Archive for the ‘Childhood Memories’ Category

Advent Calendar Challenge – Gifts

by Sherry Stocking Kline
December 10, 2009

Thanks to Thomas MacEntee for today’s Christmas Advent Calendar Challenge!


What were your favorite gifts, both to receive and to give? Are there specific gift-giving traditions among your family or ancestors?

Today’s prompt is a tie-in with the Smile for the Camera carnival at Shades of the Departed.

What were my favorite gifts?  To receive or to give? Hmmm…

There are several empty places in my family’s circle now, so my Christmas memories are tinged with sorrow as well as joy because I miss those people very much, but there were several gifts that were fun to give, and I remember some I received that gave my little heart joy!

Stick Horses and Cowboy Outfits!

After my nephews came along, most Christmases my folks bought us all something quite similar, and one Christmas when we were all little stair steps, me about seven, and them five and two, we were given the stick horses with the plastic heads and the cowboy and cowgirl outfits to go along with it!

Because we watched Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, HopAlong Cassidy, The Lone Ranger and Tonto, and the Cisco Kid on tv every week we were well-versed in the bang-bang-shoot-em-up outdoor play that included galloping all over our pasture on stick horses to  shoot the bad guys. Of course, we were the white-hatted heroes! My youngest nephew, not quite old enough to keep up, insisted on riding his  ‘horse’ head down, so his mighty steed’s head got drug all over the pasture!

The most difficult Christmas present I ever bought…

The most difficult Christmas present I ever had to buy was the first one I bought for my mom by myself after my dad passed away.  I just couldn’t figure out what to buy.  But I found a grandmother’s charm bracelet, with little boy and girl heads, with the names and birth dates engraved on the little heads.  By that time, Mom had five grandchildren and one on the way, but I remember standing in the store, feeling very lost and very alone, trying to decide between the choices.

One of the most fun presents we ever bought…

One of the most fun presents that we ever bought was for my father-in-law when our children were small. My father-in-law always hoped that someone would give his boys a train set. (I think so he could enjoy it, too!)

So my husband and I picked him out a neat little train set, and as the television commercial says the look on his face was “priceless.”  He set it up in his basement for awhile, and shared it with his grandchildren, and then a few years down the road, when he started spending more time in Texas in the winter, gave it to our children to enjoy.

A Personalized Family Photo Calendar Keeps us All Up to Date!

For the past few years, I’ve e-mailed family members to request family photographs, (whatever they want to send) though the ones where they are fishing, playing softball, and just doing fun things make great collages for the calendar that I make and give to my mom.

I try to focus on a different family group each month, and when possible, feature someone that is having a birthday that month, though in some months, there are several birthdays.

Here is this year’s calendar front, the photograph on the left was taken in 2000, before we lost my brother Gary and my sister-in-law Nancy to cancer in 2001. It shows my mom, with my two brothers standing on the left with their spouses and me on the lower right with my husband. My dad ‘s photo is inset on the right.

Harold and Dorothy Stocking Family

Harold and Dorothy Stocking Family - Standing: Gary "Sox" Stocking, Harold Frederick "Fred" Stocking, Jr., Norman L. Kline. Seated: Sharon Stocking, Dorothy Stocking Barry, Sherry Stocking Kline. Harold Frederick "Jiggs" Stocking, Sr. in oval on the right.

I usually make copies for the rest of the family, complete with all the birthdays and anniversaries.  They all love it!  It’s a great way to help us all keep up with important dates!

There are several places that offer this service…

I bought Broderbund’s calendar creator several years ago, but you can also make calendars several places on the internet, such as at my Heritage Makers’ website, and I believe that Kodak and other places also offer this service.

One good thing about making it with Calendar Creator, and at the Heritage Maker’s website, is that once you get the template set up, complete with birthdays and anniversaries, you just copy and save with a new name for next year, and re-place this year’s photographs with next year’s new ones!

Advent Calendar Challenge – Christmas Cookies

Thanks to Thomas MacEntee of for today’s Advent Calendar Challenge!  Each day, reading the other blog posts and then writing my own has taken me on a “Sentimental Journey” through Christmases Past!  Fortunately, I haven’t met up with Scrooge in any of them!

Christmas Cookies

Did your family or ancestors make Christmas Cookies? How did you help? Did you have a favorite cookie?

My mom wasn’t all that big on making cookies.  I mean, she would make them, but once they were in the oven, well, they might stay there a tad too long.

And who knows,  maybe that was her subtle way to get me to take over the cookie baking once I got old enough!

No Pillsbury Dough Boy for my mom…

When I was really young, about my granddaughter’s age, somewhere from five to eight years of age, Mom was really big on making yummy sugar cookie dough (from scratch of course, no Pillsbury doughboy with his handy cookie tubes back then!) and letting us cut them out.

She did this pretty often, actually, and not always just at Christmas time.    Sometimes it was my nephews and I, ( we all being nearly of the same age) and sometimes it was with my friends and classmates.

We would dive in, flour on the table, flour on our noses and hands, (and sometimes on the floor!) and share the rolling pins and the cookie cutters.

We had so many cookie cutters that they filled up a shoe box. There were Christmas trees and reindeer, Christmas stars, and little lambs and cows. We had round ones, and diamond shaped ones, and little Porky Pig ones. (Geeminy, wonder where those all are?) Time to go on a treasure hunt!

We were always on the scout for new cookie cutters and we usually brought a few new ones home each Christmas.

Shortly after I married I began to host my own sugar cookie party for my little niece. The first year, she was probably only three or four, and I think we only got two or three cookies baked in one piece that first year!

Did I mention that we always had to double (or triple) the recipe to make sure at least some of the cookies got baked instead of eaten in dough form.  (That was before we knew that all kinds of illnesses resulted from eating raw eggs in cookie dough) What a devastating discovery that was!

Advent Calendar – Christmas Parties

Sherry Stocking Kline
December 7th, 2009

Christmas Parties? My first thought when I read the challenge was “We didn’t go to Christmas parties when I was a kid.” Then I read Randy Seaver’s Christmas Party Challenge at Genea-Musings and realized, well, maybe we did. (And by the way, Congratulations to Randy for his much deserved “Genea-Speak Award.”

Below, from Thomas MacEntee’s Geneabloggers website is today’s challenge!  What did/do you and your family do to celebrate Christmas?

Holiday Parties

Did your family throw a holiday party each year? Do you remember attending any holiday parties?

We didn’t do parties, we had “Christmas”…

We didn’t do parties, we had “Christmas”.   When I was very young, we used to get together with the aunts and uncles who lived close enough to drive home and draw names to exchange gifts.  I’m not sure why and when that stopped, but it may have simply been the result of the next generation marrying, moving further away for jobs, and it becoming too difficult to find a date when all could attend.

Later, it was our own family who gathered as my brother’s grew up, married, and had families.   We gathered on Christmas Eve to eat supper (we called it supper then) and exchange gifts.  And because my oldest nephew was just two and a half years younger than me, and they stair-stepped down at two year intervals till I had five nephews and nieces,  I had ‘partners-in-crime’ to shake packages and impatiently try to hurry the adults up!

I can’t for the life of me remember what we ate on those nights!  As a child, it wasn’t about the food, it was about the gifts, and it seemed unbelievable that the adults could think about food when there were so many surprises waiting for them (and more importantly for us) in the other room under the tree.

They actually ate dessert before they let us open the packages, and I think maybe they prolonged the dessert eating just to torture us!

Can you imagine?

Finally, they declared we had waited long enough…

Finally, they declared we had waited long enough, and everyone gathered in our tiny little living room and my Dad began to hand out packages to everyone.  He didn’t dress up like Santa, but his Christmas spirit is something that I remember today.

Dad was all about giving the gift and watching the recipient while they opened it.   Their enjoyment was the gift that gave him the most  joy each Christmas.

After Dad passed away when I was just shy of thirteen, there was something important missing from our Christmas gatherings each year and I didn’t even come close to finding it again till my own children were born.

Merry Christmas…

Advent Calendar – Christmas Cards

Sherry Stocking Kline
December 4th, 2009

When I was just a little girl, I looked forward each year to my Uncle Frank Stocking’s Christmas card.

It was unique, shaped like a little stocking, with a verse about each member of the family and their travels, triumphs, and sometimes the trials of their life.  I still have most of them, stored away.

Sometimes this little Christmas card was my “show and tell” for school, I was that proud of it!

After I married and had children, Uncle Frank’s example became my inspiration. Nearly every Christmas I drew up a little picture (usually of children in old-fashioned sunbonnet and overalls) to depict my two kids doing something representative of our year, and wrote a poem that reflected the years happenings,  joys, and sorrows.

2001 was a year of incredible sorrow intermingled with small joys and it is that poem that I’ve chosen to share here:

Kline Christmas Card 2001

I want to be a kid again, it’s Christmas time you see.
I want to hang the tinsel on a lop-sided Christmas tree.
I want to lick the frosting bowl and nibble cookie dough.
I want to call up all my friends and Christmas caroling go.

But most of all I want to wish you Peace and Joy and Love.
And thank our Lord for all His blessings and strength from above.
I hope that kids of every age receive their most-longed-for toy.
And find each day filled with love and the season’s Christmas Joy.

There are days that bring us sunshine, while others bring us rain.
There are years that bring us joy, while others bring us pain.
2001 was such a year of sorrow and sadness in our life.
We pray for comfort and healing from life’s sorrowful strife.

Nancy, my brother Fred’s wife and friend lost her cancer’s fight
In the wee hours of the morning on a January night.
Fifty years of marriage, with five children they were blessed.
Nancy’s smile, her laugh, her faith, her courage, all are sorely missed.

We lost my brother, Gary, on Memorial Day’s afternoon.
He was too young, he was so loved, he died much too soon.
His mom, his wife, his daughter, his brother and “step” sons three,
We each and all miss him so very much you see.

Amidst our grief, we pray for leaders and our troops overseas.
We ask the Lord on bended knee for Peace and safety, Please.
We look forward with hope to the year 2002,
And pray for healing of our hearts and joy that comes anew.

Jarrod’s in K.C., and lucky to be working still at Sprint
We’re thankful that his job was not one of those that ‘went.”
And soon wedding bells will ring in February 2002,
When Marya and Marc tie the knot and happily say “I do.”

Norman hopes each plane he inspects is up to Cessna’s best.
Sometimes he flies with the pilots when they run their tests.
Sherry writes for the Wichita Eagle’s magazine “Active Life”
Web design, “The Mayfield Book”, Sherry has an “active life.”

May this your Merriest Christmas be,
May whatever you wish for be under your tree.
And May God hold you safely in His hand,
As you travel around our beautiful land.

Merry Christmas!
Norman, Sherry, Jarrod & Marya

My Christmas card has changed in several ways. I no longer draw the ‘sunbonnet kids’ as our family has expanded.  I now have two adorable granddaughters, and their picture sometimes graces the card’s front.

My oldest granddaughter loves to draw, and I think I will soon be asking her to draw the picture for the front of my card!

Thanks to the inspiration of my niece, I now also include a photo collage with my Christmas cards that I create on my photo software, and so we have a year of our life in word and picture for close family and friends.

Looking back through those cards, it’s easy to see just where we ‘were’ in life, and what was going on each year!

Tombstone Tuesday – Gary Neal Stocking

Sherry Stocking Kline
December 1st, 2009

472 - Gary Neal Stocking

472 - Gary Neal Stocking, buried Prairie Lawn Cemetery - Wellington, KS

Gary Stocking - 475

Gary Stocking's 1926 Street Rod - Colorado Mountain scenery - 475

Today, December 1st, would have been my brother, Gary Neal “Sox” Stocking’s 73rd birthday.

If he were still alive.

Gary Neal Stocking & His 26' T Street Rod Pick-up

Gary Neal Stocking & His 26' T Street Rod Pick-up

Gary fell ill in the spring of 2001,  just a month or two after we lost my oldest brother’s wife, Nancy Rae (Cook) Stocking  to cancer.  By the time the doctors ran a PSA test (to test for prostate cancer) it was too late, it had spread to the bones.

Two weeks after his prostate cancer diagnosis –  he was gone…

I’m sharing this today on his birthday, because prostate cancer is one of the most survivable cancers, IF you find it in time, and get treatment.

My brother was a get-things-done, take-care-of-business kind of guy. He kept everyone’s car cleaned, the oil in everyone’s car changed, the i’s dotted and the t’s crossed, except for one.   He didn’t have time to take care of his own health.   He was too busy.  I’m not sure he ever had a PSA test, until it was too late.

Gary was a car guy, and he and his wife Sharon showed their little 1926 Model T Street Rod in four states, and people came to his funeral from at least three.   In their street rods.

He was the kind of guy that could get on an elevator, say hello, visit with the folks next to him, and have everyone smiling by the time they got two floors up.  He was the kind of guy when a car guy he didn’t even know called for help in the middle of the night, he’d get in his pick-up and drive 2 hours to go help him.

He was the kind of guy you could count on…

He was older than me, and when our dad died young, he became extra protective, extra helpful.  I always knew if I had car trouble, or any kind of trouble, anywhere, and my husband couldn’t rescue me, he’d be there for me.

When he died I felt like someone had taken the training wheels off my bike before I was ready to go solo.  Whenever I got in the car to go somewhere I knew my ‘safety net’, my own personal ‘Triple A’ type rescuer was gone.

If you’re a guy – get a PSA test, before it’s too late…

I’m writing this to say ‘thank you’, to honor him, and to remind any guy reading this to get a PSA test before it’s too late.

From Birthday Gift to Heirloom…

by Sherry Stocking Kline
November 29, 2009

How is it that something becomes an heirloom? Is it the value of the object, the age of the object, or the love inside the object and its history?

One birthday present that stands out is one that I still have. One that is destined to become a hand-me-down heirloom. And one that I still enjoy.

We were in South Dakota, my mom, dad, and I.  It would be our last vacation with my dad, but we didn’t know that then, or at least I didn’t.

We had been to Minnesota to visit family,  my Great-Aunt May Breneman Jones Willey, her son Kenneth Jones and his wife, Lois, and their family, Lawrence, Lynn, Patty, Charles, and Kenny, and we were coming back down through South Dakota, seeing the sights.

My Parents Laughed…

We visited the “dead Presidents” (Mt Rushmore) which was very impressive, went to the Passion Play (the re-enactment of Christ’s life and crucifixion), and I met a girl at the motel that night who was about my age, (soon to be eleven years old) and what was so impressive was this girl had her life already mapped out.

She told me who she was going to marry and that they were going to raise horses together.  I was so impressed (Here I was at eleven still waffling between being a jockey or an archeologist!) and hadn’t even thought yet about who I would marry and what WE would do that I told my folks all about the girl I met on the motel swing set who already knew who she was going to marry.

My parents laughed….

Mom and I Huddled Inside the Car…

The next day we traveled through the National Park where a herd of several hundred buffalo thundered across the road in front of the car right  in front of us. My mom and huddled inside the car while my dad, unafraid, in typical guy “I ain’t afraid of nothin'” fashion stood outside the car and watched.

Before we came home dad took Mom and I to the Black Hills Gold Jewelry store where the jewelry was actually being made.  Dad had promised Mom that when they went to where the Black Hills gold jewelry was made he would buy her a set.  So we went into the store where we could  see people working on the jewelry.

It took them quite awhile, looking at one necklace and then another. Mom tried on one set, and then another and I kept busy watching the workers, peering into the jewelry cases, and watching the necklace and earring fashion show between Mom and Dad.

But I Had My Sights Set on a Cowboy Hat…

Finally, they had the perfect set for Mom. Then they turned to me.  They wanted to buy me a ring for my birthday.

Uh, Oh.  My little soon-to-be  eleven year old heart had its sights set on a cowboy hat. (Did I mention that I was a tomboy?)  I just hadn’t decided if I wanted it to be black hat like the bad guys or a white hat like Roy Rogers yet, but that’s what  I wanted right then, a cowboy hat.

I didn’t have the horse to go with it, but I wanted that, too.  Mom and dad definitely  had other plans.

They wanted me (a tomboy) to pick something elegant…

So we spent some time picking out a ring. They really wanted me to get something fancy, something a little ‘elegant’.  I wasn’t then, nor am I now, ‘elegant.’

I remember them saying, “Look how much longer this ring makes your fingers look.”

I didn’t think a ring was going to help my fingers look long and ladylike too much. My fingers were short and stubby then and they’re short and stubby now.

I picked out a simple gold band with the Black Hills Gold signature pink and gold leaves on it. Simple lines. Very similar to a wedding band, but I liked it. After some time spent showing me lots of fancier rings to try to get me to pick out something larger, longer, and more elegant, they gave in and let me get the one I liked.

Landstrom's Black Hills Gold Ring

Landstrom's Black Hills Gold Ring

They chose it for one of my larger fingers, hoping I could wear it when I was grown, and they chose wisely there. I can still wear it.

It looks almost exactly like this one, except it has more than 30 years of wear. It’s plain and simple, perfect for my size 4 1/2 to 5 short little fingers. It’s still my favorite.

A little over a year later, my father was gone…

My father was only 50 when he passed away. Just a few years later, heart by-passes became standard practice, but they weren’t then.

I wonder now, if he somehow knew, that his time was getting short, and he wanted us to have these special reminders of him.

Years later, I can look at the Black Hills gold ring that we picked out that day, and remember the whole vacation, the people we met, the good times we had, and feel the love of my parents surrounding me.

12-01-09 Author’s note: After posting this article, I found the ring that was nearly like mine, and so have updated the photograph, and added the name of the ring’s creator. My dad didn’t know he was beginning a new family tradition between myself, my mother, and my children that day, but he did.

I do think he may have known his time was getting shorter as by that time he had had heart disease  for more than ten years and wanted us to have something we could remember him by. My mother, treasuring that memory purchased a cross necklace and another ring at different times in my life, all with that first gift in mind.

Wordless Wednesday – Margaret Corson McGinnis’ 100th Birthday!

Sherry Stocking Kline
November 19, 2009

This photograph is of Margaret “Maggie” (Corson) McGinnis taken on her 100th Birthday, January 19th, 1949.  The photograph was taken at her daughter’s home, Maud McGinnis Stocking, in Cedarvale, Chautauqua County, Kansas.

Margaret (Corson) McGinnis on her 100th Birthday with gr-granddaughter Sherry Stocking

Margaret (Corson) McGinnis on her 100th Birthday with gr-granddaughter Sherry Stocking

The chubby little urchin sitting on Maggie’s lap is myself, Sherry Stocking.

Great-grandma McGinnis died on March 26, 1950, and I do not remember her.  How I wish I did!  She is buried at Osborne Cemetery, in Sumner County near Mayfield, Kansas.

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