Friday, February 8, 2008
The Land of Counterpane
8.5" x 11"
Sick days, when I could stay at home from school, were good days, for the most part, when I was growing up.
Oh sure, the sore throat, runny eyes, sneezing, and fever were not all that fun, but it sure was better than risking going to school and being fussed at or teased, and also bored and wishing that I was at home.
My mother read to me, or I had plenty of comic books, movie magazines, paper dolls, my baby dolls, cats, and my imagination to fill the day. I could look outside my windows to the south and west, from my Jenny Lind bed, through the sheer, ruffled curtains, blowing in a gentle breeze, at the sunny day outside. I could see the swing that Daddy built from railroad ties, and the shed that he built in the back yard to house the pickup truck that he built from wrecked cars, and Poochie, our dog, wandering around. Not to mention time to sleep, listen to the radio, with Mama and neigbors trying to tempt me to eat with special treats they fixed. I wasn't too interested in eating, even when I was well, though.
Toot would bring cold milkshakes, tinted with food coloring, made in her special metal shaker, from across the street. And Pappy would make homemade chicken noodle soup to bring me. I didn't like it too much. I thought it was watery and greasey. I preferred Mama's homemade "poor man's" soup, with just a soup bone, diced onion, can of tomatoes, diced potatoes, and water, or Jello, or even the glasses of tomato juice with crumbled up crackers, salt and pepper, in it.
Mama had read me "The Land of Counterpane" by Robert Louis Stevenson, and told me to imagine places on my covers to play, if I was tired of reading, and getting fussy. (Of course, there was no tv with stories to watch and entertain us back then. And, not a lot to entertain children during the day on the radio.)
Outside, at the edge of town, there were small hills, where the trains would come and go. We could see their lights in the dark of night. The hills seemed to be just beyond the trees outside, but, actually, it was a little further. The trains would rumble through downtown, along Railroad Street, and enter or exit, depending on whether they were going north or south, around a curve and out of town on the north side. That was a bit out of range of our new house.
But, when I was very small, we lived in great-grandpa's house on Railroad Street, I ran to the windows (as soon as I was able to walk) to see every train that passed. My uncle once told me that trains went by every 15 minutes, night and day, as he was very interested in trains too. They didn't come that often when I was older. And, now, they come, but not as often and you can't keep a schedule by them anymore, either.
As I lay in bed, with my Kleenex and things beside me, I could imagine my own little town on the covers. There were corn fields and cotton fields on the hills that were supported by my legs. There were pastures in the flat lands, with little tanks of water, and farm houses with barns. Beyond my feet, there was the Brazos River, with a boat floating down it. (Although that river is not a place for boats!) The train tracks ran over my knees, through the small downtown. Workers lived behind the stores, toward my ankles. My neighborhood, with the school and football field, lay between my legs. I added a couple of stores nearby, which I thought would be nice to have closer to the house and the school. A good place to stop in for a Coke or some ice cream or candy, or new comic books or movie magazines.
Someday, I would change the little town-maybe even turn it into a city with lots of things to do and places to go. But, I would have to think about that after a story or a nap.
I hope you enjoyed my memories of being sick when I was younger. Sometimes, I sure wish that my mama would bring me some of her homemade soup or tomato juice and crackers, or Toot would bring me a cold milk shake in a pretty color, or even that Pappy would bring me some of her homemade chicken noodle soup. They are long gone, and my own food, with their recipes, is just not the same. And, with the flu or some other ailments, it's impossible to cook anyway. Canned tomato soup or a Pop Tart, are all I can manage, at the most.
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Hope that you miss the flu and those ailments this year!