Book Reviews: 3 Books of Anne Frank, Family, & Holocaust

Several weeks ago I attended the stage play of The Diary of Anne Frank in Harlingen at the Community Theatre. I read this book as a teenager, but had wanted to reread it. About a year ago I had downloaded it on my Kindle, but had neglected to read it. This play was an extraordinary production, which moved my soul and all those who attended. At that point I knew I would reread the book again. The Frank family were of the Jewish faith living in Vienna. Hitler came to power in 1933, and blamed the Jews for many of the country’s problems. He stepped up the persecution of the Jews and implemented a highly organized strategy of persecution, murder, and genocide aimed at ethnically “purifying” Germany. During the Holocaust, he was responsible for murdering 6,000,000 Jews (1.5 million of these being children) and the destruction of 5,000 Jewish communities. These deaths represented two-thirds of European Jews and one-third of all world Jews. He built Concentration Camps with Crematoriums, including the most famous Auschwitz. The Jews would arrive in trains of cattle cars and many would be marched in and gassed immediately. The Holocaust is one of the most notorious acts of genocide in modern history. Today the Holocaust is viewed as the emblematic manifestation of absolute evil.

Otto Frank moved his family to Amsterdam in The Netherlands from Vienna in 1933. He was trying to obtain Visa’s to leave Europe. His family and many others felt safe until 1942. The Germans invaded The Netherlands also as well as many country’s across Europe. After much planning, Otto took his family into hiding in the second and third floor rooms at the back of his Amsterdam company. During the next 2 years they would live together with 4 others, never to leave these rooms. Anne was given a Diary for her 13th Birthday just before they went into hiding. She was passionate about writing and wanted to eventually be an Author. Little did she know that some day her Diary would be published. The whole world would know her story. I also downloaded and read 2 more books to tell the story of Anne Frank and her family.

Book 1….. Anne Frank, The Diary Of a Young Girl

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This book is written in Diary form, starting with her first entries on her 13th Birthday, before they went into hiding. She describes her life as a 13 year old going to school and her family and friends. They went into hiding shortly after. During the next 2 years, Anne writes of their daily lives, sickness, food and hunger, her feelings, and loneliness. She describes her inner heart and soul, and her body changes as she matures into puberty. Their are so many daily struggles to just survive, and not be caught. They cannot move during the day because of the business down stairs. No running of water, and no flushing of the toilet during the day. Only a handful of workers downstairs know they are their. After business hours, they can then move around, fix their meals and visit. Their caretakers deliver food and all their needs daily. They enter the upstairs by sliding the bookcase from over the hidden stairway.

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In those 2 years, Anne develops from a 13 year old young girl to a 15 year old wise in maturity. Her thoughts and desires as she writes them down are of a grown women. She struggles with getting along with her mom as many teens do. The whole family and the 4 others in the house struggle also with the daily life of being together. They watch the trees change from season to season behind the blackout curtains. Meip Gies, one of the caretakers visits them daily and gives them the news of the war. They have so many hopes that Hitler and Germany will be defeated soon. They dream about their future after the war is over. During this time Anne’s thought processes become so deep, so intimate. She is such an intelligent girl. The last entry into the diary is just before the Nazi troops arrived. In August of 1944, they were taken into custody. The were taken into a camp in Holland for awhile. Unfortunately, they were put on the last train back into Germany. They were then split up. The sisters stayed together and went to Auschwitz, then Bergen-Belson. They both died of Typhus in March 1945, just before the Liberation. Edith also died as well as all the other 4, including Peter her teenage friend, hiding in their building. Otto was the only survivor. He returned to Amsterdam. After confirming that Anne was not coming back, Meip Gies, gave the diary to Otto. After the Nazi troops had taken the family that day, Meip went upstairs and found the diary and saved it for Anne, for when she returned. Anne had spoken many times about wanting to be an author. Otto took this diary, although heartbroken and started editing it for publication. The original version was altered. He took out some of the entries of the description of her changing body. He also took out some of the passages of Anne not getting along with her mother. He felt they were just to personal at that time. The first book was published in 1947. Eventually it was published in over 67 different languages. After Otto’s death in 1980, the book was republished and some of the original passages reinserted. This book has been made into stage plays and films. In 1960, the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam became a Museum under the guidance of Otto Frank.

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Anne Frank Museum…The sight of the Hidden Annex

The Diary of Anne Frank remains one of the most moving and widely read firsthand accounts of the Jewish experience during the Holocaust. On Feb 3 1944 she wrote ” I’ve reached the point where I hardly care if I live or die, The world will keep on turning without me, and I can’t do anything to change events anyway”. She reached so many points of despair. But then on April 5 1944 she wrote ” When I write, I can shake off all my cares”. Anne’s diary is a story of faith, hope and love in the face of hate.

Book 2……Anne Frank Remembered, The Story of the Woman Who Helped Hide the Frank Family…..By Miep Gies

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This book is written by Miep Gies. She was an employee of the business. This gives you the perspective of what was happening on the outside of the staircase. Meip explains her history and how she managed to evade the Nazis. After she married her husband Jan, she become a trusted employee and friend who was in the confidence of Otto Frank and a few others. She tells of how the few office workers protected and fed the 8 people upstairs. Those helping, each had specific duties including her husband. Hers was to grocery shop. She would visit the shops daily being careful to not draw attention. As food became more scarce, she would start to travel farther on her bicycle. Finally she had to travel into the country and be back by curfew. All of this was under the terror of the Nazis as they watched. She would bring her food daily to the family’s upstairs and also news of the Nazi Occupation. She would supply them with library books and enroll them in correspondence classes, all under her name. She also became a friend of Anne, learning of her desires and needs. She grew very fond of her family upstairs. During this time, the business had to be run as normal every day. She tells of the day the Gestapo came. The earthshattering moments filled with terror. She was in the office and made to stay at her desk. She heard their footsteps as they were lead away through the halls and outside. Her husband hid outside and watched as they all were herded into the truck and drove away. To this day they never found out who told on the Franks. They believe it was someone from within the business. Their was a reward given for anyone giving information on the location of a Jew. For days they worked in terror, with their hearts broken, thinking the Gestapo would be back. Several of the workers were arrested also for helping hide them. Meip went upstairs and found the rooms had been ransacked. She found Anne’s Diary and pages that she wrote. strewn on the floor. They were all collected and hidden for when Anne came back. The following year, the Liberation began. The war was over. Hitler was dead. Otto returned to Amsterdam a broken and sick man. They found out everyone was dead including and Anne and Margot. They died of Typhus in Bergen-Belson just before the Liberation. Otto, upon reading the Diary, learned of a different girl than he knew. Her thoughts ran so deep at times. Exploring areas one would not have thought a 13 year old had went. It was a story he knew he had to share for his daughter. He started editing and vowed to Publish the book which was Anne’s hopes and desires. Miep’s story is a story filled with love of her family upstairs, her desire to help them and support them. The terror of the times and what it was like to try to just live your life under Nazi control, but to also give all you have and more, to risk your life for others.

Book 3……After Auschwitz, The Story of Heartbreak and Survival by the Step Sister of Anne Frank. By Eva Schloss

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Now this book really surprised me. This was a story I had never heard of before. So Anne had a Step Sister?…..So this is Eva’s Story…Eva grew up with her parents and her older brother. They also had left Germany and went to Amsterdam Holland to live. As children, Eva and Anne had attended the same school and played together. Eva had met Anne’s parents, Otto and Edith Frank. Eva also went into hiding but not as a family. Her and her mother were given a room in an apartment in town. Her father and brother lived in the country. They did managed to visit several times. Their was some moving around as the places became to dangerous. They were finally turned in by the lady who was boarding her father and brother. She had been raising their rent again, and again, and finally turned them into the Nazis. The whole family was moved to Auschwitz. She was able to stay with her mother. Her father and brother was separated. They were close to death many times, but always seemed to get that break that allowed them to live. She tells of the horrible events and living conditions. It was strictly survival. Eva seen her father several times as he was marching past. They were able to talk a little. Eva and her mother survived until the Liberation of the Concentration Camps. They searched and searched but couldn’t find her father and brother. They found out they died later as the Germans marched them farther into Germany on the last days of the war. Eva and her mom finally returned to Amsterdam. It also was a long horrendous journey. On the way they ran into Otto Frank. He was thin, forlorn and very sad. When they returned, they went to a friends house and were welcomed with open arms. Days later, the door bell rang, and their was Otto Frank. His family was also friends of these people. Later, Eva and her mom went to their old apartment. It was still locked. Upon opening it, they found it just like they left it. Eva and her moved back in and eventually invited Otto to rent a room. For the next years, Eva’s mom became close to Otto, and helped him with Anne’s Diary. After it was published she went on to help him with correspondence. They started traveling and helped with the writing and direction of the stage plays and films. Eva eventually was married and started her family. A year later, in November 1953, Otto and Eva’s mother was married. They continued to live a very happy life together, working side by side with the Diary of Anne Frank. They traveled all over the world telling her story. Eva eventually started to attend lectures and talk about her story. It became a healing process for her. She had never talked about the atrocities of the Holocaust, what it did to her and her family. Finally her story was told. By this time she had 3 children and was now a grandmother. Otto became very happy as a husband, stepfather and now a grandfather. But they all worked together to continue to tell the Story Of Anne Frank.

Their are so many books on the subject of the Holocaust. So many stories to tell. But can you imagine the untold story’s? The ones that never made it out of the Camps. 6,000,000 Jews died. So Many innocent people…..Only because of their Faith……These 3 books are such an enlightenment of what went on because of one man…..Adolph Hitler.…These story’s must always be remembered. We must never let evil again reign down on our earth……Again, this is only the story’s of a few people, what about the other 6 million….

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Visit To The Culinary School For Lunch

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Harlingen is the home of TSTC Culinary School. (Texas State Technical College). The students learn from cooking, baking, presentation of food, to the proper serving etiquette of the meal. They also learn how to prepare a menu, cost analysis, and shopping for their menu. Every Monday, they send out an Email presenting their Menu for Wednesday. I am on the list and have been getting it for almost 2 years. I have never gone as I was busy or I just didn’t know exactly where it was. The Campus is large and very spread out. The lady’s were just taking about it when we attend the Play at the Theatre on Sunday. Monday morning their it was …….My Email from Chef Emma...…

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Yum Italian….My Favorite…. I grew up in an Italian town, so this was certainly the key to my stomach. I contacted several lady’s and we set our lunch at 11:30 am. I called out to the school and talked with Bobbi…..Very nice lady on the phone….Extremely friendly and helpful to me as a first timer. Finally after another call or 2, we had reservations set for 5 of us. I picked everyone up and we headed out. Several had been their before but just wasn’t sure on exactly where it was. I had the map Chef Emma sent in the Email. We pulled into the parking lot, and the building said Science..Hmmmmm….Lila went in to explore the halls….Bingo…We were in the right place. We wound through the halls of students with their bookbags, and found Room 185.

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As we entered, they were all ready for us. They took my name for my reservation, and then seated us and presented the menus. This was just a regular class room with round tables set up for the lunch. Their was probably 4 or 5 tables with people seated already. They started serving at 10:30. The First year students would be waiting on us and serving the drinks and food. The Senior students were in the kitchen preparing the dishes for us. Our waitress introduced herself and took our order. We were their Guinea pigs.... lol…The menu’s were fabulous. Some things we heard of some things not. We mostly all chose the same things. We chose an Appetizer, or they called it a Starter, an Entrée, and of course a Dessert. After a few minutes of laughter and visiting, the meal began…..First the appetizer..Yummmm…..“Bruschetta”

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The flavors were wonderful….Tomatoes with Garlic, Basil, and Balsamic on a toasted baguette. I am not a tomato lover, but this was “Awesome”

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Theresa ordered the Minestrone Soup…..This was not just a cup or Appetizer size….It was huge. It was also served with 2 pieces of Toasted Baguette . I had a taste and it was wonderful. Rich in flavor. Next, time for Main Course……“Shells stuffed with Ricotta Cheese with Spinach”……“Wow”

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We all ordered the same. The presentation on the plate was very appealing and the shells were huge…The flavors again….just wonderful…During this time Chef Emma came by and introduced herself and told us a little about the program. Everything is made from scratch, including the Creamy Cheese and Spinach filling. Finally last course….Dessert……“OMG”

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Just look at this….Its called “Deconstructed Chocolate Tiramisu” Believe me, it even tasted better than it looked….It was Heavenly. The flavors of chocolate and whip cream were to die for. We all had a good laugh when Debby said...”This is another good use for our wine glasses”. None of us finished out meal. We all took home 2 of our 4 Stuffed Shells. What a Fabulous Meal.

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After we were done eating, Chef Emma again came around, also Bobbi, the girl on the phone who took my reservation. Such friendly lady’s. They made us feel like family. They told the rest of the lady’s how to sign up for emails for their menus. Finally our waitress presented us with our bill It was only $12.75. Very Economical.

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Finally after much visiting and laughter and just a great time, it was time to leave. We each paid our bills at the cash register and headed out to the car and home. What a fun afternoon.

Thank you TSTC Culinary School…..Great Job, Great Food….Not only Great, Fantastic…..The Lady’s from Eastgate Mh & Rv Park Will Be Back…large_Logo.gif

Fabulous Play, “The Diary Of Anne Frank”

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Sunday, six of us lady’s from the park had the pleasure of attending the Harlingen Performing Arts Theaters Matinee performance of “The Diary of Anne Frank”. This is a local Volunteer Theater comprised of some of the most talented performers in the area. They did a fantastic job with this play. I read the book as a teen and had recently downloaded the newer version on my Kindle. I have yet to read it. This is a true story of the Frank Family, mom, dad, and 2 daughters, Margot and Anne, who went into hiding in July 1942. The persecution of the Jewish people was being stepped up by the Nazi’s and the German Occupation. They were being shipped to Concentration Camps and eventually the Genocide of the Jews began. Also known as the “Holocaust”, 2/3 rds of the Jewish population, 6 million people were exterminated.

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This story takes place in the upstairs concealed rooms of Mr. Franks former business in Amsterdam. The entrance was hidden by a bookcase. Anne was 13 when they went into hidding. They arrived with just a few things and layers of clothing, so not to attract the attention of the Nazi soldiers , as they walked the streets to the store to begin their life in seclusion. Another family (Van Daan), moved in also with a young teenage son, Peter. Also another man Jan Dussel, arrived later who was branded as a Jew. From July of 1942Aug 1944, they never set foot outside of their floor. They had to be very quite during the day during the business working hours down stairs. Anne was given a Diary from her father. She started to write about their daily life and her private feelings. For 2 years they all lived together, sharing their daily lives, happiness, sadness, heartaches sometimes arguing. Much of it went into her diary. She was a child when they first entered the building and became a young teenager during that time. She experienced the changes in her body and her desires. Only 4 people in the business downstairs knew they were their. They tried to come daily with food, personal needs and news from the outside world about the war. They knew if caught, they would probably be arrested and probably put to death.

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Celebrating Hanukkah

Most of us know the ending. Eventually they were found near the end of the war. They were taken to Concentration Camps. The girls died of probably Typhus, in February of 1945. Their mom also died. Otto Frank was the only one to survive. Her diary was left behind in the building. It was found and given back to him. So her story was preserved, her dream as an author was realized. She was able to tell the true story of their persecution and attempt to survive.

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Row 1 sitting…..Mrs. Edith Frank, Sofa…Margot, Anne Frank, Peter Van Daan….2nd Row….Otto Frank,….. Mr. Kraler, Mieps Gies, both worked downstairs. Mr. Van Daan, Mrs. Van Daan, and Mr. Jan Dussel

The theater did a fabulous job with the stage props. The stage was divided into the different bedrooms the family’s had, including a lofted upstairs bedroom for the Van Daam Family. Their was also a small kitchen area and a commons area. All of this on one stage. The story flowed through the rooms as they opened and closed imaginary doors. The sound effects were so authentic. They had sounds of marching solders in the streets, sirens, people talking, airplanes, and many other sounds. The lighting was also phenomenal. As the story unfolded in different rooms, the spotlights would flow from one room to another. A number of times the lights would go dark, and then the spotlight would come on. Anne would be sitting at the kitchen table writing in her diary. Their was darkness all around her. She would read as she wrote in her diary, telling the story of the news of the war, or her deep feelings as a growing teen. It was so surreal during those scenes. You could feel her hope, her feelings of young love, her frustration with her mom and room mates. Her yearning to be a regular teen, and doing the best possible.

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The cast was marvelous. Their lines were polished. They spoke them with ease. Their feeling spoke with every word. They were truly living their roles. Everything was so synchronized. This is truly a heart wrenching story, as we know that they perished. Also 6 million Jews were killed and or died in the camps. They were treated with no humanity. The suffered so before they were sent to the gas chambers. Why……Just because of their faith. They were Jewish. This is because of one man. “Hitler”....He decided their fate. The solders did what they were told. How can you do that. I never understand nor will anyone else. We must never forget what happened. Lets hope America stays strong. We must never let one man rule and we obediently follow. We must stand up for our rights, even if we disagree with the powers to be. America is a very fortunate country. We have freedoms that many others do not…..This is a must read book. This was just one story of the prosecutions of the “Holocaust” Please take the time to read it. Otto Frank published the first book in 1947 in Dutch. In 1952 it was then translated and published in English. Since then it was been published in over 60 languages. Anne’s dream has been realized. She has become a hero and her story has been published and is being read from generation to generation. She was but a young girl trying to grow up during the reign of the Nazis.

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Seven Days Visiting Family & Friends

I’m back in Harlingen after being away for 10 days. Rich and I left for Illinois and spent 7 days full of visiting and attending my Class Reunion. We decided not to drive because Rich was staying to work harvest again this fall. We love the train, so that is what we decided to do. I bought our tickets on line for $107 each one way, from San Antonio to Bloomington Il. Quite a steal. But it only goes south as far as San Antonio which is 4 hours away. Our friends Marge and Gary took us up the day before. We arrived and checked into our motel. Then we went down to River Walk. It is such a beautiful place.

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It should be on everyone’s bucket list. It is a river that meanders through the city, 1 story below the street level. Every block is a bridge overhead where the city streets are bustling with traffic . Walk down the steps and enter another world where the river is lined with little outside cafe’s with colorful umbrellas, restaurants, and shops. The sidewalks are made of many a variety of materials, bricks, cobblestone, or concrete. They follow the river on both sides and have beautiful mature trees, plantings of flowers and tropical foliage lining the river and sidewalks.

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Every few minutes a Tour boat floats by with the Captain telling his Passengers the history of the River Walk. A new company took over the River Walk boats suppling all new designed boats. Their are Tour Boats, Taxis and also Dinner Cruise Boats, that comprise the fleet of 26 in September of 2017, expecting to peak at 44 boats in the fleet. Every block their is a beautiful arched crossover to get to the other side. We walked and found a little piano bar. It had a/c, how wonderful and refreshing as it was soooooo hot outside. I was a great place to just relax and listen to the piano man play his tunes and sing.

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My Favorite Building on the River Walk…Its an Optical Illusion….The building is triangle shape and looks like it would fall over. NIX Health Hospital

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We had dinner before we went back. Rich ordered this Shrimp Fest. It had 4 different types of Shrimp. Finally it was dark and was time to return to the hotel.

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Beautiful old Oak Tree near the Alamo

We actually walked, so by the time we got back, I don’t know who was more tired Marge or Me. lol. In the morning we got up early and Gary and Marge took us to the Historic Sunset Train Depot at 6:30. We boarded the train by 7am and pulled away soon after. Now to settle down for our 28 hour ride to Illinois. Cameron would be picking us up at Bloomington Il Amtrak Station the next day, Wed. around 11 am. The train is a great way to ride. The seats are fairly comfortable and spacious.

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The bathrooms are down stairs on the lower level. They are very tiny but serve the purpose. You can walk to the Observation Car.

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Their, people visit, play cards, read, or just watch the view out the many windows, as you fly by the country side. Down below is the Café’ that has everything you may need or want including alcohol. The next car is the Diner. It is usually fairly expensive but we usually eat one meal their.

We sat across from a family who couldn’t speak English. A lady several rows ahead helped to interpret to the conductor. It turns out they were from El Salvador. They had a new born and a small boy, maybe 4. They were going to Boston. Now this made me think. Their is no security in the train system. I bought the tickets online. You don’t have to check in at the train station. Board the train, and the conductor comes by and scans your phone. …..Hmmmmmm……So as long as you have your tickets on your phone, anyone can get on…….Something to Think About……After an uneventful restful trip, we arrived on time and Cameron picked us up. First stop as usual, of course....”One Paw’z Pub”…..Brandy had Chicken Fried Steak and mashed potatoes and gravy…..yum…..Tina, Ed and the kids were heading to Wisconsin early Saturday morning for the annual family fishing trip that Eds dad always has. They are sportsmans, loving fishing and hunting. Tina and Ed bought a new beautiful Camper. So we went over to see them before they left.

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It is really beautiful. Love the colors and the interior floor plan. It has a private bedroom and the bunks in the rear for the kids.

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Miley gets the top bunk

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Austin wouldn’t cooperate for a picture, so Aunt Beth got him down…..lol….time to tickle

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Austin and Grandpa Dolder doing what he does best…..Sleep….

It has a beautiful kitchen with a table and couch across in the slide. They left on Saturday for a week of camping, boating, fishing and visiting family. While they were their, “DeeDee” had her “First Birthday”.

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Happy Birthday Dee Dee “1”

So of course She had a Party complete with a Doggy Birthday Cake.

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Austin of course did his share of fishing and caught a 21″ Walleye. Tina said he was so proud. Fishing is his favorite thing to do. He is going to be like his Dad and Grandpa. Saturday nite was the Class Reunion, so Sunday Tammy and I took Carly and Cassidy to Peoria. We visited the Riverfront Museum. They had a showing of Unicorns and Mythical Creatures.

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Carly wore her Unicorn outfit….

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She was fascinated by the beautiful Pegasus. Then we went over to the Museum side. They had many activities for the kids. Actually adults too. This one was our favorite. You know those things you put your hand in that have all those pins. It makes the shape of your hand when you press the pins to the other side? Well this was “Body size” lol

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We had such fun with this. We all took turn. Cassidy has her eyes close and Carlys Unicorn on her head shows up. Tammy and I did it also, ours is a little “Wider”……lol...After that we went to Steak and Shake on the River Front in East Peoria.

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Love Steak and Shake food. We sat in a booth looking out at the Illinois River with Peoria across from us. After that Tammy took us by OSF Hospital and took us on a tour through her department. She is now a “Floor Charge Nurse”. It was a long day, time for home and some R & R. The next day is Labor Day and off the Toluca’s Labor Day Parade and Carnival with the girls.

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Carly got plenty of candy with her big bag.

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It was so hot, at the end the tank came through spraying water….Felt sooooo Good

This is one Parade that gives away so much candy. Their is so much that they seem to pick and choose after awhile and some candy is never picked up. Then off to the Carnival after the Parade.

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Of course when your young you ride all the rides. That was Carly, she had a blast. Of course you must have Carnival Food right? So Corn Dogs, Lemonade Shake Ups and more. Another day of fun. We were so hot and tired. The next day was Tuesday and my last day. I had talked with the girls from work and we got together at Cabin Fever in Peru after they got off work.

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It was so good to see them all. We spent over and hour, maybe 2 just visiting and catching up. Listening to their story’s made me realize how lucky I am to be retired living the life we are now. So glad I’m not their anymore. Back at Scotts, Tammy was over one day. He has one of those contraptions that you hang upside down and stretch your back ?

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Tammy strapped in her feet. We were dying with laughter. At first she couldn’t get upside down. Then Dad pushed her over and wouldn’t let her come back up.lol…It was so funny. The next day it was time to get back on the train. I was their 7 days. Rich is staying to work harvest again this year. This year he is hauling corn from the Elevator to the terminals on the Illinois River. This then makes space for the new crop of corn being harvested. He’s also hauling some corn from the field to the elevator. We drove back to Bloomington Normal and he put me on the train for my return trip. It was again a nice relaxing ride. I had both seats as we never were full.”

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I ate 1 meal in the Diner. Steak burger Meal…$18…..It was late the next nite when the train arrived in San Antonio. It was 11:15pm. But that didn’t matter. I took a Taxi to Greyhound. My bus left at 2am. I was really tired by then. Finally I boarded the bus. Lets just say, “I was not impressed with the bus”. I curled up and went to sleep. Thank goodness for GPS. I woke up and the driver spoke only Spanish to everyone. We were going through a town. I realized we were already in Harlingen. It was 6:30 am. I had been watching the GPS on the phone for the whole trip. It is a great way to find out on the train where you are. Ron from the park came and picked me up. So glad to get home....First thing on the Agenda “Shower”…..2 nites without…..Not Good….Then Sleep, So tired…..

So here I am back at the Park…..Working Cinemark on the weekends and starting a new project. Painting bathrooms at the halls...….Fun…Fun…Fun…Soon the New Season shall begin…..I’m already planning activities for all those Winter Texans that soon shall be heading south. One by one they will be hitting the road….Heading South for the Sunshine and warmth of the winter. Escaping the Cold Harsh Winters……Yes ….

This is the Life….going on 5 years with no Snow for Us…….lol…Heaven….

Class of 1968 ….”50″ Years….

I just returned from a trip back to Illinois. The purpose of the trip was to attend my “50th” Class Reunion from Toluca High School. “50” ??? Really “50” How ever did that happen. I really doesn’t seem that long since we walked out the door for the last time after graduation. When you are a teenager, life is eternal. The thought of aging and growing old, is just never going to happen. That’s not even reality. Your whole future is ahead of you and your anxious to spread your wings and begin. But it does……….All of a sudden your caught up in life, what ever it me be, and you blink your eye…….Here we are “50” years later. Some stayed single, some became Parents, then Grandparents, even Great Grandparents. We have weathered 50 years of living in the adult world. Many of us are now retired. “Our Golden Years Are Here”. We have moved from one coast to another and from the north down to Texas. But we managed to get 18 of us to return to Toluca for this reunion.

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50 Years ago, we graduated from Toluca High School in 1968. We were a class of 35. “The Home of the Wildcats”

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Sitting….Kathy, Row 1….Morene S, Lyla N, Paul H, Sue, Martha B Row 2… Denise C, Cristy A, Me, Mary Virginia E, Karen S, Row 3…..Chuck B, Greg H behind, Don W, Bob B, Steve T, Fred B, Stan G.

And here we are today, 50 years later.

Last year Morine, our Class President emailed the plans for the reunion. Most of the reunions in Toluca take place over Labor Day Holiday. This is the Big Celebration for the town. They host a 3 day carnival, parade, entertainment, food tents, bingo, and many other activities for the town. It is a Holiday the town plans for all year. Of course as a kid, this was the time of the year you waited for. This was the Coolest, Biggest Event of the Year. I lived a block from town. I remember being so excited to see the carnival come in to town. We usually started school around Wednesday before Labor Day. We had 3 days of school. But why did those teachers have to give us homework for the weekend??? I seemed like they did that every year. So Cruel. So as we drove into town. It was actually exciting to see all the activities and the carnival in place. The Reunion was at Mona’s Italian Restaurant.

Mona’s and Capponi’s have been a Legacy in town since the 1930’s. They are family owned restaurants that are famous for miles around, for their fried chicken, spaghetti and ravioli, and their homemade VO salad dressing. As we were growing up, this was always the place to go for nice dinner. It was a place that everyone gathered for any event or party. This same sign has hung since I can remember. It signifies Toluca. I actually lived right behind Mona’s on the next street. Ohhh the aroma’s that would come from the kitchen. It was Wonderful. In the back ground, you can see Capponi’s. It was owned by the Capponi family, but was purchased and now both are owned by the Bernardi Family. Their Grandpa had the nickname “Mona” back in the 30s.

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We were taken back to the private dinning room. On entry, this was the cool sign they made.

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It was so nice to see everyone. We all wore name tags, which were our high school photos, but no names. A couple of people I had to look at their name tag, as I didn’t recognize them. 18 of us showed up. It was a very nice crowd. We did lot of visiting and getting updated on our families and lives.

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They had placed lots of cool props for a Photo Shoot. Boas, hats, masks, etc were on the tables.

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The committee also made a photo frame for us all to take our picture. We had a choice of chicken, steak or cod. After dinner they cut the cake.

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Morene gave us the report on the people who didn’t attend. Some had plans, some just didn’t come. Their is only 1 classmate we don’t know what happened to. We’ve had 3 pass away.

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This table was set up with their pictures and obituaries, and a candle for remembrance.

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Diana was a good friend all through high school. She had went to St. Ann’s grade school, so I didn’t really meet her until we were Freshman. She moved to Texas several years after graduating. I never seen her again. She passed away from Cancer.

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Rick Fleeman moved to Tennessee and passed of Muscular Dystrophy.

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Tom Marchesi only moved to Lacon. Its not far. He passed away from an ice fishing accident.

Finally after eating, and much visiting and picture taking, we all went our ways, but we set the date to do it again in 5 years. Lets hope were still all here.

Toluca had 2 grade schools. St. Ann’s Catholic School, and Toluca Grade School. In grade school we were a very small group. I attended the Public School. Our classes sizes varied between 14 – 20. These pictures were supplied by Don Wettstein. His mom saved many of his things from school. This is why his name is written on the photos.

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3rd Grade Mrs. Kresl? Row 1….Sandra Bisio, Roger Haig, ?, Brenda Runnels, Me, Don Wettstein Row 2….Kathy Imm, Racine Burks, Ron Jenkins, Randy Dalton, Martha Fulks, Vicky Peters (Deceased), Wilma Stutzman, Sue Schumacher

Vicky Peters father passed away, and she moved to Minonk for High School. Later in her early 20’s, she was killed in a car accident on Rt 51 on the way to work in Bloomington.

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4th grade Miss Vespa.Row 1, Wilma Stutzman, Brenda Runnels, Sue Schumacher, Vicky Peters, Martha Fulks, Kathy Imm, Racine Burks Row 2….Don Wettstein, Rich Fleeman, Ron Jenkins, Randy Dalton, Leon (Russ) Myres, Roger Haig

I attended the grade school for all but 4th and 5th. My parents divorced and I went to live with my grandmother in Kewanee. In 6th grade I returned as my mom thought I was then old enough to behave after school until she returned home from work.

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6th Grade Miss Brandt Row 1 ….Don Wettstein, Bruce Middleton, Rick Fleeman, Linda Armstrong, Me, Sandy Bisio, Ron Jenkins Row 2....Dennis Snow, Roger Haig, Randy Dalton, Chuck Bruell, Kathy Imm, Brenda Runnels, ? Row 3…..?, Sue Schumacher, Wilma Stutzman, Martha Fulks, Racine Burks, Vicky Peters

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8th Grade Mr. Don Whitler…. Row 1 Sitting, Ron Jenkins, Rick Fleeman, Chuck Bruell, Kathy Imm Row 2 Standing Bob Mouser, Randy Dalton, Me, Racine Burks, Wilma Stutzman, Linda Armstrong, Martha Fulks, Dennis Snow, Randy Baldwin , Don Wettstein, Mary Crank, Tom Marchesi, Sue Schumacher, Lyla Nixon

Once we graduated 8th grade, St. Anns Catholic Grade School joined together with us for High School. Toluca High School was really a small school at this time, probably with an average enrollment of 130 kids. Everyone new each other. We enjoyed a great Basketball team through the years. It was the #1 sport in school and the whole town joined in supporting and cheering for the “Wildcats”. We were arch rivals of nearby Wenona High School. During our Junior year, our team actually made it to the Super Sectional, Sweet Sixteen, Thanks to the guidance of Coach Chuck Rolinski. We were defeated by a school with a 3000 Enrollment. Basketball was always the highlight of the school season. I can remember so many times the town would rally around the bus’s as the team came back after an important game. The sirens would be blaring and everyone cheering.

In 1887 Toluca was originated originally as a farming community, with the railroad coming through. It became the Santa Fe main line connecting Kansas City and Chicago. Eventually it carried the Passenger trains clear to Los Angeles California. It is now an Amtrak freight line . In 1892 the town became a booming coal mine town. Its population eventually grow to over 6000, settled mainly by Italians. You can still see evidence of this by the 2 coal mine slags piles that we call the Jumbos still to this day. This was the materials discarded after the coal was mined. The mines finally closed in 1924 due to the decreased need for coal. As kids, many of us would climb the Jumbo and look out over Toluca. A sight that is always so inspiring. To be up so high and see the whole town before you.

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In front of you is the main street of town, all the different buildings, then beyond it becomes the farm land dotted with barns and homes. Every mile is a road. It looks like little squares of checkerboards extending to the horizon. Each checkerboard is different depending what stage the field is in. If you stay up their very long, you will hear a train in the distance. Soon, here it comes chugging away, “Toot Toot Toot”, in the distance until it passes the town right before you. As a kid, I crossed over the tracks many times. It was like an adventure to explore. The area was all grown up in weeds. Paths were their to access the Jumbo. Their was a small hay shed that we sometimes played in. The entrance to the mine shaft was still their, but a fence partioned it off. Nobody worried where you were. You were just enjoying the Adventure for the day.

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Today Toluca is a small town of 1500 population and has formed the Toluca Coal Mine Association, preserving the area by developing a park and fishing pond. The history of the coal mines has been preserved for all future generations. The Jumbo is now covered with grass and a picnic table rests on the top. I actually climbed the Jumbo again in June of 2015. It was really a Long…Long…..Exhausting …Walk….lol.Actually almost a crawl…….I had to stop several times to catch my breath…..But was so worth it. Their is nothing like the view of Toluca from on top of the Jumbo….Amazing….

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Finally in 1992, Toluca consolidated their school. The school system is now comprised of Toluca, Wenona, and MDR…(Minonk-Dana-Rutland) The High School is in Minonk and is now Fieldcrest High School. Middle School is in Wenona, and Toluca, Wenona and Minonk each have their own Elementary Schools. So our old Grade school was torn down and was St. Anns Catholic. Our Old High School is now the Elementary School with a new addition on the front.

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This is the future of all the small town schools. One by one they are all consolidating so they can afford to give our children a better education. So many hours and days we spent in this school…

What a Great Labor Day it has been. “50” years since we walked out those doors. We anxiously entered the real adult world. This school prepared us for today. It did a great job. ……So in 2023, we Shall All Do This Again….

2023 Reunion…..”55″ years….

SEE YOU ALL THEN

Heres an interesting fact for you: Did you know most of the Class of “68” was 68 years old on our 50th reunion? Also we were mostly born in the year 1950.

Another Birthday….They Keep Coming…Faster

Yesterday was my Birthday. It is the day I catch up with Rich and we are the same age. lol….. In December he will become older than me again. lol. Its a good way to look at it. Now I’ve never been one to celebrate my birthday much. Its just a sign the clock is ticking. It seems to be ticking faster all the time. But today ended up a Very special day. Rich asked me, do you want to go out to eat or just grill out. I had to work at the theater in the afternoon, so I said “Lets just grill”. Ok, so he was going to go to the store and find something good. Around 12:30 I left for Cinemark 10.

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Some of the crew, hard at work

That’s when things started happening. It was a just a different day of good things……lol… First I stopped at Stripes. Its a gas Station like Casey’s back home. 1 on every other corner. I always get a Slushy and put it my insulated cup. I’m their a number of times a week. I filled my Mango slushy and went to the register. The girl that is always their said. “Just take it, you come all the time”.….Really!!!!!….I was so surprised ….I said “Thank You, Its my birthday”. Her face lite up with surprise, and she wished me a Happy Birthday. So off to the theater. As I walked in, my co-workers started to wish me a Happy Birthday. How Nice of them I thought. One of the Stephanie, actually came in and waited till I was free of customers and wished me a Happy Birthday. Steph, I wish I had more time to talk with you, but those customers kept coming, but “THANK YOU”. Awhile later something else strange but enjoyable happened. I was selling tickets and heard music. I looked in the street and seen a car stop in front of the theater. The guy turned up his music and got out of the car. He was dancing around the car. Everyone was laughing. It was such a funny sight to see. He was dancing waving his arms and then waved back at us, got in the car, and drove away. ….. Hilarious.…The ticket line was full of Happy People….. Later as the afternoon went, another special moment. I had 2 older lady’s in line. She got out all her money and she was 75 cents short. She was explaining how she had collected all her change. I started to count what she had, and Another lady spoke up……She said “I’ll pay for your tickets, put your money away”. She gave me her Credit card and paid for the 2 ladies. They were so grateful to her. So many kind people. What a great day it was turning out to be. My shift was over at 5:30. Around 10 to 5, several of the girls came in….I was shocked.

I was given a bouquet of flowers and a HUGE cake with a balloon.

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They said to come up to the breakroom after my shift, to cut the cake. The rest of the crew was going to sing Happy Birthday...…Wow….I surely didn’t expect that. When my shift was over, I went up stairs. They left Melissa in Box Office, and one person in Concession, the rest came upstairs.

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They all sang Happy Birthday. Then we cut the cake, ate cookies, and laughed some more.

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On the wall was a bulletin board. Their was notes that I had never read before. This was so nice. I had never really paid attention to the board before. It had other birthday notifications and notes on it. It is a Great way to recognize people for special days or things.

I opened my card, and everyone had signed it with a Special message. How thoughtful.

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Finally time to go….I stopped to get a few more pictures as I left. Here’s Dora and Correa at the Podium.

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Then I stopped at the Box Office. Of course I had to get Melissa. She usually comes in for the night shift and relieves me. Finally I got home around 6:15. It turned out we were going out to eat with friends. So by 6:40 we were on the road to Longhorn Cattle Co.

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So much food. Rich had a rack of ribs and I had a loaded Baked Potato with Brisket. Of course we had left overs. After we were back home, I got a call from the Grand kids. They all wished me Happy Birthday. So the end of a Birthday Day……It was a Great Day..

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So Thank You to All, Everyone at Cinemark and all of you on FB really made it a memorable day…….It will be a Birthday I will always Remember…..

Happy “68th” Birthday to Me

lol…Now you all know my age…

Visiting Friends, At Son’s Graduation…Air Force Basic

Last month Rich and I drove to San Antonio for an overnighter.  We met our friends Tammy and Dan, from Illinois, now Kentucky at the KOA.  Their son Travis, graduated from High School and entered the Air Force.  He was graduating from Lackland Airforce Basic Training.  Tammy messaged me about a month before asking if I would come up.  She thought that we wouldn’t want to drive the 4 hours to see them.  Now I said “Tammy, 4 hours in Texas is nothing.  Of course well come up.”  So plans were made.
PrintTammy and I met when I worked at Plano Molding in Mendota Illinois.  I started in Feb 1991.  It was a newly built plastic injection molding plant that made Caboodles and Tackle Boxes.  I’m sure most fishermen know the name and have certainly owned a Plano Molding tackle box.  When school graduated, in June Tammy got a job at Plano.  She was fresh out of High School.  We worked on what they called a Pod.  Their was 3 different injection press’s shooting out parts placed in a U shape.  The tables were arranged so that 5-8 workers had work stations to assemble the pieces and a finished product was made in minutes, if not faster.  We had 4 different pods.  We were all teams that worked together all the time.  We would rotate the different pods, but our teams would stay together.  So we all worked 12 hour shifts and became friends.  We often said we were more like family, cause we seen each other more that our kids.  We worked 12 hour nites.   We had so much fun during those years.  It was very long nites assembling all those tackleboxes and caboodles.  So it wasn’t long before we made our own fun.  We did a lot of really not so nice things…..lol….We should have been fired so many times, but our supervisor didn’t really care as long as we got the job done.  We even brought in Super Shooter squirt guns and would shoot each other as well as shooting the stream of water up and over into the next pod.  That was dangerous, but we didn’t care.  …….We  were “”BAD””…….During that time Tammy became engaged to her boyfriend Dan, that she had dated in High School.  Finally they married.  327561_1888455018776_7145052_o.jpg

She said she would never have kids….lol….  Now many of us say that don’t we.  But of course once pregnancy occurs, their only 1 way out.  You have 9 months to think about it and then you can’t wait.  You just want it over.  Before you know it you have a little bundle of joy.  Tammy and Dan had Travis and then about 6 years later, they had Racheal.

About 10 years ago Dan’s job caused them to move to Kentucky.  I had already left Plano and moved on.  We still kept in contact.  It seems that no matter where you work, you usually have a coworker that will be a special friend for life.  You share a bond that is hard to explain.  Well that was Tammy.  Even after she moved to Kentucky, we visited her several times.  When we first got our Beaver motorhome, that was the first trip we took.  To Kentucky for the weekend.309909_4654225041298_546320600_n.jpg

She just loves when friends from home come and visit.  Our first year out in the MH we stopped again on the way back to Illinois from Texas.  Again she was so excited.   She is the kind of friend that you know your always welcome.  Even if you haven’t talked for a long time, you just pick up where you left off.35509516_10205012817516744_3064731144500019200_n

So now its so hard to believe that Travis graduated High School in May, joined the Air Force and now graduated Basic Training.  This has been very hard on TammyDan also.  They have been such great parents.  It is now time to let go of that first born, and it has been very hard.  Especially since he couldn’t even contact them for weeks.  38448917_10205188286103349_1342074063345942528_n

So that morning we drove up to San Antonio to meet them.  They had already been at KOA for a week.  Many family members came.  The was able to see Travis Graduate, and spend time with him.  Every nite he had to be back early to the base.  He was still under strict orders.  38411982_10205188285183326_9204871100155035648_n

They had such a great time visiting with him.  They are all so Proud, even Racheal.  Finally the day came he was back at base under orders again.  He would be leaving for Tech School soon.

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So that was when we came.  They had several days to wind down before heading home.  We rented a cabin at KOA.  They said it was a rustic cabin.  Yes it was.  We brought our bedding, and pillows.  We had A/C thank goodness, but no sink, or bathroom…..grrrrrrr…..for over $70.  Nice profit…..but we had a great time.  We stayed up that night to almost 1am.   We talked about old times.  All the kids, her friends and just everything under the sun.  We always talk about our years at Plano.  We recite all the story’s about our……. BAD DEEDS…..lol…..Dan and Rich always laugh !!!!  Gees I wonder if they get sick of hearing them all the time.   lol.   This is our attempt at a selfie….Not Good….38490894_10205188580230702_715337381653250048_n

This was our selfie about 4 years ago…..

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The next afternoon we took off and headed back south.  I was a wonderful visit with a Special Friend.  Friends who are Awesome parents, and are so so Proud of their son.38511390_10205188286983371_673752348652208128_n

…….Thank You Travis For Your Service…..

You may be young, but your growing into a

FINE YOUNG MAN

 

 

Summer Camp 2018…We Attended..Again

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During our time back home in Illinois, we also decided to work the Summer Camp Music Festival….Also called….SCAMP. We have Level 2 Texas Security License. That enables us to get a Security job for the Festival that is on Memorial Day weekend. This event is now the host of more than 20,000 attendees, from young children to 80 year olds and over 125 bands on nine stages over three days (four if you make it to the Thursday Pre-Party!). Summer Camp is the biggest event in the Midwest every Memorial Day Weekend! It is organized and run by Jay Goldberg Productions. It is an awesome, mindboggling festival that you will never forget. It is like revisiting Woodstock from years ago. We so enjoyed our selves last year that we decided to do it again. I contacted Tina in the Security Dept and set us up again for this year. This year was easy as they knew us. The easiest way to work is to stay on the grounds. The shifts are for 12 hours. Since we drove the car up from Texas this year, we borrowed Scott & Brandys MH. We pulled in on Tue and were guided into the Security compound. Wednesday our shifts began. I like days, and Rich likes nites.

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This is my set up. A comfy chair, clip on umbrella for the sun. My back pack from the cruise, complements of Get Out Their Vacations. It contained my cell phone, extra external battery. A roll of toilet paper for emergency….lol…(ya never know)…..snacks and drinks…..Most of the time we were given a walkie talkie. I was positioned back in VIP again.

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Behind Vip tent was the New Glamping Set up. These tents came with full set up. You could choose your bed, single, 2 twins, or queen with linens. They had electric and contained a lamp, a throw rug, and a chair or 2. Now the prices was exorbitant. After you bought you reservation with upgrade for VIP, and then your Glamping reservation, you have spent well over $1,000. You still don’t have a bathroom or shower. All Glamping tents were sold out.

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This time I was positioned to watch the line up for the gates to open. Their were thousands of them lined up all over the park at different entrances. They had wagons, wheelbarrows, back packs, canopy’s, sleeping bags and coolers. They were all ready to begin partying.

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Finally the gates opened. You can see them on the hillside. They looked like ants scurrying up the hill into the forest. Now they were also searched as they went in. The Guards were looking for drugs, firearms, and weapons of any sort and alcohol. So much was confiscated. Rich was up by the Main Gate where he was last year. He was near the main search area. They found so much stuff. Of course not only the Security was their, the cops were also. They have a big force in the park comprised of Local, (Chillicothe), County, State, Drug Enforcement Officers and I believe the Homeland Security was even their. Their was also a Task Force of Undercover Officers. They showed me their badges to get through one of the gates I was on.

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The music would start in the morning around 10. It would revolve around all the stages in the park. Their were a number of these Taxi’s in the park.

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Here is some of the props they had. Almost anything would go. Many hula hoops, and different type of banners. They would hold them high and dance to the music.

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Some of the out fits……. or lack of…..Lets just paint and decorate with sequins, our body parts!!!

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Now I seen this guy last year. I hear he attends every year looking like this. He is not a young man, nor physically fit. Why you want to walk around showing those body parts, I don’t know.

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This stage, Moonshine, is the only permanent stage in the Park. They all congregate, enjoy the concert, dance and sing, and then disperse to the next venue they want to see. The day is never ending with music through out the park.

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This is one of the large stages brought in. At night the colors were beautiful. Music continued till 4am somewhere every nite. Our Security Compound was behind one of the stages. When I went to bed at nite, the music shook the windows in the MH. And I mean they rattled. Kitty was with us, but he actually did pretty good. He must have remembered from last year….lol…

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Many of the kids were back up early in the morning, but many were slow. Their tents and hammocks were strung all around in the forest areas. In the mornings I seemed to be down by VIP everyday. Across from VIP was some food stands. They would come staggering in to buy breakfast and coffee. They were such a mess from the nite before. Hung over or what ever. Portable showers and bathrooms were placed all over the park. Always full of people. The trucks were constantly driving around pumping out the pottys.

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Here is another crazy costume. Yep, he’s wearing a diaper. Finally it was Monday. Park closed at 12 noon. Well they try, but it never works. All the kids know that. In the morning the security, and officers start going through the park waking everyone up and telling them to leave. They come stumbling out the gate. We seen many who could hardly walk. They packed up the things the best they could. So much stuff is left. They not only leave their trash, but they leave tents, coolers, chairs, wagons, wallets, cell phones and what ever they don’t want anymore.

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Security goes through again tearing down all tents. Making sure all people are gone. They also go through bag and consolidate all the trash. I was at the main gate as they were leaving. It was my job to not let them back in. I had one lady come to me and ask “which way to Chicago, right or left at the entrance of the park.” OMG….They were hitchhiking. Another had their nephew leave them. They lived in Ohio, 2 states away. Imagine that. They weren’t all that upset. They hitched a ride with some lighting people. They were going to Indiana. Then someone was going to met them and pick them up from their. Another mother lived a hour away. She dropped her daughter off on Friday. She told her to meet her at the main gate Monday morning. She waited and waited. 3 hours later, she came by and said her daughter was home. She hitched a ride. I would have been just steaming mad…..OMG….How can a girl do that, hitchhike, and not tell her mom where she was until she got home. She know her mom was their waiting.

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Some of the Graffiti on the fences

They don’t find all the drugs of course. Their were many cases for the ambulances to take care of. They had a full staff of medical their for all issues. The worst case was a 36 year old man took a hit of acid in the wee hours of the morning. He walked down to the highway which must be a half mile, was naked and walked in front of a car. He’s lucky he didn’t die, but he broke many bones in his body. I heard he would be hospitalized and in rehab for months. So another year over. 20,000 people herded back out by 3pm. Most left by car, some hitchhiking. Some called Uber or Taxi’s to take them into Peoria to the Airport. Their also was a bus shuttle to Chicago which was 2 hours away. They flew in from all over the country.

Another Summerfest over. We were asked to stay a few days and work. Now the vendors and all the equipment had to be packed up and leave the park.

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Just a few of the Portable Showers

Their was many people, we found out, who came in and wanted to supposedly help to clean up. Basically there a number of scavengers who want to loot. So that was our purpose. Check each vehicle and make sure they were their for a legitimate reason.

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Its seems every Memorial Day it rains. Weather was beautiful…..Until Wed. Morning…..A huge rainstorm came through. We woke up and found we were surrounded by a lake. Our power cord was under water but still working. So we sure weren’t stepping out.

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Couldn’t believe all the water that was dumped. We stayed in till it went down. It went fast. Rich finished his day guarding, I stayed home. I had had enough.

So Summer Camp 2018 was now officially over. Time for us to head back to McNabb.

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Granddaughter’s Graduation’s…..

Last May we headed back home to Illinois for the 2 Granddaughter’s Graduation’s. Cassidy was graduating 8th grade and little Carly, Kindergarten. We decided to just drive the car and leave the Motor Home in Texas. It would be cheaper. Now what about the cat. He has never been in the car. When we were in Adventureland in Iowa, we took him home in the truck. We almost gave him a heart attack, and that was only 4 hours. Now were talking 24 hours if you drive it straight through. We couldn’t ask anyone to take care of him for several weeks, so we decided Kitty was going on a road trip. Rich said he’s never to old to learn. I bought him a soft sided zip up carrier. I laid it open for several days and he crawled in and laid in it. So maybe it will work??? But he is an old man, set in his ways. He doesn’t like change. So finally the day came.

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We put the back seats down so he had the whole back. Put his kitty litter, food and water in the back on a blanket. His carrier was in the middle so he could see between the seats. He hated when I carried him to the car, he meowed for the first half hour. Finally we went through the Border Check point at Falfurrias. We kept him in until then because you just never know what may happen their. The Border Patrol agents have dogs that sniff every car. Not that we have a reason to worry…..lol…but you never know. Then we unzipped him. He actually did wonderful. He adapted so well to the car. He roamed at first, checking everything out. But he was so good. We pretty much drove straight through stopping only to sleep a few hours. About 2 hours from home in Lincoln Illinois is a Bonanza Restaurant.

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Its an old time favorite of ours. We try to stop if the timing is right. This one is a franchise but they have kept the menu the same. They have a wonderful salad bar.

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I always get my favorite…..Sirloin Tips with grilled mushrooms and onions.….Yum Yum…Theirs nothing like it.

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Finally we arrived and little Carly was so excited to see us. She had her fairy outfit on. She went and posed in the family tree. That nite Austin had a Softball game.

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We went to Granville to watch him play. Of course we also had to visit Scott and Brandy’s bar One Paw’z Pub.

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Scott singing Karaoke

Finally Graduation came for Carly. Her year in Kindergarten is over. On to 1st Grade.

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Carly, 1st row on far right. Jacob, Carly’s cousin in right next to her.

They were using the Auditorium at Putnam Co. High for the kids. Granville has 3 classes of Kindergarten for all of Putnam Co. They were so cute. They sang songs with cute motions. Finally they gave out the diplomas by class.

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After, I gave her a bouquet of flowers. She is now ready for First Grade. Carly is our youngest grandchild. She is sure growing fast. We had a picnic for both girls. Cassidy graduated 8th and will be a Freshman in High School.

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Tammy invited friends and family and had a cake for each. Now Carly was unhappy cause she thought Cassidy’s cake was prettier. She was crying and then she tried to stop but it was so hard for her…..lol…..Finally it was all better.

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They are so cute together…...That is when their not fighting….lol… We have also gotten 2 new grand dogs. Tammy and the Kids got Jazper.

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He is a Silver Lab. Tammy said she can’t even go to the bathroom by herself. Jazper has to come with. lol. Tina, Ed and the kids got Dee Dee last fall.

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She is a small Golden Doodle. She is more laid back that Dexter was. I had a hard time calling her by her name and not Dexter. She looks just like Dex. She loves playing with her kids Miley and Austin. We also have 2 other restaurants that I usually like to eat at when were home…

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Tenderloin…..Smittys Bar in Leonore

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Taco Salad and Homemade Fries…..Igloo, in Peru

I decided to take the kids to Hobby Lobby and buy some fun stuff to do on one of our last days their. Tina said Miley wanted her toes done, so I took her first to the Nail place at the Mall.

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She picked out her polish which was a silver flake. Miley is 9 years old now going on 10. Time to start doing girly stuff with her…..We also went to Bath and Body and picked out some soaps and body splash. We had a good time smelling everything. Then we met Tina with Austin and Carly at Hobby Lobby. We ended up picking up stuff to make Slime and some other things.

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On Monday I went over to spend the day while Tina and Ed worked. We brought all our stuff outside to make the Slime. I’m sure glad we did it outside as it turned out messy with all the glitter. We needed Elmers Glue, Baking Soda, and Contact Lens solution. We also bought glitter. It was fun but the glitter blew everywhere. Before we were done they kept making different batches until the large bottle of Elmers was all gone. And it was the largest bottle they make. Later when Tina came home, we visited for quite awhile. It was very quiet in Mileys room.

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I walked in and her and Carly were putting makeup all over their faces. Such silly girls. Now I’ve mentioned all the grandkids but Cameron. He is the one that is hard to get a picture of. This is a picture of him and his friend Torri in his boat. One of the toys he bought last year.

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You know how that goes…..Men and their toys??? or is it Boys and their toys??? Its all the same. Here is another purchase. He has finally bought the truck he has always wanted.

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Its a Ford!!!!!.…But Grandpa forgave him. It is pretty. But it wasn’t pretty enough.

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He had to go buy new tires and rims. They are nice…but….I guess live and learn…..He’s Happy, and its his money. Finally it was time to head back to Harlingen. We packed up the car, prepared Kitty’s back end. But now we always bring more back so now the car is really filling up.

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Kitty had to explore all the mountains of stuff in the back of the car. He fell asleep on the mountain…..lol…

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As we traveled he was so good. He liked to sleep on the floor with his head buried under the drivers seat between Rich’s legs. When we stopped to gas up or eat, he would just stay wear he was. He never attempted to get out. We drove almost straight through all the way home. We slept for a couple of hours in the car and made it in around 24 hours. Long Long ways………………While we were in Illinois we also worked at the Summer Camp Festival for 6 days as Security Guards. We did this also last year. My next blog will be about Summer Camp..

…..Another memorable experience….

Our Trip to Roatan, Costa Maya and Cozumel……Part 4

This is my last Blog of our cruise from last April….So so far behind, but I figured I better wrap it up. It was certainly a great time with great friends, old and new. Memories for a lifetime.

We managed to survive Costa Maya. After a very Adventerous day on Thursday on the beach, and a good nites sleep, we arrived at Cozumel on Friday morning very early. Everyone had different plans for Cozumel. Mel and Travis was renting a trike for a fun tour of the island. Theresa and Ron, Lorie and Mark were renting a Jeep for a tour. But the rest of us were just going to just be tourists and shop. Rich actually felt pretty good considering his condition the day before. Now I woke up feeling nauseous. But after several attempts at getting up it went away. But I was really tired. Too much sun the day before I think. We were already docked in Cozumel, so we went to breakfast. Everyone leaving the boat for tours was already gone. I never dreamed that Ron would be up and at it already. He wasn’t in the best of shape either the day before. We went to the Windjammer and looked at the beautiful view of Cozumel.

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You have to realize we were on the 11th floor looking over the city. The view was spectacular. The amazing shades of blues as the sun passed over the water. After breakfast we went ashore and did a little shopping. We were rather tired from the day before…..lol..go figure...so we didn’t go far. We looked at souvenir shops, sat down and did some people watching and Rich of course did a little alcohol sampling. He bought several bottles of booze, then we checked them in at customs. They took control of them, by labeling our room number. They would be brought on board and finally given to us the last day of the cruise.

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Finally back on board we went, time to rest up the rest of the day. We did a lot of people watching. That night a had a fabulous party on the Promenade Deck. On the crossovers high above the people, they had a 60s-70s party.

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It was non-stop music and dancing. They sang some great Songs.…like YMCA and many others. It lasted for hours.. I watched from the window in our room. Their was so much wonderful entertainment on board. Every night was a show in the Theater. We had Comedians, Magicians, and also a couple doing an Aerial Act.

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Also my favorite show was Stephanie Parker. She sang Whitney Houston songs. She was so so talented. Such a quality show. I talked with her later. She has a contract with Royal Caribbean for the season. She was going to have some time off. When we arrived at Cozumel, she was flying home to Las Vegas for some R & R.

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Also they even had a Skating Rink. It was open for free skating at times, and they also held several shows.

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It was really a quite elaborate show. They had beautiful costumes, fabulous lighting, and such creative choreography. On the last nite, we watched the last show in the Platinum Theater. It was a synopsis of all the shows of the week. A storm had come up. The seas picked up and you could feel the boat start to move side to side. You could feel it as you walked, so I was somewhat tense so I wouldn’t stumble. We went and sat in the theater, and waited for the show to begin. We watched the stage curtains. Some had strings of lights hanging down in them. As we watched, the curtains swayed one way……and then the other way……then back the other way….and then back again. lol. I asked Rich, “Do you see those curtains???” He said “yes, I’m trying not to look”...lol….As I sat their, I kept thinking…..above me is a huge swimming pool full of water. lol. Well it was fine. Show was over and we went to bed for the last time. Rich had collected his liquor and purchased more of course. Everyone else had also collected theirs also. We were packed for our departure in the morning. We woke up in the morning and had our schedules as when to get ready to debark. We had set all our luggage out the night before. They take it and unload it for us. All we have to do is claim it in the terminal. Everything is very orderly. Sadly we headed for the terminal. Now all that wonderful warm weather turned to dreary chilly weather. Vacation is over. We were picked up by the parking lot van and returned to our cars.

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Now came the time for goodbyes. Ron, Theresa, Rich and I would head south to Harlingen and the sun. The rest would head north west to the cold of Nebraska. Great Trip……Made some Great New Friends…..Everyone vowed to do it again….

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This was our magnetic door signs that Ron and Theresa made for us all. We autographed them all at the end of the trip. Even Barrington our Room Steward. Next, these are some of our fun shots.

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Now here is our Group Shots.

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It was a FABULOUS CRUISE. I would do it again in a minute. We had such a good time. I believe Royal Caribbean was an AWESOME Cruise Line. You can make this cruise as affordable as you wish. You can relatively spend very little after you board if you wish. All shows are free. So many restaurants and buffets to choose from. All the swimming and fun on the top of the ship. Or you can spend as much as you want in the bars and casino, or shopping. One can buy that special diamond or other precious gems. So its totally up to the person as to how to enjoy the cruise.

This was “A CRUISE OF A LIFETIME”