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My Turn: Keeping track of life can be easy

JoAnn Radesca of West Babylon started writing events,

JoAnn Radesca of West Babylon started writing events, appointments, etc., on calendars in the early 1970s. She's kept all her calendars, which she says "have become more cherished diaries than calendars, reminding me of memories that make me smile." Credit: iStock

I often think about how past seniors survived without sticky notes.

I, for one, have a few other ways to keep track of life events; one of them is using my calendar.

I started writing events, appointments, etc., on my calendars in the early 1970s, when my two sons started school, scouts, etc., and luckily, I saved all my calendars since. They have become more cherished diaries than calendars, reminding me of memories that make me smile.

A few years ago, I started using an 8-by-12-inch booklet-type calendar. It has horizontal lines for each day and a lined side section. I fill in names and either a circled "B" for birthday or "A" for anniversary.

Now, in the side section, I also keep track of phone calls I make or receive, with a short one-liner such as "nice chat," or a circled "M" for left a message.

I also write in dances at the senior centers, bands that play in the summer at Venetian Shores Beach Hut in Lindenhurst, lunch dates, grandchildren's concerts, awards ceremonies, etc. Last year, I also started writing monthly birthdays, anniversaries, and appointments on a 6-by-8-inch whiteboard on my refrigerator that is in my constant view!

Since I've retired as a teacher, I now need to be reminded what day of the week it is! I look to Newsday for that, and also have a seven-day pillbox. And for Christmas, one of my daughters-in-law bought me day-of-the-week socks!

What's next? Day of the week panties -- if they still make them?

JoAnn Radesca,
West Babylon


Idle Hour's Woodlawn Avenue in Oakdale -- a block north of what is now Dowling College -- was paved with cracked clamshells in the 1950s. When we trudged up the road to the summer retreat of Charles Ebbets' widow (he, of Ebbets Field), the shells crunched beneath our feet. Across the street, Mrs. Seal presided over hopscotch games on the porch, rainy day roller skating in the basement and dressing up in a plethora of costumes stored in her attic.

We loved to play in the woods behind the Seal house and sit at the redwood picnic table under scarlet maples and beech trees blowing in the wind.

In the summertime, we went barefoot and played on the Connetquot River banks. We followed closely behind the "mosquito man" on our bikes as he sprayed our woods with a thick fog.

There was no college in the Vanderbilt mansion. Owned by an absentee landlord, the National Dairy Association, it was virtually abandoned, and we overran it like ants on a hill.

We went crabbing on the river and climbed the lion statues that still decorate the entry today. The great weeping beech tree on the property, known as "The Love Tree," will forever bear the entwined initials of many of the local children newly initiated into the rite of kissing.

Back on Woodlawn Avenue, Kevin R. concentrated on collecting and lining up hundreds of tiny toy soldiers and assembling the latest rocket models. I remember him breathlessly awaiting the release of the X-15. This was, of course, before any moon landing.

In the winter, the entire neighborhood would build "brick" snow forts and toss snowballs at one another. My dad attached our sled to the back of his MG and off we went, around the block. Mom was furious.

We didn't have to travel far to ice skate -- most of us had swamps in our backyards, which froze around the trees. There was also the well-hidden Second Pond (ultimately taken over by Islip Town and renamed Byron Lake Park), far off the beaten track. You had to know it was there to find it, and someone had clued in my dad.

Near the entrance to Idle Hour, where the gate house (now, a hair salon) still stands, was the local deli known as the "Food Bar." There were no 7-Elevens yet. Presided over by Sue, a friendly redhead, and her stocky husband, Joe, it had a soda fountain in the early years. My mother used to send me there with a quarter to purchase her a pack of Marlboro cigarettes. Years later, I would spend Nov. 9, 1965, the night of the great blackout there. And again later, have my first Colt 45 in the back parking lot, hanging out with a first boyfriend.

Christmastime, we assembled on the Seal porch, buttoned and mittened, to carol around the neighborhood. One kid's father played the trombone, another the clarinet and these dads had been practicing. This was followed by the annual Christmas party held at a different family's house each year.

In later years, my father, an advertising executive -- as in "Mad Men" -- remembered these years as our "Norman Rockwell childhood."

Jacqueline Kohnken Clark,

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