Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sunday Drive-Radio

Sunday Drive
8.5" x 11"
A warm box of fresh, Shipley doughnuts in my lap. Musn't open, though, until we got home. And, even then, I wouldn't get one as this dozen was destined for Grandpa's house. We each got one from a sack to eat while we rode around on Sunday afternoon.
I sat in the front so that I could listen to the radio. "Would you like to swing on a star, carry moonbeams home in a jar". My favorite song at that time. I could just imagine being out on a lawn as the stars filled the skies, holding a large fruit jar of moonbeams and lightning bugs. I could even swing on a pointed, golden star, if I wanted to, or slide down a beam from the moon.
I hoped I would not be a monkey, in the song, or even a donkey or a pig, as they sang about different animals, who weren't all in the zoo.
Along with popular songs, the speaker on the radio provided us with laughs in "Henry Aldrich", "Blondie and Dagowood", "Amos 'n Andy", and dance music from a rooftop dancefloor. It kept me from wiggling and complaining.
I couldn't see where we were riding, over the dashboard. I could only make out sky and treetops. But, I knew about where we were, just from the treetops. My feet dangled off the seat, beside the heater under the dash. I was scrunched up between two large adults. In this drawing, I've shown Grandpa driving and Uncle Tom in the passenger seat.
I don't remember riding with Grandpa driving, much. Usually, Uncle Tom would drive the family in his wife's Chrysler. Or Daddy would drive while Irvin, his brother, was in the Army. Irvin usually drove after the war.
In the back seat, there would be Mama, Daddy, Grandma, "Pappy", (Uncle Tom's wife), and Daddy's sister, Thelma-unless she was out with friends or off somewhere teaching. On some occasions, we also had "Toot" and "Honey", although they often opted for a nap on Sunday afternoon, and then a short drive on their own. Sometimes, we would take two or even three cars, but those cars were large and could carry a lot of people. The grown-ups could even wear their hats inside.
Daddy had a Ford sedan, Irvin had a Buick and, later, a Chevy sedan, "Honey" had a big Nash sedan, and Uncle Tom had a big Chrysler. There were other cars in the family, but those were the ones that we seemed to use for family drives and trips.
After my sister was born, my mother could hold her, until she was big enough that we could both climb back and forth over the seats, pinching everyone who we happened to step on, or we would stand up and look out the back window as we drove. No such thing as seatbelts or car seats, then. We wouldn't have room for them in our sedans. Vehicles like station wagons and mini vans were not available to most people in those days, either. The family sedan or a pickup truck or delivery truck were all that we knew of, except for the convertables, sports cars, and wooden paneled station wagons that were in the movies.
After the whole family went to the Methodist church to Sunday School and church, we usually gathered in one home for a big Sunday dinner of red roast, red gravy, mashed potatoes, ambrosia, spiced peaches, or a pear half, English peas, sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top, rolls, cake or pie, coffee, for the grown ups, milk for the kids. People would sit around the table and talk for a while, as the hostess and a few helpers took care of the dishes. Kids would spread the funny papers and catalogues out on the floor to read. The grownups would adjourn to their homes for a short nap and a change of clothes from church clothes. Then we would gather for the Sunday afternoon drive.
During War time, ration coupons were saved so that people could have gas, tires, and even the big family dinners and parties. I can remember my great aunt doing things like boiling one egg and making one piece of toast, then cutting it in half for a meal for the two of them. He had to use his panel delivery truck for his grocery store, but the Nash stayed in the garage, unless they just had to go somewhere in it. Waxed paper was washed and reused until it fell apart. Socks were darned and clothes were patched and reworked. But, come Sunday, there would be a huge roast on the table, with all the trimmings.
The large farms in the Brazos River Bottom were home to many families and farm workers. The area was dependent on those crops of cotton, corn, and grain for income. When the crops were plentiful and prices were high, the economy for the whole area was good. So, our drives often were planned so that Grandpa could see how the crops were doing. He kept careful watch on those crops and ordered for his store accordingly.
We rode through the Bottom to Bryan and College Station. We had to ride around the campus of Texas A&M University so that Grandpa and Daddy could get a look at "the boys". A&M was an all male, military college then. And Grandpa and Daddy were big fans.
Daddy started to A&M and even played football a while, after high school. But he started to college in 1929, when the Great Depression hit. His plans of being a cotton classifier were dashed when the bottom fell out of the cotton market. He was crazy about A&M all his life, but he quit school and went to work.
Grandpa had been an outstanding baseball player, when he was young. He was offered a scholarship to play baseball at A&M, and they offered him all kinds of things to get him to go to college there. His father had other ideas however. He thought it would be best for Grandpa to go to business school and then have his own store in our hometown. Great-grandpa had his own grocery store, and he set up his son in business on that same block. The store was there for almost 100 years, although Grandpa lived to be 96. His son, then his daughter took over after Grandpa died. Great Grandpa also set up his daughter's husband, "Honey", in a grocery store next to his own, and two more sons worked for him, and one opened his own grocery store later, just down the street. Another son was a painter, one farmed, and two died.
During our rides to A&M, among the Corps dorms, I was embarrassed at being a girl among all those boys. I had heard tales of the things they did at that school. I thought I might see something that I shouldn't, so I hid on the floorboard of the car until we were safely down the street. It didn't help that one great aunt was always lecturing about what ladies should and should not do. (Ladies shouldn't expose their limbs, ladies must walk on the opposite side of the street if they should be walking downtown and encounter a place where beer was sold, ladies should only accept gentlemen callers, with their calling cards, at a certain time, with her parents' permission.) I thought that dorms in an all male school were no place for ladies. But no one else seemed to bother about that.
I felt safe again once we were down the street by the country club lake with its small dam. During drought years, especially, we looked at that little dam and hoped that water would be pouring over it. How exciting it was to see that water spilling over the concrete. That meant that we had had some rain. We had about a 7 year drought when we thought that dam would never have water over it again. That was a sad time as cows were dying or being sold, crops withered in the fields, except where there was irrigation, and people were having to come into town to get water in barrels from the fire department. I still get excited when we drive past that little dam, and I still look for water pouring over the dam. It's one of my favorite places.
A special treat, if I had been good, was to stop at the doughnut shop and pick up doughnuts to eat and a box to take home. Those are still the best doughnuts. In fact, I had one this morning for breakfast. Wonderful, soft, yeast, glazed doughnuts. Grandpa usually got a box to take home, and, sometimes, Daddy would buy one too. Uncle Tom seemed to prefer the doughnuts that "Pappy" made from scratch. Those were more like cake dougnuts, to me, fried in her deep fryer or the iron skillet.
And, then we took Highway 6 home. The radio kept us company. Most of the family were not big talkers. Grandma was deaf, so she didn't talk. My mother was quiet. "Pappy" talked some. "Toot" was the fun one and, if she was along, she kept things lively. Thelma would talk, at times, if she was with us. Grandpa might tell stories, but, usually he was pretty quiet, except in telling the driver where he wanted to ride that day, or something about the cows or business. "Honey" and Uncle Tom were very quiet. And I was a pesky little girl, when I talked.
"I don't have enough room! I'm getting smushed! I want to go home! I'm hungry! I want a drink! I can't see anything! I don't want to go there! I want to go to the picture show! I want to go swimming! I want to go play with ........" But, I stayed busy listening to the radio and dreaming. And dreading having any homework that I hadn't done at that late hour.
After the ride, we would feast on roast sandwiches on toast for supper at the home where we had dinner that morning. Those roasts lasted for several days. And, some of us could eat more than one sandwich. We couldn't get enough! By Tuesday, the roasts were usually turned into hash, with some of it added to soup ,later.
There were other rides, to other places, but this is one that the family took for many years. I can feel those warm dougnuts in my lap, still, hear the radio programs, feel the strain of not being able to see over the dashboard, and feel squashed between two big men in their heavy suits.
Most of the family is gone, now, but sometimes, my sister takes my aunt and me on a drive through the Bottom, and we still notice how the crops are doing. But, now, I am big enough to see where I am going, and we look for things to paint as we drive. Clouds, the play of light, perspective, colors, texture, shapes are part of what we notice now.
I hope that you have had a good Sunday, today, maybe with a family drive, or whatever you enjoy doing.
Notice the additions I have made to the sidebar of my blog. I have added quite a few links to blogs, other artists, and some new artists to my sections. These are some artists' blogs that I receive and enjoy. When you look at the blogs, you may also find the artist's websites. And, some that I have added, are links to the website.
I was pleasantly surprised when, after I contacted one artist, to learn that she had gone to my university and that I have at least two of her prints. I had not looked at the signatures, but just liked her work. She is another Texas artist, Kay Lamb Shannon.
If you are an artist over 60 years of age, check out "The Artist's" magazine for call for entries to artists over 60. Deadline for that is Oct. 1 so there isn't much time left. You can find more information on their blog on their website.
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