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Archive for the ‘childhood memories’ Category

did not consist of cleaning or laundry or lying on the couch watching TLC or Anthony Bourdain all day.  Nope, today I had myself a long-awaited lunch date with one of my oldest friends in the world, Johnny.  He and I go way back to 1st grade at Glen Rose Elementary.  How well I remember sitting across the aisle from each other, holding hands and singing “Leaving on a Jet Plane.”  I wonder if he remembers that.  We remained fast friends all through elementary, through Junior High and High School.  We remembered today, as we drove into our hometown, that the last time we had ourselves a little road trip, that it was also a rainy, muddy, nasty day and how much fun we had then.  He was, and is now, one of the most genuine human beings I have ever known.  He’s one of these people you can go years without seeing and then BAM! it’s like not a day has passed. 

It was a special treat to go out to see his mother and daddy, who were some of my mother’s earliest friends in Glen Rose.  His daddy reminded me that they used to visit down at the Golden Arrow, which, to the best of my remembrance, was a little motel/cafe type outfit.  It was fun to sit in her little alteration shop and visit.  The last time I visited with her was when Mother was in the nursing home…and that was 13 years ago.

It seems odd to me that you can go so long visiting with people you care so much about, and then when you see them again, again, it’s like BAM! no time has passed at all.  Even more fun was the fact that Johnny’s daddy offered up their chickens when I said I wanted one for the backyard. 

How many folks do YOU go visit where they offer you a chicken when you leave?

We drove around Glen Rose and wondered who in the hell thought it was a good idea to build houses along the Paluxy when just last summer it got…um…all the way UP TO THE ROAD.  Then when we drove by, we realized that they were building, or had at least built one house, and it was ON STILTS…like a BEACH HOUSE…and we both decided we wanted one.

I was especially thrilled that I’d spent yesterday sort of cleaning when he needed to come in and use the facilities.  It really wouldn’t have mattered anyway, since Johnny falls into that category of folks who you let in to witness your chaos and know that they won’t go home and blog how nasty your house was.  Belle and Jack loved him up a lot while he was here and I hated to see him go.  I want him to come back and meet the Mr. and the kids.  He has two boys about the same age as the Sub and the Longhorn.  He has had a long haul becoming the Johnny he is and I applaud his journey.  I just love this guy.  He is the best kind of friend ever.  He is that best friend from 1st grade that can be your best friend when you are 44. 

We all have a friend like that…or when you grow up in a place like Glen Rose, you probably have more than a few.  And with those friends you get to include their mamas and daddies who were friends with your mama…the folks who remember you when you were knee-high to a grasshopper.  There is something to be said for visiting with folks who knew you back when.  It is those kind of longlasting connections with folks who ground you…who remind you of where you came from…who you were…and in doing so, they make you appreciate where you are and who you have become.

It’s all just a little surreal for me to reconnect with folks who just see Christine…not the Christine that I see.  They see ME, not the me I see in the mirror…the older, fatter, greyer version of me…and spending the day with those folks absolutely made my day. 

I sincerely hope that you guys have a Johnny…or two.

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Worry not, folks, this Growing up Glen Rose thing has got to end at some point or the other.

As I’ve said before, these entries about my kidhood aren’t so much about writing something funny and entertaining as they are to document for me, and perhaps even my kids, how absolutely decent and loving my growing up was.  I think sometimes we get it in our heads how miserable our youth was…how our childhood was so hard.  I know that growing up, I did…heck, we all did.  All we thought about was getting out of Glen Rose.  That getting out of Glen Rose mentality was largely responsible for my child-brideness.

But then, a funny thing happened when I had kids in a place that was nothing like Glen Rose.  I realized pretty quick that my kids weren’t going to have the same experiences I did.  When I realized that, I began to appreciate more the fact that I had been miraculously blessed to be surrounded by so many amazing people who not only helped my mother and I, but they truly cared about us. 

I’ve written about Olene and Burt and Lillian and Dorothy and Maxie, and today I am going to share a bit about Geneva and Doyle Aston. 

The Aston’s were our landlords for nearly as long as I can remember.  When we moved to English Street they became family. 

See, I was the same age and a lot of the time in the same class as their nephew Bradley.  Brad and I shared the love of UFOs and the Legend of Boggy Creek and Big Foot.  We were fast friends.  When mom was in hospital for this or that when I was little, I remember many times spending the night at Brad’s.  I remember sitting out on top of their storm cellar with walkee talkees thinking we were listening to UFO talks when in reality…well, it was truckers’ CBs. 

We were little.  We didn’t know that UFO folks probably didn’t say ‘Breaker 1-9.’  So, cut us some slack.

Anyway, I digress.  Back to Geneva and Doyle.

I’m quite sure that Geneva and Doyle more than once probably allowed Mom to be a little late with the rent.  They knew she was good for it.  They never minded me coming in to use their phone, since we didn’t have one and I was the one who would need to call if there was a problem with the gas bill or the electric bill.  Mom wasn’t comfortable talking on the phone with her German accent, so I learned early how to deal with folks on the phone.  At 10. 

Geneva and Doyle were always the first stop trick or treating.  Geneva always made ‘special’ treats for us…homemade popcorn balls or candied apples or cookies made especially for us.  They always oo’d and ah’d over whatever silly little costume I could come up with, which most of the time consisted of ‘hobo’ or ’50s girl.’ 

In the summertime, if they were watering their giant lawn, I was always invited to come play in it.  Especially if the grandkids were in visiting or Brad was over.  If there was a family gathering over there and they were making any number of freezers of homemade ice cream, I was always invited over to help sit on the things while the grownups cranked.  It always seemed to take forever for it to ‘make’ when I was little…while I was trying to keep my bare feet out of the little river of salt water that trickled out of the hole in the bucket. 

When you are waiting for the ice cream to freeze when you are 10, 30 minutes is an eternity.  The first time I actually made homemade ice cream as a grownup, it amazed me how fast the process was.

When we weren’t making ice cream, Doyle was always quick to flick me a quarter to run up to the corner for an ice cream.  Doyle, during baseball season, was forever sitting on the porch listening to the Ranger games.  I didn’t really get the baseball back then, but I remember so many summer evenings sitting on that glider on their front porch listening to games with Doyle while the cicadas chirped in the trees around us.  Any time I ever went over, they’d always offer up a ‘coke cola,’ of which they kept cases and cases in the carport.  Coke never tasted better than when I was sitting on the porch listening to a Ranger game with Doyle.

Well, maybe it tasted as good on the picnics with Olene up shotgun road. 

So, we’ll call it a tie.

As I got older and played junior high basketball, Doyle would always wish me luck (and I needed a LOT of it) as I’d walk up the drive on my way to school.  We only lived down the street from the school, so I’d walk to the school to catch the bus to go to the game and then walk home after…in the dark…alone. 

But it was Glen Rose, so it wasn’t really a scary proposition back then.

When Doyle’s health started failing a bit as I got older and he got older, I didn’t bother them so much.  When I would need to use the phone, Doyle quite often was napping in his recliner and I would talk in hushed tones so as not to bother him.  He always had his glasses on, sometimes a little askew on his head. 

When that awful morning came that I was awakened by the flashing lights of the ambulance, it was, perhaps, the first time the D-word affected me directly.  As the ambulance pulled off, I realized that I’d never sit on the porch with Doyle and listen to a Rangers game again.  He’d never throw me a quarter and tell me to go get an ice cream again. 

When we went to the ‘visitation’ at the funeral home, I will never forget how relieved I was that they’d laid him up proper with his glasses on his nose.  It made it like he was just dozing. 

And it made it all a little bit easier for me to deal with.  It was like Doyle wasn’t really dead, he was just napping.

My gosh, I loved those people…and they loved me. 

When mom was in nursing home, I got word that Geneva was in hospital at the same time and her health was failing.  I made myself go to visit.  I was so glad I did when she passed not too long after.  Even in the hospital with her own health failing, she was most concerned about how my mom was. 

And that is what being from Glen Rose was about.

People cared about you…truly.  They cared enough about you to love your scraggley kid.  They cared enough about you to invite you to the family ice cream supper.  They cared enough about you to give your kid the quarter you couldn’t afford so she could run up to the corner for a tasty ice cream snack.  They cared enough about you to invite you into the storm cellar when that ever-impending storm was coming.

They cared enough to make you FAMILY.

How many of us in this day and age can look around at our neighbors and say the same?  I’m guessing that not many of us can…

and I think that is sad.

I think it is especially sad for my kids.  Granted, the older girls did grow up on a street where there were close friendships.  We all had kids about the same age, so we all sort of looked after one another’s offspring.  We spent lots of time in their driveways while the kids played.  Happily, the girls still have some of my Ya-Ya friends from back then that still live on the street.  The Junior can still walk down the street and visit with Lee or with Colleen. 

Is it the same experience as I had?  Well, it’s close.

The thing I find so sad is that The Boy won’t ever have it.  We have become, since the Banishment, pretty much our own island here at the Casa.  We don’t really know the other neighbors that well.  Sure, sometimes when The Boy is out back with Belle, the other side neighbor will have a chat with him over the fence, but it isn’t the same. 

And it never will be. 

But hey, he has us and Belle.  I guess we’ll make do.

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Oddly enought, when I think about writing about my younger years in Glen Rose, Ginnie and Kern never really came to mind…until Dorothy reminded me.  When I linked her to this blog, I gave her fair warning about the colorful language that sometimes happens.  She very graciously reminded me that she’d shared space with Kern Scott, so anything that I came up with…well, she wasn’t going to be horrified and turned to a pillar of salt. 

Honestly, folks, this man really, really cussed like a sailor, although for the life of me, I can’t remember what branch of the service he was retired from.  To be in any way compared to that degree of cussage…

Well, let’s just say it is a questionable honor.

At any rate, I gotta tell you folks about Ginnie and Kern.  I don’t exactly remember when the Scott’s moved into the Fox’s house next door.  It had to have been around the time of 12 or 13.  Maybe 14.  What I do remember is that Ginnie was such a fun lady.  Her left leg was amputated above the knee, but I don’t recall why it was or that it ever slowed her down any.  I remember that Ginnie would take me out towards Dinosaur Valley to drive her big old yellow station wagon.  She never once flinched or got wiggy when I slowed down too much or took a curve too fast. 

It was in her kitchen that I learned how to make homemade candles.  It was in her kitchen that she commissioned me to paint something pretty on the back door because it was “boring.”  She was yet another sweet influence in my growing up.  Sadly, the last conversation we had was when I told her I was divorcing the Ex and she informed me quite matter of factly that my “mother would roll over in her grave” if she knew I’d done it.  It didn’t make me feel good hearing it, but she was one to speak her mind, regardless. 

Anyway, on to Kern. 

Kern Scott was a retired military man.  There was not a bit of warm and fuzzy to this man.  He was rough and gruff and cussed.   Oh my goodness, that man could cuss.  I remember in their ‘library’ there were so many artifacts of his milary service.  One such artifact that tickled me and Ester, my good friend of the times, was this coffin-looking thing that when you opened the lid, this gigantic wang on a spring would BOING out.  Endless times of rolling on the floor laughing that thing provided us. 

It was in Kern’s shed, where he often put us to work sorting screws and nails and what not, that Ester and I first stumbled onto ‘girly magazines.’  Now THAT was an eye opener.  I remember Ester and I conspiring, when he was particularly harsh with us, his little indentured servants (thanks to our parents who also thought putting us to work was a good thing), that we would tell Ginnie about his stash of girly mags.  Of course, we never did, and we ultimately figured out that Kern was a whole lotta bark and not a whole lotta bite.  We always knew, I think, that Kern just wanted to teach us good work ethic.  What I remember most is the Halloween that he commissioned me to help make this ginormous paper mache’ head that he would put on and come around the corner, complete with dry ice smoke, to scare the kids who came trick or treating.  That Halloween was my most fun one between the years that I was a trick or treater and when Halloween stopped being a holiday. 

Once I got married and moved away, I lost track Ginnie and Kern, but they were certainly the most colorful folks from my childhood and for that…as always, I am grateful to have been graced to have known them. 

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I don’t know what is with all the nostalgia swirling around in my head of late.  Maybe it’s because the kids are getting older, but for whatever reason I feel this compulsion to remember and tell them stories from “back in the day.”  Maybe I want them to be reminded that even though we have struggled, they have had a heckuva lot more than I did.  I want them to remember that so that I don’t feel so bad for not being able to give them more…I suppose.

Here in Texas, high school football is THE BIG DEAL.  And while the football boys are all testosteroned up over the big homecoming game, every Texas girl dreams of being asked to homecoming so that she’ll get to parade up and down the stands in her mum and be the envy of every girl who didn’t get asked and didn’t get a mum. 

<insert the story about how when I was in high school the student council took orders for mums for 2 weeks before homecoming and the day of homecoming said student council members would deliver the mums to the girls in the classrooms.  All day.  So for those of us who DID NOT get a mum, it was one longass day of not hearing your name called out and being handed a big long white box tied in a big red ribbon>

Where was I going with this.

Oh yeah.  So it’s homecoming week here in small town Texas.  Big goings on all around.  And the Junior doesn’t have a boyfriend.  And no random boy has asked her to Homecoming.  So, on occasions such as this, Superdad has always made sure his girls were bestowed with a proper mum.  And let me tell you, these suckers can be EXPENSIVE.  These poor boys poor boys’ parents pay upwards of 80-100 bucks for a silk flower, a ton of ribbons, and gold or silver plastic googaws and cowbells.  At any rate, the Junior apparently told dad she was fine going to Homecoming sans mum.

What she didn’t know was that the RCG already had in mind making her a veritable replica of the most awesome mum she ever got from a boy named Frankie who was not even her boyfriend.  She’s working on it right in front of the Junior, only the Junior thinks it is for another girl in band whose parents commissioned the RCG to make it.  RCG is doing an amazing job and it is going to be absolutely gorgeous.  So many googaws and tinkle bells and cowbells and gold plastic footballs and homecoming stickers and leopard print ribbons and gold glitter shelac.  The look on her face is going to be priceless.

<insert the story about how one year my sweet mother apparently got wind of this whole mum hubbub and decided to order her gal a mum.  I might have been 14.  Which meant I’d had 3 years of torturous homecoming Fridays where every other bitch in the class got a mum except me.  Anyway, mother, never having attended a high school homecoming game didn’t even know what the hell they were, much less how to order all the bells and whistles.  So, imagine me sitting there that year and for the first time ever hearing my name called to come to the door to get MY HOMECOMING MUM.  My gosh, I was like Charlie when he found the Golden Ticket for pete’s sake.>

So yesterday when the RCG was showing me all the fancy bows and bells and glittery ribbons she’d put on the Junior’s I told her the story of the year I got a mum in high school and come to find out when I opened the box that mother hadn’t known she had to order the plastic footballs and cowbells and jingly things and Homecoming 1979 ribbons.  What I saw in the box was a plain white mum with 6 red ribbons and 6 white ribbons.  No glittery letters that spelled my name.  No sparkly anything.  No plastic footballs.  No we’re number 1’s.  Like I told the RCG, ‘look at THAT mum you are holding and take EVERYTHING pretty and sparkly and dangly away and THAT is the mum I had in a box.’

We were laughing so hard we were both crying.

See, her daddy and I were together while I was still in high school.  He was way older and not into ‘taking me to homecoming,’ so even though I “had a boyfriend,” my junior and senior year I still had to sit through that day-long ordeal of every other bitch getting a mum.  But in the back of my head I always though that maybe, maybe he’d go ahead and get me one this year.  Of course, I never asked for one.  I never asked for anything. 

But later, during our exit talks before I moved out, he and I would chat about how that, though so insignificant, was something that stayed with me.  Not so much that my mother got me a plain, ugly mum I had to fuss over AND WEAR, but that he hadn’t really known me enough to know how much a stupid flower with ribbons and glitter would have meant to me.

And that is why, I believe, he makes sure his girls have glittery, jingly, sparkly mums every year.  

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