|Night falls, the cool crisp air sets briskly in. On this late summer Sunday evening , our family gathers around the fire pit for smores, hotdogs and fun stories. As I look around I glimpse Duke, the family beagle snatch a marshmallow straight from the bag. I smile after deciding not to rat him out. I then thought, what a great time to conduct my interview. My grandmother would make the perfect candidate. So with the smell of campfire and Burnt marshmallows, I start the discussion. The ground was softened from the days earlier rain fall, grandma was having trouble keeping the metal folding chair from sinking in the moist earth. I had a hard time keeping from laughing as she went sideways. Despite the fact she looked as if she was the tower of Pisa, grandma seemed confident and somewhat eager to answer my questions. The fire illuminated the area around us carving out a circle of light in the darkness. I could see the flames reflection dance across everyone’s face. There in the firelight I asked my first question. She went to high school in the 70’s, like a strange and funny foreign language, or a weird slang she used words like “cool, groovy, far out, and neat-o.” She also did what she called “cruzing the strip.” It may sound like she played as hard as she studied, because she also got very good grades.
I set there a moment watching twinkling embers flicker upward while grandpa tossed more wood into the fire, feeling like I just watched a re-run of “That’s 70’s Show”. “My English teacher Mr. Eckhart was my favorite,” grandma said. “Why?” I asked bewildered, thinking who in their right mind would love English. As if she read my mind she proceeded to explain her reasoning. Right away I could see why she enjoyed and admired this man’s class. He pushed his students to think outside the realm of normal, and strive to reach their highest potential. Also I could see a big difference in how school was, way back then. Mr. Eckhart not only used the local newspaper as curriculum, but after my grandma told me that she had to do an essay on capital punishment, I realized that he also used the Bible as well. My thoughts drifted to a time when not only was the Bible taught in school but teachers had the freedom to teach the way they thought was best. Like a sling shot flinging me back to the year 2012, my overly loud and silly uncle Jeremy, of whom I could write a whole biography on asked me if I knew what corporal punishment was. Before I could even answer grandpa said “That’s when you get publicly flogged!” Grateful that doesn’t happen now. I told my uncle that if they did, he would have done been whooped to death. He just laughed, as he lit one of his retarded do-it-yourself cigarettes. He should seriously think about quitting.
“Grandma were you in any clubs or anything” I asked, while carefully rotating my marshmallow, in hopes of not ending up with a gooey, flaming torch. I laughed as I glanced over at my little sister; she had so many marshmallows on her that she looked like “Stay-Puff”! After cleaning the marshmallow monster off grandma said” Pep club is what I remember the most!” As I ate my burnt campfire treat I listened to stories of dances, sporting events, and how they really went crazy decorating NHS for Homecoming week. I pictured painted windows all over town, halls covered in streamers, lights, elaborate floats, and how much fun grandma had with her friends. They must have been really good because, my grandma said very proudly, and with excitement in her voice, “we won the spirit stick all four years in a row!” As the fire dies down slightly I thought of a ghost with a stick, almost sure that’s not what she meant, I snickered anyway. My sister asked, “Grandma, what is a spirit stick?” “It’s a stick that was decorated and gave out as a reward.” Said grandma.
“The best thing that happened to me in high school, happened my sophomore year!” Grandma said, while petting Duke. The dog perked up his ears and wagged his furry black tail, as if he too was curious about this life changing event. She worked at a drive-in root beer stand called B&K, it was a summer job and she was what they called a car-hop, which I found out was like a server that came to your car. She told me about cars, Cooney sauce, root beer and the funny things that can happen when you mix them altogether. The most important thing that she told me was how she met a boy, and how cute he was. She turned and smiled at my grandpa, I realized that he was the boy she met serving root beer to thirsty car loads.
“It’s getting late” said grandpa. Slowly everyone started to the house. I sit staring at the fire as the last bit of flames flicker out, as if they too had to go in. The bright circle that earlier pierced the darkness, slowly shrunk to just a small pin hole. The small amount of red glowing coals that are left burn out, my mind replays the evening’s event like a movie in my head. I realized how lucky I am to have such a great family. I thank God that in such a busy world we still find time to sit around a fire in our backyard. I look at grandma and see the importance of going to school, and trying my best at everything I do. It was strange, and “Groovy” to hear about my grandparents when they were my age. I pray that someday God will grant me with the strength, wisdom, love and grace that grandma and grandpa have.