Posts Tagged "childhood"


Come back with me to 1209 3rd Ave, for a few more memories. Here is one of those great old pecan trees that we had in our backyard. Great for climbing, and hiding behind, and cooking!

Here is Joy filling her pool! Look behind her…next to the house,beside the steps, is the basement door…it’s standing open…

There was always much to do in the backyard. And, it was there that I began experimenting with combining differing tastes and textures to come up with my own delicious offerings. We had a most delightful sand, along with a rich dark soil, and a smattering of red clay. Mixed together, it looked delicious. At the right time of the year, I would have the most wonderful green tassel from the big pecan trees in the yard.
See them there at the bottom of the picture. I could strip the tiny little pollen granules off the stem and add them to the soup or stew I had been working on all morning. They were also great for decorating the top of a pie or cake.

In our front yard we had a beautiful wisteria vine. It grew up the telephone pole that was next to the street, right by where we kept the garbage cans. Ours was a much travelled road, and we were not allowed to play there, BUT…that was where the wisteria was. And, it held some strange hold over 2 little girls.
The seed pods of the wisteria vine as they are growing have an incredible softness…almost like velvet.

Blooming, the flowers have an intoxicating aroma. Just saying the name of the plant brings that sweet scent up from my memory bank to delight me again! Bees like them, too! Alot!!!

Then there were the drying seed pods…you actually can hear them when they popped! The seeds were then blown about by the wind to take hold in some fertile ground and start another vine. IF the 2 little girls, and their posse, did not get them first.

It really wasn’t fair that the vine was in the front yard. Really, it wasn’t. It sang a song to entice us when it was in full bloom! (Or that could have been the bees…) The beautiful purple blooms would mix into the dish of the day, and it was possible to take the individual flowers and place them ‘just so’ on top for the final presentation.

And, when summer faded and the seed pods were doing their popping dance, the vine, all naked with branch after branch twisting and tangled and turning, beckoned us to come and listen. It begged us to take of its bounty of little seeds inside the pods and use them any way we could imagine. The beautiful wisteria was doing it all for us!

The problem…and it was a big one…was how to partake of its glorious bounty without being seen by Mama. Because, she had this thing about obedience! If we didn’t obey…there would be consequences. Yes, Ma’am there WOULD be consequences. And, while I know I could have explained to her just WHY we had gone down ‘the path of unrighteousness’, she was not in the mood to listen when her girls had strayed. And, she had a way of ‘explaining’ to us just how unhappy she was! We always got the message loud and clear!OBVIOUSLY WE WERE BEING OBEDIENT HERE!

However, that ‘demon’ wisteria was working against her. It was pulling her girls to disobedience just as hard as she was pulling us toward obedience. And, there we were, 2 pitiful, sweet, little angel girls…caught in the middle.

How, pray tell, can a budding chef , along with her assistant, prepare her dishes without the necessary ingredients? There MUST be some way to get the wisteria petals and seeds from the FRONT yard to the BACK! And, so, we became quite creative. Sometimes, we would have contests, and whomever would lose had to sneak to the front yard, creep up to the bush, gather enough supplies, and get back before getting caught! See, there were always younger kids around, who could not run or jump or swing as high as we could. So, they would lose. It was just the way of the world on 3rd Ave. Hard-knock life, it was.

Sometimes, we would get my buddy, David, to go get them. Now, David and his 3 brothers lived right next door. He could ride his bicycle anywhere, even IN THE STREET! Poor Mrs Mary had her hands full…4 boys!. So, when David was around, he would go get us a big bunch. He had to do this surreptitiously though, because what boy would want to be seen picking flowers for the backyard girls? So, he would grab some and go…sometimes bruising the delicate flower in the process. He did the best he could…boys just don’t always see the big picture! Like a finished cake, pie and 2 soup dishes done by noon! They MUST be decorated!

There was another boy in the neighborhood, Michael, but he was a ‘whiney, baby tattletale’ so we only used him as a last resort.


There were, then, times when Joy or I would be forced to take forbidden road. We would go out the fence gate on the far right side of the yard. This is where the banana tree was. HE-ELL-O-O! Plant the ever so interesting, educational bit of foliage where the kiddies can’t watch it, OK.? We never once caught it making any bananas…but, we could have kept our eye on it IF it had been in the backyard! Anyway, I digress. Out the fence gate, and down the row of forsythia planted between our front yard and the McCord’s. There were 8 bushes…and then the wisteria. We would always move over to the McCord’s yard and try to hide behind the forsythia, moving with quick little hops and jumps between each bush. And, we would stay on their side when we got to the street…even though it was much better pickins’ on our side! We always carried a bucket to gather our supplies. And, there were always those infernal bees! It was a quick lesson that you do not slap a bee! I’m just saying…Then, there was the L O N G trip back down the row of bushes, past the banana tree, through the gate, to safety. We would sit quietly there in the shade for a while…trying to regain normal breathing and listening for the slam of the backdoor. It was possible to tell the kind of mood Mama was in by the sound of the slam! Really! It could be just a normal, walking out the door and letting it slam behind you OR it could be a quick, hard slam that signalled someone had opened it and forcefully slammed it closed. Oh! we did not like to hear that second kind! But, if we did, we’d quickly hid the bucket under the azalea bushes just inside the gate…and then hurriedly sit down and look all innocent and pious!

“Hi Mama! You look real purty! —Ma’am? —You thought you heard the gate open and close? Really! Well, we’ve been sitting right here. Just us two loving sisters enjoying playing together like little angels. —No, Ma’am! —We know about going to front yard. —Yes, Ma’am! We remember what will happen if we go outside the gate. —Yes, Ma’am, we promise to stay inside the fence!” And, we would, NOW that we had what we needed!

Me? I just took all this reconnaissance in stride. It was something that had to be done, and I was careful to plan and carry out the mission as quickly and quietly and as inconspicuously as possible.

Joy, I think, just wet her pants!


Third Avenue was the name of the street where I grew up, until I was in the 6th grade. My parents had bought the home in a new little subdivision when they married about 3 years earlier. We had a huge back yard, eventually, fenced in. There was a banana tree on the right side of the house, and a morning glory vine there, too. Next to the steps going into the back door, was what we called a ‘switch bush’. It was some sort of spindly, wiry shrub bush…and it never grew very well. Probably because ‘someone’ kept breaking the branches off!!!!!!! There was also a large pecan tree in the far left corner, with such wonderful branches! Pop built me a tree house in it, with a bench for sitting and reading or listening to my transistor radio!

Now, two little girls and a host of neighborhood kids could find much to do in our collective back yards. We had a basement under our house, and as far as I know, we were the only ones who did. It had one of those flat doors to go in, sort of like the cellar in the Wizard of Oz. I always thought it so strange because I never knew anyone else who had one in their backyard. It was dug out about half way, with blocks up maybe 3 feet. Above that was a big black hole of scary…only 1 little bare light bulb hanging in the center of the room. I never liked to be in there very much…you know…spiders and other creepy, crawly things. Just the thought of that basement takes my mind to that damp, dank smell. Once my Pop took a bag full of coins and hid them all down there. Now, the boys who were some of our best playmates, thought that was the grandest idea. They were happy to go down into that dungeon to search for hidden treasure… well, I just let them have that pittance…it was not worth it to me!

We had a sand box that we played in, and a swing set, and a dog and a cat, and a bird. Birds don’t last too long if you set them out on the back porch…when your cat is out there, too. Sad lesson…well learned. That, however, led to the first funeral I ever officiated at. It was a very touching affair…attended by all those under the age of 10 in the neighborhood. We sang, we prayed, and we sang some more. We all said the Bible verses we knew ‘by heart’. And, Joy was wailing her eyes out! Then, as the spiritual leader of the backyard gang, I said a few words about how it is important to always be where you should be…cause if you are not… along will come a devil cat to eat you up! Important life lesson, that! We had wrapped up what was left of Trippy. {I have to tell you that that is the dumbest name ever for a bird. I did not name him. Another child who lived in my house did. I’m not calling any names but I only had one sibling. She named him that because we got him on a trip! I am quite sure I tried to talk her out of that name, suggesting a much more appropriate name like ‘Wings’ or ‘Sky’ or ‘Birdy’. But, alas, she was the youngest and Mama and Daddy always took her side.} I remember Mama helped us put him away in a manner befitting such a fine bird. She would not pick him up though. But,my best buddy, David, would. Mama put a layer of cotton balls, and a swatch of fabric from the latest dress she had had made,into the bottom of a Buster Brown shoe box. David then dropped the remains on top of the cloth…he was covered with a paper towel, and then she wrapped the box with string. The digging of the hole was left up to us. We dug, we buried, we funeralized, and then…in what I thought was a brilliant touch…we scattered the leftover birdseed over the grave. And, that was that. Until a week or two later, when the most lovely bright green shoots appeared over the grave. The bird seed sprouted! I told Joy that was a sure sign Trippy was in Heaven. She was comforted. I know things like that. I am the older, wiser sister, after all.

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