First Day Of School

County schools opened today.  Kids lined up for yellow buses everywhere.  It seemed too early–weather was still too hot for school.

Did teachers ask students to write compositions about what they did on summer vacation, to then be read aloud in front of the class?  I dreaded every new school year because of this.

Of course, the other elephant in the room, was the eclipse.  Compared to drama in other parts of the country, it was a non-event here.  The sun went in-and-out of clouds so much, it was hard to tell what was eclipse, and what wasn’t.

What had I done on summer vacation?  The question answered with shoulder shrugs and general indifference.  There were some things one didn’t ‘fess up to.

The truth was–I went to the creek with my brother.  Skipped rocks and committed numerous infractions.  Going to the creek was forbidden.  Skipped vespers at church camp with a partner-in-crime.  Sworn to secrecy.  I could have been excommunicated; or something worse if my parents found out.

 

 

The Good Old Days (A Clear Path to the Outhouse)

A post, based on one from five years ago, to mark the beginning of this blog’s sixth year. Most early posts, in my opinion, were quite dreadful.

Were the “good old days” really that good? There were fewer creature comforts. No one had air-conditioning. Half the town had outdoor plumbing.

Imagine the joys of trotting to the outhouse on cold, snowy, winter nights.  Summers were worse, with flies, stinging insects, and the horrible stench.  You became accustomed to the sounds of mud daubers building their nests; knew not to disturb them.

Nobody knew any different. Somehow we survived. Keeping perspective–gasoline was 20 cents per gallon, unless there were gas wars. A sack of candy could be had for a quarter. Consumer goods were cheaper.  Wages were considerably less than today.

Would I want to go back? The answer would be a resounding, NO! I like my creature comforts too much. There is no way I’d want to revisit years of teenage angst.  I wouldn’t want to restart this blog–either.

I would like, however, to recover time wasted worrying over things, I now know weren’t important. That, and a renewed appreciation for the things I have–that could be taken away should times take a bad turn.

2017 Father’s Day Thoughts

What did I remember most about my father, twenty-two years after his passing?

Like other men of his generation, he wore hats. His favorite was a gray fedora. Fathers, back then dressed up more, than fathers do today.

Most in the community thought him to be extremely patient and even-tempered. They never got on his bad side–like I did, on occasion.

He was a man of faith. His relationship to his maker was most important. We read the Bible aloud, from cover-to-cover, in family devotionals–down to every begat, whereas, and wherefore.

His lame jokes, that made everyone cringe, notwithstanding; if it were possible, on this Father’s Day, I would tell him that his example made a difference.

Moms and Mom Stand-Ins

Miss Oneia Gahr, was as close to being my substitute mom as anyone.  My great-grandmother was her father’s sister.  She was mother’s best friend, attended the same college–earned a teaching degree.

Their personalities were exact opposites.  My mother was quiet and reserved, Oneia was outgoing and plain-spoken.  Mom taught fourth-grade elementary, Oneia, high school mathematics.  Miss Gahr was a strict disciplinarian at home, and no doubt, the same at school.

Several summers were spent working on Miss Gahr’s dairy farm.  As an adolescent, it seemed like pure drudgery.  Who knew dairy cows didn’t like their mornings interrupted?  “Talk to them gently, in a low voice, or they might kick you.”

That didn’t mean to act goofy and crazy, “Hey girls what’s happening this morning?” But, rather to be gentle, not boisterous.  It worked, and I never got kicked.  It did nothing, however, to stop swats from muddy cow’s tails.  To them, I was just another fly that needed swatting.

Whatever needed to be done–she worked as hard as any man around the farm.  She cut me no slack when it came to cleaning the dairy barn.  And, oh that cattle waste–tons of it, had to be hosed away.

Miss Oneia went at life full tilt.  Driving was no exception.  She liked flashy land yachts.  Had a slew of Pontiac Bonneville convertibles in the sixties.  Before that, she had a fifties-era, Ford hardtop convertible.

Riding with her in the old rattletrap Chevy pickup over farm roads was a neck-snapping thrill ride.  Nothing topped the day the wiring in the Ford two-ton grain truck  caught fire under the dashboard.  Acrid smoke filled the cab as the insulation burned.  Miss Oneia grabbed a hay bale hook, yanked out wires till the smoke subsided.

We always considered her part of the family, not just a distant relative.  All three of us boys raised bottle calves that she donated.  My sister raised a white pig.  She tutored me in Math and Geometry.  Happy Mom’s Day to both my mom, and my substitute mom!

 

 

 

The Past Week Summarized

Their visit started with a harrowing drive through unfamiliar territory in driving rainstorms.  Most of the week–with the exception of Thursday morning–weather was perfect.  Discussion topics were myriad and any mean-spirited implications were in jest.

  • The $5000 mutt, changes to last will and testament being considered.
  • Trip to veterinarian by the 18th, before warranty ran out.  Since when did pets come with warranties?
  • New dog couldn’t be left alone–even on bathroom trips.
  • Kennel cough contagious to other dog.  Trip to vet–another $75.00.
  • Sibling rivalries–new dog problems were, alleged to be, all my fault.  Who was most popular in high school?
  • Childhood recollections: Playing in pig slop.  Mother’s cooking.  Favorite teachers? Who was most mischievous?
  • Discussed children, grandchildren–no great-grandchildren at this point.
  • Activities: Walked the new pier.  Visited Ft. Morgan historic site.  Toured scenic Bon Secour, Magnolia Springs.  Spent time at Dauphin Island beach and Sea Lab.  Visited National Naval Aviation Museum and Pensacola’s old town.  Stopped for ice cream–rainstorm struck while waiting under canopy.  Dined at favorite local restaurants. Bought pecans at a pecan farm.  Shopped for antiques and souvenirs.  Exchanged pleasantries and promises to visit each other in near future.

 

 

Silence!

There’s not much noisier in the natural world than Great Blue Heron rookeries during mating season.  Cars being crushed would compare nicely.

Kids, in their unbridled enthusiasm, were naturally noisy.  Parents generally tolerated outside noises, unless someone started crying.

At bedtime, it was a different story.  “Knock off that racket and go to bed.”  It was best not to press the issue with dad–because soon came the dreaded, “Don’t make me tell you again.”

And if kid noises weren’t enough, there were other ways to make noise.  Two blades of grass moistened with just enough spittle, would shriek when blown through.  Balloons, playing cards in bicycle spokes, weren’t loud enough.  Pieces of wire, metal against metal, made a terrific motorcycle-like cacophony.  Which resulted in loose spokes and wobbly wheels.

The cloud of doom hung over my head when my younger brother or sister ran into the house yowling about something I’d done.  Nothing else to do, but wait for punishment that always followed.

Pity gift givers that gave us drum sets, clickers, whistles, or noisemakers of any kind.  They were likely to be confiscated.  Parents just wanted some peace and quiet.  Was that too much to ask?