It's Just Mom

| 5/19/2014 9:13:00 AM

Summers come and go in a sleepy little Midwestern town. It was no different in the town where I grew up. If it was possible I would have not been surprised to find kids down the street named Jem, Scout or Dill. Or a father named Atticus. We even had our own version of Boo Radley, and just like those kids we ran wild in the neighborhood, in the cornfields that surrounded our houses and on the gravel roads that led in and out.

When you wanted to go downtown, you boarded the one and only bus that made the circuit. You could walk downtown in a half hour and across town in an hour if you were impatient to wait or late and it had already gone. You were walking slow and savoring every crack in the sidewalk. It was cool under the cathedral drape of the mature elm trees and you didn’t mind. Crawdads were under the bridge over the creek that you had to cross, and you had to stop and poke a stick at them until they grabbed hold and you lifted them out.

Hopscotch or jacks ruled the day, and Annie Over the night. When it got too hot and humid to do anything outdoors during the day, we spent hours in the cellar reading all the Life magazines my mom saved from the first date of publication. But what stirred my imagination the most was Mom’s jewelry box. It stayed on her dresser top at the back next to the mirror and I’d go in there and look at all her things.


The box was carved oak wood that looked old even when it was new. It had a kind of Currier and Ives landscape scene decoupaged to the top that was tattered and peeling at the edges. Maybe it had been passed down to her from her mother or grandmother. Maybe it caught her eye at a rummage sale or department store. She never told us and we never asked. Years later I wished that I had. It would have given the box that much more history.


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