“And somewhere, there is
a flash of brilliance
illuminating the shadows”. (from Walt’s poem, “Snapshots”
“Lost and Found” (a prose poem)
I have so few memories. Rummaging through a box_ a note found among a few old photos from sixty years ago. It is yesterday …and the note reads:
“Billie: I went by for the laundry but it’s not ready yet. It is 1:30 and I still have to work Riviera. The man said it would be ready by 3:00 P.M. How about sending Butch after it?” Jack.
His beautiful handwriting; so precise; schooled from the turn of the century. Daddy’s note is written on the back of an old, yellow-stained envelope. The laundromat is six blocks from our dingy, ugly, olive green rental. It looks the same today as it did then, only now is painted a sickly blue.
A screened porch snakes across the front. A low, overhanging, wooden structure covers its length to act as shade, reminiscent of a chicken coop. It remains the ugliest eye-sore house on that street. Was probably why I grew up to become a “turner” of houses. Could never get that bad taste out of my mouth, so I kept moving. I slept at one end of the sharp curve of the porch on hot, sweltering summer nights. If you knocked at the front porch door, you were unable to see me sleeping at the other end.
The laundry must have been Daddy’s responsibility! Amazing! On a hot, sticky Florida day, he must work and rescue the laundry! His work consisted of servicing jukeboxes at restaurants and bars. Take the money out; put new records in. Not intellectually stimulating. A penny for your thoughts and five songs will cost you a quarter. The job barely paid the bills when the money did not lose its way at end of day to the race track.
Daddy once managed a gas station but there was a leak and the whole place literally blew up right in his face! After exiting the hospital, we moved to Daytona Beach where he managed a Bottling company. A sweet, wonderful , funny guy, everyone loved you, Daddy! You never said a mean, cross, spiteful word, ever! Such a happy drunk! But you had a knack for being around things that liked to blow up!
Mother (the “Billie” of our note) never approved your longings for ‘adventure’. A trip to the track or one last beer following jukebox rounds always broke the financial back. Daddy, in your cups at the supper table you say: “pass the peas!” and Mother did just that. She passed them. She threw the whole bowl… those tiny, green-garden delicious peas swimming in butter…Dogs tucked their tails and cringed under the table to avoid the crash. Little sister screamed with fear and I the grownup child of eight hushed her away ’til the storm blew over. Now older and able to withhold moral judgment, I long to see you, Daddy; give you a hug; hold your hand. Look deep into those dark, mysterious, Cherokee eyes of yours. I herewith send a belated note to you: “You meant a lot to me” and I apologize for mother pitching the peas.
Before you worked for a music company and drove a truck, you rode the bus home from work to the trailer park each day. Brought home with you one piece of wood each day until you built baby brother a playpen… Here are pictures of baby, grinning from his playpen! How could anyone question such love?
I would have liked to have known you but you left too soon. I knew so little that even this old scrap of paper seems a precious memory to keep. Your sister, mother, father gone early…before I could know them. Your mother passed when you were seven and you say you remember her long, thick flowing, silky-black hair. You tried to reach up and touch it as she left for heaven.