Remembrances of Mother, A Year Later

This week our family remembers the fourth week of July 2014.

Last year Mother observed her 96th birthday on July 23. She died unexpectedly on July 28, five days later. This post will commemorate this milestone in two ways: cards sent to me along with images of Mom’s intimate space upstairs.

Two Cards

A vintage baby card, sent to my parents when I was born

1941_Marian_Baby Card_outside+inside

Card from Dick and Ruth Sauder. Richard was one of the Florida bunch that stayed in close contact even after his bachelor trip with Daddy. They wished me a long and happy life, bless their hearts!



I was born the day after Mother’s birthday. Her last birthday card to me, 2014.


Some Images

At the top of the stairs to the left, there was a little room Mom called the hallway, which seems a misnomer because it was square rather than long and narrow as hallways usually are. It connected the upstairs landing to the family clothes’ closet whose door had a crystal knob. I always thought it was one of the prettiest things about the room because it showered rainbows on the walls when the sun shone in at a perfect slant.

A dressing room of sorts, this small area was a repository for Mother’s own nostalgia: a framed family photograph, old books, the odd china piece on top of the Sheridan chest of drawers.

At right angles to the closet door stood this chest of drawers with a photo of my great-grandmother Sadie Landis’ family before she became a Metzler and a mother. And there’s that ceramic green vase. It’s perfect for displaying iris or gladiolus, but I didn’t grab it when we cleared out Mom’s house. How to take it on the plane? Where would I put it?



And under the chest, Mother’s slippers


Beside the chest, her Compact vintage vacuum cleaner, a blue bullet of an animal easy to pull around the house even at her age. Her old Singer treadle sewing used to sit in the opposite corner under a window.


On the closet door what remained of her shoes


Then below hooks with nightgowns and robes. A girdle with stays used to stand stiffly in the corner below the lingerie to air out. Sometimes a few cleaning products were stored there too. . .


The house has been sold. These images exist only in memory now and in our e-files on my desktop. Powerful images – how they linger . . .


Remembrance also has a side, where other memories sneak in . . . .


Is there a room in your childhood home that holds special memories? A secret niche you called your own?

Coming next: Do you Like to Color?


A Hornet’s Nest: The Bishop and My Shoes

They were gathered in a circle when I walked in. Call it naivete or being preoccupied with my classes, I was totally unprepared for the conclave of bishops, school administrators and other assorted male authorities that greeted me on entering the conference room at Lancaster Mennonite School where I was part of the English faculty. Yes, I had walked into a hornet’s nest indeed:

Bishop: Hello, Sister Longenecker

S. L.  (weakly) Hello

Bishop: We have called this meeting with you to discuss some matters that relate to the standards of this school and your manner of dress.

What! . . . This is an ambush.

S. L. Oh . . .

Bishop: Yes, you are familiar with the contract you signed last year when you were hired for this position.

S. L. Well, yes . . . .

Bishop: In it you agreed to uphold the “Rules and Discipline” of the Lancaster Conference of the Mennonite Church.

Christian Doctrine_cover_150_med

S. L. Yes, I recall. . . .

Bishop: You remember also there is a statement about the wearing of the plain cape dress.

S. L.  No comment . . . listening intently

Bishop: We have noticed that you are embellishing your dress with a collar and fancy button, which seems entirely unnecessary and certainly not a good example to our students.


Bishop: Also, you have been wearing another dress made of red material as well.

S. L. Now completely aghast . . . I want to disappear. Well, I do have a dress like that but the fabric has very dark shades of red, not very bright at all.

Bishop: And your shoes — the rules state that “ . . . dark footwear is the best expression of modesty and nonconformity for all our sisters,” and we hope that you will comply.

S. L. Looking down at my shoes, I see a black, patent leather shoe with a tiny bow and kitten heels. Dear Lord, this is getting very bad—I’m not a nun, but even I know that black patent leather shoes don’t really reflect up!

The Principal: To me, they look like dancing shoes.

S. L. Dancing shoes–gulp!–I don’t know even one dance step! Dancing is forbidden. It says so in the rule book.

Somehow the meeting concludes with no doubt some meek promise of compliance from me.

Fade to black . . . .

My Life in Shoes

Marian_Shoe Drawing_5x4_300med          blackshoes

Shoe drawing, circa age 10         Bane of the Bishop  1962

brownshoes           redshoes

Break-out Shoes   1965               My style now – red and shiny

What emotional connections, positive or negative, do you have with a item of clothing in your past? Tell us your story.