Friday, July 27, 2012

Childhood Memories

*All Photography and art provided by Google Images,
titling and composites by F.B. Noodleman

A Short Story by Felicity Blaze Noodleman

My name is Felicity Blaze Noodleman and I’m eight years old.  This is the last day of school before summer vacation and it’s time to play and have as much fun as I can.  My Report Card was good; an improvement over the last one for which I’d received a stern lecture from Mom and Dad.  I’m just so happy as I run home and away from the school where I attend; the same school where my Dad attended when he was a boy.  Some of the teachers know me because they remember him.  “Aren’t you Andrew Noodleman’s daughter” they ask me?  I reply “yes Mrs. Black” as we’re both a little startled while looking at each other!

A painting by the great American artist Norman Rockwell entitled "Surprise". 
It graced the cover of the Saturday Evening "Post" in 1956.  This was exactly
how my school room looked!

Very old photograph of my school, Zimmerman Public Elementary & Jr. High
shortly after it's completion in 1923.  My Dad, Uncle and Aunt attended school
here along with my two cousins and my two sisters.  (They should have called it
the Noodleman school!) 

I’m home now.  Mom has seen my Report Card and approves but says next year I’m to try even harder.  “Can I go out to play now” I ask, and go to change quickly as I can into my jeans, sweat shirt and tennis shoes.  Out the door I go with an “I’m going to play kick ball Mom”!

All the children begin to drift out to the street in front of my house where we all play.  We talk about how we did in school and what happened with our parents.  Soon we have enough kids to play and we choose our teams, decide who will pitch and the positions we’re going to play.  Crunched up tin cans make up our bases and oh yea, “who’s got the ball”?  “I do” Butch says and it’s a good one too.  Brand new!  The game is on!  Just enough time before dinner and going in for the night to have a really fun time.

Children running off to play their summer games.  It fells so familiar to me!

The Next morning is very nice; it’s just so relaxed compared to the usual rush of getting ready for school.  Everyone seems to be enjoying the slower pace and then disaster strikes!  Mom begins to lay out her summer plans for us.  I listen with a somewhat pouting feeling and try to be as responsive to her outline of chores and rules for the summer, all the time thinking about my plans for playing.  “Can I do this, this and that” I ask and “Will there be that, that and this”?  She tells me, “We’ll see and if you’re good”.  I’m so relieved when she has finished her agenda, but I know there’s plenty more where that came from.  At least I know how to watch my “P’s and Q’s”.

Every day falls into its routine.  I get up; have breakfast while watching some TV; the morning news, “Captain Kangaroo” or some cartoons.   Mom tells me what has to be done for the day in addition to my normal chores.  I talk about what I’d like to do so I can get her approval.  I hurry to get my work finished quickly as possible and then BAM – I’m out the back door!  “I’m going over to Bonnie’s house now Mom” and run fast as I can.  If I don’t hear anything then I know its O.K.  Bonnie is my best friend!  We’re both the same age and both like the same things.  “Hop Scotch”, “Jump Rope”, “Jacks”, Roller Skating;  just running and laughing about whatever comes into our  minds.  Soon we’re joined by other friends and before we know it we’re playing  “Hide & Seek”, “Duck, Duck, Goose”, “Tag” and we’ve just learned a new game called “Statues”.

In case you haven’t guessed it yet I’m what they call a “Tom Boy”.  I’m just myself.  I’m a girl just not grown up yet!  The one thing I love most of all is climbing trees.  My mom has been telling me lately, “Felicity you need to spend more time taking care of your self – you’re becoming a young lady now”.  I don’t know what she’s talking about but I try to stay cleaner when I’m out doors. 

Last night we had the biggest thunderstorm ever!  It rained all night and the thunder was so loud that it made the house shake.  By morning the sun had come out and everything was just fine.  I go outside to play as usual since my daily chores are all finished for the morning.  It’s quiet out today and I haven’t found anybody to play with and before I know it I’m underneath one of my favorite trees.

This looks very much like my favorite tree!

I love trees.  I love everything about them.  I spend time drawing them.  I love the shade they make when it’s hot.  I love all the different colors of the leaves of autumn become and I love all the different birds and animals in them.  I decide now is a good time to climb this tree and make my attempt to jump up to grab the first branch but something is wrong.  I usually can just make it but today is different.  Is it possible the tree has grown?  Grown more than me?  I’m really puzzled. 

I decide to shimmy up the trunk to the first branch and make my entrance into the lush green foliage.  Ah; I made it!  It smells so good up here.  I explore all around.  Higher I go up to the tippy top of the tree where the wind can blow me back and forth until I decide I’ve been there long enough.  I love to stay there for a while looking all around.  Things on the ground look smaller.  I can see Mom on the front porch as she is shaking some rugs.  Boy she sure looks smaller!  I look up at the clouds but they don’t look any closer.  Wonder why?  I’ve been here long enough now I have to climb back down the tree and I have to be really careful.  Coming down a tree is much harder that climbing up but I finally make it all the way down and jump to the ground.  It’s kind of a relief to have my feet on the ground again and I have a sense of accomplishment.  

 It is only now that I discover that I am covered all over with black grimy dirt!  This kind of dirt won’t just brush off – It’s all ground in deeply to my clothes.  I’m really going to get it now.  The tree wasn’t dried out from the rain last night and I don’t know what to do about it.  The tree has left its grime all over me.  I go home knowing I have to get cleaned up. 

As soon as I get in the back door to our kitchen I see Mom working at the sink.  “Back so soon Felicity”?  She turns around and the lecture begins.  “Felicity” she screams like never before, “what have you been doing”?  “You go get cleaned up this instant and put those dirty clothes in the bath tub to soak.”  “Yes mom”, I timidly reply and get another set of clothes.   I close myself in the bathroom quickly as I can to clean up and change.  “You are not to go outside for the rest of the day” Mom tells me when I emerge with my fresh change of clothing.  I try to keep as quiet about everything as I can.  This is truly depressing.  In the house for the rest of the day.  I can’t believe it.

My Dad works the night shift at one of the many automobile plants here in my hometown Flint MI.  I don’t get to see enough of him because he sleeps until one or two in the afternoon.  He works a lot of over time too.  We have to be very quiet in the morning.  Waking him up is not a very pleasant experience, and well, he just doesn’t look himself until he’s shaved, combed his hair and had his coffee.  He has pet names for all of us.  I’m his “Squirrely Girly” or just “Squirrel” because he knows I’m very independent and run loose around the neighborhood.  My younger sisters and the “Raccoons” because they are very close in age and get into their kind of mischief around the house.  And finally my Mom; she is his “Honey Bunny” or just “Honey”.

Exterior view of the Fisher Body Grand Blanc, MI plant where my
Dad worked.  In 2011 they hold a vintage car celebration.

Interior view of the Fisher Body plant where Dad worked as it looked in 1942
in it's original capacity as the "Grand Blanc Arsenal" building Sherman,
Pershing and Patton military tanks for WWII.  The Plant was converted to the
Fisher Body metal fabricating plant for General Motors in 1948 and
today server as the corporation wide Welding & Tool Center for GM.

It is at this point that I should introduce my sisters to you.  The “Raccoons”.  They are both about the same age and younger than me.  They both keep to themselves and we don’t interact too much.  We don’t like the same things at all.  They like playing with their dolls and live in their own world. 

Dolls aren’t very much fun for me.  I had to help mom with both of my sisters when they were born, so I know all about babies.  “My Baby has wet herself” Sharon tells us with a scolding tone in her voice.  “You’re lucky”, I tell her.  “Wait until you see how real babies are”.  “Like what” she wants to know.  Suddenly I remember when the Raccoons were both sick at the same time and Mom wasn’t feeling that well herself and it was all too much for me to verbalize.  When I was helping mom with the “Raccoons” she would say to me “you were just like this when you were a Baby Felicity”.  “It’s just different” I say and decide to lay down on my bed to rest until lunch.  “How do you know so much about Babies”, Sandra asks?  “Oh, I just know – I’m looking at two right now”.  Their eyes get really big; they look at each other and go about their play.

I’m starting to feel really relaxed now as I close my eyes.  I’ve had a very full morning.  Mom walks in the room and I hear her say, “you girls need to clean this room up, and I mean right now”.  I spring up and say “my part of the room in cleaned up”.  “Help your sisters Felicity, Grandmother is coming over for lunch and I don’t want her to find a mess.”  Now this is something new.  I usually get into trouble if I tell Sharon and Sandra anything or disturb them.  That’s Mom and Dad’s job.  It is true though.  The Raccoons just can’t do anything for themselves and they are both a mess. 

First I tell them how to straighten their bunk beds nice and smooth.  How to set their dolls nicely on their bed.  Then we have to get all those clothes picked up.  “Dirty clothes in the hamper and the others are to be folded and put in the dresses or hung in the closet.  There!  Everything is looking much better now than it has looked in a while.  Now Mom wants us to straighten the rest of the house and set the table for lunch.  Just as we get the dishes and silverware grandmother arrives and the whole mood of the house changes.  “And how are my girls today” she asks.   We all embrace her with hugs, kisses and smiles.

We begin talking about all kinds of things.  It’s always fun when Grandmother Visits, even Mom seems to be more cheerful.  Our lunch is tuna sandwiches with potato chips.  The Raccoons complain and want peanut butter which Mom is more than happy to give them.  Mom and Grandmother drink Ice Tea and we get cherry Kool-Aid. 

Grandmother begins talking about some sales she has seen and says “you’re going to be needing some new school clothes soon Felicity”.  “Why don’t we go shopping this afternoon”?  “You girls could use some new clothes too”, speaking to the Raccoons,” and we’ll just have a nice time together”.  By the time we’ve finished eating lunch the raccoons have peanut butter and Kool-Aid all over their mouths, as usual and Grandmother thinks it’s funny as she teases them.  We clean up and do the dishes, mom gets ready to go out and before we know it we’re in Grandmothers car and well, I’m just glad to be out of the house again.   I’ve been rescued from my punishment!  This afternoon is a much appreciated treat from both my Grandparents and Mom is grateful for the help financially.   We girls don’t realize the strain evolved with raising three children.  Grand Mother surprises us at the store when she buys each of us girls our very own "Hula-Hoop".  It's just the greatest new toy that everyone is talking about.  Grand Mothers can be so much fun!

Our family shopping together.

By the next day I’ve remembered that I’m old enough to go to the library.  I know this is a good idea because I can’t get dirty and I can practice reading over the summer vacation.  I walk to school and go inside.  It’s so strange and quiet.  All the desks have been moved into the hall and I walk by one of the rooms to see what’s going on.  The Janitors are refinishing the wood floors!  Wow.  I enter the Library and ask the librarian for some books. 

“Do you have a library card”?  “No mam” I say.  “Our teacher said we could check out books over the summer and my dad went to school here and I’m sure he had one” I tell the woman.  She smiles and tells me that she was not working at the school when my dad was a student there.  Fill out this form and sign this card and then you are welcome to check out which ever books you would like – but only two.  I ask for the reading book from our school class since I know it and think this would be a good book for me.   The Librarian shows me another book called “The Scarlet Letter”.  “Felicity, I think you can read this book and I’m sure you’ll be studying it soon in school.”  “O.K.” I reply and go back home with two books and my very own library card.

The weather is getting really hot now and I stay inside most of the day now until it’s cooler in the late afternoon and evening.  I read and help Mom around the house.  She likes to watch the Soap Opera’s on TV as she goes about her work and I watch too.   Mom is beginning to take me into the kitchen more with her and teaching me about cooking.  I really don’t mind because it’s all new to me and besides I can snitch a bite here and there, whereas before I was strictly forbidden to be in the kitchen when she was cooking.   Now she tells me “Felicity this” and “Felicity that” as she explains most of what she’s doing.   This “Felicity” direct manner of speaking which Mom has suddenly adopted with me is starting to shake me up a little bit!

Very similar to the WWII vintage era steam locomotive which
passed by our street.

One day I’m inside the house helping with the house work and I feel the whole house start to shake.  I hear the biggest noise ever and run outside to see what’s happening.  I don’t know where all this noise is coming from!  Then suddenly I see a WWII vintage era Steam Locomotive passing by on the rail road at the end of our street!  I barely catch a look at it then it’s gone.  WOW!  I’ve never seen one of these before because diesel locomotives usually run on this line and it has brightened my whole day.  I tell my dad about it and his eyes light up.  “Why that’s the kind of train they had when I was a boy.”

Watching our train is one of my favorite past times.  It runs by at least two times a day and I watch it whenever I can.  It always seems to fascinate me.  It’s the bigness of the train I guess with all the cars it’s pulling.  One day I’m watching the train and counting all the cars and reading the names on the side of them to see where they are from.   Reading each one as it goes by when Ronald comes running up from behind me and asks “what’cha doing Felicity”?  “I’m counting the Train cars”.  “How many” he wants to know”.  “26” I tell him, and now I’ve lost my count.  Now we both begin calling out the names on the cars and talking about where they’re from.  Soon the train has passed and we turn around to walk home.

Just as Ronald and I have begun walking we both notice little red speckles on the ground beneath us.  “What are those”?  Soon we’re both on our hands and knees and what do you know, we’ve discovered little baby wild strawberries!  We start picking and eating them.  They are really good!  Soon we’re joined by other neighborhood children and we are all a buzz with the new discovery.

"Fragaria vesca"  - The wild strawberry!

Before I go in our house I see my knees are all green and my hands are stained red from the berries.  I’m not going to get in trouble for this and I know just what to do about it!  Over to the side of the house, get the garden hose, kick off my shoes and wash it all off.  Boy that was a close one, I think to myself.  When I get inside I tell mom about it and she doesn’t believe me at all.  That’s because she’s never seen a wild little red strawberry!

By now summer is almost over.  We still play all of our games but know school will be starting soon.  The Raccoons have started to join us more often now.  “Felicity are those your sisters”?  “Yes; that’s Sharon and she’s Sandra.”  They just used to sit on the curb and watch us play but now are beginning to join in.  Sissy is a new older girl who has moved into the neighborhood.  She knows some new games and we’re having a lot of fun.  She’s taught us a new game tonight called “Flashlight Tag”.

The next morning is the first day of school; we all get dressed in out new clothes, take our new school supplies and walk to the elementary school building four blocks from our house.  The teacher wants us all to write a short theme about our summer vacation and read it before the class.  As my turn comes I walk to the front of the class and read, “I’m Felicity Blaze Noodleman and I’m nine years old”!

Zimmerman public Elementary & Jr. High School as I remember it
in the mid 1950's.  This is where I became a young woman!

No comments:

Post a Comment