Poppies, Poppies For Sale

Thanks For The Memories Grandma & Grandpa

american legion poppiesThe sounds and smells of summer bring back fond memories for me.  My mom being a single mom, during a time when single moms were not so common.  Most of my summer was spent with my grandparents.  Memorial Day Weekend sticks out as the first of many days spent with grandma.  We lived in the city and grandma lived in the country.  So that right there made it a treat.

I could wonder in the backyard for hours.  Coming in with Mulberry stained feet, to the sounds of dinner being made, and grandma scolding me for the Mulberry stains.  Just hearing dinner being made was a sound and smell that I rarely heard or smelled at home. My mom always worked so unless it was a big holiday like Christmas or Thanksgiving my mom rarely was home to do those things.

My grandma volunteered for many organizations.  The American Legion was one of those that she did volunteer work for.  One thing was certain on Memorial Day weekend.  I would find myself in front of the local bank with a can in one hand and poppies in another.  Back in those days it was safe to leave an 8 year old with a can full of money for hours at a time alone.  She was certain I would be there safe and sound with a full can and no poppies left when she returned.  I just thought of it as good fun.  Proud that I could help out my grandma, never really knowing why  I was standing there selling poppies. American Legion

The other memory of the first weekend of summer was going to the market and picking out what I now know as grave blankets.  We would pick out several for the deceased relatives, one being for my Uncle Lawrence who died in Germany flying his plane over enemy territory in WWII.  There was a just a marker where he should lay.  There were also two lambs in that graveyard.  One was for an Aunt of mine, who died when she was born.  And one for a cousin who had suffered the same faith.

I had no idea about the significance of those grave blankets. I just seen them as pretty flowers and really gave little thought to the cemetery itself.  It was just another place we frequently came to during the summer my grandma would be lost in thought as I ran around.  The Child in me never realizing my grandma was sadden to be standing before the graves of her children and grandchild.

I also knew we would be back later in the weekend because this is where the Memorial Day Parade would end.  My grandfather all dressed up in a uniform my grandma in her dress with a banner across her chest.  I knew I was proud of them both on those days.  Yet really have no idea why.  I do know that it was the beginning of my pride for America.  It was where my young child like brain began to absorb the significance of my Uncle giving his life for us.  Fighting in the military like my Grandfather had in WWI.  My Uncle did not come back from that war though.  My grandfather was luckieramerican-flag-11


To me as a child those poppies, the America Legion hall itself well they were little more than pretty flowers a can of money that was heavy by the end of the day.  The Legion hall was a fun place to be where grandpa played cards and women made great food.  They had walls full of pictures and plaques and lots of good smells and sounds.

Today those sounds echo in my brain and the smell of some food can bring back the images of those proud people that filled that hall.  They were working hard to make sure that the men and women that had fallen to keep America free were never forgotten.  My grandparents whether they knew it or not were instilling in me a pride that will never ever go away.  It can bring tears to this grown women’s eyes at the memories.  So today I give thanks to each and every one of those that have died for me.  For my nephew in the military that is a part of that proud tradition in our family.  Remember to not forget what this weekend is about.  Be thankful and have a wonderful holiday.

In loving memory of Carl and Lucille Ruckreigle

Cindy Slick