Tag Archive | generations

Good old days

Mama, Verna Jewel Tackett, and Papa, William Doyle Tackett, with their first-born grandchild, fall of 1955. She was 39, he 44.

Mama, Verna Jewel Tackett, and Papa, William Doyle Tackett, with their first-born grandchild, fall of 1955. She was 39, he 44, upon my arrival.

With the spate of recent craziness in the world and U.S. – and my concerns for my grandchildren’s futures – I find my thoughts turning frequently to lessons learned from my grandparents in the good old days.

Though time and circumstances are very different a half-century later, I hope someday my grandkids will remember love and lessons from me.

Since we didn’t live in the same town, every summer from the time I was 2, I – and later Cathy and I – spent two weeks in Russellville with Mother’s parents, Mama and Papa. Daddy’s parents, Nana and Daddy Lou, also lived in Russellville until I was 9, so it was a bit of a twofer, but the Tacketts were the custodials, and the Cartwrights the day-visits.

Mother pretty unashamedly did the happy dance upon dropping us off, but she has told me it stung a bit that we were so happy to go. The last year I made the pilgrimage  was the summer after the eighth grade, 1969. By that point, friends, the pool – and mainly the lack of a rock ’n’ roll radio station – plus my many babysitting jobs made it a no-go.

I vividly remember reading Farenheit 451 for the first time that last summer in Russellville. I remember also meeting some young teen neighbors to hang out with, but, oddly, I thought, considering they were a small town crew, they were too wild for me, the sophisticated city girl. Working mom, brothers hanging from the rafters – I’ll just go back across the street and hang out with my creative grandmother and little sister, thank you very much.

I learned many lessons during the years I did go.

One was that I was a little ray of sunshine who would always be the center of someone’s universe, at least as long as my grandparents and great aunt and uncle were alive. John seems to take that position now, which would make Papa very, very happy. After he died, Mama told me Papa would’ve never thought any man worthy of me, but I think he’d approve.

Uncle Johnny Blaiotta, whose family emigrated from Italy to San Francisco when he was 10, and my Aunt Opal, Papa's older (by two years) sister. She called him "Cookie," and they were childless lovebirds. They doted on Mother and Uncle Bill then doted on us. Just have to include them because they were so stinking cute.

Uncle Johnny Blaiotta, whose family immigrated from Italy to San Francisco when he was 10, and my Aunt Opal, Papa’s older (by two years) sister. Aunt Opal called Uncle Johnny “Cookie,” and they were childless lovebirds. They doted on Mother and Uncle Bill then doted on all their children. Just have to include this picture because they were so stinking cute when they came back to visit from California in 1957.

Having such crazy-young grandparents meant that we got to have them for a very long time – and that my children got to know them, love them and even go spend the weekend with them a time or two.

This has got to be their 70th and 75th birthdays, judging by the hats and the ages of Liz, Ben and Robert. Look how tickled Papa is -he loved a good time and a big laugh.

This has got to be their 70th and 75th birthdays, judging by the hats and the ages of Liz, Ben and Robert. Look how tickled Papa is – he loved a good time and a big laugh. April 15, 1916, and April 24, 1911, were their birthrates.

OK, I’m short on time, so let me focus:

From my grandfather I learned how to vegetable garden. I didn’t realize that I was learning at the time – I thought we were just hanging out. But later, after becoming a gardener myself, I realized just how much he’d taught me, and he was a ready reference for any question I might have.

I learned that a good sense of humor can take you a long way. And that a little mischief never hurt anything, especially if you don’t get caught. But if you do, if you’re crafty, you can finagle your way out of too much trouble.

Example from one of his favorite stories about when I was 2:

Papa: “Laura, am I going to have to spank you?”

Laura: “Now, Papa, you wouldn’t spank your sweet little granddaughter, would you?”

Turns out, no, he wouldn’t. He laughed hard instead. 

But he would give Cathy a quick firm swat on the rear when she stood up in the fishing boat on Lake Dardenelle after being repeatedly cautioned against standing in the boat.

Turns out our grandfather who could do anything couldn’t do one critical thing, and that was swim. Cathy nearly gave him the heart attack he had in his front  yard years later – one from which he did recover and live another decade.

I don’t even know if we were wearing lifejackets. It was the early ’60s and times were lax. Oh, yeah, he taught us to fish.

Papa took us to see Von Ryan’s Express at the drive-in movie, something we thought was ubercool. He taught us that even though you hung the moon and stars, you still go play in the yard and get out of the adults’ hair. You do get homemade chocolate chip cookies for breakfast, but you don’t sass or interrupt adults.

He taught me that sitting on a limb of the mulberry tree in my great-grandmother’s backyard next to the train track – that I wasn’t allowed to climb – to wave at him as he passed by driving the train was our little secret and didn’t hurt anybody, as long as I didn’t fall.

Never fell. I did sport lots of blue lips, though. And denied to high heaven having eaten unwashed mulberries.

The berry doesn’t fall very far from the grandfather, from stories I’ve heard about him.

We had him until he was 80. Wasn’t long enough.

From my grandmother I learned to sew. I learned to cook. I learned that I could do anything, make anything, be anything, if I just studied it enough to figure it out.

She had no education beyond high school but was very smart, creative and talented. She exuded love and taught us that, ultimately, it is indeed all you need to have a successful life.

She had an innate wisdom and an old soul. She was zen and Papa was zest. They were a perfect balance.

Mama used to counsel me on being married to a slightly older man and told me that in some time spans the difference wouldn’t be noticeable but at other times, it would and you just had to have patience.

Oh, yeah, my grandmother taught me about patience. And acceptance. And second chances. And hope.

She used to pull Cathy and me aside when we were pulling our hair out over our wild little sons and tell us, “Your mother means well, but she doesn’t understand – she never raised a boy.”

She taught me that politics count and voting is a duty, no matter how small the election. She and Papa worked the polls every election that came around after he retired.  She respected the president, whoever occupied the office, but she she was a proud, self-proclaimed yellow-dog Democrat who believed people needed to take care of each other.

Though we were sick to lose her, we were all glad she was spared living through Sept. 11 and the invasion of Iraq. Her heart full of love would’ve shattered over those events.

She died at 85 in the summer of 2001. Still lived at home. Never drove a car. Never raised her voice.

She never needed to – we could hear her loud and clear. Still can.

This is one of my favorite pictures in the world. Liz and Papa hanging out in the kitchen on South Laredo in Russellville.

This is one of my favorite pictures in the world. Liz and Papa hanging out in the kitchen on South Laredo in Russellville. They’d been playing some kind of wooden game that Liz is holding, I think.







Celebrate, part 2

The celebration continued Monday with the birth of big-little Luke, who debuted at 8 pounds 8 ounces and absolutely perfect in every way.

His mom managed to look fabulous within minutes of a C-section and Ben is a natural with babies.

My boy Ben was a whopping 8 pounds 11 ounces and Liz was 8 pounds 9 ounces, both via C-section 15 1/2 months apart. I did not look fabulous either time.

Seeing her babies as good parents warms a mother’s heart.

That’s all for now. I’ll let photos and captions tell the rest of the story.

Lolly doesn’t love photos of herself, but she does love Luke!

Pop gives his fine new boy the once over.

Grammy and Luke have a good talk about life.

Our family’s been long on luck in the great-grandparent department. Mother says love just multiplies by generations. I believe her.


This was a two-party week in LollyPopLand. We have lots to celebrate.


Tuesday night was our third election night watch party – and the second in a row to behappy occasions. Good friends, good food, Blue Champagne Cocktails and a repeat (only better if I do say so myself) of the “confidence cake” from four years ago. 

This old lady was up until 2 after cleaning, watching concession/acceptance speeches calming down.

Lolly and Pop in his Barry O Hawaii shirt.

But today was a family affair, a double celebration of my baby boy’s 34th birthday yesterday and his baby boy’s impending arrival tomorrow.

Birthday boy sporting his new “dress” Razorback toboggan.

Our new baby boy will be Luke  – and since my baby boy Ben was an uber-Star Wars fan, it was only right to get a Star Wars-themed cake. (He and Liz were Luke and Leia for days on end as little-bitty kids.)

My over-achieving days are over, though, so I farmed out this cake assignment. Our neighborhood Community Bakery has been our go-to place for non-Lolly/Mom-made cakes for at least 25 years.

My boy Ben has been bigger than me for 20 years, but he’s still my baby. Grandpa Bill can’t get over how time has flown.

We had a crazy good time, as usual. The boys were wild, as usual, and the little girls precious, as usual.

Mother and Bill were hale and hearty, which is something we don’t take for granted anymore.

Instead, we’re grateful for every moment. Especially when we’re all together.

What the world needs now

Oh, lordy. Anyone who knows me well knows how hard it’s been for me to stay away from politics in The Lolly Diaries. This has been a hard, infernal and eternal election cycle, and, dammit, it needs to be over. What the world needs now is love and healing – and lots of it.

If I could transport us back to Shindig, or at least to the good old days before Citizens United turned our country inside out and upside down, believe me, I would. The adults who are driven to distraction by the constant negativity (and constant poll checking and TV news watching) need a do-over, but I’d mainly do it for the grandchildren, whose futures are still in our hands.

Monday our fourth grandchild will arrive (assuming he doesn’t decide to pop in early), little Luke, baby brother to Annabelle. In April, grandchild 5 will make his debut, baby brother to Jude and Sylvia. We need to grow up as a nation so they can grow up with futures worth living.

(I could so get on my global-warming, no-nuking soapbox here, but I won’t. I’m clenching my teeth with effort, but I won’t. Deep breaths. Deep breaths.)

My recent trip to Washington was in part to free my sister-in-law, Kitty, to run off to the Tri-Cities for the birth of her precious newby, little Regan. Regan is Kitty’s baby Brett’s firstborn – an easy-dispositioned honey who deserves to grow up in a country run by rational adults.

Baby Regan gets acquainted with her Nana.

Brett, Kitty and Regan – three generations.

I also got to be part of the October birthday celebration at an assisted-living facility, in which my mother-in-law, Doris, was one of the honorees. At 91, she comes from a much more genteel time.

The 91-year-old birthday girl and her beautiful daughter guarantee little Regan has good genes.

One can only hope we can regain some gentility in the country.

Tomorrow I’ll be baking a victory cake – it’ll be a round reprise of the one I baked in 2008. We’ll have Blue Champagne Cocktails at hand. I hope to heck (and expect) that we’ll be celebrating. But either way, can we please, please grow up?