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Showing posts with the label childhood

El Camino Paraiso

In Fall 1962, the family moved into a brand new house on a brand new street a couple miles east of town. Lucky 711 was the street number; El Camino Paraiso, the street name. Translation: Paradise Road. Myself, I prefer "The Road to Heaven" because the cemetery, run by the Catholic Church, sat next door.

I thought a ghost lived in my bedroom closet. Every now and then, until I left for college, just as I was falling asleep, I experienced old hag syndrome, a kind of sleep paralysis. The only way I felt safe was to sleep in a fetal position on my left side, facing away from the closet.

Cute yellow house, don't you think? It had a huge back yard, enough space for the Daddy to grow a good-size vegetable garden, as well as plant fruit trees and raise chickens, pigeons, goats, and pigs. Fortunately for us we lived in the county. With all that, the Parents still were able to put in a patio, some lawn, and a flower garden. 

The Mama sold the yellow house in 1987, a year aft…

Tuna Fish Surprise

The last time I made Tuna Fish Surprise was in home economics class in seventh grade, which was...hmmmm....over 50 years ago. That was the first time I ever made the dish—a can of tuna fish, a can of cream of mushroom soup, crumbled potato chips, and, I don't know what else. I have a vague feeling we baked the tuna fish on sliced bread. It was after all public school, the 1960s, and the objective to teach us, girls, how to prepare delicious fare cheaply and quickly within 30 minutes or less.

The home ec teacher let us give our dish away to other teachers, which meant being able to roam the hallways during class hours. So, yeah, you bet I went that way. I chose Mr. Anthony, the gruff old science teacher. Why should all the favorite teachers get all the good stuff?

Yesterday was the second time I made a version of the dish. After consulting the cookbooks and the Internet, I figured anything could be put together for this dish. Thus, it's name. Uh-huh. Got it.

To two cans of sust…

Purple!

When the Daddy and the Mama bought their house a long time ago, it wasn't completely finished so the builders let us choose the colors for the rooms. I chose purple for my bedroom, my own four walls with a door. No more more sharing with the Only and Older Brother. That was a pretty good luxury for an almost 10-year-old and for the parents, too. So I think.

In the end, the painters mixed up the Parents' and my choices. They got a muted purple bedroom, while I got a bright yellow one.  Both the Mama and I were bummed, but we sucked it up. C'est la vie.

It was just as well that I didn't get my choice. The color yellow, color experts say, is great for nurturing joyfulness and stimulating intelligence and mental somersaults (perfect for growing minds), while the color purple is good for promoting deep thoughts and spirituality. Once I moved into puberty, I became a rather surly, mopey girl too serious for her own good. Thank goodness for yellow walls (and books).

When I tu…

My First Playgrounds

Swings and jungle gyms. Slides and teeter-totters. I came across a playground for the first time when I was five years old on my first day of first grade. I really took to the slides, especially the corkscrew one. When I got home that day, I looked forward to the next day of the slides just as much as the books and the pencils, and the desks and the blackboards. That experience lasted all of two-and-a-half days. I had to wait a full year to hang out in a playground again because the teacher said I was "too young" for school.

It was okay. I went back to my old playground of open fields.





Always, the Daddy

I imagine it going this way:

"Susie. Susie, hold still."

"You can go play in the water after I take the picture."

"Susie! Stop moving."

The photographer, who was probably the Mama, sighed. She most likely turned to the Daddy who knew what to do.

He crouched behind me, holding me in place.

"Susie smile at the camera."

Click.

No doubt the Mama sighed when she saw the photo. Oh, well.

Throughout my life, the Daddy always had my back.


Happy Father's Day to all you dads out there!

I'm hooking up with Seasons, a meme hosted by Jesh at Artworks from JeshStG. Click here to check out other participants. Toodle-ooo.


Jumping the Ditch

It's the letter D at ABC Wednesday. My share is a post that I originally published on April 11, 2014. To check out ABCW posts from bloggers around the world, please click here. Thanks ABCW Team!


Because I was born 10 days after the cut-off date for first graders, I was sent home on the third day of school. Fine. The Mama had her hands full caring for Baby Sister and figuring out the new house that we had moved into about a week before school started. That meant I got to go with the Daddy for part of the day. Great!

The Daddy irrigated the rows upon rows of crops on the valley floor. During his morning break, the Daddy came home to fetch me. I'd get in the car with my Golden Books, coloring books, and crayons and down the hill we would go. While the Daddy worked, I entertained myself with my books and when that became tiring, I'd wander and explore, but never too far from the car and always where the Daddy could see me. We'd go home for lunch and sometimes I'…

The London Bridge

London Bridge is falling down,
falling down, falling down.
London Bridge is falling down.
My Fair Lady. In first grade, we sang this Mother Goose rhyme as we marched under an arch formed by the joined hands of two kids. The hands came down on "My Fair Lady" and the two kids would then rock the captured kid between their locked hands, as we sang a verse about taking the key and locking the kid up. When that verse was over, either the captured kid chose a side and stood behind that kid or took that kid's place, after which, we marched and sang the rhyme again.

I don't remember what the point of the game was. For that matter, what the rhyme was all about. After three or four rounds, I would look longingly at the playground, even willing to climb up the jungle gym. And, that I disliked to do.

I didn't become curious about the London Bridge until 1975 when I learned that a rich American had bought the bridge and reconstructed it brick by brick on Lake Havasu in Arizona…

I Kid You Not. Just

Just kidding around.

Just feeling like a kid again.

Just who do you think you're kidding?

Just a punk kid.

What's just that, kid?

Just a new kid on the block.

Just saying, "Hi, Kid!"

The kid just said, "Bleeeet."

Just handle with kid gloves. Handle just with kid gloves. Handle with just kid gloves. Handle with kid gloves—just.

What are ya? Just some kind of whiz kid?

Just kidding aside.

Yup. I drew a picture of just how I recall my small barefoot kid self.


J is this week's letter for ABC Wednesday. Click here to read other J-themed posts by blogger from around the world.  Thank you, ABCW team!!

P. S. Uhm, I thought this week was the letter K. Like how I just barely put the post back on the right track? 

A Sloth Who Likes to Read

"Stop reading," ordered the Mama. "Go outside."

I'd probably been lying on the bed reading for three or four hours that sunny summer weekend afternoon. I was probably 12 years old.

That's what the Mama got for buying me a bed with a bookcase headboard. It was packed full with paperback books that I purchased from the monthly Scholastic book catalog during the school year. Three or four dollars bought me a lot of books back then. I shall always be grateful the Mama and the Daddy let me buy so many, and for leaving me alone to read the books over and over most of the time.

Reading was my favorite thing to do in summer, followed by riding bicycles, watching movies, and eating. Except for the bicycle riding, I seem to have slipped back into my once-upon-a-time summer routine. I'm not getting much done, I admit. And, yes, my clothes are feeling snug. Again.

I really do need to urge me to step outside and do something. There's still time today to water t…

Crybaby Me.

The Mama used to tell me a story about the time that the Daddy carried me on his back while they picked tomatoes one summer day. I was maybe two years old. "You cried and cried," the Mama said. "You kept saying, 'Go home, Daddy. Go home.'"

The poor Daddy! And, all those other poor workers around us who were forced to listen to a tiny, fat crybaby of a girl piggy-backing on her poor Daddy's back. The poor Daddy!

How did the Parents ever get me to stop crying? Did the Daddy take the Mama and me home and go back to work? Did I eventually calm down, get off the Daddy's back, and find a way to entertain myself so the Parents could work in peace? I don't know. The Mama never told me what happened. She simply laughed after telling me.

Why am I telling you the story? I don't know. I find myself tearful all of a sudden lately.

C is for crybaby me. Not pitiful me though.

C is the letter for this week's ABC Wednesday, a weekly meme that is keeping …

A Tidbit from the Past

Today I found a note I wrote to the Mama in 1968 or 1969 from the look of the psychedelic colored stationery.

On the envelope, I wrote
To Mama To Brighten your day with a bit of May
On the neon green paper, I wrote
Mama,
You're the greatest, I say you are!
So sorry I have nothing to give you but this.
But, then maybe soon I'll give you some thing other than a jar
And both you and me can be in true bliss.
HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY. . .
though you still have to do some work!
Love Susie or Me, the Lazy One
I wonder if the jar had anything in it.

A Pass to Read

Yesterday, as I was weeding out stuff I've been storing for decades, I found a hallway pass that was made out to me in my last semester of high school. The pass allowed me to go sit outside on the Senior Class benches to read my book. Yes, you read that right—a pass to read!

My first period was Reading, an English elective. I loved that class. We read novels and plays of our choice in class and wrote book reports about what we read. Without that class, I doubt I would've ever read such classics as Babbitt, Our Town, Death of a Salesman, The Jungle, Winnie the Pooh, and Rabbit, Run.

I don't know what it's like today, but 45 years ago when a high school senior already had her credits locked in for graduation, life was a picnic. Just as long as she didn't do something stupid, nor get caught for doing something stupid.


First Memory

Going on four-years-old is my estimation of how old I was. I could've even been a year younger because I was lying in bed in the parents' room rather than in the bedroom I shared with Older Brother. I couldn't sleep because my brain was on.  I thought my brain was like a television, except I had no dial to turn it off. So, I thought I could change the channel by imagining a scene at Ninong Pablo's house. Click. My brain was still on.


From the Archives -- The Daddy and Religion. Kinda

Today's archived post is from my second blog, This and That, Here and There, Now, Sometimes Then. What Daddy Told Me (originally published May 7, 2010)
My dad didn't advise me much when I was growing up. When he did, they were humdingers, and usually they were one-liners.  For instance, on the day of my senior prom, he told me rather placidly, and unexpectedly, "Don't go f***ing around." The idea hadn't even entered my mind.  And, when I was attending community college, Daddy pronounced suddenly in his usual unruffled way to me, "Don't be a hippie." Nothing more.

Probably the most profound guidance Daddy gave me was when, as a teenager, I decided to check out different churches. Not because I was looking for a church to join but because I was curious about how different churches worshiped. I didn't know that Daddy had noticed what I was doing. Even if he had, I didn't think he would've cared since we were not avid churchgoers.…

From the Archives -- My Turn

I'm posting articles from my archives for the next few days. Here's a piece I wrote for my first blog, Cu'Pie Baby Bird says "Chirp. Chirp." 

My Turn (originally published August 9, 2007)
Thirty-six years ago, my mom didn’t hold my hand, but pushed from behind to ensure I looked good for the prom. Yep, I went to the prom, the only date I had in high school. Even in hindsight I am amazed I was asked to the prom. (Thanks, Mike!) Guess there is something to having a nutty, sparkling personality. I say that facetiously. Let’s also say that by the end of my senior year, I finally embraced the fact that I looked and thought somewhat differently from the norm and went with trying to conform as a nonconformist. So my idea for a prom dress was sewing a patchwork granny dress.

My mom nixed the idea very quickly and adamantly. She enlisted my dad and together they took me shopping for a dress at a genuine dress shop in Salinas that specifically sold fancy dresses for fancy even…

P is for Sunday Picnics at the Beach

Going to the beach was always an all-of-a-sudden decision that the Mama and the Daddy made at some point between the moment they woke up and finished breakfast on a Sunday morning. Then, they would wake up the Older Brother and me.

The Mama and Daddy got everything together. The Mama cooked a pot of rice and gathered plates, napkins, utensils, cups, cutting board, knives, blankets, towels, and so forth. The Daddy collected firewood (and later charcoal), grills, and buckets. The older I got, the more tasks I did, from gathering my own change of clothes to getting the picnic basket together and helping haul everything out to the car.

We usually made two stops before we got to our favorite picnic spot on the rocky shoreline in Monterey. The first was at a mom-and-pop store on the way out of town to buy the Daddy's bottle of whiskey, Seven-Up, soda, and hot dogs. The second was at the Fisherman's Wharf where the parents bought American mackerel, squid, and other fish for lunch.…

F is for Foul, Fowl!

The Daddy bought several live chickens at a time from a local chicken farmer, and he and the Mama would slaughter them in the backyard.  I was 11 or 12 when the parents decided it was time for me to help with the slaughtering. Like I really wanted the experience. I suppose they figured a day would come when I would need to slaughter a chicken for survival. Yes, it would definitely be an asset if I were to be chosen for Survivor, the reality show. But, that's if I didn't get kicked off before my team won a challenge that rewarded us with chickens. I digress.

My part in the slaughter was simple.  I only needed to hold a chicken firmly down on a block of wood while the Daddy slit its neck. On the day of my rite of passage, I watched the parents do the process a couple of times. Then it was my turn. I kneeled behind the wood, and the Daddy put a chicken beneath my hands, face towards him. He did not let go of the chicken until he was sure the bird could not get away from me.

Charlie Quaid

"Charlie, tell me the story, again, about that day we put away the benches at Sunnyslope School."

"Remember how we used to move the benches back to the side of the building after we ate lunch in fourth grade. Maybe it was fifth grade. There were only a few guys who could carry a bench all the way by themselves. I felt so good that first day I carried one by myself. Then I turned around and I saw you carrying two benches, one under each arm. I was impressed."

I don't remember any of it. If there was an exaggeration on Charlie's part, it would be that I was carrying the benches rather than dragging them.

Charlie Quaid and I had known each other since fourth grade. He was very cute in his blue cub scout uniform. He had the sweetest smile and, when I look back, the kindest regard for people, which perhaps he didn't know he had.  That, I think, contributed to why he was well-liked by both sexes throughout his life.

Charlie was one of the smartest kids in…

Peeling Oranges

As the Daddy started the car, the Mama pulled an orange from the paper bag. She dug into the orange with her thumbnail, pulled away a bit of the peel, and handed it to her teenage son in the back seat. The Daddy eased onto the two-lane highway when the Mama took out another orange. This one she peeled completely, then gave the juicy fruit to her seven-year old daughter who peeked over the front seat.   In her mind, the Mama already forgave the children their mess.

The Mama reached for a third orange. The Daddy kept his eye on the road, maintaining a safe distance from the car in front of him. The Mama slowly peeled the orange, glancing now and then at the passing scenery. The teenager swallowed his last slice of orange and burped. His sister giggled.

The Mama reached over to the Daddy and touched his right hand with a piece of orange. His eyes still on the road, the Daddy took the orange and ate it in one bite. When he swallowed, the Mama gave him another piece. She looked at the b…

Ninongs and Ninangs

The Mama and the Daddy asked six of their friends to be the ninongs and ninangs, or godparents, when I was baptized.  The Roman Catholic Church recognizes only two baptismal sponsors, and one ninang (female godparent) and one ninong (male godparent) did sign on the formal lines of the baptismal document a long time ago. The other four signed on the right hand top of the page. I have a feeling the godparents signed it all at once at the church, which makes me wonder if the priest panicked that the church rules were not being followed.

The parents taught me that the spouses of the godparents were also ninangs and ninongs, and I was to address them as such. Altogether, I had 10 godparents. I have many memories of these elegant people. Here are a few of them.

Ninang Deling taught me my numbers in Ilocano. She was quite patient with the four-year old me that bounced and danced around her as I repeated after her—maysa, dua, tallo, uppat, lima. . .

When I was six or seven, Ninong Cleto an…