Tuesday, March 3, 2009
If the Bobwhites weren't mooning over old movie stars, we were drooling over our school year books. Slumber party the last day of school was mandatory. Location - rec room floor of only child, fish tank glowing in the background. Sleeping bags arranged like wagon spokes. Pillows to the center, yearbooks on top. No peeking. We would drag out our ritual every year. This was serious business! Brownies had to be baked and cooled, Coke's on ice. Pretzels in big bowls, napkins to please the Mom. Slip between the zippers, pillows tucked under elbows. Open, inside cover. Squeals of delight and endless discussions over each and every syllable, the slant of the letters, the flourish of the name. Hopefully a boy name! Our entire summer would be planned around any boys we were lucky enough to get to sign our books. We may not have had cars, but we had bikes!
Endless summer days of riding our bikes past boy's houses that we each had crushes on. We would make enough noise to bring anyone out of their houses, but not the boys! The only time we ever saw them was if they were outside mowing the lawn or playing basket ball. Heads down, pedal faster, not enough nerve to stop. All summer long we thrilled ourselves with the possibility that one would look up and smile, or gasp, wave! And then one day, one did! "Hey, do you girls live around here? I see you ride past my house every single day." "UHHHH, we just like the exercise. Well, gotta go." He probably could hear us squealing all the way out of his neighborhood. This one hello kept us on cloud nine for the entire summer. Nothing more was needed. So simple were our days.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
The most romantic couple I have ever known were my Uncle Howard and Aunt Mildred. Howard had been an airplane mechanic in War World II and continued in that field after the war. Aunt Mildred was a homemaker. I never wanted visits to their home to come to an end.
Their home was quintessentially 1940's Americana. Knotty pine walls yellowed with age, oval braided rugs, pipe stand and fringed lamps. High backed couch and step down end tables, walk around fireplace. Starched white Priscillas and Miss America glass pattern. Big open kitchen, bread and butter pickles, homemade biscuits, Uncle Howard at the sink. Every evening after supper he would wash the dishes for Mildred, happily whistling. He said he loved washing dishes because he could really get his nails clean after a day working on airplanes. Aunt Mildred at his side quietly drying and putting away, the light above the sink in the darkening kitchen, just for them. Dishes done, a breakfast spot set for Uncle Howard's early rise, his coffee cup turned upside down on it's saucer, their quiet dance done for the evening.
My last visit to Uncle Howard and Aunt Mildred's house was the same as my first visit as a child. The simple sharing of the routine of the day showed me the type of love I wanted for myself. Aunt Mildred was very ill on that last visit. Uncle Howard slept on the floor by her bedside so as not to disturb her painful sleep. He said to me, "I have never spent a day apart from her. She has given me so much, I am happy just to be near her." Uncle Howard would pass away very shortly after the death of Aunt Mildred. I have always loved to wash dishes. I know this is because of this most romantic couple.