An excerpt from my new book “Childhood Memories from the 1940’s – “Man Tan”

Man Tan
That was the name they called this particular tanning lotion, when I was a teenager.
That was my freshman year in high school which was 1957.
My girlfriend, Ann Apicella, and I were going over to her house after school, to spend some time together.
On the way we stopped at the corner drug store to buy something. I can’t remember what, but while we were there I spotted this bottle which said tan without sun.
Well it looked like clear water in the bottle.
I showed it to my friend and between the two of us we had enough money to buy this bottle of Man Tan.
The two of us were really excited to try it.
Now let me give you a little back ground on my friend and myself. Ann was Italian with beautiful olive skin, so she already looked tan, especially next to me.
I am Irish, English with light skin with freckles.
We headed to her house and couldn’t wait to get started with this tanning lotion.
Needless to say we read the directions very quickly and rubbed it on our faces, arms hands, and legs.
It was winter in Connecticut, so we wore long sleeve sweaters and blouses.
We were supposed to see some results within two hours.
While we were waiting we listened to music, did some homework and kept checking our skin.
It wasn’t working, so we kept putting more on until we had used the whole bottle.
Soon it was time for me to go home.
I told Ann that I would call her when I got home and report back any color changes.
When I arrived home I could not see any change.
I called my friend and she confirmed the same.
It looked like we had wasted our money.
I told her I would meet her in the morning at school before we went in to class.
I ate dinner and went to bed.
The next morning upon waking, I looked in the mirror in my bedroom and almost fell over from shock.
I had a tan alright but not the kind of tan you see from the sun.
My face was this really dark orange black color and so were my hands and arms.
All I could think was, oh my God my mother is going to kill me!
I got dressed with a long sleeve shirt and pull over sweater.
I tried to wash it off my face, but that was not happening.
I went into the kitchen and tried to keep my back to my mother so she could not see my face, but as only my mother could do, she said “will you please look at me when I am speaking to you”.
I turned around and before I could even explain, she screamed loudly!
You can only imagine what was said after the shock had passed.
I said maybe I should stay home and not go to school today, and she said,” Oh you are going to school”.
I met my friend at school. She was so dark.
We looked at each other and starting laughing so hard, then our friends started to arrive and started laughing too.
As we passed other kids at school everyone was staring at us.
We both went to our first class, different ones, so we had to go at it alone.
Then, when things were already really uncomfortable, our names were announced over the loud speaker to report to the principal’s office!
Oh God, were in trouble.
The principal was really angry; he asked if we were trying to look like black people?
Needless to say, we were expelled from school until we looked normal again.
My mother scrubbed my face until I thought the skin was going to fall off.
Then she found some cream that lightened it so I could return to school in a couple of days.
My friend took the whole week off.
I can tell you, that was the end of my tanning days without sun.
The plus to the whole thing, was that my friend Ann and I were famous at school.
Everyone knew who we were, and we made a lot of new friends.


I suppose you could call me a very late bloomer.

My mother was pregnant with my second brother, which  I wasn’t aware of until one of my friends told me that my mother was going to have a baby.

You can only imagine my surprise when I asked if this was true.

My parents said they were waiting for a call from the hospital, to let them know when a baby was available.

Can you believe that?

The stories they told.

I was eight years old when my second brother came, so I wasn’t very up on life and all that happens, that’s for sure.

One morning my mother was not there, and my father was home making breakfast for my brother Bob and I.  “Where is mom, dad?”

She is at the hospital waiting for a baby.

Pure excitement ran through me.  “Can she get a sister for me?”

Dad said, “You just have to take whatever they give you.”


Then the magic, in walked my mom with this little baby brother.

I had a cold at the time, so I wasn’t allowed to close.

She put him in the crib, but I could only stand at the door.  I couldn’t even see him because there was a bumper pad that went around the inside of the crib. He was completely out of sight.

I remember being very sad that I could not go in the room.

When my cousin arrived along with my aunt and the rest of the family, to see my new brother Richard, I wouldn’t allow my cousin into the room.

We are close in age, just a year apart, and if I couldn’t go in, then neither could she.

I spread my arms across the door way and would not let her pass.  Talk about an over protective sister. <Laughing>

My mother finally got a face mask for me to wear.

I sat on the chair next to his crib, and I was finally able to touch his little hand and fingers.

His tiny hand wrapped around my finger.

It was love at first touch.

From that day forward he was the most important thing in my life.

Don’t misunderstand, I loved my brother Bob, who was a year and a half younger than myself; we always played together.

This was just different, Richard was a baby.

The first baby in my life.

There I was, always wanting to be around him.  As he grew, I helped feed him and took him for walks in his carriage.  Where ever I went, I took him with me.

When I went with my friends, he went too.

Then when I was old enough to drive, he would want me to take him to McDonald’s, and of course I did, also to the movies or wherever he wanted.

I bought him his first skate board and I can still remember the excitement on his face!  That’s what big sisters do.

He was a wonderful brother throughout my whole life.

I lost my baby brother three years ago in October to pancreatic cancer.

The pain is still deep, but life must go on, even when those fingers slip away.

Special effects and the bionic woman

Some days very strange things happen our way.

I was driving from a visit with my cousin, nearly home, when I saw a bright red car in the outside lane moving very fast.

As he sped along the side my car, passing on the left, I could see something flapping.

He was only a little bit in front of me when THE-WHOLE-REAR-BUMPER ripped off the back of his vehicle, and went flying in the air… RIGHT-OVER-MY-CAR!

Oh. My. God!

I could not believe my eyes.

It was like a special effects movie.

Thank goodness that bumper went over me and not into me.

This was a big flash back in time, to 1978, when I was traveling on interstate I 84 heading to Hartford, Connecticut.

A truck tire with the full rim, was in the passing lane of the highway and by the time it was visible, it was too late.

I hit it with my car.

I was only going forty miles in a fifty mile zone.

Upon hitting the tire, I was air borne.

The next thing I heard was this awful crack of my wrist and forearm… breaking apart.

After surgery and a metal implant in my right arm, it was almost a year before I could drive again.

I did get a cool nick name though, my kids call me the bionic woman.

So you can imagine this bumper flying over my car was like a bad dream reinventing itself.

But I I believe in angels.

Mine, I am sure has been pretty busy taking care of me all these years.

That angel of mine sure has had a big job, <laughing>.

Don’t go back to sleep

The memory of my mother telling me what a mischievous child I was, is quite funny now, but I am sure my mother did not find it as amusing back then.

She told me about the time that I climbed into my brother Bob’s crib, and cut his hair. She said I had taken chunks of hair out which made him look like he had some kind of disease.

Poor Bobby, good thing he was a baby.

Then there was the ink incident.  I some how got a hold of the bottle of ink and took it to the crib, then poured it over Bobby’s head.

Oh my.

I wish she had taken a picture. Joking.

Then I washed my hair in the toilet.  Who knew I had such great hygiene habits at such a young age.

My mother decided to go back to sleep one morning.  Bobby was in his crib and I was in the bed with my mother.  Poor woman she just wanted a little more sleep.

Big mistake.

When she woke she found Bobby and I in the kitchen, on the floor stirring flour, sugar and water, as happy as could be.

She said she picked Bobby up and put him in his crib, then removed me from the mess.  I asked her if she spanked me and she said no.

She said, “I was in such shock when I saw the two of you sitting in the middle of this mess, all I could do was remove the two of you to clean up, and by the time I finished, I was too tired to be mad.”


Well that was the last time she went back to bed in the morning.  

I sure cured her of going back to sleep.

Good night Roy

My cousin lives at her summer home in Guildford overlooking the water, a breath taking sight.

She happened to be away one weekend and asked if I wanted to stay at the cottage, and I said sure.

She had scheduled a massage where she was a regular customer.  “Take the massage it is all paid for and enjoy.”

Now that’s a really nice cousin who does those things.

I arrived to spend a quiet weekend at the cottage, do some reading, lay on the beach and just relax.

After a wonderful night’s sleep with a sea breeze and the smell of the ocean, I woke feeling terrific.

Later in the morning I headed out to the woman’s house where my cousin went for her massages.

When I arrived she greeted me with a friendly smile.

She had a lovely set up.

My cousin had told her a little about me.  We chatted and got along really well, she found me funny and I loved her personality.

In one of the conversations, she said I know this really nice man and I would love you to meet him.  I thanked her, but I said in all honesty, I don’t date any longer.

She asked why and I said I know it sounds awful, but I just can’t be bothered with the whole scene.

She and her boyfriend were going out for a drink later and she said why don’t you join us.  I can invite this gentleman and you can see, no harm in just talking as friends.

Well, against my better judgement, I let her and her boyfriend pick me up to go out for a couple of drinks and meet this man.

When we arrived at the restaurant bar she introduced me to Dale.  He was a very nice man and the four of us sat and talked, while listening to the band playing.

Don’t get me wrong he was a lovely man, just not my type.

We all had fun, regardless of how I was feeling.  The music seemed to get louder as the people drinking also seemed to go up in volume.

After two hours I asked my new friends if they wouldn’t mind taking me home, but they wanted to stay. Dale offered as he also wanted to leave.

He drove me back to my cousin’s cottage and I said, “Good night Roy” and thanked him for the ride.  He said good night and went on his way.

When I got inside the cottage I thought oh no, I just called him Roy and his name was Dale!

Then I started to laugh because the name Dale reminded me of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans; famous cowboys from years ago that were in movies.

That is why I called him Roy.

I felt bad but I couldn’t help giggling about it.

It’s probably a good thing I don’t date, you never know what name I might come up with.

Putting the book together

The book with mother and daughter was quite a process.

A lot of fun and a lot of stress.

I was never following directions as I should have and then I would burst out laughing which would calm Bobby Sue down, because really how can you stay upset with some one laughing?

I have to give her so much credit for putting up with me during the process.

My brain goes so fast sometimes that I don’t always hear the full sentence before I answer or react.  I would definitely say I am hyper active.

This is what some of our text message’s looked like at the end.

Daughter, “Hit a glitch, Grrrr, trying. Don’t know why it’s not formatting.”

Me, “Honey, if you can’t get it up tonight don’t worry.”

Daughter, “Blog done.  Give me a call.”

8:45pm East Coast: Me, “I am going to bed.  Tired, will talk tomorrow, love you xxxooo.”

Daughter, “Okay love you!!!! Talk to you in morning!! ”

9:25pm West Coast:  Daughter, “Your book is live and good!!!  I had to do one more edit.  So it should be good by morning!”

5:50am West Coast/ 8:50am East:  Me, “IT LOOKS FABULOUS.  I can never thank you enough for all the love and work you have put in for my first book to be published.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Love mom.”

Daughter 7:13am West Coast, “Just waking up” “One person purchased your book.”

Me, “Wow that’s great.  Wow your the best.

Daughter,” Order is ready at staples.” (business cards my daughter designed for me)

Me, “I can never express how grateful I am to you for making this day come true for me.  Love you Bobby Sue.”

Daughter, “It’s all good mom!!!! I’m happy your happy!!!”