childhood memories

Fran and The Clothes Hamper: A True Story

It was June, 1967 and I was eight years old.

Earlier that year, my parents decided to break free of the shackles of abject middle classdom and create nothing short of a castle for themselves and their children.

So, on a hill in the little traveled part of the small South Central Texas berg we called home–on land owned by maternal grandfather (and given to us gratis) , Mother and Daddy built a five bedroom monstrosity–replete with gables, a billiard room, a foyer with a 22 foot ceiling,  a multi-car garage, an intercom system…and all the other 60’s era trappings that would tell the slack-jawed yokels who’d come to gawk, that the Kendrick’s had in fact, “arrived”.

This home was my mother’s self described “dream home” and in the first half of ’67, she and my father made frequent trips to an architect in San Antonio to fine tune the blueprints. On this particular day, they were going back to the architect to resolve a kitchen issue and would be leaving the minute Daddy got back from a breakfast meeting.

School had only been out for summer break a few days and I’d already gotten in trouble and getting  grounded was my punishment. I can’t even remember the infraction, but I was forbidden to leave the house, nor could I invite anyone over.   This included a moratorium on playing with Fran, a lifelong friend who was a year younger and lived next door.

My oldest sister, Kathy–in all her 14 year old authority– would serve as warden and baby-sitter that day.

My father finally drove up into the garage and started honking the car horn, which was code for “wife, get out here and let’s leave”.  Out the door went Mater with a final warning, reminding me that I was NOT to step foot out of the house, nor could anyone come over to play.

“Yes..yes.  Have a safe trip. We’ll see you both when you get back from San Antonio this afternoon. Bring us back a surprise”.

And off they drove.

I went to the den and flipped on the TV. Three channels and nothing was on. I’d read every book. Every “Highlights Magazine” hidden picture had been found. There wasn’t anything to do.

The phone rang. It was Fran.

“Hey Laur, watcha doin’?”

“Nuthin’. I’m really bored. Watchu doin”?

“Nuthin’, I’m bored too. Wanna meet in the alley and play? Or climb trees in Dr. Buck’s back lot?”

“Nah, I can’t. Mom and Dad left  for San Antonio and I’m grounded and can’t play outside or anything”.

“Then can I come over? Then maybe we can make Brownies in your  Easy-Bake oven!  Or maybe we could make some Incredible Edibles?”

“Sounds fun Fran, but Kathy is baby-sitting me and I’m not supposed to have anyone over”.

“Well, make a deal with her!”

“OK, hold on. Let me think of something”.

Just as I put my hand over the receiver and yelled “Kathy???” she walked in the room and firmly said “No!”

“But I haven’t asked you anything yet!”

“It doesn’t matter, the answer is still no”.

She plopped down in a chair and started reading a magazine. She was thumbing through a story about the fab/gear countenance of The Beatles.

“Fran, she said no. I guess we can’t play today”.

“Come on, Laurie, she’s a teenager. Can’t you convince her? Do something. Try blackmail!”

I thought for a minute.

” Kathy, remember a few weeks ago when you had that mark on your neck?”

She put her magazine down and looked at me with an eyebrow slightly raised. “Yeah, it was from an accident in Science class…so what?”

“Yeah uh-huh, I know that’s what you told Mom and Dad, but since when are Tommy Bronwin’s lips considered “science class”?

“What are you talking about?”

“It was a hickey and NOT a mark caused by getting too close to the Bunsen Burner at school, Kathy. I overheard you and Wanda on the phone. You were talking about making out with Tommy”.

Kathy looked angry. She slammed the magazine down right on Ringo face.

“OK, what do you want in exchange for your silence?”

“I won’t tell Mom and Dad about the hickey, if you let Fran come over and play.”

“OK, but she has to leave before they get back which should be around four this afternoon. If she comes over now, that leaves you guys a few hours to play. So, we have a deal, right?”

“Right”. I picked up the receiver once again. “OK, come on over.”

We hung up and Fran rang the front doorbell in a matter of minutes.

We immediately went to my room to play with my Little Kiddles and their self contained dollhouse.  Fran and I marveled that my dolls had been out of their plastic perfumed bottles for weeks and still smelled like strawberry, lilacs and one scent we couldn’t identify.

When we tired of  Kiddling, we moved on to “Rock ‘Em, Sock ‘Em Robots”. Fran knocked my block off. Then, we switched to playing “Operation”.   Just as I was about to remove the appropriately shaped “wrenched ankle”, Fran said she was thirsty.

She followed me to the kitchen where in the fridge, there was an ice cold pitcher of “Rootin’ Tootin’ Raspberry”, the newest flavor in the “Funny Face” cavalcade of powdered drinks. Just as I was pouring her a glass, I heard Kathy scream.

“They’re back! Oh no! Mom and Dad are back early. I just heard the car pull up in the drive way. Get rid of Fran! Get rid of Fran!!! If they find her here, we’ll both be grounded for life and I’ve got another Bunsen Burner session planned with Tommy Bronwin this weekend!”

Kathy was in a panic.

I wasn’t. I would calmly take Fran out the front door….but wait!!!! Was this possible??? Mom was coming through that door. Damn! She’d gone around the front to get the mail. My father was entering through the back door. We were being tag teamed! All escape routes were blocked. There was only one thing to do:

I had to hide Fran and the only place I could think of :   the built-in clothes hamper in my parents’ bathroom.

Why there? I don’t know. It seemed like the perfect place; the ONLY place to hide her at the time.

I shoved Fran inside and closed the small, double doors just as my father was entering the bathroom. He told me in no uncertain terms to “get the hell out” and shut the door behind me. Something was obviously wrong. He didn’t look well.

I went into the kitchen just as mother was putting the mail on the table.

“What’s wrong with Daddy?”

“Oh, he had Mexican food at his breakfast meeting this morning and you know what it does to his stomach. We had to make three emergency bathroom stops on the way to San Antonio before we decided to turn around and come back home”.

Just then, I heard the bathroom fan power up. Uh-oh. Either  he was firing up the hibachi or this was a doodoo situation of massive proportions.

I sat at the table with my mom as she sorted through the mail. I tried to figure out what to do. Fran was trapped in that cramped clothes hamper in a hot, tiny bathroom with my father, apparently in full intestinal distress.

What should I do? Was Fran OK?

Five minutes went by and suddenly, the whole ridiculous reality of what was happening struck me as funny and I started giggling. Mother asked me why I was laughing and I couldn’t bring myself to tell her. I knew I’d be grounded until I was fifteen, but I had to do something because I started worrying about Fran’s mental and physical health.

Just then, the door of the bathroom opened and my father walked out and announced that he was feeling better and that he was going back to the office to get some work done. As he left the house, I told Mom to follow me into the bathroom.

She was muttering something about me having a “death wish” for forcing her to enter the bathroom.    When we got to the door, “it” hit us.   The atmosphere was–for lack of a better adjective–“thick”.   It was horribly, HORRIBLY obvious that the Mexican food breakfast my father had eaten earlier, had retaliated in a most egregious way. It’s exit from its tubular prison in my father’s lower G.I. must’ve been loud, explosive and extremely painful experience for my father….. and for Fran.

I opened the hamper doors and peered inside.

There she was; silent, motionless. She was huddled in a semi-fetal position, in the far corner of the hamper. Her face was pressed against the wall. She turned to look at me, her eyes squinting in the bathroom light. She looked dazed, she was sweating profusely and her face was pale with a greenish hue.  Although they were dirty, the poor kid stuck two of my father’s black Gold Toe dress socks in each nostril, apparently in an attempt to thwart the stench.   She was clenching one of my mother’s bras.

I helped her out, pulling off soiled underwear and dirty shirts which had stuck to her sweat-soaked clothing. I gently removed the socks from her nose. Automatic reflex and I guess, survival mode took over–she fought me on it.

Mother lit matches and waived them around the room. Futile effort—they weren’t helping.   The odor was horrible.

Garbage scowl bad.

Bayonne, New Jersey  in August bad.

“Laurel Anne Kendrick”, my mother said in between gagging fits. “Would you care to explain why Fran is semi-conscious and lying in a pile of dirty clothes in the hamper in my bathroom while your father was making stinkies?”

I replied, “Not now Mom. Help me with Fran”.

The petite seven-year-old was shaking. Her strawberry blond hair was matted and damp. Mother and I grabbed each arm and we walked her into the kitchen, away from the “hot zone”. She was wobbly.

Fran sat down at the table and was trying to speak. The only thing intelligible was the word “water”. Mother poured her a glass and I asked her if she was OK.

She gulped down two full glasses before finally being able to say, “I’m fine”. She then took a deep breath, let it out through her mouth, then looked at mother and me. “But I think the bigger question is how’s your father?   I’m just a kid, but I’d say he’s pretty sick.”

We let Fran sit for a minute to compose, we then walked her to the front door and I apologized.  She said that I should forget about it, but the experience had allowed her to rule out nursing as a possible career.

She then rubbed the back of her head and retrieved a sock that had been hiding there.   She handed it to Mom.

I closed the door behind her and felt my mother’s glare on my back. I turned around slowly.   She was standing there, hands on hips and then she uttered the infamous one-word sentence that mother’s utter, “Explain!”

I told her what happened and instead of getting yelled at, she started laughing. She immediately went to the phone and called my father at his office and told him that he wasn’t alone in the bathroom.

Well, as expected, I was grounded for an additional month and lectured about the importance of privacy. My sister, Kathy was placed on house arrest for two weeks for her complicity in “the bathroom affair”.

My parents eventually got new house blue prints made to their exact specs and within a year, we moved into Casa Kendrick.  As time went by, we never talked about “Potty Gate”  very often,  but for a while there, Daddy instantly checked every cabinet large enough to contain a small child in every bathroom he entered, public or private.

Oh yeah…one more thing I should mention:  the new house had four bathrooms and not one of them had a clothes hamper…..built in or otherwise.


Random Memories

Maybe, I’m dying.   I say that because I’ve always heard your life passes before your eyes when you’re about to shake hands with the Angel of Death and lately, my past and its personal battle with glory and infamy, has been creeping into my gray matter.

These days, I’m remembering things like a savant.     Things I haven’t thought of in years.

The first decade of my life was the ten year spans of the 60’s.      I was just eight years old during the Summer of Love.    The word “hippie”?    That was an adjective  used by my mother,  during her more catty days,  to describe big bottomed friends.    When the TV news people mentioned ‘drugs’, I thought of Rexall and the only  “Marx” I knew was the guy who made “Rock ‘Em, Sock ‘Em” robots.

I loved those languid summer days.    After my chores, which I loathed, I could go out and play….and play we did.  We’d be gone for hours; at someone’s house, playing  in a makeshift covered wagon, powered  by imagination.   We were trying to traverse the Cumberland Gap, or whatever the last  land mass we studied in Geography, a few weeks earlier.

I played with neighborhood kids mostly.    They were at my house or I was at theirs.   We hydrated ourselves courtesy of hard, green garden hoses.     We’d eat whatever Skippy or Mary’s mom would let him or her take out of the kitchen.    Playing pioneer people would morph into various things, such as playing board games–Monopoly, perhaps or Mouse Trap which was soooooooooo labor intensive to set up.     In fact, I don’t think I ever actually played the game.    We’d just set it up simply to watch it play out with its Rube Goldberg precision.    The payoff?    Watching that plastic cage trap thing wobble down the plastic poll and land flat, catching that plastic little mouse.

We’d come home hours later, as the sun was starting to set and no one worried about where we were, what we were doing or who we were doing it with.  We were tired….that good tired that ‘s the result of a free and unencumbered childhood.    We were lucky because that’s what we had all those decades ago.

Sure, I grew up in a small town in South Central Texas, but even my big city cohorts would attest that back in the day, they too could ride their bikes everywhere, walk to the park, playground or movie theatre, play in a front yard.   Being kidnapped by a pedophile was not on the day’s ‘ to do’ list.      If it happened, it was a big deal.    Our parents grew up with headlines about the Lindbergh baby’s kidnapping.     They’re still a bit shell -shocked over that one.

In fact, I  grew up with a grandmother who was convinced that children should never, ever sleep near an open window.    That made you a prime target or the gypsies to come steal you in the night.  And if they ever got their hands on you, chances are they’ put you in a travellin’ show where they’d make you dance for the money they’d throw.    Daddy would do whatever he could.    Namely preach a little gospel and if he was lucky, sell a couple bottles of Dr. Good.   (With apologies to Cher)

I can remember playing with three kids who belonged to the same family.  I used to laugh at how all their farts smelled exactly alike.    Why not?  Same diet.   That was like some  crude methane tracking device.  You could always tell if one of the Schnellings was in the room or had been in the room quite recently.

I can remember watching movies about cowboys and Indians and the Indians (native Americans to be PC) used to communicate with smoke signals.   How long has it been since you heard ANYONE mention smoke signals…other than seeing it on the marquee of a  head shop?

Nehi soft drinks.  Nu-grape?      RC Cola???       St. Joseph’s Aspirin for Children?  Creomulsion?    Choks vitamins?     Lik-A Maid, in the perforated accordion packs???

You never see  Milton Bradley board games advertised on TV,  then again, I don’t watch cartoon channels.    Toys today are too weird.    They’re supposed to “edutain” young minds.

What a pant load.

When I was growing up, I had a toy iron that actually plugged in a wall socket and got warm.   So did the Vacuforms and Incredible Edible machines.    Creepy Crawlers, too.   My play flatware had serrated knives and some play spoons could become shivs if bent at the right place.    We ate snow cones made from a plastic snowman with blades in his stomach.   Tore that ice cube up!!!!

easybakeoven1We played with toy ovens heated by 40 watt bulbs that were hot enough to turn bad tasting batter into even worse tasting cakes and brownies.

Wanna know how we all knew someone had gotten a Kenner Easy Bake Over for Christmas??

easy bajke burnsIt was easy to tell.

We were burnt, cut, bruised, scalded, balded, maimed and unduly scarred by our toys.  Talk about life lessons!!!!!!      But all that changed with the introduction to Sesame Street.

Kids may be safer but are they are imaginative?   Creative?     Could they do anything without a keyboard???

There are so many  things they’re missing out on.

You never see plastic rings in either gumball machines or as Cracker Jack prizes anymore.    Do they still make that  box of candy coated popcorn, peanuts and a prize?    That’s what you get in Cracker Jack, dee doh dee doh doh…

I remember getting free stuff if you mailed in a certain number of box tops–mainly from cereal.   Prizes also came in boxes of cereal.    You’d either empty it out in a bowl or contort the shape of the box to get at the tawdry little thing wrapped in cellophane.    It never lost its oaty, wheaty cereal smell.    Invariably, your mom would get mad at you because  your manipulations meant  she could never again completely close the box correctly.

Records,  flexible 45 rpms could be found on the back of Post cereal boxes.   You’d cut it out….it was just this flimsy low tech recording with horrible sound that you’d had to let flatten under a large book for a day or two in order for cereal boxit to play correctly on your record player.

Cereal box performers included the dulcet tones of a one Bobby Sherman, The Jackson Five, The Archies, Josie and the Pussycats and a group called “The Sugar Bears” which featured a one hit wonder from the summer of ’72 called “You Are The One”.    Catchy little tune.

One of the backup singers on that sleeper was none other than raspy voiced Kim “Bette Davis Eyes” Carnes.

AM radio was king back then.     One speaker played your fave rave tunes and the sound usually emanated from somewhere on the dash board.  The signal would fade as you went over a bridge or under a tunnel and God knows you could always tell if it was lightning was striking anywhere near.   AM static had an unmistakable sound.

I remember we had seasons at my elementary school.   For a few weeks it would be hopscotch…..jump rope was big too.

Not last night but the night before, 24 robbers came knocking at my door…I ran out……ttttttthhhhhhhheeeeeeeeyyyy   rrrrrrraaaaaaaaaannnn in!!!    (That was your cue to exit while another jumper attempted to enter the the inner sanctum of rotating jute)

We played jacks, too.   Onesies….twosies…threesies.     And your discriminating jacks player never played with the little red rubber ball that came with the set.  You played with a golf ball, pilfered from your father’s golf bag.  It had a better, higher  bounce for foursies and higher.jacks

Jacks season was fun.    We also knew when it was over:   when someone’s dad stepped on a jack at home.

Is Tiger Beat magazine still published?    I never read one….was never into teen idols.     I really didn’t care if  Donny Osmond actually called it “puppy Love or not and I couldn’t be bothered if either of the Brady Bunch chicks had crushes on their on-set gaffers or best boys.

tiger beat

Then there was MAD Magazine.    That rag offered me entre into the world of sardonic humor.   From there, I started reading the National Lampoon.  Back in the early seventies, it —along with the National Lampoon radio Hour which piggybacked Dr. Dimento and Firesign Theater each and every Sunday night on our local underground FM rock station.    They’d play deep album tracks (entire B sides of an LP ..betcha haven’t heard that grouping of words in quite some time).  Forty five minutes would go by without a commercial and if one played, the only advertisers were free clinics, head shops, record stores and ticket outlets for upcoming concerts.

The uber cool jocks always sounded stoned.

You never see ads for sea monkeys…or X-ray glasses or patches for your blue jeans.

cents symbolWhat happened to cursive writing?

And will someone please tell me what happened to the cents symbol on a keyboard????

Go ahead…look.

I’ll wait.

There were bonnet hair dryers and wall mounted pencil sharpeners  in your classroom that only got full when I walked up to use it.    Remember that grinding sound?  And remember how the wood and lead shavings smelled?

Skinned knees were treated with Mercurochrome     We called it “Monkey Blood”.    An antiseptic by any other name would hurt just as bad.  That shit would sting when applied to an open wound of any kind.    Your mom would blow on the ouchie, which helped some, but it still hurt.   And that red stuff stained  your skin for days.

Remember Bactin?  What about Shake-A-Puddin?

I remember the loathsome taste of Fizzies.   It was kiddie Alka Seltzer with a laboratory created ‘fuity’ flavor.   Nasty.fortune telling device

I was never one of those kids who could take a sheet of notebook paper and fold it here and there and origami it up until it was this fortune telling gizmo or….would tell you who with whom you were were really in love.    Anyone remember these things????

I never knew what they were called.    But they could be manipulated with your forefingers and thumbs.  I never married the fourth grade boy it told me I would.

school deskThis is the kind of desk I sat in as I matriculated from first through fifth grade.     This was an all in one, metal and wood hemorrhoid inducer.   Uncomfortable and cold.

It had an indention for pens, pencils and  rulers,  I guess.

And lest we forget Map Pencils.

I can remember going to my grandparents house and wanting to color but all they had were a few Map Pencils.    I’d always be so disappointed to learn you had to make due with Map Pencils.    They were so lacking.    The colors never had the vibrancy that crayons did.

Whatever happened to Hydrox cookies, the poor man’s Oreos???hydrox100_jeh

It debuted in 1908, several years before the Oreos and was made by Sunshine.  It’s name is a portmanteau of the two elements contained  in water:  hydrogen and oxygen.  I had no idea.

The Oreo came four years later, inspired by the Hydrox but somehow, the Oreo  stole it’s thunder.   Hydrox was always looked upon as a poor Oreo facsimile.   Interesting becasuse the Hydrox recipe resulted in the chocolate wafer part of the cookie being for better for dipping in milk.    It stayed crunchy even after being submerged in cow juice over and over again.     Not only that, Hydrox were kosher and DIDN’T use lard as an ingredient in the white filling mix as Oreos did.

Keebler bought Sunshine in 1996 and revamped Hydrox as something called “Droxies”.      Then, Kellog bought Keebler and sent Droxies packing into creme filled sandwich cookie netherworld in 2003.     

lustreI remember Lustre Cream shampoo that came in a thick, white glass jar with a metal lid that screwed on and off.   The shampoo itself was pink and had a consistency of cold cream.   I think we had a jar of that stuff on the shelf for several years.

I can’t remember how it smelled, but I remember it certainly left a ‘sheen’ in the bathtub.

Speaking of soap, there was this stuff called Fuzzy Wuzzy.    Anyone remember that?   It was a bar of soap shaped like a bear and maybe a few other animal shapes.   It came in a box decorated like a circus cage.     You left it out in the open air and it would grow air.     And when you used it all up, you’d find a toy surprise in the middle–usually a ring, or a whistle or a a martian.

I had a Fuzzy Wuzzy.

It was a bear.

It grew this thin, uneven whitish grey layer of fuzz or perhaps it was moss ……dust….or albino algae.

I got tired of waiting and cut my alopecic bruin in half and dug out the prize.     I think my mother made me throw out the Fuzzy Wuzzy.    It didn’t grow any hair…and neither could I on any of the large, red,  irritated patches of skin on my torso.

I used to love Soakies as a kid.   These were plastic bottles of bubble bath shaped in  the form of the day’s most popular cartoon characters:  Topcat, Bullwinkle, Rocky, Deputy Dawg, Popeye…and characters from the Disney and Warner Brothers animated pantheon. topcat

And then there this final memory.

When I was a little girl, there was a Clorox Bleach ad on the back of a magazine.    It was Ladies Home Journal or McCall’s ..I don’t remember which, but, in this one ad that was introduced in 1965/1966, so many people told me that one of the children featured in the ad looked just like me.   Was my splitting image, my doppelganger.   We were around the same age and had the same haircut and coloring:  blond with brown eyes.   I saw the ad myself and agreed there was a striking resemblance, as did members of my immediate family.

Well, I’ve been on a vision quest trying to find that ad.   In the late 70’s I scoured the library at the University of Texas looking out countless vintage magazines in their collection, looking through fiches.    That was more than 30 years ago.

But thanks to the advent of the Internet ( I could just kiss ya, Al Gore) all those years of searching are over.  I have found the ad and I will share it with you.    My twin sister from different parentage.    The one on end in all white, with the dirty sock and inability to lift her leg in the balletic position known as retire.   Oh, and by the way, my nose wasn’t as wide..

clorox ad

Or maybe it was.     Now that I think of it, I was the one member in my family who could find truffles in no time flat.

The Good Life With Grandpa Joe


While growing up, I was very close to my cousin Paul. He was two years older than me and that meant we had a lot of fun together. We lived in separate states, so we valued the time we could spend together.

During the summer, Paul would come back to Texas and we’d visit Grandpa Joe. We went to the park, the zoo. He’d take us to movies, too and not the kiddie kind, either. These were movies he wanted to see. Adult stuff like “Cool Hand Luke”, “The Wild Bunch” and “Midnight Cowboy”. Usually, one huge bucket of popcorn for each of us, plus Milk Duds, a box of Jordan Almonds and two uber sized soft drinks and private giggles would keep us occupied…except for that one perplexing part in “Midnight Cowboy”.

After that flick, we asked Grandpa Joe, “What’s a homosexual?”

His response? “Oh that’s a swishy someone named Bruce or Charles who likes to wear lots of leather and shit while doin’ faggedy ass things like messin’ with women’s hair, decoratin’ rooms and such.  Flower arrangin’ and workin’ in retail. You know, like your Aunt Bob!”

Even though we were on the nascency of pubescence, we still didn’t really have a grasp of what he was talking about…save for the Aunt Bob reference.  THAT, we got.  Even so we just responded with the clarifying,  “Oooohhh” in unison and pretended to understand.

As you might imagine, my mother had issues with her father-in-law. So did Paul’s father. Grandpa Joe was a free spirit and did as he felt, whenever he felt like it—his charges be damned. If he felt a like getting a drink, he went for a drink….and if we were with him, we went for a drink, too! Our parents thought Gramps was a bad influence on us.   And in retrospect he was, but so what if Grandpa Joe wasn’t a walking dictionary and lacked a little where the King’s English was concerned?    So what if Grandpa Joe wasn’t up on the latest child rearing facts from Dr. Spock? Paul and I loved being around this man. He was fun. He took great care of us—well, sort of— and every time we were out with him, it was an adventure.

As the consummate Texan, he loved hunting and guns and in the off season, he’d go to the shooting range and yep, he’d take us with him. He made us pick up shell casings. The real fun was in trying not to get burned by the expended cartridges.

Grandpa Joe would also take us to his neighborhood bar.


We’d stay outside in Stumpy’s parking lot most of the time. We’d play tag, hide and seek and see how many different brand of cigarette butts we could collect. Bonus points for finding a Viceroy (this was 1967, by the way).

We’d even earn a little extra money from our grandfather’s friends by running across the busy highway to buy cigarettes at the Stop and Shop. We’d make 25-cents for every pack we bought.   Some afternoons, it would be enough cash to go in to Stumpy’s to buy dinner: two pickled eggs, we’d split a bag of vending machine Cheetos and a club soda set-up.

When we weren’t running cigarettes for bar patrons, we’d play in and around the trash dumpster.   For hours.

After a night of drinking, Grandpa Joe would try to drive us home and he did so with one hand over his eye. I guess this helped him see. Maybe he had a headache.    Sometimes, he’d stop at the corner of Chow and Main and talk to some of the women standing there. Paul and I thought they were gardeners that our grandfather knew because he kept referring to them as hoers. This was confusing—they sure weren’t dressed like people who knew how to hoe the soil or grow tomatoes and such.

He’d give one of these ladies a ride every once in a while. I guess it was because she was tired. You see, he’d make us get in the backseat while she went to sleep with her head in his lap. Grandpa Joe was a religious man, too because right before she’d wake up…which was about five minutes later… he’d always scream, “OH GOD!! OH GOD!!!!”

Once she woke up, he’d drop her off at the same corner.  What was strange was that he gave her 20-bucks for taking a nap in his lap. 

Good times.

I remember one Christmas, Grandmom Ellen made Grandpa take us to the mall to help him do some gift shopping. He gave us a $20 and told us to go buy something pretty for Grandmom. He’d be at the bar in the T.G.I Friday’s at the other end of the mall. He mentioned something about having to watch a horse race, two grand and a pissed off bookie–whatever any of that is supposed to mean!!

We found a pretty little angel figurine that we thought Grandmom Ellen would like, but it was 25 dollars…five more than what Grandpa Joe had given us.

We asked a swishy sales guy named Bruce to hold the angel for us until we could go hit up Grandpa for more money.

There he was–at the bar. Four empty old fashion glasses with melting ice sitting in front of him. He was screaming at the TV and audibly expressing worry about some bookie’s enforcer named “Rocco”, wanting a piece of his ass.


He hastily threw ten more bills in our direction and we ran back to the store and not only bought the angel for Grandmom Ellen, were were able to have another swishy sales guy named Charles to wrap it up for us. It was so pretty! We couldn’t wait to show Grandpa Joe.

But when we got back to the bar, he was gone!  Paul checked the men’s room. He wasn’t in there. We asked the bartender if he knew where Gramps went and he said he saw Grandpa Joe leave right after we’d asked him for more money. He was apparently despondent that his horse lost a big race and that his friend Rocco was going to come find him to help him…..I guess mourn the horrible defeat.  Apparently, when someone loses a bet in a horse race in Rocco’s world involves a lead pipe and something about both of Grandpa’s knees.

We had no idea where our grandfather had gone, why he left us or how we’d get home. We were a little panicked. That’s when Paul saw a police officer walking through the mall and we felt it best to report our Grandpa Joe missing.

We told the officer that we couldn’t find our grandfather anywhere and that not only were we worried, but without the man, we were stranded at the mall.  He asked us a few questions, such as when we saw him last, where we last saw him, what he was wearing and also, the nice policeman asked, “Please tell me kids….what’s your grandfather like?”

Paul answered, “Big titted woman and Scotch, but that’s not important right now!!! We gotta find Grandpa!!!”


More Memories–God, I’m Old!!!!


In a fit of insomnia the other day, I was thinking about my life.  I suppose I do this every time I reach a pivotal time of the year–namely, my birthday, which is later this month.  It’s an annual event–this issue of  my life flashing before my eyes and because of some equally bored and/or nostalgic people who post their memories on You Tube or the Intraweb,  I get the chance to revisit parts of my life in living color. 

 This post in particular, might not mean very much but to select people 48 and over and those who grew up with me in Karnes City, Texas or grew up fully involved with San Antonio radio and TV. 

I did. 

I grew up in Karnes City which lies about 55 miles southeast of San Antonio.   

Admittedly, I never knew too much about Karnes City history.  I just found that my home town is actually something of a bastard step child to the city of Cuero.   

It seems that in December 1890, a group of Cuero businessmen bought a thousand acres alongside the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railroad to be the next county seat. Originally named Karnes–just Karnes, after Texas patriot and Indian Fighter, Henry Wax Karnes (who the Natives deemed to have some “good medicine” allegedly because of fiery red hair).  Eventually,  “City” was added by postal authorities when the post office opened in 1891. In 1892 an auction was held and the railroad built a spur to facilitate the unloading of lumber for new homes and businesses. 

And Karnes City grew steadily in the 20th Century, from the teens throughout the mid 70’s and then, well I left for college in ’77,  the city went tits up.  Actually, Karnes City was never a population center, but did start to see a decrease in population once the oil and gas and uranium minding industry which kept it afloat for decades, started to dwindle.   

But during the city’s hey day from the early 50’s to the late 60’s, Karnes City wasn’t a bad place to live. We were fairly self-contained.  The photo below is a view of Main Street (real name Calvert—I think) and this is maybe looking west, probably from right in front of the City Hall building or that Wesley Hookley person’s shop???)   

This is downtown Karnes City, apparently on a Saturday morning.  I don’t remember store hours in KC.  If stores were open on Saturdays,  they closed early.  But if truth be told, this is probably what downtown KC looks like on a Thursday morning or a Monday afternoon.   I can remember when commerce happened in downtown.  There were cars parked along the streets; people walked on the sidewalks–with bags in hand.  They’d spent their money in the stores.  When I was there, we had Kuhnel’s  Hardware and a  Western Auto, two grocery stores The Mercantile and Speedy Peedy’s (which later  became Looney’s), Rowan’s Lumber Yard; the City Pharmacy and it’s across the street rival, Bailey’s Drugstore.   Three car dealers were  in town.   “Big Auto” was well represented  with Chrysler, Ford and GM dealerships located all within about a block of each other.   Karnes City also had a few restaurants, but not many.  One BBQ  place downtown (Smolik’s) that produced some of the best brisket and sauce EVER.  

Karnes City had one very private member’s only swimming pool.    (READ: segregation) and two pools in the  backyard of private homes.  The K-Bowl was a six-lane bowling alley; the Midway was a drive in theater; there was one in-house theater (well, that was in Kenedy, some six miles away).  Radio station KAML-AM was there everyday with the farm report, the scores from Badgers and Lions athletic contests. 

It was in many ways, an idyllic place to grow up.  Many moms stayed home and raised the kids, in between cooking and cleaning and ironing along with all the other wife/Mom duties. 

All the while, the youngsters were busy doing what we knew best–being kids. 

That involved going to school, studying and playing. 

I guess this is part and parcel of the small town existence but I went to school in the same buildings my parents,  my aunts and uncles, cousins and sisters went to school.  My first grade teacher was Doris Garner.   She had also been my mother’s teacher. 

I never liked milk.   I did at one time I think, then something happened that caused me to stop drinking it.   We had milk breaks in South Elementary  (that was the building that  housed first and second grades).  You could choose between while or chocolate milk in these tiny glass milk bottle with thin, easy to remove cardboard tops that peeled off.    

The bottles looked a lot like this, but I don’t think ours had any wording on them.  They were however small like this;  pint-sized versions of the classic bottle that The Milk Man left on your doorstep.  

By the time I was hatched in the late 50’s, milk conveniently came in cartons, but these tiny bottles were available for all kids for a mere three cents a bottle.   Milk break was around 10 am followed, by a very brief recess.  

Then it was time for lunch.  Kids who ate at the lunchroom were ferried to the high school cafeteria (at the time, the only one in the school district) by busses.    

You could also be picked up and taken home for lunch or you could bring your lunch to school with you.  

Our lunchroom in the South Elementary building was smallish and had these ugly, dark brown painted picnic tables.  I HATED the way the lunchroom smelled.  It was like this gross, acrid amalgam of bad bologna, sour milk and nasty what not.   You could buy milk or a Coke to have with your lunch.  When I bought mine, I always preferred a Coke.  You’d give your dime to the unlucky teacher who had drawn the short straw to cover lunch duty that week; you’d tell her what you wanted and she adjusted a dial to point to your selection on this short, squatty Coke machine and pull this lever thing to release one of those tiny little bottles of Coke.    

It looked something like this: 

You’d gobble down your sandwich or whatever you or your Mom packed for you that morning then try to get a swing or the Jungle Gym (which we always called “The Monkey Bars)  or a Tether Ball poll.  It was a poll with a U-Bolt welded into the top, then the poll was placed in the middle of cement poured into the center of an old tire.  This stabilized it and made it easy to roll into position.   The Tether Balls look like a volleyball with a rope attached to it. 

Those thing REALLY hurt if you ever got hit with one in the face. 

And we had seasons, too.  

 The boys played marbles and then that morphed into battling tops.   The girls played Jacks and then hopscotch in which we drew the pattern on the sidewalk with chalk.   And then the school supplied these long, tan-colored hemp ropes, we’d play jump rope.      

I can’t remember who or what dictated the change in “play seasons” but it always happened and it ws annual…like clockwork. 

 And speaking of jacks, you NEVER played with the red ball that came with the jax.  OH NO SIR!!!    

You played with a golf ball.  They had game.  The  strange back little superball in the core gave it game.  Bounce, too.  The red ball that came with the set just didn’t cut it. And you never played with plastic jax either…it was always the metal ones. 

Now that I think about it,  jax season usually ended when a Dad accidently stepped on a stray jack that got away when you were trying your hand at “FOURSIES” .   

 That painful scream followed by a full confiscation of your jax always signaled the start of jump rope season the very next day. 

TV was important, too.  As I’ve mentioned several times on this blog, we only had three networks to watch back then… well, four if you include PBS which we rarely did.   Friday’s were (and still are) my favorite day and night of the week.  In South Texas during the Fall,  Friday nights meant football night games.  The Mighty Karnes City Badgers would play and usually lose to the opposing juggernaut that was the Floresville Tigers or the Poth Pirates or the Three Rivers Bulldogs and The George West something or others.  Cant remember.  At the end of the year, THEE BIG GAME; the one against our sworn enemy and arch rival–the Kenedy Lions. 

Football season ended in mid to late October, but that didn’t mean the good times ended.   Hardly,  KENS TV (Channel 5 in San Antonio) gave us Project Terror to force us to get all “skeered”. 

Here’s the original intro which was scary in and of itself.  It was this animated atom and an a scary emergency siren thing.  I hadn’t heard this in years and even as a kid, remarked on the odd way the announcer said “terrifying” right at the :17  mark.  

Listen for it. 

Project Terror came on right after the news at 10:30.  It always featured schlocky B horror movies from the 50’s, such as “The Walking Dead” and “The Dead Who Walk Among Us”.   I remember watching “Terror Night” then a week later, “A Night of Terror”. 


As I mentioned at the top, Karnes County had one theater–the Rialto which which was located in downtown Kenedy.  Karnes City had its own but it closed in the early 60’s and was converted into the City Pharmacy, but I remember the Rialto very, very well.  

I fell in love there. 


It’s just a shell with a rotting marquis now.  I don’t remember going there after Jr. High, but it was a favorite pre-driver’s license hang out for all the kids in Kenedy and Karnes City.  The place was always special to me because as I said,  I fell in love for the very first time in that darkened theater.  I was 12; he was 13 and from Kenedy.     I don’t remember much about that night back in 1971–other than I  wore a gold Hang Ten shirt and white shorts, brown low healed pumps and I finished my look with gold loop earings.  The movie was “Something Big” , starring Brian “Uncle Bill to Buffy and Jodie”  Keith (as if HE was any kind of leading man)  and the love of my life was wearing a dark blue shirt, jeans and white sneakers.  We sat halfway down on the left side of the theatre and held hands.   It was a Saturday night,  September 9th to be exact and the theater’s A/C was on and it sure was cold right around the start of the movie at 8:18 pm—other than that, I don’t remember much about that night at all. 

It broke my heart though when I saw the state of the theater’s insides.  

“Insides” are putting it loosely. 


A lump in my throat formed at when I first laid eyes on this photo that someone sent me.  From where, I don’t know., perhaps if such a beast exists.  Oh and uh, one more thing–this is looking into the theater from behind what’s left of the screen.  The theater is well lit……. thanks to sunlight.    There’s no roof covering that portion of the building. 


I do remember though being in the theater when the film would break as if often did.  It was nothing for angry patrons to throw their just refilled Dr. Pepper’s up on the screen in protest.  

I remember seeing Gone With The Wind at the Rialto as a kid.  For years, I thought Vivien Leigh had one of those big, dark birth marks on her face.  Not the case:  just a 50-cent Coke stain on the screen thrown by angry movie go-er when the film broke two days earlier during a screening of Doctor Zhivago. 


On Saturday mornings, we did our chores then once sprung from servitude, we watched American Bandstand and then, KSAT Channel 12’s homespun teen dance show offering called ” Swing Time”.   Kids danced outside somewhere as the camera followed their gyrations and groovy moves.  Brucie Poo Hathaway, who was THE BIG BOSS DADDY D-J who spun the wax to create the BIG BOSS SOUNDS OF ROCK AND/OR ROLL ON  KTSA-AM,  hosted the show.  It was sponsored by the National Beverage of San Antonio….Big Red.  

Don Cowser, a jock on KONO was also one of the hosts, unless I’m getting him and Hathaway confused.  Well, one or both hosted and they spun records but every once in a while, a few bands played the Swing Time circuit.  Anybody remember Neal Ford and The Fanatics, The Kaleidoscope, Moving Sidewalks, and Band Ayd?? 

Arlene & Kenny

 The show was produced or directed or marketed by Mel Adcock (who was also a  local band manager from what I understand and had something to do professionally with KSAT 12).  Mel’s daughter Sherri, was one of the regular dancers on “Swing Time”.    

I don’t remember Sherri–other than her name, but I do remember my older sisters commenting on what Sherri  wore, her hair or how she danced and like Arleen Sullivan and Kenny Rossi, the All-American couple who frequently danced together on “Bandstand” and “twisted and shouted” their way into late 50’s teenybopper history, Sherri  frequently danced with the same guy.   Who he was escapes me and the Internet.

KTSA DJ, Ricci Ware also had a TV dance show on KENS 5 called “TeenTime”.   Swing Time aired at 11:00 am and Teen Time aired Saturday afternoon at 4:00.  The two  shows were big time competitors, but I don’t remember much about “Teen Time”. 

For some reason, (and this memory is actually vivid) I  remember hearing The Cowsill’s “The Rain, The Park and Other Things” for the very first time on Swing Time and it was introduced by a video.  I couldn’t have been more than six, but even so, I remember  watching the very toothy Cowsills cavort together at an amusement park of some sort and they were either riding on a train or a roller coaster or something as their song played underneath.   

Lo and behold, I actually found the damn thing on You Tube.  

Wanna hear it, here it goes. 


I remember thinking that this video/music thing was cutting edge.   So would the creators of MTV some 20 years later. 


 Barry Cowsill was the drummer and eventually played bass in the band.   He endured years of alchololism before moving to new New Orleans  where he played in bars and local venues.  


He reconnected with family and fans and was reportedly attempting to become sober when Hurricane Katrina  hit the city in August 2005. Cowsill was heard leaving messages on his sister Susan’s voicemail in the days following the hurricane, but was not heard from after September 1. 

 In January 2006, after a long, tireless search that included fans as well as family members, a body that had been found on December 28, washed up at a wharf in New Orleans, was subsequently identified as Cowsill’s by comparison to dental records. 

 His death was ruled a drowning, a result of floodwaters from the hurricane. 

RIP Barry. 


 Saturday afternoons were also spent watching TV for many kids.  Channel 5 in San Antonio kept its scary effort going by featuring “5 Star Shock”.   Joe Alston was this all-purpose voice factotum for KENS TV.  He was the booth announcer and on Saturday’s donned this mortician’s attire, complete with a cape and sometimes, a big tall hat and introduced scary movies on “5m Star Shock”. 

I found this photo of Joe in Bing’s public domain photo group. 

I’m not sure what’s going on with Joe’s left eye in this photo.  But it looks like his entire retina and iris have turned to milk glass.  I don’t remember him having a white eye or a cataract for that matter. 

Then again, I don’t remember what I ate for breakfast this morning. 

Anyway, “5 Star Shock” was cancelled im 1967 or so and Saturday afternoon movie watching then dwindled into Shirley Temple flicks,  Abbot and Costello farces or Charlie Chan movies.    

OK, ready for the Charlie Chan debate?   I say Warner Oland’s version of the Chinese Private Dick was FAR superior to Sidney Toler’s.  Plus Keye Luke, who played “Number One Son” to Oland’s “Pop” had a great on-screen chemistry with anyone with whom he was paired.   

Luke added a comedic role to the plot line’s which always centered around  Charlie’s (or “Cholly” as hisB-List 40’s Hollywood crowd with their Brooklyn accents referred  to him)  and his intrepid crime solving abilities.  Enter actor, Manton Mooreland, who often played the poor man’s Step-N-Fetch It in 30’s and 40s B-movie serials.

In the Chan series with Oland in the title role, Mooreland was brought in for comedic effect for the white, round-eye, movie goers.  Truth is, when he played the wide-eyed, always scared, African-American man-servant, it was at times, down right hilarious.   

And racist.

But Joe Alston’s GREATEST ROLE was that of Captain Gus, the host of a kiddie cartoon show on from 4-5 pm, every M-F after school.  

Here, long time KENS 5 news anchor Chris Marrou pays homage to Captain Gus during what really amounts to  a KENS TV 50th anniversary “look at us” pud yank special.  

Captain Gus  featured Popeye, Bugs Bunny and the whole pantheon of Warner Brothers cartoons, the occasional Droopy and other offerings from animators Bob Clampett, Tex Avery and Walter Lance.   

There was also Mighty Thor. 


And SuperCar with featuring puppets such as ace pilot, Mike Murphy, that old British queen, Dr.  Beaker and some kid with a pet monkey.   



And of course the green eraser who had is own show…not bad for a guy that “once was a little green slab of clay”. 



There was Kiddie Park which stood (and still stands I think) on Broadway along the edge of Brackenridge Park, near the Witte Museum.   It’s been there forever.   Like a mountain.    It was/is a small permanent carnival with safe, slow rides for kids.   My parents went taken there by their parents when they were children back in the 30’s and they took me there as a child  in the 60’s. 


I lived in San Antonio in the late 80’s.  I continued that tradition by taking my nieces and nephews to Kiddie Park.   The rides cost 25 cents.


A place I always wanted to go but never did was Playland Park, another permanent carnival and midway further down on Broadway closer to downtown.    It now lies in a rotted heap behinds overgrown weeds and graffiti. 


I’d never written a roller coaster before and one was located just 55 miles NW of my hometown.   The wooden based “Rocket” was built in 1947.  At its opening it was hailed as “the largest roller coaster in the world.”   It’s first hill measured 78 feet and there was some 3200 feet of track. 

Playland Park closed in 1980 leaving The Rocket standing silent   I have no idea what’s on property now, but years ago, you could still see a wooden support tower from the roller coaster just standing there on the property, lonely and rotting.  


Referring back to Captain Gus again, when he would go to the Peanut Gallery (the dock like bleachers situated near his boat) to meet the Lil Mateys (usually Boy or Girl Scout troop members or kids having a birthday ) and competed in games and contests for the chance to win toys from his Wishing Well, the goodies ALWAYS came form Kiddie City, a huge San Antonio toy store on Loop 410 and Walzem Road. ( I think).   I always envisioned Kiddie City to be this toy mecca for kids under eight. 


At least, I think this is the front of the Kiddie City toy store, though since MY PARENTS NEVER TOOK me, I wouldn’t know for sure. 


I loved San Antonio radio.  I’ve already mentioned two San Antonio radio stations on which I honed my teeth upon.    I loved listening to  KTSA and KONO when they were TOP 40 AM radio station.   I mentioned Bruce Hathaway,  Ricci WSare and Don Cowser earlier..   

As I matured, I discovered FM radio and those cool underground FM stations with jocks that were always stoned–or sounded that way. 

I fell in love with KTSA’s FM sister station,  KTFM early in my Freshman year of high school back in 1973 and shortly after that, discovered KEXL.  That station was so cool, so happening.  I remember one summer, The San Antonio Express News included a KEXL logo  iron-on transfer in between the sheets of the newspaper.   It was a cowboy on a bucking bronco–interesting for an album oriented rock radio station, but KEXL was cool.   It mixed progressive country (The Cosmic Cowboy movement which began in teh early 70’s had its roots in KEXL) and rock.  I ironed this on one of my dad’s old white T-Shirts.    

I was so damn hip.    



But perhaps my best memory of growing up in the 60’s and early 70’s was just the mere fact I grew up in the 60’s and early 70’s.   As kids, we played for hours, rarely calling home, much less going home.  When thirsty from playing, we drank water from hot, green rubber lawn hoses.  We rode our bikes everywhere without getting raped or kidnaped or worse.  Our parents left our keys in the cars ignition overnight…rarely locked our houses and ate sugar and drank sugar and had BB gun fights and shot bottle rockets at each other.    We built forts out of anything we could find, and we built tree houses on other people’s property and really, no one cared.  We played outside more than we did anything else. 

And we could buy Post cereal and get a cool 45 rpm of some bubble gum band with what would invariably be its one hit wonder on the back of the box. 


We’d cut the record out and put it on the turntable.   In between playing the damn thing, we’d have to place it under big heavy books to keep it flat.  The damn things would, in all that South Texas humidity,would curl or roll up around the edges.  

I mean, we had to. 

The “record” was made from the same flimsy cardboard as the cereal box.   

On the back of Sugar Crisp, I found one of my all time favorite songs.   It charted at #33 in the summer of 1972 and was the quintessential one hit wonder.  

It was  “You Are The One” by the Sugar Bears and believe it or not, it featured Kim Carnes as a back-up singer;  an embarrasement I would think she’d  not want us to remember,  but hey Kimmie, we all gotta start somewhere.  But that’s her voice.  The same raspy one that in the 80’s, gave us “Bette Davis Eyes”. 

The very same Kim Carnes who no doubt, begrudgingly had to follow the multi-ranged, über talented Cindy Lauper in the original , “We Are The World” from USA For Africa, video from 1985. 

The look on Kim’s  face when Cyndi starts to belt out those powerful notes is priceless.  She even has to turn her head away as if  to say, “Holy Fuck!!  I gotta follow THAT????” 


Little Hostess Buffett by Marx


I will be 51 in a few weeks.   Proclamnmation of this is only important to establish what I and other 49, 50, 51 and 52 year old women and possibly, some extremely effinmant men know and have always known:  that the Little Hostess Buffett by Marx was THEE consummate toy.

I remember desperately wanting one for Christmas.  I told all of my friends; made my parents aware of my biggest Christmas gimme.  I wrote Santa several letters; and  made it ABUNDANTLY clear that I wanted one every time I saw him  or C. Everett Koop in a store or mall.

I guess it was Christmas of ’65 or ’66.   It was and will probably always be one of my favorite Christmas gifts.

And I’m not alone.  A few years ago, I wrote a three part blog post called, “I Was Milton Bradley’s Love Child”, in which I chronicled (with photos) some of the most memorable toys of my childhood.

Those posts have always garnered a tremendous amount of hits and comments–even private email–and invariably, it’s almost always about Jingle Jumps and the Hostess Buffet.

  This is the classic Jingle Jump.   The yellow part was secured around the ankle; the heel fit into the blue cuff part and the blue box behind it contained jingle bells.  

Attached under it,was a long red plastic cord and attached to it was a plastic ball.  You moved you leg/ankle in a circular pattern and with your opposite foot, jumped over the ball as it came around.   It was something similar to a dance move.  Certainly, a precursor to a Ska dance move that would make the kids go crazy 30 years later  in the early 90’s.

But the biggest mail generator in all of LaurieLand has been whenever I’ve made mention of the Little Hostess Buffett by Marx.

I have searched high and low on Google and Bing and other search engines and couldn’t find a photo of the item itself, but I found a pic of the box it came in.    Here is the pièce de résistance:

I remember waking up on Christmas morning and there it was…already assembled in all it’s plastic French Provincial glory.   White plastic with gold accents.   Gawdy as hell, but I thought it was cool.

It came with everything a young, aspiring future hostess could want.  A full 16 piece place setting of plastic bone china.   It bore a uncanny resemblance to the Wedgwood earthenware pattern known as Edme.  Remember this my fellow Hostesses???

 It came with four plates, four cups and saucers.    And four crystal (read plastic) sherbet cups and ice teas.  It was carved plastic though.  Something akin to Waterford I would imagine and it came with a 16 piece set of plastic flatware–silver in color of course.   And if memory serves, those knives were serrated which could double as a weapon. 

Yes, back then, our toys, burned, maimed, cut, impaled, were poisonous, clipped, stabbed and probably make us sterile.

But boy did we have fun!!!

I also remember that the Buffett came with four rather ugly green colored paper napkins and a plastic fruit bowl with plastic fruit.   Bananas, I remember for sure…maybe lemons and oranges, too though I can’t quite remember.   Friskie, our sexually frustrated Cocker Spaniel always destroyed our toys.  I remember her  punishing a few of those bananas.  

It also came with  silver candlesticks; two pink plastic taper candles and a three-piece silver plastic tea service with a sugar bowl, a creamier, the tea server and all of it poised on a plastic tray.

I don’t remember having my Hostess Buffet for very long.  I must have grown out of it.  I remember walking in the room I shared with Karol and found her and her friend Julie using the plastic fruit bowl as a Barbie bathtub.

And by the way; Karol and Julie played nasty Barbies.  The characters were vile and the story lines were sordid as hell.   Kinda hot considering the authors of all this Mattell based smutty dialog were 10 year olds.   I remember watching a stiff armed and legged  Barbie and Ken sitting awkwardly  in the tub/bowl trying to get to know each other Biblically and not having much copulatory success.  I wasn’t quite sure what I was witnessing at the time, but I do remember for some reason, feeling differently about that bowl after that.

I guess the Buffett went the same place many of my toys went after I grew tired  or grew out of them:  as hand me downs to my slightly younger cousin, Dawn.   I was the youngest of three girls, so that made sense.  

I found a few plates in some old boxes a few years ago, but that’s all that I have left from my Little Hostess Buffett by Marx….

Well that, and these insatiable sexual urges every time I see a Barbie…a Ken and little plastic bowls.


For more childhood toy memories from the early to mid 60’s go to my original post, I Was Milton Bradley’s Love Child – Part 1 here, then that post will contain links that will take you to Parts 2 and 3.


Sweet, Scary Delirium


I came to an interesting epiphany recently.  It arrived due in part, as the title implies, to delirium caused by a high fever (a stomach virus that was as much intestinal jihad as it was an acute medical condition) and coveting the happy family photos of a former co-worker.

I removed the crust away from my eyes–no doubt, a conglomeration of sediments stemming from sadness, dying ocular whatnot and allergies from cheap, off-brand mascara called “Moybelline”–in order to look at her wedding pics on her Facebook page.   I just removed a schmutzy mud from my eyes;  she had so much life in hers.   

Not only that, she was pretty, petite  and so vivacious.  I wasn’t close to this woman; she’s 28–we’re practically a generation apart, but she was one of those chicks who was always “up”.    I guess “peppy” is an arcane, if not apt adjective.  She looked like she was issue free and I knew that wasn’t the case, but she looked it…know what AI mean?  Now,  I don’t doubt for a minute that she’s never had a problem, but I’d bet mink balls and Inuit tongues that her problems, whatever they were, didn’t take her down and out of it.   I figured a woman like her who you could tell had purpose, dealt with whatever, then moved on however.     She would plot a solution, then apply it.  

In life worked. 

And why not?  She was cute and always looked clean and well scrubbed, even when she wasn’t.   I imagined her house (and of course she had her own house, even at 28) would be impeccable; tidy and tasteful.  I envisioned her ‘no make-up’ face looking fit for a glossy fashion mag cover.   

Mine?   An iodine bottle.     

Death–either the spiritual or Coroner’s toe tag kind–would be the ONLY thing that could remove the sparkle of Life from those big, round baby blues of  hers.    Problems couldn’t do it.  She wouldn’t permit them to.

And it wasn’t only her, it was her whole damn family.   I looked at each one of them; happy, seemingly so mentally and emotionally together.  I just knew they were from the rare phyla, Perfecto Humanus;   Their  genus?   Dontus Evenus Go-eth Thereus.    

So I didn’t.

But being the glutton for self-imposed punishment, I did and when I did, I went completely out on a limb and surmised that this family was experiencing this alien life force known as ‘joy” mostly because they were kind and loving and only dysfunctional to the degree of being errantly,  inherently human.   The parents , I imagined, made a mature pact with each other:  to love each other and raise their children with that same vow in mind.  They’d defend and support their children because they knew the simple reality that so many parents either don’t know or have forgotten:   loved and supported children grow up to be loving and supportinve adults.   They become people who know how to love and support and more importantly, they know HOW to receive love and support—vital components to a successful matriculation through life.

Now, I’m not going to sit here and chide every parent on the planet for having failed their children.  Having never had a child, I can’t in all good conscious make such a sweeping claim.  I don’t feel as though I have that right, BUT….

Since our parents are the first interaction we have with other human beings, they DO  set the social and emotional stage for the rest of our lives.    I know the old cliche that children come with no handbooks or instructional manuals, but where is the common sense in child rearing?   Children are defenseless.   Weigh your angered reactions to their mistakes.  They’ve not lived long enough to have your logic or sense of proportion or ability to rationalize.   Their life experiences are limited to eating, sleeping, playing…TV;  maybe school.        

I imagined my former co-worker having parents that understood this.   I won’t call them perfect;  I know they weren’t.  That word is as made-up and  as non-existent as the ones that could ever describe me as being, “Mrs. Laurie (Insert Surname Here).   Yet, this Mom and Dad had to have done something damn right to have produced a happy, vivacious daughter who was seemingly living this happy, vivacious life.   

Then, as I took more aspirin while batting away at the tiny, lime green condors, all with Ed Asners’ face–the ones I was hallucinating and felt certain were buzzing my now six-feet wide, fire-breathing nostrils, I determined that this woman was also happy in part, because she was forward thinking and looked at her life  in that direction, as well.    I felt sure she only viewed her past as the vehicle that brought her to her current place in life.   She  didn’t cling to it  for dear life like that chick did with that buoy in the very beginning of the movie, Jaws.

But that’s what I did. 

I clung to my past and kept bringing bits and pieces of what I thought were happier times with me every where I went.  I was like this emotional hoarder who became that way because the Japanese in World War Never forced me to walk in the Baton Emotional Death March with nothing but cute, thin High School  twirlers all wearing skimpy lamé outfits.  Like the real marchers  in the Bataan,  I was starved.  They lacked food.  I lacked love and joy and ever since my 12th year on this Blig Blue Marble, I’ve kept every glimmer and tiny, minute shard of happiness that I ever had with me, for fear I’d never find it or feel it ever again.

Do you have ANY idea how much emotional baggage that entails?    There isn’t a cargo hold on any ship or airplane big enough and that’s a hell of a burden to place on oneself. 

I then weathered a fever chill and unzipped the skin on my forearm to release Ed McMahon from his hiding place, and wiped my fevered brow.

I take a sip of much needed hydration, then realize I hate that trite and hackneyed term “the child within” which stems, I feel, from the sump pump of pop psychology, but I suppose there is some truth to it.    We sometimes con ourselves into believing we had terrific childhoods.   In reality, these are just periods in our past that we idealize.   They weren’t that good; our need to remember them as such made them that way.  That’s a form of survival I think.  Denial, too.   I’m coming to realize that’s what I’ve been doing.    And that’s having an affect on other aspects of my life.   For some reason,  the memories of certain periods of my childhood aren’t as vivid as they once were….AND I’m starting to view them in a third-party perspective.    They’re becoming like these old, vintage photographs…now, with this aging sepia tone to them and I’m no longer remembering certain details of the image; not like I used to.   

Could I be separating from myself or from that Little Girl Laurie within?   The part of me that held all those memories of happiness near and dear?   Maybe so, but in addition to that, I know I’ve disappointed that little girl.   Consequently, the urge to apologize to her for not living up to all her 12 and 13-year old dreams is strong.   

It is true–my life didn’t turn out as I thought it would  or as she thought it would, but her perspective was skewed.   So, she’s got to cut me some slack in that department.  She’s got to quit thinking that  adult life is anything like that which she lived in  Jr. High.   There’s more to it than cheerleading, being popular, weekend movies with friends, slumber parties, skating, bike riding, listening to AM radio and puppy love in all it’s Donny Osmond glory.   

So, I think the fading memories and the need to both apologize and end this struggle with her once and for all is very significant.   She’s growing up and moving on and I’m releasing and moving on.   If we meet and converge soon, fine.   But for now, the separation is important.   It helps in the clean up duty.    It’s time this happened and since she’s the ONLY child I’ve ever had, I think the acknowledgement of her impending departure from my life has me going through something of an “empty nest syndrome”.   Her absence will be so present in my life for a while, but like the Titanic sized kidney stone that’s currently surging through my virally sensitized abdomen, ‘this too shall pass’.

Honestly, I’m a little scared since that co-dependence on her  has been my happiness touchstone for most of my life.  It’s all I’ve known.  And change is frightening.   I know it’ll take a while and one helluva Quintonian battle.    So, in keeping in line with all the Jaws references in this very self-absorbed tome,  I’ll do it, but first…..

 “I think we’re gonna need a bigger boat.”


See?   Told ya so!


Oooof.  I’m burnin’ up.    I feel like ham and shit.   Who?  What?   Why, hello Mr. Disney Walt.   You’re certainly tall for a talking mouse.  Say, why is that fern in the corner eating little orange traffic cones?   Ooops, sorry Mr. Fern.  On second glance, I can now see you’re actually eating Cheetos.

And they’re all named Margaret.

Uh, ummm…uh…anyone know the number to 9-1-1?


Three Funerals And An Awakening


It has been a very auspicious four days. 

In that short amount of time, I said goodbye  to three relationships.

I woke up this morning and realized that I’d just metaphorically buried one life-long relationship;  one 38-year-attachment that has in many ways, plagued me all of my adult life and one peripheral “friendshipship” that was as dysfunctional as it was brief.  

THE CAST OF CHARACTERS:  One family member; one old boyfriend and one new friend, three entities that comprise the trifecta of relationships.  I’m nothing if not thorough.

What I’m about to convey defies Biblical tenet, but I don’t believe one can completely honor thy father and mother.   Sorry Moses, but if there is cruelty and abuse, you must severe ties.   I did that and am quite comfortable in the choice I made.   In many ways, this person had been dead to me for a number of years, but he did something a few days ago that forced me to throw the last clump of dirt on his grave.

There is now finality.

That was Burial #1.

And old boyfriend who was my first love 38 years ago came back in my life recently and remained there for 29 days.   There were a million reasons why we couldn’t completely reconnect and I won’t bore you with the principle reasons, but I can tell you that it became obvious to me at least, that we’d grown up differently.   I know I did.   Talking to him though answered gnawing questions that I’d always wanted to ask.  

I only loved a distant memory, but I allowed it to interfere in many relationships.   First loves are incredible.  They set the bar because you have nothing to guage them against.  After he and I broke up,  I set up every other relationship to fail.  I thought he hung the moon and the stars only to realize that I forced myself to believe that in order to cover up my fear of committment and failure.  

In some ways, I never wanted to reconnect because I knew the man he had become was inconsequential.  I never wanted to meet him.  I only wanted to remember the young man he once was.    When we started talking again a few weeks ago, this became etched in stone.  Plus, the woman I had become made me realize that we had grown apart on so many levels.  I came from a diferent world.

But, people change and so do the circumstances of love.  The time; the place…everything really has to align just right.   There is even perfect alignment when things end, too.    And this relationship finally ended.

Closure.   The neat, tying up of loose ends…. forever.  

Emotional ashes to emotional ashes.

Farewell, my love.

This was  Burial #2.

I met her a mere five months ago.   We became friends despite the fact that we had little in common and eight years separated us in age.   We defied our our differences and tried to be friends, but things became  toxic and problematic and I stayed in the friendship longer than I should have.   Nothing was conducive to remaining friends.   She isn’t a bad person; neither am I.  We were just no good together.

Platonic dust to platonic dust.

Burial #3.

These were three very vital goodbyes, each pivotal to forward progression.  My forward progression.   Even so, I also awoke this morning to a somber day.   Solemn in mood and feel, but necessary.  I have no regrets, but I’m not happy about what happened either.   As I said, endings hurt, but despite the natural and appropriate sadness I feel, there’s an underlying sense of rightness to what I’ve done.

All of this, while right, is also confusing.   I used to have an idea of where I was going in life.   I don’t right now.  I’ve not a clue actually, but for the first time in my life, I have a real sense of where I’ve been and there’s a solidity to my past that never existed before.    No lingering questions–the welcomed absence of the painful and inevitable  “What if?” query;  nothing left unresolved.    I experienced everything and saw the door both swing open and then slam shut.   I got to witness the alpha and the omega.

Mercifully, I have closure and it’s wonderfully emphatic in its permanence.

Thank God.