We lived on Olive, but I grew up on Hollywood. Across the street from our rental where we lived when I was born on Hollywood, there was a Swedish couple named Mama and Holger. I was the last of eight kids and they always treated us like family, even when we moved into a house one block away on Olive.
They drove a Ford LTD and had a backyard full of petunias during the Spring and Summer. A bench was in located in backyard right next to the basement door of that 3-flat, and that's where I learned about pipe smoke. Holger smoked a pipe and we had many summer conversations on that bench with my cut-off jeans, t-shirts, and Woolworth's purchased gym shoes. Those shoes weren't the comfortable type like today either. You could pound a nail in wood with them and they were always black in color.
While Holger and I talked about life on that bench, Mama would be upstairs making her weekly batch of Swedish biscuits. At noon, Holger and I would make our way up to their first-floor apartment and sit down at "The Table". It was 40" x 24" and when the hidden leaf’s were extended it became 40" x 44 1/2". The top was made of a vintage enamel porcelain and there were extension springs under it. The leaf’s were never extended, and there were only 3 chairs available because it sat right up against the kitchen wall. We would eat lunch and then top it off with one of Mama's biscuits.
Not much would be said at the table except for small talk, and it was always about the old country or Mr. McGillicuddy who lived in the broom closet. I had a vast imagination back then, and they enjoyed feeding it with this make-believe character who never seemed to appear when I opened the closet door.
After lunch, Holger would go work around the building and I would sometimes play under The Table. I would lightly grab the springs that slightly hung down underneath, and before I knew it, I would fall asleep. I would often wake up to the smell of something Mama was cooking on the stove and then make my way home. My parents didn't worry about me back then. Mama and Holger were great people along with their only daughter, Lillian.
After Holger and Mama died, Lillian let all of us kids come over to their basement and take some items to remember them by. I looked around and saw two pictures. One of Abraham Lincoln and the other of George Washington. As I decided on those I then realized the most treasured possession of all that those pictures sat on.... The Table. I asked, and Lillian said; "Mama would want you to have that".
The Table has seen the likes of all of my kids and they too played underneath it and lightly grabbed the springs. Bread dough has been rolled on it, computers have sat on it, and it still looks the same to me today as it did back in 1966. I'm grateful to have met Mama, Holger, and Lillian, as their memories are always present when I look at The Table. If I drank today, I would toast them all with Mama’s favorite drink…. a White Russian. She hardly ever drank, but when she did, her Swedish accent became more American sounding and she would sometimes throw in a Black Russian for the night cap.
RIP Mama, Holger, & Lillian. I thank you for not only the memories, but most importantly, the love....and "The Table".
Okay, I realize I'm a father and there's just certain things that come along with it. Dance recitals, soccer, baseball, basketball, cross country, concerts, and smelly shoes.
Not just smelly either. I mean nasty.
The type of smell one would encounter in the worst of all garbage bins or that left over three bean salad that somehow got pushed into the back of the fridge and ripened. That smell you encounter when it’s just about time to get into the car and you realize your kid left their shoes in the backseat on a hot summer day with the windows closed. A smell that hits you when you enter a room and wonder what is dying or already died. A mouse? Leftover milk in a cup? Nope. It's my kid’s shoes.
I see them every now and then wearing their shoes without socks. I warn them. They look at me and wonder. I look back and ponder.... wondering if perhaps the hospital mixed-up the babies. Ahh, it’s my kid. Deal with it dad.
Dr. Scholl was a genius. According to Drscholls.com; ...."Sweaty feet allow bacteria to grow, and the bacteria that feed off the dead skin cells from your feet are the biggest cause of foot odor." Yum, nothing like a feast of dead skin cells to brighten my day. Makes the chopped-off fingernails I find while washing the hardwood floors seem so delightful. That's another future post for sure.
My philosophy has always been to wear good socks. Ventilation is key along with a good shower every now and then helps too. Sure, there are plenty of holistic remedies like soaking your feet in black tea or vinegar, lavender oil rubs, and even a honey and garlic paste. Not sure I'm putting garlic on my feet when I use so often for other things.... like cooking.
Of course, there is a medical term used for smelly feet which causes smelly shoes. I went to Wales via the internet to find out. It’s called; Bromodosis. Sure, I've had my share of smelly shoes throughout my life, but they were mine. That's what makes the walk to the washing machine with a pair of my kid’s gym shoes an interesting task. It’s just that dryer that I'd love to figure out when they are bouncing around and creating so much noise while drying that reminds me it won't be long and I'll be repeating the same task again. Zapatos malolientes!
Ever since I was a kid, I've daydreamed. From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli, or back to a basketball game in 8th grade....it just all keeps on recycling. Today, they give kids prescription drugs. Back then, a person did drugs. Today, a kid daydreams, but only when they’re not playing video games. I did it while playing pinball and that probably explains why I tilted so much.
I was shy around girls back then too. But, not when I daydreamed.... I dated them all. I dated so many girls in my daydreams that it had a profound effect when I wore those ugly polyester pants in school. Too much room and not enough tight. A tent in the middle of the classroom. It caused me to sit longer than everyone else when the fire alarm went off or when called-on to do a math problem on the chalk board. I hated math. TMI, I know.... but I blame it on Catholic school.
Today, I can daydream and multitask too. Yes, having a conversation when someone mentions ice cream just sends me into funk. Over and over, I see Rocky Road or Butter Brickle dancing like sugar plums within my brain. I keep nodding while they talk not hearing much of what is said. Until, I notice that the ice cream somehow faded away and I'm left wondering what the hell was just talked about. I can be planting perennials in the flower garden and also be giving a great speech in front of a very large crowd.
"Focus dude...focus!" I tell myself.
There's regular daydreaming like I do, and also maladaptive. Maladaptive daydreaming is real and causes many to create entire scenarios with very detailed specifics. There are actually maladaptive online support groups to help people coup and share information for solutions. Many maladaptive daydreamers suffered from trauma or abuse as child and it developed into a more addictive pattern as time went on. Questions linger for many and I'm always fascinated by my own wandering mind.
Diet...I think it come down to diet. Either that, or maybe it was a few of those rocks that hit my skull while playing war in the sandlot, or the sharp pointed corner of that kitchen table that I collided with? Not sure, but it really doesn't matter I guess. I am who I am when it comes to certain things but I do try and change the things of which I can control. Like not daydreaming while typing this post. Nope. That didn't happen either. Damn Rocky Road!
My son at the park this morning before school. He’s my youngest child of the seven, and is in 5th grade. He still likes to say: “Dad you wanna watch a movie with me?” Oh, how those days can be numbered when you’re not paying attention.
This morning I was on the phone when he departed to head out for school. I hung up and didn’t like that I missed saying goodbye, so I put on my shoes. I looked outside and he was almost at the park so I walked down the street without my coat to wish him a great day. As I approached, I snapped this picture.
Watching him on that swing humbled me like I have been many times before as a father. How many more times will I be able to see him play on a swing I thought? How many more times will I be able to hear him say; “Dad I made some popcorn, would you like some?” Or “Dad I have a band concert next week can you go?”
Oh, how I have failed him and my kids many times. Concentrating on work or what I deemed important, while missing the simple opportunities to push my son on a swing while making him laugh at my stupid jokes. Not today though...I pushed him on that swing and was very grateful to be alive and see the joy on his face.
As I pushed him, I thought about the love of the moment, the love I have for him, and the fact that eventually he would not want me around. That happens because kids have to discover who they are and it’s also when parents learn about humility and letting go. It’s not always easy to let go, but when we think about our own adolescence years it all seems to make perfect sense. Kids have to discover who they are, make choices, and learn about how they fit into this thing we call life.
After he got off the swing, I gave him a hug and told him I loved him.... he said he loved me....as he keenly looked over his shoulder to make sure his schoolmates weren’t watching as they approached the park. 😊
Lol...yep, those days are surely numbered. Enjoy them while you can.