Memories of My Childhood

Standing on tiptoe,
     my eyes search
          the dark recesses
     of the closet…

There it is.

I reach up,
     slide the box
          off the shelf,
     and crouch down, 
          before gently placing the box
     on the floor
in front of me.

     I peel back the cardboard flaps,
of what I will find.

Peering at the contents,
      I carefully reach in 
and pull out…

A pale violet Easter dress,
     with lacy white cap sleeves and neckline-
          just one of many dresses
sewn for me by my mom.

A red hoppity horse,
     the source of giggles and gales of laughter,
          as I watched my Aunt LaVerne
               hop her way 
          around an obstacle course of trees
at my birthday party.

A bunny shaped birthday cake,
     covered in white and pink flaked coconut,
          adorned with red licorice whiskers
     and black jelly bean eyes,
shared with my kindergarten friends.

Dollar bills
     carefully folded 
          and placed in my ‘flower girl’ hand,
               after dancing polkas 
at my sister Sue's wedding.

Whispers of "Goodnight, 'Bug-a-Boo'" and
    "Sleep tight, 'Pootsie Pie'”,
          as my mom and dad
tucked me into bed at night.

Ears of roasted corn
     dunked in a coffee can 
filled with melted butter.

A pig with an apple in its mouth,
     and stuffed with sauerkraut,
roasting over a spit.

Peanut butter and jelly pudgie pies
      cooked over a campfire.

Pixie Sticks, Tootsie Rolls, and Dots
     purchased from the Evergreen Campsite store.

Sand castles 
     with moats
and drawbridges 
     crafted of twigs.

A mud pie concocted from layers of wet sand,
     pine needles 
          and leaves,
and sprinkled with white ‘sugar’ sand.

A backwards fall into the fire pit
     while delivering the pie.

Grandma’s ‘molly’asses cookies
     dunked in my special cup of ‘coffee’.

A small, ceramic fawn figurine,
     with a ‘broken’ neck (repaired by my grandpa with super glue),
the result of an unfortunate collision with a sparkly super ball.  

Carrots carefully pulled from the earth,
     rinsed by the garden hose,
          and munched on 
while sitting on the steps of my grandparents' house.

Pounding on the cottage door 
     in the middle of the night.
A long car ride home,
     and my grandpa’s funeral.

“Picture Rock” 
     where I modeled my bikini,
          and every new dress received 
for my 4th birthday.

Pink foam curlers
     wound and clipped 
in my stick straight, brown hair.

Miniature cakes
     baked by the light bulb
in my Easy Bake oven.

Four kittens and a momma cat
     mewing in the hollowed out base
          of an old oak tree
     outside my bedroom window
one rainy summer day.

A fort built in the tree line
     of a farmer's field 
near my house.

Twigs tossed in the creek,
     and disappearing in the culvert
under the road.

Backyard sleepovers in tents 
     (and sometimes under the stars)
with Jenny, Angie, Jill, and Jolene.

Night games
     of ‘Kick the Can’ and ‘Sardines’
with the neighborhood kids.

Day games of kickball,
     trees used as bases.

A lime-green, 
          banana seat bike
pedaled up the big Fairview Road 'hill’ on the way to school.

A King Arthur puppet
     with a painted clay head, 
          and robe fashioned from scraps of baby blue silk,
and emblazoned with a navy felt ‘A’.

Duso the dolphin
     leading my 4th grade class in song
(‘Hey Duso! Come out to play!’).

Snow forts built at recess,
     jeans soaked by melting snow 
(‘cuz in 6th grade snow pants were so not cool).

Games of kickball
     on the Clayton School playground,
          and crawling over the fence
               to retrieve the red rubber ball 
      from the farmer’s pasture
before the cows would take notice.

A school spelling bee won
     with the word ‘liable’.

And a city spelling bee missed
     due to the death of a great aunt.

Matching pajamas worn at slumber parties,
     cheerleader formations…
all captured on film.

A record player spinning Shaun Cassidy’s ‘Da Doo Ron Ron’
          and over
               and over again
until every word was known by heart.

After hour Baskin Robbin’s parties…
     staying up all night.

Weekends at the cottage,
     building cities in the sand,
          teaching friends how to dive off the dock,
and rowing to the island to play castaway.

I am aware
     of the lump in my throat
          and the tears in my eyes,
and the smile on my face.

Carefully I pack each memory
     back into the box,
          grateful for the gift
of the childhood I had.

Karen Hovie