Sunday, November 16, 2014

Cork Gun Christmases

This post has nothing to do with politics and guns and where one stands and why this and why that. Rather, it's all about a favorite present my older brother received a few Christmases in a row when we were little and certain Santa was responsible for bringing us the best presents in the world. It was a game. It came wrapped in a horizontal-shaped box. It had to because inside waited a cork gun, a steel rod that he'd have to fit into a block of wood at both ends, and plastic-type crows. That rod would be the fence on which he'd sit his plastic-type crows. Their 'feet' fit around the rod so they looked like they were sitting on a fence-waiting to be shot by a little guy thrilled with Santa's present. After all the gifts were opened, he'd construct his fence in the dining room. Then, still in his pajamas, he'd sprawl out on his belly and start shooting. I'd be the one fetching the crows that went flying when hit by a cork. The best part of fetching the corks was when he gave me a turn at shooting the crows. More often than not he didn't have to fetch too many because my eye was off target most of the time. But I didn't care. I was just having fun with my older brother on Christmas morning.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Two Little Queens for a Day

Many years ago there was a radio show turned TV show called "Queen For A Day." I vaguely remember it-so vaguely that I can't remember if my cousin and I watched it or listened to it or if we watched or listened at all because it would have been summer and in the summer, we were always outside playing. I can say we were aware it existed so our mothers, aunts, or grandmother must have tuned in. The idea behind the show was that women would tell their sad, personal story. Jack Bailey was the host. He would ask each of the women what they needed the most and why each wanted to be 'Queen for a Day.' The winner was chosen by an audience clapping and an applause meter reacting. Once winning the title, the queen for that day would be draped in a sable-trimmed, red velvet robe-given a jeweled crown and placed on a velvet throne. Then she'd receive red roses before an array of prizes.
That's where our imaginations took off on a hot, humid afternoon. Back then neither of us had a swimming pool. The only time we went swimming was when one particular aunt took us across the road-down a path through the woods to a river to swim before supper. We loved it. We'd eat graham crackers all the way home but this particular day was very hot. No breeze. Just the sun beating down on hayfields and the creek where we played. We had lots of fun there but you couldn't swim in the creek. There were bloodsuckers. I remember sitting on the plank bridge complaining along with my cousin-feeling sorry for ourselves that we didn't have a pool or anyone to take us swimming. Then the light bulb went off. We could go to California. We could be contestants on 'Queen for a Day.' We would surely win. We'd tell a sad tale of how good we were-helping our parents and how so horribly hot we'd get sitting on the plank bridge in the summer heat. We discussed our plans for more than a few days. Surely our parents would let us go. Of course they'd buy us the airline tickets. Any parent would do the same for their 8 or 9 year old. We planned what we'd say to Jack Bailey. We'd ask for a pool-a big pool. Unable to decide which one of us would be the Queen, we decided there would be two Queens. Needless to say, we never made the trip. But it was fun planning it-sitting on top of that old plank bridge in the summer heat.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Matt, Kitty, Doc, & Chester-Saturday Night Friends

Most every Saturday night when growing up in the country, my cousin and I slept over at our grandmother's house. One of our aunt's lived there too. Lucky for us, she never married. On those Saturday nights, cushions were removed from the sofa in the living room so we could pull our bed out.
It might as well have been a sleepover at the Waldorf Astoria. We felt like royalty on that sofa in our flannel nightgowns covered in warm blankets with puffy pillows. It was the perfect night for a sleep over because it was the best night for TV watching-starting with The Lawrence Welk Show. Our grandmother and aunt loved that show and to be honest, so did we-from the Lennon Sisters to Myron Florin, Bobby Burgess to the Champagne Lady herself, Alice Lon. But that was just a warm-up to the main event of the evening-Gunsmoke.
I can still hear Marshal Matt Dillon's spurs as he made his way along the boardwalk to the Long Branch Saloon to see Miss Kitty. I always thought Matt and Miss Kitty liked each other. I always though they'd get married. They never did. Matt Dillon was tall and handsome, always tipping his hat to the ladies yet ready to defend Dodge City from the bad guys. Miss Kitty was beautiful. Of course she had the most perfect beauty mark on the right side of her face and her long, fancy dresses made of exquisite fabrics were to die for as were her feathered hats and jewels. When she worried about Matt getting shot, so did I. Sometimes when Matt lingered at the swinging door of the Long Branch I often wondered what he was thinking-standing there saying good night to Miss Kitty.
 I loved Doc-always with his black ribbon tie and pocket watch and doses of wisdom. Chester, Matt's deputy although I don't remember if that was official, was a gentle soul complete with a limp. While there were other characters over the years, Matt, Kitty, Doc and Chester remained my favorites as we'd sit in our bed in the living room eating popcorn made in a skillet. But the night of good TV didn't end with Gunsmoke. Paladin-Have Gun Will Travel-rounded out the programming. We enjoyed Paladin. But thoughts of beautiful Miss Kitty and handsome Matt Dillon always lingered.