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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Summer Memories Invoked by the Minx!

The Minx recently published a post about sloppy joes on Minxeats, and it brought back so many childhood memories... for several reasons!  My mom made sloppy joes often- not only to feed 5 hungry boys at home, but to fill big 40 quart roaster ovens to sell them at the concession stands at our little league games.  She NEVER used Manwich- she made them from "scratch"- I remember ketchup, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce... and I'm sure garlic powder and onions. I haven't had a sloppy joe in years- I wonder if I would still like them?

As a kid in the summers, I ate chicken gumbo soup for lunch almost every day. I didn't even think of it as "gumbo"- I just liked the salty, tomatoey broth in the soup.  Where we lived in South Louisiana, mornings typically had clear blue skies, and around noon, clouds would begin to gather as the afternoons heat thunderstorms began to develop. I knew that wherever I was in the neighborhood, when the sky got "blinky" it was time to go home for lunch!  Daddy owned his own business,  so he came home for lunch every day, and he and I would sit together at the breakfast bar and eat our lunch. Me with my little bowl of soup and some saltines, and Daddy, eating leftovers from the night before. Momma G cleverly planned leftovers for Daddy's lunches, and they were one of the few things "off limits" in the refrigerator for us kids.  "Don't eat anything out of the yellow bowls" she would scream when she heard one of us foraging for a snack. "That's for your Daddy's lunches!" 

Most of our summers when I was very young were spent at Huber Park, where the older boys played baseball.  Daddy was a coach, and Momma was in charge of the concession stands, so usually, Momma would sit me with some of the "older" Moms in the bleachers, who had a blast watching me, and spoiling me rotten.  I was too little to sit on one row of the bleachers and lean back on next one up, the way adults do, so Mrs. Bass would sit behind me and let me sit back against her legs.  The ladies would buy me bubble gum, and corn dogs, and my favorite- snow cones! 

I'm not sure which I loved more-  the icky sweet, syrupy, sticky shaved ice, or the cool machine that made them!  I loved watching the ice get loaded into the chute, and then watching the plunger convert it to white, fluffy snow in seconds.  When I got older, I worked in the concession stands with Momma (Baby G had NO INTEREST in being a bat boy- sorry, Daddy!) and of course, I always got the snow cone station!

Momma G was a smart cookie when it came to keeping up with 5 boys.  In the summers, the washer ran constantly in our house, and after a day of baseball games, there would be a parade of naked children  as each brother ceremoniously stripped off his uniform in the laundry room, and then marched through the house to the bathroom to take a shower.  I had a "uniform" as well- always a white t-shirt and a pair of blue jeans.  After the baseball uniforms were in the washer, Momma G would find me and ask "what did you have to eat today?", a question I honestly couldn't answer, because I couldn't remember all of it! Then should would say "I think you had a corn dog, and a blue snow cone, some popcorn, and a coke."  Spooky! The woman must have eyes in the back of her head!! I thought she was some kind of psychic!  It wasn't until years later that she told me  the purpose of the white t-shirts-  the spills and stains on it gave her a clear record of everything the various and sundry well-meaning ladies in the concession stand had given me to eat! Into the washer with some bleach, and my "wearable white board" was ready for the next day's markings!

We had many, many fun family times at the ball park, but there were a couple of scary times, as well.  One time,  we heard a blood curdling scream from the concession stand. Instinctively, one of my "caretakers" grabbed me to her and held me, while the others rushed over to see what had happened.  Momma G had reached into the popcorn machine to grab a bag while the kettle was cooking, and bumped the handle, tipping the kettle and pouring scalding grease all over her hand. They packed it in ice, took her to the hospital that was 2 blocks away, and got her back to me before I even realized she was gone!  It was a terrible burn, but it healed completely.

Another time, Daddy took us boys to mow the field.  Well, the big boys were going to mow, I was pretty much going to swing, and ride the seesaws and such.  Anyway, at the ball field they had one of those big-wheeled Yazoo lawnmowers- I don't think they even make them anymore. It had big bicylcle wheels on the back, and rotating wheels on the front, and it was big and wide, designed to cut ball fields, golf courses, etc.  Because it was so large, it was one of the first self-propelled lawnmowers ever made,  and we had never seen anything like before.  Brother B's shift was first.  Daddy started the engine, and B said "Dad, why is it so hard to push?"  Daddy said "It's self-propelled. Push that yellow lever forward and it will push itself".  "Like this?" asks Brother B, as the huge machine lurches forward and drives itself right over Brother A's foot.  Dad scoops up A and carries him to the station wagon, and we all pile in and drive home, about 5 blocks.  Mom freaks, of course. As soon as she sees it, she lays into Daddy: "Why did you bring him here?  You drove RIGHT PAST the hospital!"  It's true, the hospital was smack dab in between the house and ball park, about 3 blocks from each!  So, back into the station wagon they went, to take Artie to the emergency room for many, many stitches. 

Remind me later to tell you the story of the chain saw. And the time we got the boat stuck in the mud. Or the time the door fell off of the car. I've got a million!

All good, clean, family fun!


mrs. miss alaineus said...

i see five boys in different degrees of growth wearing dungarees and crew cuts and loving life. what a wonderful thing to share....can't wait until the next installment.


Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Great memories :o)

theminx said...

Momma G was pretty darn clever with that white t-shirt!

Great stories! More!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a lot of fun. I always got my clothes dirty too. I also ran over my foot with a lawnmower in college. Pulled it backward and right on top of my foot. My tennis shoe saved my big toe. Your brother was very lucky. MBC


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