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.

 

 

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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?

Sitting Still In Church

The pictured church from Cades Cove, without the cemetery and deer, closely resembled the church in my story from two years ago.   

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I was a fidgety, skinny kid–couldn’t sit still.  When I tried, my legs would swing.  Since they didn’t yet reach the floor.  I may have had ADD–who knows?  When the good reverend’s Sunday sermons ran long, there were always kid games; done discreetly of course.

Even with the windows opened, it was miserable in summer.  That’s when the paper fans came out–compliments of local funeral homes.  It seemed to me–the efforts taken to waggle fans back-and-forth, cancelled out the benefits.  The two front doors were left open.  Bugs and birds often joined the proceedings.

Father was a strict disciplinarian; his firm fingers turned my buzz-cut head around in an instant, with firm warnings.  “Turn around.  Sit still and pay attention.”  Fear of the coal shed hung over my head like the sword of Damocles.  I was convinced it was used as a whipping shed for unruly children.

Our little, white clapboard country church, was heated by two pot–bellied “Round Oak” stoves–manufactured in Dowegiac, Michigan.  There were oak leaf embossed silver-trimmed rails below the stove doors.  Were these foot rests?  I didn’t really know.

Brother Harold kept the stoves stoked for Sunday services.  Church faithful were addressed as brothers or sisters in Christ.  Brother Harold also worked as custodian at a local high school.

An oak “regulator” schoolhouse clock tick-tocked on one wall; a table up front, near the piano, had an antique Tammany Hall bank.  When coins for missions were deposited, the cast iron, brightly painted man in a suit, bowed his head in thanks.

My parents seemed old.  The rest of the church members were older still.  We four children were the youngest in attendance–unless there were visitors.

Sister Eunice was a sweet old soul, and mentally challenged.  She had episodes of jealousy and suspicion–which made others avoid her.  Her ill-fitting dentures, clicked like castanets, added to communication difficulties.

Once, when mother was to be away for teacher’s institute, Sister Eunice offered to babysit the four of us.  Mom had misgivings, but Sister Eunice insisted.  Mom relented and hoped for the best.

I hope when I reach the Pearly Gates of Heaven, the mayhem of that day has been long forgotten.  Things got completely out of hand.  Away from church, we weren’t the little darlings she expected us to be.  I deserved to be sent to the coal shed.

Sister Eunice was upset the entire day, until mom arrived.  We apologized, but the damage had been done.  Sister Eunice never volunteered for babysitting duty ever again.

Old People’s Houses

Remember going to old people’s houses when you were a kid?  They were dark and dreary, smelled musty.  There was no reading material for kids.  Worst of all, there were no toys to play with.

Lace curtains covered the windows–which were never opened.  Something to do with bad air.  Hand crocheted lace doilies covered stuffed chair arms and headrests.  They always fell down when kids got restless.  What good were doilies–anyway?  Playing with them always got you in trouble.

Old people liked to sit around and talk.  Talked about boring stuff and the good old days.  When a dollar bought something, and people knew the value of hard work.

Fidgeting didn’t work.  Neither did the sad-eyed, “can we go now, mom?”  Too much fidgeting brought the rapier-sharp “death stare” and the excuse, “you didn’t get enough sleep last night.”

Their pets were old–too.  Old dogs or cats, half-blind or deaf.  They sat on their owner’s laps and didn’t do much.  Old people seemed to know if they needed something.

The truth–old people were tired.  Tired of being sick.  Tired of being taken for granted.  Tired of disrespect.  Tired of being thought of as just being old.

 

Late Bloomed

Cockeyed optimists

Little Miss Sunshines

Played in yards–with

White picket fences

Puberty knocked

Nobody answered

Social awkwardness

Became closest friend

Bony ankles popped

With every step

Mom was usually right

Which meant someone

Else was usually wrong

Southern fried pies

Blue skies forever

Revivalists, cynics

What else was new?

 

CHASING WATERFALLS

cumberland falls, ky

Water roared, sprayed

Over rock escarpments

Evoked stares of wonder

Sullen silence, mood changes

Without rhyme or reason

Part of growing up

Sibling rivalries

Breaking free

Mountains made from

The most insignificant details

Then, like summer rain showers

Passed quickly–the sun returned

And, all was forgotten

Inner feelings weren’t shared

Because parents didn’t understand

Although deep inside–they really did

SITTING STILL IN CHURCH

DSCN0377

I was a fidgety skinny kid–couldn’t sit still.  When I tried, my legs would swing.  Since they didn’t yet reach the floor.  I may have had ADD–who knows?  When the good reverend’s Sunday sermons ran long there were always kid games; done discreetly of course.

Even with windows opened it was miserable in summer.  That’s when the paper fans came out–compliments of local funeral homes.  It seemed to me–the effort taken to waggle fans back-and-forth, cancelled out the benefits.  The two front doors were left open.  Bugs and birds often joined the proceedings.

Father was a strict disciplinarian; his firm fingers turned my buzz cut head around in an instant with a firm warning.  “Turn around.  Sit still and pay attention.”  Fear of the coal shed hung over my head like the sword of Damocles.  I was convinced it was used as a whipping shed for unruly children.

Our little, white clapboard country church, was heated by two pot-bellied “Round Oak” stoves–manufactured in Dowagiac, Michigan.  There were oak leaf embossed silver trim rails below the stove doors.  Were the rails, foot rests?  I didn’t really know.

Brother Harold kept the stoves stoked for Sunday services.  Church faithful were addressed as brothers or sisters in Christ. Brother Harold also worked as custodian at a local high school.

An oak “regulator” schoolhouse clock went tick-tock on one wall; a table, up front, near the piano, had an antique Tammany Hall bank.  When coins were deposited, the cast iron, brightly painted man in a suit, bowed his head in thanks.

My parents seemed old.  The rest of the church members were older still.  We four children were the youngest in attendance–unless there were visitors.

Sister Eunice was a sweet old soul, and mentally challenged.  She had episodes of jealousy and suspicion–which made others avoid her.  Her ill-fitting dentures, clicked like castanets, added to communication difficulties.

Once, when mother was going to be away for teacher’s institute, Sister Eunice volunteered to babysit the four of us.  Mom had misgivings, but Sister Eunice insisted.  Mom relented and hoped for the best.

I hope when I reach the Pearly Gates of Heaven, the mayhem of that day has been long forgotten.  Things got completely out of hand.  Away from church, we weren’t the little darlings, she expected us to be.  i deserved to be sent to the coal shed.

Sister Eunice was upset the entire day, until mom returned.  We apologized, but the damage had been done.  Sister Eunice never volunteered for babysitting duty ever again.