Monday, September 29, 2014

Ham or Not Homecoming Committee

September 29, 1965

Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. It's Homecoming time at our church out in Holly County. Next Sunday. This picture is from a couple of years ago. Dad says he hopes we have that big a crowd this year too. 

The ladies at church have been all in a stir getting everything ready. Last Saturday they got together to wash the windows and make sure no cobwebs were hiding in the corners. My job was to scrape the chewing gum off the bottom of the pews. Can you believe that people would do that? Stick chewing gum on a church pew. Eww! Miss Sally says it was probably little kids who don't know any better. Miss Sally always thinks the best of everybody but Aunt Love says some parents need to jerk their kids' ears if they do something like that. She would have mine for sure. 

Things get a little testy around Homecoming time. The ladies have little meetings out in the yard about who should do what and when. Last week they were trying to decide about the church buying a ham for the dinner on the grounds and if they buy a ham whether it should be a country ham or a city ham. Mrs. Harrison says they always get a country ham, but Miss Josephine says that a city ham would be better. That it's time the church changed a few things and country ham makes folks have to drink too much tea and we all know that means everybody will be in and out disturbing the afternoon services going to the outhouse. Mrs. Harrison got all huffy and informed Miss Josephine that people expected them to have country ham and it wouldn't be a real dinner on the grounds without it. Then Mrs. Butler chimed in that they could just all fry chicken and save the church some money. That the Israelites in the Bible wouldn't even eat ham. Bible discussion began in earnest then. I decided maybe I'd better go see if there was some more chewing gum under the pews that I might have missed. I didn't want to pipe up and say something that would get me in trouble with Dad. 

Guess I'd better just stick with writing about Bailey and Lucinda. Let's see what they're up to now.

Bailey's Bug by Jocie Brooke
  (continued from last week. See the beginning of the story at the Bailey's Bug tab up at the top of the page.)

Chapter 6

    Bailey gobbled down the scraps before his tail wagged twice, then sat back to wait for Skelley and Lucinda to finish. He tried not to think about how his stomach was still growling.
    "Ye appear to be a dog of no small appetite." Skelley nosed another crust of bread toward Bailey.
    Lucinda finished last and started licking her paws. Skelley peered over his shoulder. "Begging your pardon, Miss Lucinda, but we best move along now. The ringmasters of this place will be showing up soon and for a truth, they don't look kindly on me balancing skills. They are as apt to call the dog police as not."
    Lucinda sighed. "If I must go unwashed, I must go unwashed."
    "We can find a spot on down the street," Bailey promised. "In the sun."
    Lucinda groaned and stretched her back legs out behind her. Then she gave a delicate shake. "Well, which way?"
    Before Bailey could listen for the hum in his ear, Skelley spoke up. "I'd count it an honor if the two of ye came home with me for a bit of a rest. Miss Lucinda can finish her morning grooming in peace while us dogs have a chat, Bailey me lad."
    "Is there more food there?"
    "Don't be rude, Bailey," Lucinda hissed.
    "Worry not, Miss Lucinda. The boy is new to the streets. And it just so happens that I do have a bone I've been saving for a rainy day." Skelley looked up at the sky where the sun was just topping the buildings. Not a cloud in sight. "Or a celebration."
    "What kind of celebration?" Bailey asked.
    "We'll be thinking of something. Come along."
    They cut through alleys and behind buildings and crossed huge expanses of black asphalt. The monster cars were out in force, but Skelley avoided them with ease. 
    "It's safer to travel at night when there aren't so many of the four-wheeled beasts on the prowl. A mere dog's no match for the likes of them."
    The cars were bad enough but then Skelley led them right up to some mustard yellow beasts like nothing Bailey had ever seen. Their wheels were as big as Mr. Robinson's car and they had fearsome looking appendages poking out in odd places. Bailey stopped in his tracks. Lucinda eased over behind Bailey to eye them too.
    "Don't be worrying, me friends," Skelley said. "Tis only the machines they use for making roads or knocking down buildings. Most of the time, they sit quiet enough." 
    "Even that one?" Bailey pointed toward a monster with long worm wheels and a huge shovel all across the front of it.
    "That be a bulldozer. Makes a fearful noise at times and can knock trees clear out of the ground, but it moves powerful slow. Even an old dog like me can outrun it with nary a problem."
   Bailey kept his eye on the monster as they passed so close the chill of its metal skin made shivers walk along his back. The leash suddenly jumped up and clanged against the bulldozer wheels. Bailey jumped sideways and bumped Lucinda.
    "Can't you control that thing?" she muttered. 
    Bailey growled at the leash that was dragging along meekly again.
    "Dragging that along does appear to be a bit awkward, me lad," Skelley said. "I hated to say anything before, but I can't help wondering why ye have it with you."
    "I didn't want to, but it was the only way I can get beyond the fence."
    The old dog's forehead wrinkled up. "Aye, we have to take the chances we get."

(to be continued)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Ever been to a Fall Festival?

September 23, 1965

Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. The first day of fall is here. Football games and Fall Festivals. Have you ever been to a chili supper and fall festival at a school? I used to love to go when I was a kid, but now that I'm fourteen going on fifteen, they aren't as fun as they used to be. But I still have to go. Dad and I both do. We have to take pictures for the paper. Dad says he doesn't believe he's ever been anywhere noisier than a fall festival. Especially when they have those clicker things for prizes. You know what I mean. Pieces of metal that you pinch and make a click sound. I loved getting them as prizes when I was in grade school. I still like them. I got two last weekend, but Dad told me I'd better not click them when I was in the car with him. Funny how noisemakers don't bother you when you're the one making the noise but drive you crazy when it's somebody else making the noise. 

What's your favorite thing at a fall festival? Dad likes the cake walk, but then if you win, you're stuck with a cake you have to carry around. The duck pond is fun because everybody gets a prize there. More tin clackers or sometimes whistles. Dad says they are even worse and looks like teachers and parents would know to get prizes that weren't so noisy. Then you can throw bean bags at a target. I never won those, but I used to try all the games, even dunking for apples. A person could drown trying to bite an apple in a tub of water! 

What fall festival games did you like? 

And now for more from Bailey and Lucinda. 
BAILEY'S BUG by Jocie Brooke
(continued from last post. Read it all in the Bailey's Bug link at the top of this report.) 

Bailey is still on the road with Lucinda. In today's chapter, they meet a new friend. 

 In the morning, Bailey’s stomach growling woke him up, but he lay still. Lucinda’s eyes were shut. She might not be ready to wake up. Bailey’s left ear began to itch and little pins were sticking in his feet. Worse, he needed to find a bush. He was going to have to move and chance Lucinda’s temper.

A loud clang brought Bailey to his feet. Lucinda’s eyes flew open wide and she backed up against the fence and hissed. “See what it is.”
Bailey peeked around the corner of the trash bin. Nothing there. No people. No anything. A clang above his head made him jump again. Bailey looked up to see the skinniest dog ever, balancing on the edge of the bin opening. Bones looked like they were trying to break free of his skin.
The stranger pulled his head out of the trash bin to look down at Bailey. “And who might you be?” The words were muffled by the piece of bread in the dog's mouth.
“Bailey.” Bailey thought about barking really loud to see if that might make the other dog drop the bread, but that would be rude. Better to just stand there and let the saliva dribble out of the corners of his mouth. “How do you do that?”
The bread disappeared in the dog’s mouth. “What’s that, me lad?” he asked when his mouth was free once more.
“Stay there on the edge without falling in. I couldn’t even make it up to the opening last night.”
“Practice it takes, me lad. Many years of practice and a good bit more need of food than you’re showing.” The dog looked down at Bailey with dark eyes that laughed. Bailey didn’t mind. It was a nice kind of laughing.
Bailey’s tail tapped against the bin. “Maybe so, but I'm still hungry. Could you show me how to get something to eat from the bin too?” Bailey tried to sound respectful. ”When you're finished yourself, of course.”
The old dog laughed. “I fear this is a trick you could never learn, Bailey me lad. Not even with much practice.” The dog glanced back into the bin. “But it appears there’s a bounty of scraps this day. So I’d be honored to share vittles with the likes of you.”
The dog’s head disappeared back in the bin and then tossed out a few bits of bread with some meat still stuck to it.
“Be that enough, me lad?” The dog peered down at Bailey through his legs and tottered so that Bailey was sure the old fellow would fall in the bin or off it at any minute.
Bailey look at the bread. “Is there any milk in there?”
“Milk?” the dog said. “You are a particular beggar, for a truth. But let me give it a look see. If it’s on top I might be able to grab it.”
He slung out a few more scraps and then, with a yelp of discovery, jumped down to the ground to place a milk carton at Bailey’s feet. “There you go, lad. Enough milk for a bit of a sup, I should think.”
“Thank you.” Bailey wagged his tail. “Do you have a name?”
“Skelley, at your service, I’m sure.” The dog dropped down in a kind of bow that made Bailey forget how bony and old the dog looked.
“Skelley. So glad to meet you and thank you so much for the food. I haven’t eaten since yesterday morning.”
Skelley laughed and picked up one of the crusts. He rolled it around in his mouth before swallowing as though to get every bit of enjoyment from it. “No doubt the longest your stomach’s ever been deprived from the looks of you. Aren’t you going to drink that milk you wanted?”
Bailey looked at the milk and then blurted out. “What about cats? Do you like them?”
“Cats? Interesting questions so early in the morning. Especially for one who seemed so anxious to eat.”
“But I need to know what you think about cats?”
“Ah, cats.” The old dog sat back on his haunches. “Are we talking Siamese? Alley tomcats? Brindled cats? I knew a gray cat once, a jolly cat he was. Then, of course, there was Josephine who rode on me back in the circus ring.”
Bailey wasn’t sure what a circus ring was. He decided to ask exactly what he needed to know. “You’ve never chased them up trees or anything like that?”
“Aye, some perhaps when I was a mere snip of a pup. But the years have taught me cats always get to the tree first and then sit smugly up in the branches while you run circles down below looking the foolish one of the two.” Skelley’s forehead wrinkled in a frown. “Surely you don’t want to be off chasing cats before you have your bit of food.”
“Oh no. I don’t chase cats at all. It’s just I have this friend. Lucinda.” Bailey tried to think of the best words to tell Skelley about Lucinda.
Lucinda didn’t wait for him to say anything else. She came out from behind the bin. “You don’t need to third degree our new friend after he was kind enough to get us food.” Lucinda was practically purring as she looked at Skelley. “I thank you for the milk, sir.”
Bailey nudged the carton over to her. Skelley’s eyes looked bigger than ever in his bony face as he watched Lucinda tip over the carton to lap up its contents.
Then he lifted his lips in a dog smile. “I had the feeling this would be a banner day. The sky was promising sunshine. The cars were few and far between. The bin was stuffed so full the lid stood open. Now here the two of you are with a story to tell or I miss my bet.” Skelley picked up another bit of food. “But eat up, Bailey lad. The story can wait.”
He didn’t have to tell Bailey twice.

(To be continued.)

Monday, September 15, 2014

The News - Hurricanes and Baseball

September 15, 1965

Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. Boy, am I glad I don't live where hurricanes can hit. Last week I told you they were watching out for Hurricane Betsy and I didn't think that was a very good name for a hurricane. Well, I guess it was because it blew into Florida and Louisiana and tore up stumps and flooded everything and made this storm surge that went over the levees in Louisiana. The papers said maybe as many at eighty people died. It was so bad that Dad says they'll never use the name Betsy for a hurricane again. The name will be dropped from the list. 

Scary stuff but here in Hollyhill things just go on like always. I go to school. Zella types and pretends not to like Cat, but I know she slips him bits of bacon. Wes keeps the press running and watches baseball. Aunt Love lets the beans burn. Folks at church have potluck dinners. Things that seem so ordinary, but as Miss Sally tells me ordinary can be good.  

Speaking of baseball - well, I wasn't, but Wes was. He said we might as well not worry ourselves to death over hurricanes and think about Bert Campaneris. He plays for the Kansas City A's, and Wes says the A's have been losing nearly every game. So to try to up attendance, the manager decided to play Campaneris at every position in one game. Pitcher, catcher, fielder, baseman. All nine positions. They did that last week. Wes couldn't wait to read about it in the city newspapers. And he told me all about it at least ten times. He said that's the way they play ball up on Jupiter. Switching positions all the time. Said it made him almost homesick, but since Bert was playing down here on Earth, he guessed he'd stick around to see how the World Series turns out. One thing sure, the A's won't be in the World Series. Not losing every game like that. 

We've been playing softball in gym at high school.  I'm the worst. Can't hit and can't catch. But I can run if I happen to get on with a walk or something. Did you ever play softball?

Guess I'd better share a few more pages of Bailey's Bug.

Bailey's Bug by Jocie Brooke
(Continued from last week - the beginning of the story can be found on the Bailey's Bug link above.)

Chapter 5
When the sun slipped out of sight behind the buildings in front of them, Lucinda began to talk about soft cushions and beds. She never actually said they needed to go back to the Robinsons, but she did stop every few blocks to lick her paws and stare off into the distance as though she could see something Bailey couldn’t.
Bailey’s paws were sore too. That made him glad to plop down beside Lucinda while she worked on her feet.
Bailey looked around. Nothing looked right. People were there all right. Rushing everywhere like the sidewalk was too hot to stand still for more than a second. Now and again, a person smiled toward him, but more of them yelled as if they were afraid he might give them fleas or something.
Bailey didn’t care. He was used to people yelling at him, but Lucinda expected people to be respectful. The nasty voices made her fur spike up along her back and her tail kept getting stiffer as it shot up into the air.
Then a fat man came out of the store and spotted them behind a garbage can. He not only yelled, he picked up a rock and threw it at them. The rock bounced on the sidewalk and almost hit Lucinda. She sprang up with a yowl and snarled at the man. Bailey jumped in front of her as another rock whistled past. They raced around a corner away from the man and his rocks and stopped to catch their breath between two parked cars.
“He must have thought we were strays.” Bailey hoped that would make Lucinda feel less insulted.
“We are strays.” Lucinda’s voice was shrill. “It’s not safe to be a stray in the city. Even the dumbest dog should know that.”
Bailey didn’t say anything. He didn’t feel like a stray. He knew who he belonged to. Reid. Bailey peered under the dark, silent car next to him. There were a lot of cars clustered around a building where light spilled out of big windows. Inside, people were moving around. The door swung open and the noise practically hurt Bailey’s ears. It was that loud. But more entrancing was the smell of food.
A boy came through the door. If only that were Reid. But it wasn’t. The boy got into a car not far from Bailey and the car woke up and inched out of the parking lot and out to the street. Bailey didn’t know why he felt so disappointed, but he did.
After the car lights disappeared, he looked at Lucinda. “What are we going to do now?”
“Why ask me? I’m not the one with a bug in my ear.”
Cocking his ears, Bailey stood up and moved his head to the left and then to the right. His tail stuck out like a flag behind him as he sniffed the air. The hum was still in his ears. He’d come the right way, but he couldn’t tell how much farther it was to Reid.
“We haven’t gotten there yet,” Bailey said.
“Tell me something I don’t already know.” Lucinda’s mood wasn’t improving. But she didn’t say they should go back to the Robinsons. Instead she leaped up on the car beside them to look around.
“What do you see?
“A stupid dog and a crazy cat.” She slid down the hood to the bumper and jumped softly to the ground. “My feet hurt. I’m not going another step tonight.”
“Is it safe here?”
She didn’t bother answering as she limped to a huge metal bin. Bailey jumped up on the side of bin. Lovely smells came from inside it. Food smells. But he couldn’t reach the opening, no matter how he stretched.
“Get away from there before somebody starts throwing rocks again,” Lucinda ordered.
“But there’s food in there.”
“None you can get to.” Lucinda slid out of sight behind the bin. “You’ll just have to be hungry till morning.”
Morning seemed a long time away as Bailey followed the cat into the shadowy darkness behind the bin. Lucinda had already found a piece of foam to curl up on. Bailey lay down beside her and did his best not to think of bones and doggie treats and the wonderful whirr of Mrs. Robinson’s can opener. He wondered what would be different in the morning that would get them food. But there was no use worrying about that.
He needed to think good things. He had to be closer to Reid tonight than last night. He might not be miles closer, but he was closer. He wasn’t alone. Lucinda was with him and could be she knew something she wasn’t telling him about morning and food. Lucinda liked having secrets. 
No, things weren’t all bad. Just before he went to sleep, his tail flapped back and forth.

(to be continued next week)

Monday, September 8, 2014

Storms and School and Stories

September 8, 1965

Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. We get all kinds of things at the newspaper office and when Zella showed me this, I thought of Bailey and Lucinda right away. I know Lucinda is a black cat and not a white cat and Bailey is a bigger dog than this with bushy fur, but Lucinda does feel like she has to protect Bailey even if she'd rather lie in the sunshine and ignore him. More of their story is below. 

It's slow writing now that I'm back to school. Those teachers love giving homework. Doesn't matter if you already know how to do something. You've still got to do another ten pages to prove it. Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration. Maybe it's only five pages. 

Then, I've got to help Aunt Love to make sure she doesn't burn the house down when she starts cooking and then goes in the other room and forgets she's cooking. Tabitha could do that, but she's about as bad. She chases after Stephen and forgets all about supper. She does have to keep the baby out of things. None of us want him to tumble down the steps or anything. On top of all that, I have to help Dad at the paper and try to keep Wes halfway straight. Wes laughs at that. He says he's the one trying to keep me straight. But whichever, that doesn't leave much time for writing stories about dogs and cats. Not when there are other stories to write. Like about the 4-H meeting or the thunderstorm knocking out the electricity at the Courthouse.

Of course, we don't have it so bad with the weather. Down south there's a hurricane headed toward Florida. The second hurricane of the year. They've named it Betsy. There are all kinds of warnings out that it might hit Florida tonight. Betsy doesn't sound like a serious enough name for that kind of storm. 

What would you name a storm? Maybe Beulah. A Beulah would be one to watch for. The weathermen say Betsy is one people better be watching out for too. So I guess the name doesn't matter that much. It's how strong the winds are that matter. Dad said we should pray for the people down there and so I did. Guess we'll hear on the news in the morning what happened. 

Have you ever been in a hurricane? I can't imagine a storm like that.

Well, here's the next episode of Bailey's Bug.
BAILEY'S BUG by Jocie Brooke 
(continued from last week)

        Lucinda sighed heavily as if she’d just heard the weather forecast with no sunshine expected for a month. “Lean down and let me take a look.”
            She examined the nasty leash with her paw and nosed his collar. With a mutter of disgust, she chewed on the slimmest part of the leash. But with a shudder, she backed off.  “Tastes like dog.” She retched like she was going to dislodge a hairball, but Lucinda wasn’t one to admit defeat. “You chew it,” she ordered.
            Bailey gingerly took the leash in his mouth expecting it to attack any second. It didn’t and he bit down on it. When it didn’t bite back, he bit harder and jerked it around. The thing grabbed his neck and banged his head against a branch. Bailey barely kept from yelping. Then they both put their paws on the leash and Lucinda told Bailey to jerk back, but the leash just slithered free and laughed at them.
            “We’ll just have to let it go along.” Lucinda licked her paws and smoothed down the hairs on her ears.
            “But it’ll grab my feet and get me all in a tangle.”
            “Won’t be anything new about that. You stay in a tangle.” Lucinda turned away to peer out of the bush. “The coast is clear. The Robinsons have gone in the house to wait for us to show up on the doorstep which is what we should do if we had any sense.”
            She kept muttering as she crept out from under the bush. As he scooted out behind her, Bailey didn’t try to hear what she said. It was better if he didn’t know. He could find Reid without her help. Of course, he could, but he had no idea what was between here and wherever Reid was. Lucinda would know what to do if something weird happened. Cats knew about things like that because they were smart. And Lucinda was the smartest of all.
            Bailey bounced along, hardly even noticing the leash clattering along with him. Even it seemed to know it had to behave with Lucinda with them. He stopped to check for monster cars, then jogged across the street and into an open lot. Lucinda kept up with him without saying anything but now and again she made a growly sound that was definitely not a purr.
            After they walked a long time, he asked, “Have we gone miles yet?”
            “Dogs!” Lucinda hissed. “Always asking stupid questions.”
            “But have we?” It would be nice if they could find Reid before the stars came out.
            “I didn’t come with you to answer your stupid questions.”
            Lucinda was staring straight ahead, her head high, her tail stiff and straight as she walked. For just one worrisome minute, Bailey wasn’t sure she knew how far miles were. He took a wrong step and forgot about the leash. It tripped him and he almost stumbled right on top of Lucinda.
She slanted her eyes at him.  “You’ll never make it miles if you keep letting that leash trip you.”
Bailey kicked the leash to the side and felt better. Of course, Lucinda knew how far miles were. She was just a cat of few words. She’d tell him once they got closer to Reid.
Then, as they walked past the park, he decided she wouldn’t have to tell him. He’d know himself because that would be how far they’d walked. Miles. To another state. To where Reid was waiting for him.

(to be continued)
(Remember the beginning of the story is under Bailey's Bug up there on the top of my report.)


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Back to School with No Curls

September 2, 1965

Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. Don't have much time. School has started. Sigh! Oh, I don't suppose it's all bad. I get to see my friends and Leigh helped me buy some new clothes. I wore one of the new skirts today. It's a-line and a neat color of green and it doesn't look half bad. 

Now if I could get my hair to do something besides lay flat on my head. Straight hair is the pits. All the other girls have these cute little curling rolls around the bottom of their hair. Mine is straight. I roll it and it just looks like I forgot to brush it. I spray it and it looks like rope strands or something. Wes tells me to let it be straight and be glad about it. He says straight hair is all the rage on Jupiter. I told him I don't go to school on Jupiter. But I think I'd probably be more popular there. 

I don't let Dad hear me say something like that. He says popularity is over-rated. That the only one I should worry about being popular with is the Lord. And that I'd better remember that and not do things I shouldn't just because other kids are doing them. I'm not about to do that. You know, stuff like sneaking around smoking or skipping school.  I just want my hair to have those cute flipped up curls or I'll take curls under. But guess I'll have to settle for straight and apply for Jupiter schools.   

Did you ever worry about how your hair looked when you went to school? Or about wearing the right clothes? Did you sometimes feel like you were the only girl in school who looked gorky?

Oh, I did write a couple more pages about Bailey and Lucinda. I didn't have time to write much. I was too busy trying to make my hair curl. But here they are.

Bailey's Bug by Jocie Brooke 
   (The story continues. Remember, the rest of what I've already written is up there under "pages" on the tabs. Hope you understood that. I sure didn't.) 

    Lucinda didn’t say anything for so long that Bailey decided she’d gone to sleep on the branch above him. Cats could sleep anywhere.
    He was thinking about shaking the bush to wake her when she made a funny hiss. Not mad. Kind of tired sounding. “If you’re determined to go even though it is dumb and you don’t have any chance of ever finding Reid and there won’t be any food and you’ll end up wandering around forever and starving or reduced to eating carcasses on the road.” Lucinda shivered and set the bush to shaking.
    “I’m going.” Bailey tried to block out the part about no food. Carcasses on the road might not be too awful. Might not.
    Again there was a long, worrisome silence. Lucinda had to be thinking about her window seat and sunshine. Then all at once she leaped out of the bush and landed on all four feet right in front of his nose. He couldn’t keep from jumping a little.
   “As much as I hate the thought of going with you, I can’t let you go off half cocked with nothing more than a bug in your ear for help. Heaven help me but I’m going to have to go too.”
    Bailey hopped up and down, setting the bush to shuddering. He had his tongue out to give her a happy dog lick, but she swiped at his nose with her paw. She didn’t pull in her claws.
    “Don’t you dare. I don’t do dog slobber. Never forget that!” She made the funny little hissing sigh again. “I’m only going with you so that when you get lost, I can lead you back to the Robinsons.”
    “I won’t get lost. Dogs don’t, you know.”
    Lucinda acted as if she didn’t hear him. “I’ll purr and rub Mrs. Robinson’s legs, and you can do that stupid dance of yours with your tongue hanging out that people seem to like. Heaven only knows why.”
    “We won’t get lost.” Bailey panted happily, but he was careful not to let his tongue drip on Lucinda. “Thank you for coming with me.”
    “Dogs!”  Lucinda had a growl in her voice. “Never met one who wasn’t more trouble than he was worth. Well, come on. Let’s get this foolishness over with.”
    Bailey started out from under the bush and jumped when the leash rattled. He gave the nasty thing a leery look. “What about the leash? I don’t want it to go with us.”

(To be continued)