Thursday, December 22, 2011


"I miss Mayberry. . .
Sittin' on the porch drinkin'
ice cold Cherry Coke
where everything was black and white.
Picking on a Six String
Where people pass by
and you call them by their first name
Watching the clouds roll by. . .
bye bye. . ."

I woke up this morning feeling a little blue.  And then I clicked on my blog so that I could follow my bloglist to check up on some friends and family.  The song that played from my playlist was "Mayberry" by Rascal Flatts.  And then I felt more blue.  It's a feeling that comes over me once in a while.  Almost always at Christmas.  And then comes the guilt of "Why should I feel blue?  I have a great life."  But the fact of the matter is that this feeling has nothing to do with my life now.  It has everything to do with the memories of my life as I was growing up.  And the people who sourrounded me in my youth.
Kaye with Santa c. 1972
Well, I didn't grow up in Mayberry.  But it could have been. 

Skowhegan, Maine was not a fancy place to live in the early 1970's.  Lots of people worked at the shoe factories and at small Mom and Pop type stores.  K-Mart didn't open until the early 80's. We lived in a large, old house with a huge attached barn.  In the shed that attached the house to the barn was a 4 holer!  I always wondered about 4 people actually using it at the same time. . .  The basement had a dirt floor and was pretty scary.  My dad and I turned it into a spooky Halloween maze when I was in 5th grade.  We had a formal living room that was called "The Blue Room."  We really only ever went in that room at Christmas! 

This was Bruce's graduation in 1972.  You can see the house, the connecting shed which was two stories high, and the barn.  L to R  Jim Foster, Marguerite Martin, Ernie Hunter, Vesta Horr, Amanda Martin, Steve Hunter, Bruce Foster, Ginny Foster, Kaye, Ralph Fullerton (This means that Herky and Thelma were taking pictures!)

My parents were both teachers.  Mom taught Special Ed.  Some years she had Resource students and some years she had the more profoundly handicapped students.  She was very patient with them and helped me learn to not be afraid of people who were different,  Dad taught junior high metals shop.  He didn't really believe in limits and he had those kids doing all sorts of projects that JH aged students would not be allowed to do now.

My parents were active in the community.  They were on every committee and helped with every celebration.  My mom was very active in BPW (Business and Professional Women's Club).  My dad took photos of every event for the little community newspaper.  They served the Centenary United Methodist Church in many ways.  And better yet. . . they taught me to do the same.

This is my Dad, Herky Foster, playing Santa and passing out candy canes at the end of one of my dance recitals for the Bradley Adams School of Dance. 

Our home was open to whoever needed a place to be.  I remember holidays with lots of family members around.  My favorite Christmas memories are from when I was about 5-9 years old.  Aunt Thelma and Uncle Ralph always stayed up at the Towne Motel, which I thought was very fancy. Some years there were random people at our house on holidays who just needed a place to be.  I remember the excitement of going to the tiny little airport in Waterville, Maine to pick up Steve as he came home on leave from the Army or to pick up my other dad, Rod, who was flying in from somewhere exotic like Minneapolis or Los Angeles.  Jim came home from New York, looking a lot different than the clean cut young man who had graduated from Kents Hill.  As my brothers got married and started having children, it was a celebration when they came for Christmas.  Their wives helped incorporate new traditions into our family.  Those were years of transition though, as some of the older members of the family were no longer with us.

Jim Foster

Christmas was always fun.  The tree was set up in the Blue Room.  It usually had blue lights and ornaments and LOTS of tinsel.  I have always loved shiny things! 
Kaye in the Blue Room before a recital

On Christmas Eve we would have our feast.  It was usually roast beef and it was one of the few times during the year that we ate in the Dining Room. 

From front left, around the table- Ralph Fullerton, Ginny Foster, Kaye Hunter, Rod Hunter, Steve Hunter, Amanda Martin, Herky Foster, Jim Foster, Marguerite Martin, Bruce Foster

Dad (Herman Foster), Nana (Amanda Martin), Mrs. Rogers, Mary Rogers

After dinner there was lots of visiting.  I am sure that the ladies washed the dishes.  I remember watching Christmas specials.  Around 11:00pm we would head to Centenary United Methodist Church on the Dr. Mann Road to attend the Christmas Eve Service.  My favorite part of that service was that the last candle of the advent candles was lit that night.  Then, that symbolic light of Christ was passed throughout the congregation until everyone in the congregation had a lit candle.  This was done while singing "Silent Night."  Then the challenge was to see if we could make it all the way home with at least one lit candle.  Can you imagine? 

We would get home, light another candle, and put out treats for Santa.  By that time it was so late that I didn't have too much trouble falling asleep!

Christmas Morning began with me running through the house with bells to wake everyone up.  No matter when I got up, my mom always seemed to be up before me.  I wonder now if she ever went to bed?  I know that she and Aunt Thelma stayed up and wrapped the stocking stuffers and such. . .

In our family, someone always played Santa.  There was no rush for the tree- it was a measured event.  Santa would choose a present, being careful to try to evenly distribute each person's gifts, and give it to the person to unwrap.  Everyone watched the present being unwrapped.  This was sometimes torturous because Aunt Thelma the Thrifty saved every bow and every piece of tissue paper.  She saved the big pieces of wrapping paper, too, so I liked getting small gifts because we didn't have to wait for her to fold everything!  Christmas morning went on for hours and hours.  It was truly an event.  We would stop for treats and sometimes meals, but it was all about presents!

Marguerite Martin, Kaye, Ginny Foster, Jim Foster, Amanda Martin, Steve Hunter, Ralph Fullerton
Late afternoon on Christmas Day was the time for phone calls to those family members who were not with us that year.  There was an informal line by the phone (and I do mean THE phone which was wired into the wall. . .) of all the people who wanted to say hello to the missing family member.

Time marches on and things continue to change. Most of the people in these photos and in my memories have passed away.  Although Jim lives here in Lehi, my other brothers are spread across the country.  We are not a close family, but I think  about them every day. 

I wonder what my children will remember about their childhood Christmases?  Will they remember the year that Santa's footprints were all through our house?  Will they remember the year we got caught in the blizzard in Chicago?  Their memories will be very different from mine because the world and our traditions  have changed so much, but I hope they will be as precious as mine. 

I feel better after  walking down memory lane.  These people may be gone, but they are certainly not forgotten.  I think I'll go call Aunt Thelma and maybe do some cooking like Nana and Aunt Vesta would have!

Merry Christmas!


Beth Ferguson said...

That was awesome. I think I know exactly where your Santa picture was taken - was it at that little building downtown? The Chamber of Commerce? That is where we always had our visit. Then we would go visit Archie across the street at the jewelry store. Definitely different from going to the mall here in Sandy and waiting hours to get an obligatory picture with Santa while chaos is all around.

Awesome pictures - especially the dance recital ones. I remember in 2nd grade, my dance was "All I want for Christmas is my 2 front teeth." But when I got home from the recital, my mom was helping me get my pjs on and said, "Your song should have been, 'The Chicken Pox for Christmas.'" There is something to be said for coming from a town where everyone who dances goes to the same studio, nearly everyone goes to the same elementary school, etc. I enjoyed the pictures of your parents. They were so nice. The most common memory of your dad is his waiting in the car for you to come out from dance of band or theater or whatever. I can sympathize with him now. He didn't even have an iPhone to keep himself occupied!

Melinda Smedberg Grendell said...

Oh my gosh Kaye thanks for sharing! I never spent the holidays with your family but I sure did spend some time in that house when Bruce and I were dating. What a warm, friendly place. The pics are exactly how I remember you and your family and it is nice to see Steve's face again. He always had a smile! Merry Christmas!

Susan Foster said...

Yes I remember the "blue" room. The first time I entered the room, I had to come through by the front hall. Every shade of blue was in that room! Even the tree had every shade of blue ornaments on it. Then there was the aluminum foil on the wall behind the tree. My best part of Christmas was the stocking stuffers. Everything in the world was in those "bags". Thanks for the memory Kaye!

Mags said...

Sniff, sniff...made me cry. Thanks for sharing Kaye.

Anonymous said...

I am full on in tears. I remember random people at Grandma and Grandpa's house... I remember the tree being COVERED in tinsel, Granpa Unk letting me do "wood work" in the basement... oh man, he would have loved my boys.. I wish he could have been part of their lives. This brought back SO many memeories. I miss those HUGE family gatherings... I miss ya'll and your laugh. Love you, and Merry Christmas. Emily Modlin