Some Saturdays Fred didn't have to work, so after Brother and I woke up, we watched cartoons, Mighty Mouse, Yogi Bear and Boo Boo, Bugs Bunny, Magilla Gorilla and Quick Draw McGraw.
My favorite show was Gumby and Poky. Although I enjoyed watching their wild adventures, I never understood why Gumby didn’t ride Poky everywhere they went. I mean, Poky was a horse, and horses are meant to be ridden. Poor Gumby just didn't get it.
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Before school started Mom began packing for me and Brother's annual two-week trip to Wisconsin to visit Dad and Stepmother.
Dad and Stepmother lived in Peshtigo, a small town in Northern Wisconsin, where Brother and I were born.
Brother and I loved Dad and Stepmother very much, and we were always very excited to go see them.
"We're going to see Dad! We're going to see Dad!" Brother and I yelled excitedly as we ran around the house.
"GoddamnIT, SHUT UP, YOU TWO! Your dad is a horrible father!" Mom yelled as she looked at us with hate-filled eyes.
Mom hated Dad and did not like it when we talked about him.
Although I didn't like it when she said bad things about Dad, I knew to keep silent because I didn't want to get hit.
Keeping my excitement to myself, I helped Mom pack for our trip.
Later that day I wrote Mom little notes telling her how much I loved her and left them in her room for her to read in case she missed me while I was gone.
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The next day Mom finished packing, and we went to the airport.
When Mom parked the car, she grabbed our suitcases and walked us to our gate. After giving Mom a hug, Brother and I followed the stewardess onto the airplane.
As we boarded the plane, I looked around in nervous excitement. I couldn't believe we were going to fly on an airplane all by ourselves! And best of all, at the end of the flight we would see Dad and Stepmother!
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After we landed in Wisconsin, I could hardly sit still in my impatience to get off the plane and see Dad and Stepmother.
As we followed the stewardess off the plane, I saw Dad and Stepmother waiting for us at the gate.
Brother and I excitedly ran into their warm and loving arms for a big hug. I loved my handsome Dad with his black hair, black goatee and dark brown eyes. I always felt safe and protected when I was with him.
Stepmother was a schoolteacher and did not work in the summer, so she had plenty of time to spend with us. She loved kids and always lavished me and Brother with lots of love and attention. In her kind and caring arms I would often snuggle feeling the safety and security I so desperately craved.
Stepmother had honey blond hair, blue eyes and wore glasses. I thought Stepmother looked very pretty in her glasses, and I couldn't wait to grow up and wear glasses just like her.
Although Dad and Stepmother loved kids, they did not have any of their own yet.
Brother and I spent many happy hours with Stepmother that summer picnicking and swimming at the local beaches and playing with our cousins and friends. On the weekends Dad came to the beach with us and swam and played with me and Brother.
That summer Stepmother also took us to the local museums that detailed the history of our small logging town. One of my favorite museums was the Peshtigo Fire Museum. The fire museum housed artifacts and old pictures of the devastation caused by the Peshtigo fire that started the same day as the Chicago fire, October 8, 1871. The Peshtigo fire was the deadliest wildfire in American history, much bigger than the Chicago fire, and burned over 1,000,000 acres and killed an estimated 1,500 to 2,500 people.
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Several times during my visit, Grandma, Mom's mom, picked me up on her motorcycle from Dad's house and took me back to her house for a visit.
I always looked forward to spending time with her because Grandma and I had a lot in common. We both loved to eat.
When I heard Grandma's motorcycle roaring up the driveway, I ran outside to greet her. As soon as Grandma saw me, she broke out into a big smile.
After Grandma parked her bike, she took off her helmet and leather jacket and opened her arms wide for a hug. As I wrapped my arms around Grandma's waist, I happily inhaled her scent. Grandma smelled just like fresh air and Listerine.
Grandma had steel gray hair, brown eyes and a beautiful smile. She was tall and large boned and handled her Kawasaki motorcycle with ease.
After Grandma hugged me, she came into the house and visited with Stepmother.
When it was time to go, I gave Stepmother a hug and followed Grandma outside.
Before we got on her motorcycle, Grandma carefully wound a long scarf around my neck because she didn't want me to get a chill. Then she put on my helmet. I climbed on the motorcycle behind Grandma and wrapped my arms around her waist, and off we went.
Our first stop was to the A&W root beer stand where we ate delicious hamburgers and onion rings and drank sweet, syrupy root beer out of frosty, glass mugs. Afterwards we went to one of our favorite restaurants, Mickey Lou's, and ate hot fudge sundaes.
When we were done eating, Grandma drove us to her house. Grandma and Grandpa lived in the country in nearby Marinette on the Peshtigo River.
Grandma had a beautiful yard filled with colorful flowers, plants and trees. In the middle of the yard was a big tree with a pretty wooden bench built around it for people to sit on and watch the river as it lazily floated by.
Many birds flew around Grandma's yard singing their merry songs and eating from the bird feeders. Rabbits, squirrels and other small animals roamed around the property. Sometimes deer walked through her yard. One time Grandma even had a bear in her front yard that was trying to get into the bird feeder!
Before we went in the house, Grandma and I went to Grandpa's shop. Grandpa was restoring a Model T, and he proudly showed me what he had done so far.
After we left Grandpa's shop, Grandma and I went in the house. As soon as Grandma opened the door, we were greeted by the intoxicating aroma of pot roast with carrots and potatoes that was cooking in the oven. My mouth started to water at the thought of that yummy dinner that we would soon be eating.
Grandma opened the oven and checked on the pot roast, then she went to the cookie jar and got us some cookies to eat.
While I ate my cookies, I stood at the big window in the kitchen and looked out at the yard. Grandma's house was very peaceful, and I always enjoyed going there.
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Although I enjoyed visiting Grandma, one thing she always wanted to do when I got to her house was go fishing. I did not like fishing, but I never told Grandma because I didn’t want to hurt her feelings.
That afternoon Grandma gathered up all of the fishing gear, and we got in her little metal boat. Grandma rowed us out into the middle of the river, and she dropped the anchor. Then she pulled out a bucket of slimy, slithering worms to use as bait. When I saw those worms, I squealed in fright and refused to touch them.
Sighing in frustration, Grandma grabbed a worm and impaled it onto the hook at the end of my fishing pole. Then she got her pole ready.
Grandma said we had to be real quiet and sit very still because if the fish heard us talking or saw the boat moving around, they would get scared and swim away.
After we threw our lines into the water, we sat silently staring at the river waiting for a fish to bite. Soon I got tired of staring at the water and sitting still, and I started fidgeting and talking to Grandma. Grandma admonished me to sit still and be quiet.
I tried to mind Grandma, but I was hot and bored, and soon I started fidgeting and talking. Once again Grandma asked me to sit still. After a little while I again started fidgeting and talking. Grandma finally became frustrated and rowed us back to shore.
After we got out of the boat, I breathed a sigh of relief glad that we were done. I really did not like fishing.
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At dinnertime, we all sat down at Grandma's little table in front of the kitchen window. While we ate, we watched the squirrels and rabbits running around the yard and playing with each other. For dessert Grandma made one of her favorite treats, smooshed up strawberries with lots of sugar.
When dinner was over and the kitchen had been cleaned up, we went into the living room and watched Hee Haw, the Barbara Mandrell Variety Show and The Lawrence Welk Show. When Lawrence Welk was over, it was time for bed.
Before we went to bed, Grandma went into the bathroom to brush her teeth and gargle with Listerene.
I slept with Grandma in one of the twin beds in her room. Grandpa slept in the spare room.
Grandma had just redecorated her bedroom, and it was beautiful. On the windows were frilly white and lilac colored curtains. Soft white rugs were strewn around the carpet. The twin beds were covered in white chenille bedspreads with several lilac pillows resting against the headboards. On each bed was a stuffed Persian cat with a lilac bow wrapped around its neck. With their long, white fur and blue marble eyes, the cats perfectly set off Grandma's beautiful bedroom.
Grandma’s room looked like a fairy tale princess lived there, and I wished I had a room like that at my house.