Henry the eighth I am…

I’m sitting here in my writer’s garret staring out the window. A full moon hangs high in the sky. The weather is warm and a breeze drifts in through my open window. I tell Google to play my favorite radio channel from Pandora. It’s mostly 1960’s and 1970’s music and I close my eyes to let the music surround me. ‘Henry the Eighth’ by Herman’s Hermits comes on and the images stretch out from a past life and pull my mind back to a simpler time. Before responsibilities of family and jobs consumed every moment; before the worries about how much money was enough money and before those dear to me departed to their heavenly home.

You see, Henry the Eighth was a favorite song from our youth. It was playing on the radio that night the front tire slipped into the loose gravel along the side of the road and sent us rolling end over end. I suppose it was a miracle that no one suffered any injuries, except Phillip, who got a bloody nose when I ‘accidentally’ kicked him in the face. We just pushed the car back over onto its wheels and drove back to town like nothing happened.

Now, when I hear the song, I see myself in my brother Norman’s 1966 Oldsmobile. With us three youngest brothers Paul, Phil and me rolling around the back seat while Norman performs ‘Bat turns’. My brother David in the passenger’s seat serving as the official co-pilot, beverage controller and radio technician.

We’ll cruise down those ancient gravel roads that lead us to nowhere in particular, just five brothers sliding through the darkness with the AM radio blaring out the day’s top twenty hits. None of us giving a damn about anything but the moment.

Oh youth, you make me smile.

Just a Thought

“Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap.” Barbara Jordan

I was inspired by a post from my friend over at Kristianw84. you can read her original post at https://lifelessonsaroundthedinnertable.wordpress.com/2019/07/29/inspiration-has-struck/

While talking we came to the conclusion that there’s not a single problem in the world that couldn’t be solved by sharing a cookie, a smile and a hug. Imagine if before discussing nuclear arms or trade negotiations, our world leaders simply sat down, shared a glass of milk, a few cookies and a quick nap. Maybe they would all dream of world peace.

Another Pleasant Sunday…

A Sunday dinner at Pappy and Grandma’s house at first glance was a basic affair where we gathered to eat, talked and just enjoyed the company of family. To the untrained eye of a child, each dinner seemed to be a repeat of the one the week before. After the obligatory hugs, kisses, you’re just as cute as a bug in the rugs and hello uncle somebody that I have no idea who you are; the children were exiled into the yards to explore their imaginations. There, the youngest of the kids usually had to suffer from the domination of the older children who dictated as to what games to play and even which rules would be followed on that particular day.  

Inside the house, the adults split into their groups. Usually, but not always, decided by gender. The females occupied the kitchen and the back of the house. Having never been a member of that group, I’m positive that they have their own stories to tell. But my ignorance of the subject dictates that I am better off not leaving any comments on the matter.

The male species would move to the front of the house where Pappy could keep a keen eye peeled on the comings and goings of the neighborhood. His chair was also stationed directly beneath the thermostat. Which made him king of the temperature control. In the various chairs and couches, the older uncles, fathers and brothers would take up their places as befitting the lords and under lords of the castle. Underlings, those that no longer had to be exiled for immaturity but lacked the experience to contribute anything worthwhile to the conversation, sat about the floor. Or if there were too many of them, they migrated to the front porch to form their own group. They always stayed within site of the herd in case some opening should occur in the seating arrangement. Or some topic of conversation might justify them to speak to the elders of the tribe. Conversation varied greatly depending on which council members sat in judgement on any particular Sunday.

The things a young person was taught in those hours spent were far more precious than just a free meal. Those things would never be learned while attending any school. We learned about religion, weather, rotating crops, which politicians were trustworthy or just downright criminals. A question would always come along that would require some hands on training where we would all stroll out to the garage to learn the proper way to replace an alternator or to the garden to view the best way to fertilize tomatoes. We learned respect for those that were more experienced. We learned the art of conversation. No TV’s blared in the background, no cell phones lit the faces of comatose children, and no Instant Messenger,  Google, Facebook or Twitter, or games pinged their annoyance into the ears of others. This was our social media.

When it came time to eat, there were always two tables. The children were seated and fed first. This wasn’t about getting them out of the way but about tradition. Stemming from the days when food was a scarce and parents made sure that the children were fed so they could survive.

I know that we are all searching for a way back to that simpler life. But the change is never going to be found in a 2/3rd majority vote by some congress. The change that we need is inside each of us. Perhaps a great start can be a return to that Sunday dinner. Just leave the cell phones at the door.

Real Life Friday – Cut me to the bone…

As I look back at my youth, I remember the summer days seemed to hold onto the light with clenched fists much longer that it does now. But darkness would still eventually push daytime into night and that’s when the ‘Mother’s Commandments’ would take over. I think its rule #3 that said, “You’d better be in this yard when the street light comes on.” It was right behind ‘Never lie’ and ‘Never steal’ but before “If you don’t stop crying, I’ll give you something to cry about.”

After the homework was finished, the chores of the day completed and moms and dads settled in for an evening of Gun Smoke, the kids were let loose upon the town, pretty much free to do as we wished as long as we obeyed the commandment. As twilight began to stretch across the empty streets of Wakenda small groups of children would gather into their respective cliques. The boys of our end of town, which mostly was just us brothers in one yard and the girls, again mostly sisters, would gather in another. But this hot August night had something different going on. There were some new faces in the girl’s group, a couple of friends from out of town visiting their grandparents.

As you can imagine, this was a rare occurrence and word spread quickly throughout our little village. We had to act fast to show our warrior skills. Time was of the upmost importance. We didn’t want any rival tribes from the other side of town invading our space. It started off simply enough. The boys raced each other down the length of the block. The losers, usually me since I was the youngest, followed along behind the winners as they strutted back to the starting line to begin a new race. A few races passed and it became evident that the same people were going to win every time. But this fact must have been lost on the girls because they stuck their noses in the air and turned away, uninterested in the ways of men.

It seemed we needed a new strategy. There was an old apple tree in the yard across the street. Its apples were never much good for eating but they made descent projectiles. So we chose up sides for a friendly game of ‘see if you can hit the other person with an apple and make him cry’. Kind of like dodge ball…only with small green apples.

Ah, we had their attention now. As the smell of sweat and testosterone hung heavy in the evening air, they crossed the yard to join in the games. Before long, they were throwing apples at us boys as we ran across the street and jumped into the ditch in a true display of our physical prowess.

Suddenly, my brother disappeared into the ditch and never returned. At first we yelled out to him, calling him various feminine body parts and heckled him for his lack of manly appendages. Then panic set in as he still had not climbed up from the ditch. A frantic search, found him lying in a puddle of blood at the bottom of the ditch, his knee cut open to the bone by a hidden brick. The blood was still pouring between the fingers of his hand as he clenched his knee. Our sisters all flocked to him. They ripped his shirt to make a bandage. The new girl hugged his neck and kissed his cheek.

He smiled at us as we carried him to the house. The emergency room gave him 27 stitches and he had to walk with a crutch for a month. But he had won this summer’s prize. All hail Chief David.

Real Life Friday – Can I Play…

I moved down the stairs and through the kitchen where I saw my mother slicing potatoes into a pan of hot grease. I passed my brother, setting on the front step, gently strumming his guitar. My sister pranced about the yard in make believe games. I reached out to touch her shoulder. She shivered and quickly turned toward me.

“Can I play too”, I asked. But as she opened her mouth to speak, the only sound that came out was of a man I did not recognize.

“107 degrees,” it said. “I have no idea how he is still alive.