|Sherry's and Andy's Restaurant|
contributed to all of the experiences of childhood including learning about the characters that played a part in that drama.
Daddy was a hard country man due to his upbringing. Prone to dark moods and sometimes having too much to drink he could be quite scary, though he was mostly gentle with his only daughter. Other times he could be the kindest and most generous of men with everyone. He had his demons that took me a lifetime to uncover and understand. Mother was a city girl of the Jewish faith and from a totally different type of upbringing. They struggled as a young couple during the Depression years, had one son, and parted ways which was unknown to me until I was 40. I learned that my father had married again briefly and that my little brother and I were born to that marriage. That marriage did not last long and, since our biological mother could not care for us properly, it was Daddy who took care of us and ran a business until he remarried his first wife...the woman who took on the big job of being a mother to an older son and two little ones who were not her own. In many ways my parents did a good job and provided for us very well as we were always well dressed and well fed and were given good educations. We traveled to different parts of the country and eventually my father's business prospered.
Andy thinks he was crying because in his words…
"look at the clothes they put on me!"
My earliest recollections of the old house was a little TV in a room that always seemed dark. Guess we were saving on electricity! Though I remember watching programs during the day like Howdy Doody, Sky King, Mighty Mouse, and Captain Kangaroo, it was seeing Liberace play that piano on a tiny TV in black and white at night that I most recall. I loved Liberace! Years later, Mother told me that if I took a nap after school I could stay up late with her to watch a musical (movie) and that was special. We always had many cats which Daddy loved but Mother hated. He took in every stray that came into our yard. I would walk far around some of them while they ate in a corner of the kitchen as they were half wild. I had my favorites though and named some of them…Snowball, Rosy, and Mary. There were dogs that came and went but it was the cats that seemed to always be there. In later years, while in Rockport, Dad would feed every neighborhood cat plates of shrimp shells or leftover fish.
With all of the crazy things that younger brother and I did outdoors, neither one of us broke a bone but there were plenty of cuts and scrapes. Dad's remedy for everything was Merthiolate which burned like hell after it was applied! He had all kinds of country remedies, though our mother always took us to doctors, dentists, allergists regularly as the years went by. I remember Daddy riding on a tractor once and he said that we could get on it with him. I put my foot right on the muffler which of course burned my foot but I never said a thing or cried…until later when I needed to explain what I had done! I don't know many people who had their throats swabbed with medication but I imagine there are those who recall odd looking humidifiers that Vicks was added to and Dad always rubbed Vicks on our chests every winter for our colds.
Cold it was in that house but, with great affection for the Dad who could be very kind, I recall him laying our clothes on the fireplace screen to warm them on some mornings before Mother or one of the employees would drive us to the parochial school in San Antonio which was 10 miles away. Most days Mom drove 40 miles a day taking and picking us up from school as well as working in the office of the family business. Today that seems almost like living in the suburbs or a bedroom community of most cities where people commute to work and school every day. Back then I felt like I just lived in the country!(which I began to hate as a teenager) Our parents referred to it as living outside of the city limits…big deal. It was still country living to me. Dad thought to buy a home in an upscale neighborhood of San Antonio at one time but then decided to build his own home in the country where I lived a few years before going off to college.
My brother and I were not always playing alone but it seemed that way. There was a little girl who lived across the road where her parents owned the country grocery store. Her Mom always had a million chores for her to do but sometimes she would come over and we would play "school"…as in being teachers. Rather boring compared to my adventures with Andy. However, she and I did something creative. We would leave each other letters in the mailbox by the country road when we could not play together. Many summers as we got older my female cousin, who was close to my age, would come visit us for a few days and sometimes would go to the coast with us. I learned how to play Jacks with her and we didn't bother with a rubber ball…we used a golf ball! Little brother didn't fare too well with two girls, as sometimes we played dress up and we dressed him up in lady's clothes too. That never seemed to effect him negatively in life though! Eventually he was into building model airplanes and always loved to play with toy soldiers and his Alamo set. When he finally had his own room, after older son left home, I hung all of his model airplanes from the ceiling and thought it really looked good for a boy's room.
We had a phone on the front porch in the early years of my childhood. Mom and Dad's oldest son had joined the Navy at a young age and the phone rang in the middle of the night. My father could be quite funny without even knowing it at times and was known as a "character." When the operator told him that he had a long distance call from Hong Kong, he asked her: "Where in the hell is Hong Kong, Texas?!" If both of them were living, they would be 100 years old. Happy Birthday, brother, and thanks for the memories.