I woke up this morning thinking about Lovelles Road, on which we lived in a rented white house with black shutters when I was in first and second grade. It would be the only time my brother and I went to a city school and not a county school. The front yard was shaded by lots of trees and was covered in dirt. My brother and I would build elaborate tracks throughout the yard. Then he would bring out the Box of Hot Wheels! It was awesome. The house had a gigantic (well, to a 6 yr old) back yard that held a cherry tree that gave me numerous bellyaches. There was a cut-through beside the garden that led to the houses behind ours. This was the route my brother and I took when we walked to school everyday. It was also the route to the corner Stop an Shop, which fed my love for Whatcamakallit Chocolate squares. They were only a quarter. Our price range. I remember loving the walk to elementary school. Maybe it was just the feel that it was real close to home. Sheba, our dog, would often walk with us to the school but she would turn back when we got to the main road. I also remember my Mom putting my brother in charge of me and constantly telling him to watch out for me. I always wanted to ask what the heck for. I liked that all the students had to meet in the auditorium at 8am for daily announcements before you could be dismissed to your class. I don't remember class so much, except for the 1st grade spelling bee I lost at the last second because I spelled shampoo as shampoop. I DO remember the auditorium. I remember that my brother and I sat us in the same area every day. And one time a teacher asked a trivia question and the answer was Curious George and I loved that book and I got up the nerve to raise my hand and give the answer. Yay me!
My parents were the kind that said things like, "What are you doing inside?" Which was their way of saying "Go find something to do instead of following me around the house all day." So my brother and I spent lots of time outside and I loved it. I don't know how we ended up with an outdoor cat named Misty but it eventually had kittens. I was allowed to keep one. He was black with little white feet. I called him Stinker. Some boy in the neighborhood took one of the cats, maybe it was Stinker. I remember that my brother knew who did it, promptly went to his house
and took his dog. The cat eventually came home and but the dog refused to leave. That's how I got my first dog, Sheba. Well, the second really. Apparently, when I was 2 or 3 yrs old, I was given a toy poodle. Mom found me holding the thing over the commode by the scruff of his neck with one hand and a washcloth in the other. She came to see what all the flushing was about. I was being a responsible pet owner and giving him a bath. Mom felt that maybe I was too young and gave it away but I am sure she was afraid that I might accidentally take more matters into my own hands. Sheba, I came to adore. In the beginning, she was dad's dog. But I had her until I was 24. She was a Manchester Terrier. I have only ever seen one other like her and that was in a picture. There is a picture of Jacqueline Bouvier when she was about 5 yrs old with an exact replica of my Sheba. She looked like a doberman with a long thin tail, if it were the size of a terrier.
Sheba followed us all over the neighborhood which really just consisted of the street we lived on as we weren't allowed to play on the other streets. It wasn't very long but had a cul de sac. We lived toward the main street end. Our neighbor had a pet skunk that had been descented. I was never allowed to pet it. Mom felt about skunks the same way she felt about possums. Creepy. Brian Wagner lived in the cul de sac. He would later graduate high school with me as his family moved back into the county the same year we did. His mom was also the loon who ran over Misty, the outdoor cat. It was 80 degrees out and she was napping on the hot asphalt in front of our house. Mrs. Wagner stopped her car and stated she thought she just hit our cat. I remember my uncle, Danny Ray, saying to her, " Well move your car then." He went to the street and got her and brought her to me. Her neck was broken and she had died instantly. Danny Ray would bury 3 more of my pets for me while I was growing up. He hated doing it every time. He was scared to death to make me cry.
We had a car port with a shed built in. we had the best Halloween Ever in the car port. My Dad spent at least a week constructing "something" in there and no one else was allowed in. Then the day came and The Boo House came alive. In order to get candy from our house, you had to go through the Boo House. My parents have evil senses of humor. They KNOW that kids want free candy no matter what and will go to great lengths to get it. When you are way under poverty level, Halloween is Christmas for your mouth. The backyard was transformed into a holding pen for those of us who were to chicken to go through the Boo House, yet. Powdered donuts hung from strings and were tied to tree branches. A giant metal tub held apples and gallons of water that no one was ever going to convince me to shove my head into. There was a constume contest. I won, of course. I was dressed as a gypsy, courtesy of my mother's closet. I seem to recal my brother was dressed as a football player. My Dad loved the Dallas Cowboys.
But the Boo House...
You entered through the backyard into the car port door. It was dark except for the red and green overhead light. You were greeted by several rubber snakes hanging from the ceiling. You had to follow to the left, along a cardboard hallway which was almost 6 ft tall. When you rounded the corner, at the end of the next walkway was a man holding his head in his lap. He was wearing my Dad's clothes. Ew. I think I recall the head talked to you, with my Dad's voice no less. Creepy. The next corner was full of rattling chains held by a tall glowing white faced woman who was laughing hysterically. Frightening. The last corner brought you to a larger area with a coffin. In it, lay a person in a long brown robe with a crooked face and hood on it's head. It's hands were wrapped around my Mom's favorite metal mixing bowl which was only noticed but it was full to the brim with candy! As you approached to get your candy, the person sat up and held the bowl out for you! Run, run! But wait, if you left then you had to start all over again and you wanted that handfull of candy. Grab it and run! Every kid in the neighborhood came. It was awesome. The pictures are great. I will post them if I can find them soon.
I didn't go in. I let Dad walk me through it the next day, during daylight, with him holding my hand. Turns out my mom's best friend Betty, who is pale already and had a big beehive of black hair, covered her face in Noxema and borrowed loggin chains to shake at us. And it was my Mother scarring the bejezuz out of everyone in the coffin. My parents and their friends laughed at our adolescent expense for weeks. Kids have great entertainment value.
My love of storytelling, and scary things, began on Lovelles Road. I remember sitting in Lee's front yard on the main corner of our road at dusk listening to everyone take a turn telling a scary story. Betty's daughter, Brandi, was my main girlfriend growing up. She was a spoiled brat and bullied me until I was in 4th grade. This particular night she had decided to stay inside and take a bath so she could wear her pretty new nightgown and robe. It was floor length, pink and had ruffles. My brother was there with a friend of his who was telling a story about a girl who was taken from her home in the middle of the night into the woods by an axe murderer. He chased her through the woods and tormented her then finally killing her. "It was said that the girl could sometimes be seen running through the woods screaming for help." The moment the boy said those words, Brandi comes running down the dark street (no street lights) in her new flowy nightgown yelling for my brother and I. In less than three seconds, every single kid scrammed like cockroaches. I remember my brother said something to her in a tone that had to include eye rolling but it was too dark for me to be sure.
My parents rented a saxophone for my brother, at his request. He was awful. He ended up with drums instead. They also rented an organ for a time. I think it was meant for my brother but I took to it immediately. I was in 2nd grade and could play 'Aloha Oy' all the way through. The newspaper even asked if they could write about me. I have no idea if that ever happened. I should try looking that up. We also had air conditioning. In 112 degree summers, my house felt like the Arctic. No matter who was coming in the house, Mom could you hear from whatever room she was in and would yell, " Close the Door!" She was trying to trap the Arctic and no one was invited I guess. I loved that wall of icy air when you first came into the house. I was therefore yelled at a lot.
At some point, the attic became my brother's room. I think it was about the time the drums arrived. Smart parents of mine. You could get into the attic two ways. 1) the pull down trap door in the ceiling that magically became a ladder or 2) the linen closet. Some brilliant planning had hidden a built-in wall ladder on the inside of the linen closet just below option #1. If you took out all the linens and shelves, I think, the ladder was usable. I recall my brother shouting to us through the open top of the linen closet in hopes that we would let the ceiling door down so that he might be able to eat breakfast or just leave the house. It never dawned on me to find way to lock him up there. My brother and I always got along great for siblings and so if I did that, I probably wouldn't have anyone to play with anymore.
While eating breakfast on morning at the kitchen table, there was a huge crash above us. Then there was one of my mother's legs dangling through the ceiling in front of the fridge. She had mistepped and fell through the insulation. All I heard then was lots of curse words. But I am pretty there was some laughter mixed in there too.
My brother was once rushed to the doctor for tearing into his inner thigh after crashing his bike in front of the house. He was sure to show me how gross it was before he left. Ew.
We had cable for the first time ever. It was one of those mammoth cable boxes that had 30 or so of those push down buttons. Every Saturday morning the USA Network showed 9 to 5, The Incredible Shrinking Woman and Popeye. I think we saw those movies 90 times.
I loved that house. Those friends. Those pets. That school. That yard and the radishes that I was allowed to eat right out of the ground.