Warm Weather + Country Roads = Miles of Memories
Prepare yourself, it's a long one.
Wednesday was, for most Missourians I believe, a breath of fresh, warm spring air. The temps hit 70+ and the sun was very bright and inviting. I stayed at the station late to cover the noon news show for the regular, who had to go out of town or some such. Driving home, I should have been exhausted, since I'd had a long work shift the night previous, no nap before work, and only a couple of small cat naps to get me through the 12+ hours at the station. But as I drove home on rural back roads, I felt no fatigue- rather, I felt light and happy and refreshed as I enjoyed the weather.
At one point, I saw what I concluded to be a red-tailed hawk standing in the road, clutching a fresh-caught squirrel in its claws. Gross though it was, it was a cool sight to see Missouri's best-known bird of prey so close (I got about 15 feet from it when it flew away, squirrel guts trailing behind....gross). A bit further down the road, I saw a large bull, wallowing in fresh farm dirt and mud. I thought that might be a nice activity, except you replace the bull with me and the mud/dirt with a swimming pool.
As I got closer to home, to my mind came the idea to drive by the "Old House." Lambsons will of course know immediately to what I am referring- for others, the "Old House" is the home on Columbia's Route Z where the Lambsons spent 12 wonderful and flooded basement-filled years. The memories of this house are a blog entry or five of their own, but distinct memories of the landscape came to me that day. I remembered the oddly cut and shaped little plum tree in the frint yard, where once I tried to make my escape from that demon-possessed Lambson dog Crystal. My flight was to no avail, and Crystal got a nice biteful of my rump. I hated that dog. I also fondly remembered the tall climbing tree near the front door. Then there was the old log in the field behind the house, which our pretending turned into everything, from a spaceship to a boat. I also remembered the cool little dugout we had ina corner of our mom's garden- it was just a pit, several feet deep, which turned a corner and was covered by a board.
As I drove toward and by the house, Route Z memories flooded into my mind:
- driving past the farmhouse where my first crush, Sarah Grone, lived
- past the home of the Waylands, who owned the large fields behind our house. Our favorite episode here is where A.J. Archuleta fell into the sewage lagoon. He cried, we laughed, he smelled.
- past the home of the Simons family, where us crazy and stupid kids convinced ourselves lived criminals (if memory serves, we actually "broke into" their home to look for clues, by which I mean we actually went in, albeit without breaking anything)
- past the Archuleta's home, where neighbor kids A.J. and Alex live under the Lambson-kid-percieved iron fist rule of their mother, Alice (she seemed mean to us then, but is actually a very nice person and had every right to be mad at us- we were always riding our bikes around and on her well-kept lawn). I remember well two of the Archuleta's dogs, Greta and Bosley, both of whom bit me on the hand on seperate occasions
- from the road I could see the Old Barn (not so secluded as it seemed years ago), where our childhood imaginations dreamt up any and every kind of playtime scenario
- past the graveyards on either side of St. Charles road, where disrespectful little Lambson and Archuleta brats played tag and Ghost in the Graveyard around and on gravestones and sites (probably going to come back to haunt us, pun intended, after we die)
- past the home of the Whitehead family, famous most of all for their brown dog whose name was (and I am not making this up): Poo. Poo was the antagonist in the legendaryLambson epic tale where Poo attacked one of the Archuleta's dogs (Greta, I believe). The hero of the story, Dad, in a battle to match Ulysses vs. the Cyclops or Anakin vs. Obi-Wan, came storming out with a stick (actually a garden tool handle- shovel, I believe) and whacked Poo across the back, sending the brute yelping and running home. Dad was truly our hero.
Continuing along Route Z, I came to Two Mile Prarie Elementary School, where all kids but Sarah and Kirsti spent all or most of their K-6 lives. My teachers were, in order: Ms. Bloomfield/Darnell (she got married during the year), Mrs. Crego, Mrs. Fox, Mrs. Arni, Mrs. Watson (she was mean), and Mrs. Glenn (for a month until we moved into town and I started going to Blueridge). Our principal was Mr. Austin, a great old cowboy who, once a year, put together a school barbecue, where we got to skip class, eat hamburgers, and ride horses and carriages all day. We rode Bus #31 with memorable drivers such as Booger Bill (who, according to legend, would pick his boogers and place them in his scraggly beard) and Brian (who I will remember as having a big scab on his chin from a motor-biking accident.
I also drove along other roads in the area, trying to retrace old bus routes and remembering school friends. Friends like Thomas Phillips, whose house was a country mansion, and Jimmy Kerpash (it took me literally 5 minutes to remember his last name. Best of all was fidning the house where Jon Palmer lived. He, like A.J., Poo, and Booger Bill, is a Lambson Family legend. Originally one of those "babies" on whom my mom regularly "sat," Jon and I became good friends, as did my sister Sarah and his sister Sasha. Jon and I played all kinds of pretend games, like Ninjas or guys from the video game Mortal Kombat or Ninjas. Jon took martial arts, hence all the ninja stuff.
I think one of the biggest surprises about driving and finding all these homes and memories was to see the names of these people still on the mailboxes. Maybe they were never removed out of laziness or neglect, but they could still live there. A small part of me wanted to knock on their doors and say, "Hey- I wonder if you remember me, because I certainly remember you."
Memory lane is often a pleasant walk, especially if you have had a life as blessed as mine has been and is. It becomes so much better, though, when the sun is shining and a warm breeze is blowing.