My Mind

My Mind
This is my mind

Monday, December 17, 2018

Notes from a life

I found these notes in one of my old sketch pads. My dad had started writing about his early days. I typed up this portion. I was saddened when it came to an abrupt end. There is no follow up anywhere.
Any typos or grammatical glitches are due to my incompetence as a typist.



This was 1938 and Neville Chamberlain had returned from Germany waving a piece of paper saying peace in our time, but the majority of the people could see different and that most of the fellows my age whom I knew who didn’t work in the mines, were flocking to them to get on. There were three coal mines within 5 miles of where I lived and I’d worked at all there of the.  At this time I was working at Snowden. Things were looking pretty black for Europe by this time and it was given out that all people working at the mines were in a reserved occupation and couldn’t be drafted in the services, so I decided to volunteer for the Navy, which I did three months before the war started.
I reported to Chatham barracks for a physical. I was told that I had passed and would be sent for. They asked which branch I wanted to serve in. I chose the engine room branch because I did not want to tote a gun or even fire a gun on the ships. I got my wish.  While going through boot training nothing really happened worth mentioning, except near the end of our training war was declared.  We were on the parade ground and listening to the prime minister talking and telling us we had declared war on Germany. Three minutes after 11 o’clock the air raid warnings sounded.  We had been told time and time again not to panic but there was utter confusion with people running everywhere. My buddy and I were walking towards the shelter we were assigned to when an officer blasted us for not moving fast enough. We thought we were doing what we were told. Anyway, nothing happened and it was soon over. That was the one and only time I ever went into a shelter during a raid.
In a couple of days time some of the class I was in were detailed to take a repair ship to Dover which was about six miles from my home. It had no armaments on it at all and it was old. Were told we had to get there as soon as possible.  We got it out to sea. It was a coal burner and all the speed it would do was five knots. We eventually got there. This is where I lost my buddy because he never came on this trip. I didn’t know then but it would be nearly seven years before I’d see him again.  We took the ship to Dover and after it was berthed most of us were sent back to Chatham. I found myself drafted to another old ship0 called the Curacoa. She was an ack ack 4.7 guns and also experimental for magnetic mines. She could do 26 knots. We were mostly used for convoy duties.
We were sent to Norway. That is where we really saw our first action. We were hit hard while there. If it had not been for our First we would have ended up prisoners of war. The Captain wanted to beach the ship but the First Lt said, “No. Let’s take it home.”
I’ll never forget this action because they had just piped that we could get something to eat as there were some of our fighters overhead. We were on the mess deck getting sandwiches when action stations sounded. We had to pass under the bridge to get to our deck. While going through, that part of the deck, the ship was hit. I was picked up and blown through four bulk head doors and at the other end hit a wall. As I did this the lights went out. I really thought I was blind, but the lights came back on after a while. I found I didn’t have a scratch on me.
I stayed on this ship for quite some time. I joined it as a second class stoker and made my way up to leading hand before being called back to barracks to go through school for Petty Officer.
There was another time on this ship when we were called off of shore leave to go looking for a destroyer called the Glowworm. The last word was she had contacted the German fleet. I don’t know what good we would have been had we ever found her.
During my time on this ship I’d palled up with Harry. He used to come home with me when we were given leave. I remember that on one of these times we took a bike to Deal. For the first time in I don’t know how long we saw Sylvia. We talked and she asked what we were doing in Deal. I told her we were just looking around before the pubs opened so we could get a drink. By now that was mostly what we went ashore for was to get drunk and forget our troubles. She said she didn’t believe it. We told her to stick around and she would find out. To my surprise she did. She stayed with us until she thought we were sober enough to ride the bikes home. That was the last time I ever saw her to speak to.
As I said earlier, I spent quite some time on this ship but one day the regulating chief came to me and said the depot had sent for me to go through for Petty Officer school. He had tried to delay it as he had no one to take my place in double bottoms, as that had been my job most of the time on board, but they refused. So I had to go. To be truthful, I don’t remember leaving. You see, everyone wanted me to have sippers, as we called them, of their rum. I travelled from Scotland to London before I ever came to, I was so drunk.
The Curacoa’s next trip was another Queen Mary escort over to America like we had done before.  That was her last trip because, I understand, there was a submarine scare and seeing the Queen Mary had more speed than the old boat, she was cut in half and most of the crew went down with the ship.  I lost most of my best mates on her.
I went through P O school and passed. I was drafted onto the Uganda. She was new. We went to the shipyard to commission her. Of course, we had to have working up trials to get the ship’s company to operate expertly. We were sent to the Med to join the fleet. We went through North Africa and Sicily.
As I said before, my duties were double bottoms, which took me all over the ship during action.  I remember being on deck when zero hour came in Sicily and watching the fireworks go off when we invaded. We also picked two paratroopers out of the sea that had been dropped too early. We watched the barges going in and at times were called for bombardment. After Sicily we went with the invasion fleet to Italy. A tanker got hit and lit up everything around. I especially remember the day we got hit by a chase-me-Charley bomb, as we called them. It went through two armored decks and through the bottom of the ship and blew back inside. The hole left in the bottom you could drive a double decker bus through which left one engine out of four operational. That one engine took us back to Malta where they patched us up. We were told we would go back to the UK from there but when the time came and we left the Med we ended up in the US. 
Our first call was Norfolk where we received our first real meal since leaving Malta. I was still in double bottoms. There was one Chief, one Petty Officer, two leading hands, myself and another plus three stokers. We had to keep the ship in trim. The other leading hand was in the forward end of the ship flooding some tank when the Chief sent me to tell them to stop.  On the way over they were coming back and said everything was closed off. I told the Chief what they said and he said OK. It must have been several hours after that the boiler room lost steam through water in the oil line. So, of course, there was a big panic. It turned out that all the blame was put on me. Now the chief mail(?) job was to check things out after things were down, which I never knew him to do ever. Anyway, I was taken before the Captain with charges of negligence. He listened to the officer in charge of our party list the charges. Then he asked me what happened. I explained it. Afterwards, He said, “Commander Reedit looks to me like the wrong man is standing in front of me.” Two or three days later I was called to the bridge in front of him again. He told me that seeing as there had to be a scapegoat to answer I was elected. He was sorry but he would have to reprimand me. He said Commander Reed—(this must be the Bloody Reed dad always talked about)—wanted a severe reprimand but that he would not go along with that because it was unfair to me. As far as he was concerned it should have been the chief who was in my place. Anyway, before I got off the bridge Commander Reed had beaten down the steps and met me at the mess deck. He wanted me to go have a drink with him and forget everything as it would never go on my papers. I told him no thanks to him and, no, I would not have a drink with him and I would not forget in a hurry what he had tried to do.
It wasn’t long after we had reached Charleston, SC, that my PO rating came through. He sent for me and congratulated me. He said I was one of the first he knew who had made PO in such a short time in the Navy. Sometime later he sent for me and told me that he was sending my name in for sea candidate. He said he was submitting Stonebridge as well so that I would have a friend to go through the school with. I told him if he did I would refuse it as I wanted to get out of this mob not die in it. Neither Stonebridge nor I were submitted.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

It's OK, I promise

You know, I don't feel like writing a blooming thing. So I decided I won't. And a decision is a decision right? Write. Ok. It's Sunday. The weather is nice. Blue sky, cool breeze wafting Spanish moss along the old oak limbs. Don't hear any birds though. Nope. Not one. Interesting. No crickets either. Come to think of it no bug noises either. Odd. Oh well. Gosh, traffic has slowed down as well. Hmm, actually I haven't heard a car go by in quite some time. Unusual.
Sasha is lying along the section of books on the wall. Asleep as always. She's 9 this year and seems to have a bit of trouble with her movements unless of course you pull some Ben and Jerry's from the freezer. then she is right there under your feet. Wait. Was that a bird call? No, guess not. Anyway, she's getting up in age. Past me in dog years now. Gray muzzle and all. Still good company though.
I cooked some oatmeal today in the microwave. Gloppy mess supposed to be good for the old cholesterol levels. Have to wait to see at the next official physical. There it is that was a car I know. Let me just peak out this window here. Nope. Kinda quiet out there. Now, what was I saying? Oh yeah. Cholesterol. Well, before I became engaged I decided I was gonna eat whatever I wanted and when the time came for the big one then my arteries would clog up all at the same time and I'd drop immediately to the floor without the chance to think about anything. Then I became engaged and I became very health conscious because I wanted a long life to stretch out in front of me. Now Post-engagement I think the other diet plan is the right one. Much like the whole point is to die broke. Then your kids don't have to squabble over what you have left behind. We enter with nothing we go with nothing. Simple. Beats the taxman taboot.
Well, as I was...wait a minute. There's something outside. A shadow just fell across the window. Hold on while I go take a look. .....
There's something in the sky out there. Just sittin' like a stationary cloud but it's bright and metallic. Looks too heavy to be just sittin' there. Hold on while I call the cops....

Seems they've had several reports about this thing. Only it isn't just one. They're dotting the sky all over the county. I'm going to go out and take another look. They are very high up there and there are lots of them. Now there's a sound coming from the sky. A deep humming noise and the saucer-like, yeah, I said saucer-like, things are beginning to spin in two directions at once. The middle section is spinning counter-clockwise and the two outer sections, clockwise. The bottom has lights beginning to blink green then red. I came back in. It's unnerving. They just sat there for the longest time and now this movement. Sasha seems to be getting a little agitated now. Wait, she's just gotten up and cocked her ears toward the front door. I'll go check it to make sure it's locked. I'll let you know what's going on. ...
There was something out there in the hedge. Sasha started to bristle and bark so I let her out. She took off toward the spot and then dashed around the corner barking steadily. Abruptly the barking stopped and she doesn't respond to my calls. I stepped out to see but the air seems charged. What little hair I have stood out like Einstein's and crackled. Too weird. I came back in. Sasha seems to have disappeared. I think I better call the cops again. I'll get back to you.
Ha, Ha. Just ignore all the things I rote earlier. Nuthin too em. Tha burds is churppin and tha beees is hummmmin. Yu noe me i'm alwaas ritin stuph ta get a lefff. Dun yu wurry nun. Things is gunnu beee ok. Wunce yu let them in yur houss and let emm stik this wire in yur hed things is ok. Even Sasha is beddr. She kin talk now. En thet rite gurl?
Woof!
Din say she spoke Inglish...
So if yu notis dark hevvy clowds over hed. Just open yur dors and welcom thim. They ar kwite frindly. 

More Rotten Tomato Soup

WE kids would enter through the side doors. A short gloomy hallway floor labored under the feet of dozens of small children making their way to class. To the right upon entering was a classroom. To the left was a double wide stairway of two levels leading to the second floor. Ignoring the stairway but turning to the left was another hallway the entire length of the school. In the middle of this passageway was the entry to the auditorium on the right. It served several functions. At noon it was the cafeteria. The bell would ring and we'd all pile out of our classrooms and line up for our turn to march into the lunchroom single file with our square plastic tokens ready to be redeemed for the lunch prepared for us by the ladies in the kitchen. Each token cost a dime. We were told to have it ready in our hands for the lady collecting them at the window separating the kitchen from the dining area.
We were given our tray of food in exchange and proceeded to the tables aligned in several rows. Their was an aisle down the middle of the auditorium separating the tables into two separate areas. On the tables were bottles of ketchup, mustard and on good days jars of peanut butter with spoons stuck into the middle of the honey-sweetened childhood delicacy.
We'd place our trays on the table, sit and commence "to eatin" with kid-jostling fun. Lots of talk about the things kids love. The boys talked about worms and tadpoles and tin cans tied to cat's tails, while the girls talked about their cooty talk. The teachers were constantly nearby to keep all this juvenile energy under control. If we were naughty we were removed from the table and, depending on the seriousness of the behavior, were sent accordingly to the appropriate place of punishment.
There were seats in the front half of this auditorium adjoined at the armrest facing a stage with old cranberry colored velvet curtains separating the backstage area from audience view. The chairs were dark cherry stained wood with fold down seats without cushions inappropriate for the squirming bottoms of restless children. We were sent to these chairs for minor infractions of dining etiquette. For the major faus pas it was a swift march out of the lunchroom into the afore mentioned Principal's office and the legendary paddle o' holes. ( A side note: I asked a fellow employee last night if they endured corporal punishment during their school days and could she describe the paddle uses. As expected she said she had no first hand knowledge of the paddle but had heard it was a thin plate of steel with holes drilled into it. Hmmmmmm.)
This auditorium was a Broadway theatre to us yokels as we grew to teenhood. The local theatre would put on plays for the children about every 3 months. At the beginning of the school year each child was given a chance to purchase "season tickets" which we took home to our parents with gleeful hope radiating from our little cherubic faces. I remember My folks were able to buy a season's pack for me one year. I remember 'Puss 'N Boots" and "Snow White and Rose Red' as two of those plays offered that year. I believe it was the Dock Street Players who provided this service to the local schools. It was a thrill for us sitting there awaiting the parting of the curtain. We'd buzz with anticipation staring at the heavy deep maroon drapes with the fringe at top sporting the letters RTS--Rotten Tomato Soup, we'd chant. The teachers were not as stringent during the plays because it was after school hours, and probably Saturdays, these plays were offered.
When those curtains finally began to part to the opposite corners after a heavy tap on the floor off stage the tempestuous frenzy died down as stage lights brightened and the players booming voices let fly the opening lines. All childhood energy froze into the fantasy world before us. The costumes were grand for wee eyes glued to the action. The story gathered momentum and we scrunched forward on our seats anticipating the next move and the curtain would close off the world to an explosion of kid-wonder. All the pent up energy would come out in boys fighting with imaginary swords. The girls would fuss with their dresses and try to talk to one another ignoring all the boys showing off. This pandemonium continued until the hard knocks sounded from backstage demanding attention before the next act could begin. It was amazing how quickly this room full of kids became quiet and still and breathless awaiting the action to begin again. It was grand to be alive. Simple entertainment. Live entertainment. Grand stuff for kids or adults.
When it was over the long walk home was full of remembering and reenacting. Swords and boots and capes of fabulous color upon a heroic figure that was me as I bounced back home fighting off villains.
I performed on this stage a couple of times myself but that will have to be another entry another time.
Riverland Terrace School. RTS. As kids it became Rotten Tomato Soup. We learned a lot in that old building. government training films were shown to us here. Duck and cover as protection against the nuclear blast that could come at any time. Open your windows and place the clothing you plan to wear next day on the back of a chair near the window to allow fresh air through the fibers. Science films about germs and such. There were others but they don't stick out in memory.
I was part of a spelling bee once. The teachers who recommended me were disappointed when near the end and almost there I was unable to spell "Kindergarden"
thought they gave me hints and three chances. I certainly felt stupid but I'll never forget how to spell that word now.
I believe that's enough memory lane for a while. I write most of this stuff thinking my kids would be interested but I don't think they are. Now I write them because I enjoy the memories. 

Children! BEHAVE!

The weather's turned cold again. The last blast before the warmth of spring and the heat of summer rush in on us back to back in April. Summer is the major season down here with its heat and humidity.
We used to fight back by spending time at the beach--Folly beach--on the sand and in the waves. The wind blowing in over the ocean kept us cool until we arrived back home and sported 1st degree burns over every area of skin except that covered with swim wear. Then the heat was a burden to bear inside as well as outside. This may be true but as children we only noticed it when we wanted sympathy or ice cream from the mobile vendor whose jingle perked our ears though he might have been a mile away.
"Please! We gotta have a nickel! The ice cream truck's coming!" And we'd get our nickel and run to the edge of the road waiting impatiently for that small white dot down the road to emerge at our feet as the Popsicle man on 4 wheels. When he stopped every kid from the local vicinity would beat feet to the sliding window. Inside was a man with a three day growth of beard and cigarette dangling from his mouth handing out ice creams and collecting nickels and dimes from chubby little fingers extended up to him. Smiling faces on tiptoe happy to start ripping into the paper surrounding the glorious chocolate covered ice cream on a stick. Happier still to shove that big cold treat into mouths filled with cavity prone teeth, but who cared. This was child heaven.
Every one of us would wander off to our respected front porches, climb into the swings, and slurp happily on melting ice cream bars. The swing would ease back and forth passing our little shirtless bodies through cooling breeze. That sticky oozing hot ice cream we were unable to eat before melting would run down our arms and faces and onto our shorts. Drips would accumulate on bare legs and dirty feet. Yup, a child's heaven.
When all we had was a stick and sticky bodies covered with dried rivulets of clotted milk and dirt we'd begin to swing in earnest. The swing would reach to the sky, or at least the ceiling with a loud bang. Usually at this point someone's mother would rush to the front door and warn us to swing a little less exuberantly. Who listens? Within minutes the ceiling bump would bring the parent once more on the scene with demands that we get out of the swing and go play in the yard. Once we went for a third bang on the ceiling but were stopped abruptly by the screws snapping from the ceiling of the porch and the swing sailing out over the rails and into the yard five feet below. That time it was the screams that brought the parent to the door. No one was hurt so we got no sympathy only an I-told-you-to-out-and-play-in-the-yard speech. Then, as we scattered, a frowning look as the parent viewed the damage and calculated the trouble and cost to fix it. Not a kid's worry though. We took off in all directions ready for the next adventure.
In the heat of summer we used to hike down the road, pails in hand, with our older relatives--cousins--to the local briar patch which just happened to be full of ripe, juicy blackberries. Our little mouths would be drenched in blackberry juice, our stomachs distended with those squishy berries and our pails filled to the brim. We'd walk back to the house excited about the blackberry pies in our immediate future or blackberries and cream the next evening. The days were long and leisurely with plenty of time for all the activities we could dream up and we did.
The garage at the side of our house had a slanting sheet of tar covered metal that made a 45 degree angle with the roof. "Don't be climbing up on the garage roof, now, you children." we heard this every day. As soon as we were out of sight we'd plant our little shoeless feet at the bottom of this steep incline, grab the side with our hands and ease our way up to the roof. With each trip up we'd carry a load of pine cones and deposit them behind the board at the front of the garage that came up 3 feet from the roof floor. We'd make several trips until we stock piled enough, then we'd shout out our challenge to any passing kid.
"Come on! We'll stand you off and beat you in a game of war!" would be our cry. "Beat us if you can!"
The challenge would be answered with a flurry of pine cones sailing up into our faces. Each one would be blocked by the trash can lids we held in our left hands as shields. We were knights of the round table defending the high ground from the black knight and his minion. Our cloud of cones would sail with the added strength of gravity--we were kids whatted we know?--right onto the top of the enemy's pointed heads and garbage can shields. Thunk! Thunk-thunk-thunk! Oww! Pine cones hurt with their pointed barbs and at times made contact with exposed skin. The battle would last until our pile was exhausted. We'd holler "Finished!" and make our way down to the ground to run off to the local mound of dirt to finish the battle in a game of King of the Hill.
Summer, here, was just as hot before air conditioning, but we never noticed it. The heat was just part of life. We escaped it any way we could. As kids we escaped through our imaginations into make believe lands and constant motion. It was our friend because it hailed the end of school for the months of June, July and August. We were free from "jail" to learn life's lessons on our own terms. We were happy and we showed it. 

A day in a life

The dynamite sticks were shoved into the loops along the leather belt attached to his body. A single wire ran from each stick to a central connection and from this connection ran the detonating wire along the man's arm to a device that rested in his hand. His thumb hovered over the button which would send the spark of electricity simultaneously into each nitro candle.
"You have your instructions. Remember at the moment of detonation Allah will welcome you into Paradise. I wish it were me," said Ahkmed checking the wire connections.
Mohmar, through profuse sweat, smiled. He was 16. His father had been killed in a riot in Jerusalem two years past. His mother had received shrapnel to her back severing her spinal cord in a separate confrontation of Palestinian and Israeli soldiers.
"It will be a huge explosion, won't it?" he said. His voice quavered.
"Stand up! Strengthen yourself! It is Allah's work you do. He smiles on you. Your life here is nothing but misery inflicted by Israeli dogs. I would be honored to do this but I have important business for our brother Palestinians. You were chosen when you volunteered."
"Will my brother be there to greet me?" Mohmar's brother had been shot in last week's raid on the Israeli camp.
"Of course he will. He died for his brothers. Paradise was immediately his. All right. Here is your jacket. It covers the bomb nicely. You'll just walk into the market at noon and yell Allah be praised, then push the red button with your thumb. You will kill many. That bomb should take out two city blocks."
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Today, I have to mow the grass. Then I have to clean the yard. My dad wants me to wash his car. Shit! Why does this always happen to me when I want to go to the mall.
There. My FB entry for this morning. It's so comforting to be able to pound out my anger in this site.

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Mohmar walked with his head held high into the street. It was 11:30. Ahkmed walked with him to the corner then turned in the opposite direction. He picked up his pace. When Mohmar turned for encouragement his mentor was nowhere to be seen. He slowed his steps. Twelve o'clock was fast approaching. I've been in this world sixteen years and all that time lead to this moment. I will do something of great importance here. As he walked he looked into the pram beside the street lamp. The baby looked into his face and cooed a laughing gurgle.
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Let's see I have to go to the market to get everything for the dinner tonight. My husband's boss likes his vegetables crisp and plenty of them. This promotion could mean doubled salary, so it has to be perfect. So have to leave you now FB to shop.
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The baby's smile brought tears to Mohmar's eyes. He'd had a baby brother but at six months he'd died of fever. The market was in sight now.

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Why, oh why, can't I find anything on this TV? 150 channels and nothing to see. I'll just check FB.

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LIfe was hard here for his people. He looked at the Coke machine as he passed. His throat was parched. "Damn Americans. Always helping the people in power and never giving us a thought except to take our money in these machines." He stopped and kicked a dent in the machine.

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My girlfriend dumped me today. After 2 years she dumped me. What the hell happened? She saw someone else she wanted more that's what. He makes a salary twice mine and drives a Porsche. And we were so much in love. What happened FB?

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The market was bustling today. All the stalls were filled with buyers chucking money into the vendors' hands. Arguments sounded in all corners as each tried to get the best value from the other.
Mohmar looked at the clock on the shelf next to him. "Want a nice clock, boy?' asked the seller.
"No." he said. The clock read 11:50. "Is the time right on this clock?'
"Yes, of course it is. It keeps very good time. I'll give it to you for a good price."
"I don't need your clock."


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Dammit I was up til 3 this morning. I just couldn't sleep. I have that big test in 2 days and can't seem to understand any of it. What the hell do I care about parsecs and tachyons? I'll just go on line and write up another entry.

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11:55. Sweat matted his clothing. Five more minutes. What does one do for five minutes when he knows they are his last? Mohmar wiped his hands on his jacket and tensed his thumb over the button.

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Donna and I are going to the movie. It's the one they've been advertising for a month now on TV. Oh, you know. With, uh, hmmmm.. I can't remember now but it ought to be good. I'll check TV That ad's been running every half hour lately.
News is on. Some kid just blew himself up in a Jerusalem market. 300 people killed. How awful.
Oh here it is. At the bijou. Tell you all about it when we get back, FB.
.

Rotten Tomato Soup

Monday morning. It was cool out. Autumn is near. It was so clear when I was a child. School's opening welcomed in the cool fall days. We walked to school with our books enclosed in a satchel we carried on our backs. It was olive green with loops we put our arms through. Old army surplus?
We walked alone or in groups. The cool air frosted our breath and we would pretend we were grownups smoking cigarettes. Some of us carried the candy cigarettes to make the illusion more real. A pack of Lucky Sticks, or whatever, that were always quickly chewed up and swallowed. We wanted to be grown up but we wanted the candy more.
The golf course was between me and RTS--Riverland Terrace School. It was the grammar school in our neighborhood. A two story brick building symmetrically laid out.
The front door was a double door entrance. The outward frame painted white and the inner frame painted a sickly pale green. Army surplus paint? Entering through this portal one stepped onto a wooden floor well worn over the years. It had to have been pine flooring that had not seen wax nor stain since first laid. Well worn by the traffic of childrens' feet.
We never went in through that door because the Principal's offce was immediately to the left. There were stories about the kids who passed through those doors. The trouble makers who received a righteous paddling with the special board which hung on the wall. I never saw it but it was described as a flat board with a handle at one end. The business end contained several holes drilled through it. These holes were to increase the punishment. Blisters were the result. Very uncomfortable I was told. I never knew anyone who developed sitting problems from blisters. A lot of my friends closed that door behind them after entering. They often had tears in their eyes upon leaving but seemed to be able to sit fairly comfortably afterwards. I think that board was the first urban legend I ever heard.
We kids always entered by the side doors recessed beneath a sheltering alcove. There were steps impressed into the wall which jutted out at each end of the front face. On the opposite side of those steps was a short wall we used to sit on while waiting for the bell for us to enter class. It was our congregating area to chat and play. The wall of the building had two rows of bricks that jutted out about two inches beyond the wall facing. These extended bricks were positioned at just the right distance for us to grip with our hands and at the same time position our splayed feet atop the bottom row. We gripped the row at about eye level and shifted our feet backward or forward to scale the wall horizontally. It was our adventure to see who could "walk" along the face of the school building until our fingers could no longer grip and our feet would finally slide off. We were mountain climbers in our imagination. Climbing around the corners of the building was the greatest challenge. We were kids with a lot of energy.
Some of us entered the classrooms by the fire escape. A long lean iron stairway which seemed to have no support clamped into the wall like it was. There were 3 thin iron slats to each step which should have had 5 slats because each was separated by open space. We were told not to look down. We always looked down immediately and, in doing so, rushed to the wall side to cling to brick spaces as we inched upward. It was a long stairway. It was a climb of fear for a child made dizzy by height. That was not my favorite entrance, needless to say.
There was a baseball diamond ten steps to the right of the school enclosed in the school ground. Telephone poles formed a " C" around home plate. Fencing wire was attached to the poles to stop any missed pitch. There was a short brick wall directly behind this extra high fence. It was just tall enough for kids to sit so their feet touched the ground. We'd run along the top of this wall playing chase and tag while the bigger boys would be hitting pop flies to their friends in the outfield. The more adventurous smaller kids would climb the wire attached to the telephone poles until the teacher monitor would stop them calling for them to get themselves down from there now.
There were sidewalks and pavement all around for those who received skates for Christmas. Skates were very sought after for Christmas. Most of us only recieved one large present for this biggest of holidays. We'd talk about what we wanted from the time school started until the night before the big day. If we were lucky enough to receive them we'd meet at the school in the afternoon and skate until the sole of our shoe tore away from the upper portion. There we'd stand with our skate dangling away from our foot tightly attached to the sole by means of clamps. Such a tear meant a spanking and no skates for a long time. It also meant a new pair of shoes had to be bought with money my parents did not have. The punishment was short lived and buying shoes was an adventure.
Usually a pair of shoes lasted a year or more unless this foot had a growth spurt which would require early shopping. The stores were all the same. Huge plate windows in the front which never allowed enough light in to see properly. Overhead lights consisted of bulbs hanging with about 50 watts glowing down. The salesman would take our shoes off. Looking at the dangling sole and shaking his head, he'd place the socked foot onto his measuring device and slide the little metal pieces along the line placing it snuggly agains the side and toe. Once he had the size he'd retrieve the shoe and place it on the foot. Then he'd have me jump out of my chair and climb onto the x-ray machine. Place your foot under here he'd say and I'd slide my foot into the small cave below. Now, look in here, he'd say and I'd look into the view scope at my eye level and, lo and behold, there were the bones in my foot in fluorescent green enclosed in the outline of a new shoe. There you go, he'd say, you can see this is a good fit with room to grow. I never listened being too fascinated with the bones I was wiggling under x-ray. That was a fad that soon faded. Something about cancer I think.
Of course it is that foot that now gives me trouble when I stand for a long time. Think I have a case?
This morning's air reminded me of these things. Last weeks' tragedy made me long for simpler times. Time marches ever forward, never backward. Thank you for memories

Kyndall long ago

I feel dull this morning. Sasha acts dull witted this morning. She had to stay with the vet all yesterday afternoon and received vaccines which I think have caused her to be thickheaded. She seems to wander about in a daze. It seems to be contagious.

I've tried to bring back the memories of Kyndall as a child, but the only one to stand out is the day I picked her up after daycare. I went in and she was busy as usual. She has always thrown herself into whatever activity absorbs her and she was no different then. She has always been full of energy. She finally came over with a grin on her face and excitement in her eyes. I took her by the hand and we walked out to the car.

I buckled her into her car seat then cranked the car. We were riding along on that fine spring day when I saw wild yellow daisies with brown eye centers waving in the breeze caused by the cars zooming along the highway. They grew in clusters lining the shoulder.

"Kyndall, you want to let's stop and pick flowers?"

Always ready for something to do, she responded, "Yeh, let's pick flowers!"

I pulled the car off the highway onto the shoulder and got out. I opened her door. She had already unbuckled her belt and was climbing out.

"Please be careful now. Those cars are zooming past. I don't want you to get hurt so stay away from the edge of the road, OK?"

"OK." She commenced picking flowers by the handfuls. We walked along the edge gathering large quantities of wildflowers. We both looked up to see how many the other had and decided at the same time it was enough.

Our bouquets combined and placed in the rear seat, we gathered ourselves back into the car to finish our journey home. However, we made one more stop at a local seafood shop and bought several pounds of shrimp. These we carried back the to house for dinner.

The flowers we put into vases on the table. Then we pulled out all manner of pots and pans. I loaded the shrimp into the colander to rinse them after placing a large pot full of water on the stove to heat. While waiting for the water to boil I searched for the crab boil to throw into the pot.

Kyndall, active as ever, was bouncing up and down on a rocking horse we had gotten her earlier in the year. She never sat in the saddle. She held onto the handgrips and stood in the saddle bouncing as vigorously as possible creating loud squeaking noises and a huge grin on her face.

She'd jump from the horse to the couch head over end to come to a standstill looking at the world upside down. Standing on her head was a favorite pastime. the world must have been cock-eyed even back then to her young mind.

"OK, I'm ready to boil the shrimp," I said while pouring the gray slabs into the boiling water. "Watch them turn pink." I lifted her up near the pot full of churning water.

"Once they turn they're ready to eat. We'll have to wait though for them to cool a bit. Why don't you set the table while I get them ready."

"OK, daddy."

She scurried about grabbing plates and napkins and forks and spoons. She put the dining utensils on the yellow table my dad had made for us. "Candles. We need candles," she said.

"All right. They should be in the drawer there."

I mixed a sauce for the shrimp and handed that to her. She carried it to the table setting it in the center. I began to scoop the shrimp out into a large communal bowl.
Once it was full I carried the steaming shrimps to the table leaving behind a powerful trail of the exotic aroma of all the spices and such contained in the seasoning added to the water.

"Oooh, That smells good, daddy."

"Yeh it does, doesn't it?"

Just as we finished loading everything onto the table the front door opened.

"Mommy!" Kyndall yelled running to her.

She bent down to give her a hug. Then dropped her things in the chair by the door.

"Look Mommy! We picked you flowers! And we cooked dinner!"

"Wow, you have been busy, haven't you? It smells good. And you did this by yourselves?"

"Yes! Daddy and I picked flowers by the roadside and then came home and cooked shrimp. do you like it?"

"Oh yes. It's such a nice surprise."

"I knew you'd like it. Thanks daddy."

We sat and we ate and time passed on and I swear it's true as memory serves give or take a lie or two. Very mundane but priceless.