Friday, April 20, 2012

Lilac's and Memories

Lilacs are Ready!  

The smell of lilacs bring back a memory for me.  It was a simple place.  A carefree time.   No worries....  

A Day In the Life  

The house was quiet, all but for the sound of a robin chirping outside our bedroom window.  My two older sisters were still sleeping across the room, taking advantage of the first days of summer vacation.  School had been out for over a week, and the days were glorious, with no cares. 

It felt good as I stretched my arms above my head.  The room was bright from the sun, and it didn’t matter that it was 10:30 and I was still in bed.  There was nothing planned, nowhere to go. 

The living room of our little four-room house was converted to a bedroom for my three brothers at night, with Jimmy sleeping on the couch, and Larry and David opening their ‘roll-a-way beds’.   I needed to pass through there to get to the kitchen.  My brothers were still asleep as I made my way through the cool darkened room, careful not to wake them.  My arm brushed against the cold potbelly stove and then I pulled aside the curtain that separated the kitchen from the boy’s room. 

“Shut the curtain!” Jimmy screamed.  I stepped down into the kitchen and pulled the curtain closed behind me. 

The kitchen was warm and the wringer washer sat in the middle of the floor.  It was Monday; wash day.  The room belonged to the smell of Oxydol and Clorox and the humming and swishing sound of the washer.  Sitting down at the formica table, I picked up my report card and once again went over it from the week before. 

Roberta Thomas will be in grade 2 next year, it read.  I was proud, not only that I passed… but that I had gotten all A’s and B’s.  I put down the white report card and skipped to the screen door looking to see if Mom was outside close by.  She was hanging clothes on the line.  The screen door slammed behind me but not without letting a fly inside.  Those pesky flies…  they seemed to gather there at that door, buzzing loudly and just waiting on their chance to sneak in.   

I sat on the porch step watching Mom and breathing in the fresh lilac bush that infiltrated the quiet morning air.  That scent was confirmation that the school year was over, summer vacation was beginning, and my life was perfect.  Soon my siblings would be awake, and chaos would replace the calm. 

Later that morning I walked down a weedy path leading to the apple tree in our neighbor’s yard, and Rita and myself along with a neighbor, climbed the tree and collected pockets full of green apples.  As I sat in the shade of the tree, a cool breeze brought goose bumps to my bare, skinny legs and I brushed an ant from my arm, as I bit into the hard sour apple. 

“Did you bring the salt shaker?”  I asked.  Rita pulled it from her pocket and handed it to me and I poured salt over my apple and then took another bite.  It was delicious and tart and I ate it up.  We each ate several, discarding the wormy ones. 

“Let’s go to the hut!” Rita said, tossing her dark stringy hair over her shoulders.
“Jimmy won’t let us,” I said.  Jimmy had created the hut on the side of the hill just below our house, a refuge of sorts to get away from our parents.  Paths were beaten down and signs were posted to KEEP OUT>  Though certain few had Hut privileges, namely Jimmy and Rita, who were the older and more respected of the bunch, us younger ones were sometimes invited briefly to explore the secret place. 

“I’ll ask if it’s okay,” Rita said, jumping from the tree and scraping her bony knee off a wayward branch that had fallen to the ground.  She ran toward home, and I followed.  We cascaded down through the yard to the green hillside where we came to an abrupt stop.  Mom was standing close by and looked worried.

“Jimmy just killed a snake,” she said.  I quickly looked down at the long grass beneath my feet making sure there were no more snakes lurking about.  Rita’s eyes were wide and afraid.  Jimmy poked at the ground with a rusty coal shovel and picked up the long black snake, laughing and walking towards us, the ugly snake dangling lifelessly, provoking us to run up the hill and into the house. 

Carefully drawing squares onto the pavement above our house later that day, Angie numbered them and we took turns tossing a rock, playing hopscotch.  Then we heard a faint ‘ding.. ding… ding..’ sound in a distance and ran for the house.

“Mom, can we have a dime?”  I asked.  The Ice Cream Truck was in the neighborhood.

“I guess so,” she said.  “Get me my pocketbook.”

I ran to the corner of the room and grabbed her black patent leather purse, handing it to her.  She filtered through tissue, teaberry gum and a brush to find her change purse, and pulled out two thin mercury dimes, handing one to each of us, and we ran outside to wait along the road.  Soon the noisy white truck was in front of us, and we were standing in line at the magic window.  Soon chocolate ice cream dripped down my arm as I hurried to finish my cone before it melted. 

Later that night we watched our black and white television.  It was raining outside, and the picture was clearer than usual.  The antenna on our roof brought in NBC crystal clear, but CBS was usually too snowy to watch, so this was a treat.  The room was dark but for the warm glow of entertainment in the corner of the room. 

Later that night all television programming would be off the air and the living room would be transformed back into the boy’s bedroom.  Tomorrow would be another day, and there would be much to be enjoyed.


  1. What sweet, carefree memories!!! Your picture is so cute, and is that beautiful lilac bush yours! We have a big one by the kitchen door...maybe you will see it the next time you head our way!!!

  2. I see from your photo that Rissie looks very much like you. So cute! I love this post and your memories bring to mind many similar ones from my childhood. I remember eating sour apples with salt! Funny how smells, like lilac blossoms, bring back fond and simple times. Wishing you a nice weekend.

  3. Lilacs and fragrances can make memories travel many miles and years.
    They do that to us too

  4. I do remember how wringer washer and put rubber diapers through that wringer diapers and explodes and I ruined a couple of shirts
    Did you ever get anything caught in a wringer?or ruined a couple of shirts?

  5. Lovely...lilacs are such a trigger for beautiful memories aren't sweet memory is coming home form school and running up the driveway and inhaling a huge waft of aroma...Lilac fragrance...I can smell it now...only thing they don't come here until mid-June...that's OK...lots of time for anticipation! All the best to everyone!

  6. That story could have been about me and my family:) SWEET story!!! I have the sweetest memories of my childhood, living tight but happy, all of my siblings around me and around the kitchen table! I would like to go back to that kitchen table for just one meal:) Have a blessed day dear Bobbi, HUGS!

  7. I love the lilacs, I too have memories about the lilacs. Isn't it funny how the mere sight and smell of them can seem to only bring happy memories?

    Nice post!

  8. Wonderful stories! I too understand how especially the smell of something, can trigger a memory!

  9. Hi Bobbi,
    You bring back memories. I was an only child and always alone b/c we were always parked were Daddy was working. Lived in the small travel trailer. Dad was a piano player in night clubs.
    Have a good week-end Bobbi and thanks so much for your visit!!

  10. Beautiful childhood memories Bobbi... much like my own happy carefree days when school was over...playing outside all day long... except for the snake... daddy would transport them to the pond in the orchard to live... xoxo Julie Marie

  11. Lovely memories, great story telling, and such a sweet photo.

  12. Mom says that the scent of Lilac also takes her back to happy childhood memories! Thanks for sharing.

  13. Dat right hteres was a beeeeautiful memory. Mum says dat was back when kids didn't get hurts from climbin' trees and it was safe to gets icey creams from da icey cream man. And you didn't has to lock your doors and blah blah.
    Da funny thing is dat at da time you prolly nevers thought dat memory would stick out.
    Dat HAD to has been your momma's Sunday purse.


  14. When is the book coming out? I want more adventures. haven't heard anyone mention mercury dimes and teaberry gum in years. LOVE the smell of Lilacs too. What a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing. take care.

  15. What a wonderful memory. We have a jarful of old mercury dimes from my father-in-law.

  16. Ps, I take care of my plants just as I would any living thing that I care about!!! If you want success that is what you have to do.
    Good luck!!

  17. A day in the life of Roberta! You took me along with you Bobbi! And I know what you mean about those seldom quiet moments in a houseful of kids!! They are few and far between.
    Lilacs.....end of school taking a bunch in for the teacher or for Mom. The scent would fill the room. Great memory!
    Thanks for this Bobbi!

  18. Nice memory Bobbi. I enjoy these wonderful stories.

  19. I really enjoyed this "day in the life" from your childhood, Bobbi. Wow! You are such a good writer......



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