Memories from my youth that sneak into my mind at times include the smell of the propane-fired, gravity furnace that heated our tiny home without benefit of a blower fan. Heat rises, and with all rooms opening to the furnace’s centrally-located floor grate, the heat spread to warm everyone, as long as doors to rooms were mostly left open.

I remember my mother putting laundry on a long clothes line that was accessed directly from a small side porch. The porch gave height so that laundered sheets might not touch the ground. The line was a loop connected to pullies at either end. As my mother pushed the line out, away from the porch, the pullies would squawk much like the call of a blue jay. Biddle-diddle-dit. Biddle-diddle-dit.

I remember drowsing as I slowly drifted into afternoon slumbers while laying on an oval of braided carpet beside our big dog, Chinook. I couldn’t wait to go to school like my big brothers did every day. My mother told me I had ‘too many questions’ and that I could get all my questions answered when I went to school to learn. I accepted her word, then listened to the rhythms of her ironing as I watched brilliantly lit dust motes drift slowly, in the slatted, venetian-blind light of afternoon sun.

WICH radio, serving the Norwich, Connecticut area, woke us up in the morning, marched us boys around by playing the marching song, “Kittycats on Parade,” gave local news and local advertising. On Sundays our family would often listen to “The Polish Hour” which seemed to please my father who only learned English when he went to school. I only liked the part when the announcers, speaking only in Polish, would interrupt their “nudge-nudgey” speech sounds and enunciate clearly in something that sounded like, “Pusba nudge-nudgeMallon Chevrolet duhjah greemly possa djahber nitchni.” I loved to hear the clearly enunciated ‘Mallon Chevrolet’ part of their otherwise indecipherable speech.

Boys being boys, we’d been somehow left to our own devices one day and mimicking action TV shows, cowboy heroes, Superman, etc., we played out our own pretend versions of such action-packed imaginings. But I was always the ‘little one,’ so I was left out as my two older brothers climbed atop the car roof to add drama to their pretend fist-fight. Not to be left out completely, I grabbed my brother’s Brownie camera and photographed the whole sequence. Actors and cinematographer. Mom and Dad got a surprise when they had my bother’s film developed and printed.

Ah youth! It was fun while it lasted.

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