Robert Gordon and Wayne Robbing Nanny Part 2

I wrote of my mother, Kathleen’s laundry list against her cousin’s Robert Gordon and Wayne Perkins just the other day, mentioning her intention to tell Robert Gordon what a hellion should she ever met him again, even if he were Pope. It’s fortunate she never had that little conversation with his partner-in-crime, Wayne, since she found herself in need of his friendship one day early in her marriage.

Daddy was a busy man who had priorities. These included good times with his brothers and brothers-in-law and manly business. That being said, we spent endless weekends with his family, careening out our drive on Fridays after and not often not getting back till late on Sunday night, despite the fact that there were young children to be bathed, homework to be done, and the week ahead to be prepared for. That was woman’s business. Fortunately, he was not a woman.

At any rate, at the close of school every year, Mother would break the news that yet again, she was going to visit her parents this summer. They’d fight a while till they’d reach an impasse.

Outraged, he’d insist she wasn’t going. She’d go on making her plans. Finally he threw out a challenge, “Well, If you go, you’re not coming back.”

She went on with her packing. “We have to be at the train by two.”

Defeated, he asked. “When will you be back?”

“Pick me up two weeks from today. I’ll travel through the night so I won’t have to wrestle with the baby so much.”

Two weeks later, when we got off the train, Daddy wasn’t there. Mother was disgusted, but not too surprised. He was always late. At nine, she called Aunt Julie who told her Daddy and Uncle Parnell had just left there to see a man about a dog, but had mentioned he was supposed to pick her up. He was just going to be a couple of hours late. Of course, Mother was furious, but had no choice but to wait. She called Aunt Julie back later, who hadn’t seen the men. By eleven she had thirty cents left, we were starving, and the baby was guzzling the last bottle. Mother wracked her brain till she remembered her Cousin Wayne lived nearby. She looked his number up and called. Miraculously, he and his wife were home. Upon hearing her plight, he picked us up at the train, took us home for lunch, fixed the baby up with a bottle and a nap, and let Mother use the phone to tell Aunt Julie she’d found a ride, after all. It was mid-afternoon by now. Daddy still hadn’t gotten back from seeing about that dog. Cousin Wayne kindly took us home. Daddy was delighted to see us when he finally came in with his new hunting dog and not surprised at all that Mother had somehow gotten a ride home from the train station. What a guy! I don’t know why she never killed him.

The Boogerman’ll Get You By the Hair of Your Head!

shamMother and I natter on incessantly.  Yesterday we went to visit my aunt a couple of hours away.  As we rode along, I was asking Mother more about the details of her early marriage at eighteen.  She slipped up and confessed a tale she’s felt guilty about ever since.  I couldn’t believe she stumbled and told on herself after sixty-nine years.  She usually bumbles right away.  To set the stage, you have to know she has a ridiculous conscience.  If she suspects there is a rule somewhere, she is obligated to follow it, no matter how senseless.  If she fails, she is required to feel guilty.  That’s the rule.

Mother, married at eighteen.  Within months Daddy moved her into the house with his widowed mother and her two daughters.  They were poor and lived in a decrepit unpainted house miles out in the country, not the newlywed home she’d envisioned.  To put the icing on the ruined cake, Aunt Julie with her two squalling brats had settled in as well.  The house was uncomfortable, Mother felt unwelcome, Daddy was never home except to sleep.

The kids, two and four, whined without ceasing, unless they took a break to throw a fit.  One day, she was alone in the room with them and was totally fed up with the whining.  She told Yvonne, the oldest, “Stop that squalling or the Boogerman will get you!”  To reinforce the lesson, she stepped into the next room, scratched on the door-facing and wailed “Wooooooooo!”  The terrified kids shut up immediately.”  From then on, when the whining started, she’d give them another little dose of Wooooo, if she got the chance when Aunt Julie wasn’t in the room.

“Why didn’t I ever hear this great story before?” I had to know.

“Because I felt guilty, I guess. I didn’t mean to tell it now.  I’m still ashamed,” she confessed.

“Well, you should be.  I am sixty-five years old and I could have been enjoying this story my whole life!”

Awesome Life Down on the Farm: You Gotta Have Guts

Farm BoyDaddy loved home remedies and dosed his kids and livestock readily.   Mother did run interference for us on cow chip tea and coal oil and sugar, but did let him load us with sulphur and molasses for summer sores. We never got summer sores, probably because we reeked so much we didn’t tempt mosquitoes. I do appreciate Mother for putting her foot down when his ideas got too toxic. No telling what kind of chromosome damage she saved us. Continue reading

Lovely Old Barn

Old barn

Though my father saw a barn a’building, I saw a cathedral of rough-hewn lumber rising in the lot behind our house. Mr. Bradley, a crotchedy old grandpa in khakis, showed up about daybreak every morning for coffee, then shuffled on to his barn building. He and a helper worked all day till Daddy and a couple of his buddies took over and worked on as Continue reading

What the Heck! Old People Don’t Get Married!

Wuppin' Mama0006Cousin Katie got married!  What the heck!  Old people don’t married. An old man and his old, old grouchy mama came to visit.   I was only four in 1932 and got this news, like most of life’s important information, from my favorite eavesdropping post under the table. I pretended to play with my paper dolls as Mama and Katie drank coffee and learned Katie Continue reading