The place is Scotch Plains New Jersey where I find “The Seedlings” of my earliest memories. My sister and a really big house. Funny how you try so hard to recall early events only to discover that you colored them with thoughts of your brothers and sister. I see my sister Joyce so clearly. I feel her playing with my toes and reciting “This little piggy went to market, this little pig stayed home” A little thing to some but to me with that memory she leaps back into into my mind. I lost Joyce eight years ago. She was only Seventy six and I miss her dearly.
Other memories that flood my mind are the playing on large Statues in the yard. Seems that this house was once a Palatial home with what my Brother Clayton thinks might have been a yard used to play Miniature Golf. Drifting along with these memories are Chocolate Chip Cookies and Pop Corn. I remember Joyce making Pop Corn with a wire meshed Corn Popper over a fire in a large fireplace. Chocolate Chip Cookies takes me to the kitchen and my climbing up on the counter looking for them but instead pulling down on me a canister of flour. I’m sure I was pretty funny looking white flour covered urchin.
Don’t remember getting a spanking for the above because this next memory has me standing on the banks of a slightly frozen Mountain Lake with my father swinging a burlap bag with what I thought was a dead dog in it. It floats though the air and plunges though the thin ice disappearing beneath the icy water. I somehow have connected the dispensing of the deceased animal with my flour spilling gig. Perhaps the dog ate the flour and died. Anyway I’ve linked the flour and the killing of a dog to those two memories for over Sixty five years.
Over the years from my sister and brothers I’ve learned many fun things about that big old house. The basement it was believed was where the servants might have lived in several rooms. Joyce one day discovered a loose brick in the wall of one of the rooms. Wiggling it out of place she discovered a cloth sack with coins. She struck the Mother lode so too speak. I’m sure it wasn’t a lot of money but to a young girl it must have been an exciting experience. It was speculated that the stash might have been tip money one the servants had hidden.
Another vision I retain was a path that led over little bridge under which flow a stream. My brother Jack would tell me that a “Troll” lived under the bridge and liked to eat little boys. Took many years to overcome fear of things under bridges, beds or anything I couldn’t see completely. Never like my brother Jack that much. Learned later that Jack and Clayton would steal cigarettes from Dad and go under that Bridge to smoke.
Past the bridge the path led up to what I vision as a Highway. The point of this part of the narrative is Joyce on occasion took me up to the Highway to wait for a Good Humor cart to buy some Ice Cream. It is these small things that bring the reality of how small this world sometimes can be. Many years later Joyce now married and living in San Diego California ran into this very same Good Humor man. There you now have it. Memories of an old fool from close to seven decades ago. But just how accurate are they, or, are they just imagined images picked up listening to the stories my brothers and sister told when I was little?
Now when I explain this next thing, I want all of you to understand things were different in the Thirties. Political Correctness didn’t exist so don’t leave me because of what I’m about to confess. Okay…… That dog in the bag thing seems so real to me, however just last month I learned the truth about my Dad and that burlap bag. Are you ready? Oh, I just know some of you are just going leave in disgust. So just go now, I won’t mind, I’ll understand. Honest just go.
Okay, those who are still here, here’s the deal. My Dad loved animals. Dogs, cats, whatever. He brought them home from the Airport where he worked. I think I might have inherited this liking to having animals around from him. However they were just animals to him and they served at his pleasure, so to speak. As I was telling Clayton about this memory of the lake and the bag with the dog in it, he stopped me saying, “you got that only partially right.” It seems there was a lake. However Dad would bring home these animals and the Cats would start breeding and multiplying until there just were too many. So Dad, being the soul arbitrator life in the home, remember I did said the animals served at his pleasure, would gather up the overflow of kittens and put them in a burlap bag to be sent to the briny deeps of the lake. So what my memory witnessed was the thinning of the “Cat herd” and not the burial a dog I killed.
For those who have not fled and remain, I’m penning this confession on Thanksgiving Morning thinking how can I end this on a good note. Well here goes! I’m so thankful that at last after a half a Century I can now go to bed with a soul at peace because it has been finally cleared from being the “Dog Murderer” of Scotch Plains New Jersey.