Walking Down Birthday Lane

Hello there,

This post is especially for fellow birthday lovers.  Enjoy…….yes, the cake was as good as it looks. 



MOIST WHITE CAKE FILLED WITH WHITE CHOCOLATE MOUSSE AND RASPBERRY TOPPED AND DECORATED WITH RASPBERRY MOUSSE AND WHITE CHOCOLATE PrintIt hasn’t mattered what birthday year it was out of 66 birthdays, I have always enjoyed having a birthday.  Well, except for two of them.  I’ll explain that later. 

Since I was born in 1951, birthdays for a West Virginia coal miner’s daughter were not lavish and overdone as they are today.  Today, even people with low incomes have extravagant birthday parties compared to those in my childhood world.  When I got one small gift from my parents, I was a happy camper.  For example, when I was in 2nd grade my parents gave me a plastic purse from the dime store toy department.  The back of it was black plastic, the front was clear plastic.  It had a shoulder strap.  Inside were fake makeup items such as lipstick and compact, all made of plastic.  The red part of the lipstick was red plastic.  🙂  I was a girly girl, so I loved this.  I would primp, dress up in my Sunday best, put a little packet of Kleenex and a *dime in my purse and I was ready to go.  The problem was, I didn’t have anywhere to go.  Ha!  My parents owned a grocery store and my mother ran the store.  Daddy would come in from the coal mines and hang around the store.  At that time we lived overtop the store.  Church was right beside our house, so I primarily never went anywhere else except to school and church.  Fact is, in first and second grades, I went to a one-room schoolhouse across the creek from where we lived.  We did go to town once in awhile, and we drove a short distance to visit my grandparents about once a week.

When I was in 3rd grade, I got a box of dominoes for my birthday.  That was great and I didn’t think anything about it not being enough.  I don’t even remember getting birthday cakes back then.  That was no problem, really, since I didn’t know anything different.  My sister, brother and I could have 10c cake from the store any day for breakfast with a glass of milk.  If not that, Mommy would fix us things like cream of wheat and toast.  On special days, when school was called off because it snowed, Mommy would make oven toast and homemade cocoa.  Back then it was a cold stick of margarine spread on white bread from the store.  The margarine wouldn’t spread, so there would be pools of “butter” on the crispy toast when Mommy took it out of the broiler.  We didn’t own a toaster way back when.  The bottom side would still be soft and untoasted.  She would make cocoa with Hershey’s dry cocoa powder, sugar and milk in a pan on top of the stove.  There were no marshmallows (who ever heard of such a thing?), but it was so good and has been one of most favorite memories.  The windows were frosty from the cold, but we were warm inside since we had a floor furnace that I used to stand on until my legs were baked and the bottom of my shoes were melted.  We knew that in an couple of hours when the sun was fully up that we would be able to go outside and play in the snow.  I couldn’t stay out as long as my brother and sister could, though, because the cold air would trigger an asthma attack for me.  This is such a wonderful, homey memory for me (not the asthma of course).

I didn’t mention the exceptional birthday I had when I was in 1st grade.  This is still a puzzle for me and I don’t know how it came about.  If I should ask my mom, who is now 88, she would say, “Lord, I can’t remember that!”  For some reason, my first grade teacher gave a birthday party for me.  As I said, I went to a one-room schoolhouse.  There was one teacher for first and second grades.  She had all the kids bring me a wrapped present.  Mind you, they were simple gifts.  I do remember a short necklace string of pale pink pearl beads, probably from the dime store.  My mom bought me a big, round decorated cake from the bakery in town, one of my favorite places as a kid.  By the way, that bakery is still in business and their wares taste the same as they did back then.  I had a cake from this bakery almost a year ago in June when my Daddy turned 90.  For the party, the cake was a gift from my parents.  My mom took a picture of me with the cake in the store before she took it to the schoolhouse.  This was my only birthday party.   

I think I did pretty well on my 9th birthday in 4th grade.  I wanted a three-year-old doll that could walk.  When I faced her, held her hands and walked backwards, her leg would spring forward and the other one would follow.  I called her Peaches.  The doll still looks good and is in my closet today.  Someone must have given me a dollar.  I remember buying four Little Golden Books with my own money at the dime store.  They cost 25 cents each.  Mommy must have paid the tax.  I loved those books and read them over and over.  To my knowledge, these were my first storybooks.  I was an average reader.  No wonder.     

Back to simplicity – in 5th grade I got a 12″ sea blue plastic ball.  That’s all I remember.  That year Daddy was trying to make a change in his career and get out of the coal mines.  He also wanted to better our situation and leave the “holler” where he had lived his entire life.  For you folks who are not from the hills, a holler is actually a hollow.  So no doubt you know that a hollow is a valley between two hills.  The typical layout of the land in West Virginia goes in this order:  a hill, a little land, a river or creek, another strip of land be it narrow or wide, then another hill.  Throw in a railroad track on either side of the water.  We had to have trains to get the coal out of the hills. 



I say hills instead of mountains, because I was taught in elementary school that West Virginia does not have mountains.  It has hills and bluffs.  The subject of hills or mountains in WV has been debated for years.  I was told that our hills are not tall enough to be mountains.  Anyway, back to my paragraph topic…Daddy  went to Sunoco Service Station school for 6 months in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Afterwards, he leased a Sunoco Station near the WV state capitol and rented a house.  I do not even remember the interior of that house.  I only remember playing in front of the house, bouncing the new ball I got for my birthday on our sidewalk.  Where we came from, we didn’t have sidewalks at that time.  My most vivid memory of that time was going to my new playmates’ house and having happy times playing there with them for hours.  I went to church with them, also, and we sang in the children’s choir.  We wore white waist-length robes.  Another happy thing about this new place was the book mobile that came through once a week.  I had never been to a library.  School was a happy place, too.  I had an old biddy of a teacher at my old school.  My new teacher was nice.  Every Friday afternoon we would read our Weekly Reader subscriptions together and eat popcorn.  We only lived in that town for 6 months.  Daddy didn’t like the service station business.  So we packed up and moved west.  That’s another story.  🙂  The best friend I made there is still my friend.  We have kept in touch all these years.   

In 1956, children in Logan County, West Virginia , didn’t go to kindergarten unless it was private kindergarten for which, of course, parents paid.  So I didn’t go to kindergarten.  My sister, the oldest of us three children, started in first grade at the one-room schoolhouse when she was four years.  She was already reading, so she did exceptionally well.  However, the next year there was some dispute over her age, so Mom held her out of school the next year.  When Linda was 6 years old, she entered second grade.  I don’t remember my birthdays when I was kindergarten age or the years before.

You possibly have noticed that I keep mentioning my mom.  That’s because when I grew up, most men didn’t take care of the children directly.  Daddy was the primary breadwinner.  He went to work, came home and did his own thing.  Every evening, as I saw it as a child, he laid on the couch and watched the news on TV.  We three kids had to be quiet when the news was on.  But Daddy was my hero and still is.  If I ever needed anything, I have always known that Daddy would come through for me.  Mommy ran the store, but she also ran the house, cooked dinner everyday, did the laundry, sewed, took us to church, helped with the Ladies Auxillary at church, did the shopping, paid the bills, saw to the well-being of her children and more.  We NEVER went to bed hungry or dirty.  We ALWAYS were clean and well-dressed.  We were disciplined by my mom, too.   Mommy was my rock, still is.  Daddy had a firm hand with us, too, but Mom was the only one allowed to whip us.  She said Daddy hit too hard.  I love them. 

Now to tell you about the two birthdays I did not enjoy.  On the day I turned 13, I had waited anxiously all day for my birthday present.  Getting off the school bus I hurried home only to find disappointment.  Mommy told me that she hadn’t had time to go to town, so I would get my present another day.  At the time, my mom worked at a clothing manufacturer, as well as all the chores she had at home.  Oh, I was so disappointed that I pitched a fit.  I sassed, I cried.  After a while, Mommy had had enough of my behavior.  She told me if I didn’t straighten up that I wouldn’t get a gift at all.  I kept on.  Finally, she gave me a whipping on my birthday, and that was all I got.  I did not get a gift from the store!  Tough love it was, and I learned my lesson.

The second birthday I didn’t enjoy was my 25th.  It was so depressing turning 25 years old.  I was depressed for a week.  I do not have a personality for depression, so looking back I think it was postpartum depression instead of birthday depression.  I had a baby on January 30th, and my birthday was on May 15th.  I don’t remember anything else about it except that I was blue.  I was a stay-at-home mom, and before that I taught elementary school.  So no doubt that had to do with my depression too.

So only two sad birthdays that stand out in sixty-six years are not bad at all, are they.  I’m sure my life is grand compared to many others, even in the United States.

If you liked taking this walk down birthday lane with me, please click on the LIKE button at the bottom.  This will tell me if you want more stories from My Lane. 

Thanks for joining me,

Tricia AnnMY CAKE (2)

*A girl must always carry a dime when going somewhere in case she has to use the pay phone to phone home.

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