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Life Arts    H4'ed 5/3/16

Little Houses

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Message Kevin Tully
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Thinking about how we as a people are not up to the task presented us right now. The following is part of a story about the folks that lived through the Great Depression and World War II.

"A nematode is a tiny little worm that lives in the dirt. They like roses. Too much. They make 'em sick. My Father would kill'em by sprinkling sugar all around the dirt around his roses. Momma would hollar at him if she caught him doin' it. Back then we didn't hardly have much sugar. The war was going on and just about everything was rationed. My Momma made the best blackberry cobbler and chocolate pie you've ever had. I didn't care much then about Papa's roses but I sure did like pie.

Couple a times I snuck in and told Momma Papa was throwin' sugar on the roses again. You know, we even raised chickens right there where you're standin'. Sure did. The War was a terrible thing but it was fun for me and my pals. I hate to admit it, but we sure had fun back then. I think that it was even something, hard, but special for the grownups in our neighborhood, the one's that were too old, or had too many kids or had flat feet -- it was damn awful for our neighbor. Their boy got killed in Italy or... Africa, I can't remember. We'd ride our bikes all around the neighborhood and hang out by houses with stars in their windows -- seein' if we could talk to guys Dads about where they were fightin', hopin' they'd tell us about battles and such.

My Father was a carpenter. Well, he really was a salesman but since he was raised on a farm he knew how to do a lot of things. It was hard to get most anything back then. We had a car but we couldn't drive once for about three months 'cause we couldn't get any tires. Papa volunteered to work in the shipyard. He was too old to be a soldier. He would sneak wood from crates and shipping pallets out of the shipyard and build things for people -- trading shelves and other such stuff for sugar or even hose for Momma. One time he traded a guy that worked for a grocery store a nice little jewelry box he made for a whole box of bubble gum for me. I was the most popular guy on the block for about a week.

Son, I've lived in this house my whole life. That's my Momma's hand print right there in the sidewalk. That tree you're standing under, Me and Papa planted that on my birthday in 1949. There's a whole zoo's worth of my pets buried in this yard. I gave, Cynthia, my first real girlfriend, a necklace that I'd mowed grass from here to China to buy. We were wrestlin' one Saturday and she lost it somewhere over there. I never did find it. It's still out there somewhere. Even had a guy come around in the seventies with a metal detector. He found dimes and nails and beer caps and part of an old pistol but never did find that necklace.

I know you're just gonna buy this place and tear it down. Maybe a laborer will find that necklace. Momma's hand will end up in some landfill. Ralph, my favorite mutt -- if you find his bones, call me. Goddammit, this just ain't right. Ain't right...

There's sacrifice and love sunk in all these old places left 'round here. The world fell apart and the men and women that built 'em put it back together again. I know it's probably impossible for you to imagine it now but that yellow house down there -- Mr. Dittlinger that lived there raised three turkeys in his backyard. My Dad traded him two old tires he'd snuck out of the shipyard for one. Yep, that Christmas our turkey was raised four doors down. Bet you can't even imagine roosters crowin' and turkeys peckin' around right here in town can ya?..."

(Article changed on May 3, 2016 at 09:03)

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Kevin is an Artist, Writer, Carpenter and Gallerist in Texas.

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