My Mind

My Mind
This is my mind

Thursday, November 24, 2016

...and bless the little cook

It was a gentle nudge from a delightful dream. My eyes opened slowly as my brain detected the delectable aromas wafting through the house.
It's Thanksgiving,” my sleep addled brain realized.
Mom's cooking her portions of the annual feast. Smells good. Wonder how long she's been at it?” These were the thoughts rummaging through my head as I tossed the covers aside and reached for my clothes.
I pulled on my shirt sniffing the air as I pushed buttons through button holes.
MMM… macaroni and cheese. My favorite dish,” I spoke aloud to myself.
There was fatback in boiling water permeating the butter beans and the air with its down home aroma. My mouth began to water. Oh, and there it was the smell of pumpkin pie in the oven. Spices tickled my nose as I closed my eyes to soak in the wonders of the day's offerings.
I finished dressing then brushed my teeth. I peeked into my parent's room to see dad still asleep beneath the covers. He wouldn't be awake for a few more hours. I glanced at the clock. It was 7 in the morning. I wondered how he could sleep so soundly with such a wondrous aroma filling the house.
Mornin' mom,” I mumbled. “How long have you been up?”
Oh, I don't know. Early. I had to get these dishes started if I'm going to have them there by 11.”
Is that when it begins?” I asked lifting the lid to the beans boiling on the back burner. The steam gushed out fogging my glasses and filling my thoughts with mounds of rice covered in these soft green morsels.
Is grandmama cooking the turkey?” I preferred my mother's cooking to anyone else's, including my grandmother.
Yes. She was given a beautiful 30 pounder by the Y. She's been up since 4:30 baking and basting every 15 minutes. It should be plenty for us all.”
My mother smiled, then asked me, “Do you want some breakfast? I can move this pot of rice to get to a burner if you'd like some eggs.”
No ma'am. Thanks, but I'd just like coffee. Gotta save room for turkey and all these good foods cookin' here.”
My mother got up and put the full kettle on the stove. She reached for a cup, then the jar of instant Maxwell House.
I can get it!” I said. Her expression was one of surprise. I'd always sat back letting her serve me but of late my sense of independence had begun to blossom.
Sure you can,” she said smiling. “You're growing up.”
She sat down at the table while I stood waiting on the kettle to whistle. Dad was asleep and mustn't be disturbed. Catching the kettle just prior to its piercing sound of urgency was the same as easing doors closed or walking in stocking feet so that there was absolutely no noise to awaken dad from his sleep. It was one of the cardinal rules of the house. Dad worked nights and the days for us were like those of church mice quietly moving around. We were very careful to keep the house as quiet as possible so that he could get his sleep.

Years earlier I had learned my lesson about his needing his rest. It was about 3 in the afternoon. I jumped off the bus at the foot of the driveway driving my new shoes into the dirt. My foot kicked up a shark's tooth from the crushed shell fill that lined the drive. I picked it up marveling at it as I walked up to the door. Still looking at the relic from ages past, I pulled the screen door open and reached for the knob on the front door. It was locked. That wasn't normal. I slipped the shark's tooth into my pocket then placed my hands on either side of my face at the glass. The interior was dark but I could see dad's form under the covers in the back room.
I knocked on the door. Nothing.
I knocked on the door again. Still nothing.
This time I knocked louder.
I looked toward my cousin's house next door and knocked one more time almost breaking a pane of glass.
Before I could close the screen and turn toward my cousin's a whirlwind threw the inner door open and grabbed me by the arm. Words blistered the air around me. I was over my dad's knee and his ham of a hand was slapping my backside for all he was worth.
Through tears and squalling I choked out, “But the door was locked. I just wanted to get in.”
He held me firmly by both arms as I stood in front of him tears pouring down my face. It was the first time I ever felt shear terror in my home.
The fierce anger-clouded eyes focused on me as if he didn't realize who I was. I was swept up into his arms. He held me tightly then let me go. He got up and returned to bed.
You're in now,” he shouted at me from beneath the covers. I looked into the back room through tear filled eyes to see a form draped completely by the bed covers. His head was beneath those covers as well.

The kettle whistled slightly as I yanked it from the burner. The stream of water turned the brown crystals into a cup of black coffee. Into that a teaspoonful of Creamora turned it a lovely tan.
That smells good. Would you fix me one, too?” asked my mother.
Sure.” I produced a cup for her. We sat sipping coffee as we watched the clock.
Those pies should come out soon,” she said. “I baked two this year since everyone wanted more pumpkin pie last year.”
Everybody loves your cooking, mom. You know that.”
It's nice to hear,” she said smiling into her cup.
There was a knock on the door. It opened and Clyde peeked in.
Everybody up?” his voice boomed.
Shhhh!” said mom. “Al's still asleep.”
Oh, sorry. I just came over to see if you had any canned corn. I've gotta get started on my corn pie and forgot to get corn from the store. I've already got my other dish cooking so I can't leave for too long.”
I think I have a can or two,” said my mother. She stooped down to view the shelves by the stove.
Yup. Do you want both?'
Yeah, better be on the safe side. You are cooking your macaroni and cheese aren't you?” he asked with a twinkle in his eye. “It wouldn't be Thanksgiving without that.”
As well as your corn pie,” I chimed in.
Maybe so, nef, but there is no comparison with your momma's macaroni and cheese. What time were ya'll going to Momma's?”
Around 11,” said mom. “Mother wants to start eating between 12 and 1. Everybody should be there by then.”
All right, then. Let me get this started and we'll see you then.”
He left slamming the door on his way out.
We both cringed. Silently we listened but there was no sound from dad.
He must really be tired,” I said.
He had a hard night I think. It will take a lot to wake him. I hate to do that when it is time to go to mother's.”
You could let him sleep and leave a note.”
We'll see,” she said. The lid on the pot of beans began to rattle. She got up to check it. She also opened the oven door to check the pies.
Hand me a broom straw,” she said.
I got the broom and snatched one straw from it. I broke it in half before handing it to her.
Thank you,” she said. She stuck it into the middle of each pie. It was clean both times.
Time to remove them. Clear the table, please,” she said grabbing the potholders. Out came one straight to the table. The second one followed suit.
The aroma coming form those two filled the kitchen with the joy of Thanksgiving.
How's the macaroni and cheese?” I asked.
It's looking good. It should be ready soon.”
What about the rice for the beans?” I was thinking of the mountain of green and white fatback permeated goodness that would be the base for my piled high plate.
Just starting that now,” she said. The water was boiling in the pot she had placed on the stove. Uncle Ben's lent his delicacy to the roiling surface.
That shouldn't take long,” she said placing the lid on the pot.
We sat a moment.
I'm going to mother's as soon as that is finished,” she said. “Do you want to come with me or wait for your dad?”
I'll go with you. You're going to need some help with the dishes.”
She smiled.
Hand me that pad over there, please.” She pointed at the desk next to the wall.
She wrote a note to dad. She knew he was tired and if he did not feel like going to grandmama's she understood. If he didn't come we would bring him a plate.
She signed it, then placed it next to the teapot. That would be the first thing dad would do upon waking, fix a pot of tea.
We both knew he was not a fan of these annual meals. So we figured he would wait for his meal to be brought home after everyone left grandmama's.
That done, she began to pack everything that was ready into the car. Dishes and bowls were filled with her offerings for the 8 foot table at grandmama's.
It was around 9:30 when we left. Dad had still been sound asleep. I helped with the transporting of blazing hot dishes from car to table.
The back door opened and I was slammed with the rich overpowering aroma of turkey roasting in the oven. Grandmama was practically inside the oven basting the golden browned bird. I think I drooled at that wafted fragrance.
Hello darlin',” said my granddad to mom. He was in light tan slacks and a crisp white shirt, almost unrecognizable to me without his bib overalls. He was smiling as he glanced over at the turkey being shove back into the oven.
Hello daddy,” said mom. “Will you be carving the turkey?”
Just as soon as maamay says it's ready,” he said, smiling as always. “You did bring your macaroni and cheese didn't you?”
Of course.”
Everyone loved her dish. It was usually the first gone after the first round. Everyone made it around the table at least 3 times every year.
The table sat in the middle of the back room covered with a white cloth. As aunts and uncles and cousins began to arrive, the ladies lined up hot pads to be covered with dishes containing delectable temptations from every family. Vegetables, potatoes, sweet potatoes, candied yams covered in marshmallow sauce, rice, gravy, rolls, ham, meatballs, corn pie, macaroni and cheese, and, finally, the guest of honor, golden brown mouth watering Turkey.
Is it time to eat,” said one of the younger kids reaching for a roll. His mother slapped his hand.
Wait! Like the rest of us.”
Granddaddy picked up the knife and fork. With a huge grin he began slicing. It sliced easily without crumbling. Grandmama's constant basting had worked wonders for the moistness of the slices being placed on the platter. The bird took a bit of time to cut away. The slices piled up while all eyes were glued on them.
When it was done, granddaddy laid down the knife and fork. He looked at everyone and said, “Let us give thanks.”
He prayed a short word of thanks ending with, “..and bless the little cook.”
With a rustle of movement we began inching around the table. Forks stabbed at meat slices, spoons dipped into casseroles and vegetable plates. Slices of cranberry sauce were slapped on plates. Rice topped with beans was piled high, especially on my plate. Sweet potatoes and yams were mixed along with healthy slabs of macaroni and cheese.
My plate was over flowing. I had to find a seat before it began to spill. I grabbed a spot on the couch in front of the coffee table. My first plate of the season. It lasted about 10 minutes.
Do you want a glass of tea?” asked my mother.
Let me go around the table again. Then I'll get one, thanks,” I said grabbing my plate to go back.
Once again I piled my plate with such abundance that I didn't know if I could finish it. But I would give it a hardy try. I added an extra portion of Clyde's corn pie. He had outdone himself this year. Must have been my mother's canned corn, I thought to myself.
Returning to my spot I placed my plate on the coffee table, returned to the banquet to rescue a glass of tea. The second plate took a little longer but it was just as good. Everyone was heading back to the table with empty plates. I joined them.

My granddad from England visited one year. He and my grandmother were here during the holiday season on their visit. When he saw the table and its bounty he whistled.
I've never seen so much food in one place,” he had remarked.
After we had returned home that day he sat holding his stomach.
What did you think of Thanksgiving?” I asked him.
Is that what it is called?” he asked. “I think it should be called Glutton's Day.”
He laughed after his comment then held his stomach following a notch adjustment on his belt.

We all began to moan with contentment when someone yelled out,”I want dessert!”
And desserts there were. Pies, cakes, cookies, fudge, and grandmother's must-have: Whipped cream cake.
Every year my mother would make the trek into town to the Piggly Wiggly on Meeting Street.

I ordered it yesterday,” said my grandmother to my mother at the first of the week. “They said it would be ready today. Would you please pick it up for me?”
Of course I will,” said my mother every year. I would ride with her on those excursions. That particular Pig was not my favorite one but the bakery produced the best whipped cream cake in town, according to my grandmother. It was huge. I'd have to hold it in my lap while mom drove us back to grandmother's.
Into the house my mother would carry it for fear I might drop it. She'd place it on the dessert table allowing grandmother to open the lid. She'd sigh then look around furtively and touch her finger to the top pulling a bit from it. She'd stick the frosting covered finger in her mouth a smile with pure joy.
They make the best whipped cream cake in town,” she'd say as stars danced in her eyes. With one more finger touch she would close it up and ask us to clear out the bottom tray of the fridge. Then she'd slip it onto the shelf, look at the box longingly, and slowly close the door.
It was a ritual. And yet I never truly cared for that cake. But you could see how much it meant to my grandmother. I'm tickled when I think of her cutting here first slice every year. I believe it was a little slice of heaven for her.

Approaching the dessert table hesitantly I eyed mom's pumpkin pie. Should I? Could I? Would I? You bet I would. I sliced a nice wedge. I piled it high with whipped cream. I took it back to my spot on the couch and slowly consumed it. That was my little slice of heaven.
The day wore on as many of us dozed in front of the football game on TV. My cousin Hayne used to love watching the game after eating his plateful. I would smile at his enjoyment as I dozed with my aching belly straining my waistband.
When the game was winding down everyone would poke their heads back into the back room to see if anyone would mind their taking some home.
Of course you can take some home. It'll be thrown out if you don't. We could never eat all that.”
So again the line would form as dishes were piled high once more but this time to be wrapped with tin foil or cellophane so it could be carried home. Folks began to drift out the door to return to their homes. While that was happening my mother and grandmother would begin gathering the dishes for cleanup.
My dad would usually stay at the house so that we would fix a plate for him and ourselves.
The cleanup took from 2 to 3 hours normally. The sky had gone dark with the setting of the sun when we took our leave carrying 3 covered plates.
The lights were on when we arrived at the house.
Hello!” we chimed in upon entering.
A muted hello came from the TV room.
Mom would immediately go to the back and offer dad the plate she had fixed for him. He'd draw up a TV tray. She would unwrap it then place it on the small table.
Whoa! You expect me to eat all that?” he'd invariably ask.
No, it isn't necessary. I just thought you'd like a little of each dish.”
Dad was right when he called it Glutton's Day instead of Thanksgiving.”
My mother would just ignore his words. She traipsed back to the kitchen to fetch silverware. The kettle I had put on the burner was beginning to whistle. I'd put the pot next to the stove along with the teabags. While she took dad his utensils I would make the tea.
I went to the TV room to prepare the TV tray for the teapot, milk and cups.
You should have come down, dad. It was fun to see everyone. And so much food.”
I woke up too late to go, son. I had a hard night last night and just wasn't up to it.”
It's OK. We did get you some of the food. Hope you enjoy it.”
It looks good. I'm sure I will.”
I'll get the tea.”
I could use a cup.”
Back in the kitchen mom would be getting our plates ready and I grabbed cups and the milk container. After setting those in place I'd fetch the teapot.
Mind you don't burn yourself,” dad would say.
Yes sir.”

Then we would all sit in front of the set and eat. Dad's first meal. My fourth. I couldn't eat much but that was all right. It had been a grand day spent with our whole family. The bounty of our celebration was carved into the memory banks of my life never to be forgotten, always to be enjoyed. ...and bless the little cook.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

To vote or not to vote. That should not be the question.

I voted.
I've done it before.  Since the 60's I have gone to the polls.  Each time I thought I was right in my vote.  My vote counted, I believed. 
I figured I'd get out early and be first in line.  Leaving the house at 6:30 I was confident it would be an in and out thing at 7.  I had to hunt for a parking space along the side of the road since the lot was maxed out.  I entered the building behind several others and ended up at the tail end of a line stretched along the winding halls.
There have been longer lines in the past.  My mother and I shuffled along behind hundreds waiting to vote in the 2012 election.  She was sick but determined to get her vote in.  I found a chair and moved it with each incremental move so she could rest during our 2 hour wait to enter the voting booth.  At the booth she was told she could have stopped at the curb and pushed a buzzer for a ballot to be brought out to the car for her.  She didn't care about the wait because she  it was her duty to vote for the candidate of her choice.  Well, this line was not such a grinding wait as that one but it was long enough.  We shall see what the country decides.  According to the news media it is in the bag.  We shall see. I believe it is in the hands of God. This means that I must support the winner. 
My only thought now is that everyone should vote though I know some who do not participate in the process. I don't understand that.
Everyone please vote today.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Ballad of the Hurricane Hunters

I was 20 when Clyde and I fled from Charleston to ride through the storm headed for Miami.  These few lines came from that trip. It may not make sense but it brought to my mind such strong memories that I wanted to share. I am happy to say that Clyde saved it those many years ago. I wrote it as fun and gave it to him. It's been 50 years. Unbelievable. I hope you enjoy. I did...

Ballad of the Hurricane Hunters

We'd often go drive, just to feel alive
That was my Unc and me
Goin' to a dive and slippin' 'em five
For a Pint—they were never free.

Back in the car aimed for afar
Me and my Uncle Clyde
We'd shoot for a star and open that jar,
A quart of corn inside.

That September morn when all were forlorn
A hurricane dead in our path
All would have sworn twas that bottle of corn
Pointed us into nature's wrath.

It was six hundred miles and many long trials
To reach that storm a ragin'
We set on our dial, listened to music awhile
And everyone was a wagin'

We wouldn't get back to the old home shack
In one piece, or even two,
The seal we did crack without looking back
Pouring us both a toot.

In Savannah town we began to frown
A cop pulled us over the side
The map I threw down to cover that brown
Bottle of Whiskey, I tried

He never saw but the set of his jaw
Showed us that he was not fooled
There was a flaw—the smell in our craw
We might as well have drooled.

But it was a trap for this lawman chap
A camera full on Clyde
The look on that sap, his face you could slap
We were on TV—LIVE!

We said our hello and were ready to go
When we got a little surprise
A cup of J.O.(that's O.J. I know)
And a word of sound advice.

With a smile on his face, he said have a taste
Of our O.J. there in your cup
Saying with grace, and little or no haste,
Be careful, or I'll pick you up.”

We took off quite slow, into third he did throw
The car as we did pick up speed
Waving to show we would not eat crow
From that cop, thank God, we were free.

On down the way we did stop to say
Get in,” to a hitch hikin' man
He offered to pay but we gave him O.J.
With a touch of corn from the can

He said, “What is this?” We said it was piss,
For we were loaded by now.
This I will miss.” We told him to kiss
And what he could eat for chow.

The sailor looked frightened, his face it had whitened,
A hundred miles back to the hour
Then it did brighten, a sandwich to bite in
A hoagy, with great lusty power.

The last line was a fetch, the imagination to stretch,
It gets sluggish after some time
And more, just a tetch, the lines we can catch
more words that're going to rhyme.

Back to the tale of a hoagy gone stale
in the hands of the sailor man.
Now I will not fail to end my portrayal
of the swabby, if ever I can.
He had to be a Chief with whom we'd no beef
But drunk he thought we were.
He thought that he'd see'f for Tampa we'd leave
the road we'd traveled so far.

Drunk as we were, we told him, “No sir!”
And stopped to let him out
You miserable cur, stick it in yer...”
Came the trailing end of his shout.

Who gives a damn about that sailor man
Clyde said to me with a laugh
Not a Tinker's damn nor a codfish ham
Said I, drinking my pint ahalf.

Further our flight into the darkening night
The car a'gainin' speed.
And, Oh what a sight! Lightning did strike!
And my uncle, by gosh, he pee'd!

An oak tree was struck! The force it did pluck
That plant right out of the ground!
A moment of luck did save this young buck
The right word it cannot be found.

We did stop and think how close to the brink
Both of our lives had been.
But nary'd we shrink from pouring a drink
And continue our life of sin.

Now, let us go back to the start of our track
And the reason this trip we're taking.
The hurricane flack promised excitement we lack
A leg to Miami we're shaking.

In an old Spanish town we stopped to look 'roun'
At 'leven or twelve at night.
My old girl had a frown, no longer the crown
Of glory I held in my sight.

I found out she was married, too long have we tarried
On the girl that I lost to a bum.
Having to be carried 'cause the drink I had shar-ed
Was overly filled with rum.

Oh, my life it could end, I hadn't a friend
To lay my sorrows on
No, she couldn't send a letter to end
A love I'd procured on the lawn.

To hell with this strife! She's somebody's wife!”
My uncle he was a sayin'.
You've the rest of your life to be thankful you're sife!”
My accent he was a trayin'.

Forgive me the rhyme but it's approaching the time
For me to hit the sack.
For the present time all the lines look fine
Except for the foreign track.

You'll have to think on if these rhymes seem wrong
Or even if they seem like bunk.
Just remember this song is sung all along
By me and my uncle who're drunk.

The hour is here! Did I hear a cheer?
A few more lines to pen
But now, I fear, I know not where
This rhyme to begin again.

St. Augustine is past, how it could last
I honestly do not know
Clyde, he was smashed, and my eyes were all glassed
But off in the car we did go.

My watch showed three, though it was blurred to me,
The road it flowed beneath.
And we did agree that we were both free
To live by the skin of our teeth.

The story 'tween here and Miami so dear
To the Yankees who come from the North
Is not very clear because of the beer
mellow memories waddling forth.

It was four in the morning, Miami's skies forming
Lighted patterns over the city.
The night was through storming and without any warning
The blip of a blue light—a pity.

Clyde was asleep and in dreams very deep.
The cop rapped on the glass.
This fuzz was a creep who asked to peep
At registration under the dash.

My unc came awake with a startling shake
And asked, “What the hell?”
While the officer spake, the nephew did quake.
Nervous? Yes, you could tell.

The policeman did state that our license plate
Was not a Florida tag.
How well I equate his intelligence great
As a torn piece of gasoline rag.

A person with sense or even a dense
Individual of Southern birth
Would not pull us hence, nor even dispense
Such words, a chuckle worth.

Registration he inspected not having detected
Several bottles on the floor.
Ownership respected, he stood and directed
We drive a little bit slower.

Second scrape with the law and still ne'er saw
All the liquor we had in the car.
Our nerves were all raw so up we did draw
To a motel's open front door.

We slept for an hour, then took a shower
As the sun was breaking the dawn
While others did cower at the hurricane's power
We smiled and then we were gone.

Radio turned on, I searched for a song
To help us on our way
The announcer at dawn said the hurricane was gone
To Charleston, as it may.

Well, son of a bitch!” We near ran in a ditch
As both of us did swear.
Ain't that a switch? We'd have to be rich
To chase the hurricane rare.

So, I cracked a seal as Clyde turned the wheel
Heading back for our town.
The rubber did peel and tires did squeal
As the car came hurtling 'round.

Listening to the radio we never went slow
The ride was faster now.
The blue sky did show as our hopes did go
To be in the hurricane's howl

No exciting event did follow the extent
Of our journey to the Holy City.
We were just bent on finding a hint
Of high powered winds so pretty.

The radio was blaring as we were now nearing
The city limits of our fair town.
Disgustedly hearing the news that was searing
our ears as we were shot down.

Our hurricane had turned—we listened and burned
And both let out a “DAMN!”
It was then that we learned, by our hurricane spurned,
It was heading again for Miam'!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Things from fifty years past come from those days we wish would last...

My cousin just showed me a poem I wrote 50 years ago about the trip Clyde and I took chasing the hurricane in Florida.  I'm excited about reading it since I thought it had been lost to the years.
Fifty years and five pages long. I will copy it here as Clyde's and my song....

Friday, April 1, 2016

Party girl! Like it's 1950

Clyde kicked the car into second as I took a pot shot at a cow in the field.
What are you doing?” he yelled. “Put that gun down! You want some farmer barreling out on to the highway with his shotgun out the widow aimed at us? Jeez, Rick. Sometimes you are really stupid.”
I wasn't aiming at the cow. Besides, I couldn't hit the broad side of a barn,” I said as I put the pistol into the glove compartment.
Where are we going?”
Goin' to see an old girlfriend.”
Good grief! Not again. Don't your remember the last time? I nearly tore your car up trying to get us out of the driveway, bobbing up and down. Let's go somewhere else. There's plenty of daylight left.”
Nope. Promised her I'd be there about two and it's almost that now. We won't stay long. Why don't you just mix yourself another drink and enjoy the ride.”
Won't let me shoot a cow. How'm I supposed to enjoy myself? You know every time we go out like this I end up sitting here in the car while you go inside and, uh… what do you do in there? Come to think of it I've never been inside when you drag me along.”
Quit your poutin'. You got plenty of booze there and time with nothin' goin' on in your life. What else you got to do?”
I don't know but I could sure think of something.”
I started to stare out the window at the passing country side. We traveled another twenty minutes and arrived in Elloree, SC. A booming metropolis. L or E, I thought. Some illiterate who didn't know his letters musta named it.
I pulled the bottle from under the seat and poured a stout measure into my cup. A dash of coke and I was ready to wash out the dust of the dirt road we'd bounced onto when he hit a huge bump and my head hit the ceiling. The cup at my mouth jerked upward dousing me with bourbon and a touch o' coke—in those days coke was a cocola as we'ens said in the south, or Coca Cola for those of letters. Whatever it was called it was dripping into my ears and eyes and completely soaking my shirt and pants. The sound filtering through the lake of bourbon and coke in my ears was the laughter of my dear uncle as he hit the break, slid to the side of the road into a fence and collapsed in a fit of hysteria.
That's the funniest thing I've seen in a long time,” he said as he took control of himself and eased the car backward from the fence. He dropped it into first and pulled forward.
That's why I take you along. You make me laugh.”
Only because I'm an idiot.”
Well, yeah, there's that, too. OK. I see her house over there. Now you look relaxed,” he said, laughing again.
She came to the porch and waved.
Hey, sugah! Hey, Rickey!”
Hey,” I said in my most relaxed tone.
She walked over to the car and leaned on the driver's side. Her eyes went wide when she saw my khakis soaked from belt to mid thigh. The smile crept over her face quickly.
Well, what have you done,” She sniggered. “Clyde didn't you stop at a filling station so that nephew of yours could use the public facilities.”
Fraid not, babe. He never said a word til it was too late and I hit a bump a ways back from here. He just couldn't hold it after that.”
His laughter filled the air. She joined in, slapping the car door.
Indignation swelled in my like a red river.
It's bourbon and coke, dammit! I never peed my pants in my life. This jackass of an uncle hit that bump on purpose just as I filled my cup and was fixin' to drink a slug. He jammed the gas and hit it hard. And here I sit in a puddle. I oughta pee all over his seat.”
She stopped laughing for a minute and said, “Why don't you go inside and get outta those wet things? You could probably find something in the closet to slip into while your clothes are in the washer. . Go on now, go on in and take 'em off and throw 'em in the tub. I'll be in d'rectly to get the washer goin'.”
Oh, all right,” I said and got out. As I headed for the front door she shouted to me.
Go on!”
There was giggling as the screen door slammed to. I found the washer and stripped. The only think I could find in the closet was a red bathrobe. A tad small but in this case it would have to do. I was looking for something to read when I heard them come in.
Now, Sugah, you go on in there while I take care of this young'ns clothes.”
She stopped short, looking at me.
Oooie! Aint't you pretty now? Where'd you find that? I been looking for that for some time.”
She headed toward the washroom. I followed her. She took the soap box from the shelf then tilted it over the open washer. She dropped the lid and turned the switch.
There. That shouldn't take too long. Why don't you go out and sit in the car while Clyde and I talk over old times? I'll call you when your clothes are ready.”
I am not going out of this house dressed like this. This ain't no way for a guy to be wandering around out doors. Nope, I ain't gonna.”
Now honey,” her voice taking a harder timber, “you just head on out there. Not a soul is gonna see you like that. Everybody's at their jobs. Ain't nobody around. You'll be fine. Take this book and go get in that car. I'll let you know when your clothes are dry.”
She snatched a book off the shelf and tossed it at me then patted my behind into the general direction of the car. I grudgingly opened the door and peaked out. It did look deserted. I sprinted to the car, bathrobe flapping in the breeze.
I jumped into the front seat pulling the door shut behind me. I pulled the flimsy bathrobe around me folding the open front over my legs. Settling down, I held the book in front of me. It was a paperback. The title was PARTY GIRL.
What the…
The cover illustration presented a scantily clad young blonde staring out at me. There was a man behind her looking over his shoulder. Articles of clothing draped over a chair that which separated her from the man. There was a bed to the right and next to the man. Hmm…
I'd been reading in a fevered rush for about twenty minutes and was halfway through the book.
The girl on the cover was one of those girls. The ones the guys talked about. She was a high priced girl of the night who only went to the high bidders. It was like nothing I had read before. I was breathing heavy when I got to the part where she was on a yacht.
She was staring down into the water where the man of wealth was bobbing in the wavelets. He was beckoning her to join him. She slipped out of the tightly fitting dress. It dropped to her feet. She popped the clasp of her bra, or brassiere as it was called in the '50's, and it dropped to the deck. She slowly removed her panties allowing the sea air to flow over her naked body. She looked at him again. He watched her edge to the opening of the of the guard rail. The moon light washed over her perfect form. He licked his lips as she leaped into the air and arced smartly into the water in front of him. Her body gracefully slid into the ocean with a small splash.
He watched for her return to the surface. He became agitated when she did not rise from the waves. He called out and began to swim toward her entry into the water. She stopped him with a quiet throaty laugh. As he turned, she moved toward him. Her firm slippery body pressed against his. His smile grew as her face came closer to his. She reflected that smile. Her large firm breasts spread across his as their mouths lingered in a long searching kiss. She encircled him as they joined together in the cool gentle roll of the sea. Their bodies rose with the waves and dipped when they passed. They rode with an easy bouyancy the loving touch of the lapping waves. Their own bodies began a rhythmic undulation of their own. The throaty moans of the party girl came heavier with each thrust…
The book was yanked from my hand. I became aware of laughter on both sides of the car. Clyde and his woman were howling with fits of laughter.
Good gracious! What is that stickin' out of my bathrobe?” She screamed in a fit of glee.
Whoa, honey! What's that book I gave you?”
She looked at the cover.
You're too young to be readin' that,” she said holding the book up in the air.
Maybe not,” said Clyde. He was holding his side.
I covered myself.
Get into the house before the neighbors see that. Especially Ms Fine. She'd have you over for a weiner roast in a skinny minute. Go on! Get into the house. Your clothes are dry now.”
Can I borrow that book?” I asked wrapping the bathrobe around me as best I could. “I'll get Clyde to bring it back. Honest.”
No. I don't think so. Your momma'd beat you good if she found this.” She tossed it on a high shelf as she entered the house. We walked into the washroom.
She pulled my clothes from the dryer and handed them to me.
Now you go put these on and think about your evil ways. You're too young to be drinkin' like that uncle of yours. He ain't gonna come to no good and you'll end up the same way if you continue down that same road. You listen to me, now!”
She patted me on the rump again aiming me in the direction of a small bedroom.
She stayed in the kitchen while I changed into my clothes. Pulling my pants up I began to think about the girl who had jumped into the water and I couldn't zip my pants up. Clyde whistled outside meaning, “ Get a move on.” I managed to get myself together. I walked past the kitchen. She was outside with Clyde. I eyed the book on the shelf near the door. I made a jump for it. My hand made contact. Quickly I pocketed it and walked outside letting the screen slam.
I'm ready,” I said. “Thanks for washing my clothes.”
Happy to do it,” she said. She gave Clyde a peck on the cheek as he opened the car door.
You boys be careful going back,” she said hugging herself.
I waved as we backed out the drive.
Bye, now,” I yelled.

She yelled back at me,” Bye! And you enjoy that book, now, you hear?”

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Golden, yeah, that's what they said...

When you retire you will be living in your golden years.”
That's what I heard often. I even began to believe it.
I've been retired now for five years. The only gold I have seen is that stream from my bladder to the porcelain bowl at midnight. Then at 1:30 AM. And again at 3 AM. With 5 AM rounding out the night.
What the heck! At 5 AM I figure I might as well get up for the day and see if there will be a golden sunrise. For the last few weeks that has been denied due to the cloud cover.
How about the gold of eggs sunny side up? I've got time. There's no rush to shower and hit the road just to sit in traffic. I have plenty of time to drop and egg or two into the frying pan. Listen to that sizzle. I'll slip the spatula under neath to flip… Nope. It stuck to the pan. Scrambled will have to do. The crumbly bits are sort of gold, well pale yellow will have to do.
Perhaps the coffee can be coaxed into a golden glow with a splash of half & half. Dammit! Too much! Tan. These will be my tan years.
I'd go out to enjoy the golden sunshine while the air is cool and the humidity is low but for the warning of my doctor.
Always use the highest SPF sunscreen before going outside. Not to mention a hat placed firmly on your noggin.”
The golden tube of SPF sunscreen is crinkled up to the cap, so no help there. The chance to give my skin the golden glow of a healthy suntan has to be forgotten for fear of cancerous growth on the old epidermis. I do have a golden straw hat. Perhaps that is part of the gold of the “Golden Years.”
The figurative gold of Social Security is not delivered in a huge pot but through electrons passing from the federal government to my bank account. The glitter and weight of gold falls far short of that which I surrendered to the Federal Government from each o my paycheck for the entire time I worked. Even that these new politicians say is an entitlement to which I may not be entitled.
Really, I guess it makes no nevermind since I'm at the age when my representatives can slip part of my “entitlement” to which I am not really entitled according to them into one of their favorite pork projects or simply into their own pocket through their entitlements which they voted into effect for themselves over the years. Perhaps I should be content to know that I have made their years after congress and the Senate lushly golden.
I will continue to search out these golden tones over the next few years that I have left. All that time I will wonder where the rest of the money I gave up for my Social Security will go after I pass on to the Pearly Gates. I have often wondered that but it is one of those questions that has no answer.

I have to go to the grocery store now. I see they have golden delicious apples on sale. I better get the gold where I can.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

From Gillingham to Singapore

February 13th it was snowing.  It was 1946 and the snow was piling up.
"It's time!" my mother shouted.
"No need to get so loud," said my dad's mum. "Alf, go get the car warmed up."
My granddad knew better than stall both because of my mother's pained expression and my grandmother's command.
"I wish Al were here," my mother lamented. Having to deal with my decision to be born and my grandmother was more than mom wanted.
"In't no use wishin' for what can't be," said dad's mum. "He's in Singapore. You know it so get control of yourself."
Dad swears he knew when I was coming into the world from the very first pain my mother experienced. He laid up in his hammock with sympathy pains during the entire ordeal or so his story goes.
"Get word to Al, please," my mother called out after a severe pain.
"Don't you be worrying about Alf. You concentrate on birthin' that boy," said dad's mum.
Granddad came in grabbing mom's coat on the way to the bedroom.
"Here.  Put this on. It's snowin' heavy. We have to go if we're going to go."
He winced at her pain.
Dad doubled over with the pain. His hammock trembled at his tightening up. His mate looked at him with a cocked eyebrow.
"You better go see the doc," he said.
"No, it's Helen. She's having our son."
"You can't possibly know that," said his mate with a smile on his face.
"Oh but I do," he said holding his abdomen.
"You're barmy." And with that he left to let the other shipmates know.
"I don't know if this old thing will make it," said granddad. "I'm going to call Tom."
They helped mom back inside while granddad nipped up the road to the call box.
The snow whistled around him as he trudged back to the house.
"Tom's on his way," he said closing the door and stamping his feet.
"Come in by the fire," said dad's mum. "You'll catch your death."
Mom was lying down her face contorting in another contraction.
"Oh, she'll be fine," said dad's mum. "They're too far apart to become concerned."
Mom let out a groan.
"Is there something I can do?' asked granddad. "A glass of water? Some sherry?"
Mom smiled at him.
"Sherry might help," she said.
"That's right, booze it up," said dad's mum.
"A little won't hurt. It might even ease the pain a bit," said granddad.
"Piffle," said dad's mum.
Mom took the glass offered by granddad. She sipped it and smiled again at granddad. His smile was as warm as the sherry.
"Where's Tom? He should have been here by now," said grandmother pulling the curtain aside to look out the window. large fat flakes flew by in a torrent.
"How's it look?" asked granddad.
"Like we won't make it if Tom don't hurry," she said letting the curtain fall back into place.
She turned as mom groaned again. Her face became stern. She opened her mouth to say something when they heard the beep of a car horn.
"That must be Tom," said granddad. He rushed to open the door. As he did Tom came up the step and into the doorway.
"How's she doing?" he asked.
"Groaning and crying," said dad's mum. "Come on let's get her into the car."
Granddad draped her coat over her. She pulled it tight as they helped her through the snow and into the car.
"Be careful, Tom. We want to get there," said grandmother.
"Don't worry, mum. We'll be fine. Just watch Helen." He put the car in gear and plowed through the snow that had settled in front of him.
It was a a good ways to Gillingham and the nursing home. When they arrived it was still snowing.
Tom stopped the car. Mom pulled the heavy coat tight around herself. She stepped from the car into a barrage of fat wet snowflakes. Granddad held onto her. They walked together through the doors into the care of a waiting sister.
"Wha' 'ave we 'ere?" says she.
"A pregnant woman in labor," said my granddad a little louder than he meant.
"Now, now. No need to get upset. Pregnant women 'ave been coming in 'ere for as long as I can remember," she said smiling at mom. "Come on, Dearie. let's find you a nice warm bed and a cuppa tea. That'll fix you up."
It was sometime in the evening hours of February 14th, 1946, aboard ship outside of Singapore my dad began to grimace in bouts of pain.
"Look boys. Alf's pains are getting closer together. What's it going to be Alf? A boy or a girl?" his mate said with a laugh. The others near his hammock joined in the laughter.
"You laugh," said dad. "But I know my wife is in labour."
The laughter continued while a grimace grew on his face. He let out a loud groan. Perspiration beaded across his face and he collapsed.
His mates gathered around him. His face was white. A smile gradually spread across his lips.
"It's a boy!"
"Can I hold him?" asked my mother.
"Let us get him cleaned up and then we'll bring him right back." The sister took me away.
Mom lay back on the bed. Granddad dabbed at her face with a moist flannel.
"A boy. What's 'is name going to be?" asked the sister.
"Alfred Frederick Croucher, after his father," said my mother.
"That will be the third," said granddad smiling.
"How do we get in touch with Al," asked mom. "He needs to know."
"I've contacted the Red Cross," said Tom. "They said they will get the message to him as quickly as they can."
In Singapore a few hours later.
"A message for Alf," said one of his mates.
"Read it," said my dad.
"You are the father of a son born this day February 14. Congratulations."
"Well I'm buggud..." His mates looked at him in disbelief.
Dad smiled.
"What did I tell you? A son."