Thursday, July 20, 2017

Lazy Summer Days (Liz and Elliot)

I've been feeling a bit lazy the past few days with the summer hear. I'm actually on vacation this week posting this from my aunt and uncle's farm in York Haven. So in honor of that, I'm posting stories about other lazy summer days.

Liz Abrams 
Summer Vacation 1946 in the Country of North Carolina 

Today, Summer of 2017, I write of summer 70 years ago, when it was a ritual of black families in the 30s and 40s to send their school age children to the South (NC), that is those families who made the diaspora to Philly from the sluggardly farm lands, tobacco/cotton fields and sharecropping…

THE RITUAL: Send me to my relatives down south for the summer

My first exposure to country life, my grandmother, poor but dignified lived in a 3 room wooden elevated house, no indoor plumbing (meaning outhouse) and no electricity (meaning oil lamps at night) ughhh 

My first morning, I heard flies and bees buzzing, loudly, outside the screen doors, my grandmother slamming the screen door pumping the water pump for the days supply of water, WHAT?????? 

She left treats on the porch table of a box of frosted donuts and sunning green tomatoes for dinner, yummm, my grandmother dipped Peachtree snuff, my grandfather smoked a corncob pipe. I’m walking around outside investigating. I was put on the run from the flies and bees and gnats, stepping on caterpillars, and a lady bug landed on my arm, I’m screaming BLOODY MURDER, as I almost ran into a tree, slapping my arm wildly, and she (the bug) held on like glue.

After my hysteria ended, I realized I lived in another world of the animal kingdom. A neighbor boy demonstrated how to use salt on a snail shell to come out and show his head. Tadpoles and frogs, dancing, hopping noisily, hiccuping up to the front porch. 

My grandmom always carried a switch to swat flies and me (if or when I got out-of-hand). Sundays came around. She walked me to a catholic church. I had to sit in the back (Jim Crow) maybe?

Weekdays, grandma would rise early and leave the house to walk down the train tracks. Curious, I followed her to the clearing. Surrounded by tall trees, her head and hands uplifted, for a long time. I realized later she was worshipping in her own very natural way. At night, a new attack from the deadly giant-sized mosquitos, which caused my grandpop to fire a smokestack near the house to keep them away, and he always checked the lightning rod outside the bedroom door for height and erectness. Oh, that OUTHOUSE was a horrible experience, particularly at night, carrying a flashlight to find the shack. Inside – worried that I would fall in the hole (it was made for adults). Moths, spiders, and every other crawling insects lived in that shack, of course, I didn’t get much business done there, plus the fear of falling into that deep hole of hell. Another nightmare grandma, cooked a chicken and cooked him whole, feet, eyeballs, heart, butt, and all… BOY WHAT A FIRST SUMMER VACATION!!!!!   

Elliot Doomes
Unforgettable Characters Part 2

Dr. Squeeze didn’t have a degree in anything, but for all intents and purposes, he was a doctor of sorts, heh, heh, heh! There was something called Sterno that women used for their hair preparations. It came in a can, tin cans, and the doctor would light the solution and melt it down and they would either add some solution which I think was water and after they melted it down, it would be pure alcohol. And Dr. Squeeze would take this special rag that he had with him at all times and dip it into the solution and squeeze out the alcohol that would be left in the rag. And he would come up and mix water with the alcohol he had squeezed out of the rag. And this became a potent alcoholic drink for him and his buddies. And they would all be high and merry. On these days, Dr. Squeeze became a neighborhood celebrity to speak. Kudos to Dr. Squeeze! 

Now the next one was Bicycle Jimmy. Bicycle Jimmy was for all intents and purposes legally blind. Living in a dead-end street, he could successfully ride his bicycle. The most amazing thing about this, is he would ride it backwards! Now us kids and pre-teenagers, we had never seen anybody ride a bicycle backwards before. It was great fun to see Jimmy ride. One day, his social worker arrived when he was riding. And lo and behold, this day when he was riding around backwards, she came up to visit him and saw him riding his bike. Needless to say, she terminated his assistance I guess he got it back, eventually. And it was a great treat to see Jimmy ride. 
 Curated by Caitlin Cieri