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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

#Oklahoma Morning, 1950's by John von Daler

                 I hear the radio from my bed. Local news and weather. The Oilers have lost again. But the hogs are still eating Nutrena; at any rate Dad is wailing their jingle while he shaves. Soapy water, the little, white-handled shaver, the clots of hair and soap swirl around as he empties the sink, still singing. Then he pats on Acqua Velva. I can smell it from my bed.
               The sun shines through the honeysuckle at my window. It's already hot in Oklahoma, so I have to get up and put on short pants. Mom says I'll just have to put up with the other kids laughing. They have on Levi's even if the temperature is 110 degrees in the shade. Next, I put on a short-sleeved shirt, then socks and the leather shoes that have been tested for roominess in a huge, deadly machine with a spooky green light.
                Breakfast is soft-boiled eggs, bacon, toast, orange juice and milk. We sit at the kitchen table by the big window where my lime-colored friend, the praying mantis, does his morning washing on a vine. Mom serves our food. Dad taps his egg around the sides until it looks like Friar Tuck and then half decapitates it, lifts it up and carefully puts the bits of shell in the bottom of the eggcup. Then he puts the egg down on top of its own shells, salts and peppers it and sloshes it down with the help of a little spoon. I pour mine out on the toast, mix it with margarine, bacon, salt and pepper and eat the mixture with the fork in my right hand. My left hand is in my lap. Dad eats European; we eat American.
                He downs his coffee in a couple of gulps and he and Mom say goodby and get in our swept-backed Buick to drive downtown to the oil company where they call him "Von". He works at figuring out how to keep the company's money out of the hands of the government. My sister will take a bus to the junior high.
                I take Chops, our cocker spaniel with big, black earflaps and sad eyes and walk him down to the weeping willow. He has unusual patience with my little tricks, so my love for him is tempered by a bad conscience. Then I lock him in the house and start to walk to elementary school on the long, straight street called Cincinnati, a word that just will not sit still inside me. It hops along spilling letters like a badly packed moving van. Our town is full of wild, wonderful, unwieldy names, Broken Arrow, Muskogee, Hightower, Chickasaw, Gilcrease, Utica. On a morning walk to school I can see them, hear them, taste them.
                I reach Robert E. Lee Elementary School and walk in the door, smelling instantly that lunch in the cafeteria will include boiled tomatoes. Then someone shouts out that our music teacher is sick and that the gray-haired substitute who always tells Kipling's story about Rikky Tikky Tavi will be there today. Her right arm on the desk sways back and forth like the Cobra, Nag, mesmerizing us into an unintentional silence. O.K., I say to Fate, You are forgiven for the tomatoes. 


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