Under The Bar:
Today as I watch the children around my neighborhood and elsewhere. I sometimes envy all the wonderful things that are given and or set in front of them that many just demand to have. Yes, their parents will probably give into their demands by saying "I just want them to have all those things that I didn't have." I too followed that same path to some degree with my own children. Did we go to far? Why do I see less respect shown? Some times doing with-out teaches more than all the latest i-pods, cell phones, that money can buy.
For those of you that have followed some of my Hubs, (Memories of My Cajun Man ) (Different Time-Same Road ) I grew up hard and fast like so many of my time. Yet, there are many kids out there today that are Under The Bar that no one sees. It's a different bar but it is set very low and many can not leap over it.
• Memories: 1937.
As I stated before, my parents where wild for that time. My father worked the Arizona ranches breaking horses and followed the Rodeo circuit to earn enough to feed my mother and I. In the sport of the Rodeo, you are hurt many times. (It is not if you will be hurt---but when you will be hurt.) When he was hurting he would work as a bartender and my mother would work as a waitress in the same establishment. There being a problem of what to do with this little girl?
Naturally children were not allowed in these type of establishments. In order to keep the authorities from taking me away they went to extreme tactics to hide me.
• My father put a big cardboard box under the bar that no one could see from the other side. This was my secret place. I had crayons and a color book sometimes, other times I just had a piece of paper to draw on. I of course did not as yet know how to write, so what I could see from that box was bottles with pretty labels and letters on them. I soon was able to copy those perfectly, although I had no idea what they spelled. (Bourbon, Kentucky Rye, Jack Daniels, A-1 Beer.) if it was behind that bar I could put it on paper in any color you wanted.
Most of these establishments were just plain old what they called "Honky-Tonks," they were rough and Dad was not only the bartender but he was the bouncer. If anyone got out of hand and many did, he would just simply leap over that high bar and put an end to the situation. I was always very proud of Dad because that bar looked very high from my hide-out. He had very big hands and seemed to enjoy using them in this manner, but with me those big hands were most gentle and loving.
One establishment that I remember well, was what you might call a step up from the usual joints. It was bigger and served meals with it's usual beverages and it had a big dance floor. It was called "The Hawaiian Gardens," so being because its main attraction was four women that put on a show of Hawaiian dancing, a vigorous display of hula and a touch of belly dancing thrown in kept the crowed well entertained. In between each show the patrons could dance to the Juke box music. This place did not open until evening to attract the after work crowd. So I was out of my hiding box and had the run of the place until it was time to open the door.
Now please do not think that I was not taught responsibility and earning my way, like you know taking out the trash and cleaning your room. Oh no! I had to watch for the man that delivered the ice and the big truck that delivered the beer and then let them in and then lock the door when they left and of course I kept my big cardboard box very tidy. Yes, I took my important responsibilities very seriously.
One day one of the dancers said she would give me tap-dance lessions each day before they opened. This I really enjoyed and did very well at it, after all that big-box was a little confining as I was growing bigger each day.
Finally the day came when I was to go to school. I was so excited because like my parents said now I would learn to read and write. The fact that we were living in the back of the dance hall right next to the store room with the bare essentials did come into play. My parents told me that I was never to tell anyone at school where I lived. My Dad or Mother always took me and picked me up from school, this way the authorities would not interfere. Yet, sooner or later someone would recognize them and put the connection together. (We moved a lot.)
One move was due to a picture that I innocently drew. It was probably the best art work that I ever created. The teacher ask that we draw and color a picture of what we seen out side our house.
This time we moved to a different town much farther away and naturally another new school. I soon learned that those letters that I could copy off of all those bottles didn't seem to please some people. My father just laughed and told me that maybe that teacher just didn't know how to read, because he was still very proud that I could write all those names on the liquor bottles. Year later I found this old faded picture in my mothers things.
My mother and father went their separate ways many years later, but spending some of my childhood "under the bar," exposed me to a side of life that taught me so much. Of course I did not understand much of what I seen or heard at that time, for I seen it through the eyes and ears of a child. A child can only give you the one thing that they have---Love. Yet, we make the mistake as adults that the kids are not seeing or listening to what is happening around them.
Some people prefer to hide and try and forget unpleasant times and or memories. I hold them and will always cherish them deeply for it is your strength. In the world that we live in today maybe those that think it will always be there for them to reach out and take or what they have today can not be taken from them, reality can be a hard lesson. There are a lot of people out there that are sitting in that box below---The Bar.
• Where parents do too much for their children, the children will not do much for themselves.---Elbert Hubbard