EXCERPT from Just for You to Know:
“We’re going to live pretty close to where a genuine used-to-be President of the United States lives,” Dad said, looking back at all of us in the rearview mirror. “Can any of you guys tell me who that might be?”
“Harry S. Truman,” I muttered. Not that people like us will ever get to see a real president out walking around, just being a guy.
“Independence was where the Oregon Trail started,” Jimmy told us all. “Back in the pioneer days.”
Big deal. Maybe it was an exciting place about a hundred years ago IF you were wanting to join up with a wagon train and go on a bumpy, scary, disgusting, ox-poopy, frontier trail. I could just imagine Dad saying, ‘Let’s go to California! It’ll be an adventure!’
Thank goodness we didn’t have to do that.
Now Clark stabbed me in the arm with his finger. “Carmie, look at this one!” He held his joke book two inches away from my eyeballs.
“Leave me alone.”
“’How do you tell if a elephant was in your refrigerator?’ Do you know?” When he couldn’t stand me ignoring him even one more second, he blurted out, “’When you find footprints in the Jell-O!’”
Laughter exploded out of him.
The twins began fighting over graham crackers, spilling them over the checker game they were trying to play. When Harry accidentally elbowed Larry in the head, they tipped over a sackful of Mama’s old magazines onto Georgie who began to howl. Oh man, how’d I end up in Gene’s and Dorothy’s Traveling Loony Bin? Somewhere up in heaven I must’ve gotten on the wrong bus.
“You kids pipe down right now, I mean it!” Dad yelled.
“Pick up those crackers, you boys,” said Mama. “And don’t eat them if they’ve been on the floor. Throw ‘em out the window for the birds and the critters.”
Boy, that got their minds off their troubles: throwing all the crackers and a few checkers out the window. I hoped the rabbits or raccoons wouldn’t be squashed into hash, trying to gather up smashed graham crackers all over the highway. And what would some poor hungry robin do when all he got was a checker?
“Mama!” Harry shouted. “Georgie peeing his pants!”
“Oh gross!” Clark yelled. “Don’t get any on me!”
“Carmen,” said tired-sounding Mama, “you wanna change him? His red shorts are in that grocery sack.”
If there was one thing I knew for sure it was that no matter where we lived, I’d always be changing some little boy’s disgusting wet pants. Once a long time ago, I changed Harry’s diaper and he peed right in my eye! Clark thought this story was the funniest joke in the world. It made Harry very happy and proud.
“Let’s all sing, okay?” Dad suggested. “She’ll be comin’ ‘round the mountain,” he began, and even Mama and Georgie, sort of, were singing dumb stuff like “we’ll all have biscuits and gravy when she comes.”
“How come Carmen’s not singing?” Larry asked.
Dad tossed me a glance over his shoulder. “She thinks she’s
too old.” Then he pushed back his ballcap and began singing, “I Dream of Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair,” loud and deep, high-pitched Clark joining in.
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