Oh, Stuff

Yesterday, Halloween, i did not go to Sunday church services. No surprise since i have only been to those when i was back home.

Nor did i get all wrapped up in Halloween except for my daughter Blythe’s photos of grandson Sam’s get-up and other relatives and folks sending photos of their children in their get-ups, including Jenny’s photo of her and my longtime pal, Bill Oliver who was dressed up like Pancho Villa.

So what did i do?

Mopped about half the house.

While mopping, i wondered  if others get this feeling of…of…pleasure…maybe of just doing a good job. It occurred to me we spend a lot of time and a hell of lot of money feeding the coffers of those who make money off of us trying to make things easier and how making things easier seems to be a little off kilter to me.

i enjoy doing many things, but i seem to get the most pleasure of being with loved ones and friends, and doing things, big things, small things well.

i want to make things better, not easier.

But i am old, several years past three-quarters of a century — i wonder why describing my age that way seems so much older than “getting near 78.”

At my age, doing anything well is a pleasure. i wish i had appreciated that before i grew up somewhere around 70.

i also live in memories — and often repeat them, like the stuff in this post, but what the hey? i’m old.

Tuesdays, i remember three people, all three written about here before.

You see, Tuesdays is trash day around here. i get up about the same time each day, but a bit earlier on Tuesdays when i first attend to putting the trash bin (too big to be called a trash can), the recycle bin (something that didn’t exist before we had literally mountains of trash everywhere and used to burn a lot of stuff ourselves and didn’t even think about recycling although we took a lot of stuff we throw into the trash or recycle bins today we would have reused or repurposed back then), and the yard waste bin, the contents of which we used to use for compost or burned in those halcyon days, all three bins unless the yard man did some special stuff so there are two yard waste bins to put out.

Well, getting up a bit earlier always reminds me of Papa. To me, he was “Papa” but he was my great uncle, surrogate grandfather, Wynne Prichard. When i would spend a week or so every summer and sometimes on weekends in the other parts of the year, he would wake me at just before 4:00. i would quickly dress and we would walk to the pasture fence where he would call the five or six milk cows. The bovines would magically appear. i can still see Papa rubbing the muzzle of the lead cow. He would turn with me turning alongside of him and the cows, in line with one or two walking side by side, would follow us to the barn, where we would milk — actually i would get a couple of squirts in my bucket while Papa filled his up, maybe twice, and pour it in the milk can.

When finished and the milk cans were stored to later take to the house and make butter and buttermilk and strain for fresh milk, we would slop the hogs in the sty and head back to the house. Yep, early on Tuesday mornings and frequently other early mornings (but not Fridays, that’s when my futile hopes for a better golf game occupy my mind), i think of Papa. i see him sitting down to the kitchen table when the second remembered person comes into the scene.

Actually, we had seen Aunt Corrine as we walked toward the pasture to call the cows. She was in the chicken coop, gathering the eggs in her apron. When we returned across the fields and the backyard, we walked up those wooden stairs, through the back porch, took a few steps down the hall and turned left into the kitchen. The aroma of breakfast cooking drew us there like a magnet. After all, heaven awaited with Aunt Corrine’s fresh eggs fried over easy in bacon grease, bacon or sausage not off the farm because they were on this farm, grits (i think Aunt Corrine bought these although i couldn’t be sure and they did have a corn field), churned butter with buttermilk biscuits and molasses, and buttermilk. i was not a big fan of drinking buttermilk, but Papa loved it.

And the third person i remember? Jake Hughes. You see, i’m taking out the those bins out to the sidewalk and separating them at least a foot or two because the trash truck driver told me that was easier for them with those big tongs on the front: they didn’t have to get out and move the other bins to pick up their specialty trash bin, and i put out our neighbor’s bin as well. She was widowed this past spring. i’ll put them back this afternoon along with those of our two next door neighbors. My father did that for his neighbors on Castle Heights Avenue and in Deer Park: nice tradition, i think, and i’ve discovered my neighbors appreciate this one small weekly act of kindness.

i admired Jake Hughes. We called him Jake the garbage man. i didn’t know his last name until much later in life. i still admired him though. He had that old horse wagon with car tires pulled by a mule. He would stop on the street in front of the house, go around to the back, take the garbage can or cans to the wagon, dump them in the bed, and return them to the backyard. Sorta made sense. Did it well. We didn’t have garbage cans out front on trash day. Every Tuesday, i watch all day for the trucks to come so i can get my and the neighbors’ trash bins out of the front of our homes. Unsightly, i think. We didn’t have to do that with Jake the garbage man. He was friendly, and i’m told he made a lot of money from all that garbage. i’m glad. He prospered by doing hard, unappealing work well. i’m sure he caught some abuse because my hometown was glaringly racially prejudice. But he just kept on being friendly, smiling, and doing the garbage collection really well.

Not easy. Better.

Yeh, i have written about all three of these folks before. i’m sure they had flaws. i didn’t see them. All three did what they did well.

i remember.

1 thought on “Oh, Stuff

  1. Jake reminded me of a man i knew.
    When i worked at Precision Rubber Co. i met a new employee named Gladys Rhone. She was a black girl and one of the first hired back then. We got to be friends. She asked if i could take her home one evening. When we got to her house, she asked me to come in. When we entered the living room there sat Charlie. Charlie was the janitor at Highland Heights Elementary School. He watched over my sister and me. I never knew his last name and it had been years since i had seen him. I said, “Charlie!” He said, “Sara”. We hugged and Gladys asked how we knew each other. Charlie said he knew me as a kid and my mother and dad. Man, you just never know.

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