Life Can Be Beautiful or Ugly

our house

Could be our house

Lately many people have revealed having lived childhoods of abuse. This makes me realize just how very fortunate I was growing up. Looking back now I see that it could have been so different had my family history gone in different directions. That might easily have happened. For the men in my family, father, uncles and brother were all alcoholics.

But the story, fortunately for me, did not develop as you might expect. My father, with his Cherokee heritage, did not handle liquor well, and after he came home from the war, he soon became addicted to it, as did his brothers. However, my dad was well liked by everyone, no one suspected his secret because he was not an angry or violent man. I guess you could say he was a fully functional alcoholic. For many years he ran a construction business with a partner, a buddy from the Navy.

Dad with plane

Me, my brother, granddad and Dad

When I look back on my life I see how very lucky I was. He loved me and I loved him, never guessing at his secret growing up. It’s difficult to believe because men who drink are often portrayed as loud mouthed, violent, unreasonable and abusive. I never once heard my dad raise his voice to my mother. He never lifted a hand to me. Oh, he set down some strict rules, or so I thought then, but they kept me from making many a dumb adolescent decision.

He fought my marriage because I was so young. Still never any verbal or physical abuse involved. I see now what kind of man he must’ve been to be so kind and well liked and successful despite his addiction to alcohol. As we all do he had his faults, but my mother told me right after his death just after his 61st birthday, that he was the best man she ever knew. The life he chose to live must have hurt her, for women loved him and he often didn’t resist the temptations that brought about. Yet they had a wonderful life together and my childhood is nothing but good memories. He insisted on a summer travel vacation every year and we had some exciting and unforgettable times.

Why did I write this? Because so many harsh stories are being written about abusive childhoods at the hands of brutal men that I thought it was time a better story was told. It’s all far in the past now. My parents are gone, my brother is gone and I miss them still because we were always close and always happy. Life often turns out with twists and turns we have no power over. But what we do control is the way we react to the events that make up our lives. And ultimately, who we blame if we fail to triumph.

 

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The Flight of Time

B 29 Boeing

 

Wow. I’ve seen a lot of examples of how time flies, but when I checked my blogs and realized I hadn’t posted one since the last week in May I knew I’d really had my wheels up and the flaps straight out in June.

Some of the things going on that caused this breaking the sound barrier to occur had to do with conferences. Not only have I been in charge, more or less, of planning Storytellers of America coming up July16, 17, I decided to take Dusty and Casey up on an invitation to attend Western Writers of America for Oghma Creative Media. I’ve not regretted either decision, but that’s where June went without my noticing it.

It goes without saying that I hate to be out of communication with my readers that long for fear they’ll forget me.

We returned from Wyoming late Monday night after several unusual happenings that weren’t all welcome, but we did come home all in one piece thanks to a couple of emergency hospitals, one in Cheyenne and one in Hays, Kansas. Enough can’t be said for the people at both. Their kindness, helpfulness and support brought us home healthy and happy. No, it wasn’t me who needed them, which was a definite possibility when I agreed reluctantly to accompany my good friends on the trip.

Wyoming and Western Writers of America were both exceptional experiences. I was so pleased to meet one of my favorite authors, Craig Johnson, who writes the Longmire series. What a perfect gentleman and delightful man he is. Not to denigrate others, for there were many western writers there whom I admire. What fun they all were. Some were western ladies, too. With my forgetful brain, it would be a mistake to begin to name all of them, because I’d leave some out, so let’s just say it was a wonderful experience I’ll always remember because of all the super folks we met.

Now, on to Storytellers of America. I’ve been in touch with Crow Johnson several times and she can hardly wait to join us and share her superb talent for creating music. Lisa Wingate is also eager to talk to us about experiences writing her popular inspirational fiction. And Gordon Bonnet is flying down from New York just to be with us. These three stars will only make up some of what’s in store for those attending our first “official” creative conference for Storytellers of America.

Prior to the conference, Oghma Creative Media is sponsoring a three-day authors retreat where we’ll all share with each other and have a great time at gorgeous Sky Vue Lodge on top of the Boston Mountain. I for one am looking forward to both events. It’s time Arkansas had their very own yearly creative gatherings where all the authors of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, script writing, as well as musicians and artists can get together and share their wealth of knowledge.

For those who haven’t registered yet, there are a few openings. Check us out either on my website or look here or for a glimpse of the lovely locale. Hope to see you there.

A view out over the Boston Mountains, at sunset after an afternoon storm

The view from Sky Vue across the majestic Ozarks

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F**k Changes

going nuts

Quickly Going Nuts

In all probability I’m too old for this changing world. I’ve tried, really I have. Learning new things on the computer, not complaining when all the voices on my telephone were electronic and not real, learning to shop online at Amazon, which I will admit is one of the better changes. This list could go on and on but I’ll bet you know what I mean.

Okay, so I realize that if I were an American Indian I’m old enough be to put on a floating iceberg, or under a tree or on the edge of a cliff, and bid farewell to. Come to think of it I have some of that heritage, but we don’t do that nowadays. We respect our elders and allow that they probably have learned something in their years on this earth.

I’ve learned how to use a computer because I’m a writer, not because I had any particular yearning to spend a day on Facebook. Speaking of that, it is a good way to stay in touch with grandchildren, but it also makes sure they don’t bother to write cause FB is there. Or send birthday cards, or Mother’s Day. Yeah, well, stop grumbling old woman.

What began this rant was is the changing of my bank. All these 44 years we’ve banked with a local bank. When things went online I learned to pay my bills there, balance my accounts, use a debit card, etc. But now they have sold out or merged or whatever the hell they call it and established this new account system online. I set mine up, got it approved after about four tries, then noticed that it said transactions would not be shown yet. So I waited four days. Today I tried to get into my account with the same earlier approved information and what do you think? Nope. I don’t exist. All I can hope is that by the time my June bills come due those electronic idiots will have figured it all out.

There, that’s my blog for the day cause I had to get this out of my system and the cat don’t care, she just flat don’t care. As long as she gets in and out of the house, has her food and water, is allowed to sleep anywhere she wants to from the bed to inside one of the kitchen cabinets, then she don’t care about my problems. Oh, and yes, I know that isn’t grammatically correct, but it comes from an old commercial I really liked. If you don’t remember it I’m not in the mood to jog your memory.

I appreciate your reading this. Photo of your cat

 

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Friendship, Mummies and Loss

 

Iva me

Back in the days of black and white

 

Two years ago last month I lost my lifetime friend to cancer. Memories of our days together are crowding in on me today. I find writing about things often sweetens thoughts out of the past, so bear with me and I’ll try not to whine.

Her name was Iva Dell. She was dark skinned, had black hair and chocolate brown eyes. My skin was golden, my hair blonde, eyes blue. Those were only the beginnings of our differences, yet we fit together with perfection.

It was 1943, the war raged on. She turned eight that August, the following February I caught up. Movies were back and white, and Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff terrified us. Still we couldn’t wait till the next one opened. We lived in Plainview, a housing complex near Boeing. In those days kids walked everywhere, the only fear being that of memories of The Mummy or The Beast With Five Fingers chasing us all the way home. Every shadow was straight from the terrifying monsters on the screen.

All our lives we kept in touch, even when she married and moved to New York. We soon followed when we visited them and fell in love with the excitement of the Big Apple. Nine years later we trekked back to the heartland and landed in my home state of Arkansas. Sadly, she left her husband and brought all five children back, ending in Wichita.

Close together again, we visited often. For some reason I never understood, except she said her husband loved blondes, she dyed that gorgeous walnut colored hair platinum and though they parted, she kept it that way. Even when cancer stole her long luxurious locks, she bought a platinum wig until it grew back out and she could once more bleach it. Sometimes we did things that the other one never agreed with or understood, but it never effected our feelings toward each other.

I remember our last time spent together vividly. She was going with an older man who had a lot of money. He owned a summer home on Monkey Island on Grand Lake of the Cherokees in Oklahoma. I was invited to spend the weekend with them there and we would drive. He flew his own plane down from Wichita. She had affected the look of a well-kept woman and carried this tiny little dog around everywhere she went. Even when we took the boat over to the mainland for breakfast she carried that dog. And I’ll never forget how classy she looked and acted. Not stuck-up, you know? Just classy.

I did see her one more time, when she was dying and had dark circles under her eyes and wore that blonde wig. We spent the night together and went to breakfast. We both ordered biscuits and gravy, then she ordered breakfast for her great-granddaughter who lived nearby and took care of her in her last days. I kissed her on the temple and told her goodbye. When I looked back she was sitting in the booth gazing out across the room. She never turned to watch me go.

So many times I’ve thought she deliberately accompanied us in her own car to that restaurant so we wouldn’t be faced with a private final goodbye. It was just like her to spare me that.

I miss the sound of her laughter, her touch, and I miss those dark nights when we ran screaming through the streets pursued by memories of the mummy and his ghost. Running from a fear that was not real, that was not threatening, but was the most fun we could have.

Mummy

The Mummy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Where am I and Why am I here?

samsung phone

Takes pictures and videos

Last week I bought a new camera. It also makes phone calls and goes on the Internet. It’s not very large so I can carry it anywhere. That way every time I see something beautiful I can bring it out and snap away. Now here’s something fantastic. It keeps all the pictures in its tiny little bosom for me to look at or show to my friends. Sometimes it plays music, but I usually ignore that. I have a feeling I’ve been spirited to another planet, or perhaps the future, cause the last time I looked my pictures were in an album and this was back in the black and white days. The world turned to color about midway through my life.

Televisions have done about the same thing. They call this monster in my living room a smart tv, and they are right. It’s smarter than I am, that’s for sure. The only trouble I see with it is all the little controls necessary to keep it working. It has something called a Fire Stick hanging out of its belly button and that requires a tiny control. It’s pretty cool. I can watch movies that came out twenty-five or fifty years ago, or catch up on series. They call it streaming. Other controls they call remotes do everything from switching channels to playing movies I get in the mail on what looks sort of like 45 rpm records.

If I want I can use one to hook up invisibly to a satellite floating around out in space somewhere. From there three or four hundred channels run programs, some of them pretty dumb. There’s one channel where women scream at each other all day long. Men do some utterly stupid things on some of them. Like live in the north woods where they have no electricity or running water. Can’t figure why anyone would want that.

tv old

Good ole days of tv watching

I have to admit, though, it’s a big improvement over watching one channel from Tulsa that sometimes had a picture, another from Springfield that was like sitting underwater, and one from Fayetteville that wiggled and wobbled consistently. I remember our first tv. We lived in Wichita and had been married a few months when my parents bought us a tv for our combined birthdays. It too, was in the age of no color, but I took right to it, being alone evenings cause that’s the shift hubby preferred. I worked all day. The new tv was good entertainment at the time, but I look at those shows now (using that Fire Stick) and wonder what in the world was wrong with me that I enjoyed such nonsense.

When we went to movies, again in Wichita, a bunch of us kids would get together on Saturday morning, each with a quarter in our pockets to pay our way in and buy a coke and candy bar. We’d walk down to Highway 54, then across the viaduct that spanned all the railroad tracks and on to Douglas, the main street through town. There were a few theaters along the way, but one in particular showed westerns and those fifteen or twenty minute serials where the hero or heroine was left dangling over a tiger pit or tied to a railroad track so we had to return the following week to see what happened. Again, this was back when the world was black and white and everyone talked strange.

ticket

A ticket to anywhere

Now we go to these narrow theaters, sit in chairs that rock back to stare up at a screen as wide as the entire room, plug our ears against the roar of sound and watch movies that transport us right into the midst of the action. And everyone uses words my mother would’ve washed my mouth out with soap for saying. All in brilliant color. And oh, that quarter? Never mind, that won’t even buy a candy bar.

I’ll leave cars that park themselves, take you where you’re going, etc., for discussion another day.

 

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Whatever happened to tomboys?

 

Dad with plane

Me, my brother, granddad and Dad

 

When I was nine Daddy returned from the South Pacific. The war was over and my life, our lives, would change forever. Mother, my brother and I and my cousin who came from Arkansas to live with us, lived in special housing in Wichita. My mother worked at Boeing in a job now classified as Rosie the Riveter. She worked on B-29 bombers.

In a matter of months after the war ended, we bought a house on a dirt street a few blocks off Highway 54 on the west side of Wichita. Us kids changed schools and Daddy went to work for Rowdan, a small airplane manufacturer. They built and serviced recreational planes.

In the neighborhood where we moved there were several vacant lots. The one next to our house had an old horse barn on it. It ran the width of the lot across the back, leaving a perfect place for all the kids to gather and play baseball, football, or anything else we could come up with. Cowboys and Indians was one of our favorite games, and we chased around shooting our cap pistols at each other and playing dead. Far as I know, not one of those boys or girls who played that particular game ever shot anyone or even grew up to be violent or criminals. Makes you wonder, hmmm?

horse barn

Horsebarn with Cuddles my cat

Anyway, it didn’t take me long to discover I liked boys’ games better than girls’ games. I went from paper dolls and making mud pies to football and baseball. Mostly because there were only three girls around my age living close by and about six or seven boys.

My brother, two years younger than me, was a little runt and I was tall and gangly. So it followed that if he got picked on, big sister did payback. I didn’t care how big the kid was either. Once a big boy passing through on our street took it in his head to push my brother around. I tackled him and he threw me over a five foot high fence, ripping my shoes off and tearing my shirt. I went home to change and my mother went ballistic. I must’ve been quite a sight, covered in dirt, both knees bleeding, carrying my shoes and holding my shirt together, laughing about the fight. But she finally got used to it.

the gang

Neighborhood gang The tall one is me

My favorite game with the boys was tackle football and they spared nothing tackling me. Usually I was the only girl in the game, while the others sat on the sidewalk playing jacks or dolls or something equally sissified. The only thing I did on that sidewalk was roller skate, flying at top speed, long hair blowing out behind me. I might have grown up to be a roller derby queen if there’d been one around at the time.

I grew to be almost six feet tall during those years. And I guess I was pretty. All the boys said so, and somewhere along there I took up with three boys from a street over who started courting when I was eleven. We climbed trees, played on top of that flat-topped horse barn, secretly built fires out back of the building and pretended we were on campouts. We were inseparable until we all started high school and mostly drifted apart.

But I never quite got over being a tomboy. I always preferred the company of boys. Today you never hear the term tomboy. It’s as if it’s forbidden, or means something else. But back in those days, we girls who indulged in being tomboys were proud of the term. Maybe we just weren’t sensitive enough.

velda 1948

That tomboy

 

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The Lies I Tell

 

 

mirror image 2

Shiprock in distance, where we’ve been in the mirror

A few months ago, I wrote about taking photos out of the car window including a view in my rear view mirror. Today looking for some other photos, I found two of those. I had been asked to post them so people could see the results.

We were out west and that’s Shiprock you see in the distance of the one photo and the other is just a view. I was using a Zeiss Ikon German 35 mm camera, which I had for years. I used it all during my newspaper days because I liked the results better than the paper’s camera. Then a fingerprint was permanently glazed on the lens. I forget what they call that and I didn’t know it could happen. So I had to buy a point and shoot, which never took as perfect a photo as that Zeiss.  Oops, just shows what can happen in the digital age if we’re not careful. In scanning the two photos, I forgot to change the default to jpeg on the second one, so it’s not supported for Word Press. It’s not much different from the first one, just a different angle and distance.

The Washington County Observer, being a small weekly paper, and it was back in the early 90s, we used all black and white film in a small 35 mm camera, then developed the pictures in a dark room. They were then hung around all over the place till the best shots were picked. Then the photo was screened for the newspaper. All old fashioned stuff.

Before I left the paper in 1999, we were using computers, but still not digital photos. If today one scans or copies those old photos, the screening is apt to show up in the finished scan. When I put together the book, Washington County, for Arcadia publishing, I chose the photos from old newspapers, took them to a shop over by the university where they were scanned by a Canon 500 color scanner, though they were black and white. The reason for the color scan was to brighten the contrast of the black and white and somehow take out the screening. Those scans were then numbered, a cut line added and sent to the publisher. Since there was no other text in that particular book, it was a fairly easy preparation, though the information used under each photo had to be spot on.

Oh, my, I don’t yearn for the good old days when it came to writing, in any form. Nonfiction historical books are probably the most difficult of any book I can think of to create. Even today, with digital photos that make that part of it so much easier, just the gathering of information, making sure the history is absolutely correct, then presenting it in a non-boring form so someone might want to read it, is so difficult. Compared to fiction writing, it’s a labor-intensive undertaking.

When I finished The Boston Mountains: Lost in the Ozarks, I requested of my husband that he shoot me if I ever agreed to do another nonfiction book. I was just so exhausted. I loved the traveling, interviewing, meeting so many nice people. But the creation of the book itself left me burnt out. There is so much more to nonfiction than the writing. I had done six nonfiction books by then, and have since gone to fiction. It was either that or commit myself.

After the first six novels written for Penguin in New York, I turned to setting my books in areas I’m familiar with and surrounding my fictional characters with characters based on all those fantastic people I met putting those early nonfiction books together. There’s always a certain amount of research for fiction, but I can make up so much of it. Still gotta get those guns and cars and airplanes and dog breeds and on and on correct or readers will get on me. But the stories. Oh, my the lies a fiction writer can tell.

My next book, The Pit and the Pinnance is #3 in A Twist of Poe Romantic Suspense novels set in Arkansas. Speaking of dogs, it has a darling pit bull introduced who will cause Jessie and Dal some problems, and a new kink in this couple’s relationship. These are sexy, dark, and gritty books for tough women readers. Not for the faint of heart. Look for it Mid-May. Meanwhile, if you haven’t already, why not take a peek at #1 The Purloined Skull and #2 The Tell-Tale Stone, both filled with a sexy love story, some dark suspense, and a gritty mystery.

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Fifties Innocence

velda 15

Me at 15 innocence personified

At the age of fifteen I went to work at a drug store for the summer. In those days there was a soda fountain with stools, all upholstered in red leather and tucked under a counter of the same color. The drug store sold a small variety of hygiene products, everything from shampoo to foot powder, candy bars to ice cream, plus plenty of more personal items.

Mostly, I worked behind the soda fountain. I know you’ve seen them in the movies if not for real. I learned how to make floats, ice cream sodas, milkshakes and sundaes with little trouble. The job was fun, gave me some pocket money beyond the dollar allowance from my folks, and when cute boys came in I could flirt with them. I’m afraid I was a shameful flirt.

I watched Jane Russell on the silver screen and learned to flip my long blonde hair just like she did her auburn tresses. Now, if only I’d been endowed like she was. However, it was probably a good thing I wasn’t.

40 Ford coupe

1940 Ford Coupe Many a wild ride

That was the first summer I had a steady boyfriend and he had a car. A 1940 Ford Coupe and he drove like a maniac, tires screaming, black smoke pouring. My dad often complained that he didn’t drive his car, he herded it more or less down the road. I was soon to learn that no boy was good enough for Daddy’s little girl. Little did either of us know that I would one day marry this very boy. As far as Daddy was concerned, it would be over his dead body.

Anyway, back to my story that takes place in the drug store. I did fine even when I had to come out from behind the counter and take money for candy bars or ring up other purchases when the pharmacist was the only other sales person in the store. Things were way different back in the Fifties.

One day an old gentleman, probably at least thirty, came in the store while the pharmacist was busy filling a prescription. He looked around, then came over to me, and giving him credit, I did look older than fifteen, asked for a pack of Trojans. I stared at him for a minute, trying to figure out if that was a brand of cigarettes, maybe cigars. I’d never heard of such a thing.

After a few moments of me digging around trying to find something that said Trojan on it, he realized his faux pau and said he’d get them from the pharmacist. It wasn’t till I told my boyfriend about it that I found out what they were. Turned out he could fill in the blanks real easy, even carried a sample in his billfold. Was I red faced. Sex or anything resembling it was not discussed in our house. That’s pretty much the way it was back then.

 

 

 

 

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Frog Legs and Sinking a boat

frog on plate

Frog in a plate

 After my dad came home from the South Pacific and World War II, he and a couple of his buddies went together and bought a little fishing cabin on the Ninescaw River outside Wichita, Kansas where we then lived. And Daddy, being a family man, and my mother up for just about anything, we spent a lot of summer weekends together there. Oh, there were times when he and his buddies went alone, but I remember plenty of good times there.

My dad was a storyteller, and a man who enjoyed humor, so this is a story he told a lot over the years, and one I’ve never forgotten it. It began with the men going out after dark and gigging frogs. The women meanwhile tended a fire that would have plenty of hot coals for cooking.

Prepared with heavy duty flashlights and long poled gigs, they disappeared from the cone of firelight off into the night, filled with the low calls of bull frogs. I’d never eaten a frog and wasn’t sure I wanted to. The idea was less than appetizing. 

“Gonna have frog legs for supper, gals,” was the cry when they returned. What a relief to know it was only the legs we’d have to choke down. They had a big catch of humongous bull frogs and went to work cleaning them. Soon the women had dozens of the legs which they breaded.

frog legs

Frog legs

Daddy waited till the grease was bubbling in several deep skillets to call us kids to the fire. “Want you to watch this.” He nodded his head and the women put the legs in the hot grease. Those long jointed legs began to kick and squirm as if they were still alive. I, being a pre-teen girl, let out a scream you could’ve heard miles away. And Daddy laughed, then laughed some more while all of us joined him in watching the dance of the frogs. They tasted pretty good too.

The next day early in the morning, all of us were up and eating breakfast. The men had brought a boat along so they could go out on the river to fish. It was a John boat, powered only by oars. So, my cousin and my Dad, both of whom had served in the Navy, decided they’d go out together to fish. They loaded up all their gear, climbed in and rowed it out to the middle of the river.

We were playing in the sand along the bank, splashing each other and not paying much attention, when both of them began to holler and laugh, simultaneously. We looked up in time to see that boat slowly sinking with those two, at first just sitting there looking around as if they didn’t believe what was happening. As the water rose into their laps they scrambled around trying to rescue fishing poles and gear while they laughed and water slowly closed in over their shoulders. It ended with them making their way to shore as the boat disappeared underwater. It was funny, watching them swim, then stumble out of that river soaked to the skin.into water

You know, I can’t remember if they ever pulled that boat out or not. But my dad sure did get a lot of mileage out of the story. He told it over and over to anyone who hadn’t heard it. Two navy men who couldn’t keep a boat afloat.

My childhood growing up was filled with such adventures. As I look back on it now I realize how fortunate I was to have my parents and to grow up in what was then a small town in those post-war days when life was so uncomplicated. I vividly recall the first time we went to a drive-in movie, my first real grown up date, when Kansas censored the movie The Outlaw because Jane Russell was too sexy in the bedroom scene, and so many other memories I hope to keep recording here.

 I have learned that after spending 80 years on this planet, there’s no such thing as not having “stuff” to write about.

 

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A hot wind and ice cream

our house

Could be our house

Who, me? Write a memoir? Believe it or not that has been suggested. I’ve spent my writing life telling other people’s stories. Some presented as the truth, others woven into fiction. But when I reached the age of 80 earlier this year, people kept asking me about stuff out of the past, and I found myself relating some stories. Then these same people urged me to write that memoir I’ve put off for so long. So I thought, hey, I write a blog every week, why not use it to write my memoir and it would be done. I wouldn’t have to worry about a cover, or an editor messing about with my southern words, or a publisher, or promotion. Gosh, to a writer with some 26 books in print, this sounds almost too good to be true.

Of course, there’s only one proven way to go about such a project. Put it in a blog. Sounds like a great idea. So, rather than begin at the beginning, the old boring line, “I was born…” I’m just going to tell my stories as they occur to me and hope to find some pictures to go along with the tales.

So where was I when my first story occurred? I was walking down the sidewalk of a small western town by the name of Wichita, Kansas, carrying an ice cream cone with one dip in it. It was a weekly thing, getting a nickel for ice cream. The sun was hot as blue blazes, as Kansas sun often was during ice cream eating season. The wind blew at least fifty miles an hour, cause it never blew any slower and often much faster.

I must’ve been ten because Daddy had come home from the war in the South Pacific, Mother had packed away his navy uniforms and his pea coat hung in the closet, and we had just moved into our first home since, well, since we left that little log cabin in Arkansas and started following Daddy around to construction jobs in 1941. He joined the navy in 1943 to keep from being drafted cause even men with families were now being called up to the army and he couldn’t see himself marching into battle, what we call today “boots on the ground.” So he became the radioman on the USS Attu, a flat top, today called an aircraft carrier.

We had a two bedroom house on Indianapolis, just off Patty and Kellogg (highway 54). I still remember the address was 1416 E. Indianapolis, our phone number was 4-6220. It was a neighborhood of older houses filled with kids, and though the street was not paved, on the other side was a brand new sidewalk cause some duplex apts had been built in the corner vacant lot. We were going to live in a small town that would soon spread out all over the prairie. Across the street lived this Catholic family with 12 kids, which amazed me because we were only two. Me and my little ornery brother Freddie.

And so, here I am, walking along with my ice cream cone that is melting faster than I can eat it. One big lick and a skip, skip, and the entire dip tumbles out onto the sidewalk. There was a moment there when I thought I’d cry. The ice cream cost me a nickel and Daddy had just started a new construction business and we didn’t have any money and I couldn’t afford to buy another one. The nickel was all I had.

I took a quick look around, always being the one to not be seen doing anything wrong or dumb or silly, saw no one and bending down, I pressed that cone into the ice cream and scooped it up. With one last glance around, I skipped on down the sidewalk eating the remainder of my ice cream. It’s one of those things that stands out in memory and is metaphorically fitting for the times. Kids today would not understand that at all, but those of you who’ve been around through the Great Depression and the time when money was tight, most certainly will.

kellogg school apts

Kellogg Elementary Apartments remodeled from the school

 

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