Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Stupid Allergies

When I was little, I loved it when Dad would bring a load of corn in from the field in the big, red truck.  I would watch for him to arrive at the grain bins and run out to meet him.  At the back of the truck, Dad would hoist me up and throw me on top of the huge pile of corn.  I would scramble across to the other end of the truck bed as he raised it to let the corn slide out the back, onto a conveyer belt.  I would ride the pile of corn as he unloaded it, crawl back up and slide down, over and over again.

It got harder to do as the truck bed was raised higher, so time was a factor.  Climbing up a pile of lose grain as it nears a vertical slant is not easy.  I had to get as many "rides" in as I could, as fast as I could.

One day, I had to stop before I wanted to because I could no longer see anything.  I slid down, leaned against the inside of the truck bed with corn rushing past me, and yelled in the direction where I knew Dad was standing, "I can't see!"

He stopped raising the truck bed and the corn eventually stopped sliding out.  He stopped the conveyer and saw that my eyes were swollen shut.  He carried me to the house and Mom put me in the bathtub.  After the swelling went down enough that I could see, she called the Dr. Stolz's office and got me in right away.

Allergies.  Among other things, I ended up being highly allergic to molds and other stuff that thrives in a  load of freshly harvested corn.  Stupid allergies ended my corn rides in the back of the red truck forever.

Stupid allergies even ruined my cartoon watching!!  The doctor decided that the best way to treat me was shot therapy - two shots in each arm every Saturday morning!!!   Back in the day, as they say, we didn't have Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon on television 24/7.  Saturday morning was the only real cartoon viewing time our 3 TV channels dished out.  I had to get 4 shots, right in the middle of prime cartoon time.  While I did get to see some shows, I grieved my cherished time with Bugs Bunny every weekend.

Before our recent big move, our realtor told me the St. Louis area is the allergy capital of the United States.  I thought, as long as my eyes don't swell shut and I can see a cartoon once in a while, I think I'll be OK.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

There's a case of beer in it for you if you get the dead animal out of my engine.

Notice:  This isn't a childhood memory but the tale begins at the homestead.  Here we go.

After Hannah was born, John and I determined that it wasn't worth paying to have two kids in daycare, so I  quit my illustrious purchasing career at Pre-Finish Metals and became a stay at home mom.  Not working allowed for more trips to the homestead with the kids .  I would kiss John goodbye, load the mini-van and set out for the 2-1/2 hour trip south.  Jim would fall asleep in his car seat before we hit the first stop light and wake up as I drove down the lane to the farm.  I was lucky to get 45 minutes of peaceful drive time out of Hannah.

I loved going there with the kids.  They got to spend some quality time with Grandma (doing quiet things like reading books and drawing pictures) and Grandpa (riding the golf cart up and down the lane).

When Jim was around 5 years old and Hannah was 3, we visited Mom and Dad at the end of June or the beginning of July - during the Warren County 4-H fair.  Lori (former 4-H fair queen) was visiting her parents with her two girls at the same time, so we took all the kids to the fair late one afternoon.  After dinner, seeing the animals and lots of rides at the midway, we arrived back at the homestead well after the kid's bedtime.  Even though the days were hot and sticky, the nights were still very cool.  In fact when we reached the farm, I remember getting out of the minivan, looking up at the full moon and thinking it was way too cold for that time of year.

For some forgotten reason, we had to be back home in the Chicago suburbs early the next day.  We left that morning, while it was still cool outside.

A couple days passed.  I was cleaning up the kitchen after lunch and took the trash out to the garbage can in the garage.  It smelled really nasty out there.  Then I saw them.  Flies.  Flies covered the entire driver's side front quarter panel of our Dodge Caravan.

There was something dead under the hood of the van.

When we arrived back at the farm after the fair, some unsuspecting animal must have thought it was pretty darn cold that night too, crawled up under the hood of the van to get warm, and made the fatal mistake of sleeping in the next morning.  It was a goner when I turned the key.

Good grief.

I loaded the kids in the smelly van and went to see if John's Uncle Chuck could help, but he was just as disgusted as I was and told me to take it to a service station.  I called John.  He said to take it to one of his customers - a muffler place by our house.  The three guys who worked there - all of them named Tom - would help me out for the low cost of a case of beer.

I drove the van to the shop and explained my situation to Tom, Tom and Tom.  John was in the midst of a meeting with his sales staff, but curiosity got the best of him and he took the time to call the shop for a status update.  He put the call on speaker phone, so the whole room heard Tom #1's play-by-play of the scene.  John and his crew thought it was hysterical when Tom #2 pulled something that looked like a long piece of dried jerky with some fur on it out of my engine.  That ended up only being a third of whatever overcooked mammal had lodged itself next to the battery.  Jim, who was munching away on cookies, was very intrigued by what was going on, and started climbing up the van grill to get a better look.  Tom pulled more pieces out only inches away from Jim's face.  I managed to jerk Jim away from the van, not drop Hannah and keep my lunch down all at the same time - a motherly trifecta.

I immediately loaded the kids back in the van and went directly to a store and bought Tom Cubed a case of Old Style.

Best $8 I ever spent.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Bat

Notice:  This is not a childhood memory, but it happened at the homestead, so it's okay.

Things got pretty quiet on the farm after all of us kids were grown and off doing our own thing.  Mom stayed at the house for a few years after Dad passed away.  We all worried about her, getting along in years, living in that big old house by herself and being so isolated - even with my oldest brother living across the road on the property where Sis' house once stood.

I visited her one weekend.  Just me - John stayed home with the kids.  I can't remember why it was just me - maybe some event, like a high school reunion?  Whatever the reason, it was during a hot and sticky stretch in the summer.

Mom didn't change her routine much, regardless of who was visiting.  After supper, she would watch some TV, change into her blue nightgown that had a sheer, robe-type thing over it, have some sort of little snack around 9:00 and go to bed around 10:00.

I slept in my old bedroom, and it looked about the same as it did when I was in high school.  Mom's bedroom was across the hall, and there was a door that accessed the attic in her room.

That attic was creepy and intriguing at the same time.  It was dark, dusty and filled with cobwebs.  The only light came from a small dormer window.  There was a trunk up there that my grandfather brought over from Germany.  That's where some of Dad's WWII stuff was kept.  Antique pictures of old relatives in oval frames and my grandmother's wedding dress and shoes were stored up there as well.

I usually slept in during these visits, but felt antsy one morning and got up around 7:00.  I got dressing and headed downstairs.  It was odd that Mom was still in bed.  She was always up before me.  But I shrugged it off and headed outside to walk down the lane and get the newspaper.

I took a couple steps outside and saw Mom's sheer, blue robe laying on the patio, directly underneath her bedroom window.  What the...??  I looked up at her window and didn't see anything unusual.  But the fact remained - my mother was throwing her clothes out the window in the middle of the night.

(And why did so many weird things end up happening on our patio!?!)

Upon further inspection, I noticed a small, dark object tangled in the robe.  I pulled back the fabric and found a dead bat.

In the middle of the night, the bat squeezed it's way through the attic door and flew around my mother's room.  Somehow, she snared it in her robe, hit it against something hard enough to stun or kill it, threw the whole mess out the window, and went back to bed.

Sleeping in the next morning was well deserved.

And for a short time, I felt a little better about Mom being alone on the farm.  Something told me she could fend for herself.  

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The spanking

When I was in 7th grade - 12-13 years old - I got spanked by the school principal.

Let's just let that sink in for a moment, shall we?

Spanked.  With a paddle.  In junior high school.

The whole class was in the gym, one afternoon after lunch, killing time before afternoon classes started.  I was "going with" Mike at the time.  Terms have changed over the years, so I will make this clear:  Mike was my boyfriend.  (I hear nowadays, kids "go out" instead of "going steady" or "going together".  Whatever.  I can't keep up with terminology.)  One of my best friends, Laura, had a boyfriend too, but I can't remember who it was.  (He had to be one of the popular kids, because Laura didn't date any slouches.)  Anyway, Mike and I were standing by the bleachers, chatting with Laura and Boyfriend.  Both Mike and Boyfriend had one of their arms resting on top of our shoulders - like this --

It was the kind of thing pals or buddies do.  There was no hugging, no smooching, no cuddling - no other contact of any kind.  I don't know about Laura, but I didn't have my arm around Mike at all - both hands, free and clear.  No PDAs (public displays of affection) - just one arm, placed across our shoulders.  

But apparently that was too much for our principal, Mr. George Taylor, to take.  He marched up to us, ordered us to report to his office at once, and stomped off.  Laura and I waited outside his office while Mike and Boyfriend went in.  We heard loud talking and...  a paddle?  Being used on a back side??  That couldn't possibly be what we were hearing.  The boys emerged from the office, walked past us with smirks on their faces, and Mr. Taylor called us in.  Keep in mind, the boys were in his office for less than 10 minutes.  

We went in and started to sit down in chairs across from his desk, but he told us to stand up and turn around.  And he spanked us.  With a paddle.  And it hurt.

Laura and I didn't have the luxury of leaving soon after like the boys did.  Oh no.  Mr. Taylor had a point to make.  We had to sit there, trying not to cry, and listen to his lecture.  He were told that if we kept up with that sort of behavior, we would get bad reputations, and no upstanding young lady would want that.  He said that one thing leads to another, and he wouldn't want to see us "get in deeper trouble" (like having an arm put around our shoulders was akin to a gateway drug?)  He warned us that he would not tolerate such behavior on his school grounds, and that our cheerleading careers would come to an abrupt end if he saw it again.  And so on, and so on, and so on.

He lectured us on womanly virtues - for an hour.

Now, if you've been traveling down memory lane with me lately, you've probably come to realize that my parents were not into corporal punishment.  My mother's discipline came through loud and clear without it, thank you very much.  She was not pleased when I got home that afternoon and told her what happened.  She asked for all the details and went to the school the next day to have a chat with Mr. Taylor.  I have no idea what was said, and no amount of pleading could drag any details out of her.  The only thing she said was "That will never happen again."

And it didn't.

Principles used to get away with a lot.  My sister will correct me if I'm wrong, but I seem to remember a photo in one of her yearbooks from the late 60's - The principle (Mr. Horn?) had a line of girls standing in the hallway, their backs to him, bent over, with their hands on their knees.  Apparently, if he could 'see anything' the skirts were too short.  And having a rule that the skirts had to touch the tops of knees didn't seem accurate enough?

Extremes in being treated with kindness (my Aunt Sis) or otherwise (Sue the bus driver and George Taylor)...  that stuff really sticks with a kid.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Remember when...

... I told you about the Warren County 4-H fair?


About how my sister made us matching dresses, and I couldn't find the photo?


See that little thing on my shoulder?  That was a pin shaped like a mouse.  It had red eyes and a loose, dangley tail.  I loved that thing.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The bus, part II

Winters can be harsh in Warren County, Indiana.  When I was growing up, school could be called off for days at a time, and our dead-end road was one of the last in the county to get plowed.  We had huge snow storms in the winters of 1978 and 1979.  One year we were snowed in for 2 weeks straight.  The other year, we made it into town after one week to get groceries, it started snowing again before we got home and we were stuck in the house for another week.

But it was November of 1977 when our school bus got stuck in the snow.  I'm not talking about your normal "stuck," where you get a little too close to the edge of the road and get pulled into a snowbank.  Our bus got wedged.  

It happened on one of those blindingly bright winter days - not a cloud in the sky, with the sun reflecting off of every snowflake and icicle.  The bus was traveling down one of those nameless county gravel roads, somewhere between my house and Independence.  The snowplow had made a single pass, so there was one lane open on a road that stretched at least 3 miles.  (What happened if you met vehicle coming from the opposite direction?  Drivers got out of their cars, played rock-paper-scissors and the loser backed up?  I guess that speaks to how often that road was traveled...)  The snow on either side of the road was piled half way to the bus windows.  

The snowplow hadn't scrapped all of the snow off to the sides.   The packed down stuff that remained on the road was a little slippery, so the bus driver (not Sue - the nice one) was traveling at a slower than normal speed.  About a half a mile down the road, the bus started slowing down.  We heard some crunching noises, and the bus stopped moving.  The driver revved the engine and the tires spun.  Our bus was sandwiched between two hardened snowbanks.

The bus driver opened the emergency door in the back and jumped down to take a look at our situation.  He got busy doing...  something.  I didn't pay much attention to that.  I was just glad we were going to miss some of the school day.  The bus only carried about 20 kids at that point, and we were all thrilled at the break in our normal routine.

But the thrill wore off as time marched on...  I don't remember if buses had radios back then.  The driver might have had to walk to the nearest house to get help.  Either way, a guy with a tractor finally showed up and de-wedged us.  We arrived at school, just in time for lunch.

Our little escapade even made the local newspaper!  I saved the clipping!

Two Warren County school busses unaccounted for early this morning were located shortly before 11a.m. and school officials said at least three others - some with students in them - were stuck on county roads.
Supt. Bob Johnson said the drivers of the once-missing busses had set out at the regular time to pick up students with he lost contact with them...  Johnson said those busses were not full.  Another school bus became stuck northeast of Independence but a farmer used his tractor to free that bus...

The worst thing about that day?  Having lunch, going to two classes, and having to get back on the bus.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The bus

I spent more time on a school bus than a child ever should.  By the time I reached high school, three school districts had combined and I didn't graduate from Pine Village High School like my brothers and sister did.  I had to ride the bus for a solid hour to Seeger Memorial High School, located clear across the county.  (Three high schools combined, and I graduated with a class of 126 students.)  There was even a central location where a bunch of buses met and some kids had to switch for the remainder of the commute.  I'm not sure, but I think I lived farther from that school than any other student.

The big difference between school buses now and then?  The seat backs.  Now, they're tall and padded.  Back then, they were a foot shorter, with a metal bar across the back - right at teeth, nose and forehead level for the kid sitting behind.  Shorter seats made it much easier to harass your neighbors and get into all kinds of mischief  - and for the bus driver to see it.

When I was in grade school, Sue Johnson was our bus driver.  Sue was a guy.  Yes, if you are of a certain age, Johnny Cash singing A Boy Named Sue will now be stuck in your head for the remainder of the day.  (You're welcome.)  Sue was the crustiest, surliest person I had ever met - a classic curmudgeon.  He was short, with a dark complexion and deep wrinkles in his face.  His posture was slightly bent and he had gnarled fingers.  He wore the same faded, dirty cap every day regardless of the weather.  He was never without the stub of a nasty, unlit cigar tucked in the corner of his mouth.  Sue was a walking caricature of a little, mean, old man.

He was not a pleasant human being.

Yet some school official thought it was a swell idea for him to tote children all over the county, so we were stuck with him.

In my 8 year old opinion, Sue had a low tolerance for noise.  It's a school bus for crying out loud!  If I was ever a contestant on Family Feud and asked to name a loud thing, I would hit the buzzer and yell, "school bus!"  So about every other day, the rowdiness in the back of the bus would surpass Sue's tolerance level and he would pull the bus to the side of whatever country road we were traveling.  He would pull himself out of his driver's seat and stomp down the isle, glaring at the perpetrators.  He would point his crocked finger at them and start yelling.  He wasn't the thunderous screamer you would think he would be.  He had a low, gravely voice and sitting toward the front of the bus, I couldn't hear what he said.

Don't get me wrong - I was no goody-two-shoes that always sat in the front seats.  I did get in trouble for doing something once or twice, but I can't remember why and I have no idea what Sue said to me.  I only remember that knobby finger pointing at me.

I don't know what happened to Sue.

Years later, we got a nice, normal bus driver.  I don't remember his name.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The little things

Is it just me, or does everyone remember odd little snippets from their childhood?  I sure do.  Then I get told about some huge event of which I should remember every last detail, and it's not even on my radar.

Very odd snippet examples:

I drove my brother Denny nuts.  I was the little sister.  That was my job.

For two years, we went to the same school.  Denny was a junior and senior in high school, I was in 4th and 5th grade.  He got to drive his car to school (I think it was the Chevy Vega), I had to take the bus - but for one time.  Denny was not happy about having to drive me.  He stopped to pick up Doc Cottingham, and I rode in the back seat, directly behind Denny.  I don't know why, but I decided it would be a good idea to shave the yellow-gold paint off of all my #2 pencils on the metal head of my clipboard.  Doc looked back, saw the paint shavings accumulating on the car floor and busted me.  Denny attempted to grab me by the neck and swerved all over the road.  I'm just glad I didn't cause an accident.  I can't imagine us explaining that one to Mom and Dad.

My sister used Dippity Do on her hair.  

Man, I loved the smell of that stuff.  She used to put that on her hair, flip the sides into curls and affix them to her cheeks with pink tape until they dried and set.  I thought that was just beyond cool.  

(Note:  The Depression made a huge impact on my parents and they never wasted anything, especially food.  Cereal boxes that were not properly closed or a roast that was the centerpiece for a 4th meal - you finished what was in the house before replacements were purchased, and cleaned your plate or went hungry.)
My parents, Denny and I were having chili one evening for dinner.  In an uncharacteristically courteous manner, Denny held out the saltine sleeve and very politely asked if I would care for a cracker.  I was stunned.  I sat there for a couple seconds and then took the last two saltines in the package.  That's when I realized they were so stale you could practically bend them, and Denny chuckled as he opened a new package.

I went to the grocery store one day with Mom and practically forced her to buy not one, but 3 cans of spinach.  I had never had it before, but if it was good enough for Popeye, it was good enough for me.  We returned home and she complied when I asked her to prepare a can for me.  I took one bite and was completely appalled.  What the heck??!!  Popeye was a lunatic for eating this garbage!!  Like always, no food was ever wasted.  I had to gag down that horrid can of wilted, slimy greens.  I don't know what happened to the other 2 cans.  I'm sure they were used in something.  But to this day I can't eat plain, cooked spinach.

There was a girl that lived around the corner from our dead-end road.  Kathy was a few years older than me, so we didn't hang out very much.  But I do remember one time, while we were walking down  the lane to my house, we saw buzzards circling overhead.  She grabbed my arm, told me to stop walking and stand very still or they would swoop down and attack us.  Buzzards circle for a long time, so who knows how long we stood there like frozen idiots.

When I was in third grade, we had some sort of lesson on dental care.  We all received a little kit with a toothbrush and a mini tube of toothpaste.  (I LOVED the miniature tube of toothpaste.  I don't think I ever used it, because it was too cool to open and spoil.)  During the lesson we were given little pink pills to chew.  The vibrant pink color "stuck" to the places on your teeth that were not thoroughly brushed and clean.  The kid sitting in front of me turned around and smiled.  He had the pinkest mouth I'd ever seen.  How gross!  Hopefully, he took the lesson to heart.

My sister, Joyce, and I shared a bedroom.  One day, she returned home from college, and her suitcase lay open on our bedroom floor.  Being curious about all the cool stuff she had carried home, I looked through her things.  I pointed to some large, white rectangular things and asked what they were.  She replied, "Napkins."
"Oh.  Can we use them at dinner?!"

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

My bangs

Mom used to cut our family's hair.  Before marrying Dad and having babies, that was her job. I think I was in high school before I saw the inside of a salon.

At some point, she decided I should have the classic "pageboy" haircut - straight, chin length with bangs.
When I was around 6 years old, I sidled up to her in the kitchen one afternoon, pulled on her skirt, declared that my bangs were in my eyes and she needed to cut my hair.  NOW.  (My lack of patience became apparent at a very young age.)  She said she would cut it when she finished whatever she was doing.

I waited for what I thought was an appropriate length of time - probably 3 1/2 minutes.  I begged, pleaded and whined again.  Why, I was practically blind from all that hair in my eyes!  And once again - she said I had to wait.  She would get to me and my follicle emergency as soon as she could.

I got mad.  I pouted.  I stomped.  I threw my entire hissy-fit arsenal at her.  Nothing.  She didn't even look up from what she was doing at the kitchen sink.

Then I thought, how hard can it be to cut bangs?  I found my mom's sewing scissors (a HUGE breach of household rules -   nobody but Mom touched my mother's sewing scissors!) and went to work.

By the time she found me, my forehead had suffered collateral damage.  My bangs were much too short and shaped like a bar chart.

She didn't yell at me.  She didn't say a word.  She just took and hid every pair of scissors in the house.  The whining and pleading to fix my hair fell on deaf ears.

For what seemed like weeks (probably a couple days), I had to look in the mirror and see what I had done to myself - the result of my impatience.

And here is the worst part:  I had to go to church with that hair.  I'm sure people asked about me and my uneven locks...  Something to the tune of, "Did Joanie's head fall into a wood chipper?" My mother probably calmly replied that I was a budding hair stylist and had practiced on myself.

She finally fixed them the best she could.  From the looks of this photo, I must have thought Chatty Cathy's bangs were too long and "styled" her hair as well.

I tried to remember Mom's gift for discipline when it came to raising my own kids, but I never came close to matching Wilma's skill.

That woman knew how to make a point.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Pestering Art and Wilma

I was really blessed to have great parents.  Art and Wilma got married in their late 20's, after Dad served as a Navy pilot in WWII.  Here is a photo of Dad and his buddies at a Navy dance.  I pulled it out of a scrapbook at some point.  All these guys were so handsome in their dress whites!  My Dad is the only one not looking at the camera, and I love what he wrote under the photo.

"Left for Pensacola, Florida Dec. 16, 1943 and received commission June 6, 1944
15 day leave and gave Willie diamond June 27"

By the time I came along, the youngest of 4 children and when they were 43 years old, Dad had stopped calling my mom Willie.  But they loved each other in a deep, quiet, supportive, partners-through-thick-and-through-thin sort of way.

My oldest brother is almost 15 years older than I am.  My sister is 13 years older, and there is roughly 8 years difference between me and Denny.  There were times when I felt like an only child with siblings.  When there was nobody around to play with and I was tired of amusing myself, I would go pester Mom or Dad.  I used to have one on one conversations with them in what I would call their "natural habitats".

When she wasn't cleaning, cooking or doing other chores, Mom could be found in her sewing room.  It was off the kitchen, and you had to pass through the bathroom to get to it.  In the afternoons, NBC soap operas (Days of Our Lives, The Doctors and Another World) were turned up on the TV in the kitchen, just a little too loud so she could listen to them as she worked.   Just inside the door, the ironing board permanently stood on the right, separating me from my mom sitting at her sewing machine.  I am convinced that if she were ever challenged, she could have sewn a house together.  She made everything from crafts, curtains and quilts, to bathing suits, business suits, and holiday dresses.

(On a side note, Mom went through a period when she made pantyhose dolls, where she had to hand stitch to sculpt the face.  She actually made an almost life size doll that looked like herself.  It sat in our dining room for the longest time, and it would completely freak my boyfriends out when we got back from dates a little after curfew.  We would give her a cup of coffee or a magazine every now and then, just to make it weirder.)

So I would wander into the sewing room, lean on the ironing board, watch her work, and ask stupid questions.  I remember asking her about when she dated Dad, and when they fell in love.  I didn't understand when she said she didn't "fall head-over-heals in love" with my father.  What?!!  Doesn't everybody fall in love they way they do in the movies??  It took me a few years before I finally got what she was talking about.

Somewhere I had heard the term and asked her if I was an "oops baby".  She didn't miss a stitch and answered, "Yes, but a welcome one."

Dad was harder to track down, and was a man of few words when he was working.  His "habitat" was anywhere outside on the farm.  This was his workbench, in our detached, two car garage.

Everything was dusty, dirty, greasy, and it looked like complete chaos - but I always thought there was something beautiful about it too.  I was under strict instructions not to move anything - he knew where every nut and bolt were.  There was a spinning baby food jar organizer that hung off to the left, above the bread box.  Don't ask what was in the bread box - I haven't a clue.  See the vice hanging off the side?  I'm lucky to have both eyes still in tact, because I used to put rocks in that and crank it until they cracked or exploded.

So I sat on a little stool and watched Dad do whatever he did at his workbench.  I was always very fascinated when he used the grinder thing (on the right in the bottom photo).  Thank goodness my fingers and I were smart enough to stay away from that when Dad wasn't around.

Other times, I shadowed him as he tended to things around the farm.  My questions to Dad were always about what was going on at the time.
"What's that for?"
"Where do you put that?"
"Why do you cut the teeth out of the baby pig's mouth?!  Doesn't that hurt??!"
"Where are the cows going?  Can I ride in the big truck?"
"Can I sit up there with you?"
"Why is there only one bull in that pasture and there are so many cows?"
"Can I slide down that?"
"Why do we have to pull the 'hair' off the corn stalk?"
"Can I come with you?"

You get the idea.  I must have driven that poor man crazy.  And of course, I don't remember a single answer.  I probably didn't give him time to reply in between questions.

On Sundays, he would always read me the "funnies" from the newspaper.  I'm sure I didn't understand any of those comics either.  Didn't matter.  I just liked being around him.

Yes, I was the spoiled "baby" of the family.  I like to think that I was mostly spoiled by the time I had, alone, with each one of my parents.