Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Childhood memories

Sometimes a random childhood memory will float into my mind, and I'll wonder, "Just how old was I when that happened?"

Like one time we went to Des Moines with my sister and her husband to visit my brother and his family.  Their house was small, so we spent the night at a relative's house (my brother's in-laws).  The only bed they had for me was a baby crib, which bothered me because I wasn't a baby.  Mother bid me good night and raised the rail (why?), which meant I couldn't easily get out of the bed.  Even as she stood there, I realized there was some pressure in my bladder, but for some reason I said not a word.  I awoke later really needing to go to the bathroom, but went back to sleep.  Why didn't I just go?  First of all, it was a strange house to me, and I had no idea where the bathroom was (or outhouse?  My brother had an outhouse at that time, so maybe his in-laws did too.)  Also, I didn't know where my parents were in this unfamiliar house.  Third, that tall thing I'd have to climb over seemed like the great wall of China.  When I awoke, I had wet the bed and my mother was apologizing profusely to my brother's mother-in-law.  I was so very ashamed.  Considering all the circumstances, I surely was no older than three.  I remember all the feelings I had, though:  embarrassment to sleep in a baby bed, lying awake in the night needing the bathroom and having no idea what I should do about it, then embarrassment at having wet the bed.  

Happier memories are the holiday ones:  Christmas get-togethers, Fourth of July celebrations... they all run together in my mind, but those are some of my fondest memories.  

I recall sitting on Daddy's lap at the switchboard in Guss, Iowa on a Sunday morning, dressed for church, and looking at the comics from the Des Moines Register as he read the words to me. 

I think I remember Hank William's death:  It was a cloudy, cold day in Iowa, and I was lounging on the couch, listening to my mom's radio playing (she didn't ordinarily keep the radio on constantly because, after all, we lived in the telephone office and she spent a lot of time at the switchboard.)  Anyhow, I recall one man's voice singing song after song.  I know the lines were simple, because as I lay there I started guessing what the next rhyming word would be before the guy got to it.  I'm fairly certain now that it was Hank Williams, and the radio was likely doing a tribute to him.  He died January 1, 1953, so I was eight-and-a-half years old.  Not surprising I'd remember that, I suppose.  

We went to the rodeo at Hawleyville, Iowa, one time and saw a man get thrown from a horse and badly injured during the bareback bronc-riding.  I recall my parents talking about it in hushed voices on our way driving home, and I heard them the next day saying he died, which really bothered me.  Google tells me Billy Wakefield died in June of 1948.  I wasn't quite four years old, and yet this has stayed with me, something I think of often.  Perhaps this was when I first learned that people die:  After all, I watched this vital cowboy ride out of the chute on a bucking bronc that evening, and next day I heard he was dead.  How could that be possible?

I remember my first day of school.  My mom took me to the little country school where we were the first ones to arrive except for the teacher, Mrs. Eighmy.  Then another mom drove up with her little boy (I still remember his name, Carrol Stamps, because I thought "Carol" was a strange name for a boy.  The teacher pointed the two of us toward the teeter-totter and suggested we play there.  I don't think either of us enjoyed it, but we did it.  I was five years old.


Carrol is the little boy on the left, in front.  I'm in the row on the right, next to the back.  This was taken in 1951, so we were a little older.  This brings back memories of playing "Upset the Fruit Basket" at recess on rainy days.
I'm pretty sure it was in my first year at Skinner, during a noon recess, I decided to slide down the teeter-totter as though it were a slide and got my bottom full of splinters.  I was too embarrassed to tell the teacher, so I sat on my splinter-loaded butt the rest of the day, with the pain getting steadily worse.  I was SO glad to get home, lie face-down on the couch, and let my mom remove the offending splinters one by one.

I have lots of church memories, since we were usually in church at least three times a week, plus all the Gospel Meetings within fifty miles of us.  One time at Hepburn Church of Christ I kept kicking my hard-soled mary-jane shoes against the leg of the pew in spite of my mom, who kept whispering, "stop".  I didn't think it was that noisy and saw no reason to stop, which resulted in my being dragged up the aisle, through the door, and soundly spanked outside.  All the way to the back door I shouted, "I'll be good, I'll be good!".  Looking back, I'll bet that brought the house down.  And now you know what kind of kid I was.  Not much has changed, by the way.

That does it for this morning's memories.  It's kind of fun, putting them into words.  

Peace.








Friday, August 26, 2016

Deep-fried

On the way to a tractor show at Hamilton last Saturday, we stopped by a Mennonite store north of Richmond to buy a pint of sorghum.  Now, sorghum is one of those things we probably shouldn't have in the house, but we only use it when we have home-made biscuits, which is about once a week these days.  Too often, I know.

When we walked in the door at Der Brot Pann Bakery, right ahead of us not five feet from the door was a table loaded with warm, freshly-made donuts.  

I hadn't wanted a donut for a long time.  I used to crave them.  It's the same with candy bars:  Almost every time I went through the checkout at Walmart, I'd casually grab two candy bars... one for me, one for Cliff.  But that was twenty-five years ago, and even when I backslide on my eating habits, donuts and candy bars don't faze me.  Or at least, they didn't.

Until we entered the Mennonite store, that is.  Those donuts spoke to me in a quite obscene way.  However, we didn't succumb, but got in the car and went on to our tractor show, confessing to one another that those donuts really tested our will power.  

Tuesday I made Cajun-fried okra.  I fry okra in a cast iron skillet and turn each little slice of okra with a fork so both sides get brown and crispy.  Cliff looked over my shoulder and said, "Is that how you fry those?  Looks like a lot of work."  

"Well, ideally you'd fry them in a deep-fryer," I said.  "But I got rid of mine years ago because I never used it, and it was taking up space."

We ate our dinner, but the die was cast, the seed was been planted.  Amazon was in the computer room calling my name, so as soon as the dishes were washed, I looked up a Fry-Daddy.  Wow, they're not much higher-priced than they were thirty years ago!

The Fry-Daddy came today.  Of course I had to try it out.  We'd already had dinner, so I decided to make dessert:  Donuts!

One of the few foods over which I had gained control now owns me, all due to a stop at a Mennonite store.

Evil folks, those Mennonites.