Friday, June 03, 2005

Another Stroll Down Memory Lane

June finally got here. I really wondered there for awhile if I would live to see it. But, as usual, the May work finally got done somehow and we are in recover mode. Which, for me, consists of trying to avoid any kind of mental strain for at least a week. I'm reading, going to bed early, and watching TV, when I can find something other than reality drivel to watch.

I have an appointment on Monday to see some puppies. Xana and I have decided we must bring aboard one or two new members to join our den and replenish the ranks. So I will be driving northward about an hour and a half, with the hopes of finding another rat terrier soulmate.

The breeder's location is not far from a small community where I lived for a couple of years back in my pre-school days. San Gabriel is but a small spot in the road, just a short distance from Rockdale, Thorndale and Cameron. When we lived there, the community still had its own school. Now it has a small quick-stop grocery, a couple of churches and a lot of farm land. The Baptist church and parsonage look virtually unchanged from the pictures in my memory.

I stopped by San Gabriel a couple of years back when a genealogical research trip took me within a few miles. I had not been there for many years, yet I drove straight to the Church as if I had been there daily. I was only 5 years old when we moved from there to Oak Hill, so my ability to find my early home was a surprise to me. You never know what your subconscious is holding onto.

A few things stand out in my memories of those early days. We lived in the parsonage, directly behind the church. It was (and still is) a white frame bungalow and at that time had hard wood floors throughout. Naturally we had a cat. I'm not sure whether that was Miss Tabby Gray or Buttons, but she earned the nickname "Thunderfoot" because of her penchant for running down the long hall, pounding that hard wood floor with her back feet.

One of our parishioners happened across a nest of baby skunks while we lived there. We ended up adopting one of them as a pet. Life in the country. How many people do you know who have had a pet skunk? Pansy was a cute little thing, who trailed after my mother constantly. To get a bed made, Mother had to shut her outside in the hall or risk stepping on her. Pansy would stand outside the door of the bedroom, stamping her little feet in irritation. As she grew older, my parents became concerned that her little anger fits might result in some spraying. So they arranged for her to be de-stinked. Sadly, she did not make it through the procedure. I'm not sure if it was a lack of skunk expertise on the vet's part or a reaction to the anesthesia. Now that I think about it, Pansy was probably the first in a series of black and white pets we've adopted. I seem to have a real weakness for that color combination.

The first Halloween carnival I remember attending was at the San Gabriel school. I was enchanted by the "fishing pond". I loved throwing the little fishing line over the counter and reeling in a toy. We had some friends in the country who we regularly visited and the older boys of the family would entertain their younger sister and me with a "fishing pond" at their house on a couple of occasions after that. I also remember a Christmas party at the church where my gift was a set of plastic dollhouse furniture. I can still see the yellow pieces of furniture clearly in my mind's eye. Perhaps that was my initial inspiration for my future hobby of dollhouse construction. My smell memory reacts when I come across the combination of oranges, apples and peppermint. The church passed out bags of fruit and candy to the kids that Christmas and the smell always takes me back to that party.

It was at San Gabriel that my parents made an attempt at becoming foster parents. We took in two girls, a few years older than me, from the Texas Baptist Childrens' Home. It was an experiment that didn't work out, but for a short while I had the experience of sisterhood. I can remember that they once surprised me by redressing one of my favorite dolls. The only time I ever had the opportunity to be the kid sister and I enjoyed being spoiled.

Some folks of my acquaintance have probably long suspected that I was dropped on my head as a baby. Well, I wasn't quite a baby but I did get a big bump on my head while we were in San Gabriel. The church was surrounded by long sidewalks and one day I was walking backwards on the sidewalk, talking to my foster sisters. My dog Sissy was dancing along with us and somehow got behind me and I tripped over her, cracking my head on the sidewalk. I had a real goose egg raise up on the back of my head. Nowadays you would rush a kid to the doctor for xrays, but that was in the 1950s and you didn't run to the doctor for a mere bump on the head. Thankfully, no lasting damage was done. I think.

I was quite full of myself back then. After all, foster sisters notwithstanding, I was an only child with lots of attention and convinced I was the center of my universe. It was the custom of my Sunday School teacher to have her class say a series of prayers, with each student saying a small prayer. I was generally the one chosen to begin the prayer chain. One day my teacher decided that wasn't really fair and started with another student and ended with me. I was incensed. When the prayers finally rolled around to me, I puffed up and announced "Mama don't pray, Daddy don't pray, and I don't pray neither!" I'm sure the teacher was non-plussed to hear such a pronouncement from the preacher's daughter. I have no memory of whether she tried putting me at the end again. I never did like taking the backseat.

I have many pieces of memories of the folks in the church. Mostly fragments that flutter just outside my grasp. It's the first place we lived that really exists in my conscious mind. The folks there were good people. I recall no bad incidents involved with our life there. I hope the community is still the quiet, friendly place I remember. Perhaps I will have to wander over that way on Monday and make a quick visit. I had some good times there.


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