by Roger M. Goetz
A SNOWY LENT AND EASTER
Lent began early in 1951 with Ash Wednesday on February 7. The Wednesday prior, the Chemistry Circle met at our house, so Mom had to "polish up the house," as she put it. On the five Wednesday evenings after Ash Wednesday, we had a Lenten Service at church as is the Lutheran custom; and Mom stayed afterwards for choir. She explained it this way the day after her first rehearsal:
The [college] students will be home for Easter so we "cliff dwellers" are choir rehearsing after Lenten Services! I enjoy it.
Mom was not a regular choir member but she loved to sing. In fact she took voice lessons in college and her dream was to be an opera singer like her mother’s cousin. Because of the Great Depression, Mom eventually had to stop taking lessons because she couldn’t afford them any longer.
Several times while I was growing up, she told me that she had dreamt she was on stage singing opera and had woken up crying.
The first time I heard this, I asked her, "Why were you crying?"
She answered, "I cried in joy at my beautiful dream and in sadness that it would never come true."
Her answer troubled me a little, for I knew then that deep down inside her was a vacuum that had never been filled.
One time when I was practicing a piano piece that had words with it, Mom decided to sing along with me. I was amazed to discover she could sing from the low F at the bottom of the bass clef to the high C above the treble clef. Her most comfortable vocal range was that of an alto at that time. She told me that she had once been a soprano but ruined her voice raising two small boys!
So by joining the Easter choir, Mother had another church activity to supplement going to basketball games and concerts and Chemistry Circle. As a result, she had trouble mustering the energy to have the dinners she owed. Besides Dad had been working very hard.
As their seventeenth wedding anniversary (February 24) approached, Mom told Dad that instead of getting roses she wanted to go out to dinner and a show. They wound up not being able to go out that evening, but Dad gave her a rain check.
Four days later Mom was in bed for two days with the flu, and after that it took her over a week to regain her strength. She was about back to normal when she wrote in her diary on Monday, March 12:
It’s been snowing since Saturday. Quit for most of today, but started in again with a vengeance about 4 p.m. today. 22 inches this a.m.
The following Saturday, the folks had dinner guests. Concerning that Mom wrote afterwards:
The salad I tho’t tasted terrible – altho they ate every shred. The meat was dried out. We enjoyed the visit and I think they did too.
The next day was Palm Sunday, March 18, with plenty of winter weather. A howling north wind blew the falling snow into drifts. Mom didn’t like the weather on Easter Sunday, March 25, at all. She wrote that it was horrible because it was cold and there was snow on the ground. She felt the winter was much too long that year since they’d had snow already at Thanksgiving.
We kids, however, loved the snow. Besides building snowmen and having the occasional snowball battle from behind opposing snow forts, there was sledding. In a pinch we could try to sled down the hill that was Country Club Boulevard, the first street north of where we lived. This, however, rarely proved satisfactory.
If time and temperature permitted and parental permission were forthcoming, Benny and Mary Jameson and I liked to pull our sleds over to the Ames Country Club where, a little ways east of the club house, was a long, steep slope down which lots of people sledded and tobogganed
One time when we were there sledding, there were some other kids making a sort of ski jump out of snow a little ways down the slope. They planned to sit together on a sled or toboggan, go over the ski jump, and be launched about two feet off the ground for a thrill.
There were excited at the prospect and kind of bragging about what they were going to do. Nevertheless, I wasn’t too sure that it was a good idea.
At last they were ready and everyone watched them start downhill toward their ski jump. But they didn’t go straight. Rather they veered at a small angle to the left. By the time they hit the ski jump, only the right side went over it while the left side stayed on the ground. The result? They were flipped upside down and all but landed on their heads. One of them was slightly hurt and cried for a bit; then they went home.
The rest of us avoided the ski jump like the plague!