Monday, December 22, 2008

Monday Memories—Alvin & the Snow

My sister tells this memory better than I do, but she doesn’t have a blog so you get second choice.

Sometimes we left the horses up in the hills on the summer range until after Christmas. One Christmas Eve afternoon, dad said he was running up to the hills to give them some hay and invited me along. We drove for an hour up the rutted and drifted roads to the pasture, and when the horses saw the pick-up loaded with hay, they came running. Shorty (our horse that was born on a wintry day and whose ears were frozen “short”), led the pack snorting with his proud nubbin-eared head held high. The horses stamped and circled waiting for the first fork-full of hay to be thrown over the fence. They were real glad to see us.

After we’d fed them, we climbed back in the pickup and dad said he thought we’d stop by Wally and Alvin’s to wish them a Merry Christmas, too. Mom had sent something to give them, probably a loaf of Christmas bread and a bowl of caramels—two of her Christmas trademarks.

Wally and Alvin were two old ranchers that lived at the base of the hills. Wally, the father, and Alvin, his son, had a three-legged, hairless dog named Happy. Wally was ancient and Alvin was half-ancient. Their home was a squared-log home with white chinking which got its electricity from the backyard generator. Wally, Alvin and Happy were glad whenever our family dropped by and the routine was always the same. They greeted us at the backdoor and Wally yelled at Happy to shut-up as we entered. We’d follow them through the trail on the back porch (walking around any sick baby calves), past the old stove in the kitchen with a cast-iron frying pan of cold bacon grease, and into the sitting room. The sitting room had a pull-string light with a foil pie pan underneath the bulb. Candy orange slices, orange circus peanuts, chocolate covered cherries, or toasted coconut marshmallows sat on the oilcloth covered table—along with newspapers, magazines, and a tin of Wally’s stinky asthma medicine.

Wally always took his seat in a green rocking chair while Alvin sat in a straight-backed chair at the table. Dad would draw a chair up to Wally and visit with him about cows and cattle prices. We kids sat near Alvin, who never said a word. Occasionally he’d bashfully nod when Wally said something to him, and sometimes he even smiled, but most of the time he just sat there, painfully shy—almost like he expected Wally to throw a shoe at him to tell him to shut-up like he did Happy. We kids sat equally as quiet. At some point in the visit Wally would remind Alvin to give us candy so he would carefully pass around the candy of the day. Nothing out of the ordinary happened on this Christmas Eve visit, it was pretty much like the many other visits we made to them. Dad and I visited for an hour and then went home to a warm house with a cooked turkey and my grandparents and cousins.

One winter we went sledding and since there were a few big hills by Wally and Alvin’s we drove up to their place. We kids piled out of the 1972 green suburban and slid down the slick road on inner-tubes a time or two. Alvin just stood at the top of the hill and watched us, silently. Skinny, old Wally sat in the vehicle trying to stay warm until . . . . until . . . Alvin cautiously and without a word took one of the inner-tubes and got on it. As he started sliding down the hill, Wally came alive and hollered shut-up-Happy style at Alvin to “Come here and get off that blasted tube.” Alvin sat primly and straight-backed all the way down the hill. I don’t think he even smiled, I know he didn’t yell “Wheeee” and that he got a good tongue-lashing from Wally when he reached the bottom.

Wally and Alvin, Christmas, hungry horses, snow and inner-tubes—a fond Monday Memory.


Miller Family said...

Oh I love to hear stories like that. I bet your kids enjoy them too. Thankfully you blog them so they will always have that memory from you.

Julie said...

I love hearing all your stories too. Your vivid attention to detail is my favorite. Such a legacy you are leaving!

michelle said...

Jane, you do have the best stories. I could just picture the whole thing!

All the candies you mentioned are my grandpa's favorites!