Posts Tagged 'childhood'

Children’s Day

At the tail end of all the festivities that make up Fantasy Fest, there’s an entire afternoon for Children in the Bayview Park. This was great old-school carnival fun, with games and prizes, rides and fried food.

The first thing we did was take a free ride on the Keys Electric Company’s cherry picker. We had to wear our safety harnesses, and we were as high as the trees. It’s amazing what you can pretend not to be afraid of when you want to keep someone else happy.

We bought a hotdog and then waited in line a good 20 minutes in the 85-degree heat for the carousel swings, but we were under the trees and luckily not on a fire-ant-hill.

At this point I was hungry, so I ate a hotdog, and he had a second. Then we went on the Tidal Wave. This is a back-and-forth, round-and-round sort of thing that Zach would get sick just looking at. I had my doubts about doing this right after eating hotdogs, but the little guy would not be swayed.

Turns out the kid inherited my rock solid stomach. We added “look at your feet! Look at the sky! Look behind you!” to further improve the ride.

Then he got to hit the hockey puck into the net. The dollar we spent supported the Junior Hockey League of Key West, and I wondered where they put an ice rink here…roller rink, maybe?

I somehow resisted the temptation of fresh, hot cotton candy, and I kind of wish I hadn’t, because I don’t know when I will get it again.

The next day we walked to the beach and found a box of giveaway books on the curb. He took this one to read under the palms. We put it back in the box on the way home.

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Barbies and Bikinis

Growing up, I had all kinds of dolls: a plastic baby crocheted into her own afghan, a hot water bottle wrapped in a washcloth; a drinking and peeing baby; a “lifelike,” ceramic-headed infant with a rounded fabric body and bum weighted with five pounds of little beads; a black-yarn-haired cotton doll the size of a 5 year old that my mom made for me (including her lavender pioneer dress and handbag and white bloomers).

However….

I did not have Barbies. My mother was opposed to the impossible figure they would inspire me to attain, which is fair, because I am a long-waisted 5’3″, which means I have Very short legs. I can wear capris as long pants.

My mom was also opposed to bikinis, because young girls shouldn’t be sexualized or show too much skin. I also didn’t get to wear much  black, because kids should wear lots of happy colors.

Once, when I was nine, my mother’s sister (Aunt Delores) came to town from 2500 miles away. She took me to a bunch of yard sales on Saturday morning and bought me several Barbies with frazzled hair and arthritic knees. She laughed and laughed when she found and bought for me a tall, busty German doll with erect nipples. That one was a non-standard-size doll of impossible figure, so she never got any clothes.

I felt terribly scandalous, then, when I used my sister’s eyeliner to paint one of those Barbies with a black bikini. Twenty-six years later I still remember my mortification when my mom found it under my bed. I thought she’d be furious, so I swore up and down that I hadn’t painted it, that it had come that way.

I wonder if I was a better liar then than I am now? Perhaps when you’re a parent, you just get used to finding strange things in your kids’ rooms. Zach told me he once spent weeks collecting his urine in empty soda pop bottles in his dresser drawer, to “see what would happen.” I’m sure his mom had an absolute fit about it.

Thanks Jane Brocket for reminding me about dolls and pretend play. Also, I had a fun time reminiscing about the toys of the 80’s at this website.

Stirrings-Violet bouquet

No. 5 in my collaboration with Jen at Painted Fish Studio, looking for signs of spring.

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When I was about 10, my mom, dad, and I lived with an elderly lady named Marilla. My mother was her caretaker and my dad kept up her property. She had such a tranquil home. I still remember the way the light filtered in through the sheer curtains and lingered on the velvety drapes. In my memory, everything is a shade of gray mossy green or slatey light blue. When we moved in, I was thrilled that my bedroom came with a little alcove and a built in vanity mirror and dresser, just like in old movies! And two pianos, which inspired me to beg and beg for lessons.

Marilla had had a daughter who had died young, I think perhaps she was a hemophiliac and had died in her teens. It was very sad, and she never had other children. Her dear nephew cared for her property and hired my family to live in and care for her.

She adored our dog Missy, a black cocker spaniel, and the feeling was mutual. Missy would rest her soft head on Marilla’s knee, and the gentle lady would stroke those long ears and croon “Poor Mitzy, she has lost her bone. Has Mitzy lost her bone? Yes she has. I shall find your bone you pretty girl.” Marilla was always kind to me, even though I was so impatient and half the time couldn’t restrain myself and had to correct how she said the dog’s name, as if Missy cared!

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Along a long, narrow cement pathway that ran between our house and the one next door, where my sister lived with her little children, grew patches of several different varieties of violets in the cool shade. Marilla produced tiny embossed green glass bottles for me to fill with violet bouquets. Violets are one of my favorite flowers and will always remind me of a very happy time of my childhood.

Those houses are no longer standing: they were long since torn down to make way for a strip mall, but the smell is in my nose, and the height of the trees, and the biggest icicle in the world that grew from the second story roof to the ground and was bigger around than my arm.


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