Monday, April 29, 2013

An Out of the Ordinary Cat

April 29, 1964

Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. As always, things have been pretty boring (Dad says I should say calm, not boring) here on Main Street, Hollyhill. Dad says boring is better than stores getting robbed or wrecks happening. That might make the Banner headlines more exciting, but at the same time, somebody might be getting hurt. I wouldn't want that to happen. So I suppose I should embrace the ordinary and not wish for the strange. But I should have named my blog the Hollyhill Book of the Ordinary. Or the Hollyhill Book of Everything Boring. 

Dad reminds me how I was wishing for something to happen last year and how we got slammed with everything at once. But that was last year. This is this year and boring is settling down on Main Street like a smoke cloud on our yard after we burn our trash. 

Then something happened on Thursday last week. A cat showed up at the back door of the newspaper offices. A bandit looking cat with a touch of black on his chin and eyes that stare straight at you as if he's daring you to tell him to scat. So Wes didn't tell him to scat and now we have a cat here at the Banner offices. 

Zella had a conniption fit about the cat. She is of the opinion that newspaper offices are NOT a place to have a cat. So Wes offered to let her take it home with her. That made Zella have a bigger conniption fit and offered the next opinion that no way was she going to take a stray, flea-infested cat into her house. The cat was so relieved that it wound in and out of Zella's legs, purring all the while. Zella did an odd little dance to get away from it. Wes says Cat must be from Jupiter like he is. It appears Jupiter cats have a special instinct about irritating people who don't like cats. So the cat got a bed in the press room and West told Zella she should put it on payroll as pest exterminator. Zella muttered something under her breath about hoping it got rid of Jupiter pests. 

Yesterday morning, Zella found a dead mouse on her desk. I still don't know if the cat caught it and decided to offer it to Zella as a peace offering or if Wes put it there to make sure no peace was happening. I'm leaning toward Wes. What do you think? 

We've been calling the cat Cat. Not much of a name. So we're giving cat names consideration. What name do you pick for a cat that knows its way around? Got any suggestions?

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Preacher for Sunday Dinner

April 19, 1964

Jocie Brooke here reporting from Holly County. I'm out at Miss Sally's farm again. I love it when it's our turn to eat at their house on Sundays. You see, the church people take turns having the preacher on Sundays. They have a sign-up sheet and everything. Of course, some people sign up more than other people and I'm glad one of those is Miss Sally. She nearly always has chicken and dumplings. And never cabbage. Well, once she had this cabbage casserole but she didn't care if I didn't eat any. The only thing worse than cabbage is okra. And on top of that, she makes pecan pies.

But the best thing about going to Miss Sally's house is the animals. I told you about the baby chicks a week or two ago. They're getting little wing feathers already. Chickens grow up fast. But now she has this little calf. It was a twin. Twin calves don't happen very often, according to Miss Sally. I guess it's so rare the cow didn't think it could happen either and let one of the twin calves nurse but not the other one. So it's in a pen now and has to be fed with a bottle twice a day. Miss Sally says if you're going to bottle feed a calf, that calf has to have a name. So the calf is Jill. She let me feed the calf Sunday night before she went back to church. I had to hang on to the bottle tight because if the milk didn't come out fast enough, the calf was giving the nipple a hard bump with her nose. 

It was chilly today. Miss Sally claimed that was because of redbud winter. The older folks at church are always talking about this winter or that winter. Cold snaps in the spring. If there's a chill-down in the temperatures or a frost while the redbuds are blooming, the trees get the blame. Like a tree blooming can make it cold! Then there's dogwood winter, locust bloom winter, linen britches winter, and blackberry winter. If cool spells come along in between those, they think up other names for those "winters." 

Dad says I shouldn't laugh about the "old wives tales." That I can learn a lot from the older folks at church. Could be. Like how to nap in church while pretending to read your Bible. Or how to fold a dollar bill so folks will think maybe you've thrown a five or ten in the offering plate. Or maybe how to pretend to be singing without making a whisper of joyful noise. 

But Dad's right. They do know plenty too. Like how to help when folks are in need or how they show up if something needs doing at the church building. Or how they're always helping us out by giving us stuff from their gardens. Bad thing is, I've seen what they've been planting. Lots and lots of cabbage and zucchini. I think we need to give them all strawberry plants. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Taxes and the Jack Benny Hour

April 15, 1964

Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. Today's tax deadline day. Daddy had to get his tax forms filled out and in the mail before the end of the day. In time for the postmaster to stamp it sent. He figured and refigured and added up numbers all day. I overheard him telling Wes that he didn't see how in the world a person who didn't make much money could have such problems with taxes. Wes just smiled and patted Dad's shoulder before he escaped out to the pressroom to tinker with the press. 

Zella touched her sausage curls to be sure they were properly stiff before she shook her head at Dad and informed him he should have filled out the forms weeks ago the way she did. Daddy almost growled at her before he went in his office and shut the door. Dad hardly ever shuts his office door, but when he does, it's best to leave it shut until he opens it. 

Zella glared at the shut door and then began muttering under her breath about how pathetic Daddy was at paperwork. Even if his work was the paper. She banged on her typewriter so hard that I peeked over her shoulder to see if the type keys were making holes in her paper. That made her hit the keys even harder as she told me to stop making a shadow on her paper. Like I was getting in the way of her sun.

But thank goodness Dad did open his door and bring out the envelope all sealed, signed and stamped for government delivery. Then thank goodness, Aunt Love had the Jack Benny Hour on TV when we got home. Jack Benny was, of course, complaining about paying taxes. And thank goodness, Dad dropped down in his easy chair and laughed until he almost fell out of it. I don't like Jack Benny. I can't imagine what was so tickling Dad's funny bone. Adults are beyond understanding sometimes. But if Jack Benny's silly jokes got Daddy to forget about being cranky about those taxes then I was willing to smile and pretend I thought the show was funny too. At least this one time. 

Do you ever watch the Jack Benny show? Then maybe you can tell me what's so funny about holding onto the first dollar a person ever made? 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Space News - Gemini 1 Launched Today

April 8, 1964
 Jocie Brooke here reporting from her front yard a couple of miles outside Hollyhill. Out here this far from town, you can see the stars pretty good. That's what I'm doing tonight. Outside looking up at the stars. The moon is going into its dark phase so it isn't making any light to hide the stars. Hasn't even come up yet. The stars are great but that's not why I'm out here getting a crick in my neck staring up at the them. You can see stars most any night except when the clouds move in. But today NASA launched a spaceship. It's up there orbiting the earth. Nobody's in this one. But a few years ago we sent men into space. 

Dad would tell me that if I'm going to be reporting, I should give some facts. I shouldn't be simply woolgathering. Whatever that means. You ever notice how older people say the oddest things. Woolgathering - what's that got to do with thinking about things? 

But back to spacemen. Alan Shepherd was our first man in space in May 1961, but the Soviets beat us in that space race by getting their cosmonaut into orbit in April 1961. NASA didn't get a man in orbit until John Glenn went up aboard Friendship 7 in February 1962. I looked up at the sky then too and imagined how it might be up in space. What would earth look like that far away? Would you be scared and thinking you'd never make it back home? 

I don't know if that's why they're doing these new launches without astronauts on board. All the men that went up did make it back down. Their pictures were in the papers and on television waving after their space capsules were plucked out of the sea. Daddy says now the space people are just trying to get more information about sending things into space before they put more men in the spaceships. He says it will happen, that men will someday go to the moon. President Kennedy said we could make that happen before he was assassinated.

And so I'm looking up at the sky. I don't know if I can see the spaceship, Gemini I. But it's up there proving that nothing is out of reach. Well, not space anyway. Aunt Love is yelling for me to come inside. She says I'm going to catch my death of cold. She says man shouldn't be trying to go to the moon. That the Lord put us here on earth and we should be satisfied to keep our feet on the ground and tend to whatever work the good Lord gives us. She thinks the space people should get out their Bibles and read about the Tower of Babel before something bad happens.

She could be right. But it's exciting to think about reaching for the moon and maybe even someday the stars. Wes laughs about it all. You remember that he claims to be from Jupiter, don't you? Anyway, he says Mr. Jupiter, the boss up there, gave up on going to their moons a long time ago since they have dozens of them. It would have bankrupted their space program. Instead they just came to Earth. Only one of us and the crazy things the people here do make for great stories when the Jupiter spaceships head back home - zigzagging past all those moons. 

I guess if I stick to facts like a good news reporter should, I might have to leave Jupiter out of the mix. But here on the Hollyhill Book of the Strange, it's fun to have a little strangely unbelievable news.

But wouldn't it be neat to be up there in a spaceship? I don't think the Lord would mind. He made space too. And the view has to be great. What do you think?

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Price of Jelly Eggs in Hollyhill

March 30, 1964 

Jocie Brooke reporting. Yesterday was Easter here in Hollyhill, Kentucky. We did something new here in Hollyhill on Saturday. The local businesses decided to sponsor a kids' Easter egg hunt at the Fairgrounds. Wouldn't you know they'd wait until I wasn't a little kid anymore before they got around to doing something like this?  

So instead of trying to chase around and beat all the other kids to the candy eggs, I chased around taking their pictures. Dad said I got some good ones too that he can put in the Banner. Pictures of kids sell papers. Then next year we can use them to advertise the new annual Easter egg hunt.

That is, if the merchants keep it up. Did you see what jelly eggs cost in the A&P ad in the Banner last week? 25 cents for a pound! Chocolate cream eggs were even worse! Three for a quarter. Daddy says a quarter doesn't buy much anymore.

Aunt Love says grocery prices are getting ridiculous and that if I want chocolate, then I can just make some fudge. She doesn't get the whole Easter basket, chocolate bunny thing. Says that a new hat and shoes are fine, but she can't see what eating chocolate has to do with Easter. I guess old people like Aunt Love don't have the same sweet tooth us kids have. The two kids in the picture that Dad ran in the paper knew about having a sweet tooth. They couldn't wait to start eating their candy. One of them even gave me a piece. Not a chocolate egg, mind you, but one of those candy Easter eggs that are nothing but pure sugar. It was so sweet it nearly choked me. But beggars can't be choosers and I couldn't stand not having at least one piece of Easter candy at the Easter egg hunt.

Actually I had more fun taking pictures than I would have had hunting Easter eggs. I never was very good at that when we had Easter egg hunts at school. Every time I spotted an egg in the grass, some other kid would beat me to it. Unless I tripped him before he got there. All's fair in love and Easter egg hunts. 

That's what Wes told me when I was complaining about not getting any Easter eggs. He says they don't do Easter egg hunts on Jupiter. They just shoot each other with guns that have paint for ammunition instead of bullets and they all end up looking like an Easter egg for the day. Can you imagine that? A gun that shoots paint! The people on Jupiter have some pretty strange ideas, if you ask me. But maybe you'd better ask Wes. He's the one who claims to be from Jupiter.

I guess I need to be remembering the Golden Rule instead of tripping people to beat them to an Easter egg. That's what Dad will tell me when he reads this. But I didn't trip anybody Saturday and even managed to sit ladylike in my Easter dress all through church. That wasn't easy. The crinoline was scratchy and the sash kept coming untied. I'm too old for dresses that have sashes, but it was a hand-me-down from one of the church members' kids. So I had to wear the flouncy pink thing all decked out with lace. I hated it, but it fit and didn't cost anything. And with what groceries cost these days, Aunt Love says we have to pinch our pennies.  Not to mention the quarters.

Hope you didn't have to wear a dress you hated on Easter. Did you take pictures? Wear a new hat? Let the news of the empty tomb shake your insides? Aunt Love's right. That's what Easter is really about. Resurrection morning! John 3:16.