Today is my sister's birthday. Her fifty-first. We talked by phone for awhile tonight--she's in Cincinnati and I'm here in Spartanburg. Talks like that always lead to remembering old times, old ways. I remember how my sister and brother and I would sit on my grandmother's porch on Spring Street and watch cars go by on Sixteenth Street one house up. The first car to go by was Libby's, the next one mine, and the third one Steve's. Whoever had the prettiest car won! We played it all afternoon sometimes. Steve and I had many games. Our two favorites were "Jack and Bill" and "Boy and the Pup".
"Jack and Bill" was a simple game. We sat on the foot of our bed. One of us would hold the metal stool from the kitchen so tilted toward one of us that it became a steering wheel, and we took turns driving. All the while making car noises! Then whoever was driving would make as to pull the car to the curb. The other would get out. Then the driver would lean across the bed as if to speak through the open car window and say . .. , "l'll take the car on down." Then, drive away. End of game. We'd switch places and do it again.
"Boy and the Pup" was somewhat more noble. Steve was "Boy" and I was "Pup". We'd stalk crooks in the house and capture them! We'd save people in distress! I on all fours, and Steve gently holding my collar would hide beneath the dining room table where we would plan our tactics.
Then Libby, Steve, and I made up the game that all kids make up--"I Spy an Ornament on the Christmas Tree!" All questions had to be yes or no. And only three guesses. Those were grand times. Yet at the moment of their occurrence we have no earthly idea just how precious tbose moments are going to be in our later years! Strange. They were such innocuous moments, no special significance at all. And we cherish them so. Maybe it is because those moments were so innocent. We knew nothing of evil. Of ill. It was a time when tke world was nice. That bubble is soon broken, For somewhere back there comes an event that ended that innocence. The first entry into our lives of the cruelty in the world.
And for me it occurred in 1947. I was standing on the corner of Sixteenth and Spring Streets watching cars go by of all things. Libby came screaming from the house hunting for me. "Granpa Cap is dead! Grandpa Cap is dead!" I met her halfway; my legs running, my heart racing. I began crying. I remember how blurry everything looked from my tears. We raced back to the house. "Granpa Cap is dead!" I wasn't sure what dead meant at the time. I distinctly remember mulling over what might have happened to him. But the look on my sister's face told me that I would never see Granpa Cap again. And all of us loved him so.
He was my Father's Father. He was a big German looking guy. Snow white hair. A big white mustache. He kinda reminds me of pictures I have seen of Bismark or Hindenburg. He always seemed to dress in black suits, white shirt and high top black shoes with that little tab in back to pull them on to his feet. He always winked with both eyes and we always asked him to wink at us. Then we'd laugh because he couldn't close just one eye. He used to come over in the evenings while Dad was overseas. There was a war on but we kids didn't know anything about it. Remember the world was still a nice place to us kids! He would play dominoes with Mom and her mother (Mommie Gee-Gee we called her). Sometimes they'd play Set Back. I'll always remember one of them yelling out) "High, Low, Jick, Jack, Game!" And everyone would moan and groan and throw down their cards. It was a warm time. A secure time. An innocent time. Till Grandpa Cap died.
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