4th in the Grandma June and Grandpa Jim series. Look for information on the Rhymes for all Times book on Monday
An excerpt from the new book, Rhymes for all times…out next week.
A few readers/listeners have said they are having a difficult time getting the podcast. I don’t want you to miss Jerry’s singing and reciting so I’m going to leave it on another day.
Here is the link. It will take you to the MG podcast. Scroll down to “Jerry Davis performs…and you will see an arrow. Hit the arrow and enjoy.
From the new Book…Rhymes for all Times by Mary Francis McNinch…Out next week in paperback, large print and hardcover.
Mrs. E was 25 years my senior. Mom was 31 when I was born. These two women were raised during times that saw great change. Mom was in her 20’s when WWII broke out. Mrs E was 15 when Pearl Harbor was attacked. Like Mom, many of the men and boys in her life went to war.
When I first met Mrs. E, it had been about 4 years since a stroke had left her partially paralyzed on her left side. This event changed her life in a very big way. Her house was full of reminders of her many talents. She had beautiful crocheted bedspreads and afghans in her closets, and bookshelves full of jigsaw puzzles. She had gardened and in other ways, had been very active. She had to give up all those fun and rewarding pastimes after the stroke.
Knowing that many people of her generation loved to play bingo, I asked her if she had ever played the game. She said, “Oh yeah, that’s how I got my 4th old man.” This started a conversation about the men in her life. She made it clear to me that she was not a “rounder,” nor were any of the “old men” who had been important to her .
Over that four year period, I learned about these men. The happy times, and the tragedies that she experienced. As I tell you about our conversations, keep in mind that sometimes her memory played a few tricks on her, and she did sometimes embellish for effect. Something of course, I never do.
When she was a young teenager, little miss E, developed a crush on the boy who lived down the road. They spent evenings in his living room where they would lie on the floor propped up on their elbows, and listen to the radio with his folks. This is where they were when they heard that Pearl Harbor had been attacked and the U.S. was entering WWII.
Mrs. E told me the young boy she was with went the very next day and enlisted. I waited for her to tell me more, but she just went back to eating her Spam sandwich. Finally, I asked, “What happened to the boy? Did he go overseas?” She shrugged her shoulders and said, “Oh yeah, he went over there, got killed and came back the same day.”
What was supposed to be her first date, with the man she eventually married, didn’t happen. She had agreed to go with him to some kind of a church or school social, but at the last minute, she chickened out. She climbed a tree in her front yard and waited. From her perch, she watched him come to the house and knock on the door. Her Mother answered and told him her daughter was around there someplace. They looked everywhere, but didn’t find her, so he finally left. She came down from the tree and went inside. She said her Mother never mentioned it.
Like many depression era families, she grew up very poor. She had to work in the cotton fields and couldn’t attend school. She told me how hard it was for her to go to school for the first time and try to join an 8th grade class. One day, as she waited for her school bus, she got sprayed by a skunk. She was so determined to go to school, she boarded the bus anyway. She made it all the way to school, but wasn’t allowed to stay and had to walk all the way back home. She never learned how to read or write anything but her name, however she was indeed street smart. She signed everything, even a birthday card to her daughter, “Best wishes, and always her full name.
She told me about her half brother who was about 4 years older. She called him Bubba. The two of them had some pretty wild escapades. They became irritated with a group of kids who walked passed their house each evening and sang loud songs. One day the pair spotted a dead animal, which gave Bubba an idea. The two of them found a board about the same size as the newly departed beast, who was looking pretty gruesome by this time. They nailed him to the board, and attached a long narrow rope to opposite sides of the board. Each took a rope and positioned the mounted animal beside the road. They hid themselves behind trees, one on each side. They were now ready for the singing children to come walking by.
It wasn’t long until they heard the familiar, yet irritating singing. They waited until the children were close enough to see the dead animal, but still couldn’t see the ropes. Bubba tightened his rope and slowly pulled the upright dead animal across the road in front of the kids, who by this time had stopped singing. Little E, slowly let her rope out as Bubba continued to pull the grotesque animal onto the kid’s path. Mrs. E told me those kids turned and ran as fast as they could. She and Bubba could hear the screaming above their own laughter. Apparently, the choir learned their lesson, because they never heard them come down the road singing again.
I thought of course this was the end of the story, but Mrs. E. went on to tell me that she and Bubba just left the mounted dead animal laying on the side of the road. That night, when they were called to supper, they had quite a surprise. Bubba and little E. sat on a bench pulled up to the table. When they were seated and ready to eat, their Father, left for a minute and came back with the dead animal still attached to the board and set it between them on the bench. I’m assuming this was his way of telling the pair he knew what they had done, and he did not approve. Mrs. E. said they both wished they could run away screaming, but they knew better. They sat there and ate their supper in silence.
Apparently Mrs. E’s father was a man of few words when it came to disciplining his kids. She told me of a time they got into some “Good Ole Mountain Dew,” and drank enough that it was noticed. Rather than say anything, he gave them an extremely bumpy wagon ride, until they felt the effects of drinking and riding. Both of them got pretty sick.
Mrs. E. could tell the stories with the best of them. She loved talking about the barn dances they had every Friday night. Her Dad played the fiddle and everyone had fun. We found a radio station that played those old familiar hoedown songs. I could tell by the look on her face that the music took her back to those special times. She knew all the words. I even knew a few of them.
It seems as we get older, the good times rise to the top like sweet cream, while the bad times no longer have the sting they once had. What a blessing that is…
Let’s see. Where were we? Oh yes. It’s a cold and windy day in the old town. Its almost too much for Detective W. Spade to handle. All that gum on his shoes was starting to wear on him, not to mention his good shoes. Et Al, also known as MG and Lav, were being held hostage near the North Dam (Probably in some dark and scary abandon shack.) As near as we can figure they are both captivated by one of the Cross brothers. We think that because his brother, Chris Cross told us he saw them there and they had dried concrete on their feet. It appeared that the cross Cross brother was heading for the dam with them.
Back to the dam: Berferd is in the shadows. He’s going to wait until the last minute and jump on the cross Cross brother right before he pushes the girls into the water. They would have to figure out how to get the concrete off their shoes by themselves. He wished they would hurry. The show uptown started in a couple of hours and he always goes to the show.
Back at the gingerbread house W Spade was trying to get the gum off his shoes, He had used the last of the Goo be Gone that morning. The gum had caused him to stick to the floor so when he tried to walk, only the top part went. he fell into the office chair which began to spin and the phone cord wound around his neck. (This would be an embarrassing scene if someone walked in.) It was Thursday and Friday had the afternoon so W. Spade was at the beck and call of his victims… The phone rang.
The voice on the end of the line said the girls were both in trouble.
W. better get his detective self to the North Dam on the double.
The cross Cross brother was out of sorts and Et Al were in his way.
If W Spade wanted to keep Et Al then he would have to pay.
W: I’m tired of paying smackaroos when I haven’t earned a dime.
A detective’s life is not his own. He’s always solving a crime.
Et Al need to learn the trade and save themselves instead.
Detective work is hard… some lesser slicks wind up dead.
I think I’ll fill up the El Camino and head westward later on.
but first I have to find the guy that Chris Cross Stumbled upon.
I know you’re all mighty anxious to hear what happens next
I found the dead guy who wasn’t dead but he sure was perplexed.
Vivian guy: I came all the way from Vivian to ask a girl to the dance.
I tripped and fell and hit my head before I got the chance.
Say, do you know two guys from Presho that go by the name of Cross?’,
W: I saw them leave town with two girls… I guess their gain was your loss.
Who were you sweet on Vivian guy? Was her name Et or Al?
W noticed the Vivian guy had a real South Vivian drawl.
Don’t answer that said W Spade be glad you had that fall.
Et Al have concrete on their feet so they can’t dance at all
Et: I don’t know Al. I feel like I’ve gained 10 lbs.
Al: Must be the rhubarb milkshakes or maybe it’s the concrete boots.
Next…a true Halloween story
W paced the floor of the gingerbread house that had recently become the hangout for W Spade ET AL. (The new detective agency in town.) Occasionally his right foot dragged across the floor a little. He didn’t seem to notice.
Friday: Hey W what’s with your right foot? It drags like Chester’s did on Gunsmoke.”
W: It’s these gummed-up shoes. Detectives do a lot of walking which makes it pretty likely that said detective would pick up some gum.
To use detective terms,, I’m really puzzled about MG and Lav. It’s not like them to disappear without asking for smackaroos. They hate folding the motel towels, but they sure do love folding money. I hope they’re not getting mixed up in the Yikes case. Hey Friday, it’s Tuesday. Isn’t the Tracer starting today? I need him to do some tracing.
Friday: He said he’d be right over after he picks up his last paycheck at the warehouse. Uh there’s something you should know about Tracer before he gets here. (Friday looks like she swallowed a canary, whatever that means.)
He’s highly and I mean highly allergic to stale cigars. You won’t be able to chew on them when he’s around.
W didn’t have time to react to the life changing news because the phone started ringing. He tried to take a step forward, but only the top part of his body moved. His gumshoes were firmly attached to the floor. Friday quickly handed W the phone just as he fell into the desk chair which unfortunately began to spin. The phone cord wrapped around his neck and caused his voice to sound like he’d been sucking out of a balloon filled with helium.
HELLO…HE SAID IN A SQUEEKY VOICE. W ET AL AT YOUR SERVICE.
The person on the other end was obviously in a hurry. “I’m the guy who tripped over the dead guy recently. I’ve been a little surprised that a big detective guy like you hasn’t been kinda curious to know who the perp is. Hey…you sound like you’re from Draper.
W: Are you from Presho? You sure do sound like it. I was about to start snooping around but my ET AL is missing.
Guy from Presho: Say your ET AL wouldn’t happen to be two goofy girls walking around in cement boots would they? If so, I saw them blindfolded and being pushed around by my brother. They were at the North Dam.
W: Mind if I ask you a question? W takes a notepad out of his pocket and a pen from behind his ear. Was the dead guy also from Presho?
Guy from Presho and possible perp…I don’t know. I never heard him talk.
W: Well it never hurts to ask, he says as he puts his pen and pad away.
W Spade ET AL was on a real tough case. There were Presho guys all over the place. Who was good and who was bad? I heard the dead guy was a real fine lad?
MG and Lav were held captive by the brother. It didn’t appear the brothers liked each other. What’s their deal ET AL wanted to know. He was headed for the water with them in tow.
Berf hid in the shadows and calmly waited. He could see that ET AL were ill-fated. If they were thrown in the water with their concrete boots. Berf would pull them out by their graying roots.
Back at the house W nursed his neck and hoped his client would give him a check.
All of of a sudden out of the blue. He heard a cough and a loud “ACHEW! Then the guy stumbled and said, “YiiiiKES!
W: You must be Tracer
Will someone find the dead guy soon if you know what I mean?
Will Tracer be able to trace phone calls since W sort of messed up the phone cord?”
Why are the Cross Brothers so mad at W ET AL?
You will find the answers to these and other questions in the next episode.