Sunday, February 02, 2003

February 2, 2003
I woke up this morning with random memories stuck in my head. Several of them seemed quite vivid. My father pulls up in a white 1953 Buick. I am standing with my grandfather in front of the Thompson grain elevator in Northern Iowa. Grandpa Bell has just given me a plug of black licorice (my favorite). My father gets out and talks with my grandpa. Something doesn’t seem right. My dad asks me to sit in the car and when he closes the door, he starts crying. I had never seen my father cry and it was very unsettling. He tells me my baby sister has died in the hospital. He hugs me and tells me he loves me. I really didn’t understand. My mother had gone into the hospital at Buffalo Center several days before and I had been staying with my grandparents on their farm. It was fun. I didn’t know how to react. Much later we learned my mother had a RH factor and she ended up losing another baby girl, after the hospital in Buffalo Center assured her she was okay and the first death was just a fluke.

Later, I had bad dreams of my father talking to another man in front of a oil bulk plant (my dad had a Phillips 66 gas station in Swea City, Iowa, see photo dated July, 1953). Behind the twin white tanks, a big face with a tug boat cap on loomed up over the top of the tanks behind my father. He couldn’t see the huge, menacing face, but I could. It was a terrifying, recurring nightmare. I didn’t want to go to sleep. This was in our last house in Swea City before we moved to Arizona. It must have been 1954.

I’m sitting on the couch in the same house. My legs barely clear the edge. I’m looking at a 1954 Montgomery Ward catalogue and it finally sinks in what 1954 means (it’s the first year I am aware of). I read in a newspaper that the favorite reading material for today’s college kids is Mad magazine. Adults and teachers are appalled, but I am excited and want to find one and read it.

My mother and I are in the Swea City Lutheran church and everyone stands to pray. I look down at all the liberated bench space and decide to stretch out for a little nap. My mom is horrified and after church she drives by the Phillips 66 where my dad is working and wants him to talk to me about being more pious. He laughs.

It’s funny what we remember. Of all the things, why those?

He had a photographic memory that was never developed.”
—Old Vaquero Saying