3/16/2005

Yellow House Lore

The little yellow house had a lot of things happen there. I guess the bad stuff just sticks better in a memory than the everyday good stuff.

Things I learned in the yellow house:

Don't leave your Teddy Bear where your sister can get it.
Now think about it, folks. My Mom did laundry for 4 kids and 2 adults outside with an old ringer washer and a tin portable double sink. You may remember ringer washers. They smashed the clothes between two rollers to get the water out of them. They smashed anything else you fed them, too. You had to be careful or the clothes would wrap right around one roller and make a nasty, tangled mess. And fingers? Eowwee!

Mom would roll the washer and tubs outside, heat water on the stove for the whites and fill the sinks with plain cold water in one and cold water with vinegar in the other. She would get a load going and then do other chores while it agitated.

Sister Vee was just tall enough to throw Bear in one of the tin sinks. I saw her do it! I don't know what she thought she was doing, she was 3 or so. Bear didn't need a bath! I grabbed both my cheeks, shrieked in disbelief then ran and told Mom.

She huffed out and pulled Bear from the sink and then ran him through the ringers as I stood powerlessly watching. I didn't cry that time, it wouldn't have done any good. Bear was full of water, bear had to go through the wringer. Then she hung him by his ears on the clothes line. My poor bear! What a life he had.

Talking Monkeys are Bad.
I had some pretty neat uncles. Mom's bro joined the Navy. They sent him to Italy once. He came home for the Christmas holidays and brought all his little neices big, stuffed monkeys. They were brown with shaggy fur and big eyes and ears. The one he picked for Vee talked and rolled his eyes when you pulled the string.

The big day arrived and Uncle Jay brought his gifts over. We got them all unwrapped and were dancing around with them, they were almost as large as we were! Then he told Vee to let him see her monk. He held it right in front of her face and pulled the string on the back.

The monkey made Monkey noises and his eyes rolled round and round. Vee made siren noises and ran to hide in Mom's lap. You couldn't pry her out of there with a crow bar. The adults all laughed and tried to kid her out of it but she never touched that monkey again.

Always get your Mom if someone is hurt.
I was always Mom's helper, fetcher, holder, finder, watch her, kid. I was aware of how tired she could get after a day of chasing us around. I got tired just helping her!

One night, Vee fell out of the top bunk in our room. No real surprise, she was always flopping around in bed. She wasn't suppose to get the top bunk but we must have made a deal of some kind. So she fell from the top bunk, no big deal.

I heard her land and start to cry. I jumped out of bed and started shushing her, giving her hugs to comfort her. She settled pretty quickly but kept saying her head hurt and reaching toward the back of it.

Well, I was a big girl and I knew what to do for that! You put a cold cloth on it. So I took her hand and led her off to the bathroom. We got there and shut the door then I turned on the light. I could see what she was pointing at now, the back of her head was bloody. It was all in her hair and everything, ick!

But I was the biggest so I didn't say ick, I said "You're OK, we just need to wash you up a little. I found a cloth and held it under the water till it was cold enough to hurt my fingers then started sponging off the blood.

When I wrung it out in the sink and she saw the red water running down the drain her eyes got bigger and she asked me, "Am I hurt really BAD?"

By now I had found the cause of the problem. She had a button stuck in her head. I reached down with the cold rag in one hand and ran it gently through her hair and over the back of her head again to get it real cold. I told her, "No. Here, hold this and I'll show you."

I passed her the cloth then parted her hair away from the button. It was a metal shank button off a pair of our coveralls. There were red outlines of blood around the little anchor and rope design on it. I took my tiny fingers and put the little nails right at the edge of the button in three places, like a little claw, then popped it out.

"OW! Owie!" she complained, but not loudly. It didn't really hurt now that it was out. I know, because she said, "That feels better!"

"OK, give me the cloth," I ordered. She handed it back and I used soap this time to get all the blood out of her hair. I rinsed the cloth out in cold water till it was all clean and washed her face. We were both sleepy again by this time and she just leaned with her hands on the edge of the sink while I brushed out her hair, careful not to hit the sore spot.

Having successfully completed the routine for her, I led her back to bed. I made her take the lower bunk and climbed to the top one myself. She didn't give me any lip about it, just fell right back to sleep.

What a wonderful child I was! Trying not to bother the folks so they could rest and taking care of the little sis! Right? Nope.

Fact of life: Your best is not always good enough.

When we got up in the morning and were having our cereal I casually asked Mom to please check the back of Vee's head because she fell out of bed and got a button stuck in it last night. I didn't get to the fishing for compliments part where I would have said, I took care of her all by myself!

Mom ran from the sink over to Vee and there was a great big goose egg on the back of her head. Well, fancy that! I didn't know heads could get REAL bumps like in the roads. We all looked at her bump, fascinated.

But that bump set Mom right off. Level two alert, kid down, possiblly fatal damage! She hollered up the stairs for Dad to come down and watch us while she took Vee to the doctor and had gone out the door, with Vee in her arms, before he could rumble down the stairs.

I was pretty surprised. I thought I had fixed her up just fine. I couldn't reach the peroxide but I had done everything else the same as Mom could have. I didn't know why she went so ballistic. I found out though, you bet!

After they got back I heard Mom tell Dad Vee was going to be OK, (see, I KNEW I had done a good job!) and then she said, "Where's Val?" Of course he told her I was in playing with the little kids.

Mom came in and said, "Val, come with me!" She took my hand and led me off upstairs to my room. We went in and she shut the door behind her. I had that "Oh crap now what did I do she's going to kill me," feeling from the moment she had said my name. I was right.

Mom pulled me over to the bed. She sat down and took hold of my shoulders and looked me square in the eye from about 3 inches away from my nose and said in her very serious, teeth grinding voice, "NEVER EVER do that again! !!!! You ALWAYS come and get me if someone gets hurt!!!!! Vee could have had a concussion or died!"

I was tear-ing up on cue with a triple lip quiver running. What the hell was a concussion? How could she die from a button? You bet I didn't ask her anything!

She popped me up and laid me over her knees then gave me several firm whacks. I put all the bells and whistles of despair into this cry. It not only hurt, I still didn't know what I did that was wrong. I thought I was getting spanked for doing a good thing.

Now I'm older and I know concussions are bad and for a head injury you have to keep people awake and infection can (especially back then) make you sick enough to die. It doesn't make me feel any better but I forgave my Mom.

Always turn the light on when you go to the bathroom.
I have always been comfortable in the dark. I used to (and still do) get up and just wander over to do my business, take care of it and go back to bed.

One night I pulled down my undies, hoisted my pj and sat down on the chilly seat in the little bathroom to do number 2. I just got started when there was a sloshing sound beneath my buns. I heroically locked it down, hobbled over to the round knob and turned on the light. I leaned over and looked in the pot.

I was so freaked that lock down was nooo problem! I just ran right out of my panties, through the door and up the stairs. I knocked on the door to my parents room then went in and around to Mom's side. I got right beside her and started whispering, "Get up, help! There's a monster in the bathroom!" I just kept saying it, over and over, till she woke up.
"What?" she whispered back.

"There's a monster in the bathroom, he's in the potty!" I whispered and whimpered at the same time.

"Well just use our bathroom, Val!"

"I will, but Daddy has to go kill the monster! It might get out!" I wailed.

Mom looked perplexed, I was not a tale teller. I looked at her and said, "Honest, but I gotta go!"

I ran to their bathroom and did my business. Behind me I could hear Mom.

"AR. Ar? AR! Wake up. Val says there's a monster in the bathroom downstairs!"

I heard my Dad give one of those dinosaur groans and then I heard his feet hit the floor. I cleaned up and ran out where he was waiting for me in his robe. "Come on," he grumbled gruffly, "Show me your monster."

I really loved him right then. I took his hand and started bravely down the stairs. About 4 feet from the door to the bathroom I froze up. He looked down and me, exasperated. I pointed to the cube of light coming from the little room and told him,"It's in there, in the potty!" and let go of his hand.

The end of the story involves cruelty to a dumb animal. For details, email me. When Dad didn't come right back up, Mom came down. I was still standing there in my jammies. She walked past me to where she could hear Dad cussing up a big storm, stuck her head in the door and said, "Well, what is it Ar?" Then she shrieked and jumped clear back where I was! She had Shrieked RAT!

It was a big one, too. Dad one, rat zero, Val no spanking, Mom, trip to the hardware the next day.

I had never seen one and that one was a river rat. OK, it was a farm rat, but it was bigger than I want to deal with even now.

So live and learn, see you tomorrow.

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