One Season Following Another, Laden with Happiness – and Tears (a lyric from FIDDLER ON THE ROOF)

October concluded with much pageantry in the early ’50s as “gypsies, tramps and…” pirates (sorry, Cher!) paraded around West Ward classrooms, often returning home through snowflakes.  Meandering around yard signs advertising this guy and that guy running for political office, we diminutive students, suffocating beneath our masks, not only dressed up for Halloween back in the day but we also voted in mock elections.  What a season! 

“I Like Ike” buttons pinned to our costumes, we bad-mouthed Adlai Stevenson and Harry Truman simply cuz our parents did.  Columbia City notoriously voted the Republican ticket then as now.  

My mother and father, always quite secretive, would not be happy with my reporting that they continued their Southern Democratic style in spite of all the hoopla. Both, however, adored Dwight in spite of themselves, and my mom copied Mamie’s hair-do, disregarding the neighbor lady’s taunts that according to McCall’s magazine or Ladies’ Home Journal, “Middle-aged women should never attempt hair-styles with bangs to disguise one’s high forehead!” 

My folks delighted in the 1960 presidential election when Chairman of the Board Frank Sinatra musically parodied JFK into office, barely, with “High Hopes”, minus the “rubber tree plant” reference but retaining the “Oops” and Kerplop”!  Respect for whoever inhabited the Oval Office characterized our family. Flexibility is a trait to be admired and luckily part of my upbringing.  Would that such a stance might be revisited in this current heated political climate which makes “global warming” itself seem a cool walk in the park.

While experiencing a recurrent attack of nostalgic revelry, I recently dashed to our camel-back trunk brimming with black and white photographs.  I hoped to retrieve my sister Sarah dressed as the sweetest-ever, pint-sized devil replete with pointy ears and a lengthy tail and posing third from the left in the front row, captured for posterity within a group photo of her class.  Some of the other masked “kids” smiling for the “Brownie” camera?  JoEllen Adams, Barbara Carver, Myra Lorber, Marsha Sevitts, and Margaret Ann Moyer. I loved that snap-shot.

Instead, an 8″ by 10″ glossy, which always gave me pause, materialized.  Former neighbors Ed and Carmen Landreth donned in night-clothes stand beside Charlie Chaplin and Daniel Boone. 

I have had dreams about that picture.  No one ever explained it to me.  You see, my mother is the “Little Tramp”, and my father is the rugged Tennessee frontiersman holding a rifle and wearing fringe and what later became known to my generation as a “Davy Crockett” cap, apparently fashioned from a deceased raccoon. 

“Killed him a bear when he was only three…Davy, Davy Crockett, King of the wild frontier!”  Many of us kids wondered, all those years ago, WHO was three?  Disney’s “Davy” or the bear? 

What continues to disturb me is that this photo depicts both of my parents as demonstrating 5 o’clock shadow. 

Blue Bell’s cafeteria, a replica of my dad’s favorite eateries dotting the Southland, became the setting not only for lunch-time crowds of employees and members of the community but also…PARTIES.  Doll tea-parties happened there, and Santa visited children with wish-lists early in December. Evidently, costume balls, featuring my slightly older sister as a scarlet-garbed, horned, cloven-hoofed Beelzebub–carrying a pitchfork–as well as my parents looking like bums on a Hollywood back-lot teeming with extras, also transpired in that factory basement.  Probably, I was stuck at home driving some baby-sitter to distraction. 

Sad, cuz I loved sorting through jingling pocket change to purchase Spearmint Gum from the canteen area as well as about four Dixie cups of Sealtest or Borden’s vanilla ice cream solely for the purpose of scraping (a tiny wooden paddle-type spoon my only tool) the congealed stuff off the movie stars’ pictures which hid on the reverse side of the tabbed lids.  So disappointed when Guy Madison or “Duke” Wayne or Hopalong Cassidy (William Boyd) appeared.  Giggling, squealy, and ecstatic when Jane Russell, Esther Williams, June Allyson, Judy Canova or Betty Hutton peeked up to meet my eager gaze. 

Roy Rogers, Dale Evans and Trigger or Elizabeth Taylor and Lassie I found totally acceptable, as well as Tonto and the Lone Ranger. “Hi-yo, Silver, away!”

Life’s funny.  Each night hobbling upstairs to bed, remembering longingly that I once cleared three steps at a time, I pass an ornate plaque propped precariously upon a rickety shelf.  Reading the calligraphic “Ancient Scottish Prayer”, composed by an unknown author, I am impressed how the words perfectly highlight this season featuring “All Saints’ Day” which segues into the comparable “May the Best Man Win” mania of early November:

“From ghoulies and ghosties

 Long leggitie Beasties

 And things that go

 Bump in the night —

 Good Lord deliver us.”

Happy Tricking or Treating and Voting, too!

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