Throwback Thursday: Stories from Childhood

Dear sisters,

I’m trying something new for Throwback Thursday. As I get ready to have a baby in 6-8 weeks (WHAT?!?!) Kevin and I find ourselves thinking about random aspects of parenting: for example, the other day Kevin couldn’t fathom what we’re going to do when our kid has to go to birthday parties/have birthday parties, and I keep thinking about the moments when our kid will want to hear stories from my childhood. I’m not particularly good at coming up with engaging stories off the top of my head. Combine that with my inability to remember more than little flashes of memories from childhood and I knew I would answer him, “Oh, I can’t really remember.” But the stories we heard about Dad and Mom growing up (mostly from their siblings/Grandma Buckwalter) are some of my favorites: Dad falling off the tractor/hay baler and getting run over was an entrancing story (that I frequently embellished in my imagination), Mom exploring the city of Belmont all by herself and playing in the waterfalls (I generally imagined Mom as Ramona from Beverly Cleary’s book Ramona and Beezus, spunky and mischievous). It’s an important thing to be able to create a history for your parents, to hear what they were like as kids and what their families were like, even if, through the telling, it becomes a mixture of fact and fiction.

So I thought I would start practicing here, writing up short stories about our childhood. I’m pretty sure I’ll get lots of facts wrong, I NEVER remember when things happen; I’m pretty sure all of my stories will take place when I was 8-10 years old even though that’s impossible ;-). But the hope is that they can be told to Miriam, Archer, Era and Eve and that they become a bit of our own family mythology. I also hope it inspires some of my sisters to write their own stories, because I would LOVE to hear them!

My first story is going to feature the cutest side kicks imaginable. KITTENS!

kittens

Growing up we didn’t have indoor pets (not until the best cat of all came into our lives–Rodreguiz, but that’s another story for another day!).

See how great Rodreguiz was? He loved to cuddle.
See how great Rodreguiz was? He loved to cuddle.

When I was really young there always seemed to be cats around, even if they weren’t allowed inside. I can’t remember the names of our early cats, Rachel and Janna should add some details on that. There was a tom cat owned by our elderly lady neighbor, Eloise, who was blamed for all of the kittens in East Valley. We frequently found litters of kittens in our garage or tool shed or goat shed and we girls loved them with all of our hearts. I think there’s a picture somewhere in the photo albums at the Homestead of me carrying a kitten down the front of my bathing suit like a Mama Kangaroo. I remember that going very poorly once it freaked out and clawed its way out.

On one beautifully warm sunny day in the summer when Martha, Esther and I were young and in middle/elementary school, there was a batch of kittens around to be played with. We had a few friends over and I think we spent the day running in the sprinkler when we got too hot, drawing with chalk on the breezeway (an important place in our childhood!), and playing with the kittens when we could catch them.

Sitting on the breezeway dressed for church. There's even a cat trying to get in the picture!
Sitting on the breezeway dressed for church. There’s even a cat trying to get in the picture!

We eventually came up with a brilliant plan. We would lure all the kittens to us with bowls of milk, then we could pick them up and put them all together in the back of the family van! Then they would be there whenever we wanted to play with them, and it was such a nice big space back there, they’d love having a big area to sleep in! It was foolproof, we could see no way in which this would go wrong.

Me aggressively holding a kitten. What cat wouldn't want to hang out with me?
Me aggressively holding a kitten. What cat wouldn’t want to hang out with me?

So we fed all these sweet little kittens milk, picked them up and put them in the back of the van. We climbed in there and tried to cuddle with them and play with them, but small kittens are not often that cuddly! They have little claws that are sharp and for some reason they don’t like being held all the time by 5-10 year olds. After a bit of cooing over them we climbed back out of the van and closed them in there. Off we went to play in the sunshine, running around the yard and swinging on the tire swings, making up fancy “swing tricks.”

Our fun afternoon was soon interrupted by a less than happy Mom and Dad. Turns out, they had noticed kittens meowing in the back of the van and opened it up to discover that our poor little milk fed kittens had pooped aaaaaalllllll over the back of the van into the carpet. They were not pleased with our kitten holding pen idea. The kittens were set free and we learned all about consequences that afternoon. When you put milk fed kittens in the back of a van on a warm day in the garage, you get a very dirty van, and you and your sisters and friends spend your fun playtime shampooing and scrubbing out the floor of that dirty van. That is not fun.

The end :-).

I hope you all and the nieces and nephew enjoyed my story! I’m excited to share some more in the future and can’t wait to hear some from my sisters!

Love you all,
Jewel

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7 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: Stories from Childhood

  1. I loved hearing that story too, Jewel! Even at your age I felt like you, inability to remember more than little flashes from my childhood and not a natural story teller and was sad about that for my kids, having loved my childhood, growing up with a passel of siblings including your dad (and cats). But what a great idea, to be intentional about it and “practice”, and you did a great job here! You probably don’t remember this, but we had a cat (who just died about 6 months ago) who we got from you as a kitten when Esther was about 5, who she had named Carlotta. She was the sweetest cat ever.

    1. I think I remember Carlotta! What a unique name. It’s so sad to lose such sweet pets. My next story might be an homage to my favorite pet of all time (our cat Rodreguiz), though I might be pegged as the girl who writes stories about cats :-). Thanks for reading!

    1. Thanks :-). Though I haven’t heard from anyone that they remember this incident, so hopefully I’m not making this one up… Either way, still fun to tell!

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