Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Jump Rope Rhyme Stories...The Galaxie

Bluebells, cockle shells,
Eevie, ivy, over....

When you are little your life is directed constantly. You don't get to make too many choices in your everyday life. Your woken from bed, fed breakfast, clothes put on and so the day goes on. At the end of the day it is all in reverse. You don't have a clue of what your parents are up to and really don't seem to care either. Just so long that it is a happy place you can feel joyful in your little universe.
I lived in the small town of Atwater, California when I was 2 to 6 years of age. It was a town occupied by a lot of Military families who were stationed at Castle Air Force Base. We lived there for that reason as my father was in the Air Force though I have no memory of my father during that time. We lived in a typical neighborhood rather than base housing, where our elementary school, Elmer Wood, was just down the street from our house on Linden Street. One door down from our house was E. L Walters Park where I got my first bee sting. It was a happy time from my memory though at that age it is hard to remember much. At home lived my brother, my mom and myself with my Nan coming over often as well. My Nan worked as a nurse at a hospital nearby. My mom was a stay at home mom and did various social events that Military moms seem to do. Teas, bridge clubs and such.
The part of what you don't know about your parents is what is really going on though. They see to it that your world seems just like all the other friends families you know. Yet military families are not like other families. We move around a lot, and often the dads are not around at all. That was our case.
Our next door neighbor was quite nice to us. I don't remember much about him at that age except for the day he got the Ford Galaxie. I was about 5 years old and the year would have been 1963. It was a warm summer evening and my mom told us we were going for a ride in our neighbor "Bill's" new car. My eyes saw this white convertible with the top down in his driveway. Wow! I am sure that was the first time I had ever noticed a car other than our own. We climbed into the backseat my brother and I with my mom and Bill sitting up front and off we went.

We drove onto a country road with no stop signs and just flew. The warm air blowing in my face, whipping my hair back. The whoosh of warm air bringing tears to my eyes as I tried to sit up higher to look out all around me. I wanted to sit up on top of the back seat and feel that push of invisible warmth. The car was wide and long with blue vinyl interior. The convertible top was hidden under a blue matching cover as though there was no top at all. Silver chrome trim sleeked horizontally down the body of the car. It was a thrill!

My other memory of the Galaxie was sitting in the car with several of my neighbor friends in Bill's driveway. Our mothers were inside the house while we waited for them. We were going somewhere. We were waiting in the backseat when one of them thought to get in the front seat and pretend to drive the car. That little smarty pants pulled the gearstick on the steering wheel while he was trying to turn the steering wheel round and round. That put the car in reverse! Thankfully we were not on a steep incline. We just rolled back out of the driveway, across the street where we stopped when we hit the curb. The car had been parked at the edge of the end of the driveway to begin with. Of course we all knew we were going to be in big trouble. I am pretty sure we didn't go anywhere as had been the plan.
My mom eventually married Bill and we moved to Salinas, California just before I started 1st grade. I didn't see my dad again till many years later. The Galaxie was sold at some point as well and our family bought a Ford Station Wagon with fake wood paneling. Not quite as exciting as the Galaxie.

I like coffee,
I like tea,
I like ____to jump in with me!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Jump Rope Rhyme Stories...Go-Go Boots

Not last night but the night before.
Twenty-four robbers came knocking at my door,
They called me out for the world to see,
And this is what they said to me....
Spanish dancer turn around,
Spanish dancer touch the ground,
Spanish dancer do high kicks,
Spanish dancer do the splits!

It wasn't until I entered fifth grade that I thought much about clothes. Before that I would wear anything that was in my drawers or closet. Yet that year I noticed what girls were wearing in my teen magazines. I saw what the teen girls who went to our church wore. I saw what was on TV. What I really wanted that year was Go-Go Boots.

My family often watched "Laugh-In" when it was on TV and seeing Goldie Hawn and Judy Carne dancing in their Go-Go Boots made me wish I had a pair. At that tender age I also thought if I wore them I would have a skinny body, cute legs and dance as great as they did. I also thought I would have their giddy happy-go-lucky laughter as well.

I saw girls at school that had Go-Go Boots like a girl in my grade named Jesse. It seemed like all of the boots I saw were white which was the color I wanted. Shiny white with small heels, and they zipped up on the inside of the calf. They looked so cool with mini skirts or dresses. I still had plain boring Oxfords, Penny Loafers (with a penny in the little slot in the leather) or Keds tennis shoes. I felt so out of style though I didn't really understand what "style" meant.

I asked my mom if I could have Go-Go Boots but never really got an answer. The more I saw them the more I wanted them. In grade school the girls didn't wear true mini-skirts like the high school girls or on TV. Ours looked more like the knee length skirts that the girls at the Catholic High school wore which was behind our school. What you think and what you see tend to blur together in a young girls mind. Girls our age did not wear the short skirts.

It was at this same age that I was allowed to wear panty hose which had just come out in the stores. My mom allowed me to wear them only to church though I seem to manage to get runs in them every time I wore them so they were a one time wear. I wanted to wear them to look like the older girls, but they were itchy and tended to slowly fall down my hips with the crotch getting lower to my dress or skirt length. Before this girls and women had to wear hose with garter belts which I thought were out of date with the times. I bet they stayed up though! My other choice was to wear ankle socks or knee socks which I thought were quite childish.

With great surprise on Christmas morning I opened a box that had a pair of Go-Go Boots in it! I was thrilled but they were not white. They were black. I tried really hard to be happy about this but this was not what the girl Jesse wore or Goldie Hawn or Judy Carne. I tried them on and they were very tight around my calves. I had to imagine my legs squeezing in them like a tight skirt and then pull the zipper up over my calf with a quick zip to the top. Not as comfortable as I had hoped. The girls I saw with boots seem to slip over their calves with room around the whole leg. Mine were in a state of bunching after you wore them which made them look a bit wrinkled near the ankle. No extra room to spare.
The first day back to school after our Christmas break I picked out my outfit carefully. I had a red and black large check culotte dress which I wore with a white cotton shirt and a red scarf around my neck. I thought it looked cute till I got to school. The Go-Go Boots were uncomfortable. The tightness wasn't easy to move in for jump rope or hopscotch let alone four square. I didn't look skinny and my legs looked bigger in them. I certainly didn't feel so happy. I noticed a lot of white boots but there were some black ones as well.

I know I wore the boots many times but like so much with styles and tastes I did get over the disappointment of the Go-Go Boots. I moved onto wanting the Surfer tee shirt with the bright colors and stripes. Hip hugger pants and jeans which I wanting to have too. The Go-Go Boots faded to the back of my closet.

Spanish dancer do the splits.
Spanish dancer give high kicks.
Spanish dancer turn around.
Spanish dancer get out of town!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Jump Rope Rhyme Stories...Free Kittens

I have chosen to write my first stories from my childhood. Those years of carefree
days with friends. The adventures and trouble you find yourself getting into
with ease. I am titling these The Jump Rope Rhyme stories as I spent many happy days
at recess or home playing jump rope and hopscotch with my girlhood friends.

Three, six, nine
The goose drank wine
The monkey chewed tobacco
On the streetcar line.....

It was while walking home from school that my friends and I saw the sign. Free kittens. We always walked the same way home. We would go the the crosswalk in front of the school where the chosen sixth graders with their bright orange vests and flapping flags stood at attention as crossing guards. One would blow a whistle signaling us that we could safely walk across the street. First they would enter the street, standing straight and tall, then like soldiers tip their flags diagonal to the cars. From there we went straight onto Bruce Avenue where we would turn left down College Drive, turn left again onto W. Alisal Street where my friend Cheryl would go home on Fairfax Circle, cross the busy street and head down Fairfax Drive where we would continue our walk home with my remaining friends. We would say "Bye. See you tomorrow!" as we each walked up our front walks till I came to mine.

Free kittens. It was there the next day and the next day and each time I thought to myself "I want a kitten". Why not? We had two dogs, why not a kitten? I asked my mom and the reply was a stern "No". I learned not to ask twice as the answer would always be the same.

Free kittens. Why not bring one home? Surely once she saw it it would be alright! Who am I kidding. Why not bring one home and keep it hidden? I could take care of it and it would be all mine. I didn't think too hard as when you are nine you don't think everything through. You just do things and hopefully it turns out alright. You don't plan on getting into trouble on purpose. Who wants that to happen?

In our backyard I had a playhouse. It really was just a shed with some yard items inside but I had a corner of it where I kept my dress-up clothes and playhouse toys. The dress-ups were in an old cardboard box to keep them clean atop other boxes. The roof of the shed was partially covered with a green corrugated plastic cover. It made odd wailing sounds when it was windy as it wasn't nailed down as well as it could have been. It was closed in on all sides with thick heavy wood like a solid fence. The door opened with a black lift up latch so it was secure.

Free kittens. I am going to do it! I decided to walk to the house, pick out a kitten, come home, take the kitten to the shed and I would have a kitten! Oh, I was excited! I choose not to tell a soul. That weekend I walked to the house with the "Free Kittens" sign and knocked on the door. A nice lady answered. "Yes?"
"I saw your sign for free kittens. Do you still have them?"
"Why yes we do. Would you like to see them?" she asked.
"Yes. Please."

We went inside and she took me through her house, down a hall that took us to her garage. A cardboard box with no top lined with a towel held several kittens. They were just what I wanted. All of them! I looked at them and she began to ask me questions. Questions I hadn't thought she would ask. "So you like kittens?"
"Yes! They all are so cute!"
"Did your parents say it was okay to have a kitten?" she looked at me with the look a grown up gives a child.
A pause from me. I realize I will have to lie. I want one of these kittens so much. This will be a good lie. It's not like I did something wrong, like breaking something. "My mom said it was alright. She said I could come over and pick one out and bring it home.".
"Which one do you like?" she asked.
It was the one that had three colors that I liked. I hadn't seen a cat that came in three colors before. "This one!"
"Oh yes, the little calico. It is pretty, isnt' it? Are you sure that is the one you want?"
"Yes! Can I take it right now?"
"Well I don't see why you can't since your mommy said it was alright."

I was jumping up and down inside! My heart was racing with the excitement of having my very own kitten. I picked the kitten up as gently as I could. My friend Susan had kittens once and I sort of knew about them. I knew they had little sharp claws. This one clung to me like a tack on a bulletin board. It held onto me as tight as it could.

"Do you want to know if it is a boy or a girl?" she smiled down at me.
I hadn't even thought about that or even cared but I sad yes.
"It's a girl. All calico cats are girls" she said in a satisfying way.

We walked to her front door. The kitten squirmed but seem okay attached to me in a way where her little claws had begun to pierce my skin through my t-shirt.
"Thank you for letting me have one!" I said as I jumped down the front steps.
I have a free kitten. Only I know about it. I smiled to myself. I began the walk home yet as I came closer to our house I wondered how I would get the kitten and myself into the backyard without being seen.
I went to the side gate which happened to be on the side where the playhouse was. I hurried to open the gate and to the safety of the closed door of the playhouse behind me. I pulled the kitten from my shirt which it tried hard to bring along in it's claws. It wanted to be held and curled it's small body in an odd stiff way with it's claws outstretched.
"Your okay little kitten." I tried to soothe it as it mewed at me. At that moment it passed through my mind that I had no place for it to sleep like the box the lady had for the kittens. I pulled down the dress-up box and made a cozy spot in the pile of my mom's cast off clothes that I played dress-up in. The kitten attached itself to the swirl of clothes it was laid into and began meowing more. I had no idea what to do now. I have a free kitten.

Food. I had forgotten that it would need food. I thought I would run to Susan's house and see if they had cat food. We only had canned dog food which I didn't think a kitten would eat.
Susan lived around the block from me so I could get there fast and back to the kitten. I didn't want my parents to know about my secret kitten. Susan gave me a wax paper bag filled with food they kept in their garage. She wanted to know more but I told her it was a secret and I really needed to get home. I would tell her all about it later.

I can't say that I was prepared for the whole concept of having a pet to take care of. I had not ever taken any responsibilities with our dogs and now I had a helpless meowing kitten in a dress-up box. I set some of the food in the middle with the kitten and stared at it. I thought I would go inside and think about the free kitten later.

The poor kitten. It made it through the night though I hadn't thought of all the things you should do for a pet. Like water or a way for it to get out of the box to relieve itself. The next morning when I had the chance I went out to see the kitten. It was so cute and soft. I held it and gave it more food. I found a plastic teacup and gave it water. Then it popped into my head that this was not going to work. I could never keep this a secret. I could not keep this kitten. My mom would find out and I would be in serious trouble. I had to take the kitten back.

It was actually easier than I thought. I made it back to the house with the "Free Kittens" sign and knocked on the door just as I had the day before. The lady opened the door looking down at me with the kitten clinging to me. "What's wrong dear?"
The words I said fell out so quickly. Another lie. "My mom changed her mind. I can't have a kitten. She said I had to bring it back."
"Oh I am sorry. Here let me get her off your shirt."
I said goodbye. I turned and skipped down the steps and on down the street back home. I had had a free kitten. Maybe Susan can play today I thought. I will see if she is home.

Line broke, the monkey he choked
And they all went to heaven
In a little row boat.
Slap, Clap, Slap, Clap.


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