Popular Posts

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


No it’s not there now and in today’s world, it would have needed a lot of changes. But back when I was eight and living in St. Albans, WV oh how I loved this place! What was it? It was a swimming pool with about a mile of land before you got to it—the land was part of the park. There was a concession stand right in the middle of it and you’d park at the entrance. Families went there and could cook or picnic but most of all to swim! And the pool at the end of this property was not a huge one. Weirdest thing about it was that near the bath houses [where you changed clothes] there were steps in the pool right at the beginning of the shallow end.

Looking back, I think I spent a lot of time sitting on those steps that were in the water. But I loved that pool!! Remember my mom going once or twice and that was it for her: She was not much of an outdoor person but my dad and I sure were. And so I would go with him on just about every Saturday in the summers. If you read any of my other stories about pools, I didn’t learn to swim till I was seventeen and so when I went to Holiday Park I would find friends I knew and we’d jump under the water and come back up, get sunburned and just had the best times ever.

Yes my dad was always near me but he spent his time in the deep water. Sometimes we’d take a picnic lunch or he’d buy me lunch at the concession stand—it took a long time to reach it because it was midway from the pool to the entrance.

Every Saturday when we were there or sometimes on a Sunday too after church, I remember that there was a beer joint to the left of the pool entrance. It sat back upon a hill and had steps that went up to it. Truckers ate there because you could see their big trucks parked outside. Lots of times, my dad would take me in there to get a hotdog and a Coke. And I will never forget a beagle that the owners had: It would stand up on its back legs and dance to music from the music machine that you had to put money in to hear a song. First time I had ever seen a dancing dog and not until You Tube or tv did I ever seen another one.

Holiday Park held such incredible memories for me: I went there every summer for five years. Everyone who lived in St. Albans went there for it was before private pools in the area. When my dad asked me if I wanted to go, I’d get my bathing suit, a towel and be ready in an instant. Getting there was not that far but you could tell you were near it because you smelled fumes from a plant that smelled like green onions: The entire aread smelled like it. Not a pleasant smell at all but it meant one thing: Closer!! And then I’d see tall poplar trees, like four or five in a row and knew that we were almost there. Those two things—the smell and those trees told me that Holiday Park was close.

I loved that place. Nothing fancy but a huge grassy area and a small pool at the end [small by today’s standards] but oh the fun I had there and geesh I even got to see a dancing dog about every other Saturday. What more could a kid ask for?

Sherry Hill

Monday, April 23, 2012


The first time I smelled it, it was sinewy, gaggy, take your breath away and a million other adjectives. Literally, I couldn’t breathe for that specific smell permeated me and I could feel an asthma attack coming on. The only thing I could do was to get as far away from it as I could and that was impossible for I was teaching and had a classroom full of students. Remember asking a student to go out in the hall and see if she knew what the smell was and where it was coming from. Within minutes, she came back in and said “It’s vanilla and I think it’s from a candle or someone sprayed it.” “Where?” I asked her. “I think it’s in the office” she said.

Asked my co-teacher to watch my students for a minute while I scurried down the hall towards the office and yep, the smell was definitely coming from there!! The closer I got, the worse it was. Forced myself to go in and the smell was so strong it would have knocked anyone over and there sat the secretary with a small vanilla votive candle on her desk. Mustered up my courage and asked her if she would mind to put it out [really I guess others loved it] because it was choking me all the way down the hall. She graciously put the candle out; I was never so grateful in my life!

Some smells just really get to me and after that experience, vanilla is at the top of the list. It’s not the same smell as vanilla in a bottle—that’s completely different to me. All of my friends know how I hate vanilla scented candles or anything but I forgot to tell my sons. And what would I receive this past Christmas? A huge vanilla scented candle from one of my sons.  Didn’t know at the time that it was specifically that but later upon looking at the label, I saw that word—VANILLA. And I gave it away. What other choice did I have? With things you either like them or not and it’s a definite not like on my part. Please pass on the vanilla candles to someone else. Oh and by the way, they are always white and cleverly disguised for other scented candles can be white as well. Watch out!

Sherry Hill

Sunday, April 22, 2012


When I was a young mother, I remember going to my mom’s apartment and telling her that I was in a hurry and couldn’t stay long. Seems as if she didn’t understand for she just had one child and that was me. And I had two sons who pulled me in ten thousand different directions every day. She’d always say “Can’t you sit down and spend some time?” And I’d reply “I can’t mom. I’m in a hurry and have so much to do.” Felt kind of guilty but then I reasoned that my situation was twice as much as hers had been –with children. And I would leave feeling somewhat remorseful and yet just knew in my mind that things had to get done and I was the one who had to do them.

As my sons grew older, I had more time but I was still teaching school and the pressure of that was ten-fold. Of course my mom also worked but as an executive secretary and she had no job work to do at home. I did. Was rushing my sons to either swimming practice, football games, tennis or later to pick them up at their summer jobs. Endless it seemed. When I had to stop by her apartment, it was the same thing: “Do you have time to sit down?” And I’d say that things had to be done and I’d do it the next time.

When my sons reached college age and were gone, I was still left with the teacher work at home—something my mom never understood. I’d visit her or do things for her and would sit down but not for long for I felt the pressure on me and would depart not long afterwards. All this time I was married and yes, my then-husband helped with our sons but my mom needed me to help her out as she didn’t drive. And I would but was in my usual hurry mode as always.

When my sons left home for the last time, I found myself remarried and still teaching. The workload of night work increased and it seemed that when my mom wanted something done it had to be right there and then. If I offered to do it the next day, that was met with a big crescendo of “Never mind!” And so it went for years upon years.  Time didn’t seem to be on my side and there was never enough of it to go around. I was trying to spend more time with my second husband or so I thought and still in touch with my sons.  In retrospect, my mom always had time to take care of them when they were little and was there for them into their teenage years: They were the joy of her life. And by her doing that, it gave me more time to get things accomplished.

My younger son got married first and had three children. I found time on the weekends or after school to take care of first one, then two and then three. And oh were those times incredible. If you are a grandparent, you know what I’m talking about: Every minute spent with them when they were little and older I treasured more than I could say. And yes, I would take my first grandson to my mom’s and we’d stay for a while but then she would want me to stay longer and I would have a deadline to meet.  Here I was repeating myself again “I don’t have much time. Next time, I’ll stay longer.” In 2000 I found myself going through a divorce and my mom made time for me; had she not, I’m not sure how I would be coping right now. Still teaching and my grandson was five that year. And yes, I found time to keep him when I was asked. That year my mom found out she had cancer and all that time was a nightmare. She didn’t want to know how much time she had left but her doctor told me: “She has three months to live.”

I made time despite teaching and later on during her final weeks, I took off work to be with her. We sat at her kitchen table and talked and talked—something we had never really done in our lives for she was bound up in her work throughout my childhood. And yet I was bound up in my work as an adult. Still the walls that had been between us came tumbling down and things were said that needed to be said for years. We knew that time was critical. I am sure that she knew that her life was ending soon—she just had to for she put things in order quickly. And then it hit me that I never gave her my time when she asked it of me: I was too busy. My reasoning was that I had to spend time with my sons unlike she had done with me when I was little and into my teenage years. Was it worth it? I certainly feel in my heart that it was the right thing to do and yet I still have that nagging in me of not giving my time to her.

In 2001 she died. There was no more mom to say “Sit down and spend some time.” The divorce was still going on and by this point, my two other grandchildren were born. Yes, I was still teaching and found time to keep them whenever I was asked—I loved it and it took my mind off of things such as finding myself an orphan. That’s pretty devastating even to a grown woman to know that neither parent is no longer there.  As my grandchildren got older, I still kept them whenever I was needed. And I could hear my younger son saying “I don’t have time to stay. I’m in a hurry.” Oh boy, here it was on me now—that no time thing. My older married son had no children but yet I would ask him if he could do this or that for me and guess what I heard? The very same thing. But I did understand where they were coming from as both were in overload with working and one with three children at home.

My grandchildren are now seventeen, fourteen and twelve; they are constantly busy and constantly into something. Do I see them much? No and although I definitely remember how it was to be their ages, I find myself wanting time with them. Where did it go? It went fast on wings of an eagle, that’s where it went. Right now I have all the time in the world because I am not teaching and the worst thing is that I am in my mom’s place asking  “Why don’t you sit down and spend some time with me?” Reminds me of that song by Harry Chapin “The Cat’s in the Cradle.” In it he sang about how he didn’t have time for his dad; then when his son came along, he gave him time. But when his son grew up and was busy, he needed him only to find out that he couldn’t find the time. It’s one gigantic circle that we create for ourselves and do we have to do it? No. For when you stop and look at your life in retrospect, it is the good times that you remember and how fast they went. But we become as our parents—is it a choice or destiny?

And so I would say to my sons and grandchildren: “I don’t want anything from you except your time.” You have no idea how lonely it becomes at this stage in your life; I’m not one of those demanding parents who insists on things done right now. It comes down to being needed which is one of the top human characteristics. All I need is their time. Choice or destiny? You decide. I have become my mom and now I realize what she wanted and it wasn’t anything tangible. It was being with someone and giving them your time. To you who are reading this, I hope you realize how important it is to your parents or grandparents: Don’t get caught up in the spider web of being too busy. Take the time. It goes by in the blink of an eye. “Can’t you sit down and spend some time?”

Sherry Hill

Song from you tube

Saturday, April 21, 2012

"Remembering Glass Wind Chimes"

“Remembering Glass Wind Chimes”

Not too long ago, I bought a wind chime—you know the typical kind that is found anywhere: It’s part metal and part wood. Sounded good when I hit it in the store because it made a cool sound. When I was putting it up, all of a sudden I remembered the kind that my grandmother used to buy at a ten cent store for I was with her. And I could picture it in my mind as clear as a bell. It was made out of glass rectangles and each piece was hand painted. Red cord held the entire thing together and it was probably a foot long or so.

She would hang it on the front porch and it made the most wonderful tinkling sound ever. When the sun hit the glass pieces, I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Of course this was so long ago and then the wind chime didn’t cost much-- which was a good thing for when the wind got really bad, it came crashing down onto the porch! And off we would go back to the ten cent store to purchase another one.

I wish I had a photo of one to show you. There was a lot of skill and attention to detail in the painting of each glass rectangle for they were decorated with hand painted flowers. Over the years, I quit seeing them and now they are a thing of the past. Funny how something so cheap like it, could leave such a lasting impression on me but it did. It was hypnotizing to watch –all glittery and shiny in the sunlight and even better to hear the faint tinkling of the sound it made. And I loved it. I can just picture it in my mind hanging to the right of my grandmother’s front porch and it brings back happy memories of my childhood.

I’m sure that there are none around; they were fragile and this was so long ago. Best thing I can do to remember it is to paint one—that way I can remember it best. As for the sound, I have it in my mind. If you were lucky enough to have seen one of these glass wind chimes or even had one, consider yourself lucky for there was lots of magic in them. Lots.

Sherry Hill

*I found a picture of one on Amazon.com! Unbelievable.  And will I get one? Of course. But it won't go outside trust me.

Monday, April 16, 2012



After my horrible experience at Rock Lake pool when I was five, my mom decided to enroll me in swimming lessons at the YWCA downtown in Charleston on Quarrier Street. I was seven and her reasoning for having me take lessons was twofold: I would learn how to swim and the YWCA was close to both of my working parents’ offices. And yes, I would be able to walk to Capitol Street to either of their offices.

It had been two years since that first episode and yet the minute I was taken inside of the YWCA by my parents, I knew that chlorine smell instantly. Wasn’t one of my favorite smells either. Back then, you had to wear a bathing cap if you were a female—didn’t matter your age either. Girls’ caps were rubbery white things that had a chin strap with holes in it for the buckle.  Once you had it on, your head felt like it was being mashed and you certainly couldn’t hear well either.

So here I was with a bunch of girls whom I didn’t know and a swimming instructor. She made us get in the shallow end and showed us swimming strokes. I tried but got nowhere that first day. Thought that it would only be a couple of days and I’d have swimming mastered. Boy was I wrong!
There were no hair dryers back then; you had to towel dry your hair. Mine took forever to dry and so here I was dressed and walking down Quarrier Street reeking of chlorine with sopping wet hair. A seven year old can walk fast and in no time, I reached my mom’s office in the Kanawha Valley Bank building on Capitol Street, got on the elevator and was in her office.

“How did it go?” she asked. And I told her that I hated it and would probably never learn to swim. “Give it a chance” she told me and she went back to her work and I busied myself with a steno tablet and a pencil until it was time for her to quit work for the day. We met up with my dad and he drove us home. But in the back of my mind, I knew I had to go back to the YWCA the next day and the next and the next and I didn’t want to go. No way to get out of it either when you’re seven and your parents are way older and insistent.

Next day came and they dropped me off at the YWCA and this day was far worse. The instructor showed us more swimming strokes and it might as well have been in some secret code: It didn’t work for me. I was splashing around with the horrid bathing cap on, when all of girls were told that we were going to have to jump into the deep end. Terror set into my heart. I had been in a deep end at Rock Lake and I certainly didn’t want in this one. We were herded along the side of the pool and one by one I saw girls jumping into the deep end all right!
Most of them went under and the instructor took a long bamboo pole and rescued each one.

When it came my turn, I went under as well and had to grab onto that pole; I didn’t think I’d ever get out of the deep water. After that it was time to leave and so I went through the same routine of towel drying my hair, getting dressed and walking down the street to Capitol Street to my mom’s office. After a month of this, I told my parents that I didn’t want to take anymore swimming lessons because I hadn’t learned how to swim and I was terrified of jumping in the deep end.

Thank goodness they let me quit. In retrospect, making young kids jump in fourteen feet of water to sink or swim was not what one would call the right thing to do. It was the norm. It wasn’t the fault of the YWCA: It was just how swimming lessons were taught then. We had no air wings for our arms—not invented yet. And I sure didn’t learn to swim that summer.

Oh I would learn to swim but it would take me ten more years. Yes, I had an instructor but she was a college one and no way was I forced to jump in the deep end. Times had changed for the better!!

Sherry Hill

Sunday, April 15, 2012



I’ve always loved being a swimming pool but my first time at age five was the scariest thing I remember. My babysitter was a senior in high school and had a boyfriend. She asked my mom if they could take me to a huge pool that was in the city where I lived then:  It was called Rock Lake and it was huge. My mom let them take me. When we got to the entrance, we had to go through a tunnel first: I thought you had to undress in it and refused to go in until my babysitter told me that it wasn’t true.  After going through the tunnel, I saw the pool. And although I hadn’t seen the ocean, it sure looked like it to me.

My babysitter took me to some women’s locker rooms and we changed into our bathing suits. Something told me that it was going to be scary and I was right! Her boyfriend met us outside and we walked on cement along the pool and then we got in by the baby pool—it was shallow and roped off.

 Huge rocks formed the back side of the pool and to a little kid, it was terrifying. And I couldn’t swim. They left me in the baby pool section for a while and then they came back. My sitter’s boyfriend asked me if I wanted to go down the slicky slide. “Sure!” I said thinking it was somewhere away from the pool like in the dirt area.

I was on his shoulders when he started swimming across the huge pool and then he promptly dropped me off at the foot of the humongous slicky slide and left me there. Looked around and didn’t see him or my babysitter and people were pushing behind me to go up the steps to the slide. Terror set in me for I saw that below the steps and the slide was the pool! No one would let me back down and I had no choice but to keep climbing and then slide down into the deepest water ever. Water went up my nose and into my mouth and I just knew I was going to die right there. But I started grabbing onto people’s backs and screaming and thank heavens someone got me back to the shallow part of the pool.

It was a horrible experience! I sat on the cement by the shallow part and hoped my babysitter would show up because not only was I still gagging up chlorine water but I was scared, alone and afraid.

Seemed like an eternity before she showed up with her boyfriend but she did. All I remember was being taken home and listening to my parents hear my story and then theirs.  And the next day, I had a new babysitter. Wonder why? It was a terrible experience for a five year old but it didn’t stop my love of pools because I later found myself in them all of the time every summer. I did have to take swimming lessons when I was seven but did I learn to swim? No and that is another story in itself.

And yes, as a teenager I spent lots of hot summer days at Rock Lake pool but as for the huge slicky slide, I never went down it ever again—no way and no how. And I could swim too by then. That day I did go down it traumatized me forever of that thing. It was a horrible day I never forgot.

Sherry Hill

*Photo of Rock Lake Pool from Wikipedia