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"The Rain Dancers" by Sherrill Pool Elizondo
My younger brother and I were country kids even though we went to parochial school in town and I went to dance school there as well. Family and most of our friends lived in San Antonio. I longed to be a city girl and, as I got older, I frequently went to my grandmother's or aunt's house. It was at Gram's house that I could have a bathroom all to myself and, even better, she had a big claw foot tub. I was in heaven because, in a family of five with one bathroom and only a shower, the prissy adolescent that I was becoming was seeking more time and privacy. In my teenage years, Dad built a bigger more modern home down the highway and by that time I only had to share the bathroom with my younger brother.
We were fearless little kids. Considering how dreadfully afraid I am of snakes and high places, it amazes me as to what Andy and I would do on our many adventures. We loved to jump off the top of tanks out in the lot (one of the fields Mom may have been thinking of.) Once I made a parachute out of old head scarves which never worked exactly right. We also liked to jump from the roof of the building where the cement mixer was into the sand pit. None of the workers ever got mad at us that I recall. One of the most unusual adventures had to do with an old two seat airplane that Dad had out in the back field of the property. To this day I do not know where he acquired it though he was always interested in planes and flew small ones himself. It was OLD… from the 30's or 40's or it's safe to say World War II era. My brother and I would crawl into that airplane that was invested with weeds with not a care in the world that snakes could be lurking inside! Fly fly away we did! We also literally flew into the air on a very tall swing set that my father also obtained who knows where. No other kids had one like it that's for sure! It had to have been at least 15 feet high and I remember that I could practically touch the top of a tall tree with my toes when I swung very high.
We used our imagination back then and my little brother and I were the best of friends as there were not many kids who lived around us. One day we decided that we would create a museum on our covered front porch. We set out (with the REAL jungle hats we were given) to find artifacts. I guess we mainly found rocks and other items but the best artifact we found was a cow's skull! It was so stinky that I doused it with perfume. We had a great museum and the only problem was that there were no kids to come visit it! My brother liked to play practical jokes. Much older brother did magic tricks and after he left home my younger brother found one of the wooden eggs. He loved putting it in with the other eggs in the refrigerator just to watch Mom try to crack it! He also had an unbelievable vegetable garden for a little kid. The garden was near where the chicken coop had been and I guess the soil was very good because I have never seen squash get so big. I didn't like gardening. I loved my dolls and making mud pies...outside of course.
Summer time was when we had our biggest adventures and, of course, looked forward to trips to Rockport-Fulton. It is so hot in south Texas that we mainly wore flip flops or went barefoot and had a game we liked to play that was more like a dare. There was a small country grocery store across the road from the office. We would go there to get sodas or popsicles and laugh our heads off as we ran barefoot across the hot pavement...a race to see who would get across first. We had a concrete tank in the backyard(when we were not running through the sprinklers) that we loved to swim in. I can remember seeing it be drained to be cleaned once and the next morning Water Moccasins were in it. With my fear of snakes that was developing, it is a wonder that I ever got back into the water. Today I look at my big beautiful pool in the backyard of my suburban home and remember those days so long ago.
On the other side of our old home far removed from the manufacturing plant was an empty field. Every spring it was filled with beautiful wildflowers. It was here that I picked flowers for Mother. Still I don't know which field Mother was thinking of that I had disappeared to in her imagination! One of my fondest memories of brother and me centered around summers in the 1950's when Texas was in a severe drought. I recall seeing large cracks in the soil in those fields and people praying for rain. Day after day with no rain. Little brother and I did our job like any good kids did back then. We did our rain dances in the front yard right in view of the kitchen window so Mom would be sure to see us. We were very good Rain Dancers and it finally rained on those parched fields in Texas.
Images Courtesy of Sherrill Pool Elizondo