Summer of 1960 When I Was 7.... chapter 11... Daddy's Home
Most days that hot summer were the same. We would play outside and come in only to eat. I would sit at the kitchen table with a big glass of sweet tea and listen to Irene sing about gathering at the river. She would get out a big pan and wash some dishes or iron some clothes. She’d have cornbread or something in the oven and the kitchen would feel about a zillion degrees. I would finish my tea, then I would sit on the front porch and just sing and swing.
When Daddy was home we would have fried chicken and potatoes. Other days we’d have a lot of potato and egg salad or Brunswick stew which was a blend of hamburger, tomatoes and whatever else was in the refrigerator. One time Momma burned the stew and she said it just tasted like it was cooked over a campfire so we called it campfire stew as we ate it all week. Breakfast during the week was cold cereal, usually Sugar Frosted Flakes with powdered milk, but on weekends we’d have eggs, bacon, grits, potatoes, or pancakes. To make toast, Momma would put sweet butter on the bread and then brown it in the iron skillet. But my most favorite was waffles with a pudding-like, warm, chocolate gravy that Momma said was an old family recipe. Mmmmm……..
Our father was gone for several weeks at a time, but we always enjoyed when he came home for the weekend. He was only able to when he could get a ride and if he had found some odd jobs to get some extra money. It was always special when he came home and we never knew when that would be. He would bang through front door, wave bye to his ride at the same time balance several grocery sacks. All three of us girls would squeal with delight and throw ourselves on him.
“Whoa, down there. Let’s get this grub to the kitchen.”
Momma came to help, taking two sacks. She started rummaging through them as best she could with her nose and chin.
“Oh Tommy, you bought real milk. You know I won’t be able to get them to drink the
Carnation powder next week.” she fussed at him but was smiling the whole time. None of us was the listening anyway. We were tumbling on the floor with Daddy in a tight pile. That night we ate a roasted chicken that he brought. He tore off a piece of the chicken and wrapped it in a piece of soft, white Wonder Bread. Daddy said we could use our hands so Momma wouldn’t have to wash any dishes that night. We ate in the living room while we watched Bonanza, Sea Hunt, Gunsmoke, and Lassie.
“Daddy….” I started but then the words clumped together in my throat in a big lump. I missed him so much.
“What’s the matter, honey?” he asked. I broke my bread in two, slumped down in the chair and picked at a bite of chicken. He stroked my hair and thumbed under my chin. I wanted to tell him how I was feeling but didn’t know how to begin so I just let it be.
After the television was off and we were all bathed and had our nightgowns on, Momma turned off the light, whispered good night all the while humming softly cause Daddy was home. I stared at the ceiling where the patterns from the trees outside the window made different shapes. While the breeze on my skin started cooling my damp skin, my parents’ hushed voices lulled me to sleep as they talked into the night.
The next morning I shook Moonrose awake.
“Let’s go!” I murmured. We both sprinted into my parent’s room. Patty was already in bed with Momma and Daddy. Moonrose and I jumped in. Daddy tousled my head.
“Your hair is getting long.”
“What’d ya bring us?” I asked excitedly.
“Marilyn,” Momma admonished.
“I brought a parachute.”
“A real one?” asked Moonrose.
“Yep. It’s in that bag over yonder.” I ran over and felt the silky fabric. It was a beautiful creamy yellow color. The yellow silk slipped from my hands and I carefully picked it up off the floor. I brought it to my nose and inhaled deeply as if to see the adventures and mystery the fabric contained.
“They were going to throw it away. You can’t use a ripped parachute to jump out of an airplane! I thought your Momma could make you girls some very pretty dresses.” He turned to Momma as she was laying beside him and she smiled.
“There’s something else in a bag in the kitchen.” I ran into the kitchen already knowing I would find some new bananas and a big bag of M&Ms. We spent Sunday morning in their bed eating bananas and M&M’s. Daddy tickled us until we couldn’t breathe and Momma giggled.to be continued....