The Wedding Dress……

Shortly after a couple’s engagement announcement the bride’s wedding dress becomes the focus of everyone’s attention. The Mother of the Bride has dreams of shopping expeditions with her daughter. Whoever is monetarily responsible for the dress starts seeing dollar signs and wonders where it will end. The Mother of the Groom anxiously waits to see if she will be included in the selection process, anxiously makes broad hints regarding inclusion in shopping expeditions or does not care because she has daughters and knows she has had or will have a turn. This is only my observation of the MOG. I have alway been an MOB.

At one time custom-made wedding dresses or gowns were the norm. During WWI, the Great Depression and WWII, more formal wedding apparel was not the norm. During the late 1940’s and through the 1950’s wide-skirted formal gowns with waists, flounces, trains and long veils became the dream of most brides. The sixties found bridal apparel more informal with less frills, sequins and lace. The past forty years, or so, there are a wide variety of wedding dresses from which to choose. A bride can try on an assortment of styles until she finds one she likes and have it fitted to her specifications.

In honor of the new Duchess of Cambridge, I have gathered together an assortment of my family’s wedding gowns over the past sixty years. There is one picture of my cousin wearing the white shirtwaist our great-grandmother Myrtle wore on her wedding day. Grandma Dorothy fashioned a skirt and shawl to complete the outfit and cover up the fact that no one was really small enough to fit into Myrtle’s clothes.

I hope you enjoy the fashion show………

GGMa Myrtle’s shirtwaist early 1900’s is worn by my cousin at our
church’s Mother-Daughter banquet the year we had the bridal fashion show.

June 18, 1950 – This dress was first worn by my mother’s cousin earlier that year. My G’ma Dorothy altered the dress for my mother to wear. She carried a bouquet of flowers fashioned around a white Bible. Her sister was a junior bridesmaid and her sister-in-laws were candlelighters.

March 24, 1957 – My mother’s sister was the fourth bride to wear the gown. By this time my grandmother Dorothy had twice altered the dress. My aunt and uncle were the first bride and groom to be married in our church. This wedding was the day before my 6th birthday. I was a flower girl and loved every minute of the experience. There is an 8mm movie of the event somewhere. I love to watch it.

May 4, 1957 – My father’s sister and her bridegroom were the second couple to be married in our church. And there were still no pews for the guests to sit in. 1957 was a very good year for me. I was a flower girl twice, six weeks apart. Fun stuff!

1970 – My first wedding dress was made by my Aunt Mary. The dress had an empire waist with very nice lace sleeves and bodice. I reallly liked my veil, too.  My bouquet was fashioned around the same white Bible my mother had carried at her wedding. My littlest sister was my flower girl and next youngest sister and brother were candlelighters. My other two brothers were ushers. My sister closest to me in age was my Maid of Honor and my singing sister provided two solos. She sang “One Hand, One Heart” from West Side Story and “A Time for Us” the Love theme from Romeo and Juliet. You know I always wondered if the marriage was really legal, since the MOH was 16 when she signed the marriage certificate. If only I had looked into that, we might have saved a lot of time, trouble and money 25 years later. 

March 20, 1982 – My youngest sister was the second bride in my family of origin. Here she is with my next youngest sister. Aren’t they beautiful? My  oldest daughter was a candlelighter and the two younger ones were her flower girls/ring bearers. She, too, carried the white Bible bouquet.

November 1984 – My second to the youngest sister is wearing a beautiful fitted jacket over a long skirt she made herself. I love the way her veil complements her hair and dress. That is a ditto on the white Bible bouquet. I have always thought she was the most elegant of all of our brides. She is standing with our dad in the bride’s room we all used for our wedding dress-up party. Once again, my youngest daughter was a flower girl and the two oldest girls were candlelighters.

June 1985 – My sister Deb married her Air Force Captain in this beautiful dress. This dress was her second choice. The first one was being custom-made somewhere in the Phillipines and never did arrive. She scrambled and found one a month or so before the wedding. In this wedding my oldest daughter was a junior bridesmaid and the two younger ones were candlelighters. Keri knows how to light candles! There is a white Bible somewhere in there. This sister bride guilted me into singing “Whither Thou Goest” at her wedding. Ironically, her favorite arrangement of the song was the one sung at Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip’s wedding.

October 12, 1985 – My Aunt Mary’s oldest daughter was married in this beautiful gown. We had a great time at the wedding in Massachusetts. This cousin’s entry in the best wedding story hall of fame is about her new husband’s emergency room visit after he was stung by a bee in the park where the wedding pictures were being taken. He had to have his brand new wedding band cut-off because of the swelling. 

July 19, 1986 – Aunt Mary’s second daughter was married nine months after her sister, in her sister’s altered gown. Altering to share runs in the family. My family drove to Massachusetts for this wedding and had a nice two week vacation. One week for driving, wedding prep fun and wedding; one week at the cottage on Jeness Pond. In retrospect I am sure we drove my aunt crazy. Thanks again auntie M and cousin T, great party, good food, family memories are still with us.

May 29, 1993 – Our first wedding in the next generation was my middle daughter. Isn’t she beautiful? Her dress was princess style, very much like Ariel’s dress in Disney’s The Little Mermaid. She wore my veil and carried the white Bible, of course. Her two sisters were her attendants. My youngest sister’s son and my second youngest sister’s daughter were ring bearer and flower girl. At the rehearsal dinner, my nephew asked when he would get his bear costume. Still laughing!

August, 1997 – Youngest daughter’s first wedding dress. Her sister’s were her attendants and her cousins were her  candlelighters and flower girl. I like the way the veil headpiece is anchored at the back of her head and her hairdo was gorgeous. If you look close you can see the white Bible under the flowers she is carrying.

What are your family wedding memories? Right about now I am wondering if my mother had plans for her white Bible from the very beginning. It would be just like her ………..

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Wedding Fever….

So 33.3% of the world is slated to watch the “wedding of the century” tomorrow morning.  Thirty years ago, Sam’s mom and Keri set their alarm and were up in the dark to watch Prince Charles and Lady Diana marry.* They remember the procession in the horse drawn carriage, the ceremony at St. Paul’s Cathedral and the recessional back to Buckingham Castle. Sam’s mom told me it was a”‘fairy tale comes true; every little girl wants to grow up and be a princess.” She went on to say if mothers do not believe in the princess dream, why do we read our little girls princess stories. Ouch. My oldest daughter generally drills down to the main issue pretty ruthlessly.

Weddings are family, friends, fun, music, food, lots of pictures and memories. My very favorite part of our weddings is what I call ‘wedding prep.’ We book the hairdressers and manicurists and literally take over the establishment. Everyone dresses together in a special room at the church. Aunts, moms, grandmas, female in-laws, bride’s attendants, flower girls, candle lighters,friends are all coming and going. The photographer is taking candid shots. The whole pre-wedding scene is the ultimate dress-up party.

For the record, I am not setting my alarm and getting up to watch  Prince William and his fairy tale come true “commoner” bride, Kate Middleton, tie the knot.  I wish them well in their marriage.

I hope Kate has as much fun with her wedding prep as we do with ours…….

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved



A very sad day in history……

Being interested in process and change management led to my degrees in public administration. My interest in history led me to lifelong learning of United States history.  My ancestors immigrated to this country as early as the 1650’s. The last emigrant arrived in the 1890’s. I have always had a feeling of pride in the origins of our form of democracy and government “of the people, by the people.”

Today I am sad and discouraged. The President of the United States produced his long form birth certificate. Outwardly, I applaud his generosity of spirit and wonder why he wants to be POTUS. Inside, I am appalled and outraged that a percentage of my countrymen and countrywomen believe a person can even be on the ballot if his or her native born citizenship is even in doubt.  

Having been a Diversity Awareness Instructor/trainer I recognize the reason behind the rhetoric and vitriol. I have watched the overt acts and speech of racism by a large portion of USA citizens with horror.

Will the insanity ever stop…… If I keep quiet, am I a part of the problem…….. How do I “make a change for the better, make a change for good.” as the Elphaba character sings in the musical Wicked………

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Soothing waters…

After the rain let up and the sun came out we went for a drive down the Fox River on Highway 25. There is a small riverside park on the water’s edge. We parked and watched the river flow past. Water watching is soul soothing.

As we watched the rain swollen water roll swiftly by, I thought of canoe trips to the Minnesota Boundary Waters and Quetico wilderness  in Canada, trips on the Wisconsin River, the Current River in Missouri and the Fox and DuPage Rivers in Illinois. No matter how tough those trips were, the experience of being on the water is life changing.

Water therapy, in, on or out, is great for a stress filled, troubled mind and body. My becoming a swimmer with lifeguard certifications and a Red Cross Canoe Instructor was not an accident. I remember Aunt Mary taking me into the Gage Park swimming pool when I was three or four. I stayed close to the steps and railing in the shallow end and loved every minute of it.  

One of my stress relievers after a particularly hard day of divorce negotiations mixed in with school and work was a stop by the Copper Oven to pick up a cup of cheddar and broccoli soup and their wonderfully moist corn bread followed by a drive out to Lake Shawnee. There I would eat my meal and then walk along the water’s edge until dusk.

There are at least eight water sound CD’s in my CD case. Another stress reliever is a hot bubble bath with water sounds playing softly in the background. And I love hot tubs and whirlpools, beaches and hammocks on Jeness Pond.

Mike is not an in-the-water person. He is a water watcher. He did  notice the riverside park was a canoe and kayak put-in location and asked if canoes tipped easily. My response was swift – the only time I have tipped over in a canoe was during training when we deliberately simulate a tipping incident. He wondered about canoeing and camping.

 Maybe there are more canoe experiences in my future………

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Navigational Pull……

We were the grandparents in charge Saturday night. Sam’s parents went out to a friend’s birthday party. Staying over for Easter festivities was an added benefit. According to his mother’s video, Sam had a great time coloring eggs before we arrived. Seven eggs survived the drop into the dye and were waiting for the Easter bunny to hide.

After the obligatory crying jag at the door following his parents departure. Sam settled down to play with his Baby Einstein music square and help me polish the silver tea service. Around 8:00 he was tired and led me into the bedroom where he was asleep in the middle of the second song he likes me to sing. When I came back to the living room, Mike looked up, smiled and said, this was a really easy gig.

I nodded and mentioned easy was good. The past year has been dramatic enough. What with my early retirement, Mike’s unemployment, new job and being unemployed again, my new business ventures, mortgage loan modification, trees down during last summer’s storm, budgeting with the Peter ‘n Paul school of personal finance, everyday has been harder than life ought to be at our age. We have found a contentment and peace in life’s small pleasures and are learning “old dogs” still have new tricks to learn.

Sam picked up the ‘finding eggs and putting them in the basket’ skill pretty quick. He appreciates the little things in life. We enjoyed our Easter Sunday with Sam, his parents and our son-in-law’s family. There was good food, conversation and babies to watch… a very good holiday.

On the way home this afternoon we drove down Lake Shore Drive. Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline never fails to thrill and inspire me. The grandeur of the skyscraping buildings are awe –inspiring and satisfy an inner need to know we humans are capable of achieving greatness. We followed the detour signs to I-290. This route took us on Wacker Drive, across Michigan Ave., where I always pause to think about Fort Dearborn wilderness growing into a vibrant metropolis. Mike wanted to know where the Trump building was and mentioned his desire to take a boat ride on the Chicago River.

As we wound around through downtown and eventually found our way to I-290, we acknowledged detours, gave us the opportunity to see things we have not seen before, provide us with new knowledge as we make our way forward and show us there is more than one way to reach our destination. Good information to know as we follow the navigational pullls our lives take.

Easter greetings from the lily pad float, where we float with our navigational pulls ………

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Welcome to the world, baby girl……………

Eighteen years ago today, Kyra Rose appeared in the early morning hours at Stormont-Vail Hospital, Topeka, Kansas.  The years have slipped by somehow and now we are celebrating her entry into legal adulthood. She can vote, sign her own paperwork and join the military. The most important legal advice I have is to remember ignorance of federal, state and local laws is not a defense in a court of law. Rules of engagement for a productive adult we all want to be around are the rules of civility, etiquette, fairplay and commonsense.

Some of my personal favorites:

Please, thank you and your welcome are always appropriate.

Listen to your elders, including your parents. Their opinion might make your list of viable options.

Think global, act local.

Respect the environment.

Continuing education is never wasted.

Bosses are always correct, not always right, just correct.

Think before you act.

Be the change you want to see.

Doing the same thing over and over will get the same results. If you want different results, change it up a little or a lot.

Fake it till you make it.

Love your Grandma.

Friends are important; siblings are forever.

Sometimes being good enough is all we get.

Remember when you were 17, waiting for this big day. When I was 18, I could still buy 3.2 beer. A friend and I bought a Coors six-pack at the Kwik Shop on the corner of Chester and Sardou in my Oakland neighborhood. I choked down half a can and ended up pouring the rest out on the dirt road where we went to drink our no longer clandestine beverage. One of life’s little lessons: pre-purchase taste testing is a good thing. My Uncle Ed might have given me a taste of beer if I had only stopped by his house earlier in the day.

The day Kyra was born; my mother drove my grandmother to welcome the 8 hour old precious baby girl into our family. Five generations gathered in the hospital room April 22, 1993. My cup of gratitude was overflowing as we shared the day with Jami and Kyra.

Happy Birthday, Kyra Rose.…….

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Farmville Update…….

Last week Mike found a horse drawn sleigh on Craig’s List. He talked me into going three towns over to check it out. The owner told us the sleigh came from Wisconsin sixteen years ago. She had it on the front lawn surrounded by rocks and flowers. While appreciating the appeal and charm of this piece of Americana, I was not convinced we needed to find a way to bring the rather dilapidated weathered sled home.  My spirit could see the potential; my flesh was weak. Mike did not have my qualms. He struck a bargain and paid his “mad” money.

During the rest of the week there were hints regarding the pick-up and delivery of the purchase to our home. I did not pay much attention because we had discussed part of the cost would include the hiring of  ‘two men and a truck’ for this task. Saturday rolled around and it became clear we were the pick-up and delivery service.  We would be borrowing our Farmville connection trailer and attaching it to a borrowed Tahoe.  My protest regarding the cost of gas and our time equalling the cost of other options went unheeded.

Three hours and $25 worth of gas later we had a dismantled weathered horse drawn Wisconsin early 1900’s sleigh in our driveway. The final after restoration resting place of said sled is still to be determined. We will keep you informed.

The best part of this suburban and rural trek was the chance to check out the Farmville animals. The baby rabbits still look and feel liked baby bunnies to me. The kittens and ducklings are adorable. The chicks have not hatched yet. They have another couple of weeks. The calves stared at us with interest, ambling over for a little pet and pat. The house remodel is coming along. Trees and bushes are planted and the garden plot will be plowed and tilled this weekend. Farmville is shaping up.

As we drove back and forth to hitch and unhitch I understood the appeal to my friend. As municipal buildings and subdivisions turned into fields and farms I could feel myself de-stressing. Peacefulness flooded through my body.

A little tiny voice whispered some reality into my ear… I am not sure about the seven mile drive for a gallon of milk…. The pizza guy would probably think this was outside his delivery zone….. Then there is the similarity to the Rodgers and Hammerstein Oklahoma movie theme song, because “the wind comes sweeping down the plains” of Illinois, as well as, Oklahoma and Kansas. Oh, well.

I wonder if Farmville needs a horse-drawn sleigh for their horse..…………..

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Memory Lane……

My sister called last Wednesday afternoon. She was in the Newark Airport trying to get home. There seemed to be a weather related, air traffic controller problem and her flight was not leaving until 9 PM. The Southwest agent had suggested a flight to St Louis or Chicago. She would sit up all night in either airport waiting for a flight to Kansas City Thursday 6 AM. She wanted to know if I was available for an impromptu 17.5 hour layover. The plan included a flight to Chicago that evening with a Thursday 4 PM flight to KC. Sam’s mom agreed to change Sam Day to Friday.  We were set for a sister holiday. My role was to do the pick-up and drop-off at Midway.

Thursday, we ate breakfast at Leslie’s favorite place, Colonial Café, server of her favorite, the Morning Glory Muffin. Our server shared the secret recipe with us, Karp’s frozen Glorious Muffin mix, distributed by Fox River Foods. After breakfast we loaded up the luggage and went on a reconnaissance mission to find Emerson Creek Pottery Tea Room near Oswego. The pottery store opens May 4. The Tea Room opens May 7. I am thinking a May visit with friends is on my horizon.

Our next stop was The Growing Place, my favorite plant and garden center, located in the southeast section of Aurora. We wondered through the paths, looking at the cold hardy plants and garden accessories on display. The farmhouse garden shop is filled with a wide array of garden décor.  Window shopping was very relaxing as we shared our summer garden dreams.

The Antique Mall on the parameter of the Fairfield Mall at Fox Valley has been on my list of places to visit for years. We stopped by to check them out. We wondered the aisles looking at treasures from yesteryears. We reminisced about this piece of pottery or that piece of furniture. There was a brand new dealer* putting her items on display. We exchanged pleasantries and I glanced at a doll standing at the back of her booth.  It was an Ideal Saucy Walker 32” doll. Other than the sandy blonde hair she looked exactly like the Christmas doll Santa Claus brought me Christmas 1959. My doll was a brunette.

My sister and I shared a moment with the dealer. The story of my wanting that doll more than anything. She was on the “doll wall” at the old Sears and Roebuck Co. department store located on Kansas Avenue in downtown Topeka, KS. On Christmas morning after all of the presents were opened, I watched my siblings playing with their toys. There was not a doll in sight. My dad asked me to look behind the window curtain beside the Christmas tree. There was my doll. I named her Pamela Ann, after my Aunt Mary’s little girl.

My grandparents were coming over so Mom sent us out to the kitchen with Dad to eat breakfast. She was straightening up the living room when we heard her call out, “I told you to go out to the kitchen and eat breakfast,” My dad looked at us and counted out six children. “Betty,” he called, “they are all here.” Mom showed up at the kitchen door laughing, “I thought the doll was one of the kids.”

Christmas 1961, is when Leslie received her doll. A Bride Doll, she was a little shorter than mine and had a more adult figure. She, too, was located on the Sears and Roebuck, Co, “doll wall”. Every time we went in to the store that fall, there she was. Sometime in December the doll disappeared from the wall. I put my arm around my sister as she suffered through the disappointment. I do not know why we were both surprised to see that Bride Doll under the Christmas tree that year. Santa always did a really good job at our house.

And my sister has found the Morning Glory muffin recipe, so there might be MG muffins next time I am in Kansas……..

*1010 Treasures, Suzi Highberg, Proprietress, 40548 Fox Valley Center Dr., Aurora, IL

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved



My favorite movies to watch again and again……

Sound of Music – The hills are definitely alive and so is Rogers and Hammerstein’s music. I first saw this movie in Mexico City in English with Spanish subtitles. Good for me, my host family, not so much.

White Christmas – Irving Berlin score sung by Bing Crosby, et al. I watch this every Christmas and sometimes in July!

Holiday Inn – Irving Berlin score sung by Bing and danced by Fred. Another annually viewed favorite.

Miracle on 34th Street – Original with Maureen O’Hara and Natalie Wood is my favorite. There is a Santa Claus, my mother said, for those of us who believe.

Little Women –  June Allyson as Jo, Peter Lawford as Laurie Lawrence version is my favorite, although Susan Sarandon as Marmee in the third remake is good and Katherine Hepburn as Jo in the first version are close.

Scaramouch – Bastard nobleman raised by foster parents falls in love with natural brother’s girlfriend. Determined to avenge foster brother’s death at hand of brother, hides out with acting troupe traveling through French country side. Stewart Granger and Janet Leigh are great as the hero and heroine.

Friendly Persuasion – Gary Cooper at his finest in this Quaker way of life clashes with Civil War cultural mores classic. This movie was on KCMO Channel 5 classic movie theatre program with numerous cut s for commercials and to accommodate a two hour time slot, 10:15 PM – 12:15 AM. In the 1960’s the Indian Chief head in a circle test pattern came on at 12:16 AM.

Shenandoah – James Stewart with a fine group of sons unsuccessfully trying to sit out the Civil War. This movie was playing at a Kansas City drive-in theatre the summer several of my siblings and I spent a few days at Aunt Norma’s.

Kid Galahad and Blue Hawaii  – Great Elvis songs sung by Elvis. The plots are weak; the other actors carry these movies.

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers – Great musical with hunky backwoods brothers kidnapping town girls like Romans and Sabine women.

Barefoot in the Park – Funny, sexy, tender, beautiful, sympathetic characters played with humor and insight by Robert Redford and Jane Fonda. What’s not to like?

The Way We Were – Smart, savvy, vulnerable woman lives life her way, while fantastic looking preppy man loses his way. The ex-man and I had a huge difference of opinion over who was the injured party in this flick.

Electric Horseman – Smart, sassy reporter meets intense, sarcastic cynical cowboy. Robert Redford and Jane Fonda together again, sigh, with my heart to my chest, better than ever was really great.

Last of the Mohicans – Daniel Day-Lewis with hair! Great scenery and believable setting in this classic remake of James Fennimore Cooper’s classic novel set in the 1760’s American wilderness.

Steel Magnolias – Strong southern women support each other through good and bad times. Strong ensemble cast makes my day.

Fried Green Tomatoes – Macabre twists only found in southern culture! Tawanda!  Ensemble cast of strong women played by strong women. Kathy Bates is a joy!

Love Actually – This movie is just plain wonderful. I laugh and cry through this one at least once a year. All of my favorite British actors in one place makes for a real feel good.

Diet Pepsi, popcorn and peanut M&M’s are calling me………

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Diet Sunkist Lemonade……..

My sister Deb lived life with passion. She tackled most any task or desire with a single-minded determination second to none. This trait led her down some interesting rabbit trails. Her favorite drink was Sunkist Diet Lemonade*.  There was not a retail location for this beverage in the area surrounding the Kentucky town where they lived.

My brother-in-law would drive to a retail location south of St. Louis and pick up cases of the previously special ordered stuff.  We considered this to be above and beyond the call of husband duty and were suitably impressed with his willingness to grant Deb’s wish for this drink several times a year.

Remember the gas crisis? Not this one, the previous one, several years ago.  My brother-in-law decided the price of gas was too high and the SDL would be staying in Missouri. My intrepid sister decided to see if she could re-produce the beverage in her kitchen.  Deb could not get the ingredients exactly right. Not one to give into such mundane obstacles, Deb called Cadbury Scweppes and explained her inability to drive to Missouri at this time and how she could not seem to get the ingredients exactly right. The person on the phone responded by exclaiming, “we have heard about you!”

The Cadbury Schweppes representative on the phone expressed the sentiments of many persons who came and went in Deb’s life.  Whether singing for weddings, church events, taking care of children, planning family birthday parties, preparing holiday meals, shopping, mothering her sons and first and second generations of nieces and nephews, hosting servicemen’s wives, or whatever she chose to do, Deb was gung ho all the way.

Her sisters think of her whenever we are together.  We include her in our sister gatherings by joking about her place at our table. Sometimes, we often reflect upon “what Deb might have to say” about the situation or what we are doing at the time.

If you ever have the opportunity to drink a Sunkist Diet Lemonade, lift your glass to my sister Deb, a true original………

*Sunkist Diet Lemonade is a licensed product manufactured and marketed by Cadbury Schweppes. To find retailers that sell Sunkist soda products, contact Cadbury Schweppes at (800) 696-5891 or on the web at

 ©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved