Baby You’re a Firework

Mom told me she loved the fireworks when she was a little girl: she and her brothers and Grandma and Grandpa, of course they weren’t grandparents then, sat on a blanket and watched with ooo’s and aaahh’s for each new explosion. Fireworks were low on my list of priorities when I was a little girl. One year I found out why, and I longed to repeat that experience.

My great-aunt Anna was somehow related to Dad. She was nothing like anyone else in Dad’s family; Aunt Anna was tallish, and skinny, and she had dark hair. Those were all things that were different from the soft shapes and colors of Grandma and Dad’s brothers and his one sister, but that wasn’t the main difference. Aunt Anna was pinched looking, like my mouth felt after sucking lemons. I loved that feel, first all sour, then like my whole mouth felt cleaned out and waiting for something new. Aunt Anna had that look, like she got all puckered up with something sour, and she would do anything to keep something new from getting in. Her lips were all puckered in like Mom’s got when she was holding in a mad feeling. Aunt Anna’s clothes were always dark and straight and she wore those kinda shoes that I only saw on teachers. Come to think of it, she kinda looked like a teacher.

When I was a little girl, I loved grown-ups, ’cause I could almost always make them laugh or at least smile. I liked to climb right up on a grown-up’s lap and sing this one special song that ended with ‘pull down your pants and slide down the ice.’ I forget the rest, but that last part always made grown-ups’ face look a tinsy bit like a balloon blowing up, with their necks getting taller, their eyes getting big with eyebrows shooting straight up, and their mouths going in a big ‘O’ until a big giant laugh came out like a happy shout. For sure, I would get a big hug and some nice comment like “You’re such a firecracker.” I was the most wonderful kid in Continue reading

Lost and Found (re-post)

When I was a little girl, I got lost a lot.  I remember getting lost at the beach and lost in the museum.  I was never afraid when I was lost, because I never knew I was lost.

I got lost at the beach when I was really little.  I just kept walking along the beach, playing with different kids.  Once my foot got stuck down in the sand and a wave came along and pushed me under.  I blew the water out in big bubbles and looked around at the seaweed.  I guess I can swim now, I thought.  Nobody I played with could swim yet; I was first to learn.  A lady picked me up and asked me if I was lost.

“No.” I said.  She smelled just like shredded coconut and baby oil.

“Where’s your Mommy and Daddy?”  said the lady who picked me up.  She had on a black bathing suit with lots of skin up front on view and her bowls were great-big, giant bowls,  just coming right out of the front of her bathing suit.  I never saw anything like that on any of the ladies I knew, not my friends’ mothers, nobody at church, not Mom, for sure, not Mom.  This was before I went to school, otherwise, maybe Mrs. Brown, my kindergarten teacher had bowls that big, but hers were hanging way down, not like this lady, who’s bowls were pushed together and just bursting out like a big, pink, bare butt sitting up there in front. Continue reading

Sucker Fishing

I told you before about my mean Uncle Gene.  He wasn’t always mean.  Sometimes he could almost be my favorite; especially when he goofed around with Uncle Kenny.  If I could only figure out how to read him, and know when he was serious and when he was joking around.  He always played it straight, all serious, never cracking a grin; and his eyes stayed steel cold, so there was no way for sure to tell.  Still, one of my favorite memories is when he took me and my sister Deanna sucker fishing.  I think Bonita was just learning to walk.  We were all out on Grandpa Z’s boat.

Grandpa made his own boat out of wood and paint and lots and lots of resin and beeswax to keep the water out.  Mom said Grandpa built boats even back in the olden days when she was a little girl.  He was really a fireman, but he had lots of extra time on his hands for building and inventing stuff.  That’s ’cause fireman worked and lived at the fire station about half of their time and the other half, firemen stayed home looking for keen stuff to do, ’cause back then men and boys weren’t allowed to do certain things, like clean house, do laundry, cook, or wear shorts or sleeveless shirts in the summertime.  Grandpa did all his making and inventing on days he stayed home from the fire station.

Grandpa built a safety plug in the bottom of the boat that let the water out if any leaked in. Just in case.   All he had to do was Continue reading

There Was a Farmer, Had a Dog…

I remember winter as a never-ending cold and snowy season.  Not like it is now, with snow falling beautiful and pristine, only to be dirtied by plows and traffic, then melting to a dismal gray.  When I was a little girl, winter came and stayed.  Snow covered everything, and stayed that way until I was begging to see grass again.  But then again, I loved snow days; a day free of school and chores.

Mom or Dad, but mostly Mom plowed the driveway.  I never remember shoveling any snow.  Dad got a plow that fit on the front of the Ford tractor, and Mom just pushed all the snow out of the driveway leading to the garage, and the driveway to the barn and to Little House, and around the circle drive.  That’s how our tinsy dog Bingo ended up dead.  Bingo was one of the few dogs that Mom allowed to stay in the house.  He was an itty-bitty rat terrier.  Bingo followed Mom everywhere; Continue reading

Keepsakes and Privacy

At my house, even though I was rarely alone, privacy was respected.  I had my own private wooden box, with a lock, where I kept my precious things.  Nobody went into that box, even if I forgot to lock it.  Deanna had a box, too, and she had a diary with a lock and key to put her private thoughts inside.  I didn’t have a diary, I kept my private thoughts inside my head; but most of my private thoughts sorta spilled out my mouth anyway.

Dad said a man’s wallet and a woman’s purse was off-limits.  Never, ever open those up, even with permission.  I could understand that with a man’s wallet, ’cause the only thing in there was money, and if I was going in there without permission, I was either planning to steal something, which was a sin, or I was down right nosy, which was just as bad, maybe worse, it was way easier to get God’s forgiveness than people’s.  Besides curiosity killed the cat, and that’s pretty tough, since cats have nine lives and always land on their feet.  I saw lots of dead cats so maybe somebody made up the part about nine lives, but the landing part, I proved out with some real live barn cats, so I knew that part’s true.  I even held a cat up by its feet just 6 inches from the ground, and she still landed on her feet.  Nosy people get talked about people a lot and in a bad way, sometimes to their face and sometimes in round about ways.  That’s way worse than stealing in my mind.

Purses seemed different than wallets, ’cause Mom had lots of stuff in her purse that was somewhere else too, and not private at all; like Kleenex and toothpicks, and band-aids, scissors, and a rosary for church, and sometimes even a little chapel hat just in case someone forgot to put their hat on or just decided out of the blue to go to church.

Never go into lady’s purse,” Dad said, “That’s her own private area.  You wouldn’t look under a lady’s skirt, would you?” Continue reading