Thursday, July 11, 2013

Cake Diva

Kellie Ann Turns 11
I don't know what it was with me and multi tiered birthday cakes but I always wanted one.  Every year Mom would ask me what sort of cake I wanted and I would answer " a three layered cake" and she would produce a three layered cake and then wonder why I was not overjoyed with it.  It took some digging but we got to the root of the problem, what I wanted was a three TIERED cake not a three layer cake.  She had nailed it the year before with a three tiered chocolate cake, but not knowing that such cakes needed internal support it sagged in the middle a little, still not a bad effort for a novice.  By the time my eleventh birthday rolled around Mom had begun taking cake decorating classes and this was one of her early forays into full fledged cake decorating.  When I think of the thousands of cakes she did since this one I am amazed.  Almost as amazed as my son was when he saw this picture and realized that I had been young once too, and said with shock and amazement that bordered on insulting "Wow Mom, you were cute back then!"  Well...hmmm  Thank you?  I guess...I like to think I still am, for what its worth.  Now I do not even remember how old I am.  I have to count it up each time.  I spent one whole year thinking I was about to turn 40, but I wasn't.  I was about to turn 39.  Now if I claim the correct decade I am happy with it.  Funny how that happens.   It goes the way of the birthday party I guess.  We have not had one in years, now we just go to a nice restaurant and maybe there is a gift to open, maybe it was purchased a month or so in advance when the opportunity came along... 

Long ago and far away...

Me around the age of 9, I still have the yellow painted chair....
Jamie around age11 with her Christmas bike
 That is the Clancy's house across the street
Chapter two is all about my childhood and the first question was who was your best friend in the neighborhood.  That is easy, it was Cathy  Clancy.  We spent a lot of time with Cathy, usually around supper time when she would often show up on the door step.  We thought it was funny because we knew her Mom was a good cook, and Cathy was always skinny, so who knows why she always came over to join us for supper, and more importantly why didn't she ever get fat double dipping the way she did?  Oddly enough Cathy Clancy is also the asnwer to question number 3 "Was there a neighborhood Bully?"  Sad to say that Cathy was that as well, but even more sad to say she always managed to turn Jamie and me against each other.  We were always locked in a battle two against one and Cathy was rarely if ever going it alone.  Jamie and I however threw each other under the Clancy bus every chance we got.  It was pitiful really, us fighting tooth and nail to be in good with Cathy when we both knew full well she would drop us in an instant to go be with someone she thought held higher status.  That did unite us though in our mutual disgust and shame at how we were treated and had been treating one another.  Cathy never did get past treating us like red haired step children, but happily we did get past putting up with it.
      When we were not fighting for Cathy's favor we would hang out in the neighborhood play hopscotch on the sidewalk or playing yard games like duck duck goose, hide and seek and the sort.  Then the kids would all be called in for supper one by one till only one was left who would wander home out of boredome or lonliness.  We also rode our bikes and skateboards and rollerskates.  One day I was making my way out the front door in my way too big roller skates that I insisted on getting because they were the style I wanted at the right price but not in my size.  I reasoned I would grow into them, and I did, but roller  disco was way out of fashion by the time that finally happened.  Anyhow, I was making my way to the sidewalk when I tipped my foot forward to use the stopper to help me get down the step only to realize as I pitched forward that Jamie and Cathy had unscrewed them and set me up to fall.  I have mixed emotions about that...It was pretty classic I have to say and dang funny too, but I could have really hurt myself, and it was upsetting to me that risk of serious injury was not in any way  an impediment to them in their quest for a laugh at my expense.  That was life with Cathy though.  I would get really bent out of shape if I was not honest with myself and admit that I would have done the same to Jamie if I had thought of it first.
     One of the questions in this chapter is "How was your neighborhood lit, street lamps or porch lights?  The answer is both.  Actually there had at one time been no street light but then the Clancys petitioned to have one put in and once it was installed they realized that it shone right into their bedroom window.  That is why we spent our summer evenings throwing rocks at it.  Mr. Clancy promised cold hard cash  to the one who could bust the bulb...We never did actually cash in on that.  we were usually freaked out and forced indoors by the swarms of June bugs  that circled the light  before any of us could land the money shot.   I know it seems like this chapter is all about the Clancy's but life on Plaza for us back then was.  

Elementary Schools

Ranchvale Elementary School
I actually attended two elementary schools, the first was Ranchvale Elementary out in the sticks north of Cannon AFB.  I attended first and second grades there and remember it for lots of reasons.  The first is that it was a self segregated school, not black and white as you might imagine, but Country and Base.  There were the country kids and the base kids, and we stuck to our own kind.  For some reason the Country kids were given higher status.  It could be that they and their parents were not moving away anytime soon, and the faculty kept that in mind, it could have been that they had more money, it could have been blow back from the whole anti military climate of the time, but for the kids it boiled down to one thing, they had horses and got to ride them, and we didn't.  We base kids felt like the red haired step children because we weren't from around there...The irony for me years later is that "Yes, yes I was from around there, my Mom was from Amarillo, not 100 miles from Ranchvale Elementary School, and while my Dad was in the Air Force he was every bit the country kid that they were, horse included.    It was several years too late by the time I connected the dots.  But other cool things happened regarding Rannchvale.  The seeds for the first episode were sown in my first grade class when I sat in Lona Starky's room.  She would later remarry Dwight Waldo and change her name accordingly.  That is how I met her the second time years later when Steve and I got married and moved into the Waldos  fourplex apartments and she became our "landlordess"  We have maintained our friendship over the years and I just saw her a few days ago.  I also have had a friendship over the years with Susan Brockmier who had become the principal of Ranchvale Elementary and I had the supremely weird privilege of helping her paint and decorate her office at my old school.  Weird because I was back as an adult in a school I had not been in since 1974, and in the principals office on equal footing with the principal herself....yup, weird.
Sandia Elementary School
     The Elementary school I spent the bulk of my time was Sandia Elementary.  It was a one story building about 7 blocks from my house.  I remember when we moved to the neighborhood Mom driving us along the route in our new black Buick Regal and pointing out street names and landmarks so we could find our way home.  There was a big playground with swings and monkey bars and the forbidden "wall" and "Tower"  The wall was a large undulating ladder made out of welded steel rods about 4 yards long and 8 or 9 feet high.  It was hard to climb because of the undulations, and not all that much fun.  The tower on the other hand was just that. A good 15 feet up in the air with a chain ladder on either side and a welded railing surrounding the platform.  We were expressly forbidden to play on these two pieces of equipment during school, but that did not stop us from getting our fill of them both  during the summer or in the evening when everyone had left the school for the day.  I often wondered why they would install such tantalizing structures and then forbid us access to them.
     Inside the school was a paved courtyard called the patio.  After lunch we were corralled in the patio before going to our classrooms and we would hover around the edges to stay in the shade, the boys on one side and the girls on the other.  It was in the patio that I did my stint as a "Jump Rope" monitor in the sixth grade.  I handed out ropes to the younger kids, helped them jump rope and then made sure the ropes got put away at the end of P.E.  It earned me a "Principals award for leadership" which I still have to this day, somewhere...
   Corporal punishment was still practiced in my school and I got swats a couple of times, both for talking.  Seems a little extreme now that I think about it, but I had been warned.  In Mrs Anderson's 4th grade class if she had to get on to you for bad behavior your name got written on the board.  If she called you out again you got a mark by your name.  Three marks before the week was out meant you had to stay behind on Friday and get swats on your butt with a big wooden paddle.  Nobody wanted to get into Mr. Simpson's 6th grade class.  As the only male teacher in the school it was known that his paddling was the worst of them all.