This is where I would go to beat my head against the floor when I was three years old. (I stopped beating my head against the floor after accidentally ramming my eye into my fancy patent leather shoe. The black eye forced me to find a new way to throw tantrums.)
This is where my sister accidentally threw Hungarian goulash against the wall during one of our family dinners. (We would sit at the table in this room and eat dinner every single night.) This is also where I (at age eighteen) stuck my tongue into a bowl of M&M’s [sic] so that no one else would eat them. Age eighteen. I had a car and a job and could have gone up the road to buy my own M&M’s [sic]. But I didn’t.
This is where I would stand above the sink and eat bagels covered in cream cheese and butter. I cut Jim Dallas’s hair in this room. Every day I would set the timer over the oven to 45 minutes before sitting down to practice the piano.
One day in high school a trumpet player passed a note to me. When I opened it, it simply said, “I am going to kill you in the woods behind your house.” These are the woods he was talking about. When I was in elementary school, my dad took my sister and I into the woods to collect thick sticks for whittling. (We had to purchase pocket knives for Girl Scouts, and he wanted us to know how to use a knife before we went camping.)
Do you see the naked woman and her butt? This was a crack in our shower wall, and I would often tell myself that a camera was taking still shots of me in the shower and then projecting the outline in the form of wall cracks. (That was back when I was paranoid about being killed in the woods. I was a little jumpy back then.)
This is where I cut four of my fingers on the lid of a can of Strongheart dog food. After I used the can opener, the lid slipped down into the food so I stuck my fingers into the can and grabbed the lid—twisting my hand as I pulled it up. It probably didn’t make a sound, but in my mind the sharp edge of the lid cutting my fingers created a high pitched scream that resembled Mariah Carey doing an impression of a Mustang’s squealing tires.
This is where my sister and I watched KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park back in 1978 while wearing the slacks and blouses my mom sewed for us. My slacks (SLACKS!) had tiny dogs sewn around the bottom of the pants because my mom was a wizard with a sewing machine.
This is where I slept, where I stared at the ceiling while listening to records, where I filled journal after journal with my junior high and high school deep thoughts, where I talked to my friends on the phone, where I watched Hunter on my black and white television, and where I typed out programs from HotCoCo magazine onto my TRS-80. (Beyond those windows? The woods behind my house. Also, the back yard—where Digger and Thumper lived. They loved Strongheart dog food.)
This is where we buried Toby (our parakeet) when I was in the second grade. He died on October 31, 1977, which just so happens to be the first time I cursed in front of my parents. After my mom threatened to take away all of my Judy Blume books, she sent me to my room where I watched Three’s Company on my black and white television. I would also like to take this opportunity to mention that the yard stick shown in this photo may have been one of the yard sticks used to spank my sister and me after we refused to stop pretending to be the Bay City Rollers late at night when my mom was trying to watch Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.
This is where my sister and I would play Bay City Rollers. The tour bus was leaving, you see, and I was the tour manager. I had to wake up those Rollers! When all Rollers (every Roller role played by my sister, obviously) were awake, we would dance on her bed until my mom marched in and asked us if we were having fun. Our answer was always “No.” We were most definitely NOT having fun dancing on the bed while pretending to be the Bay City Rollers.
This is where I practiced the piano while my mom was holding ceramic classes in our basement. Those poor women were trying to paint sparkling eyes on rabbits while I pounded (POUNDED!) away on Bach Inventions and Beethoven Sonatas. If any of you are still alive, I am so sorry.
The train came by at least three times each day, and the only time it upset me was when I was trying to record myself singing into a tape recorder on the back porch. (I recorded my part and then put that cassette into another tape recorder to play while I recorded myself singing with my singing. I kept going until I had a tape of me performing four-part harmony to a song titled “What’s More American?” That was back in the Jimmy Carter days when we could sing about Corn Flakes and bingo and ice cream as being representative of America and there were no verses containing terms like mass shootings and systemic racism and travel bans and Puerto Ricans dying in the streets while our leader laughs and tosses paper towels and I don’t think I need to go on, do I? Anyway. The train.
My parents built our house 47 years ago and they left it for the last time four days ago.
The house was purchased (and will be demolished) by the electric company, and I guess I should be sad, but I’m not. A house is a box, and I still have the memories—along with my old books that my parents found stashed away in the basement. (The basement where my dad kept the clown painting that was attached to the record player he made. It was also where I splotched the gizzies, but that’s a story for another day.) ((I’m still being spammed by the spammers, so I’m still moderating comments.))
(I’m still being spammed by the spammers, so I’m still moderating comments.)
6 thoughts on “This is my rock and roll love letter to you.”
We had to do this with my childhood home a few years ago and I didn’t think it would make me sad. I spent the night alone, sleeping on an air mattress in the downstairs bedroom. The house was mostly empty by then and then I got a little sad. I am so glad that your parents are in a new space and so close to you.
S. A. T. U. R. D. A. Y. Night! All I’ve ever been able to think about when I see The Bay Cuty Rollers is, “why do they wear those pants?”.
I wish that I had been able to enjoy growing up in one house. By the time I graduated from high school, we had lived in 8 different houses. My father got bored easily and needed renovation projects. Needless to say, my children only lived in one house.
I think those shoes are what were called earth shoes where the toes where higher than the heels. And why does that guy have his pants unbuttoned?
I assume your parents will be moving to a new house where you can help them make more memories?
My childhood stack would also contain Judy Blume and Agatha Christie! It’s nice to remember the oddities.
Also – can you imagine if someone wrote that note about the woods these days?
We drove past the house I lived in from age 10 to 14 this summer. The trees that were barely more than sticks then are full-fledged shade trees now. Later we went to the farm where I lived before that; the house and barn are gone, but the (carpernter) shed, the corn crib, the hog house, and the granary are still there, looking r-e-a-l-ly old.
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