Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Some Things I Remember: Sioux Falls 1960

Let's see, we lived in Sioux Falls until 1963. We lived in two houses. The first one was in the Hilltop neighborhood. It was a white, single story house on a corner lot with a huge weeping willow tree that my father would trim and we'd gather up those trimmings (the soft pliable whip-like reedy branches) and make big nests out of them. I had a friend named Myron who lived down the street and we'd fight and he'd pin me down but I'd never give up and never admit defeat. Across the street lived the Bosslers, a group of kids about our ages (our being my two older brothers, maybe my sister, not my youngest brother until later) and the Bosslers' father was known as a mean guy who loved his lawn so much he wouldn't let his kids play on it, would get out cutting shears to clip wayward strands of grass. We had a dog named Goldie which we gave away (but that might have been in the late fifties--I was so young yet I still remember when the man came and took Goldie away, she was a cocker spaniel) and then we got another cocker named Blackie who had puppies that lived in the basement when they were born. I used to go see them and feed them my snot. I remember the basement--my mother had a crank washing machine, I'd guess it was electric, but it had wringers and a tub. I had a balloon that was special to me, a helium balloon that got to where it would float only half way up with its string trailing along, it often sat above the stairs that led down to the basement and then one day Oldest Brother popped it, just to be mean, I guess. I recall a big field of dandelions in Hilltop where we kids would go to test our courage catching honeybees. Things like bees, spiders, dragonflies were big deals when you were a kid. I recall some older kids--at the second house in Sioux Falls--told us dragonflies could spit venom out of their mouths into your eyes and could blind you. I believed this for a very long time--maybe until I was eleven or twelve--that dragonflies could blind you. It took a long time to appreciate them, but I do. I had a trike and would go away from our block where there was a "haunted house" and where some mean kids lived that always threatened us--tribal kids--and chased us away and I was waiting for the day I turned five so that I could ride my trike down there and beat them up. But I had to be five before I could do it. I recall the winters where snow would pile up like crazy, the walks to kindergarten between huge banks of snow, the giant snow fort father built for us in the front yard that took up almost the whole front yard and I was getting over the mumps or measles (not the chicken pox--don't think I ever got that) and Father lifted me up so I could see it from the front window and when I finally got to go out and play in it (we had big snowball fights with the other kids) there was always dog shit in the snow. That troubled me. Oh, hell. There are a million and two little memories from South Dakota but so few of them stick to me anymore, so few of them have any specific beginning and end and heavy connotation. 
But I will sift them like flour and bake a cake.

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