What kind of Numbskull Puts Carpet in a Car?

This is an example of custom-made floor liners from Huskie

Every year around this time, my local television station advertises custom floor liners for cars and trucks.  Maybe it’s the muddy weather.  Maybe it’s because people begin to think about buying new cars.  Maybe they say, “never again” as they try to clean the salt and residue from car carpets.

I always think of Dad.

When I was a little girl, our car never had carpet.

“Who wants carpet in a car?” Dad said when Continue reading

The Aroma of Hope

Yesterday I  walked to the Village Hall to vote.  I’ve had the blues lately.  The walk filled my heart with joy. No, not because I was exercising my citizenship, although that does make me proud. Because my brain filled with the sights and sounds and especially the aromas of my childhood.

When I was a little girl, fall came with vivid sounds and colors and smells.  And lots of work.  Every season had work and the work always smelled different, but underneath it all, came the smell of the good earth. In fall work was dusty and musty and golden and frosty and filled with wind rustling everything it touched.  Fall filled up my nose with burning leaves and rotting pumpkins and earthy potatoes dug from the ground.  Even dried corn plucked from the stalks had that aroma of tortillas waiting to be fried.

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One year the corn stayed unharvested.  Dad worked too many hours at Ma Bell and he missed the combine trading time, or perhaps some other reason I never knew about prevented him from getting the corn in.  Corn stalks became dry and brittle and the ears hung open like so many rows of loose teeth.

“We can do it,”  Mom said.

“In my day, we didn’t have fancy combines,” Dad said, giving the dining room table a slap.  Every big decision came down with a slap at the dining room table.

I already knew about Dad’s days, ‘cuz he smiled like he just brought home an A+ history paper when he showed us kids the old-timer farm equipment at the county fair.  Of course Mr. and Mrs. T, who had a farm down Terry Lane, still used some of that old stuff. They were like people lost in time, wearing old-time trousers and farm dresses with aprons.  When Dad was a kid farms had machines with long belts attached to generators, and blades so big they had two handles, so a farmer could swing it with both hands. It’s a wonder our nation could get fed at all with a breadbasket harvested with those antiques.

But then again, we didn’t even have those old tools and if we did, Mom would never let us use them.  She was all the time worrying about one of us getting sucked up into the combine and made into pig feed before anyone noticed we went missing.  That kind of stuff happened to some kid she knew, and she never ever forgot about it.  She didn’t any kids with missing fingers or arms, and she sure didn’t want to pick one out of a combine.  Those long belts and huge blades were probably way too dangerous with all kinds of places to snag clothes, or pinch off fingers or even cut off a foot or two.

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We had buckets and mittened hands.  Yup.  We harvested that whole field by hand.

Dad gave the Little Kids flashlights to hold and Big Kids buckets.  He took a row, and I took a row, and everyone else got divided onto our teams.  Of course Bonita was on my team.  She was my best-friend-sister, so she had to be on my team even though sometimes she cried to be on Dad’s team cuz she wanted to be his favorite more than she wanted to be my best friend.

“Bucket Brigade!” Dad shouted, and off we went, picking corn as fast as we could and sending one bucket back to be dumped in the trailer.  As a full bucket went back, an empty came forward.  Sometimes the back kid ran forward with the empty, on account of passing was too slow.  The corn stalks pulled at our feet and rustled like torn apart Christmas wrapping.

“Hi-yup!” Dad said, each time a new bucket got filled.

“Go!” I’d say in the row right beside him. I never got more than a few feet behind.  Victory was close, I tasted it.

A race to the middle of the field and back again.  I started out with frost crunching and nipping and wishing be somewhere warm.  I stopped hot and thirsty and with my nose filled with corn cob dust.  We laughed all the way to the house.

Beyond the field, yellow light smiled out of lace-covered windows.  Home hit me square in the face when I opened the door; warm against cold skin and runny nose.  Just in time for a big bowl of popcorn and “My Three Sons,” or “The Donna Reed Show.”

Everyone knows about leaves turning gold and red and orange in the fall.  Cornstalks turn from green to amber, the gentle rustle turns more insistent.  Snow is coming.  Hurry.  Batten down the hatches, bring in the stores, get ready for the cold. Fields lay barren and brown, except for winter wheats green leaves reaching for the sun, forever hopeful of the spring that promises to come.

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Pearls and Movie Star Kisses

That's me in the back seat of the car.

The summer before I went into seventh grade, I fell in real love.  Of course I was in love before.  I loved Dale, the boy I never did get to kiss in kindergarten.  I loved Warren in first grade; that is, until he got a buzz cut, and that was it for him and me.  I always loved Georgie, he was my best boy-friend ever.  But John.  John was a whole new kind of love.

John lived about a mile away from me, but I never met him because he went to Catholic School.  I don’t even remember how we did meet, but I do remember he was the shining memory of that summer.  That summer when I knew I was going to the high school.  I knew it.  That was the best.  Then I met John, and the best became better.

John had a two brothers; one the same age as Deanna and one the same age as Bonita, and a little sister the same age as Vickie.  That’s the way Catholic families are: bunches of kids.  But for some reason, God stopped there for John’s family, where God just kept on giving my mom and dad kids.  Maybe it was account of John’s Mom, Mrs. G. was busy teaching girls how to be secretaries and have good manners, and never wear slacks to school.  She was super strict and grumpy as all get out.  My mom just stayed home and sewed and canned and handed out chores to all her kids and was mostly in a good mood, unless somebodies shoes got lost or she was late getting somewhere, or the house was a rip-snorting pigpen.  If those things happened, she might have a screaming banshee fit, or she might just bite down hard and swallow a lot.

Anyways, somehow me and John met and fell in love.  I should remember how we met, but I don’t.  Almost everyday, he walked across the field one way, and I walked the other way, and we met somewhere in the middle.  We didn’t have any streets to cross, or sidewalks, or backyards.  Just fields.  We talked a lot.  I think we must have, cuz what else would we do?  We were outside with no TV or radio or board games or even a bike. And no one else was around, so we must’ve talked and walked.

When we walked, we kept bumping into each other, like we never learned how to walk in a straight line.  One minute, my feet were straight, and the next minute my shoulder bumped up against John’s.  Once our hands brushed and it felt like I my heart hit up against the electric fence that kept the cows from running all over tarnation.  I’m pretty sure John felt a jolt, too, cuz he and I jumped away a little.  Still, I sorta liked that shocky feeling, so before long, we brushed together again, and after enough brushing of hands, John grabbed mine and didn’t let go.  Tingles went all over me.  That’s when I knew I was in love for real.  Not the kind of Dale or Warren or Georgie kind of love. The love I had for John was the movie kind of love.  I knew it on account of I had that same mushy feeling like when I saw those movie lovebirds kissing in the shower, or when that couple was smootching under the apple tree. Continue reading

Valentine Memories

My whole class got ready for Valentine’s Day for weeks.  Everyone brought a shoebox to school, and we decorated it with crêpe paper flowers and hearts. I had lots of shoe-boxes to pick from on account of everyone getting new hard sole shoes at Baldy’s shoe store way back in September, special for school starting.

Art stuff was hard for me.  I got paste all stuck in my hair and all over my clothes.  I liked to taste paste, too.  The smell got all up in my nose and begged my fingers to put some in my mouth. Yummy.  Teacher said it was no good and would make me sick, but it never did.  Not even a little bit.

Mom brought home little store-bought cards in big bags from the grocery store, and I printed MY name on the back.  Then I got to choose which card went to each student in my class.  I had two Bettys in my class and two Lindas.  I’ve heard about kids being sore or sad that they didn’t receive a card on Valentine’s Day.   I gave a card to everyone, and I got one from everyone, too. That’s just mean to leave someone out.  Who  got which card was the tricky part.  I wanted to make sure I express my love for that certain someone in just the right way.  Should Frankie’s say “Be Mine” or “Forever Yours”?  And what if Frankie’s to me just said, “Friends”?  What if he gave me the ‘teacher’ card that came in every box?  That would be the worst ’cause that meant he never even thought about which card he gave me.

I almost flunked out of Kindergarten ’cause I went haywire on my writing.  Valentine’s Day saved me.  All year, up until I had to get my cards ready for the party, I wrote my name  wrong.   Mom talked about my printing to everyone who would listen:   all my aunts, Grandma Z, and even Betty’s and Nancy’s moms.

Mom said, “Why do you write your name like you’re looking in a mirror?”IMG_2812

I looked at my name, clear as day, just the way it was supposed to be.  What in the world was she talking about?  I wrote just like everybody else.

Mom said I had to get my name right or I might not go to First Grade.  She never said that to me; I just heard

Continue reading

Saving Mr. Banks Sends Me Down Memory Lane

winterclothesIt’s cold and bleak and I’m on a crash diet of movies.  I always liked the movies.  Of course, when I was a little girl, things were different.  First of all, a movie was a big treat.  I was lucky to go once a year.  There weren’t any movies on TV, no OnDemand, no multi-theatre cineplexes.  For another thing, each movie theatre only played one movie.  I always got to see a cartoon and I always got to see what was coming next:  a preview.

Sometimes Dad took us kids to the movie.  Especially if Mom was in the hospital having a baby.  If Dad took us, he picked out the movie.  He like westerns.  I hardly remember those movies at all, except for the horses and the guns and the big hats.  One time he made us all leave the theatre early, for no reason at all.  I heard Mom tell Mrs. R, from across the street, that the movie Dad took us to was inappropriate for kids, and Dad was super embarrassed, especially since Vickie put up a fuss when he said we had to leave.

Mom took us to Disney movies, like Bambi.  Bonita cried when Bambi’s mother got killed.  I cried during Snow White, when the seven dwarves chased the old woman off the cliff.  Plus, I hated that mirror the wicked queen looked in and said,

Mirror, mirror on the wall!  Who’s the fairest of them all?

That scared the begeezers our of me.  I ran and hid every time I saw that thing on “Wonderful World of Disney.” It was way worse in the movie theatre, where it was darker than night and everything in the movie was 100 times bigger than on TV.

Deanna loved musicals.  We got the soundtrack record album for Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music way, way before the movie came to a  theatre near us.  Bonita and Deanna and me and maybe even Vickie had all the songs memorized before we even thought about seeing the movie.  Bonnie and I made up our own dances to “Chim-Chiminee,” and “Feed the Birds,” way before we even knew there was a movie about Mary Poppins.  Then we put on plays.  Our plays weren’t half as good as the movie, but Mom clapped and laughed more for us than she ever did at the movies.  Same thing with The Singing Nun, except they never made a movie out of the album.  Too bad.  Her story would be a super movie.  She might have been why I took French when I got to high school.

The “Coming Attractions” were one of the best parts of going to a movie.  Lots of times we got to the movie late, so we stayed and watched the previews and then the cartoon and sometimes the first part of the movie.  I loved “Coming Attractions.”  I hardly ever got to see the real Attraction, but it was fun imagining what the rest of the story was about.  I liked to make up stories anyways, and “Coming Attractions” were like a puzzle stories.

Anyways, I got to thinking about all this when I went to see Saving Mr. Banks.  No cartoons, but lots of funny ads for cellphones and television shows.  Geiko Insurance sponsored the “silence your cell phone” bit, along with advice to locate the nearest exit in case of a need to evacuate.  Someone with a finger on demographics tailored all of Trailers (aka “Coming Attractions”) to  what the audience surely wanted to see next.  (In my case one movie about Noah, another about Jesus, and one about a baseball scout recruiting  Indian cricket players.)  None of these movies are “coming soon,” nor are they in a theatre near me.

Ahh… I miss the old days.  But I did love Saving Mr. Banks and I already had all the songs memorized.