Monday, April 28, 2014

From Under the Lilac Bush

April 28, 1965

Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill. Actually, I'm reporting from under the lilac bush in our front yard. Can you smell them? Ahhh. They're wonderful. The butterflies like them too, but I couldn't get the butterflies to pose for my camera. They kept flitting away and film isn't cheap as Dad is continually telling me. But Dad likes the lilac bush too. He says he doesn't know how old the bush is but that it's been in that corner of the yard ever since he can remember. He thinks maybe his grandmother planted it, but he doesn't know for sure. Whoever did, I thank them!

My dad and I, we have roots that go deep. He grew up in this house that now I'm growing up in. His daddy grew up in the house before him. A room or two has been added on since then, but the front two rooms are the same. Well, we've
painted and papered it a few times. The living room is great. That wallpaper has bunches of flowers from the floor to the ceiling. You should have been here when I was helping Aunt Love put that on. That was a riot. Maybe I'll write about that sometime.

Anyway, sometimes I feel the walls watching me and maybe comparing me to the Brooke people who came before. I probably don't compare too good with them. Then, a few times, I hear something. You know stuff like footsteps upstairs when nobody's upstairs. That can give you the heebie-jeebies, let me tell you. But Dad says that old houses just do a little creaking and that sometimes creaking can sound like footsteps. Wes tells me not to worry about it. It's probably just somebody from Jupiter who got lost trying to get back to his spaceship. Aunt Love claims it's only Jezebel, her cat. Of course, she doesn't say Jezebel. She calls the cat Sugar. But trust me, there's nothing sweet about Jezebel.

But there's plenty sweet about the scent of lilacs. Ahhh! Love sitting under the bush and having the lilac scent fall around me. Makes me remember God's blessings. Dad says anything can do that. A new baby. A table full of food. A church full of people. A Bible story. He's been preaching about Noah and the flood. Last Sunday was about Noah sending out a dove after the rain stopped. First time it came back with nothing, but the second time Noah sent it out, it brought back an olive leaf. 

Now I know you're not supposed to add or take away anything from the Scripture, but I don't think the Lord minds when I sometimes like to imagine the dove brought back a lilac bloom instead of that olive leaf. Now, wouldn't a lilac bloom have been a fresh bit of hope for Noah and his family after being stuck in the ark so long? Can't you just imagine how that place had to smell with all those animals on board? Eww! I mean, I've been in a barn with nothing but pigs and cows and chickens. And it was plenty stinky. But then I guess Noah's sons had plenty of water to wash the ark out when they needed to. Do you suppose they just reached their buckets out the ark windows and dipped some up?

Dad says it can be interesting to wonder about the nitty gritty details of a Bible story, but that the important part is the lesson. With the Noah story, it was about how he was faithful, and because of that, he and his family got to start the world over. 

Even so, if you end up somewhere stinky, I hope you'll have a lilac bloom to sniff on. Or can pull it up from your memory. And remember that book, Scent of Lilacs, is still free as a download from, or Barnes & Noble

That's all I know about that except the cover has lilacs on it. You have to read the whole story to find out how important lilacs are to me in that book.

Do you love lilacs? Do you have a bush that's blooming in your yard right now? Has the bush been there ever since you can remember? If not, I'll share mine with you. Just remember...

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter Hats on Parade

April 20, 1965

Jocie Brooke here reporting from Main Street, Hollyhill, Kentucky where if you went to church last Sunday on Easter, you'd better have been wearing a hat or something closely resembling a hat. At least that's what Aunt Love says. 

She even told Tabitha she'd have to wear a hat although I'm not sure she was happy when Tabitha found this big floppy hat that could work as an umbrella if it rained. That's Tabitha. Always flamboyant. But after all, she lived in California for a while. That's bound to do something to a person. 

Aunt Love used to only wear black or deep purple hats to church, but then after she told me and Wes about something that happened way back when, she started wearing this bright red hat to church all the time. Bright red! Something like this one. Who would have ever thought that? 

You can read all about that in the book, Scent of Lilacs. By the way, somewhere in the future that book is still free for download on e-readers.

Of course we did think Zella would have to have an Easter hat that beat everybody else's hat. And then she just went with a black pillbox hat something like President Kennedy's wife always wore. Looked great on Jackie Kennedy. But Zella looked like she was wearing half a painted oatmeal box with a hairnet on it. 

Dad did tell us that hats weren't a contest and that everybody looked great in their Easter hats, but you can bet the ladies at churches all around Holly County were checking out every hat that rode in on a head. I felt like a total nut wearing that white hat up top. I wanted to look good in it and all grown up, but I just looked like a butterfly net was stuck on my head. Sigh. Some people have style. Leigh, that's Dad's girlfriend, she says I'll get style, but somehow I doubt it.

Hats aren't the most important thing about Easter anyway. We need to quit worrying about who's wearing a hat and who isn't. The Lord rising from the grave. That's the important part of Easter. 

But since we're talking about hats, did you wear one on Easter? This year or any Easter?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Scent of Lilacs and News from Hollyhill

April 14, 1965

Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. Not much to report this week. Dad says that's good because it means nothing bad has happened. And I say why can't something good happen that we can report. 

But in the newspaper business, bad sells more papers. Like the wind blowing the roof off of Mr. Dexter's barn last week. Everybody wanted to buy a paper to see that picture. Of course, plenty of people had already driven out there to see the barn roof sitting over in the field instead of on the barn with their own eyes. I took the picture Dad put in the paper. I like taking pictures, but Dad says I have to be careful about using too much film. He's been thinking up ways to pinch pennies ever since he filled out those tax forms last week. So I can't take a picture of every flower I see even if they are signs of spring. And that's good news! But not the kind that sells newspapers. 

But I think spring is good. That means summer is not too far away and school will be out!! Yay!! This time of the year, school just gets too long. Way too long. They start wanting you to take tests every other day and by now, your poor old brain is so tired you can't squeeze one good answer out of it. But you have to anyway because you sure don't want to fail and have to do it all over again next year. I'd run away to Jupiter if that happened. 

Trouble is, Wes tells me they have school all summer up there. That's why they know how to build space ships that run on bug juice. Jupiter bug juice. I think even Wes has spring fever, not coming up with anything but rerun Jupiter stories. You want to know about that one just check back a few issues to the story he told me in February about Jupiterian Fropples. 

Since we're talking about stories, how about those two book covers up top? That's the book where you can come visit us here in Hollyhill and find out about all our secrets. That writer didn't keep anything back. The book cover on the right is the first cover the book had back when it was published in 2005. But now it's back out with the new cover, the one where I'm reading on the steps. Both covers have lilacs. Guess that had to be since the title talks about smelling lilacs. I like lilacs, so that's okay. They budding out here, but haven't bloomed yet. We're supposed to get some cold weather. Redbud winter, Miss Sally says. I'm going to cry if it freezes the lilac blooms. Really, I am. Loud, so Mother Nature can hear and feel sorry.

Anyway, back to those book covers. Which one do you like best? I like the bike, but I guess I have to like the new one best since that's me on it. It's not every day you get to have your picture on a book, now is it?

Oh, and if you have some newfangled way of reading that I can't even imagine, you can get it for free. I thought you had to go to a bookstore to buy a book or order one from a book catalog and then it came in the mail. But Wes says in those science fiction books he reads that they send books right through the air sort of like t.v. shows. I don't know if they have antennas or what. Sounds crazy to me, but if you are way out there in the future and know what he's talking about and you have one of those futuristic gizmos, you can read all about my adventures in Hollyhill without paying a dime. It costs nada, nothing. At least for a while. That's better than the books in the dimestore.

So, till next week when maybe the lilacs will be blooming, happy reading. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Do Not Disturb - Tax Form Headache

April 7, 1965

Jocie Brooke reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. Do not, I repeat, do not get close to my father today. He is in the middle of doing taxes. The door on his office at the paper is closed and I don't think even Zella would have the nerve to knock on it. 

"Not even if the press breaks down," Wes says. 

"Not even if the building catches on fire," I say. 

"Not even if gypsies come in the office and steal all the papers off the counter without throwing the first dime in the dish," Zella says. 

That sounds a little crazy even for Zella. What would a gypsy want with a copy of the Hollyhill Banner? But she says when she was a girl, her parents were always warning her about gypsies. Then she looks at Wes like she thinks he might be from wherever gypsies come from instead of Jupiter and at me like she hopes it they do come in the offices, they'll grab me instead of a copy of the Banner.

It was wild enough here last week without any gypsies showing up, after Dad put that piece in the paper about a Yenom Tree. You'd think people would figure out all that was a joke since it was April 1, but Zella says that some people think if it's printed on paper, it has to be true. 

She refused to answer the phones all that day and there were plenty of calls. Even those who knew it was just an April Fools joke called. Some to complain that a newspaper shouldn't print foolishness and others to tell Dad how much fun they had with the story. 

You truly cannot please all the people all the time. And old Abe was right that you can't please some people any of the time. I know a certain woman whose name starts with "Z" that falls in that category. But Yenom. Hold it up in front of mirror. That's money spelled backwards. And even if you didn't figure that you, you surely could figure out that money does not grow on trees.

If it did, we'd try to raise one so that Dad wouldn't have to worry about April 15 and taxes. He says he just can't figure out why we owe taxes when money is scarce as hen's teeth around here. He doesn't want us to answer that and we've learned to keep quiet and leave that door shut until he has the tax form in the envelope, stamped and ready. Then he'll be smiling again and saying how it's a blessing to make enough money to need to pay taxes. But his smile will get bigger when Wes speaks up to ask, "Did you ever notice how you can put the and IRS and it spells theirs?"

Dad will laugh about that tomorrow. Today he has a tax form headache.    

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Fools Day in Hollyhill

April 1, 1965

Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. It's April Fools Day. That means I've got to be on the lookout all day for people ready to pull pranks. Especially Wes. 

Wes says they invented April Fools Day up on Jupiter and the first Jupiterian who visited earth started it up here back in the 14th Century by issuing a warning about these creepy looking Jupiter bugs that were invading from outer space. Wes said nobody expected this fellow of being one of those outer space invaders himself but that they went around examining bugs all day, especially weird ones like that one in the picture. People started thinking they'd never seen that particular bug before and that it was going to poison the water and eat up all the plants. A lot of bugs that didn't scurry under a rock got stepped on as April Fool panic broke out. That Jupiter prankster had to make a fast exit out of there. But he forgot to take his Jupiter bug and so its antennae have grown really long as it tries to find the spaceship to go home. 

Wes says not to worry. The bug lives on air so the earth is not really in danger or anything, but then he'll tell me I have one of them in my hair. I know I don't. I know he's pulling a joke, but I always feel little feet walking around on my head. Wes thinks it's extra funny when I start hitting at my head. I always have to laugh too. That's the fun of April Fools Day. As long as the joke isn't mean. I don't like mean jokes, do you?

Dad hunted one of the pranks from the past years up to report on in the Banner. I helped him look through old newspapers and magazines. We found this one about the Yenom Tree in the VIEW magazine from a couple of years ago, 1963. The story reveals the existence of the Yenom Tree, a "rare perennial" owned by Mrs. Loo Flirpa (better check that out backwards) of Appleton, Wisconsin, which sprouted "Bright, green one-dollar bills with uniformly high serial numbers." In an unusual mutation, this year the Yenom Tree had also sprouted a "flawless five-dollar bill." Mrs. Flirpa had entered into "an exclusive arrangement with the United States Mint to sell Yenom tree seedlings through a system of greenhouses to be operated through local offices of the Federal Reserve System." 

Dad said that sounded like a handy tree to have around and so he's running the story today in the Banner. He says nobody in Hollyhill will believe it, but Zella says we'll get a ton of telephone calls of people wanting to know how to get their own Yenom Tree. She says she's not answering the phone all day and that if Dad thinks that's an April Fools joke, he'd better think again.

Do you know any good April Fools gags? Have you ever had any pulled on you? Well, watch out for that Jupiter bug crawling around on your head. 

Oh, and by the way, somebody says Scent of Lilacs is free if you have an e-reader. I have no idea what that means. I think it must be a message from the future. But they say it's no April Fools joke. Whatever they're talking about, free sound good!