I remember so many little things you did for me when I was young. So very young, in some cases, that I really don’t know how old I was at the time…
You taught me how to make a whistle from a short, straight twig. Somehow you loosened the bark from the wood, keeping it in one piece so it could slide over the wood. And you cut a notch in the side, near one end. And then enlarged the slice in the wood underneath. Somehow it all worked together and made a whistle. That’s how I remember it. I’ll have to get a sharp little knife and try that someday to see if I’m right.
You used to tell me bedtime stories about Pete the Cowboy. Remember? I can’t recall the details of any of the stories, but I was nuts about cowboys and horses and the West, so I’m sure all the stories were fascinating. Pete the Cowboy: he was something special between us. I’m sure none of my siblings was ever introduced to Pete. None of them liked cowboys the way I did. I wonder if daddies still tell their kids made-up bedtime stories… not stories from books or about well known fictional characters, but original, improvised-on-the-spot stories with recurring characters. Are daddies still that creative? Do they still take the time to do that?Maybe I should write a book about all this and call it Pete the Cowboy. I was such a tomboy and so nuts about horses, it might be apropos.
Have you ever stopped to think that it might sound a bit odd to some people that all of us kids call you “Daddy”? It’s a Southern thing, I know that now, but I don’t know how we fell into it. We’re more Southwestern than Southern. But we all still call you Daddy. And we’re all grown now. Heck, we’re more than grown, we’re aging! We’re senior citizens, or close to it (apologies to my younger siblings), but you’ll always be Daddy to us.
I miss you, Daddy. You’ve been gone for three and a half years now, and still I cry when I think of you… just like I am now. I miss you so much, Daddy. Forgive me when I pursue frivolous activities, just to occupy my mind. I’m wasting time, but it helps avoid the tears.
Do you remember that little game I loved so much, “Kentucky Derby”? The one with the spinner and the little horses that moved along slots in the bottom of the box. Man O’ War, Citation, Whirlaway, Seabiscuit, and… umm… Gallant Fox, I think. I first learned those names from that game. I’d forgotten it for the longest time, but just the other day after I thought of it I looked for it on Ebay and sure enough, there it was. Several versions of it, actually, with different horses in each. I used to pull the horses out of the box and “free” them to run on the floor, or across the hills and valleys of my blanket when I was in bed. I remember being in the hospital once, and having that game with me, and running the horses around on crinkly white sheets. Goodness knows how many of those games I bought and wore out before I finally outgrew them.
And my Roy Rogers mug. Ah yes, it’s been decades since I thought about it. A plastic mug molded in the shape of Roy Rogers’ head. Some special order item, no doubt. Cereal boxtops or something. Ha. I’d forgotten that. Collect x number of boxtops from a certain brand and mail them in to get goodies. Collectors’ items, even. Well, they weren’t that then, but now… probably. I’ll have to check Ebay for that mug. You and Mom must have gotten stuck with an awful lot of uneaten cereal in those days.
Poor Daddy. You wanted a beautiful little blue-eyed blonde girl and you got me. Other little girls played with dolls; I played with toy cowboys and Indians and horses. Toy soldiers, too. Other little girls asked for doll houses and doll clothes and whatever little girls ask for. I asked for (and got) an archery set, a rifle, a horse. Instead of ruffles and bows and patent leather, I wanted denim and fringed leather jackets and cowboy boots.
(Do you remember how upset I was when they made the rule that I had to wear a dress to school?! I think it was second grade. After jeans in first grade, they said all girls had to wear skirts in second grade. That ranked as one of the biggest disasters in my life up till then.)
I played with Krazy Ikes, the red, yellow, and blue construction thingys that snapped together in a variety of ways to make strange little people and animals. I looked those up on Ebay too, just to see if they really did exist, and sure enough, they did.
I was big on Lincoln Logs too, needless to say. They went so well with all my cowboys and Indians. And in those days they were all wood, too. Tinker Toys were all wood then, unlike the plastic things you see today. Wood has a solid warmth to it, and a mellow muted clunking sound that plastic can’t begin to duplicate. Plastic is cold and hard and loud. Ask any parent about the noise level.
They had Erector Sets in those days, too, but those were cold, mechanical metal and had no appeal for me whatsoever.