Thursday, December 31, 2009

My Cathedral

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

1122 South Clinton Street
Fort Wayne, IN 46802-3130

Photo Credit: KFH (May 2008)

God and church have always been a factor in my family's life. My great-grandmother...Helena Starost Roy Kline...was a Catholic girl, through in through. She raised her three sons - Wayne (my grandfather), Walter Jr., and Kenneth as good Catholic boys. When Wayne and Walter Jr. grew up and married (Kenneth died as a boy), their children also continued the Catholic traditions.

The downtown churches - Cathedral, St. Mary's, and St. Patrick's were the three churches that generations of my family belonged to. I can find old newspaper clippings of marriages, funerals, first communions, baptisms, and school attendance.

Although much of my childhood revolved around St. Therese, most of my life's major events have taken place in Cathedral.

Photo: 1967 (from left) Wayne Roy, Kristina Frazier, Helena Starost Roy Kline, Patricia Frazier.

I was baptized there, I was married there, and my grandfather's funeral was held there. When I was a young adult, I sang in choir and attended mass there. I wasn't an every week person but I certainly considered myself a Catholic girl.

When I left Fort Wayne, all association with my Catholic church (in general) ceased. Part of that was my uncomfortableness with living in the Indianapolis area (it's still too big for me and doesn't have that small city/big town feeling that Fort Wayne always gave me). The other reason I didn't attend church was that I was pretty angry at God for taking away my grandfather. Even though I had expressed this opinion to Grandpa (while he was close to death even), he was very steadfast in his belief of God and was even perturbed at me for ever mentioning (me) "not believing in God anymore".

For 22 years, I have carried that pain with me - my grandfather's hastened and unfair death, my anger at God, and some of my grandfather's last words to me.

2009 has been a horrible year. You see I haven't posted much this year on my blog and I can tell you that much of that has to do with the heartbreak, heartache, and misfortune I have experienced this year.

Recently though, that anger that I've been holding on to for 22 years has dissipated. I can't tell you what happened exactly - it wasn't just one was a series of events and signs that made me realize that it was time to let go.

I still miss my grandfather but I know that I was one of the luckiest chicks on earth - to have had a man in my life who taught me so many life lessons and who loved me unconditionally...what more could anyone want? I no longer deny my belief in God and suddenly, I have a yearning to be close to my Cathedral again.

When I think about my Cathedral, I feel a sense of peace, a sense of awe, and I feel close to the things that have always been important to me (but you know, time/space sometimes makes you forget what those are). If I lived in Fort Wayne, I'd be right back there - singing in choir, attending mass (mostly) weekly but unfortunately, I don't live there anymore and now, I have to find somewhere else to continue the Catholic girl traditions.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Fort Wayne Box Company

My Grandpa was the kind of guy who worked multiple jobs. He was a responsible man and did whatever he could to support his family.

One of the jobs he had was working for the Fort Wayne Box Company. In fact, it's the place where my grandparents first met each other.

Fort Wayne Box Company Invoice

I absolutely adore this invoice - mostly because it has a drawing of the actual building in the left hand corner.

I thought the detailing of the building was magnificent and I said to myself - ain't no way...given Fort Wayne's history of tearing down things that exist in the downtown area - ain't no way - this building still exists.

But guess what? I was wrong.

From Google Earth Maps

16 W Superior St - Google Maps_1262060287444

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

This is the Downtown that I Remember (Kinda)

Postcard of Calhoun Street, Fort Wayne, Indiana

I'm going to go see my Grandma this week and whenever I think of Grandma, I think of our frequent trips to the downtown area (in the 70's). I don't have a picture of G.C. Murphy's from that exact time period, but this postcard comes pretty close to what I remember things looking like when I was a youngster.

Mention G.C. Murphy's to any child of the fort and the first thing they'll probably bring up is the donuts (machine now in place at Cindy's Diner). Yes, of course, those comments would roll off of my lips, but the first thing that always pops into my head is...the basement area.

I know, you think I'm crazy...the basement area? When you went in doors, you'd go down a couple set of stairs. It was like 10 steps and then room to rest ;). And then another 10 steps - something like that ;).

Anyway - what was in the basement? Clearance, my friends...clearance! Murphy's had these shallow bins with things marked down ridiculously. It always always always smelled like the rubber from the bottom of our tennis shoes in that place. The ceilings were low and the place was badly lit. Still, my grandma could sniff out a great deal and I was sure to leave with something new!

Another neat thing about Murphy's is that the PTC buses had their main hubs there. We might take the bus downtown, shop at Murphy's while waiting for our transfer out to say - Southtown or Park West (had to hit up Mr. Wiggs some days). And heck, if we missed our transfer - just more time to hang out in Murphy's! Plenty to do, see, and certainly eat.

When Murphy's - well the building - was demolished or redone or whatever - I was no longer living in Fort Wayne. Now, when I'm in the fort and I'm walking in this area, I don't even recognize much. Almost all of the "landmark" type of buildings or businesses no longer exist or have been changed to a point where they are unrecognizable. Sometimes I think, Fort Wayne might have been better off building that 465 type of a loop through Downtown (this was like back in the 40's? 50's?).

But back to Murphy's. There will never, ever be another place like it again. And I'm thankful that my grandparents immersed me in the experience of it.

P.S. If you want to see even MORE detail of the postcard, click on the picture and it will take you to my Flickr account. At the top, you'll see an option to see ALL SIZES. The details are pretty amazing!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Fifth Grade and the Overthrow of Miss Majewski

I know it's been awhile since I wrote about St. Therese, but now that I'm literally having dreams about it - and specifically- the fifth grade - I thought it was time to revisit the school in my blog.

Remember - I went to Indian Village Elementary School until the second semester of fourth grade. At that time, my mother switched my sister and I over to St. Therese and my first experience with parochial school was with Mr. Wunderlin.

One thing to mention to you is that I never felt like I fit in at St. Therese (although this was a pretty universal feeling for me at ALL of the schools I attended). A couple of kids used to make fun of me for the hand me downs I wore (my winter coats always came from Goodwill/Salvation Army) and except for being tall, thin, and one of the smartest kids, I pretty much did my best to blend in to the background.

Fifth grade should have been a lot like fourth grade, right? Same building, same kids, just moving one room over, with a different teacher.

Boy - we were wrong about that!

Our teacher in fifth grade was Miss Majewski (and apologies if I have misspelled her last name). She was new. She wasn't the one that was there the year previously. Miss M - allegedly - used to be a nun before becoming our teacher. I only had heard this as a rumor and this day...don't know if it was true or not.

Miss M's style of teaching was very different. We would spend a great deal of time, during the school day...meditating. Seriously. Like everyday, we would have the lights shut off in the room and the door closed and she would instruct us to close our eyes. We could even move to the floor or sit in a corner if we wanted to. It was very odd.

One day, my mother asked me what kinds of things I was learning in fifth grade. I couldn't think of anything remarkable to tell her - nothing exciting and new. For me, it seemed like a rehash of the past four years. I did tell her that I was learning how to meditate and her ears perked up real fast.

When I told her what I meant by meditating and how often we did it, she was speechless. I wasn't sure if there was something wrong with meditating (was it against the Catholic religion??) but soon enough, she told me that she wasn't spending money to have me sit in a classroom every day with the lights out.

I wasn't sure what would happen next and frankly, I had other things to worry about (they were repaving our street and I wanted to make sure that I could sneak out and leave my handprint somewhere for all of eternity).

Over the course of the next few weeks, my mother was meeting with the parents of some of my other classmates - Shannon Juza's mom, Alice Jordan's mom, Tiena Spears's mom, Gregg Jehl's mom...and pretty soon, there was this small mob of them, knocking down the principal's door. They were pretty ticked off that their kids were "meditating" instead of learning.

It's not like the adults tuned me into what was going on but I assume that Miss M was put on some sort of probation. And then one day - POOF - she was gone.

It's not like I wished her any ill will - she was nice enough - just seemed not interested in teaching the class.

For a short span of time, my mom bonding together with those other made me not feel like such an outsider in their world. I was very proud of my mom for taking action and I had the opportunity to get to know two of my classmates (Tiena and Shannon) lots better.

Monday, December 7, 2009

My Love for World History - It All Started With Peter Jennings

If it's not obvious, let me just state it right now. I absolutely love history...not in a memorizing facts and details type of way but in a wow - so much of our past is an insight into where we are today and where we are headed to in the future.

I love understanding where we've been, how we got here, the psychology and sociology of how everything came to be. And this love and adoration of world history - well - I can trace it back to my evenings, watching Peter Jennings.

When I was eleven years old, Peter Jennings, along with Frank Reynolds and Max Robinson, anchored ABC World News Tonight. I wasn't much of a television news girl - I preferred reading the News Sentinel - however, the format with the three anchors appealed to me.

I was particularly drawn to the anchor who was located in a foreign country - Peter Jennings. First, his accent was intriguing. Remember, I didn't get out much so I had no idea that he was from Canada! Second, the manner and tone in which he spoke to the viewer really captured my attention. Peter had this sense of wonderment, sense of purpose that appealed to me. I never thought he was 'attractive' (I wouldn't call him ugly though). He was just someone who really opened my mind to what was going on outside of the U.S.

After a particular news segment on Beirut or Isreal or some other place or people or culture that I didn't know anything about, I would jot down enough information so that the next time I was at the library, I would pull out one of those giant encyclopedia volumes and read up on what I didn't know.

After Frank Reynolds died in 1983, Peter Jennings took over the sole anchor responsibilities full-time and every single evening, I looked forward to the opening ding ding ding ding of the ABC World News Tonight jingle. It was a signal that Peter was about to teach me something new about what was going on in the world I lived in.

I was a faithful Peter Jennings viewer - always tuning into him (and skipping over CNN) for any of the important, breaking coverage. Yes, even after I could get all of my news over the internet.

When he passed away in 2005, I felt like I had lost the older brother or uncle that I never had. When he died, I knew that broadcast television news would never be the same and you know, it hasn't. I don't watch television news anymore because there's zero credibility in the reporting (not to mention the fact that everything seems to be 20 second soundbites).

Sadly, I think my generation was the last to grow up with credible television news anchors/reporters.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Beth...the Beginning

As I've stated previously, I don't have many photos from my childhood because most went up in flames when our house was struck by lightning (and subsequently, burnt to the ground). I mention this specifically, for this particular post, because it pains me not to have any other picture of me and Beth together. This is the one - one snapped at my seventh birthday party.

Pictured (from left): Me, Ericka Couch, Lisa Smith, Beth Fruechtenicht

But back to the beginning...

I don't remember the exact moment that I met Beth. This feels strange to me because my memory during this time is pretty vivid and detailed. Our first encounter though, had to be in Kindergarten - Miss Crouse's pm class at Indian Village Elementary School.

Beth was everything I was not - blond, perfectly proportioned, well-off, and she had the ideal parents. Her mom Sharon - I'm not sure what she did (I assumed she did something for a living) - was possibly, the nicest woman I have ever met in my entire life time. Her dad Tom - was a very important man. A state representative...involved in lots of local Fort Wayne important things...

And so having Beth as my friend should have seemed strange and out of place. But it wasn't. I can't explain it. She was like another world to me, but one that accepted and embraced me for who I was.

Beth and I did have lots of things in common.

First, we were competitive. Some of that had to do with physical co-location (we both had the same teachers K-4). But most of it had to do with me, wanting to be like Beth. She was smart, and every chance I got, I would go head to head with her in academic situations. That ranged from seeing who could get the higher grades on the spelling tests to seeing who could progress quicker through our reading books (i.e. Rainbows, Fiesta, Rewards, Panorama, Kaleidoscope, etc...)

Second, we were both Girl Scouts. We started out as Brownies and then we 'bridged' over to Juniors. Beth's mom, who was one of our leaders, was there the entire way - teaching us the Girl Scout Promise and helping us earn our badges (yes, I need an entire series - just on Girl Scouts!).

Third, we were both labeled as boy crazy. While I was a bit more forthcoming with who I had a crush on (Tom Stinson, Lewis Mastin), Beth was a bit more cautious about revealing who she liked since most of them seemed to live close to her.

Fourth, we were both fans (and active players of) tetherball, kickball, and four square. I could always count on her to play any of these at recess. Sometimes though (at recess), we would just hang together and talk about 'stuff'. Stuff could be - toys, dolls, boys, other girls, teachers, homework - basically nothing was off limits.

Beth and I were thicker than thieves for five years. In those five years - although I've said that we were very different from each other - we both ended up experiencing a lot of the same challenges (and heartbreaks).