Friday, April 9, 2010

ON THIRD AVENUE...Part 1

Third Avenue was the name of the street where I grew up, until I was in the 6th grade. My parents had bought the home in a new little subdivision when they married about 3 years earlier. We had a huge back yard, eventually, fenced in. There was a banana tree on the right side of the house, and a morning glory vine there, too. Next to the steps going into the back door, was what we called a 'switch bush'. It was some sort of spindly, wiry shrub bush...and it never grew very well. Probably because 'someone' kept breaking the branches off!!!!!!! There was also a large pecan tree in the far left corner, with such wonderful branches! Pop built me a tree house in it, with a bench for sitting and reading or listening to my transistor radio!


Now, two little girls and a host of neighborhood kids could find much to do in our collective back yards. We had a basement under our house, and as far as I know, we were the only ones who did. It had one of those flat doors to go in, sort of like the cellar in the Wizard of Oz. I always thought it so strange because I never knew anyone else who had one in their backyard. It was dug out about half way, with blocks up maybe 3 feet. Above that was a big black hole of scary...only 1 little bare light bulb hanging in the center of the room. I never liked to be in there very much...you know...spiders and other creepy, crawly things. Just the thought of that basement takes my mind to that damp, dank smell. Once my Pop took a bag full of coins and hid them all down there. Now, the boys who were some of our best playmates, thought that was the grandest idea. They were happy to go down into that dungeon to search for hidden treasure... well, I just let them have that pittance...it was not worth it to me!




We had a sand box that we played in, and a swing set, and a dog and a cat, and a bird. Birds don't last too long if you set them out on the back porch...when your cat is out there, too. Sad lesson...well learned. That, however, led to the first funeral I ever officiated at. It was a very touching affair...attended by all those under the age of 10 in the neighborhood. We sang, we prayed, and we sang some more. We all said the Bible verses we knew 'by heart'. And, Joy was wailing her eyes out! Then, as the spiritual leader of the backyard gang, I said a few words about how it is important to always be where you should be...cause if you are not... along will come a devil cat to eat you up! Important life lesson, that! We had wrapped up what was left of Trippy. {I have to tell you that that is the dumbest name ever for a bird. I did not name him. Another child who lived in my house did. I'm not calling any names but I only had one sibling. She named him that because we got him on a trip! I am quite sure I tried to talk her out of that name, suggesting a much more appropriate name like 'Wings' or 'Sky' or 'Birdy'. But, alas, she was the youngest and Mama and Daddy always took her side.} I remember Mama helped us put him away in a manner befitting such a fine bird. She would not pick him up though. But,my best buddy, David, would. Mama put a layer of cotton balls, and a swatch of fabric from the latest dress she had had made,into the bottom of a Buster Brown shoe box. David then dropped the remains on top of the cloth...he was covered with a paper towel, and then she wrapped the box with string. The digging of the hole was left up to us. We dug, we buried, we funeralized, and then...in what I thought was a brilliant touch...we scattered the leftover birdseed over the grave. And, that was that. Until a week or two later, when the most lovely bright green shoots appeared over the grave. The bird seed sprouted! I told Joy that was a sure sign Trippy was in Heaven. She was comforted. I know things like that. I am the older, wiser sister, after all.

7 comments:

racheld said...

What a marvelously loving, all-wise Big Sister you are!!

I loved this "trip" down Memory Lane, even into the cellar. I envied those "storm cellars" of the neighbors, with their little slanty-to-the-ground hillock doors.

Mammaw's house was a little weathered shotgun up on those pyramid-with-a-flat-top concrete blocks, and it's a wonder that a good blow didn't send us all skittering across the yard.

But it was wonderful for playing under. Mudpies and dolls. Good times.

Gram said...

What wonderful memories.

Just Breathe said...

Tonja, that sure brings back memories. Love the pictures. I was thinking about the funeral we had with my children for my bird. It was about 10 years ago. Her name was Kiwi and we buried her under a Bird of Paradise bush. I was thinking of my kids telling a similar story years from now. I grew up on 2nd avenue and then 13th
avenue. We had a basement too but the full kind that is part of the house. I think Joy was trippy when she named that bird! Very sweet story.

June Bug said...

Can't wait to read Part 2; I could'nt help but remember you lived across the street, somewhat, from my Aunt Kathleen; wondered if Colleen ever played with you two? Guess not since I taught you in GAs; think I have the ages amiss? Anyway...do you remember the Panama City Beach trip when I almost had to bring you and Robyn and Brenda back to Dothan because you decided to 'wander' down the beach? Memory Lane indeed!
I love you!

Musicaljean said...

Delightful!! Especially your short shorts on that last photo!

Love Being a Nonny said...

I love the old pictures and stories you shared! They brought back so many wonderful memories of my own childhood. Weren't we blessed???!! Thank you for sharing. Can't wait for Part II of Third Ave.

Southern Lady said...

I loved your reminiscing about "life on Third Avenue," Tonja. It brought back so many memories of the hours my brothers and I spent playing under our house which was on a raised foundation. It was so cool under there in the summer, and we spent most of the time digging the neatest holes. I shudder when I think about it now and can't believe our mama let us, but at the time it was fun.

I also loved your story about Trippy. I had a bird named Pepper, which was a dumb name for a bird, too. Come to think of it, Pepper was a dumb bird, so perhaps it was befitting ... lol.

I can't wait to read more about life on Third Avenue.