When I was about 4 or 5 years old, my dad took me to the mall in Rochester. I always had fun when I went there. Sometimes we would visit a little health food store and my dad would buy me a candy bar. Those candy bars were 100% good-for-you, and delicious! Another thing I loved was watching a neat display in the mall. It was made up of colored balls tumbling around a kind of maze. I wondered how they could keep going without ever stopping. Another interesting thing was the train. It was made up of around a dozen kid-size passenger cars, and one lead car for the engineer. The lucky kid who got to ride in the lead car also got to ring the bell that hung inside the car. I always wanted to ride in the lead car and ring the bell, but I never got a chance. Finally, one day, it was empty. Yeah! I quickly climbed on board and closed the door. The train started up, and I reached for the bell, but it was broken. As the train went around and around the tracks, my dad shouted,"Ring the bell! Ring the bell!" He couldn't hear me yell back that it was broken. Nuts. The one time I got to be a conductor, and the bell had to be broken! Although, that must have been the reason the conductor's car was empty that one time!
My Failed Career as a Conductor
Growing Up In New York
Since I was 7 when we moved to Zion, Illinois, I remember New York pretty well. Rebekah, Ruth, Elizabeth, and I were all born there. We lived in a suburb of Rochester, about forty miles from Buffalo. When people hear that we originally came from New York, they usually think New York City. It was totally the opposite of New York City! Down the street from us, an elderly couple raised and sold vegetables. We got some good stuff from them-- summer squash, cucumbers, corn, etc. Their stand was self-service-- prices on homemade signs propped in front of the vegetables, and a jar for the cash. Our landlady, who lived next door to us, had 2 pet sheep. We tried and tried to grow a garden, but the deer kept eating it. One time, my mom went out and found it wasn't deer after all. The sheep had somehow escaped from their enclosure and were happily helping themselves to our delicious vegetables. Yum! Not that they needed anything to eat. I would reach up as far as my five-year-old arms could stretch to pick big bunches of maple leaves to feed them. We had a large red maple tree in our yard, and I loved watching them eat out of my hand. Speaking of maple trees, sugar maples are plentiful in New York. If you go to New York, you have to have maple syrup! It's delicious. In the spring, when the sap starts to flow, trees are tapped. Spouts are hammered into the trunks to drain some of the sap into buckets. When the buckets are full, it's time to boil the sap to evaporate most of the water. The sap gets thicker and thicker until it becomes syrup. Then it's time to make some pancakes!