For Siblings Day and my mom’s 100th birthday

I’m back from the dentist, and you’ll all be pleased to know that I’m in perfect dental health (the mental health, however, is more dubious). When I returned, I found an email that my sister Susan sent me on National Siblings Day. It’s the two of us as kids, and I suspect it was taken in our garden in Kiffisia, Greece, a ritzy suburb of Athens, where we had a big house and a big garden (two gardeners!). In those lean postwar years in Greece, an Army captain could afford such digs (my dad was stationed in Athens for 2½ years).

I’d guess this would have been about 1956, when I was around six and my sister about four. And we’re wearing matching Davy Crockett tee shirts. Those were the days!

Happy Siblings Day, sis!!!

And Susan also reminded me that today would have been my mother’s 100th birthday. She sent this picture of my mom holding one of her cherry breads: our equivalent to the despiséd fruitcake. My sister’s comment:

Today would’ve been Mom’s 100th birthday!!  What does that make us??!!  Remember the big hair and the damn cherry breads?!

It makes us OLD, of course, but although I miss my mom, I don’t miss big hair and I especially don’t miss the cherry breads!


  1. Posted April 10, 2019 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Happy Siblings Day Jerry. And thanks for sharing the lovely shot of your mom.

  2. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted April 10, 2019 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    Awwwww, cute!

  3. Posted April 10, 2019 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    A lovely picture of your mom. Thanks for sharing. Actually, that cherry bread looks pretty darn good.

    • Peter N
      Posted April 10, 2019 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      Yes, sign me up for a cherry bread also! Fresh from the oven, with butter or maybe some cream cheese, and a cup of Darjeeling…

      • Jenny Haniver
        Posted April 10, 2019 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

        If you’re interested in a sour cherry coffee cake, see the link to German sour cherry cake below Mark R’s comment #5.

  4. Ken Kukec
    Posted April 10, 2019 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    … today would have been my mother’s 100th birthday.

    Big Mazel, mother Coyne.

  5. Mark R.
    Posted April 10, 2019 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    I’ve never had cherry bread, but if it’s made with sour cherries, I can’t imagine it tastes bad- maybe like cranberry bread.

    Happy hundredth Mrs. Coyne! I turned 50 last week (April 2nd), so I’m almost exactly 50 years younger than your mom.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted April 10, 2019 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      I thought of sour cherries too, so Googled and didn’t find sour cherry bread, I found this recipe for German Sour Cherry (tea or coffee)cake. It’s not at all like regular coffee cake, this one is thin, the cherries go on top and sink down into the mix while baking: It looks delicious!

      • Mark R.
        Posted April 10, 2019 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

        That does look delicious. Thanks for the link Jenny.

  6. Ken Kukec
    Posted April 10, 2019 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    … you’ll all be pleased to know that I’m in perfect dental health …

    Pics of charts and x-rays, or it didn’t happen. 🙂

  7. Posted April 10, 2019 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    I had one of those teeshirts, too! And I loved to sing the song: “Born on a mountaintop in Tennessee . . . ” My own mother’s 100th will be on Sunday, April 14. She died at 96.

    Happy Siblings Day, too. Alas, of my three siblings, all younger than I and all girls, just one is still living (cancer took the other two), and she is a rabid born-again nut job. Sigh.

    • rickflick
      Posted April 10, 2019 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

      Please accept my sympathies.

  8. Dan Morrison
    Posted April 10, 2019 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Although you are a few years younger than me your mom would be slightly older than mine. My ma born Xmas 1921 would reach 98 this year. Now as to the cherry bread–LOVE it! Send me some.

  9. Randall Schenck
    Posted April 10, 2019 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    Although we are the same age my mother would be about 11 years younger than yours but she died a few years ago. My wife’s mother is still with us and she turns 100 in a couple more months, July I think. What do you do on your 100th birthday?

    • rickflick
      Posted April 10, 2019 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

      Mark Twain said, at my age I get my daily paper, look at the obituaries page and if I’m not there I carry on as usual.

  10. Claudia Baker
    Posted April 10, 2019 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    Adorable picture of you and your sister. Those were the days indeed!

  11. Jenny Haniver
    Posted April 10, 2019 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    When I was 11, I invited a friend to go hiking and we got lost (because I stupidly thought I was like a mountain goat and could go right up the mountain, to hell with trails. We got stuck in a place where we couldn’t go up or down, only sideways one way. I stayed there, my friend panicked and wandered went sideways. Some time later, I heard her calling. She’d fallen over a waterfall. Fortunately a nearby fisherman heard her, too, and was able to summon rescuers (this in the days before cell phones, so he had to get to the base of the canyon to call for help). We were rescued, I was unhurt, but my friend had to be lowered down over the waterfall from the ledge she’d landed on by a “Tyrolean traverse.”

    Thank goodness my friend wasn’t hurt very seriously though she broke her arm and had a few scrapes and a sprained ankle. She could have died because of my stupid bravado.

    Reporters heard the distress call and were drawn to the scene. Because her rescue was so dramatic, and we were two 11-year old girls, it made the front page of LA Papers and was picked up by a wire service.

    One of the reporters heard my father talking to me and reproduced the exchange in the article: “‘Were you scared when you got lost?’ he asked [me]. ‘Nope,’ she answered proudly. ‘I spent the time singing the song about Davy Crockett'[from the TV show]” Back then, kids liked Davy Crockett.

    But I lied, I was scared shitless (figuratively speaking).

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted April 10, 2019 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      Too bad I wasn’t wearing a Davy Crockett tee.

    • Posted April 10, 2019 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

      My brothers and I were fans of the Davy Crockett show and sang along at the top of our lungs.

  12. Posted April 10, 2019 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing some of your family history with us, dear Professor.

    Kind and considerate siblings are a treasure, especially in bleak times.

    Here’s a cure-all for any ghastly fruit-cakey recipe: douse the dried fruits and rinds in Amaretto or similar liquor, bake the thing and douse again! (Try it before you’re tempted to set it ablaze.)

  13. Rita Prangle
    Posted April 10, 2019 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    I was going to send an email to my brother, but when I clicked on your link, I saw that National Siblings Day isn’t an official national holiday. So that got me to thinking about how all these “national _____ days” come to be. And I hereby declare that tomorrow, April 11 is National Rita Prangle Day. Send money.

  14. Teresa Carson
    Posted April 10, 2019 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Lovely pictures! You and your sister are soooo cute! I never had the t-shirt, but I remember being thrilled with the coloring book. I also sang the song a lot. I was about same age you were in that photo, but my dad was at the Yuma Test Station in Arizona. Your dad definitely had a better gig.

  15. Posted April 10, 2019 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Such lovely memories!
    I am not ashamed to say that I like fruitcake. There, I said it. And I don’t care what y’all think.

    • Posted April 10, 2019 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

      There is fruitcake and there is fruitcake. My wife’s home made Christmas fruitcake is to die for. The ones you buy at the store, not so much.

  16. Posted April 10, 2019 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    I wonder, why wasn’t the cherry bread tasty like Malgorzhata’s cherry pie? Maybe some key ingredient was omitted.

  17. Posted April 10, 2019 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    How lucky you are to have lived in Athens in your childhood!

    Next month will be my mother’s 106th birthday, and this past December it was my father’s 127th birthday.


  18. Posted April 10, 2019 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    What happened to my post?

  19. Posted April 10, 2019 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    Back in the fifties my parents would buy fruitcake every Christmas. They would serve it with coffee and people thought it was good. Choices were limited back then. I wondered what those green and red things cooked into the cake were.
    They still make and sell them. Bought one a few years ago. Took one bite and threw it out. Don’t tell me the fifties were the good old days. Don’t miss them st all.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted April 10, 2019 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

      The green chewy bits & the red chewy bits in fruitcake are made from the same fresh cherries which are soaked in sugar syrup & dyed a ridiculous bright red or bright green – then they are dried. There is also a cheap alternative that looks similar imported from India & made of an Indian fruit.

      A decent modern fruitcake [as you say] is far, far better, doesn’t use dyed fruit & often includes a decent dose of booze. A much better deal than the 50s product.

  20. Posted April 10, 2019 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    I’m surprised you would trust your dentist to assess your mental health. 😁

  21. Posted April 10, 2019 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    Haven’t thought of Kiffisia in a long time. I lived there for 3 years when I taught at the University of Athens. Even on a Fulbrighter’s salary I could afford a pretty nice house. Thing I remember the most was the amount of marble in the place, which my housekeeper told me was cheaper than wood in Greece.

  22. Heather Hastie
    Posted April 10, 2019 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

    What a gorgeous photo of you and Susan! Very cute indeed.

    Happy birthday to your mom. She was born the same month and year as my grandmother, but I’m not sure of the day off the top of my head.

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