Gram’s Favorite Story

My Grandma was a great story-teller and I was her best audience. She told me many things, but her favorite story was a murder mystery. Oh…for a kid it just doesn’t get any better than that. And, to make it even better, she told me she was on the jury for this murder–just like Perry Mason! How cool was that?

This trial went on forever, she said. I was not very old so she did not tell me a lot but what she told me was bad enough. So much so, I remember wondering if it was all true or if she was trying to keep me still and occupied. This murder happened when she was very young–before she married my Grandpa. A whole family and two kids that were staying the night with them were killed with an axe. The Mom, Dad, four kids, and the two neighbor kids died.

I had forgotten all about her story until this morning when I saw a little blurb on Facebook. Because I follow other Iowa Facebook pages, the page, Unsolved Iowa Murders: Historic Cases, was suggested to me as a page I might be of interest. The highlighted case of discussion, Vallisca Axe Murders.

Oh my gosh.

If unsolved murders are of interest to you, this is one you should check out. As I read I soon discovered there was a LOT of the story that my Gram did not tell me.

Here is what I found today. Most of what I’m sharing comes from an article written by Nancy Bowers featured on Unsolved Iowa Murders” Historic Cases.

Early in the morning, June 10, 1912, Josiah (Joe) B. Moore, his wife Sara, their 4 children and 2 neighbor children, Lena and Ina Stillinges, were bludgeoned to death. This horrible crime changed the little town of Villisca forever. One author states: “…a fascinating study of ordinary people dealing with an extraordinary event.”

That Monday morning the town Marshal, Hank Horton, was told by someone to get the Joe and Sara’s house because something was wrong. He went to the home and discovered, as he supposedly told the coroners, there’s someone dead in every bed.

The crime scene was not secured and was soon contaminated with curious onlookers. Nancy Bowers sited the following observations in her article:

The victims faces were covered by bed-clothes and other clothing.

Kerosene lamps were found a the foot of the beds with the chimneys removed and the wicks turned back.

Mirrors and other reflective surfaces were covered with clothing. 

A plate of partially eaten food was found at the kitchen table next to a bowl of bloody water. 

The axe used for the murders was propped up against the sewing room wall. 

Two pounds of bacon was placed next to the axe. 

 

The eight caskets were held in the town firehouse as the funeral was held in the town square. The funeral procession was huge, with 50 rigs and horse-drawn hearses. The National Guard was called in to keep the 5-7 thousand people in attendance in order.

For weeks, bloodhounds roamed the streets tracking for any trace of a scent. Rumors and suspicions ran high with the entire town on edge. Families stayed with each other so someone could be on watch at  night.

There were many suspects. The list is impressive:

Many suspected  state senator, F.F. Jones, of hiring someone to murder Joe Moore because Joe was supposedly having an affair with his daughter-in-law.

Some claimed a moccasin print was found by the front porch, indicating the murderer was Native American.

One very interesting rumor was detectives obtained a photograph of the murderer from the retina of Lena Stillinges’ eye because she had woken up and saw him.

They searched for and found the mentally ill minister, Lyn George Jacklin Kelly. He was obsessed with the phrase “slay utterly” from Ezekiel 9:6. Five years after the murder, Preacher Kelly confessed. After two trials, he was found not guilty–just as my Gram had told me.

Now, I know the rest of the story.

I am…

B…simply being…

Stay safe and know I love you.

Peace

 

Marilyn and Other Things

Before the weekend, I have to share more about what happened in 1953.

Did you know that the first issue of Playboy magazine was published in 1953? And, did you know that Marilyn Monroe was on the cover? This first issue cover was interesting for one other reason–it was not dated. Hugh Hefner was not sure the magazine would be popular enough to warrant a second issue. I have to say, I didn’t think Hugh Hefner was unsure of anything!

Queen Elizabeth II was crowed Queen of England.

Also in the United Kingdom, Ian Fleming published his first James Bond novel, Casino Royal.

Some of the films you would have seen in theatres were: Shane, The War of the Worlds, From Here to Eternity, and another tip of the hat to Ms. Monroe, her now classic film, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. This was, indeed, a very busy year for Marilyn!

The Corvette made its first appearance on Chevrolet showroom floor.

Texas Instruments was credited with the invention of the transistor radio.

Smoking cigarettes was reported for the first time as causing cancer.

Albert Schweitzer was awarded the Noble Peace Prize. Winston Churchill was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

The top three songs on the Billboard top 100 for 1953 were: The Song from Moulin Rouge by Percy Faith, Vaya con Dios by Les Paul and Mary Ford, and How Much is That Doggie in the Window by Patti Page.

The three top TV shows for that year were: I Love Lucy, Dragnet, and a tie between Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts and You Bet Your Life.

The New York Yankees won the World Series for the fifth year in a row.

The Detroit Lions were the NFL champions.

The Minneapolis Lakers were the NBA champions.

The Stanley Cup was won by the Montreal Canadians.

Jonas Salk developed the polio vaccine. In 1952, the number of polio cases in the United States was 57,628, over 21,000 of those cases were paralytic. Those statistics shocked me.

James D. Watson and Francis H.C. Creck announced the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA.

The Korean War ended after President Eisenhower warned China he would not be afraid to use nuclear weapons. This war was costly one. 33,629 US troops, 3,000 UN troops, 50,000 South Korean troops, and 1.5 million Communist troops from China and North Korea died. I had no idea the casualties were so high.

On a much lighter note, I found this interesting little tidbit. I’ve always been intrigued by teen fads–most likely goes back to the days when I was tagging behind my cousin, Donna. This year girls wore dog collars over their white ankle socks as ankles. If the collar was worn on the left ankle, the girl was single. On the right ankle, she was going steady–another word you do not hear anymore–going steady. In the Chicago area, according to this online source and the Chicago Tribune, girls added nail heads and bells to their collars. The girls from the Windy City also stepped up the messaging system by adding colored collars. A red collar on the left meant the wearer was in love and going steady. A green collar on the left meant the girl was “willing”. (Hmmmm…) A tan collar on the left meant the wearer did not care if  she had a date or not. A black collar on the left meant their relationship was over–they were in mourning.

As I wrote that last paragraph, I had to smile. Our world has changed in so many ways but our basic human needs and desires are the same. I am saddened by one thought that came to me. In 1953, in order to communicate with their peers, the young ladies had to get out and socialize. They had to take a risk and be visiable–personally announce their social status.

I smile again, wondering what the conversation would be like talking with the young lady wearing that green collar anklet?

I’m thinking I’d really like her spunk and spirit!

Have a great weekend, my friends.

Stay well, cool, and hydrated.

I am…

B…simply being…

I love you and wish you peace.

 

 

Besides Me, What Happened in 1953?

I did not realize until I started writing this blog, how little I really knew about what was happening in the world as I grew up.

I don’t think any of us who grew up when I did knew much about the world around us. Our world centered around what happened in our neighborhood. That’s all we needed to know.

I’m not sure that isn’t still correct.

When I began writing about my grade school years, I had to sit down and write out the years I was in school. Who knew what year certain things happened?

Today, I did some very simple online research. I read what thepeoplehistory.com, tvhistory.tv, and pop-culture.us, had to say about what was happening in the world in 1953. I did not fact check any of what I am going to share with you because, regardless of the accuracy, I found it all so interesting.

In 1953, my life began at St. Joseph’s Hospital, Kokomo, Indiana; Vivian and Merle’s lives changed forever.

Here are some other interesting things about 1953:

A woman could buy a cotton print dress for $10.75. A Velveteen jumper–when was the last time you heard the word, jumper? $11.59. Metal colored platform shoes = $3.49. Nylon stocking, with a French heel, $5.00.

A man in 1953 would spend $13.76 for a pair of trousers. Again, when was the last time you used the word, trouser? A corduroy jacket would set him back $15.75. A 10K gold ring with a genuine black onyx or a simulated ruby would take $8.98-$29.98 out of his wallet.

The average cost of a car was $1,850. Gas, depending on the what source you use, 20-29 cents a gallon, a loaf of bread, 16 cents, a first class stamp would add 3 cents to the cost of that birthday card.

The average wage per hour was 75 cents, average salary approximately $4,700.

Depending on where you lived, this is what you would get for your mortgage dollar:

Oshkosh, WI, Lakeside 4 bedroom home with 90 feet of lakefront on Lake Winnebago, $10,000.

Elyria, OH, 8 room house with basement on 3.5 acres. Furnace and outbuildings. $8,000

Joplin, MO, 6 rooms with modern built-in bath, 2 car garage with other outbuildings. 8 acres. $8,500.

Some of the more odd things noted about 1953:

Duncan Hamilton won the 1953 Le Mans car race. I read this and thought, way to go Duncan until I saw the note that, according to this source, he did so while being completely inebriated.

All radios made in the US between 1953 and 1963 had a white triangle marking the dial at 640 AM. This triangle designated the spot where you would go to get the Civil Defense information broadcast.

One of the early TV evangelists was Fulton Sheen–my mom’s favorite. On one broadcast he substituted the names of Russian leaders when reading from the burial scene of Julius Caesar: “Stalin must one day meet his judgement.”  Later that week Stalin suffered a stroke and died.

An interesting note for all country western fans, the first radio operator to hear about Stalin’s death was Johnny Cash. He was serving with the US Air Force in Germany at that time.

Swanson had a lot of turkey left over from Thanksgiving in 1953. 260 tons, according to one source. When Swanson asked their workers what to do with the leftover turkey, they suggested they pack it into individual trays along with some side dishes and freeze it. Just like that–the Swanson TV dinner!

Is it any wonder why I like potatoes? This was the year that Ore-Ida began selling Tater Tots to grocery stores. What are Tater Tots? They are the pressed leftovers from making french fries. Who knew?

I have some other tidbits to share with you tomorrow. Unfortunately, I don’t have a new book to share with you. There has not been much time for reading this week unless you count reading a refrigerator operators manual.

I am…

B…simply being…

I love you guys.

Peace

 

 

 

 

Buyer Beware

I’m not sure I can really put into words the experiences we’ve had these past few days. I will have to edit out the profanity before I hit the “publish” tab.

The picture attached to my blog today is one of my refrigerator, a Sears Kenmore Elite, purchased when we bought our home in March of 2016.

This lovely appliance stopped working last Sunday.  As of today, three days later, we still do not have a refrigerator. Needless to say, most of the food is questionable. We pushed most of it into coolers, but, I had not anticipated this length of time without a real refrigerator.

Our calls for service began at 0630 Monday morning. The local Sears store does not handle any service issues. All calls go through the national call center. That name is a misnomer. It should be called an international call center. But, we did reach a real person. She told us the soonest she could get someone out to fix our 17-month-old refrigerator was August 18th.

That was not acceptable to us. After a few more words emphasizing that fact, she told us that Sears does use third party service people and she could connect us with that person to see if they could come out earlier. She connected us to R&R appliance repair.

We talked with someone from that company who said they would be to our house Tuesday between noon and 2 p.m. Okay. I could make it work for that long with coolers.

Tuesday arrived. The service person arrived at 4 p.m. After a short inspection, he told us that the compressor was gone. Not good news. The news got worse. No, he did not have a compressor with him to fix it nor could he fix it. That job was too complicated and difficult for his company. We would need to call Sears again, give them that information, and reschedule service.

Let me attempt to tell you how the past two days of calls to Sears Service Line have gone:

The usual phone tree greets you and you are directed to a person. It has been our experience that the person speaking to you is either in Asia or The Philippines. We told them we had called for service yesterday and Sears connected us with R&R appliance service. That service technician came to our house yesterday and told us that the compressor needed to be replaced. The technician said that his company was not qualified to replace a compressor. Okay. We expected our earlier service call would put us into another queue and we’d move up on the scheduling ladder. We waited and waited only to be told that it would be two more weeks for service.

Again, not acceptable. Please connect us to a supervisor–in the United States, please. We waited. Waited. We spoke with a supervisor who told us that they were glad to help us because Sears does contract with third party service companies and he would give us the number for R& R.

No! We have had them here and they said they are not qualified to make this level of repair.

Can we please talk with your supervisor. We waited to talk with that person. We waited longer. A new person–maybe someone who just happened to be walking by–who knows at this point? This person told us they could help us and would connect us to the company qualified to replace a compressor. Before we could ask for the number in case we were disconnected, he was gone. We thought, great, finally, we were being connected…

We waited. We waited.

That call was dropped and a person by the name he gave us, was never found.

This conversation, nearly word for word, was repeated at least FIVE times over the past two days. Each call session lasted at least 30 minutes. There were times when we both had to call a time out, surrendering the phone before we both had some sort of vascular accident.

I won’t share all of the conversations we had with them today–it’s mostly the same exact thing except–this is good–the person coming for the next service call–in two weeks–will also be doing a diagnostic check on our unit. And the cost for that inspection was our responsibility as well as any labor cost for the work done. We demanded to know why we had to pay for another inspection. The reason, coming from another different supervisor, is because before they replace a compressor they want a new evaluation. Frankly, they don’t trust that first opinion–from a company they told us had been trained and approved by Sears.

It goes on and on and on…

Waving the white flag, we worked on some way to make this work. We had been talking about getting a backup refrigerator, so this was the time to do that. This would give us a refrigerator while we waited for our nearly new one to be fixed–if that fix is even possible.

Here is the lesson I have to share today:

Education and having the opportunity to learn is always wonderful. I have to say, we have certainly been in the front row for this one! Roni, our great and knowledgeable sales person at Home Depot, told us that because of how complicated the LG and Samsung appliances are made, very few people have the training needed to service them. Something we learned earlier in the week, a Kenmore Elite is made by LG. Roni stressed to us that until more service people are trained on these appliances, getting them serviced will continue to be an issue.

That information explains why we have such a long wait for service. It is certainly information I wish I had when we were deciding what appliances to buy. The initial  ratings of refrigerators are misleading because the major vendors are ranked pretty close together UNTIL you get to serviceability. It is the ease of service that drops many of the units we were considering.

Oh, Ellen and Fred Morris, I sure wish People’s Appliance was still just a few miles away from us!

So, buyer beware. Take your time and ask a lot of questions. Read the ratings further than the first few lines and pay attention to the customer reviews. They are often very insightful.

Okay, class is over.

It is past time for that glass of wine.

I am…

B…simply being…

I love you guys!

Peace

 

Home Perms

Every day, I am surprised by the memories that come to me by way of pictures.

Today, my share and tell revolves around my favorite school picture.

Yes, dear Kathy, this is my example of the infamous home perm.

This picture was taken after my very first perm–an event I begged for every day for weeks. My mom’s criteria never changed: my hair had to be long enough to wrap around her index finger.

Every day, at least once, I’d ask her to check. Finally, the day arrived–my hair passed her inspection!

I was ready.

Mom told me that there were a lot of steps to the process, sitting still was a very important part of each step. My memory of this summer afternoon is a clear one: I am sitting on a kitchen chair with my hands tucked under me in an effort to stay still. This being still stuff was very hard for me. I was a nervous little kid–biting my nails, swinging my legs, all while using my hands in an effort to ensure whatever I was saying was clearly understood.

Yes, it’s obvious, my mother was a saint.

She waited me out, reminding me to sit still while wrapping and rewrapping the rods until every hair was secured. With this done, we headed to the sink, where I laid back as she poured strong smelling perm solution over each and every rod. When each rod was saturated, she placed a shower cap on my head and directed me back to my chair.

We waited…for what seemed like hours.

With my hair neatly arranged in rows of colored rods, the solution had a straight shot down each and every row. I can still feel that solution as it made its way toward my eyes, into my ears, and down the back of my neck.

I was miserable but I did not complain–much.

I was going to have curls.

This “curing” time was when home perms got tricky. Too much time and the hair would be really frizzy. Too little time, not much curl.

We needed it to be just right.

When time was up, it was back to the sink where the solution was rinsed off–another solution applied to stop the curling action, and those pesky rods removed. Who knew something so simple could feel so wonderful?

I remember Mom calling this first perm the test run. She said it was good we did it when we did because there was time for my hair to relax some before picture day.

I remember thinking I looked so good.

I was very happy–my face says it all.

I felt that my mom and I had done a good job. I was proud of us.

I feel the same today.

Miss you, Mom.

I am…

B…simply being…

Love you.

Peace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another Survivor

I found my first grade student ID card.

When you read that, it sounds like I had been looking for it. Honestly, I am not sure I knew that I had one. Magically, miraculously, this card and several other small items, survived human and natural disasters along with multiple long distance moves by secreting themselves inside the back of a picture frame. What a treat!

It was seeing the dress in this picture that created a flood of memories. My sisters and I all had dresses like this–bright white with wide navy blue stripes. It was one of the few dresses that my Mom did not make herself. On this day, first grade picture day, my dress was about to get its very own unique makeover.

Our class had pictures taken after lunch–unfortunate timing because this day was also spaghetti lunch day! I loved spaghetti lunch day! I had been very careful eating. I did not want to get anything on the front of my dress. I even stopped early because I did not want to increase the odds of any mistakes. The down side to that was the fact I had a lot of left-over spaghetti with sauce on my plate.

It was time to take my tray back. I had to pay attention, so I was concentrating hard, totally focused as I walked slowly across the lunch room to the window where we left our dirty trays.

I was watching the position of my plate on that big tray, patiently waiting in line. It was almost my turn. I was nearly at the window. I did not see the very tall, quick-moving boy in front of me as he turned–bam! I was moving backwards as my tray and plate smashed into the front of my dress.

Oh no…

I was frozen in place.

I began to cry.

One of the ladies from the kitchen saw what had happened and came to my rescue. What a sight I must have been–by then I was sobbing–worried about getting my picture taken and scared that I had ruined my dress. What was my mom going to say?

It will be okay, she said, bending down close and giving my shaking shoulders a quick squeeze. She was there and she would help.

Together we pulled off the drying noodles, wiped, scrubbed, and dabbed away at the mushy, spreading red stain.

The photographer said I was lucky. He could position the picture so most of the stain would not be obvious in the picture. Looks to me like he was able to do that. The interesting thing about finding these treasures of the past is the hindsight they provide.  At that time I had no way of knowing what a harbinger of the future this was–that almost every school picture of my life would have a story to tell and an adventure–or misadventure to share.

This was the only one with sauce, though.

I am…

B…simply being…

Love and peace, Y’all.

 

 

 

 

You Are Important

It’s Friday.

Even being part of the retired work force, it is still good to be looking into the beginning of the weekend.

Friday has become book review day. I have two books to talk about today–one very old, one new.

The first, the old one, is a little paperback that has been in my stack of very important things since I was young. You are Important, by Roy L. Smith, copyright, 1952. This book sat on my Mom’s bedside table while she battled her cancer–I suspect it had been part of her reading material for some time before that.

This is one of the few things I have of my Mom’s. The fact that I still have it is another miracle to me. It survived a lot of things over the years–long distance moves being the least of them.

Every now and then, I’d wonder why she had this book?

Did she not feel important?

I’ve tried to read it many times. It is not an easy assignment. The phrasing is wordy and cumbersome. The prayers are filled with words like thee, thou, didst,  and hadst.

Now, because I search for answers to questions I have about my life, what the author says is secondary to me. What has become important–what makes each dive into this book so intriguing and almost mysterious–are the passages highlighted by Mom.

One of the first highlighted passages is this one from Lessons on You, Lesson 6, titled, You are Not Peculiar:

The grief of a young mother is always very touching. Any grief is, for that matter. And we always do all in our power to soften the blows. But there are some disasters in this life which cannot be avoided, and there are some blows which cannot be softened. They come sooner or later to each of us. 

I have no way of knowing when she read and noted these words. My heart tells me she was searching for comfort after losing her newborn son and was grieving.

Each chapter ends with a short prayer. I’ve read the prayer at the end of this chapter several times over the years. I have yet to find much comfort in the words.

I wasn’t going to share it because it really bothered me. Then, I thought, if I was reading this I would want to see what I’d judged so critically. Here is that prayer:

Here is that prayer:

Lord Jesus, I am ashamed of the way I have rebelled against thee in the hour of my distress, thinking that thou hadst singled me out for unjust treatment. As I catch a glimpse of thee upon thy cross, which thou didst not deserve, I confess that many of the blows which have fallen upon me have been no more than my just deserts. Forgive me this day for whining.

The next book is one I just started and it seems to be almost the counterbalance for the very old book I just discussed.

Option B, written by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant. This book is the work Sheryl and Adam did together after the sudden death of Sheryl’s husband, Dave.

What is makes this book stand out for me is the fact it addresses death and grieving by someone who just went through the experience. It addresses something we will all go through over the course of our lives–we will all lose someone we love. Regardless of who we are or what we do, there is no avoiding that.

It was comforting to me to know others struggle with grief as much as I.  It was helpful to read that Sheryl also struggled with the everyday stuff after her loss. To read how people avoided her because they did not know what to say to her or if they did say something, how unhelpful their words were to her. It’s another book that is taking me a long time to read. I am learning so much from all experiences and stories she shares.

I am..

B…simply being…

My wishes to you all for a very happy and safe weekend.

Stay aware and kind.

Love and peace, Y’all.

 

Journaling

I’ve kept journals for most of the past 35 years. In fact, it was my writing that enabled me to keep my job when it had become obvious to me, and everyone else, that one of the physicians I worked with had one goal in mind when she joined our department. Her goal was to get rid of me in any way she could find. Her methods were…let’s say…brutally effective.

I refused to allow that to happen. I loved my job and I was good at what I did. I did not fully understand when our battle began how correct she was with some of her objections about my work. Somehow I was able to look beyond my fear and see the valuable lessons hidden in her threats. With a lot of introspection through writing, I began to see my way through each day and successfully navigate the constantly changing mine fields.

I was up every work day writing in my black spiral notebook for at least 45 minutes. I would let my pencil flow freely across the pages. No censoring. No editing. No fixing poor penmanship. Every written word freed more of my mind. My worries and insecurities were literally spelled out and dismissed each day before I even began my drive downtown. The last three sentences at the end of each day’s pages were the same:

I am.

I am.

I am.

My first day’s entry in that series of journals was this conversation with myself:

I will learn quickly and completely growing into one of the best rounded sonographers in our lab. I will stay strong and kind. I will hear this physician ask me to stay when I give my final notice.

I won.

Time passed. I forgot about the power of words.

Then I began this blog.

Every day as I write, I re-discover the power of words–my words. With each memory nurtured and tended, my stories become clearer and grow.

My soul, patiently waiting, celebrates.

I am…

B…simply being…

Love and peace, Y’all.

 

Some Lessons from the Road

Today was a travel day. I’ve had things to get to all over our little area. The problem with all that is I cannot write while I drive. The good part of it is, I had lots of time to think so now I have very different things to write about today.

This morning Michael and I went to our water aerobics class. I cannot endorse this type of exercise strongly enough. For my friends who are working sonographers, find a class and then find a way to really go to it. My back, neck, and shoulders feel the best they have felt in a very long time. I am amazed at how much better we both feel from this type of exercise.

As we drove to our class, we narrowly avoided a serious accident. It’s summer and motorcycles are everywhere. Being a strong advocate for the motorcyclist, I always stress how important it is for drivers to stay very aware when there is a motorcycle in the mix of traffic flow. This morning, it was the motorcycle rider who did not see a truck that must have been in his blind spot. Because bikes are so quick to respond, this rider was well into the other lane before he realized there was a truck already there. The truck driver was paying attention which was why a disaster was avoided. Had the truck driver been distracted or responded more slowly, I doubt whether we all could have stopped quickly enough to avoid hitting each other or the rider.  Please, as the summer progresses and more of us travel, be alert to what’s going on around you and stay back.

Lastly, let’s all think about the people in our lives. Over the past few months, several friends have lost family members or friends suddenly or after a very short illness. Our world and our lives are swamped with so much stress and negativity. Take a minute to check in with each other and let those you love know that you love them. It takes only a minute. Do this one thing, make that one quick call or send that note instead of doing the usual, thinking you should do it. This one thing may be the best memory you’ll  have for this day. Please, do not let not doing it be one of your biggest regrets.

I have not shared anything from A Guide for the Advanced Soul lately. Here is what I found for us today:

Every time we say “I must do something” it takes an incredible amount of energy. Far more than physically doing it.   Gita Bellin

Isn’t that interesting…

I am…

B…simply being…

I send you all love and prayers for peace.

 

Ronnie​

When I was young, a large part of my summer was spent at my grandparents. Knowing that was one of the best parts of the last day of school–I began counting down the days until I would be in little kid heaven.

I’m not sure who was more excited, my Grandma, my cousin Donna, or me? My Grandpa was working most of the time as a janitor/handyman for the owners of their apartment building which left my Grandma alone a lot of the time. Even though Donna was living with my grandparents full-time, she was not around much. She was working full-time at Woolworth’s as a waitress so she could save money for her late summer wedding.

The only person who was NOT excited about my being there was Donna’s fiance, Ronnie. Because I was there for a short amount of time, Donna’s goal was to see me as much as possible and keep me happy.

These goals did not bid well for Ronnie.

In order to keep some peace with her soon to be husband, Donna and I planned out our time carefully. Before she left for work, we would decide what time I would come to Woolworth’s and share fries and a coke. This summer was the first time I had ever had fries and a coke. I was feeling so very grown up–like a teenager, for sure.  After dinner, she’d promised, I could go with her and Ronnie for ice cream.

How could any kid be unhappy with those plans?

One of the neatest things about my grandparent’s apartment building was the fact it had a fire escape. Not only was it super cool looking, in a kinda creepy way, but people used it. Up and down the back of the red brick building, the jointed black staircase was broken into porches, little gardens with flower pots, and clothes lines.  This stairway was also very functional.  It connected the people in that building to a very busy back alley.

It was this alley Ronnie used as his personal driveway. Every evening he would pull up and honk for Donna to come join him. His chivalry was the point of many arguments between my cousin and my grandparents–an argument she rushed to avoid the last evening of my visit, by quickly jumping onto the window sill and out to the landing.

Try as I might, I was much slower than she–a point, I’m sure, only endeared me more to Ronnie.  His honks grew in length and in number–an action which only increased my anxiety about being on a mass of iron suspended off the side of this very tall building. As I dashed downward, I began to smell the rust and oil of the iron railings coming off onto my sweaty hands, I heard louder squeaks and moans from each landing and sets of steps as I ran across and down them, and, with an odd sense of relief, I felt the generalized sway of the entire structure as it seemed to push me off and onto the alley below.

I’d made it.

Tonight Ronnie had his new car–a red and white convertible–the top was down. I scrambled in as he stepped on the gas and we raced, music blaring, down the alley and out to get my ice cream. It was my last night and we were celebrating!

Some of us much more than others.

My order for the night–a LARGE cone–make it a twist, please.

We all should have seen it coming.

It was summer. It was hot. The top was down and we were driving because Ronnie was tired of waiting for me. I was a kid with a large, melting, ice cream cone. I was sitting in the front seat–between them, naturally, when they pulled up to drop me off.

I knew I had used up all of Ronnie’s patience. I was going fast to get out of the car–the brand new car. Before anyone could offer to help me, I sat my still very large, now melting more ice cream cone, on the dash–over the speaker–

In slow motion, that large melting mass of ice cream toppled over–the mound of ice cream oozed onto and into the speaker, down the dash, over the radio, and drizzled onto the floor.

Crickets–all around me–I heard crickets.

As I was running, I heard Donna say something like…it’s her last night….

I did not have time to worry about anything as I escaped upward.

As you can see by the photo, the wedding did take place….without any help from me.

I am…(now hungry for ice cream)

B…simply being…

Love and peace, Y’all.