Connie Westreich
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Connie Westreich wrote a good number of interesting and lovely stories for Story Chip. She wrote of her parents coming to the U.S. as young people from small Russian villages. She wrote of her teaching career. She wrote of her life as a young girl. She shared the tiny details of life that we treasure at Story Chip - those little details that are not in history books, but saved here as precious insights into our collective culture. Connie had been struggling lately and I learned today that Connie passed from this life December 17, 2014. I enjoyed knowing her, listening to her read her stories and honored to have these same stories posted on Story Chip. I will miss her tremendously and I know that her neighbors and friends at Pomperaug Woods where she lived will also miss her joyful and generous spirit.

A July 4th Picnic

I grew up in a suburb in the borough of Queens, N.Y. – Richmond Hill, to be exact. I was one of two children – I had an older brother. He passed away about ten years ago. During the summer months my family frequently drove to Belmont Lake State Park (Long Island) for a picnic – especially on a holiday like July 4th. This story is about a July 4th picnic!

My brother and I jumped out of the car, and raced to the picnic grounds in the park. Gravel churned under my thick-soled sneakers. As I sped along, my feet barely felt the sharp points of the gravel. I was looking for the brown rustic picnic tables with their attached benches. They always looked so drab with their many cracked wooden boards. As I got closer, I gazed at the freshly painted and repaired picnic tables. They glistened under the bright rays of the afternoon sun. Small patches of pale green grass fluttered in the warm breeze. The park had been dressed-up for the holiday!

The families were dressed in brightly colored clothing – with patriotic colors. The children ran around playing in their colorful clothes! Many youngsters carried small flags attached to thin wooden sticks. The leaves on the branches of the large old maple, oak and sycamore trees cast some welcome shade.

The worn-looking stone cooking grills had been polished. Smoke billowed up into the air and the delicious aroma of hamburgers cooking, steaks sizzling and French fries browning was enjoyed by all! The pungent aroma of pickles and onions made me hungry. I could almost taste the baked beans simmering in the pot on the grill. I burnt my hand slightly as I tried to taste the beans with a spoon. My mother told me to put my hand on the lid of a cold lemonade jug. The smooth icy surface soothed my irritated skin.

Zoe, my friend’s barking dog, led me towards the lake that edged the grounds. She seemed to sense that I was too close to the cooking grills. The blue water of the lake glistened and rippled in the bright sunshine. Flat-bottomed row-boats drifted on the water. It was a charming scene. I bathed my injured hand in the clean, cool water.

As I turned around to head back to the picnic area, I heard the distant clang of parade music – the banging of drums, the ringing of cymbals, and the tooting of horns. I hoped that after I ate, I would be able to see the beautiful white marching horses! My plate filled with mouth-watering food was a welcome sight. I eagerly bit into a warm tasty hamburger on a hot sweet roll. I sipped tart lemonade from a shiny plastic cup – I enjoyed my piping hot, tasty baked beans. Potato salad, made with lots of mayonnaise, slid smoothly down my throat. Dessert was a soft chewy cookie with a large chunk of chocolate in the middle. After I finished eating, I found my jump-rope. As I turned it quickly over my head, I smiled as I skipped along. It had been a glorious day!!

Connie Westreich
Southbury, CT ©2012

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More story chips from Connie Westreich

On Dating

When I was growing up I did not go out on “one on one” individual date until I was 16 years old. Before that I went to group parties and trips – with boys and firls. They were lots of fun – laughing, dancing and talking to lots of people. There was a community center in the neighborhood and they...

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The Personal Touch

Where has it gone? I miss it terribly! When I was growing up, there were no department stores. There were small stores along the nearby shopping avenue mixed in with various food stores. Jean’s Dress Store sold fancy dresses for all ages and all occasions. Next to it was another store that sold...

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Big Band Music

The rhythm and the style of the big band music always fascinated me. I used to like to dance to it – it always sounded so smooth and danceable! The dance music today is much different. The couples seem to be jumping all over the dance floor and they don’t seem connected. It almost seems like they’re...

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Israel - On A Tour

The land of milk and honey opens up its heart, To view its many wonders is only the start; As we go from Jerusalem to Masada, we begin to feel the fight and spirit of this great strip of land – We worship at the Western Wall and view the Chagall windows, so grand; Yad Vashem brings a few tears –...

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Does Your Gender Matter?

Does Your Gender Matter? When I was growing up women and girls appeared to take a back seat in the political and work world. Women’s place was in the home! My mother was a highly talented dress designer, but my father did not let her join the work force. The man was supposed to be the bread-winner...

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Medical Memories

Times certainly have changed! I remember when I was growing up, one doctor took care of most of the family’s medical needs. Our doctor was considered to be a family friend. He knew almost everything about everybody. When you went to the office of Dr. Spitz, you didn’t have to fill out a lot of...

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JFK Assassination

The announcement of the death of our 35th president came loud and clear over the loud speaker n my second-grade classroom where I was teaching. The date was Nov. 22, 1963. The sad news came as a great shock! The seven and eight year olds sitting in front of me couldn’t really comprehend what they...

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My First Car

When I was growing up, “Driver’s Education” was not included in the high-school curriculum. My father taught me to drive a car when I was 20½ years old. I had a driver’s license when I was 21, and was able to drive the family car when I really needed it. I looked forward to the day, when I would...

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Photography

“A picture is worth a thousand words” is a well-known saying. What does it really mean? A picture is a vivid image of something that you want to remember. It might be of a person, a place or a special object of interest. In the time of a blink of an eye, a camera can capture so much in...

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Times Have Changed!

When I was a little girl growing up in a suburb of Queens, New York, dressing for school was very important. My mother who made a lot of my clothes, trained me to pick out matching outfits. My socks, blouses and skirts had to match or blend in color. I clearly remember that when I was in...

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Street Sounds

It was a dark damp morning in the middle of January. I was about 10 years old, huddled under the blankets of my bed trying to keep warm. Suddenly I heard the familiar sound of coal being delivered to the basement floor of my house. There was a coal furnace in the large basement of the house that I...

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My Parents' Generation, by Connie Westreich

My father was born in 1897 and my mother was born in 1900. They were both born in a small town in Russia and migrated to the United States when they were quite young. They met in this country and married when they were in their early twenties. They lived through hard times! My father started out as...

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A Family Tradition

The importance of bringing the family together is something that we all believe in. However in today’s world, it is hard to achieve. Most families are scattered all over the United States and some even overseas. My family always celebrated birthdays and anniversaries as I was growing up. My brother...

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