A Snow Bunny and a German Lullaby

On Christmas Day 2015 in Jacksonville, Florida, the temperature stood at 85, at least twenty degrees above the normal daytime thermometer reading for this time of year.

Temperature on our porch Christmas Day 2015, Jacksonville, FL: 85 degrees
Temperature on our porch Christmas Day 2015, Jacksonville, FL: 85 degrees

Over most of the USA, Christmas day was warmer than usual, the forecasters predicting a near record-breaking temperature of 62 degrees for Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, once my hometown.


Years ago when our young family left Florida’s palm trees and beachy sand during the Christmas holiday, we hoped for Pennsylvania snow, praying for enough inches for sledding and making a snowman.

One Christmas (1973) my husband Cliff and brother-in-law Bill sculpted an Easter Bunny from snow, a photo that made it into the now defunct Elizabethtown Chronicle.


Snow slows everything down.

Snow descends from the skies in soothing swirls, no two flakes alike. The morning after a snowfall is quiet – traffic slows, the earth sits snug in silence, wrapped in beauty.

German Carols about snow are soothing too. Grandma Longenecker sang the first verse of Stille Nacht in German to us as tots, a carol of three stanzas we learned well enough to sing for Christmas programs at Rheems Elementary School. Now in my memory a warm spot remains where I hear Grandma’s voice singing the words to “Stile, Stile, Stile,” a lullaby that evokes the image of gently falling snow in the still of the night.

Whether the weather is dull or delightful, songs from the olden days can help carry us through.

Credit: Weather.com
Credit: Weather.com    12.26.15

How was your weather during this holiday week? Weather stories during a childhood Christmas or Hanukkah celebration may have popped into your mind too. There’s always more to the story when you join in.

Coming next: My Word, It’s 2016!


The Longenecker Sisters’ Road Trip, Part 1

Girls’ road trips are part of the landscape of American pop culture. Who can forget Thelma and Louise? Wanting to take a short vacation from their dreary lives, Thelma (Geena Davis) and Louise (Susan Sarandon) head out from Arkansas to the Grand Canyon in a 1966 Ford Thunderbird. They stop at a roadhouse and it’s all downhill from there. Crime and mayhem ensue until finally the gun-toting girls and their car zoom over the edge of the Grand Canyon. Both Davis and Sarandon received Best Actress Academy award nominations (1991).

Image courtesy Wikipedia
Image courtesy Wikipedia

And what about Oprah and friend Gayle who took off in a much ballyhooed road trip documented on TV and watched by millions . . .

Image Huffington Post
Image Huffington Post

Here’s how the Huffington Post encapsulates their excursion:

In 2006, Oprah Winfrey and her friend Gayle King embarked on what became a much talked-about (and hilarious) 3000-mile road trip across the country. When they weren’t cruising the highway in their red Chevy Impala, the two joined a local game of Bingo in Wichita, met some real-life cowboys on the range and crashed a wedding in Tulsa, surprising and amusing nearly everyone they came in contact with.

In spite of an anxiety-ridden moment on the George Washington Bridge, Oprah and Gayle completed their trip unscathed. When they returned to Chicago, Oprah handed over the keys to that Chevy to a deserving woman named Reola Holdaway.

The Longenecker sisters, Marian, Janice, and Jean are not movie stars or TV personalities. None of us has owned a gun much less aimed one at a policeman as Thelma did. But as siblings, we have done many other things together — playing and fighting as children, working in the tomato patch in Bainbridge, PA, even singing in a trio at church, sometimes with less than perfect results.

Scred Trios_final_7x9_300

The last time any of us can remember vacationing together was back in 1977, the year Daddy broke all sales records at Longenecker Farm Supply, won a free trip to Jamaica and took the whole family including his married daughters and son Mark. We left our husbands and young children behind and frolicked in Ocho Rios for a week — just Mom, Daddy, my sisters and brother Mark.

As married women with children, we have met at least once a year at the Longenecker homestead in Pennsylvania. Recently, we have been clearing out the house after Mother’s death making decisions about her possessions together. And now, as a pause in our separate journeys, we celebrate with a road trip. So, you see, it’s high time to make more memories.


The plan: My sisters and I, with two of our daughters, are gathering from Florida and Pennsylvania for a Merry-May celebration in Charleston, SC. We’ll get there by car and I’ll record our adventures here in two installments. It won’t be the Italian Riviera but we can refresh and renew our sisterhood close to the Charleston harbor inlet leading out to the Atlantic Ocean. And it won’t be Thelma and Louise, or Oprah and Gayle, but it will be Marian, Janice, and Jean.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

In the meantime, have you and close family members taken a road trip together recently or long ago? Tell us about the adventure here.

Grandma’s Victorian Greeting: Happy New Year!

Here is a postcard from precisely 100 years ago: Grandma Fannie Martin Longenecker’s New Year’s greeting passed down to me and then to our daughter Crista who now displays it in a frame with her holiday decorations:


They were called penny postcards for a reason!

back of postcard

Yes, it’s 100 years old, postmarked December 30, 1913. Notice there is no street address in a town of thousands and certainly no zip code, not instituted until the 1960s. “R.R.” means Rural Route. Dauphin County adjoins Lancaster County to the west.

Have you held on to old postcards or letters? Where do you keep them?

Inquiring minds want to know! Please join the conversation.

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VOTING BEGINS THURSDAY for My Gutsy Story on author Sonia Marsh’s website: To read the story: http://soniamarsh.com/2013/12/rising-above-the-pettiness-to-focus-on-the-positive-by-marian-beaman.html

Voting for My Gutsy December 2013 Story begins Jan. 2 and ends Jan. 15, 2014.

Nice Ice, Snow Aglow

Credit: Guideposts
Credit: Guideposts


Prickly winter air . . . crunchy, crusty snow . . . Flexible Flyer sleds . . . wet mittens . . . white leather ice skates.


Vintage skates now in the recycling bin!
Vintage skates just before they were tossed into the recycling bin!

All my memories of winter time in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, are good ones. Cold, soggy socks warmed up and dried out on the heat register in Grandma Longenecker’s kitchen. Frozen lips thawed by hot chocolate with fat little marshmallows bobbing up and down.

Yes, there was snow and there was ice, sometimes both the same weekend. On snowy days and nights when traffic was at a stand-still, two Longenecker Flexible Flyer sleds zipped down the curve of the long hill between our house and Grandma’s. (There were more children than sleds, so we had to take turns.) Alongside the woods, there was another, shorter hill with a steeper grade for a faster thrill.


The ice was nice on Heisey’s pond. The Heiseys, Jap and Winnie, owned the limestone quarry on the edge of Rheems, and Winnie Heisey’s  pond was filled with skaters, including me, especially on Sunday afternoons. Some skaters waltzed around the perimeter of the pond. Some played crack the whip with most landing on their behinds as the tail of skaters at the end of the line flew off in other directions. Some wobbly beginners skated slowly. The expert ones skated forward and backwards. Since it required wiggling the behind just so, I could never master this move.


Just now, can you hear the melody line of The Skater’s Waltz by Emil Waldteufel? His name would fit right in with the listings in a Lancaster County, PA phone book, but Waldteufel was not actually German, but an Alsatian Frenchman inspired by ice-skaters venturing onto the frozen Seine River in Paris. News to me!

In the orchestral piece, composer Waldteufel captures the mood of serene skaters with graceful rising and falling lines but then interjects exuberance with bouncy notes and even some sleigh bells.

The piano doesn’t do the waltz justice, but it should bring back a memory or two!

Tell us your winter memories. Do they involve sledding? Ice skating? Something else?

New year, new opportunity: Vote for My Gutsy Story @

Vote For Your Favorite December 2013 “My Gutsy Story®”

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Haven’t read it yet? There’s still time!


Voting for My Gutsy December 2013 Story began Jan. 2 and ends Jan. 15, 2014.