Moments of Discovery # 1: How Do You Furnish a House?

According to The Huffington Post, the median home price in the United States (2014) is $ 188,900.00. Even adjusted for inflation over the years, housing prices have increased enormously since the 1940s.

My parents were married in 1940. Until they bought their first home in 1941, they lived for a few months with my father’s parents, Henry and Fanny Longenecker, and then with a relative, “Uncle” Elmer Longenecker in the village of Rheems, Pennsylvania. The newlyweds’ first home of about 1240 square feet cost $ 5000.00.

Just as astonishing as the price of the house was the bill for their home furnishings from Eberly Furniture Store just above Elizabethtown. They outfitted this home for $ 425.00 including a dining room and bedroom suites with a mattress and box springs, a kitchen table, rugs and two utility cabinets.

Eberly Furniture receipt_150

Please note that table pads for the dining room and a third, smaller rug were apparently thrown in as a bonus. Milton was a happy man the day Ray and Ruth Longenecker walked through the door of his store. And the feeling was mutual. My Mother’s comment on the receipt says it all: “We bought this all at one time, but not these days. Isn’t this something.”

The Art Deco bedroom suite has been replaced with something more contemporary but not nearly as beautiful to my taste. What is left of the original purchase: the kitchen table and chairs and the Duncan Phyfe dining room suite.


Isn’t that something?

The “Moments of Discovery” series is Part One of a continuing series that will unfold as we sort through the contents of the house on Anchor Road. It joins other series on this blog: Purple Passages, Moments of Extreme Emotion, and 10 Tips/Secrets.

How do you furnish a house – traditional, contemporary, eclectic? 

Coming next: Secrets in My Hatbox


10 Things My Family Did or Didn’t Do on Sunday

You must not work on Sunday, Sunday, Sunday

You must not work on Sunday because it is a sin.

But you can work on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday,

Thursday, Friday, Saturday till Sunday comes again.

Sung to a melody with a 4-note range similar to “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush.”

10 Things My Family Did or Did Not Do on Sundays

What we did . . .

  1. Went to church, always unless deathly ill
  2. Invited folks to a nice Sunday dinner after church – or were invited to home of relatives or friends. “Don’t look on turns” was a saying spoken readily from one hostess to the other but not strictly adhered to. Dinner served with fine china, crystal, best silver unless it was a picnic
  3. Drove in the Studebaker to Uncle Landis, Uncle Abe or Aunt Verna’s house – Didn’t call ahead, just appeared at the door – and they would do the same!
  4. Took a walk in the woods or across fields
  5. Nap, my mom in the bed, my dad in his chair
Daddy drying dishes - Only on Sundays after church!
Daddy drying dishes – Only on Sundays after church!

What we never did . . .

  1. Ate in a restaurant
  2. Went shopping
  3. Did the laundry
  4. Cleaned the house
  5. Mowed the lawn

Our neighbors, Paul and Edna Mumma, owned and operated the Clearview Diner along Route 230 between Elizabethtown and Mt. Joy, Pennsylvania. As members of the Church of the Brethren (an Anabaptist group similar to the Mennonites) the Mummas adhered to the closed-on-Sunday rule as well.

Clearview Postcard_front

Clearview Postcard_back_back

Nowadays most retail stores are open seven days a week. Banks and almost all businesses are accessible online even on Sundays. Yet there remain a few stores like Hobby Lobby and Chick-fil-A whose doors are locked on the Lord’s Day, the latter with soaring profits.


Your thoughts please – a reminiscence or an opinion!

Coming next –  Ian’s Miracle Birth: The Million Dollar Baby

I’m All Ears!

A Fable


A tortoise had become friendly with two geese who promised to take it to their home in the mountains. The plan: The geese would hold a stick in their beaks while the tortoise would grasp it in the middle with his mouth, but he must be careful not to talk. During the journey, villagers below made fun of the tortoise. When it answered back, it fell to its destruction.

You guessed the moral: Talking at the wrong time can lead to fatal consequences!

Quick Quiz

1. Are you the first to air your knowledge when your favorite topic comes up?

2. Do you interject your opinion before anyone else has a chance to speak?

3. Do you tune out what others are saying because you are busy thinking of a comment?

I’m just guessing here, but you were probably the 3rd grader whose hand was the first to shoot up when your teacher asked a question. And I must say I am guilty as charged. Just see the Cliff and Marian misunderstanding below.

*  *  *

Hearing and listening are not the same thing. The difference between the sense of hearing and the skill of listening is attention, says Seth Horowitz in a New York Times piece.

The Harvard Business Review blog reveals that one in four corporate leaders have a listening deficit. No surprise there! In the business world, failure to listen can muddle the lines of communication, “sink careers, and if it’s the CEO with the deficit, derail the company.” In our personal lives, muddle and mayhem can result.

Good advice for better listening? First of all, slow down. While listening seems like such a passive thing to do, it is essential for understanding. Secondly, consider the source. “Try to understand each person’s frame of reference—where they are coming from.” Disagreements can often be averted with skilled listening.

Studies show that thoughts move about four times as fast as speech. No wonder it’s so hard to slow down and actually listen.


Here is the beginning of a list of tips for good listening:

1. Give full attention to whoever is speaking.

2. Don’t interrupt. Let the other person finish before you begin speaking.

3. Listen with your face as well as your ears. It’s appropriate to smile, frown, laugh, be silent at times when you are in conversation.


A Cliff and Marian Misunderstanding

Sometimes listeners with a lot of practice get muddled up. Here is a “He said / She said” from our own experience:

Marian: Let’s eat out today.

Cliff: Wonderful idea.  (Time passes – Cliff leaves and comes home about dinner time noticing I’m in the middle of meal preparation.)

Cliff: I thought we were eating out this evening. Why, I had some ideas about where we would go.

Marian: For goodness sake, I was thinking that it would be nice to eat outside on the patio because it’s so cool.

Cliff: But I thought you meant we were eating out, like in a restaurant!

God help me!
God help me!

Listening in the Longenecker Family 1950s

Living in the Longenecker family in the 1950s, we children were taught to listen, pay attention. In a parent-centered household, we listened to directions about chores, instructions about what to do and what not to do. To balance things out though, we also listened to Daddy singing as he played the guitar or the piano, or to Mother singing off-key in the kitchen. “I’ll be somewhere, listening, I’ll be somewhere listening, I’ll be somewhere listening for my na-aa-mm-e . . .

Please add your own tip, an observation, or an anecdote about listening or the lack thereof.

Coming next: Another Moment of Extreme Emotion

Purple Passages with a June Bride


You can’t use up creativity. The more you use the more you have.       ―  Maya Angelou


[Hear her read her valiant poem “Still I Rise” here.]

Creativity is intelligence having fun.     ― Albert Einstein

Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.

           Galatians 6: 4-5  The Message


Giving and Health

Dr. Stephen Post conducted a survey at forty-four major universities that revealed that giving protects your overall health twice as much as an aspirin protects your heart against disease. Why Good Things Happen to Good People (7)

Original art: C. Joel Beaman
Relief print: C. Joel Beaman


Being Young in Heart

Another belief of mine is that everyone else my age is an adult whereas I am merely in disguise.”  ― Margaret Atwood, Cat’s Eye


June Brides & Marriage

Wedding of Ruth Longenecker and John Weaver, 1950s
Wedding of Ruth Arlene Longenecker and John Weaver, Bossler’s Mennonite Church, 1950s Bride carries white Bible with lacy handkerchief Groom wears plain (frock) coat


Marriage is more like an airplane than a rock.

You have to commit the thing to flight, and then it creaks and groans, and keeping it airborne depends entirely on altitude attitude. Working at it, though, we can fly forever.             ― Michael Grant in the San Diego Union


The Educated Mind & an Opposing Viewpoint

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

― Aristotle, Metaphysics


Life’s Irritations

Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.      ―  Psychiatrist Carl Jung


Memory and Time

Remembering is so basic and vital a part of staying alive that it takes on the strength of an instinct of survival, and acquires the power of art. Remembering is done through the blood, it is a bequeathment, it takes account of what happened before a man is born . . . . It is a physical absorption through the living body, it is a spiritual heritage. It is also a life’s work.      ― Eudora Welty in                her book On Writing in which she quotes Faulkner (103).

In fiction, time can throb like a pulse, tick like a bomb, beat like the waves of a rising tide again the shore; it can be made as the whisper of attrition, or come to an end with the explosion of a gun  (98).

Memory is deceptive because it is colored by today’s events. ― Albert Einstein

Memory. . . is the diary that we all carry about with us.  ― Oscar Wilde
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Add more color to June’s Purple Passages!
Reply with your own quote. Or respond to one above. 


I promised an answer to the puzzling question from the last post.


How did this happen? Here is our best guess:

Our children, now in their forties, were in their late teens when Cliff and I decided to leave them at home alone while we took a short weekend trip. One of the children was very mature and responsible (or so we thought), so we felt safe to leave. When we returned home, pictures on the walls were askew, there was evidence of under-age drinking, and one leg on the piano bench had obviously been broken off but bandaged up with rough, brown U-Haul tape. Our kids’ explanation then was that they had a small party but more came, uninvited, when word spread that there were no parents at home. Yes, the cliché fits here exactly: “When the cat’s away . . . !”

At the time of the first break, Cliff repaired the leg with a wooden dowel, which has lasted until a few weeks ago. Then Mr. Repairman had to reinforce the leg with a sturdier steel dowel. The END. (We hope!)

Coming next:  Hats Off to Dad






10 Ways My Grandma & I are Alike (or Unlike)

Grandma Longenecker with niece and maid-of-honor Evelyn ("Honey")
Grandma Longenecker with niece and maid-of-honor Evelyn (“Honey”)

10 ways I’m like (or unlike) my Grandma Longenecker  

1. She started fancy and turned plain. I reversed the cycle, plain to fancy.


2. She always wore black laced-up shoes with heels to do housework. For me, it’s tennis shoes in winter and sandals in the summer. No heels in the kitchen.

3. She never voiced criticism about a person (except once). I am an exception to her rule.

4. She wished to have prettier hands. I love the compassion and service her work-worn hands reveal.

5. She never learned to drive. I passed my driver’s test on the third try.

6. She never watched television. I’m a Downton Abbey addict.

7. Her sewing machine was rarely silent. Mine has been stowed away in favor of a computer.

8. She shoveled snow in Pennsylvania. I now live in Florida sans snow…

Grandma in sun-bonnet shoveling snow in Pennsylvania, 1950s
Grandma in sun-bonnet, skirt,  and apron shoveling snow in Pennsylvania, 1950s

9. No one left her house without a garden snip or a tasty morsel from the table. I seem to have the same sharing habit. So does my sister Janice!

Home-grown kumquats and soup mix
Home-grown kumquats and soup mix for a recipe from sister Janice

10. Grandma loved knee-slapping humor. Sister Jan remembers she even fell off a chair once overcome by gales of laughter. I don’t need an excuse to laugh either.

One of her pincushions - I'll never part with it!
One of her pincushions  I’ll never part with

Question Mark w border1_1x1_300

What habits or preferences have been passed to you from a relative?

What other similarities or differences have been passed between the generations?

Mennonite Lexicon

Quilt exhibited at the bicentennial of Bossler Mennonite Church
Quilt exhibited at the bicentennial celebration at Bossler Mennonite Church

You won’t find the definitions for rumspringa or bundling, (often referring to the Amish) in this mini-dictionary of Pennsylvania Dutch words, but here are some expressions the Longeneckers and other Mennonite families in Lancaster County often used growing up in the 1950s and 60s:

The word “Dutch” is actually a misnomer. Many Pennsylvania Dutch settlers originated in Switzerland before migrating to Germany, not the Netherlands. Thus, “Dutch” may be a corruption of Deutsch (German for the word German).

(Spellings below are dubious, an amalgam of what sounds I heard and some expressions “translated” in modern media from the German.)

ach: variously paired with yes/no/not sure, meaning “yes, of course” and so on.

brutzing: as in “stop your whining, crying!”

dopplich: clumsy with yourself

daymedich: not too smart, slow-witted

ferhoodled: not neat, messy–as in a messy house

fire-ich-butz: one who “flies off the handle,” flares with anger

hipschick: snazzy looking, stylish in fashion. Referring to machinery: working well, no glitches

“It wonders me. . . .”  meaning, I wonder (Grandma Longenecker said this often.)

Kunst du Deutch schwetza: Do you speak Pennsylvania Dutch?

kutz: to vomit

nix nootz: mischievous child

rutschy: restless (something you shouldn’t be in church), squirmy. Also: “giegling,” as in “quit your giegling around,” wiggling on a chair at the table, or at a desk at school.

schmutzich: smeary, messy, or runny–like ice cream from a cone melting onto your fingers

schnickelfritz: troublemaker, usually referring to a child

schtrubelich: messy, uncombed hair

schuslich: in a hurry and leaving a mess behind

spritzing: raining lightly

shit-mo-link: Coined by my dad, a good Mennonite brother, who would never curse or use 4-letter words. His definition: Someone who caused him trouble in business; a crook. It’s only a guess, but his invented word could have originated from the Minneapolis Moline tractors he sold in his dealership, Longenecker Farm Supply:

Cultivating land for tomato crop in Bainbridge
Cultivating nearly 10 acres of land for our tomato crop in Bainbridge, PA with a Minneapolis Moline tractor

“Gay” (church): non-Mennonite church where people dressed fancy without coverings and cape dresses. Some daughters from the Alvin Longenecker clan got married in the Evangelical United Brethren Church, a dressy church in Elizabethtown, PA and wore lovely bridal gowns and shimmering veils at their weddings. As a plain Mennonite girl, I dreamed of having such a wedding. (Now “gay churches” often refer to churches who welcome alternative lifestyles.)

Interestingly, many of the words and expressions we used growing up express strong feelings. Many of them seem onomatopoeic to me now, the sound giving a hint to the meaning.

This listing is just a start. What words can you add to this lexicon? From the Pennsylvania Dutch?

From a different ancestry?

Join the conversation! I’d love to hear from you, and I will always reply.

*** Here is the link to my story set in Ukraine submitted to the My Gutsy Story Contest:

Purple Passages, November 2013 edition

7Purple Passages_Banner_new margin_8x4_300

On Integrity

Florida live oak
Florida live oak in our front lawn

You have my word, and my word is stronger than OAK!  Quoted in the movie Jerry Maguire

On Attitude

A FunicelloQuote

Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful!   Annette Funicello

Courtesy Google Images
Courtesy Google Images

On perspective:

Have you heard of the 18/40/60 rule?


“When you’re eighteen, you worry about what everybody’s thinking about you. When you’re forty, you realize that it doesn’t really matter what they think about you. When you’re sixty, it dawns on you that most of them weren’t thinking about you at all!”

Daily Devotional: The Word for You Today, October 31, 2013 entry

On the Mystery of Life:

The heart of another is a dark forest, always, no matter how close it has been to one’s own.


               Willa Cather, The Professor’s House

Who am I?  We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881 – 1955)

* Which quote resonates with you most in either a positive or negative way?

* What quote for the month can you add?

You comments are most welcome. I will always reply!

Survivor or Thriver? A Beauty Queen and Some Tips


Are you thriving–or just barely hanging on? This is a close-up of the logo from a woman’s retreat I attended a few months ago featuring Leslie Nease, Mrs. North Carolina 2001 and contestant on Survivor China 2007.


A fitness trainer, she has written a book on physical, emotional and spiritual fitness called Body Builders. Leslie has had to overcome many obstacles in her life journey, but she shares these with touches of humor. Her new book Wholehearted: Living the Life You Were Created to Live (2013) describes how God transformed her from the inside out with an experience she refers to as a heart transplant. Her goal: to live every day with purpose and passion. To thrive, not just survive.

For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.

II Corinthians 4:16

The desire to thrive, not just survive, is described in psychological terms as well. The book Love, Medicine & Miracles by Bernie S. Siegel, M. D. contains a description of the survivor personality traits. According to psychologist Al Siebert, there are observable indicators of self-motivated growth:

1. A sense of aimless playfulness for its own sake, like that of a happy child.

2. A child’s innocent curiosity.

3. The ability to become so deeply absorbed in an activity that you lose track of time, external events, and all your worries . . . .

4. An observant, non-judgment style.

5. Willingness to look foolish, make mistakes, and laugh at yourself.

6. An active imagination, daydreams, mental play . . . .

7. Empathy for other people, including opponents.

8. Recognition of . . . intuition as a valid source of information.

9. Good timing when speaking or taking original action.

10. The ability to see early clues about future developments and take appropriate action.

11. Keeping a positive outlook in adversity.

12. The ability to adapt to unexpected experiences. (Plan B!)

13. The talent for converting what others consider misfortune into something useful.

14. Feeling yourself getting smarter and enjoying life more as you get older.

What can you add to the list above?

Are you a thriver? A survivor?  Share a story please.

Your comments welcome! I always reply.

School Daze: Games We Played

My class at Elizabethtown Library
My class at Elizabethtown Library

Here we are all bunched up together for a photo documenting our excursion from Rheems Elementary School to the library in town about 3 miles away. But we’ll soon board buses, and go back to our two-room school-house in Rheems where we’ll probably have lunch or recess. And we’ll lose our serious faces, eyes agape.

Recess, yes! After Miss Longenecker, grades 1- 4, or Mrs. Kilhefner, grades 5 – 8, excuses us, we all scram out to the playground equipped with a slide, see-saw, and jungle gym with bars for climbing and twirling our bodies around. Before we go back to class, most of us will pay a visit to the typical wooden outhouses, one for girls and one for boys, right next to each other and both regularly anointed with lime to quell the smell.

Group Outdoor Games:

1. Softball  (Need an extra inning? Teachers, not so pressured by students’ test scores, may extend our play.)

2. Red Rover “Red Rover, Red Rover,” let ________ come over!) involving mad dashes around school building.

3. Crack the Whip  Classmates in a line, running, then strong body at one end stops short, so others flip around. Cheap thrill!

4. Tag   When someone chases you down on the playground and touches you, you are IT!

5. Hide and Go Seek   HideGoSeek

Games with Just a Few:

1. Simon says

2. Hop-scotch

3. Four square

4. Jump rope

5. Double jump rope  Each child has a handle on two different jump ropes and flicks them one at a time in opposite directions.  “I dare you not to trip up!”

Rainy Day Games:

1. Jacks  Jacks game

2. Pick Up Sticks

Courtesy: Google Images
Courtesy: Google Images

3. Tiddly-Winks  (Players try to snap small plastic disks into a cup by pressing them on the edge with a large disk.)

Treat for Teacher:

Someone, probably Ralph, announces in the middle of class “Fruit Roll!” and kids behind every desk in class jump up with an apple, orange, or grapefruit to roll along the oiled, wooden schoolhouse floor toward the teacher’s desk, an unexpected treat!  [In an era when teachers fear spit balls or worse–guns! even, such a gesture is most endearing.]


I wish I could show a photo of the school and outhouses, but one cold evening during Christmas vacation, the school burned down, suspiciously, and was replaced by a standard- issue concrete structure, not nearly as nostalgic as the steepled one with a bell that I remember.

I was already in junior high in the big school uptown when the fire occurred, but my sister Janice remembers being shifted to Washington School, the building adjacent to Bossler’s Mennonite Church, where our Daddy and Aunt Ruthie attended. This old school had a large furnace in the basement with a sizable flat top, and students would bring potatoes wrapped in foil to bake on top of the furnace for a nice hot lunch on cold, cold days.

Like Mildred Armstrong Kalish in her memoir, Little Heathens, depicting Iowa farm and school life during the Depression, I have fond, fond memories of Rheems Elementary School in the 1950s.

Fun time resource for parents, grandparents:

 *   *   *   *   *

Add some memorable games to the list!

Purple Passages iii with Pictures

Quote from Bartlett himself
Quote from John Bartlett, who compiled over 11,00 quotations in the 10th edition of Quotations, 1919

Writing & Stories

  4.10.99  Why stories are so effective:

The best stories begin as mental pictures which turn into personal mirrors before they become insightful windows through which we’re able to view life with greater clarity and understanding.      Anonymous

12.15.95  I like everything about writing except the paperwork!  Novelist Peter de Vries

9.9.00  I feel 10 times smarter writing on the computer.    My student, ENC 1101


There’s no cure like travel

To help you unravel

The worries of living today.

When the poor brain is cracking

There’s nothing like packing

A suitcase and sailing away.

Cole Porter – Anything Goes.

7.15.13 The only real voyage of self-discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in seeing it with new eyes.   Marcel Proust

8.14.99  Distance lends enchantment to the view . . . .   Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House in the Ozarks

10.22.96  I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude. Thoreau

7.28.90  The trip to heaven will be easy because I have sent my heart on ahead.  Loretta Lynn

White-Water Rafting

Ocoee Rafting - Ducktown, TN
Ocoee Rafting – Ducktown, TN

White water rafting, especially level 3 or 4, is a grand metaphor for life:

1. Trust your Guide.

2. Stay IN the boat.

3. Have fun!

Dancing with the Stars

4.16.99  I don’t try to be better than anyone else. I try to be better than myself.   Mikhael Baryshnikov, dancer

5.13.90  If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.   Thoreau

5.10.99  And frame your mind to mirth and merriment / Which bars a thousand harms and lengthens life.    Wm. Shakespeare, The Taming of the Shrew

 A merry heart doeth good like medicine.  Proverbs 17:22.

Time and Happiness

 3.17.00  Human time does not turn in a circle. It runs ahead in a straight line. That is why man cannot be happy; happiness is the longing for repetition.  Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

12.28.89  How plotless real life was [is]!  Anne Tyler, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant

 5.9.90  Don’t worry about the meaning of life; pursue meaning in life every day.  Robert Fulghum


12.19.99  You are only one thought away from a good feeling!  Sheil Krystal quoted in Rick Carlson’s Happiness

9.10.13  Sybil, in my book says, “Sometimes, the greatest gift you can give someone is the freedom to pursue their own happiness.”  Red Clay and Roses  SK Nicholls


Which quotes do you agree with?


Your turn: Share one you would add to the themes.