A to Z Family Stories: R for Roy Rogers, Robin Hood and Rin Tin Tin

I was in the basement doing something when I heard it.  The television was on the floor above and the call was faint but clear enough to get me going… “Robin Hood, Robin Hood, riding through the glen. Robin Hood, Robin Hood with his band of men…”  I never wanted to miss any of the story so in seconds I was up in front of the TV with my brothers, ready for our favorite afternoon shows.

I guess this subject is going to clue readers in to my age but also, I hope, to how much has changed in my lifetime (and even more in my parent’s lifetime!)  Television was a fairly new item back in 1951 when I was born – just getting to be affordable for an average family.  The huge black square sat in a corner of our living room on a table with a large hole in the middle so it could air cool and not overheat.  No remotes, and reception depended on which way your antenna pole outside was pointing.  There were only a couple stations broadcasting from far away cities and pretty much no choice of programming, but that didn’t matter.  One person outside would turn the pole while the others inside would watch anxiously, and when a picture would appear amidst the “snow” we would yell “hold it” and everyone would settle down to watch whatever was available that day.  We didn’t watch TV during a storm because lightning could strike the pole and make it’s way into the house.  It did that once and burned out the TV.

Our shows were in the afternoon and early evening, before the news and on Saturdays. Howdy Doody, Sky King, Captain Kangaroo, and Mickey Mouse Club, the theme song of which I can still remember every word,  – they were all regulars.  But my favorites, by far, were Robin Hood and his band of merry men, Roy Rogers and Silver (well, Dale Evans too, in a marginal sort of way) Tonto, and Rinny the German Shepherd.

Their adventures were the inspiration of much of my daytime play.  I was young enough to be gender unobservant so I was always Roy,  Robin, or the Lieutenant because they were the heroes and smarter than everyone else, usually.  And of course, the costumes were very important.  Back in those “old days” I don’t remember there being lots of commercials telling us which toys we should beg for, but somehow I ended up one Christmas getting the complete cowboy outfit and I loved it. What possessed my parents I don’t know.

My favorite time to make up stories was after being put to bed at night.  We children always had an early bedtime, before we were very tired, and our imaginations never let us just lie there being bored.  I would put all my gear on over my pajamas – the chaps, the vest with the star, the gun belt and six shooters, and the hat – and get my plot going.  By the time I was shot and wounded, having fallen dramatically in my bed the street, I was usually asleep.  That’s the way it was, back then, just sayin’.

It's very hard to stay awake after you've been shot.
It’s very hard to stay awake after you’ve been shot.

A to Z Family Stories: Q for Quiet of a Different Kind

Everyone thinks of the country as such a quiet, peaceful place especially when compared to the sounds of a city with traffic, construction, sirens, and other man made noises. But the quiet in the country is not really the absence of noise at all. The noises are different but they are there, and they are often surrounded by softness, and quiet space that makes them stand out with a clarity that burns them into one’s memory. I want to tell you about some of my favorite noises and the quiet that makes them special.

I start with spring because all things kind of start there. There has been only one year when I actually witnessed a very brief moment – it happens every year but so quickly that one can never predict and catch it. I happened to be on the bank looking out on the ice covering Round Lake. There had been warm days already and the ice was rotten, weak and shot through with melting holes. There was open water around the edges of the lake. A breeze came up and the most marvelous sound began as the ice moved and began to disintegrate. It was a musical, tinkling sound like many small pieces of glass hitting each other and swirling in the water. Shards of ice piled up on the shore and the rest sank into the lake until nothing but open water remained. I watched and listened for about five minutes and it was over. I was in awe.

The earliest bird sound in northern Wisconsin is made by the Red-winged Blackbird as it returns to its nesting area in the marshes. We had several small marshy ponds near our driveway where we would wait each morning for the school bus. The blackbirds would sit on the power lines, and the cattails and sing. They have a rather long and complicated call that is unmistakeable and ends in a high trill. It was always the hallmark of spring for me. About the same time the marshes also became alive with small frogs, spring peepers we called them. There were times when the combination of thousands of high pitched voices would drown out most other noises. This is April and I have just returned from visiting my hometown. We drove around in the country and every time we passed a wet hollow we heard the swell of sound from the peepers.

A couple of years we tapped maple trees in the nearby woods and there were times the sap ran so fast you could hear it dripping into the pails. And of course, there was always the snow melt in the fields. Streams would appear where none were other times of the year and water would rush down the hillsides into the pond. The driveway would become a maze of mud and rivulets to be avoided.

Summer brings sounds of bees buzzing, lazy flies, and breezes through the poplar trees. There is the sound of the waves slapping the rocks on the shores of the spring fed lakes and rivers, and a few man made noises as boats and jet skis skim the waters. On a windy day the woods are full of sounds of leaves turning and branches rubbing. There is a biblical reference to the trees of the field clapping hands and I always thought that was exactly what seemed to be happening.

Autumn sounds are so distinct – lonely sounds. The dry leaves are falling and crunching underfoot. The wind sounds different when it blows through the bare branches. Sometimes corn in the field that didn’t get cut is also brown and dry, rustling in the wind. Geese in large V’s honk their way south, and the crows call to each other.

And finally winter comes. The first heavy snowfall seems to suck up every noise in the woods, and the whole white world becomes insulated. There is a quietness that is tangible, it can be felt. Stepping out on the frozen lake can sometimes create loud booming sounds as the ice cracks. It doesn’t break but the long lines in the ice are dangerous when skates get stuck in them. Many times I remember the sound of the wind during the drama of blizzards – a time when it is a blessing to have shelter and warmth from which to view the storm.

it gets very quiet when snow blankets everything
it gets very quiet when snow blankets everything

These are the sounds that I remember from life in the country – the peaceful, quiet country.

A to Z Family Stories: P for a couple different things

Picture board

Mom has been sorting through her pictures for years now, organizing them into albums for each of us kids and albums on different subjects.  She has so many printed pictures because she has lived so many years when printed pictures were the only option – there were no digital cameras.  .

My first camera was a Brownie box camera.  There were little, square lenses that you could take out on the top. In fact, you could take the whole camera apart and put it back together again. It was that simple.  You bought rolls of film with only 8 frames on them, put them in the camera and turned a knob to roll them into place.  If you were lucky you got black and white photos several weeks later when you finished the film and sent it away to be developed.  If you weren’t lucky you got underexposures, over exposures, pictures with no subject in them, pictures of your fingers over the lens, etc… There were so many things that could go wrong, and commonly did.  This was the only way to preserve memories of important times, but it resulted in lots of terrible pictures.

Color film came along but was much more expensive.  Then cameras improved and film had 24 and 36 frames so we took more pictures.  Still, there was no way to know if the picture was good until after it was developed and printed. And it still had to be sent to a developer for the prints (expensive) because few people knew how to process their own films.  Now we have digital photos and don’t know how we ever managed without them. We only print the best, for special reasons, and store the rest on disks or hard drives.

Mom’s photo albums show this history of pictures, from the small black and whites to the present near-perfect digitals.  In addition to the albums she has made picture boards of her favorite family pics.  She is not afraid to crop them, trim them up with decorative edges, and paste them on a cardboard.  Her philosophy – get them out where people will look at them more often.  If they sit in a box or a drawer forever, no one enjoys them and they are forgotten.

I found myself in this pic with my brothers
I found myself in this pic with my brothers

The picture boards hang in the guest room of her house.  Everyone loves to look at them and see how many times they can find themselves.  We see how we all have changed over the years with growth spurts, changes in hairstyles, added weight, and more recently, the wrinkles.  It’s not fancy, or expensive.  There are no real frames or glass (which would be alright too) and it doesn’t seem to matter.  We all love looking at pictures of our crazy, lovable extended family.

Mom's picture board collage
Mom’s picture board collage

Peanut 

We had a single milk cow.  For some reason which I do not recall, we named her Peanut.  This was the time in my family history that my dad was almost finished with farming, but it was still nice to have a cow to provide milk for the family.  She was a Holstein and a pretty good milk producer.  One cow is not enough to justify having a milking machine so my brothers milked her by hand morning and evening.  I might have done it a few times too but I was now away at college so I didn’t know Peanut very well.

There was enough milk that we also provided some to neighbors, which required that it be pasteurized for safety. The milk was heated in a metal pasteurizer, a gallon or two at a time, in our kitchen.  When it reached the right temperature it would shut itself off and we would cool it as quickly as possible.  Sometime our refrigerator would be so full of glass one-gallon jars of milk that there was little room for anything else.  As the milk sat in the fridg, the cream would rise to the top and we would skim it off and make butter. Peanut butter. There was also plenty for making ice cream, and just for drinking.  We were known as the farm where you could get Peanut milk.

There is something good about the memory of leaning up against a big,warm animal and hearing the rhythmic sound of that stream of milk filling the pail.  There’s a good dose of nostalgia in remembering the fun it was to try to squirt the cats when they came running by. It was good to live on the farm… just sayin’.

A Holstein, just like Peanut was.
A Holstein, just like Peanut was.

A to Z Family Stories: O for (ahem…) Outhouse

An outhouse wasn’t just something found in old cartoons and jokes. People actually used them and considered them a step up from … well, a chamber pot. I remember outhouse days.

My parents moved to a farm the year I was born. It had a two-story house, a barn, a sheep shed and an outhouse. The only water was in the barn and mom called it orange water because it was that rusty. Drinking water and water for washing clothes was brought out from town in large cans. There was electricity in the downstairs of the house only, and of course, no running water or plumbing. No bathroom. Mom was just thrilled to have a house of her own. The kitchen was where all the living was done. There was a bed in the corner. It was a safer time then – no locks on any doors.

The outhouse was one of the best structures on the premises, according to mom. Located just a short jaunt away from the house, it had one small high window for ventilation and a chair height bench inside with two holes, plus a child sized bench with a smaller hole. It was a deluxe model. The door had a hook and eye fastener on the inside and a wooden block handle on the outside that swiveled to hold the door shut.

When I was two and a half, before my brother was born, a bathroom was added which opened into the kitchen. A shallow well was sunk into the basement (dirt) floor and running water was brought into the house. Now there was orange water in both the house and the barn. However, the outhouse was still a common retreat, especially as the family grew. It had it’s own charm.

The farm had been bought from the Olson family. They had a son, Billy or Bob (we’re not sure), who went on to be an artist and a sign painter. Although we can’t be sure, we give him some credit for decorating the outhouse walls. Penciled here and there on the inside were caricatures of people and animals that were really showed quite a bit of talent. I remember looking at those walls, hoping to find a drawing that I had missed, wondering about the artist who had put them there. There was a supply of whatever paper could be spared, mostly catalogs and newspapers. Dad remembers what a treat it was around the time of year when peaches were sold, wrapped in tissue paper in crates. You can guess where the tissue paper went. I remember sweeping the floor and cleaning the outhouse and occasionally hunting down a spider or swatting down a hornet’s nest – not your present day bathroom hazards.

The outhouse stayed for a few years even after it got very little use. Eventually it was in the way and was taken down, the hole filled in, covered over. Another remnant of the past, no longer to be remembered, except of course in an occasional blog post. Just sayin’…

A to Z Family Stories: N for Nona, Storybook Grandma

Nona, her name, or at least the name she was willing to tell us. Her “real” name had something to do with Rosa or Rosabelle but she was not going let us call her that and never explained why to our satisfaction. She was my grandmother.

Three of my brothers and I were born in succession, two years apart, to a young mom who was thrust into childrearing almost before she was done being a child herself. We also lived in semi-isolation in the country. We desperately needed a good grandmother and fortunately, my dad’s mother, Nona, was that person. She and grandpa lived fairly close to town so it was a grateful mother who would drop us kids off to play in safety while she did grocery shopping or errands.

Grandma was always glad to see us come, always had a smile for us, gave us freedom to play and explore outside and seemed to be waiting for us to come in and have story time. She commonly sat at the kitchen table for letter writing and other work but come story time she would move to her recliner. We would grab a handful of books from the shelf in the stairwell and pile on top of her and the chair and listen as long as she would read. Peter Rabbit, Elmer Fudd, and other Little Golden Books were our well-worn favorites.

Grandma Nona wore an apron, the kind that goes over the head and covers the front of the dress, because she wore dresses all the time and they needed to be kept stain free. The apron only came off when she left the house to go to town or when pictures were being taken. It was a functional piece of clothing, used to carry everything from eggs gathered in the coop, to asparagus picked along the fence row. Besides the apron, her “grandma uniform” was pretty consistent – the same kind of dress, thick flesh-colored stockings, the same type of shoes. Once my aunts got her to wear a polyester pantsuit which she liked and acknowledged as comfortable, but I never saw her wear it again. She was probably saving it for “good” like all the other new things given to her as gifts.

Grandma stopped going to church when I was very young. She stayed home and cooked dinner for us, on her wood fired cook stove. We would arrive shortly after noon, to a very warm kitchen, where we sat down to fried chicken, mashed potatoes, garden vegetables, rhubarb sauce or some other dessert. Grandma baked her own bread and was also know for her cookies which were kept in a tightly covered lard can in the cupboard under the sink. All girls, including me, washed dishes after the meal, dried them and put them away. The vegetable trimmings, kept in a “swill pail” under the handwashing sink, would be taken out to the chickens or thrown on the garden. Then a couple of hours of quiet play would ensue while the grownups digested, slept or read.

Even when I went away to college, grandma was one of my strongest supporters. She would write to me regularly, as well as writing to each of her three daughters every week. When I would visit home she would watch out the kitchen window for me to come down her driveway. She would sit at the table with me, smiling, and listen to everything I could tell her about school, home, my life. I remember after I was married, bringing my firstborn daughter to grandma and setting the baby in her lap as she sat in the recliner. “Little sweetie” she called her. Somewhere there is a picture of that.

I miss her now. I think of many things I would ask her if I had the chance to do it, deeper subjects, questions that no one who knew her seems to be able to answer. I’m just sayin’, if you have a grandma, an aunt, a mom, who is close to you, have those conversations while you can. They are precious.

Grandma Nona wearing her apron, sitting in her recliner, maybe waiting to read a story...
Grandma Nona wearing her apron (a rare picture!), sitting in her recliner, maybe waiting to read a story…

A to Z Family Stories: M for Milk Route

MDuring part of my father’s farming days he supplemented his dairy business with a milk route that carried milk from neighboring farms to a creamery in a nearby town. In those days dairy farmers put all of their cows in the barn at once and milked them with a vacuum system, one or two at a time.
The milk was poured from the milking machine into 10 gallon cans, covered tightly with a lid and cooled in a water tank. Full, the cans weighed 100 lbs. The cows were milked two times a day, which meant a farmer might have five to ten cans or more to be picked up every day. My dad’s job was to drive a truck to all the farms on his route, load the cans in his large truck and drive it to the creamery. Think back breaking work, seven days a week.

We didn’t see dad a lot when we were little – we weren’t usually awake when he went out in the morning and we were in bed already when he came home at night. For this reason, it was a real treat when we got invited to go along on the milk route. Probably because we were prone to bicker with each other, only one of us could go with him at a time.

I remember standing with my mom one morning as we watched dad walk to the truck. I was not happy that I wasn’t getting to go with him and was probably showing some attitude. Suddenly my dad changed direction and was running back toward us and I knew I was not in for anything good. I don’t remember the spanking – just the moment of terror when I realized I had pushed the limit and there was no going back and no hiding. Oddly enough, both parents now say that we were very good kids and they can hardly remember giving spankings at all.

The milk truck was the biggest machine on the farm and when I sat on the wide bench seat with dad it seemed REALLY high, probably because I was really little. One of the best things about the trip was lunch. There were no McDonalds or fast food places. Lunch was made at home by mom, was often egg salad sandwiches (my favorite) wrapped in wax paper, and they always smelled delicious. Mom has always been a food genius when it comes to packing food for people. There would be a little jar of pickles, some fruit, and homemade cookies, always cookies. We usually ate lunch in the truck and it was gone by the time we reached the creamery.

After all the milk cans were unloaded, emptied, washed and reloaded into the truck there was another ritual treat. This particular dairy had a cooler near the entry that was always full of packages of butter, and small cartons of chocolate milk. If we had been good, we got the chocolate milk to drink on the way home and it was the best!

My grandfather also worked delivering milk at one time and my father remembers the same kind of treat would be given to him – it was a family tradition. It was country life. Not many kids get to live the country life, but I did and it was pretty good.

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A to Z Family Stories: L for Lamb

These stories are part of who we are and I want them recorded. Not all of them are pretty, but that is ok.  This is a collection of family stories that are told repeatedly anytime the Smith clan congregates during a vacation or a holiday.  I’m sure some of them are told more from my perspective than others but I welcome added insight from those involved.

“The farm”, those words will always mean one place to me and my brothers. It was a 320 acre plot in Sawyer County, Wisconsin about 8 miles from the small town of Hayward. My parents moved there shortly after they were married and my father started trying to make a living being a farmer. He tried numerous types of agri-business while we children were young, before he finally gave it up to become an excavator. The northwoods isn’t conducive to most kinds of farming.

One of the first attempts was the raising of sheep. I was too young to remember much of the actual work and this era probably didn’t last very long. What I do remember and what we sometimes talk about is our pet lamb.

There were times when an ewe (mother sheep for you city dwellers) would either die when giving birth or perhaps she would have twins and reject one of them, which would leave a lamb in need of rescue. The lambs were born in spring or early summer – and you know, lambs are really cute when they are little, really cute. I mean really cute. I won’t say that my brother and I were given this lamb, because we were too young to be responsible for it, but we were regularly allowed to feed it. We regarded it as ours. We named it Lambey Dammey. I know, but we were kids and it rhymed.

Our lamb, let’s just call him LD, was so cute (I did mention that they were cute, right?) and so much fun for us. When it was time to feed we would be given a bottle of warm milk with a special nipple and told to go find LD. We would call him loudly as we walked around the barn. I know people say sheep are dumb animals, but he would always come running. I think the promise of food makes anyone smart smarter. I was the oldest so I would hold the bottle, at least that’s what the pictures suggest. Much of my early memories are fed by the pictures I’ve seen over and over, and the stories I’ve heard. Here is a picture of me, my brother Ron and LD, the cutest lamb ever. Just sayin’…

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A to Z Family Stories: K for Kitchen Play

Mothers work in kitchens a good deal of the time even if they work outside the home as well.  Long, long ago, before nintendo or play station, or remote control toys children also played in the kitchen while their mothers worked.  This was especially true as my brothers and I were growing up.  We played in the kitchen while mom cooked, baked, washed dishes and ironed clothes.  The radio played, it was warm and cozy since there was always an old-fashioned cook stove or later, a Franklin fireplace to keep us warm.  We emptied drawers, pulled chairs up to the sink to play in the dishwater, and generally got underfoot.  It was very much where we belonged.

Do Moms still work in kitchens?  Do kids still play in kitchens?  Do people still have kitchens?
Do Moms still work in kitchens? Do kids still play in kitchens? Do people still have kitchens?

But my favorite play was “pretend store”.  What better place to do it than the pantry cupboard?  Ours was a double cupboard under the kitchen counter. Two large doors opened up to a joined space with a narrower shelf in the back, and it was not a large space.  Looking at similar spaces now I can’t imagine being small enough to enjoy being in there – but I often have that reaction looking at the places I remember playing.  Crazy, but I know we children did it.

The first step, of course, was to empty the cupboard of all the canned goods and utensils that might be stored there. The next step was to crawl in and set up shop.  The things I wanted to sell would go back in, arranged as the storekeeper wanted them this time. Canned goods, cereal boxes, pots and pans, spoons, measuring cups – ready for business.  This was always a general store so it also sold toys for children (no problem there), clothing for the family (knew where to get that) and ready to eat food which mom would supply.  Paper and pencils for lists and a telephone (toy) for orders that  might be phoned in would always be within reach.  When all was done the final step would be to hang a kitchen towel as a curtain – just shut it in the overhead drawer.

It was such an inviting type of cubby hole that pillow and blanket would eventually find their way in for nap time.  I could have lived there, except I do remember that the shelf was a bit of a problem and I often bumped my head.  When I think about this pastime I have a renewed sense of appreciation for my mom’s patience.  She was probably glad that I was occupying myself with anything that kept me happy.

My children played in the kitchen too, and if I was at home, I would upload a way too cute picture of Esther in a plastic dish pan, boating around the kitchen floor.  I might add that for moms on a budget, don’t tell yourself that kids can’t be entertained with simple, inexpensive things.  They were and they can. Try it.  Just sayin’…

A to Z at AWP! The Letters I and J

I is for I’m here, and I definitely am. I’ve been here for two days, going on the third, and am wearing out a bit. For those of you who don’t know, AWP stands for Association of Writers and Writing Programs, which should probably be AWWP and that is different from what I wrote earlier thinking that the P stood for Professionals. Certainly everyone here is not. It is such a diverse group and a very large one. I haven’t heard the number of conference registrants this year but judging by the lines at the coffee shop and the restrooms there are scads of us.

The conference center is huge, having four levels. Going to the various rooms for different panels and readings, I have no trouble getting in 5,000 steps a day (yes, I have an app on my phone). I’ve gotten lost a couple of times. There are adequate escalators, some quiet areas to get away (if you can find them), fairly good signage, and a covered walkway that goes to almost all the nearby hotels and shops. The center DOES NOT have enough food vendors and you really have to time things right to get a cup of coffee between sessions.

I do a lot of people watching and there is a lot of interesting material walking by at all times. This is a national event, (maybe international, I’m not sure) probably with a larger number of midwestserners attending since it is in Minneapolis. My daughter told me that Minnesota is one of the states with the highest number of educated people with college degrees and evidently many of them are writers and teachers of fine arts and they are here. The major publishing houses are here and have booths in the book fair area. Lots of MFA programs of universities throughout the states are represented. All kinds of writing are being presented and talked about in the readings and panel discussions.

As I said, I am getting a little weary. I often find I’ve chosen a session where the talk is “over my head”. These people who are immersed in reading, writing and publishing have a language I’m not all that familiar with. I’m often made aware of my ignorance and that is a little daunting, but everyone has to start somewhere. I’m coming away with a lot of words to look up, a lot of authors to read, a lot of ideas to implement in my own writing. I’m learning about tweeting (groan…). During the last session I attended I found myself looking at facebook and checking email more than listening, so have ducked out to find this quiet table where I can think and write. I have no MFA, no published books, no large platform but even for me, writing is where it is at.

J is for the things I Just have to say – I’m going to give you some of the quotes that have been meaningful to me from a few of the sessions, the take-aways that made it into my notes.

“underneath the nothing, there is usually something”

“be harder on yourself than anyone else in your narrative”

“What have I come to tell? Why do I have to tell it? What stands in the way?”

“changing from writing about something to writing to someone allows you to be authentic”

“some suffering demands silence”

“the one person you don’t want to read your memoir is the person who will read it”

“your truth, interpretation and memory are not necessarily facts”

“honesty isn’t just not lying – to be perfectly honest would be to have perfect self-knowledge”

“it is never true that one does not have a story to tell”

“the fact that someone has had something terrible happen to them does not make them a good writer”

“if you want to be creative, write fiction. Creative non-fiction is also called non non-fiction”

“writing should make you a better person”

and many more, I’m just sayin’…  I came and am glad I did.

a good thing to remember when writing memoir
a good thing to remember when writing memoir
this session was packed and well worth aattending
this session was packed and well worth aattending
streets of Minneapolis from the skyway (yes it rained)
streets of Minneapolis from the skyway (yes it rained)
And yes, it snowed too (but only briefly)
And yes, it snowed too (but only briefly)

 

(I regret I did not get the names of the people I quoted – it was often hard to hear it in the first place and get it all down correctly. My notes on each session were done hurriedly and often in awkward circumstances.  If you recognize yourself in any of these quotes please know I would gratefully acknowledge. Thanks)

A to Z Family Stories: H for Home Road

These stories are part of who we are and I want them recorded. Not all of them are pretty, but that is ok.  This is a collection of family stories that are told repeatedly anytime the Smith clan congregates during a vacation or a holiday.  I’m sure some of them are told more from my perspective than others but I welcome added insight from those involved.

Northern Wisconsin is pretty much the heart of nowhere. The small town I grew up near was over three hours from a major airport and two hours from any significant shopping, unless Farm and Fleet was your go-to store – it was only an hour away. When the girls were young we made weekly trips to the city of Duluth, Minnesota to meet with friends for a church service. It was an all day journey, often leaving in the dark early hours of winter, with our thermos of cocoa and breakfast food and not getting back until it was dark again. There were rituals of where to stop for lunch (Pizza Hut, cheese pizza with a pitcher of Mountain Dew} and what to listen to on the radio (Prairie Home Companion all the way home…). The two youngsters would often fall asleep in the back, strapped into their car seats.

But there was always a point at which the road began to sound different. There was a slowing, braking and a particular curve to the road. It was almost like the tires knew that there was no longer a white center line, no longer much traffic. It was “home road”. A voice in the back would start the chant, accompanied by rhythmic bouncing in the car seat. Soon they would both be singing the song, “ho-ome road, ho-ome road” in sleepy voices that got stronger over the last couple of miles. It was the song that signaled one more safe trip nearly ended, with the expectation of being done with that long stretch of forced inactivity. It meant homecoming.

On visits home, I never travel that stretch of country road without hearing that little mantra playing through my mind. We don’t live there anymore. It’s not a road that leads to home. But the funny thing is that the song itself has come to be applied to other places that I’ve called home. The same feelings of welcome and relief from travel are felt as I turn into my present long driveway, and in my mind I hear small voices singing the “home road” song. I’m just sayin’ it is a sweet thing to remember.

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