Sunday, February 21, 2010

Illionois Small Town Childhood Memories

Hi cousin Alan, 

I only remember Illinois as a ten year old child and maybe for three weeks with Grandma Roberts (your Aunt Mae). If it was hot, I didn't notice it. Too much fun collecting lightning bugs in a jar; riding your horse bareback down a dirt road; slipping and sliding in the back of a wagon full of oats, bugs and grasshoppers, as your Dad brought it in from the fields; watching out for the "mean" goose in your barnyard; climbing Grandma's cherry tree; and endlessly cranking the ice cream churn. Yeah, it could have been hot, but I sure didn't notice. 

My Dad came to visit us at Grandma's. He took us to a movie on the main street of Roberts. That's before they moved the water tower. Back then they hung a huge screen on it and showed a black and white movie with Bob Crosby. (Who knows why this stuck in my head!) The three of us sat on a blanket in the middle of the street to watch. Just before we settled down, Dad took us into the corner soda fountain to get a malt or a shake.

I loved that it didn't get dark until after 9 or so at night. Meant our normal bedtime didn't mean anything in Illinois. Dark always came about 8 PM in CA. Even so, through our complaints that it was still light out, Grandma, at 9 PM would make my baby sister, Marilynn, and I up go upstairs to bed — where we could read for awhile. I'm a reader even today - although you don't like the books I read - i.e. "The Road", Ha Ha!. 

As I'd lie in bed reading in that glowing amber light of twilight, I'd also be waiting for the train whistle to announce the train was going through town along with the rhythmic click-clack of metal wheels against metal tracks. Such a comforting, haunting sound. 

Always one of the fondest memories in my life — that short three or so weeks with Grandma Roberts in Illinois and on your boyhood farm.

Love to you, cousin. So glad we reconnected.

6/29/09  Dear Dawn,
o       They were called free movies.  The town merchants paid for them to promote Saturday night business.  That was when all the farmers came to town.  The movies were an extra incentive to be sure and come.  Nearly all the movies had a serial with them.  Tess was bound and laid on the tracks and the train was bearing down on her  -  and then the reel stopped!  You had to return next week to find what happened.  Nearly every small town had 'free movies'.  There was always a popcorn stand.  The one who ran it may have been practising his only source of income during the summer.  It was a time looked forward to by all the youngsters; more so for the commaradie than the movie.  The girls hung with the girls and the boys with the boys.  But they purposely crossed paths to tease and caterwaul each other.  Besides you didn't want to miss, you might catch sight of that pretty/handsom girl/boy that you had your eye on.  You are right, every one brought a blanket to lay down on the street.  And they were shared, you didn't necessarily sit on your own families.  Wonderful times; we'll not see them again - -
o        I have no idea why you remember Bob Crosby - - -
o        You memtion the water tower, did you know that Ralph Bradbury (a cousin of yours, about third) took a dare he could not fly his Piper Cub down main street because the tower was there.  He flew it and managed to raise the plane fast enough not to hit the tower.  You can agree to some weird things while sitting in a tavern.    
o        You are right again, it does get hot in Illinois.  Jane and I often slept on the grass as it was cool and a breeze often helped.  Then Dad built a screened in porch and we slept there.  That reduced our time of scratching mosquito bites considerably.  But I don't ever remember it being too hot to work or play.  
o        I'm glad you remember the farm.  I do too, and your reminiscence caused me to recall fond memories - Thank you, Dawn.  
o       The work you had done at the Robert's grave site is beautiful.  All of my sisters and I marveled over it.  You and Marilynn are to be complimented and praised.  Future generations will be proud to see their forefathers so well remembered.    Love, Alan       

·      1) 6/29   Thanks for including me in the e-mail list, I enjoyed it.    Jim Sinsley

·      2) 6/29 Dawn -- you make childhood sound so appealing.  I remember lightning bugs --- something we didn't have in California.  Carolyn Lawson
·      3) 6/29    Dawn - What a charming and well written email - It truely is an ode to youth and fun and summer and great childhood memories! Well written too! Looking forward to seeing you on Thursday night! Lots of love – Michelle Milash

·      4) 6/29  Dawn,
o       I drove with Justin to Indiana last week. He got a job working for the Madison County surveying office. Justin's girl friend lives in Indianapolis. We drove really hard. Long distances everyday. I told him from the beginning that we were going to drive through Roberts. We drove past Dad's old house and through "downtown." I was tempted to stop at the Roberts Bar and Grill, but we were still pressed for time (at lease Justin thought we were pressed). We knew exactly where the cemetery was located. He had looked it up on Google maps. My mom gave me general directions to the Roberts grave site, but then lefts were confused with rights. The first familiar name I saw was Uncle Louie. He died in 1982 at the age of 99. Barbara and I met him the previous year when we did a cross country tour with Mom and Dad. Then Justin and I just strolled the rows until we found ROBERTS. Seeing Grandma Roberts' name, Uncle George, Aunt Elsie and Dad's head stone really got me choked up. 
o       I just wanted to tell you what a great job you did with the head stone. It was perfect. I had tried to make connections with people back there the year after Dad died. It just didn't seem to work. I think you had to be there to get the job done. You did it and did a fantastic job. I wish that I would have had some of Dad's ashes to bury there. There will be another time. We cleaned up all the Roberts head stones and took off toward Indiana.20A huge lightning storm greeted us as we hit the highway. It was entertaining for two hours. 
o       I'm headed to San Diego to visit Mom in mid July. Her vision is getting really weak. It will be great to visit her at the "institute." Thanks again sis, Brother Tommy

·      5) 6/30/09  Dawn, You bring back wonderful memories, and they are expressed in a captive, comforting story.  If I had your creative flow and were to write about my childhood, I would choose to relate it exactly like you have! This is really special. Thanks, cousin Dianne Wissmiller

The Sense of Us

The Sense of Us                              in Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin
Dawn Janov with her sister, Marilynn Roberts on their sister trip                                 June 10, 2006
Soft as a kiss for a newborn.
Quiet as a fawn that is hiding.
Comfort in a sweater well worn.
Here is a place for the finding.

Sharp as a twig that is broken.
Beauty in all that you see.
For others a place that will open
Doors to a deep inner peace.

Listen to the lap of the lake
Partnered with the chirp of a bird.
What a great way to wake
Without ever hearing a word.

Thanks to you, John and Barbara McFarland.
It is a perfect plan.
The neat, restful, darlin’
The cabin of the "Otter Clan!"