The Music Machine

A few weeks ago, I made an amazing discovery, while helping my S.O. go through his mom’s belongings. Okay, technically, I didn’t ‘discover’ anything. Everyone knew it was there, except for me… I can’t even really say I found it, because, again- everyone knew it was there, collecting dust- except for me. Hmmm. At any rate, I was estatic over this piece of history.

It was an 8 track player and a box of 8 track tapes!

I don’t know about you, but for me, this was like finding evidence of an urban myth. I’d heard about these players, but never actually seen or touched one.

My giddiness quadrupled when I finally figured out how it worked and was able to hear a few measures of song.

Immediately, I knew I would write about this piece of ancient technology, but as this is a blog about traveling back in time to meet people, not find things, I had to wait for someoneto start talking.

I didn’t have to wait long before I kept getting images of someone dancing in a kitchen. She had a beautiful afro and a gorgeous, invigorating smile, yet I had no idea who she was.

When a cousin posted some pictures of her mom on social media, I knew I’d found my mystery afro-wearing kitchen dancer.

Allow me to introduce you all to my cousin, Joy Elizabeth Jackson, whom I’m absolutely positive was FABULOUS in life.

Joy was born in 1958 and sadly passed away in 2001, from a massive heart attack. She was 43 years old.

Unfortunately, I have no recollection of ever meeting her, though I am told she attended my dad’s funeral in 1997 and that she was extremely close to my Glory-Glory, who I am also partial to, so it stands to reason I would have met her at least once, but alas I’ve no memory of her. I wish I did, because she sounds like a character and very much like my dad. I’m sure I would have instantly loved and gravitated toward her.

Joy loved her music. Perhaps this is why she showed up dancing in a kitchen. When I talked to her daughter, she told me that she still had Joy’s 8 tracks and records, another sign that I had found the right ancestor for this story.

But apart from dancing and enjoying music, what else was there to tell the world about Joy? For starters, she loved being a mom and a grandmother… Her family was her heart in every sense of the word.

In fact, she loved her kids so much, that in her last year’s, she hid her problems with her heart from her children, so as not to worry them and she dealt with it quietly by herself. Her strength was a recognizable trait and she continues to this day to be remembered by it.

As I was trying to get to know Joy, I was constantly reminded of my father… Like him, Joy was always smiling and loved to play. She would often gather her children (and any others around) into the car (I picture her driving a station wagon, but there’s no evidence of this) and going for a drive to destination no where. This was also one of my dad’s favorite pastime. It is becoming easier and easier to understand why they would have been fond of each other.

Like most families of the time, Joy made sure her children understood Saturday morning chores. She also ensured her kids were in church. Values were an important part in raising her children and she imparted many wisdoms into her babies. Treating others how you want to be treated, without being a fool and remembering that everyone’s heart is different from yours, so as long as you do the right thing, your blessings will come are still living on in the form of her daughter and granddaughter.

Also evident in her offspring, is a hard work ethic. For most of her children’s lives, she worked in the dryer cleaning industry. Her children and grandchildren may not work in dry cleaning, but they do work and they follow Joy’s example- you can have whatever you like out of this life, you just have to work for it.

I know Joy lived a full life, even if it seems cut short to us. So, today, I think I will turn up my Temptations Christmas album and do some dancing in the kitchen- a salute to Joy and the special lady she was.

I’d love to hear from you! Have you made any interesting or remarkable finds? Did they remind you of someone in your tree? Who? Leave me a comment telling me all about it or them or both! As always, the like, share and follow buttons are your friends!!!

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Traditional Christmas

Merry Christmas From my home and family to yours, I would love to wish you a very Merry Christmas! (Just a few days after the fact) I hope the holiday has been everything you needed it to be and that you were blessed by it.

Did you put up a Christmas tree or decorate your home? I’d love to see pictures- drop them in the comments so we can all enjoy them! We put up a Christmas tree and stockings, but we didn’t do the string of lights on our back porch like we have done in year’s past.

Christmas Tree

I enjoyed spending the day with my family and friends and I learned a little something about Christmas traditions, too!

Fruit in Stocking     When asked what Christmas was like for them when they were growing up, during the 1930s and 40s, both my grandparents responded in much the same way- even though they were asked at separate times and not even in the same room as each other.

According to my granddaddy, they were happy with each other ( he had eleven siblings) and they each got an apple, an orange and raisins. Nana said that they did the same thing she was doing (cooking). It is not hard to imagine Nana in the kitchen with her mother and her sister preparing the family meal. When I pressed Nana on the question of what Christmas was like when she was a child, she informed me that they received grapes, an orange and raisins. Both my grandparents said they sometimes had a radio, depending if there were batteries or not. Next time I visit, I am going to need to spend time hunting through the pictures for these radios, as I am sure it will make an interesting find. My grandfather elaborated on this by reminding me that they didn’t have the things we have today (grocery stores), so it was a special treat to get something like that. Oh, yes there was a Christmas tree, unfortunately, I forgot to ask what it was decorated with… Darn it. A visit in the near future is in high demand to sit in the formal living room and go through all of those photo albums, where I am sure a picture of the tree is hiding in the crevices… I hope.

candy cane stocking     It was the same wit my mom and aunt. Both shared that they got fruit and candy canes in their stockings and usually a doll baby or an accessory. I didn’t get a chance to ask my uncle, so unfortunately, I don’t know what kinds of presents the boys received. My mom did say that they would have board games and all of them- there were seven in total-  would play those games together. Ack. As I am writing this, I am realizing all kinds of questions I forgot to ask. I decidedly did not have my journalism hat on on this day… because of this, I cannot, sadly, tell you what kinds of board games they played or even what was the most desired toy of the era or anything like that.

I can tell you the family had a TV (my mom actually sounded offended that I would ask her if they had one) and a favorite show to watch was Red Skeleton. After the reaction I received when I asked about even having a television, I didn’t even bother asking if it was a black and white or color set.

When my siblings and I were younger, we did receive an orange and a candy cane in our stockings, along with little trinkets and bobbles, but the real ‘treasures’ were underneath the tree. We would receive things like Barbies and every imaginable accessory, Cabbage Patch dolls and their accoutrements and must haves. We never really ate the fruit, I distinctly remember my dad sitting at the card table pealing a pilfered orange and cracking some nuts while we oohed and ahhed over the wonderful things Santa had delivered unto us and eventually, the oranges and candy canes faded away. Have there been traditions within your family that have faded to black? Would you ever bring them back? For me, I will leave the oranges to my memories, as my kids don’t really eat them, but I have brought the candy canes back to life without even knowing I was resurrecting a forgotten tradition. Instead of being nestled in stockings, I hang them on my tree and have them on a tray by the front door- a welcoming offering to anyone who comes or goes… (though, I am not certain they will be back next year, as the toddler discovered them this year and probably ate all of them by himself!)

Anyway, I am going to let you get back to your Holiday fun now. I just wanted to pop in and say hello and invite you on a quick trip down memory lane. I’ve already asked you a ton of questions, so I won’t trouble you with more. I look forward to reading about your traditions in the comments.

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And like that record player we got one year from Fisher Price, I will repeat myself again and again… I appreciate likes and shares, so be generous with them, thanks!