My Incredible,Unpredictable Friend

Meet Sivvie Lio.  I can’t tell you how many years I’ve known her or even when I first met her. I do know she is just who I needed to help me through this long month of January, with its ups and downs.

Sivvie is a package of dynamite packed into a pint sized human being. Her head is so packed with knowledge that one would think it would weigh down the rest of her body.

But let me tell you about yesterday. Sivvie said she might be in the area and stop in to see me. Yes!!! Company!!  Now, not only has Sivvie been a pharmacist for fifty years; she also owns The Vermont Herbal General Store in West Rutland, Vt. You just know that any visit with Sivvie will bring not only great conversation, but maybe a sample or two of her many creams, ointments, sprays..you name it.  

The woman knows her herbs! Of course, she knew my RA condition and so brought along a sample of her Derma Healer pain lotion. Slapped a bit of that on the back of my aching hands and within a few minutes, the pain had diminished so it no longer bothered me.

Now Sivvie and I are both Pisces; both Legends of February as Facebook likes to call us. When we start talking, we don’t stop. She is a Master of Reiki and Lord only knows what else. The woman is phenomenal and if you listen, you can learn about almost any plant and what it does for you.

Yesterday …well, maybe it was because it was a dreary day or maybe two February people get bored easily. She mentioned Holy Fire Reiki and I just had to know about it. So,naturally, she said she would even demonstrate if I wanted to try it ( and was probably wondering if I could sit still that long). 

Since this was unplanned , we made do with what was on hand. I wheeled the computer chair into the middle of the floor. Sivvie turned on some very soft,( to my ears, unusual) music.  Her hands touched my shoulders ( where I am bothered the most with RA) and it felt as though her hands were burning through my shirt into my skin. Then there was a soft touch to the forehead and slowly she placed her hands on my biceps, wrists , hands and especially my thumbs. She placed her hands..one on my shoulder and one on my knee ..each side…where there in inflammation. Her hands were very , very warm.  I could feel myself relaxing and secretly hoping I wouldn’t nod off and fall out of the chair. ( Always the worrier).

I have no idea how long the demonstration lasted. I do know that I felt better all over and for the rest of the day had no pain comparable to what I had been feeling for months. Hey, there has to be something to this, I said to Sivvie. ( I think she rolled her eyes). She explained that the music was synced to some of the moves she had made, which was interesting.

When Sivvie comes to visit, I never know what will happen…that is the great part.  Her herbal store is located at 518 Main St in West Rutland , VT. and anyone stopping in , will be mesmerized by the products she makes up herself. Tell her what is wrong and she , I bet, can give you something that will help.

Her website is http://www.vermontherbal.com but she apologizes for not keeping it up to date as she is so busy between her pharmacy job and the store, she can’t find the time, but is trying. She balances a world between pharmaceuticals and Alternative and Holistic Health Science.  She also has a Facebook page. Just type in her name or the Vermont Herbal Store and you got it!

I call her the “mad scientist” and she laughs. There are always skeptics about alternative ways to health and no, I am not going to stop seeing my cardiologist and rheumatologist, but wouldn’t it be nice if we could keep an open mind and see how many plants, vegetation of any kind could aid in keeping us healthy.

If you’re ever in the West Rutland area, and really it is worth the trip just to see the Herbal Store, stop in. You might want to call ahead (802-438-2766) to get her hours, but you won’t regret it.

There, that is my January adventure…so far… unless Sivvie comes for another visit. Had to let you know that I received the Holy Fire Reiki and lived to tell about it. 

Hmm..if I have another, you will be the first to know.

 

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January Thaw circa 1950

dogI am 14 years old and sick of Winter. I’ve been cold since last October and enough already. We are out for winter vacation and time is hanging heavy on my hands.  Yesterday, the sun came out and seemed a bit warmer and Dad said it was slowly getting higher in the sky. Well, I wish it was July high. Icicles are melting off the porch roof and the heavy snow from last week is falling with thuds from the pine trees by the front yard.

I would like to go skating on Twitchell Pond, but usually wait til evening when we can burn the cast-off tires that the neighbors give us.  They don’t mind the awful smell as they burn, as long as they can get rid of something they don’t need.  It isn’t much fun skating alone, and mind you, I am not a good skater. My ankles want to go in one direction and the rest of my body in another.  I grab the skates that my brother, Tink, gave me for Christmas and start for the pond. He said they were second hand skates but they fit me and are white and look sharp. Makes me look as if I know what I am doing even with the flopped over ankles.

I leave my old boots on the pond shore and the skates are firmly planted ( I hope..). I don’t like the sound of the ice …it seems to be making strange noises and I have always thought of cars and people going through. Dad has always stressed to us not to get near the opening of brooks leading into the pond, because of what he calls “air holes”. Seems to me that by now everything should be frozen solid..it is the middle of January and we’ve been living like Eskimos for months. Well, the strange noises don’t help my enthusiasm. Who would be home that might skate with me? There are no girls in the neighborhood, so I am thinking Hank Bowers might be at home.

He lives down the road a bit, so if I skate in that direction, he might see me and come out and at least we can kill some time, falling over each other as we attempt to stay upright.  I start the skate, going by Wagner’s camp, sitting there, looking pretty lonely this time of year and round the corner where I sit in the summer, with my fish pole and thinking cap. I am about to start the straight away when I hear a noise behind me and there is Keno, our Norwegian husky, trying to keep up with her paws in all directions.

Keno is a wonderful guard dog and will not let anyone near my brothers and me if she senses any danger. I wonder if she thinks I am going to go through the ice; whatever she thinks, she is not going to leave me. We have had her since she was a puppy, when my Dad surprised Curt with her as a Christmas gift. I slow down and ask her what she thinks she is doing, way out here on the ice with me. Her tail wags and she snuggles up to my leg as I stop.  I give her a pat and then skate slowly as Hank’s house comes into view.  I circle around so Hank can see me if he wants to come out.

The sun is warm and yet no Hank. Knowing boys as I do, he is probably propped up with a comic book or watching television. Keno and I linger awhile and then decide that boys are not worth that much time and start our skate home.  So far the noises from the ice have not let us into the cold briny deep and we are safe…I don’t know why I do not feel as safe in the day time as I do at night. Maybe it is because there are more of us and if I fell through, someone would try and fish me out.

We are back at the starting point and I sit on the cold bank and get the skates off. That was a waste of time, I think to myself. Keno sits beside me and I am sure she echos my thoughts. My legs are tired, so hers must be as well. The sun sure feels good on my face though and there is no nasty wind blowing from Moose Cove to set the chills going.

We climb the bank to head back to the little house when I hear a voice. “Sandra, have you got a minute?” My Gram Martin has her porch window open a crack and is calling. Slinging the skates over my shoulder, Keno and I walk up the driveway hill to see what she needs. Ha!  Gram doesn’t need anything really…she has been cooking and hands me a fat cookie and a little mug of cocoa. ..made with real milk, not the evaporated kind!  I can smell soup on her cook stove and she has a bone saved for Keno, who has waited patiently outside the front door.

January isn’t bad when you have a nice thaw to warm the bones and a Gram who comes to the rescue when she wants nothing but company!! Grams get lonesome, too!

HE’S BACK

It’s cold; the blankets are pulled up under the chin …no need to get up. Retired..what a wonderful word!  I note the time is 6 a.m. and a series of yawls echo down the hallway to  our bedrooms. Breakfast time!  My son makes his way to the kitchen, fills a dish and stumbles back to his bed for at least a cat nap. I pull the blankets tighter around me and ask the Sleep Fairy for at least another half hour. Remarkably, it is given and a series of small little meows beside my bed awaken me the second time. I look down at the golden eyes and groan aloud, “Sam, arrghh…”. He stops, sits, starts grooming as if he has a play date shortly and waits patiently for me to slide out of bed, sit until my senses come to me and I can remember my own name. I go out to notice he has not touched the food given him at the six o’clock hour, but waits until I fix my breakfast and we eat together.

I should sputter and probably do under my breath, but the bright golden eyes are shining as if to say, “hey I’m lonesome, time to get going…” and underneath it all , I am very happy.

You see, my husband,Dick and I went to several shelters that September in 2007 and found nothing we really wanted to replace our cat we had lost months before. At the last shelter, shavings or whatever were being put down and Dick had to leave the building because he had an allergic reaction. I looked and looked and was ready to leave when down in the corner, were two golden eyes looking at me from a little cage.

“Well, what do we have here?” I asked and the lady replied that he had never left his cage since he came in April unless someone took him out. I knelt and they opened the door and out he came, in and out of my legs and brushing up against me. Amazed, the lady held him and said he had adopted me and almost started to cry. By then, it was a done deal. I thought I had myself a bona fide five year old cat. Ah, but that was not to be the story.

The name tag said “Sam” and we left it the same. He slept all the way home, gently stepped out the carrier and made himself at home…but with Dick, not me. Oh, no. I was the cat lover. Dick sat at the computer that night and Sam perched on a chair arm and kept putting his paw out to touch his shoulder until finally Dick took him in his lap. That was his favorite place to be for the next nine years.

If Dick took a break in the rocking chair on the deck, Sam was in his lap or in the chair next to him. If he fell asleep in the recliner, Sam stretched his entire black and white body over the lap til both ends sagged. Where one was, so was the other. If Dick sat on the sofa to watch NCIS, his favorite show, Sam would hear the theme song and come running and with one giant leap, land in his lap for the entire show.

Then the day came when Dick became ill. At first, Sam would tentatively edge over and hop gently in his lap for a short while, until he had to be disturbed. Days and nights passed and the times in Dick’s lap became few and far between. Sam seemed to sense it and gingerly walked around his master.  Although he continued to eat, he became withdrawn and his golden eyes seemed to fade.

Months passed and the day came when Dick left the house for the hospital. Sam was unusually quiet and existed, but showed no interest in anything but a little food, water and curled up in a corner.  Soon after, we lost Dick and the days to follow were those wrapped up in the usual manner after such a loss. Sam continued to just eat, drink and curl up in a corner, asking for no affection from anyone or acting as if he really wanted any attention.  The offering of a new catnip toy from our neighbor didn’t arouse his interest.  He seemed to act more indifferent and remote when we moved Dick’s special chair to another part of the room as if he realized that Dick was not coming home.

I have to be super careful when I walk with my RA condition, so use a cane most times and when I nudged him so I wouldn’t trip, he  turned  around and almost snarled at the cane. This was definitely not the Sam I knew who walked with me in the back yard and played peek a boo around the trees a couple years before…

After some more rearranging this year, the chair was moved back to its former position. One night, my son sat down and Sam approached the chair very slowly. Alan patted his lap and Sam jumped up and laid his body across my son’s legs. After a few minutes, he fell fast asleep.  Not long after we found him digging his toys out of his private little box and tossing one in the air..not bad for a 15 year old cat.

Each day, Alan takes a little time to sit in Dick’s chair and Sam walks over and up he jumps. He has started to hide his whole face in Alan’s hand the way he used to do with Dick.

The most beautiful thing I notice is that his golden eyes shine again. It is as though he is saying, “It has been a terrible year. I miss him, but now I know you all love me.” Once in awhile I look over in the evening and he is curled up all by himself in the chair that once belonged to his master , as if to say, it’s ok now.  No one can ever convince me that a pet does not grieve when it loses its master.

So do I mind if he gets lonesome in the morning and acts as my alarm clock? Not as long as the golden eyes still shine. —and by the way I don’t hold him because I am allergic to his black fur. Ironic, isn’t it.

Sam is back!!

 

 

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Christmas Commentary

Christmas in the 1940’s was the same for most kids who lived in the hamlet of Greenwood Center and adjoining village of Locke Mills, Maine. We were children of, for the most part, mill workers and though we joined in the excitement of the holiday knew that we would probably not see any of the wondrous toys pictured in the “wish book”under our trees.

The school Christmas party was a joyous occasion, the drawing of the names, the anticipation of going to school the very day we opened our presents. When my brothers and I brought home the names we had drawn, my mother made a trip to Brown’s Variety in Bethel or if she was fortunate, got a ride to Norway to J.J. Newberry’s where she picked  up coloring books, crayons and other small gifts for us to wrap.

Today, as we all know, there are still children who get very little, if anything, for Christmas. No matter the fund raising, the gathering of toys by organizations, there are always some who are left out and forgotten. But we also have to think of those who ARE remembered and thank God that there are  those who are willing and able to collect and distribute toys and other much needed things.

In the 1940’s, back in the lake and mountain regions of Maine, there were no holiday trains coming through, no toy collections. Each child seemed to know, at least in our family, that we would get something and that it WAS a special day.

Christmas Eve we hung our stockings by the wood box behind the wood stove. Mine was the longest because I was forced to wear the ugly brown cotton stockings to keep my legs warm. However, size did not matter. Everyone received the same , ending with the big orange in the toe.

I went to bed early with the thought that morning would come sooner. I can still hear the rattle of Christmas paper as my mother stood in the kitchen and wrapped the few gifts we could afford. It was so exciting to think that in the morning there would be presents under the tree!  I fell asleep to that noise and soon it was 5 a.m. and I scooted down the stairs to grab the long brown stocking and take it to bed with me. Up the stairs I went and under the covers to take out pencils, crayons and maybe some hard candy! Candy before breakfast? That was a treat!!!

The tree stood in the kitchen corner, resplendent with its paper colored chains against the frost covered windows. We gobbled breakfast and presents were passed out. I always stood by the wood box because it was the warmest place in the kitchen!  We could depend on Grammy Martin knitting each of us a hat and mittens. I counted on my mother getting me paper dolls and she never failed me!

Needless to say, it took very little time for us to unwrap and see the presents . I cannot remember anyone ever complaining on how little they got or if they did not get what they wanted. I think we all knew and understood that the “big” presents in the catalogs were not meant for people like us…hard working people who had to work twice as hard to make a holiday nice.

We wrote our notes to Santa and left them on the frosty windowsills a few nights before Christmas and told him what we would LIKE to get but somehow in our hearts, we knew we would probably not get what we had wished for…and yet, that was part of the fun, part of the holiday, part of the excitement.

Perhaps that is why today I wonder if this generation of children get way too much. I know..I know..the world has changed and I have tried to change with it. I just cannot imagine my sitting in our little kitchen in the 1940’s with presents stacked around me, tossing paper and tags in the air and not knowing later who gave me what gift. Each one was so precious to us.

Even our Christmas “dinner” paled in comparison to those we view in magazines today and on television. Our little round, oil cloth topped table, held potatoes, one of Lester Cole’s chickens ( roadrunner to my Dad) and a vegetable or two with a glass of water by each plate. Dessert was red jello from the snowbank. What a treat!! After all was cleaned, we went ice skating and the day was complete.

I am glad that today’s children have as much as they do…wonderful that so many children are remembered who would otherwise go without…sad that some get way too much and appreciate so very little. That makes up the world…I guess.

We may have been poor, but I would not trade one of my Christmas memories back in the little house for anything.

Suddenly December

November has slithered off the calendar and December has arrived on its little chilly feet, threatening snow every day with its grey, dismal skies and an occasional peek of sun.  These are the days that take me back to the Maine farm and its ever changing seasons.  The trees are barren with skeletal fingers reaching for the sky and once again, we can see Indian Pond down in the valley from our front porch.  The garden lays barren and ready to sleep for the cold months.

The “Fabulous Four”, as I always called them ,arrive home from school with various holiday cut-outs and stories.  Each year the big event is the “exchanging of names” for the school Christmas tree! How horrid that one of the boys got a girl’s name!! What do you give a girl? Why couldn’t I have got a boy’s name? I wanted to get so and so’s name, but that would have been cheating….and so it went each year. Until they were too old for that…and of course I missed it!! ( To a point).

I looked in the freezer, knowing it was filled to the top with butchered meat , in preparation for the winter. That was an autumn happening each year, which I did not relish coming on, but I spent nights at the kitchen table with freezer wrap and masking tape and black marker until the freezer was brimmed with pork, bacon, sausage (hey I made my own and the ground meat) and beef. We were set in that department. A few jars of green tomato pickles and assorted jellies sat on the shelf leading to the cellar.

I won’t kid anyone. I hated snow; I hated cold. I dreaded every hour of every day that did not include green grass. However, there was a highlight…a silver lining behind every cloud if you will. Her name was Winnie Hanscom and she was my neighbor just down below the hill.  Now, back in those days, Rowe Hill consisted of year round residents such as : Monte Brooks and his wife Eunice and family at the top; Lee and Myrtle Sumner and their beautiful family half way down the hill; Winnie and Ray Hanscom and their daughters and Wilmer Bryant at the bottom of the hill. The Colby Ring home held different families at different times; sometimes it stood silent. Howard and Alice Emery came at various times of the year to their home at the top of Velvet Hollow.

What I most remember about the Brooks was seeing Mont and Eunice driving to town with their horse and buggy. What a beautiful sight and how I wish I was camera happy back then and could see it one more time. Myrtle Sumner, although we lived close by, was more a telephone friend, giving me news for the newspapers each week as to what her family was doing. Alice Emery , when home, supplied my kids with her molasses cookies, which I could never duplicate even with her recipe and they have never let me forget it.

Wilmer Bryant was a farmer and my Samaritan. How many times he gave me a ride to Dr. Nangle’s in West Paris in the early morning hours when I suffered migraines. He was a typical quiet farmer with a heart bigger than his barn.

But Winnie Hanscom! What a tangled life we led. She was my mother’s childhood friend and graduated high school in 1933 with her. For years, she was a baby sitter for my brothers and me. Fast forward, I married and moved into the house behind her on the hill. She became a mother and I baby sit her daughters.

Our mutual friend was the telephone. If she found an EASY recipe, she was on the phone with it immediately. I have never before or since tasted anything like her glazed raised donuts. I couldn’t make them….mine were glue. Hers were plump, golden and sugary heavenly glazed. Come near holiday time, when the snow was really piling up and all moods were pretty well scraping the bottom, she was on the phone with another tried and true recipe.  One was some sort of relish made with orange rinds (?), cranberries and something or other. I lost the recipe, but could never duplicate it anyway.

Together we rejoiced that the cows were in for the winter. I would  not be chasing them back into the pasture and she would not be behind them with a garden implement heading them in my direction. That was our bright light of the winter months.

Winnie and I had one of those friendships where one knew the other was there if needed. She is one of my happiest memories from the years on Rowe Hill. I always tell and laugh again, as we did so many times, about the morning she got up and was getting the girls off to school. Feeling empty, she reached for a handful of cereal to munch on and suddenly declared she was not about to feed the girls that stuff. She took a second look and realized that she was chewing on dry cat food. I know, I know, I’ve told that story a hundred times but every time it is funny and it was to her the last time I saw her.

I often look back at those days and remember going up and down the cellar steps to feed the miserable beast known as the “wood furnace” trying to heat that old farm house. We had an Ashley wood heater in the kitchen which did a pretty good job, but the cold seemed to settle in my bones.

Now I am here about 5 1/2 hours away from the old homestead and wishing that I could see Indian Pond, as in the picture, one more time. It is highly unlikely I will at this time of year…but maybe come next year when the pond lilies are blossomed or the apple trees are in bloom.

Those are the mental images that make me tolerate December.

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TBT LETTER CIRCA 1980’s

Among my Mother’s treasures, I found this letter I wrote to her in the..probably..early eighties..since I never dated it, it’s a guess. Apparently, it was written when I was longing for a visit.

Dear Mom in the Maine wilderness:

It is raining tonight, so thought it a good time to write back home. Drops of rain are pounding on the “tin shed roof” and it sets me in mind of going to bed in the attic of our little house in Greenwood, Maine.  Speaking of sheds, I wonder when people stopped using the regular old wooden sheds. You know, the kind with wood piled in tiers..just so..for the winter.  There was an air of mystery about the old wood shed. Hidden nooks existed for everything..from a bottle of the neighbor’s home brew to the buck saw with a newly broken blade.  The latter always occurred when the wood box was empty. Worse still was taking a mighty swing at a chunk of wood and driving Dad’s favorite double- bitted axe into a rock or burying it in dirt to the handle.  Nothing was more sickening than a huge nick in a freshly ground axe..unless it was Dad, with said axe in hand, towering over you waiting for an explanation.

I really miss fresh fish. Oh, I could drive to the local fish market, but carrying fish home in a brown wrapper is a far cry from a stringer full of fresh perch, bass or pickerel.

This year everyone celebrated the Fourth of July with gusto. I remember your rowing us across Twitchell Pond to Nick’s Point with a big watermelon to celebrate. I’m not sure whether we were celebrating the Fourth or that you once more successfully navigated the old wooden row boat to its destination.

When one moves from home, he tends to look back much more than I realized.  Remember canned milk during World War 11. To this day, I cannot bear the taste of it..but how fortunate we were to have it. Karo on cereal, molasses cake, molasses cookies, molasses on hot biscuits.  The big treat was oleo on bread sprinkled very lightly with sugar..or perhaps the treat was the oleo itself coming in a special package, when we squeezed and squeezed until the yellow was smoothly and evenly spread though out the mixture; Shredded Wheat was purchased because the miniature bales were packed between cardboard pictures we could color.

I look at the gawdy lights and advertisements in the city and wonder, if I ever knew, back in the days of kerosene lamps that I would ever live among such artificial lighting.  I would not pretend to give up my electric lights, but there still is a satisfaction of smelling kerosene soak up the wick of an old lamp.  A kerosene lamp in our home was as holy and precious as the crown jewels. Cursed was he who dared black the mantel of the” Alladin Lamp”..cursed was he who broke a chimney.  Our Jello set very well in a December snow band and the brook bubbling by kept any beverage we might have “fairly cool”. There was no washing machine. How many Saturdays did you bend over that big tub of water scrubbing clothes on those metal ripples until your fingers were raw?  I saw a scrub board at a flea market for five dollars and was tempted to buy it for you, but I know you appreciate my humor only to a point.  I look at my sewing machine and remember your newspaper patterns, a scratch of your head, your feeding old material through a treadle machine and another creation was born.  How many  winter coats did we wear which you manufactured from nothing?

It was a necessity that you work in the mill. But how sweet when you were laid off for a few days. We jumped off the school bus and rushed in the kitchen to sample the doughnuts on the table. These were a superb treat you didn’t have time to make when you were punching the time clock at the mill.  I know you’re still punching that time clock. Some day,  I hope you can come out here long enough to see a bit of this country. It’s not all that bad…if you’re not a native of Maine and like to walk through fields barefooted with buttercups winding in and around your toes.

It’s late and the rain is still falling. I look out upon the intersection with streetlights shining on the rain puddles…and in closing, will pretend it’s Twitchell Pond and in just a minute I’ll run down and jump in head first.

They were hard days…those old days..but how simple and beautiful some of the memories.

Love and miss you.

Your loving daughter,

San

 

ma

The Mailman Cometh…

earlyThe photo was taken a long time before the wild dreams took over rational thinking. Note my brother, Rex, photo bombing in the background. He was always way ahead in the future.

But again, I digress..a favorite habit of mine. I preface this by saying I love Joe, our mail man. When he is on duty, I know I will hear the clink of my mailbox door and if I am out on the deck, there is a smile, a wave and an exchange of a few words as he goes on his way.

My fixation with the mail started at a very young age. I watched as our faithful mailman, Johnny Howe, motored through Greenwood Center, Maine, every afternoon as the clock was moving toward the mid-afternoon part. I sat on a little rock in the front  yard and listened for his car coming down the “flat.” Yes, there were so few cars in those days that you knew who was coming just by the sound of the motor. How my heart sank when he went by our mailbox by the road, but always stopped at my Gram Martin’s box next door. Why did she always get mail? Uncle Louis would walk down the hill and I’d watch as he wandered back up, perusing the papers in his hand. Hrump, I thought, at least they get something to look at and we don’t even get advertisements. On second thought, now at my age, maybe that was a good time in life…very few pieces of junk mail!!

I loved reading and even advertisements would be nice to fill up a summer afternoon. In my probably eight to ten year old mind, I thought it grossly unfair and set out to do something about it. There were comic books in the house given us and always..always..either on the back of the cover or within were these wonderful little ads from the Johnson Smith Co. Oh, the things one could buy for just pennies or a handful of change. Now I did have a few coins in my attic hideaway that I had earned treading hay for my Uncle Harold and collecting potato bugs off plants that my Grandfather Martin had begrudgingly, but finally, handed to me. ( I think a quart jar of bugs equaled a nickel, perhaps).

For weeks I studied the page and decided that some of the things offered were just too gross. I didn’t want to fool any friends with pepper gum or fake dog poop. What I really wanted to buy was a whoopie cushion. That wouldn’t hurt a soul and I knew I would only use it on family( well I’d count my father out on that). I proposed the idea to my mother one night while we were washing the dishes in the old black iron sink.

Need I even tell you her response? Her dish cloth, dripping with suds, seemed to hang in mid-air, and in one quick sentence the verdict came: “You will do no such thing , young lady.”  That idea vanished as quickly as it had materialized. But being the persistent pest that I seemed to be, it did not squelch all my dreams. I still wanted mail.

Back to Johnson and Smith and the comic books. AHA! No one could find a reason for my not ordering something that would make all my dreams come true. I wanted to be a dancer..in particular, a tap dancer and there for 59 cents was a pair of taps. All I had to do was order, receive, find Dad’s hammer and nail them to an old pair of shoes I wore fishing. I wouldn’t even touch the shoes that still looked ..well decent.

I didn’t ask permission to go ahead with the mission, as I could see absolutely nothing wrong with buying a set of taps. The next day I printed out the order form, found an envelope, set it in the mailbox with three pennies on top for postage, set the flag for Johnny to stop and watched as he ground to a halt that afternoon and took my order out into the big world.

A couple weeks went by and sure enough! One day Johnny pulled up to the box, I ran like the wind and there was a little brown package. Yessir! In the corner was Johnson and Smith Co. Up the driveway, up the stairs to the attic where the shoes and Dad’s hammer had been waiting since the day the order was sent. I sat on the edge of the bed, shoe between my knees and tap tap tap. Soon there they were; sitting side by side on the bed..waiting for my feet to make magic. I knew the song I was going to tap …Syncopated Clock…distinct beat.

The time had come. Supper was over; Dad had retired to the bed with his western novel for a brief time . Showtime!! The shoes were on; the attic was my stage and all I had to do was hum the song. Which I did…tap tap tap and a couple quick taps… I waited for applause or at least an acknowledgement…

Suddenly, Dad’s voice echoed from his bedroom, “Ethel, if that’s a woodpecker, get my gun before he rips the side of the house off!”

My mother came from the kitchen, paused at the bottom of the stairs and said, ” She’s YOUR daughter, Bob.” and then in after thought aimed up the stairs, “Young lady, those better not be your good shoes.”  My tapping days were over in less than 15 minutes and I had lost 59 cents plus 3 cents postage.

But that was one day that Johnny brought me mail.