What events do you remember in your life that sparks vivid memories? Remember that the facts of the events are filtered through your perceptions and recalled from your memories so they might not match exactly the event as the world recalls them. This is part one of DYRW as seen by the Wichita Flash as he is now known as Mean Uncle Denny or MUD for short.
Yesterday I went to a car show and saw a torpedo shaped window air conditioner on the side window of a 55 Chevy. Somewhere back in the days prior to having a real air conditioner, there was an accessory that you could buy, fill with water and if, and only if, Mom kept jerking the lever to dip the media into the water it blew air that was a few degrees cooler than the outside air. It cooled with the principle of evaporation and didn't work if the humidity was high. I think Dad even put in some ice once and how we all laughed as when he went around a corner it peed that cold water on mom. That was back in the days of the 4X70 air conditioning or four windows rolled down and the speed limit was 70.
Dad bought a 55 Plymouth and called it a “Plemon”. He drove that stupid car for about three years until he found a 57 Chrysler on a used car lot. That Chrysler had a hemi engine and air conditioning. The transmission was controlled by a button arrangement by the left front of the dash and you pushed a button to select the gear. That car would get out on the road and gobble up the miles as smooth as you could want. The air conditioner was in the trunk and there was still room for a family full of suitcases. I remember that our family dog, Rex, loved to sit in the back window shelf and fart. That would be picked up by the air conditioner air intake and blown to the front of the car where Mom would shout, “Damned Dog” and roll down the window. I am pretty sure it was the dog, mostly.
Our family vacations were for the most part trips to Grandma and Grandpa Fruits house. It was really neat when they bought a cabin and some land in Arkansas. We would go down there and rough it for a couple of weeks in July each year. We would get to swim in the Buffalo River each afternoon and man do I ever love the memory of those Black Diamond Ozark watermelons dripping cold juice down our chin on a hot day. Instead of just going down the hill to the Little Buffalo River, we would drive over to Pruitt and swim there where highway 7 crossed over the bigger river. There was a nice sandy beach and a bluff to jump off of. Someone even carved steps up that bluff so you could walk up without the fear of falling. I can remember how hot those steps would be and “hotfooting” it up to jump off into that cool water. I remember that I learned to swim underwater before I learned to swim on top of the water. I would find the fresh water muscles and crush them with a rock to watch the perch come up to eat the meal I served. I remember the day when I got out a little deep and a great big catfish came to lunch. Scared the hell out of me.
There was one trip to Brownsville, TX to see Dad’s Uncle, Truman (?). I really don’t remember his name because all the boys went by their middle names so it doesn’t much matter what I called him. What I remember the most was the hot two day car ride on the way down and back. I have seen picture of us on the beach on the gulf of Mexico and I remember that Rick was in a diaper so he would have been a little over a year old. Somewhere in my memories there was a car trip where we saw a tornado revenged town and a flood. Can’t remember if it was on that trip but because I was only 6 or 7, I get it all thrown together. I fell off the counter at the highway Patrol (or sheriff’s office) right into the water and we were invited to spend the night with some strangers. The lady of the house gave me a pair of her son’s underwear to sleep in.
My dad had a run of bad health about the time I played Little League ball. I had to walk to my games in the early evening. I remember one evening I was a little late so I had to run across a field to get to the game. Just as I saw a big clump of grass, I decided to jump over it and at that same time a covey of quail came out of that cover. I remember hitting the ground on the other side and my legs had turned to rubber. All I could do was slide to a stop. I’ll bet my heart was beating its max rate and I had to squeeze to make sure I didn’t wet myself. I made it to the game on time and from then on, I always ran around that brush pile.
One summer I went up to Beech Aircraft’s lake, north of our house, to go fishing. The only thing I had for bait was a pocket full of raisins (lint and all). I baited a hook there by the dock where the perch were and sure enough those little perch hit those raisins like they were good. Well, at least they didn’t have any lint left on them after being dipped in the water. I cut one of those perch up and used him for bait. Pretty soon I was catching bigger fish and it was kind of like I worked myself up in size until I had some pretty nice fish. There was a guy there that I gave my fish to and I’m sure he told some tall tale when he got home. I sure did.
I remember that in grade school we would “Duck and Cover” in case of a nuclear explosion. We would duck under our desks and the guys would all whisper, “and kiss your ass good bye”. It was great stuff for 3rd graders. I remember that one year the school bussed us to either Whitewater or Clearwater (There is both near Wichita and at that age I didn’t have a clue where we went.) I do remember that one of the Mom’s showed up in her convertible and left the top down as we drove with all the other cars to our lunch site out of town. The other kids were all jealous of us until they saw how sunburned we were the next day.
The school I went to would have a day at the end of the year when we would all go roller skating at one of the rinks near us. We even went to Augusta, Kansas one year. It was always a hoot to see how clumsy everyone was at the beginning of the day and how good we were at the end of the day. For some reason the Beech Aircraft Employees club would have a roller-skating party fairly regularly and Dad or Mom would take us there to get us out of the house. I always knew how to skate and going in the circles was a hoot to me. I always hated when we would have to stop and do the “Hoochie Coochie”. You remember, put your right skate in , put your right skate out and then shake it all about”. Fall on your butt and laugh it all about….
Enough for part one. Next time.