My summer reads (re-readings actually) are stirring many memories of my childhood.
The Help, because of the southern setting in the 1960's.
And Ramona Quimby while not a necessarily a southern setting is about a little girl growing up in the 60's. (And, my current haircut reminds me of Ramona's. I should never have picked up the scissors. Wah!)
Summer, most especially, is the backdrop for most of my memories. Memories...some good...well, I choose to remember "mostly" the good ones because that's the way I am.
I was born in July 1959. (That would make me what? About 29 now? ) 😉 So, most of my childhood memories span the 1960's.
I've lived in, or right outside of, the same little Alabama college town all my life. My daddy worked at the cotton mill just up the street from our mill village home. Mama was a stay-at-home mom most of my life, except for the five years she worked in housekeeping at the nearby college.
My aunt, uncle and two boy cousins lived next door to us and my maternal grandparents lived just four houses up the street.
Daddy got an hour lunch break at the mill and was able to come home for lunch since we lived only two minutes away from his job. Mama cooked a 12:00 mid-day meal which we called dinner. We would have supper some time after Daddy got off work at 4:00 in the afternoon. Dinner leftovers were usually put in the cooled oven to await suppertime. And no, as far as I know, none of us ever got food poisoning from food left out of the fridge all afternoon.
In my memory I can still smell the pintos, fried okra and biscuits cooking. And when I smelled boiling tea, I knew Daddy would soon be home for dinner and for our own special game of hide-and-seek. It usually went something like this:
I would find the "perfect" hiding place. A place Daddy would never think to look in. But he always found me immediately. "Daddy, how did you find me so quick?" I'd ask, amazed. "I just smelled you," he always answered with a smile.Not until I was grown did Mama crush my image of my daddy's extraordinary sense of smell by telling me she usually told him where I was hiding so that we could get on with dinner.
Electric Fans, Air Conditioners, and a New Bedroom
As an adult, something as simple as switching on an electric fan in the summer brings back those long ago memories. I think I was probably ten years old or older before we got our first window air conditioner. Until then, and even after that life-changing event, a fan was still a necessity that we could not have lived without.
No matter how hot and humid the day, Mama wouldn't turn on the ac while Daddy was at work because Daddy didn't get to work in an air conditioned space. He worked on the mill's shipping/receiving yard. But on those hot, smothery afternoons, you bet Daddy would turn on the ac as soon as he walked in the door. I don't know for a fact, but I think he would have appreciated the house already being cool when he got home.
Back to the electric fans: The ac was only used to cool the main living areas of our small house; the living room, kitchen, and the bathroom (if the door wasn't closed). And that electricity hog ac was turned off at night when we went to bed anyway, meaning sweltering bedrooms all the time. (We didn't heat our bedrooms in the winter either, but that's another batch of stories.)
I shared a bedroom with my older sister and the electric fan; just the three of us. When I was very young, my sister and I shared a double bed and I slept next to the wall, where I didn't feel a whole lot of air coming from the box fan sitting way down on the floor. I would wake up all sweaty, wrapped like a hotdog in my sister's cast-off bed covers, with my face smushed up against the wall. And it wasn't just your normal smooth sheetrocked wall. No, evidently the 1960's style for walls was a roughed-up finish of some sort. I'm guessing it was supposed to look like a textured plaster wall. I sported many skinned knees and elbows for sleeping too close to, and being too friendly with that pale pink wall.
Then, a dream-come-true happened! Daddy started making plans to build another room on to our four-room house. This room was to be a brand-new bedroom for my sister and me. And unlike our old bedroom, everyone wouldn't have to walk through it to get into the rest of the house. And Daddy was even building us two closets! One for me - all mine and only mine - and one for my much-more-grown-up-than-me sister. (She's eight years older than me.)
It seems the dreaming stage for this new room lasted for years. I'm sure that's just because I'm looking back through a child's eyes. But that room finally became a reality and Daddy did it all by himself. My Daddy was the smartest, strongest, bravest man (in my eyes) that ever lived.
This beautiful room had a shiny hardwood floor that Daddy sealed with the same type of sealant used on the cotton mill's wood floors. Nothing would scratch that light amber colored floor. And the sealant made the floor so shiny, I was sure anyone could see under my skirt just like an image in a mirror. The walls of the new room were covered with a medium-colored paneling (the newest style). No more pink walls for us. And then....
Moving Day! I'm sorry to say that I don't really remember the actual moving. I don't really remember how old I was - pretty young I suspect. But, I do know we moved that electric box fan in with us. And at some point, my sister and I got separate beds because this room was large enough for two! In the summer months (and also spring and fall), that fan's breeze was aimed between our beds each night. I remember dangling my head, and as many limbs as I could, over the side of my bed, trying to catch a cooling touch of the fan's breath. I would dread getting up in the mornings because as soon as I got out from under that fan, into the hot, humid air, I would feel like I was melting.
And in front of that fan was the best (and coolest) place to dry my just-shampooed hair. But that's a tale for another day...