off the new shoots and sassafras leaves. We looked for special rocks (special to us).
red eft

At night we found fireflies and captured them in bottles, letting them go at bedtime. We saw a beautiful luna moth on out back porch screen one night and my father told me he had collected moths as a young boy. You put honey on a tree to attract them as I recall. I never tried it so I can‘t be sure. My father also told me he had watched the red ants fighting with the black ants along the path to the house. That inspired a friend and me to try to create our own ant farm. We gathered a nest of ants and their eggs into a box and transported it to a rock that was out in the Lake about 40 feet from shore. We took some dirt and thought the ants would set up housekeeping on this rock and we’d see how they did it. The next day when we went back there wasn’t a sign of them. Every ant and every egg had disappeared. When I told my father about it, he said the ants had formed a bridge to shore and carried the eggs back to land. They could walk on water.

Judie Fouchaux

Posted by: lafouch | August 29, 2009

Summer Fun: Carnivals

Reno, Nevada

Reno, Nevada

I was reminded of the carnivals of my childhood this past weekend when we drove to Reno for a concert. We spent some time at the Arcade at Circus Circus. Once again I played the horse races. This is a game where you toss a ball through various openings. Each opening moves the horse and jockey forward until one horse wins. I came home with a medium sized teddy bear.
Circus Circus, Reno, Nevada

Circus Circus, Reno, Nevada

Each summer the carnival would come to a town near the Lake. Off we would go with our saved up money in our pockets. It was like walking into a different world. There were crowds and excitement, cotton candy, rides and games, all things to delight. I was always attracted to the game they had like the horse race or one called Fascination. The same excitement and tension came back when I played last weekend as I’d felt so many years before. As we got to be teenagers, we were able to go to the amusement park at Bertrand’s Island at Lake Hopatcong and the thrill of the yearly carnival wore off.

Sometimes there would be fund raising get togethers at the Lake where everyone would participate playing bingo and other games and winning small prizes. I remember winning a pack of cards at one of those events. At one point, different people created games to be played at these affairs. My mother drew and painted six horses and jockeys, cut them out and mounted them on stands. They were used in a similar manner to the game I played last weekend. I don’t know how we knew how many squares on our checkerboard rug to move our horses. Maybe it was different colored dice that were tossed. But for years the horses and jockeys lived in the window seat in the living room and were pulled out for a great rainy day activity.

Posted by: lafouch | August 8, 2009

Summer Activities: Work

While much of the summer was spent at play, we did have chores. Most of them were done with a group of people and so didn’t seem like work. There was going to get drinking water from the “pump”. Located at the entrance to the lake, the pump brought fresh drinking water from a well. Coming into the lake we would stop and fill up gallon jugs of water for drinking.
Pumping Water
At our house we had another hand operated pump in the kitchen for dishwashing and clothes washing. The pump was connected to a pipe that went into the lake in front of the house. There was a screen around the end of the pipe. However, a couple of times the screening came off and we pumped tadpoles up into the dishpan. What a surprise! The water for washing was heated in big kettles on the stove (kerosene or wood). Ironing was done with old-fashioned flat irons. We didn’t do a lot of it.

Gathering Wood

Gathering Wood

There were trips out the “wood roads”, dirt tracks through the forest, to get wood. Out in the woods dead trees would be brought down and cut up for easy carrying back to our back yard. There the sawing, chopping and stacking would continue until there was a good supply of firewood for summer and winter activities. In my childhood it was the same as my father’s.

We had no electricity until after WWII. At night we used candles and kerosene lamps. Keeping the kerosene lamps in good working order was another chore. We had to carefully replace the mantles and wipe the soot off the chimneys. The dining room and the living room were lit with kerosene lamps with shades. The light was bright enough for card games and reading. In the kitchen, we had smaller kerosene lamps that had wide wicks that went down into the kerosene. They sat in brackets over the sink and stove.

Doing the dishes in the evening was a chore at home that I escaped. As I was growing up, there were no girls at the Lake my age during the whole summer. There were three boys who lived next door. The youngest was my best friend. After dinner, my mother would let me go to their house where I would help them do their dish drying. That way I could join in their family’s activities for the evening.

A less regular chore was gathering fruit. My grandmother’s house had a grape arbor over the front door. I remember gathering grapes for jelly. My mother would cook up the grapes and place them in a “jelly bag”, much like an old pillowcase. The bag would be hung from the towel rack over the wood stove to drain into a large pot. The old-fashioned towel rack could fold down against the wall or spread out like a fan to dry the dishtowels. Sometimes we would go by boat to my grandmother’s dock and pick quince from a tree that grew there. Then my mother would make quince jelly.

Much of the “work” was taken out of our summer chores because it all seemed like such an adventure. Something well worth noting!

Posted by: lafouch | July 25, 2009

Summer Fun: Fairs



The summer county fair here in Marin is always held over the Fourth of July weekend. It the fun of the cotton candy, rides, fireworks, concerts, animals, pig racing, exhibits and lots of people.

That’s a lot more than we had at fairs when I was growing up. In fact, I don’t remember going to many county fairs as a child. Maybe that is why I have clear memories of going to the World’s Fair in New York. It was my first and biggest.

The New York World’s Fair, which opened in April of 1939 and closed in October of 1940, was called the “World of Tomorrow”. There were seven areas of the fair to visit: Communications and Business Systems, Community Interests, Food, Production and Distribution, Transportation, Government, and the Amusements Area It featured international exhibits (more during the first summer before the war started in Europe). I vaguely remember the Trylon and Perisphere that were the featured buildings at the site. That may have been because of a model we brought home.

Riding Fast

Riding Fast

The Carousel

The Carousel

What I do remember is that there was talk about the fair even before we went. I was told that if I swam the length of the pool I would have money to buy what I wanted at the fair. So, of course, I did. I think it might have been $5 but that seems very high now when I found out that admission was $.25 for children. They thought that was high at the time.

We must have attended the fair the second summer it was open as I look pretty tall in the pictures as you can see. My aunt, Marjorie, went with us. I remember one of the “rides” was a tunnel slide. You sat on a “magic carpet” and went into the dark to swirl down and out. I don’t know if Marjorie was really scared but she went up with me to the start and then convinced me to go down with her.

Marjorie and I

Marjorie and I

While that is the only ride I really remember, I can tell by the pictures that it was a wonderful day. You can see where I spent my money.




Posted by: lafouch | July 21, 2009

Summer Activities: Building

There were always projects to do in summer, either at my house or at the neighbors. When I was young the neighbor’s house stood on stone pillars. As their three boys got bigger, they were put to work filling in between the pillars with stone and cement. I joined them for the fun of it. We carried the stones, mixed the cement in a wheelbarrow and built roads and fortresses in the leftover sand pile. Although I did my share of stone carrying, I enjoyed mixing the cement most. It was fun to slosh it back and forth with a hoe in the wheelbarrow. After we completed building the basement, we were put to work making a cement pier for the boats. I’m not sure how many summers we were kept busy with this building. It was probably a chore for the boys. Maybe because it wasn’t my father heading up the work crew, I thought it was fun.

At home, stonework was a little less complicated to start. My father and his friends built a barbeque for cooking outdoors. While the meat was cooking, the food prep could be done in the sandbox in the backyard.



This early barbeque was replaced after a trip out west. There my father saw a chuck wagon barbeque. It looked like a long double wall with different levels for cooking different things. The next summer we built one beside the house. You could cook the corn at one level and roast the meat at the other. The wood need not be cut up before burning. My father did not do a lot of cooking but he was an expert at cooking a London broil over his chuck wagon barbeque, charred a bit on the outside and rare pink inside.



Judie Fouchaux

Posted by: lafouch | July 16, 2009

Summer Activities: Swimming

I'm learning to swim Before we could fish, we had to learn to swim. With all that water around it was a very important skill to have so we started early. The criteria for going out in a boat alone was that you could swim the length of the pool. This was the challenge for my children as well. The rewards were great. Once you met the challenge you had a large measure of freedom. It was like getting a car for a teenager. Richard, his Mom (Me) and Grandmother

Early morning dips

Early morning dips
We spent a great deal of our time in the water. There was the morning dip off the rock in front of the house. This might include soap and shampoo as we had no shower or tub in those days. Then, an hour after lunch (so we didn’t get a cramp) we were allowed back in the water. We would row across the lake to the “beach”. This was a large rock, which sloped down giving gradual entrance into the water. Behind it there was a flat dirt area with benches in my early years and progressively modern beach chairs. Richard and Bob
A large wooden “pool” was floated using empty oil drums and attached to the rock by a wooden bridge. This is where we learned to swim. When I was a teenager it was still a great place for water polo as it was about 4 feet deep. Over the years the “pool” changed. Plastic foam kept the pool afloat and it was divided into a wading pool and a swim pool for the younger children. Anchored off the pool was a raft and diving board where the swimmers hung out. When we were learning to swim there were several milestones we reached; swimming the length of the pool, swimming from the pool to the raft and swimming from the rocks to the raft. Linda-Swims



I'm learning to swim

Our lake was fed by underwater springs and it was always refreshing to dive down deep over a cold spring when the weather was really hot. The adults would sit on the beach, watch the children, read books, chat, knit or just bask in the sun. I remember my mother doing this when I was young and I repeated the process with my children and it is still happening. We would be at the beach all afternoon. Then home around five o’clock to prepare and eat dinner.
Me with my parents on "The Beach"
Sometimes the summer afternoon heat would be broken by a short thunder-storm. At those moments everyone would leave the beach for a nearby boathouse. We would all crowd in and wait for the storm to pass. Sometimes we would have started home and half way there the clouds would open up and my mother would row harder and we’d huddle under our beach towels till we got to our boathouse. After getting the boat tied up we’d dash up the path and onto the porch. I always loved the smell of the air after a thunderstorm.

Posted by: lafouch | July 4, 2009

Summer Activities: Fishing: Part Three

As I have said, I’m not particularly fond of fish or fishing. When my son was young I did feel a responsibility to give him the experience of fishing so he could make up his own mind. I remember my father smiling as I went to take Richard out fishing. We had gone to the cove where I dug for worms as a child and found they were still there. Off we went in the boat. I had no trouble with putting worms on the hook (though secretly I probably hoped that the worms would be eaten without catching the fish). However, we did catch fish. That presented a problem because the fish we caught were “sunnies”. Sunfish that have very sharp dorsal fins, the better to stab the unsuspecting fisherman. My first trip out I think I rowed to shore and had my father (who must have had a good laugh) deal with the fish. After that I went prepared. I brought an old rag to wrap the fish in while I removed the hook from its mouth.

At one point I realized that my taking Richard fishing wasn’t going to really help him to learn to fish so I hired a neighbor to take him out fishing and teach him. That resulted in quite a few fish. Some were even big enough to eat. They would return in the afternoon and I would find a big bucket to keep them in until morning. We’d put the bucket on the porch for the night. My story was the fish would taste better if we cleaned them and cooked them in the morning for breakfast. Every morning we’d go out and the bucket would be empty. Raccoons would steal them away for their midnight snacks. I would breathe a sigh of relief.

It wasn’t till we went sailing in Maine that I saw my children really enjoy fishing. We were anchored in a harbor with a school of mackerel around us. The children were able to drop lines with a weighted hook (no bait) into the water. They’d jig the hooks up and down and catch fish. Over and over they’d drop the hooks and pull up fish. We had a bucket full. This time there were no raccoons. However, there was a neighboring yacht with a couple who were anxious to have the mackerel and offered to pay my kids to get them. Whoopee! Again, I escaped the need to clean, gut and cook the fish. That’s the way I like my fishing!

Posted by: lafouch | June 24, 2009

Summer Activities: Fishing: Part Two

My Grandmother and Sister on the beach on a sunny day.

My Grandmother and Sister on the beach on a sunny day.

Summers are thought of as bright sunny days and warm friendly nights. That isn’t always the case. We sometimes had wet summers where it would rain for a week or more. Not often it’s true. When it happened we’d hole up in the house playing long games of monopoly, build fortresses out of card tables and blankets and sooner or later drive our mothers a little crazy. I remember one wet summer when my grandmother came to visit and it rained and rained and rained. Finally to give my mother some relief, my grandmother decided to take us fishing. I don’t think, looking back on it that she was a fisherman. We bundled up, my sisters and I and my grandmother, in rain gear and then got some lines and hooks out of a window seat under the living room windows. We set out through the rain to the boathouse.

My  sister Anne and Richard Sauvain fishing near the boat house.

My sister Anne and Richard Sauvain fishing near the boat house.

Out on the lake, we put the lines in the water and trolled around slowly for the next hour or so. We had to be quiet so as not to scare the fish. Once in awhile we pulled the lines in and found the only things we had caught were strands of pondweed. Finally we gave up and headed back to the dry comfort of the home fires. At some point I think I caught on that we were not expected to catch fish. Neither my mother nor grandmother was prepared to deal with any fish we caught. The hooks and lines we were using were from some deep sea fishing expedition. Hooks big enough to hang your clothes on but not designed to catch any fish at home in our lake.

No matter it was a fishing expedition I will never forget.

Posted by: lafouch | June 21, 2009

Summer Activities: Fishing: Part One

My Father Fishing

My Father Fishing

During my father’s last year of college he and his roommates moved off campus and into the woods where they lived off the land as much as possible. He liked the out-of-doors. I never remember him hunting in all the years I knew him. However, my parents honeymoon was spent wandering through the Canadian woods with camping gear and a canoe. They portaged from one lake to another (carrying the canoe above their heads). He talked about fishing for “muskies” there and what a challenge it was.

I’m sure he took me out fishing as a child though I have not memories or pictures of it. I do remember going down to the cove’s muddy bank to dig for worms.

Getting Worms

Getting Worms

Learning to Fish

Learning to FishWhen I was a teenager, my mother and father took my sisters and went back to Canada with another couple (Ruth and Harry) and their two boys. These friends were ones we had spent many summers with growing up. During the war while Harry was away fighting, Ruth and the boys spent summers with us. That’s when I remember my father fishing in the evenings.

Evenings he would go out, often by canoe to fish. It may have been to seek the quiet away from a house full of women and children. He was never discouraged by the lack of fish or by the lack of enthusiasm on the diners to whom he served the fish he’d caught and prepared. That lack of enthusiasm might have been engendered by the type of fish he caught; large-mouthed bass, pickerel, and perch. Lots of bones!

I always had a problem with these fish as when quite small one of my parents’ friends told me that if I got a bone stuck in my throat I would have to drink a bottle of vinegar to get rid of it. This off-hand comment has colored my appreciation of fish since.

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