Part four in the series. The year was 1961.
"Take Good Care of My Baby"
1961-Sung by Bobbie Vee
Song link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vl3_hZ9A7sc
By the summer of 1961 I was in the complex process of becoming a young woman. A very delicate balance to strike between adolescent and teenager.
Summers meant long family car trips. We were off to visit our grandparents, which was a little complicated because both of my mother's parents had been divorced and both remarried.
Her mother, Hazel, was of German stock, and for as long as I can remember, she was grossly overweight. Despite the fact she was divorced, which was not at all common in those days, she met and married her second husband, Vern, who was quite a handsome man. He was Cherokee Indian. I don't remember when they married, because it seems like he was always in my life.
In the early days of their marriage I remember us visiting them in Houston (he worked at an oil refinery) in a small clapboard house squeezed among so many along the railroad tracks. I remember how much they seemed to love each other, they were never shy about holding hands and showing affection. One thing I specifically remember about staying there was awakening to the smell of fresh coffee brewing each morning, and biscuits baking in her oven. This sure did beat the smell of oil which was so pervasive in the area. Then, at the small kitchen table where we kids sat before our parents got up, we got to observe something we never saw at home, physical affection. Nanaw, as we called her, would sit on Pepaw's knee, and he would ask her, "Would you like some sugar this morning?" She would always smile and look into his eyes and say, "Why yes I would!" He would then stir a spoonful of sugar into her coffeecup. It always amazed me how strong he was to let her sit on his lap, and that he never seemed to r=know she wanted sugar in her coffee.
Pepaw was missing a part of a finger, probably a work accident, but whenever we arrived for vacation we kids would give them both big hugs and kisses and start begging him to see the finger stub. It was an endless source of amusement, though he told us it is what would happen to us, if we were to stick a finger into a fan. We never, ever touched the fans because of this, and believe me, they were a big necessity in Houston.
As soon as Vern retired they moved to Cameron, Oklahoma. They bought a farm, complete with a pond and a horse named Star. That's where we all were during the summer I turned thirteen. My youngest brother Brian and I were on the horse with Pepaw when daddy snapped this photo.
I think summers on the farm with them were my favorite family vacations. Because it was really hot and humid, we were always up before the sun rose, again to smell of coffee and biscuits and sausage. Breakfasts sometimes included fresh trout we kids and daddy had caught in the reservoir. I loved sitting around the big table all of us eating and chattering away.
I fell in love with rocking chairs there, they was one on the screened in porch. To take my mind off of the many chigger bites on my legs, or the sunburn I got from staying too long floating on the raft in the pond, or the oppressive heat I'd listen to my transistor radio tuned to Oklahoma City's pop station and rock and roll. "Take good care of my ba-y-beee.....". I know I was memorizing the words to every song I heard.
After the huge dinner which included fresh veggies we picked from Nanaw's garden, it was naptime...for everyone. Nobody could stand the oppressive heavy heat of the day. My brothers and I would lie down on a big mattress on the porch with an oscillating fan set on high, and finally drift off to sleep only to awaken excited to get to go down to the pond for a late afternoon swim. The evenings were much cooler and even more sociable as the work was done for the day. We ate only a light supper, maybe a sandwich from the leftovers of the midday meal. This is how middle America's families lived. There was no television, just card games or stories and homemade ice cream. It was idyllic to a city girl like me.
After a week or so we would all pile into the station wagon and head to our next stop, either Texas to visit my father's mother, or Springfield, Illinois to visit mother's father. Summers, when we lived in the United States, were always spent visiting family.