28. July 2004 · Comments Off on THE BOOK!!!!! · Categories: General, Memoir

In answer to the many readers who have asked about “The Book”— it will be available very soon, through www.booklocker.com. I have reviewed and approved it, and we will post links and ordering information, as soon as they are sent to us! “Our Grandpa Was an Alien” will be available in paperback, for $13.95— please order a copy, and tell all your friends about it, as I would like to be able to quit one of my day jobs, and live in luxury on my royalties!

And I can give you a little taste of an early chapter…..

This was the time of discovering things, beyond the boundaries of the White Cottages’ back yard. One afternoon, Mom and I sat on the concrete back steps, side by side, looking out at the back yard, with our playhouse and swing set, shoulder to shoulder between the two fat-leafed jade plants which grew on either side of the steps. Mom habitually emptied the used tea leaves under the one on the left, every morning when she made a fresh pot, and as a consequence of the tea-leaf mulch, it was nearly twice the size of the other.
“You and JP are going to have a baby brother or sister, soon.” Mom said, gravely. I looked sideways at her, and asked, with interest
“How do you know?”
“Because it’s growing inside me, and when it’s ready to be outside, I’ll go to the hospital, and Doctor Harris will take it out.”
”Oh,” I said, thoughtfully. I had noticed that Mom and been bulging quite obviously around the stomach, in the same way that Auntie Laura, my godmother, and one of Mom’s bridesmaids had been, and then suddenly her stomach was flat again, and she was carrying around a tiny, pink little baby. “Is that where babies come from, then? They grow inside their mothers?”
“Exactly, “Mom nodded. “It’s the same with cats and dogs… and all the other mammals. Mammals have red blood, and fur, and carry their babies inside… not like birds, or snakes, which lay eggs.”
“Does it hurt, when Doctor Harris takes out the baby?” I asked. Doctor Harris was an elderly, semi-retired family physician who had not only delivered all of us into the world, but Mom as well. He had begun practice in the early 1920ies and his office and consulting rooms constituted a perfect working medical museum, with glass-fronted wooden cabinets, metal-lidded glass jars, a heavy metal scale with moveable weights…. And the large, old-fashioned reusable syringes, which hurt like the dickens in delivering the necessary inoculations. Mom hesitated a little, before she said
“No… it’s just all rather tiring.”
I rather thought it did probably did hurt— most anything to do with a visit to Doctor Harris usually did, eventually— but it must be necessary, like the inoculations, which kept us from catching all sorts of diseases.
“Did they get their polio shots?” was Granny Jessie and Granny Dodo’s eternal worried question, for until the very year I was born, yearly polio epidemics had terrorized parents, killing and crippling children and teenagers. Every summer, a mysterious monster stalked the young and healthy, leaving behind survivors whose crippled legs needed years of therapy, or worse yet, confinement for life in a mechanical iron lung, unable to even breathe for themselves. There were still older children around with heavy braces on their legs, sometimes in small, child-sized wheelchairs, a reminder of the monsters’ rampage. Even in the kids’ books I read, ten at a time from the library, many of them written in the 1930ies and 40ies, polio and other diseases were occasional casual visitors. For TB— they lined us up at school for a chest X-ray, and the other plagues—, whooping cough, scarlet fever— all of these things had been very real, and were still a presence, held at bay with a couple of quick stabs from Doctor Harris’ medical museum syringes. And we were not allowed into the hospital, when Mom went to have Dr. Harris take our new sister out, although Dad pointed out where her window was, away on one of the upper floors, from where we waited in the Plymouth, for Granny Jessie to go up and visit, and then come back and stay with us while Dad went up. Dad passed the time by pointing out an enormous castor bean bush, growing at the end of the visitor parking lot, and explaining how the caster beans were deadly, deadly poisonous, and we should never, ever put one in our mouths.

Initially, we were rather disappointed in our new little sister; we had thought Pippy would be available as a playmate almost immediately, and were crushed to find out that babies were quite useless in that regard. They ate, and slept, and cried, and absorbed a lot of the attention that had previously been lavished upon us, and it didn’t improve much when she was old enough to be a playmate, for she was so much younger and smaller that she couldn’t keep up with us, and we had no interest in what she was able to do. As a toddler, she was fretful and desperately shy, prone to cling to Mom, which JP and I, who were more outgoing, scorned as babyish. But still, there she was, our sister, and with her, Mom and Dad felt the family was quite complete, thank you, and gave away the crib, stroller, and a bale of cloth diapers and baby clothes, as soon as Pippy outgrew them.

Stay tuned to this space, for more……

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