Archive for Family

The Cake Incident

When my boys were about seven and nine years old there occurred what I’ve dubbed “The Cake Incident”. Their mom, Evelyn had an uncanny ability (I know none of you moms out there had/have this) to tune the boys out, and zero in on what she was watching on TV. I was not blessed with the ability to tune them out, so I heard every word they said. I didn’t mind. Quite often, they were better entertainment than what was on television.

cake incidentSo, there we were, having a quiet evening at home, Mom relaxing on the couch, watching TV; me in my recliner, and the boys playing on the living room floor. Billy, the oldest, leaned over and asked little brother, Wes, “Hey, Wes, you want some cake?”

Wes nodded enthusiastically, and Billy looked over at Mom and says, “Hey, Mom, can we have some cake?”

Nothing.

So, the boys went back to playing, and about five minutes later, Billy leaned over to Wes and said, “Wes! You still want some cake, right?”

Wes is really into the idea of cake by then, and his nod is even more enthusiastic. Wes was a boy of few words, mind you, but when he decided to speak, he could blow your mind. (Still can.)

Billy looks at his mom, and a little louder this time, says, “Hey, Mom! Can we have some cake?”

Nothing. Zonesville.

So, they returned to their toys, and after a few more minutes had passed, Billy leaned over to Wes and says, “Okay, Wes, I’m gonna ask her one more time, then we’ll start tearin’ stuff up.” Wes got a wide-eyed look on his face, glanced over at his mom, then shrugged and gave a curt nod of approval.

I said, “Evelyn, you better get the boys some cake.”

She said, “Huh, what?”

The boys got some cake.

 

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Wows and Holy Cows

pink bugBack in the late seventies, I worked as a logger in the foothills of Mt. Rainier. The work was hard, and as a result, I was in the best shape of my life.

For a couple of those years my “ride” was a 1963 VW Bug, with little flowers painted all over the inside. The other loggers would just shake their heads sadly when I’d come “roaring into the parking lot each morning.

Out of necessity, I learned how to change out an engine on that VW bug. I drove the little car hard, and when the engine went kaput, somebody told me it was easy to take the old engine out and put another one in.

Briefly, here’s the procedure. There are four bolts holding the engine in place—and of course other smaller nuts & screws had to be removed to disengage various smaller parts. Once the bolts and screws were removed, you stood inside the engine compartment at the rear of the car, twisted the engine, pulled it out and dropped it on the floor of the garage. Without the engine, the back of the car was light as a feather, so the next step was to lift the car and roll it over the old motor and set it back down. It was a bit tricky, in that you had to straddle the engine as you walked the car forward. Next, you’d slide the old motor out of the way, slide the new on into place, and reverse the procedure to install the new engine. Piece-a-cake!

So anyhow, one Saturday morning, I was preparing to install an engine in the VW for the second time, and when I mention this to my son Billy, who was eight at the time, his eyes got wide, and he said, “Cool!”, then ran out the front door.

Later–I’d dropped the old engine, and was standing behind the car preparing to lift it up and over it–I crouched, gripped the bumper with both hands, and then a small voice behind me whispered, “Now… watch this!”

I turned to find Billy, his little brother, Wes, and four neighborhood boys standing in a row, bent forward, hands on their knees, waiting for the show Billy had obviously promised. Not one to disappoint my boys, I turned back to the chore at hand and to a chorus of reverent ooos, ahs, wows, and holy cows, I lifted the car up and rolled it over the engine.

When I turned around, there were six very impressed little boys standing there, eyes popping and mouths agape. I took a step toward them, did a weightlifter pose and growled fiercely. They about killed each other trying to get out of the garage.

I often wonder what happened to my little pink VW bug; probably a pile of rust somewhere up near the base of Mt. Rainier.

 

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Lesson Learned

Wes was 8 and Billy was 10, and we were home alone. I’d turned the oven on and then continued watching television with them while it heated up. After fifteen or so minutes, Billy reminded me it was dinner time, and Wes, ever the parrot, said, “Yeah… dinner.”

I got up and headed for the kitchen, the boys hot on my heels, and when I opened the oven door, they were standing side-by-side a few feet away.

exploding ovenI failed to notice the oven hadn’t lit, and when I opened the door, the combination of propane, oxygen and pilot light created a minor explosion. Thankfully, it didn’t go, BOOM, and only made a muffled, “POOMF” sound. Looking back, we were lucky I didn’t blow the house up. The extent of the damage was my moustache was fabulously curly, and I had no eyebrows.

The boys had scurried into their room, which was adjacent to the kitchen, and were staring, wide-eyed, at me from the doorway. When I smiled, they figured the excitement was over, and came scampering back into the kitchen.

They looked in the empty oven, then looked up at me. Billy grinned and said, “Cool!”

Wes said, “Yeah… cool.”

Lesson: Never close the door and walk away from a gas oven until you know it’s lit.

 

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Strike Three!

door to doorIs there such a thing as a door-to-door salesman these days? Probably not, since we can buy virtually anything and everything on the Internet.

I had an encounter with one back when I was barely old enough to claim adult status, but already had two boys of my own. One afternoon, I answered a knock on the front door, and found a guy standing on the porch, the screen door between us, who might as well have been wearing a sign that read, “Salesman”, on his chest. Suit, tie, hat, sample case, and a big phony smile.

“Good afternoon, sir,” he said. Strike one. He was thirty-something, and I was twenty. Don’t call me sir.

“Do you have kids?” he asked, smiling.

I looked over his shoulder at the toys in the front yard and made no reply.

“Do you have any portraits of them?” Smile widening.

One of my eyebrows arched. Strike two. Don’t go there.

“Well, then I have a deal for…” I cut him off.

“Not interested.”

“But,” he said, “I guarantee you…”

“Not! Interested!”

The smile faltered, and he said, “Oh… so you don’t love your kids?” Strike three!

I kicked the screen door open, and to my amazement, he was halfway across the yard before I stepped onto the porch. The dude was fast! By the time I got to the curb, his tires were spitting gravel as he sped away.

My neighbor across the street came out his front door, watched the car slide around the corner, then looked at me and grinned. “I see you don’t love your kids either,” he said.

 

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The Good Times

just us kids 2We weren’t poor when I was a kid. We didn’t have a lot, but we always had enough. There were bad times and good times, but we were happy for the most part. I give Mom credit for that. Read the rest of this entry »

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Before the Internet

Ah, yes, there was life before the Internet, and most of us who were children or had children and/or grandchildren “back in the day” can relate to the following poem. I wrote it when my grandsons were about 2 and 4 years old, after watching them and my son play out the scene described. It’s written almost exactly as it happened, and it makes me smile.

boys with water hose

Photo borrowed from Google Images

 

 

A Soaking Event

 

Two little boys, dad with the hose

they watch him and scream with fright

They warn he better not squirt them

yet, secretly, hope he might

 

Dad knows the game and watches

from the corner of a knowing eye

As they dance and run and laugh

‘neath the summer sun on high

 

Just a flick of the wrist at first

 a drop of water hits a smiling face

They yell with delight, run in a circle

and then ‘round the house they race

 

Mom’s watching out the window

smiling, she watches her boys

Love in her eyes a dancing

as their laughter and glee she enjoys

 

’Round the house they come running

the hose man waiting this time

Douses them good, a soaking event

they scream and then turn on a dime

 

And so the game goes on for a while

‘til they can’t run another lap

Though exhausted they argue bravely

‘gainst the theory of afternoon nap

 

With much grumbling they lay on the mat

smiles wide, they replay the scenes

Visions of more games tomorrow

in their eyes, and then…. in their dreams

 

Copyright © 1998 C. Mashburn

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Family Reunion

boy and watermelonWe’re in north central Alabama this morning to attend a Henderson family reunion. My paternal grandmother was a Henderson, and I vaguely remember attending the reunion when I was six or seven years old. The main reason I remember it is we stopped somewhere on our way from Texas and bought a huge watermelon. Dad said it weighed fifty pounds, but he was always pulling my leg, so… who knows? He put it on the floor right in front of me—I loved watermelon—and I rode the rest of the way with my feet on the gigantic melon and a grin just as big on my skinny little face.

I wonder if folks will remember me if I walk in carrying a fifty pound watermelon? Well… the fact is, I’m not a skinny little boy anymore, and they might think I have a fifty pound watermelon under my shirt!

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