Monday, July 11, 2016

One Of My Few Talents and Other Ruminations

My beautiful mom at the local swimming hole before we went wild raspberry picking - a Gainsborough portrait for sure!

Everyone has talents. Some have more than others. I'm sure this doesn't come as an earth shattering revelation to my more sophisticated readers.  Whoops!  Of COURSE all of my readers are sophisticated.  But you know what I mean.

The reason I believe we all have talents is that when I grew up I was never encouraged in anything.  Not that my Mother didn't love me.  I was never sure about my father's love.  I think my brothers and I were more of an inconvenience and annoyance to him than anything else.  But that is a subject for another blog posting.  In fact, SEVERAL blog postings.  A book.  A BIG book.

But back to my born talent or talents.  I wasn't aware of any that I had.  All around me, I observed schoolmates who were natural athletes.  One would think I was a natural for basketball, being born tall.  Alas, it was not to be because I was abjectly uncoordinated.  I could never figure out how to run and dribble the basketball at the same time.  I

could either dribble (bounce) the basketball standing still or I could run with the basketball.  Couldn't do both at the same time.  No wonder none of my classmates in gym ever passed the ball to me.  They didn't want to hear that foul whistle pierce their eardrums which was a guarantee it they passed Tipton the basketball.  In fact I had such a notorious reputation that when it came time to pick members for the teams in gym, I was left.  No one picked me.  Talk about rejection.  But then a subject for another blog (or blogs and you WILL hear about that mortification that I endured during my teen years in high school gym).

I always thought I could play the piano but alas, my parents never had the interest or money to send me to piano lessons.  Even back then in my formative years I envied my classmates whose parents' sent them to piano lessons.  I could never understand why my piano lesson classmates always complained about taking those lessons. 

I wanted to join the Boy Scouts.  Mom said "We can't afford that."  In fact we couldn't afford much.  Our family was the definition of White Trash.  My father was a cross country truck driver from the hills of western North Carolina.  I was never sure he could read anything more than his signature. Yes, he was a hillbilly.  

My Mother was much more intelligent but raised very poor.  Her Mother died before she was two years old.  She was the youngest child in a family of five.  Her father was an "alley cat" (according to my cousin Will).  My grandfather liked the ladies. 

My grandfather George L. Hadfield, Sr. with his four children and wife who was pregnant with my Mother at the time, she is hiding her pregnancy (as they did in those times) behind her oldest daughter my Aunt Grace - 1922

He beat his children and ran around with the ladies.  He was married three times which was very unusual back in the Twenties. 

My grandfather (paternal) with his third wife (whom he divorced) Margaret Siosko (the only Hungarian in our family tree - how did THAT happen?)

At least he wasn't an alcoholic. He was the only grandparent I knew.  My Mother was a "Cinderella."  She cooked and cleaned her house from the time she was eight years old.  

My Mom (left) with her two older brothers (who later tore the head off of her favorite doll - a story she often told me, she nursed that hurt all her life) - 1925

When she was fifteen she met this handsome hillbilly on a double date.  He wasn't the date, he was here girlfriend Edie Lemon's date but once my Mother saw my father, she told her girl friend "Move over I'm sitting with him!" Edie knew a lost cause when she saw one and moved to the back of the rumble seat Ford and sat with Mom's date, Charlie Hanks.  Thus began a love affair that lasted sixty years, until his death in 2000.  

My Mother and Father shortly after they were married and I was born - 1942

My father loved women, all women and they loved him.  Of course he was very handsome and he had that kind of rascality charm that women loved.  And he was big and I mean BIG all over, as I read in one letter that my Mother gave to me shortly before her death.  This woman was having an affair with my father and advised my Mother to leave my father.  This woman said my father was "big" and women love "big" men and she (my Mother) would never be able to hold onto him.  But my Mother was made of stronger stuff. My Mother was often underestimated. She was strong.

Me (arms folder), Pop, Mom and my brother Isaac - 1947

She tamed my father and kept our family together.  And I have to give my father credit.  He was dumb in a lot of ways but he wasn't dumb when it came to my Mother.  He always loved her, no matter what.  I never once in my life heard him raise his voice to her, nor did I ever hear her raise her voice to him although she did at time became very angry with him and his childish, selfish ways. 

My father and mother and my father's brother Henry and his wife Peg (my aunt and uncle) - 1955

My father did raise his voice though with us kids (me and my two brothers).  In fact it seemed like he was always mad at us.  I didn't realize why until after he died and my Mother told me all those stories she kept to herself all those years while he was alive, about how he was catting around, spending the family income, while his children were going hungry.  But once my Mother threatened to leave him unless she took over the family finances, he was smart enough to know he would never, NEVER find another woman like my Mother.  And I really believe he loved her.  

My father with the love of his life, my Mother - he was very lucky to have her. 1958

So anyway, where am I going with this posting?  Damn if I know.  But I did come across this old photo of my Mother that I took during one of our summertime outings back in the summer of 1954.  On those dog days of summer me and my brothers and the family dog were often treated to a dip in the local swimming hole, followed by a wild raspberry picking hunt of the fields around the Brandywine Creek.  After a pot full of raspberries were picked (my Mom made the BEST raspberries and dumplings) Mom and Pop would stop at the gas station/grocery store on Rt. 322 and we treat us to ice cream cones (I always got black raspberry).  Ah, those summer days.

My father, Mother and her older sister my Aunt Grace July 2000 - one month before my father's death from lung cancer (he smoked all his life) - I hate to say it but I look almost like him now. The fate of all sons, as they age they turn into their father.

But back to my "talent."  Check out the photo I took of my Mom with my Kodak camera back in 1954.  I always wanted a camera and took photos all the time.  My Mom never minded me taking photos of her and I took a lot.  I was her first and favorite son.  She knew I wanted a camera for Christmas that previous Christmas I got my much wished for camera.  

Check out the composition of this picture folks.  You do have to admit I have a talent for composition (if I do say so myself).  I'm not much talented other areas but I do like to take photos, sometimes to the annoyance of those who know me; friends, co-workers and strangers.  

I've often wonder why my life would have been like if I was given encouragement to follow my talent during those young and formative years.  Alas, we'll never know but I can share these photos with you.  And you know I will.

My photo of my (first and only) cat "Bobby".  He was a stray I adopted. He loved me and I loved him. A few years later I came home from school one day and couldn't find Bobby.  I asked my Mother if she knew where he was.  She told me that my father had taken him to the SPCA.  Bobby was spraying the front door and my father wouldn't put up with that so he "got rid" of Bobby.  No "Father Knows Best" sit down explanation to me, just "got rid of that cat."  This is the way I was raised folks.  This was my father's inherent cruelty towards me.  He also gave aways pet ducks I had.  Gave them to a friend of his at work to eat.  Again I came home one day from school and when to feed my two pet ducks and they were gone.  I asked my Mother and she said "Pop gave them to Gulf Whitson."  I asked "Why?"  She said "To eat."  Again, that's the way I was raised folks. a "deal with it attitude."  I've never forgotten these thoughtless acts by him. And I envy those who were raised by parents who had more respect for their children.  If there is one thing I can fault my Mother for is that she always went along with whatever "Pop" did.  Nobody is perfect.  A lesson I learned early in life. But nice composition on the photo, eh?

Me and my cat "Bobby", named after an upperclassman at school  I had a crush on at that time.  I can say his name now - it was Robert "Bobby" M.

My "secret" is out now after all these years.  Maybe he'll read this blog.  Hey, I've had it happen before when I've posted full names on my blog.  Ah, that wavy hair.  And to think how I used to swoon every time he got on the school bus and passed my seat.  Yessir folks, this was the object of many a wet dreams of young Ron.


  1. Another enjoyable post. I'm glad you got a camera when you were young, because it did foster your passion for taking photos. Back then (in the "good" old days) most parents from poor families never nurtured their children's talents. Kids were simply expected to get a job, get married, and leave as soon as possible. It's a shame that many talents were never pursued.

    Our fathers seemed to be very much alike - except for the fact that yours was more normal, while mine was completely insane and extremely violent. My father ALWAYS got rid of my pets. As soon as I got a cat or dog it would mysteriously disappear in a few days. I was inevitably told that it "ran away". I'm sure that's why I love my cats so much now.

    One very positive thing is that your parents didn't get violent with each other. Your Mom was tolerant and forgiving, like mine. My mother endured more physical and mental abuse than I would ever dare to mention. She tried to leave my father numerous times, but he always convinced her to come back. It was a helluva miserable situation.

    As always, I like all of your photos. The one of you and Bobby the cat is so sweet - - so is that first photo of your mother. You had a very good looking family.

    BTW - one of my uncles had a pet goose when he was a boy - and his grandparents ate it for Christmas!

  2. The 'Gainsborough' one is very nice!



  3. It's always been an unfathomable mystery to me why some people are so unfeeling towards animals, as though the latter's own emotions count for nothing. All my life I've always put myself in the animal's place and automatically think "How would I myself feel if the same was done to me?" - which is a principal reason why I've been veggie for something like 57 years now. Luckily I haven't had the heart-breaking experiences that you've had with your Bobby and the ducks. From the way your write it's left scars on you, which is totally understandable. It would have cut at least as deep with me too.


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