Saturday, June 1, 2013

Dad's Memories: My Afterthoughts

Related to Part I:

First Class postage was very stable for a long time. During Dad's childhood it was two cents. During my childhood it was three cents. Also during my childhood, the postman delivered twice a day, entirely on foot - no house to house truck driving.

Regarding the knickers boys wore to school: Dad once told me that some boys, during the first few school days of their lives, deposited something into their trousers, which would slide down until stopped by the bunching of the tucked in pants at the boots. Before long you could tell by the smell. Also, one girl created quite a puddle under her chair.

Strafford went on to become the black sheep of the family. At 12 or 13 he hustled little bottles of booze in the stands at sports events, and eventually became a bookie.

Saved!

When I got out of the Army Strafford offered me a job as a runner. but that was the wrong side of the law for me

Related to Part II:

Tacetta Chevrolet is still in business in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

I do not remember either of the Portsmouth restaurants he mentions, but I do remember the neighboring Olympia Theater. And the Civic Theater, the Colonial Theater, and the Arcadia. That last was the one most frequented by children. On a Saturday afternoon we would see:
  • A newsreel
  • A cartoon (occasionally two)
  • Previews of coming attractions
  • A serial (featuring Batman, Nyoka the Jungle Girl, Hopalong Cassidy, and others, always left in some kind of terrible trouble so you would have to come back next week).
  • *Two* full length movies
Dad mentions that he began his Civil Service in Portland, Maine, and that is the source of my very first memories. I was ten months old when we moved there.

The "Yard in Portsmouth" is a reference to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, which is actually in Kittery, Maine. Portsmouth is across the water in New Hampshire.

Regarding Dad's Army service "(boy did I hate that shit):" Dad was very short, about five foot one (and had flat feet, so don't believe the myths about flat feet being rejected). He was drafted and did his time at Fort Benning, Georgia. He particularly disliked the heat. Also, the clothing he was issued was too big for him. The worst consequence of this, I think, was during his basic training. When he had to enter a tent filled with gas (probably chlorine and sulphur), he had to take his mask off briefly before exiting. Unbeknownst to him, his too-large shirt filled up with the gas, and several minutes later, when the heat caused him to pull his shirt away from his body, he got a pretty good lungful of the gas. (You know, "lungful" is not a real word according to dictionary.com, but I've used it all my life and it's too late to stop now. Perhaps the dictionaries will catch up.) It was several days before he could smoke again.

During the Pop and Rena years, the family owned a dairy farm which had been in the family a very long time. I have, passed down to me by my father, an 1875 medal for an Ayrshire cow. There was, at some point, a stud bull named Linwood, and for a few years a standard greeting between male members of the family was "How's your Linwood?"

Related to Part III: I caught bloody Hell for my little mention of having heard the Barbee story "at least two hundred times." He denied ever telling it before, but really, I'd been hearing it since my childhood and I was in my late forties at the time of my comment. But the wheel is coming full circle, and I am sometimes caught repeating myself by my friends.

The 110 House Dad mentioned was in Amesbury, Massachusetts. "Was" is the key word here, as the last time I went by the site, perhaps 30 years ago, it had been replaced by a car wash. George Lay, mentioned by Dad, married the owner and was the regular host. We despised each other, but mostly got along for the sake of my dad.

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