Me on my "horse"

When I was about 9 years old, my father built a horse for me using a saw horse. We were poor, and could not afford a real horse, like the people that my father worked for.

We lived in a small house over a garage; my father was the foreman on a very large tree nursery. The house had 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, a living room, and a kitchen. There was a little porch just outside the living room door, and the back door opened into a hallway, with the bathroom on the right, and the kitchen on the left. The bedrooms were on the right, and the living room was on the left. We didn’t have hot water, my mother had to heat pots of water on the wood stove, for baths and anything else we needed hot water for.

She could make really good pancakes on that stove, and some of the best spaghetti sauce, that would cook all day. The way my mother tested if the spaghetti was done was by throwing against the wall. If it stuck it was done!

One time when I was quite small, my cousin Freddie washed my hair, and to dry it he shook me over the wood stove! He used to baby sit a lot, and I would have to listen to his 78 rpm records. He liked “boogie woogie” music. I can remember when he and my sister used to listen to them, I didn’t like it, and they would tell me, it will be over soon. Now I have a 78 rpm record player, and I like to play those records myself. The people who owned the tree nursery were very rich. They had real horses. They had a very large house, there were a lot of bedrooms, and a big lawn, and a butler, and a cook. The husband was a Dr. with an office in New York City on Park Avenue. One of his patients was Bernard Baruch. Bernard Baruch was an adviser to President Roosevelt, and a very important statesman. The wife seemed to just walk around with a Tom Collins. There were two children, a girl a little older than me, and a boy about my age. Sometimes we would play together, but mostly I was treated as the workers kid and much below them in all ways.

I enjoyed riding my “horse” and sometimes my cousin Babs would come over and we would take turns riding. I was mostly a cowboy like Roy Rogers, except I couldn’t sing, and he could. I was very aware of my inability to sing. I would ride off and rescue people in trouble. I would always beat the bad guys.

As I look at the picture, I didn’t seem to dress much like a cowboy!

My aunt Toddy used to come to visit my mother a lot during the day, while my father and my uncle were working. She would bring my cousin Ronnie over with her to play with me. Ronnie and I would play “cars” in the sand pile. We would make roads, and houses, and landscaped yards. I always thought his were nicer than mine. He seemed to have a better imagination for that kind of thing. When he wasn’t around to play with, I imagined that there were real people who lived in the sand pile. They were the “Teeny Weenies”. There were stories about them in the Sunday funny papers.

When Ronnie and I weren’t playing there, we sometimes would climb up into the pine trees, and go from tree to tree. As we got higher up into the trees, we could make them lean over, and then go to the next tree. It was fun, but we would get in trouble for getting pine pitch on our clothes.

My father worked in the fields planting and caring for trees and little shrubs. There was also a field of blue berries. They were very large berries, and we would go pick them. That was fun, of course I would eat a many as I put into the basket. In the fields across the road from our house where my father worked with his crew, there was a cool stream where he could keep his beer, so he could have a cool drink while he was working.

Sometimes my father would take cuttings from some of the shrubs, and dip them in white powder, and then stick them into sand in flats in the greenhouse that was near our house. The white powder was to help the roots grow quickly.

When I was 12 or so, after my hero had changed from Roy Rogers, “King of the Cowboys” to Superman, I put a towel around my neck and tried to fly off the side of that green house. In case you are wondering, I didn’t fly, and I also didn’t get hurt. The edge of the roof was only about 4 feet of the ground.

A lot of nights after my father got home from working, my mother, and I would go with him to the store, and then to the bar. I can remember many evenings watching Howdy Doody on TV in the local bar. We didn’t have a TV at home. Some times at the bar, I would sing “Mairzy Doats”. Since I was very cute with my blond curls, I got a lot of attention. Sometimes after a night at a local bar, both of my parents would get very drunk. My mother would be falling asleep on the way home, but they would argue anyway. I was sitting in the back seat, of the car, and they would tell me that if I wasn’t quiet, and behave myself, my father would push a button, and the back half of the car would separate, and roll back down the hill. I believed him!

Mairzy Doats. ©1943
First line of song:
   "I know a ditty nutty as a fruit cake,goofy as a goon"
First line of refrain (chorus):
   "Mairzy Doats and Dozy Doats and liddle lamzy divey'

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