Robert (gurdonark) wrote,


You know you grew up in Arkansas when your aunt's e mail bears the title "Marvene's e-mail address".

I think that one of my favorite things about my small town south Arkansas childhood is the the matter of names and nicknames. "Tiger" was a couple of years ahead of me in school, while several "Dubs" were old men.
"Cloud" was a true given name, as were Bobby John and Wanda Faye. "Stony" on the other hand was a nickname,
and I always puzzled why someone on the north side of thirty with the name "James" would encourage everyone to call him "Hamburger".

There are so many delicious memories of childhood that I cannot qualify as real or imagined. The piano teacher from whom I took lessons when I was roughly 13-ish, for example. Was it Memorex or was it my imagination that he played vigorous jazz when I would first approach his doorway, but switch to a meditative classical piece the moment I rang the bell?

I have, too, a palpable memory during my law school days of seeing a tarantula migration, on a country road.
I have read since that it was possible--but it seems so much like the fabric of a dream--lovely spiders washing across the road like a pack of serene eight-legged lemmings, a black rug of living wonder. Did I live vividly, or, contrary to my usual, merely have dreamt vividly?

I know I did not dream the talk in rural barbershops about advertisements for earthworm farms in the back of Field and Stream Magazine, nor the ambient hum of discussion about trucks and special hound dogs. I remember, too, in elementary school saying the pledge of allegiance with hand over heart, just like in a Norman Rockwell painting. I remember songs I learned in 4th grade, and the taste of the leather stitching on a baseball fielder's glove. One of our Great Danes got ahold of that particular fancy glove, and chewed it up extravagantly. A kind of leather patch was sewn on, and I do not believe I ever loved a fielder's glove so well. Baseball is a memory well for me--the sounding "thung" of an aluminum bat in its "sweet spot", the sweat beading around a baseball cap, the feel of a line drive thudding, triumphantly, into one's glove, the joy of throwing from right field to get a man out at third base.

"Truth or dare", hayrides, the smell of the thick haze of other peoples' clove cigarettes. I've never smoke a cigarette, pipe or cigar yet, but I have a fond recollection of the smell of Dutch Master cigars, and cherry-inflected pipe tobacco. Watching Natalie Merchant bowl badly at the Bronco Bowl just before 10,000 Maniacs opened for REM, a small, white snake submerged in a shallow stream in King's Canyon National Park.

The reverie of reading "The Lord of the Rings" for the first time. Ordering a "mix-in" of candy into ice cream at long-gone Steve's Ice Cream, a Boston chain with a Dallas outlet. Spoonfuls of scrambled eggs at the Mesquite breakfast buffet by the motel. A Thanksgiving meal at an aging Holiday Inn, as simple as any, and yet surprisingly good.

A chocolate malt ascending a straw. A willow tree filled with tens of thousands of yelling crows. Yellow blooms on a prickly pear cactus. The smell of brownies, nearly finished baking.

A whirl of sensations, images, ideas.
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