My Strange Childhood in Alaska, Installment 3

Edith Wharton Right Here, Baby

You know, one thing my parents allowed, night or day, was reading. Well, you know where I took that. I'd read throughout the midnight sun, and wrangle the last of those pages, light or not. I read Tolstoy, (who I thought was a bit of a self-serving rich prig), Dickens, in whom I could thoroughly relate... Even the fella who wrote the 40 or so potboilers about "Platinum Blonde Sun", and "Cinnamon Dying Sunset" , I want to say Joe Macdonald. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong. I loved him almost as much as Shakespeare and Pliny. Plutarch I considered a weepy wimp,(I still do.) One day I'm going to get that t-shirt made that says: Plutarch is a Sissy. Yes, my parents had many faults, but being ill-read was not one of them. We may have been dressed in rags and filthy, but we had read "The Odyssey ", and knew most of our Roman and Greek Gods.

You know, they simply let me go, like a savage. We may have had eighteen hours of sunlight a day, but that was not enough light for my reading addiction. I'd run the batteries out on the flashlights, and read under the covers. Whether it was because I seemed like such an unpromising lump, I really do not know, but I was allowed to run around in my skivies til noon, dart into the kitchen for what my Mother euphemistically called "a slab of cheese", and submerge my self in another book. That is, until Mom's poetry class showed up one day, unbenounced to me, and I ran thru the living room to the kitchen from the warren of rooms in the back. All these powdered ladies just gaped at me, (the little heathen), and I gaped right back. As I recall, I managed to struggle into a pair of pants after that, to go get my sustenance. I never got over being shy, in fact, the first time I was asked to go eat in public, I was 12. I hung onto the door jambs of my room, and wailed at my Mother, "Please, please don't make me go!" They pried me off the jambs, and I ate at Jamaico's Pizza, with Mom, Dad, and Richard Benner, who I can only speculate was trying to clear some debts he owed Mom and Dad.

One special treat we would get once or twice every summer, was a trip to Goose Lake. Even then, we knew too many kids had peed into it's rather questionable depths, but this was water! We could at least pretend to swim, and, if it was sunny, we might be able to gain a brown film over our lilywhite skin. But, that was not the best of it. All kids seem to be delighted in bugs, and we were no different. We had discovered a bug to end all bugs. The Hiberdacious Diving Beetle was a resident of Goose Lake. My memory tells me I was the first to discover them, because I remember going to my brother Carl, and saying, "Look!" "Look at this!", and running to the left of the little sanded area where people sunbathed. Carl didn't follow, because, of course, little sisters were not important, but , finally he got curious, and followed me. I pointed down to the water's edge, at the inch long,(and sometimes more), beetle that was diving in the water like a fish. Carl, always equipped with bug catching paraphenalia, ran and got a quart size jar. Since I had discovered them, I would name them. I named them "Snorks". Carl tried to shut me up, but the harder he tried, the louder I got. "Snorks, snorks!", I'd cry. He must have finally given in, because we called them Snorks from then on. No sooner had we discovered them, we began to exploit them. The Founding Fathers would have been proud. We gathered a number of them, and put them in an old stainless steel washing basin, and baptized them with names like Sarge, and Kenny.

Well, to our horror, the Franklin kids, Wendy and Doug decided to do the same, and since they were slightly better off than us, we considered this war, and battle commenced. We'd harrass Mother so badly that she'd cave in, and bring us to Goose Lake, where we would busy ourselves with gathering our weapons of war.

Our Snorks were disappearing. Someone, no doubt the Frankins were stealing our Snorks! Kenny was gone! Sarge was gone! Thieves! I remember one late summer evening I had guard duty over the stainless steel tub. No one was going to steal our Snorks with me there! I then discovered the awful truth about Snorks, They could fly, and they had never really appreciated being baptized and given silly names. I watched as Herkimer took wing. I still remember tears tracking down my grubby face as I gazed into the lowering sun, and Herkimers turncoat wings.

I guess alot of people would think my childhood dirty and dull. For the most part, it was, but my parents never stifled our imaginations. I suppose that is the greatest gift I could ask for.

Comments 19 comments

WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

You have a gift Lily. That's a fact.


lilyfly profile image

lilyfly 5 years ago from Wasilla, Alaska Author

Was it John D. Macdonald?


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

He was the Travis McGee crime story writer, as I recall.


lilyfly 5 years ago

Ah, thanks Will, and thank you for the compliment! Are you getting roped into following hubs(like me), even if you don't want to? Ridiculous!

And yes, I loved the Travis Mcgee series! He ate lots of steak, had a love affair with his truck, and hated senseless developement in Florida... Thanks again.... lily


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

I follow Hub and writers I like, and I like your work. You really are quite good you know.


lilyfly profile image

lilyfly 5 years ago from Wasilla, Alaska Author

Well, stop puffing me up Sir, I'm just trying to earn my ground turkey, but, you know I love it anyway! Thank you. lily


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

When I Google "Cinnamon Dying Sunset", your Hub is number 1 on the list. How awesome. But I couldn't find the book. I did find, and remember, Cinnamon Skin.

Your parents sound like people who would be on a reality show these days. How wonderful that they allowed you to read so much. Mine allowed me to read, but everyone looked at me like I was an oddball.

How fun that you and your brother were simply kids, catching bugs who flew away. That little girl must have been devastated. Poor little girl.

This was a wonderfully funny and touching read. Installment Three was worth waiting for.


lilyfly 5 years ago

I knew cinamon dying sunset wasn't it. Hy, my Dada was a drill seargent. Some days we were lined up at 5:00 a.m. to clean the lot across Lane street. It was certainly not all sweetness and light. And then of course, Mom had an affair with the bottle, but she did stay sober for 21 years of my life, and this is where I actually met my Mother. No childhood was easy.... but... I'll bet you can truly say the same, in fact probably most of us can. Life is messy sometimes. Thank you sweetpea.... lily


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

Dear friend lily. IF I wrote about my own childhood it wouldn't be allowed on HubPages. There were some good times of course, and some funny ones. I have one that perhaps I could write about. It was a hilarious good time. Love ya:)


lilyfly 5 years ago

Hy, all I have to say is... I want to read about it! Why don't you love??? Come on now, you know I'm not going to let it rest! Love yaz, lily


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

Okay, you talked me into it. Be prepared, we were heathen children!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

Hi, lily, I always get so engrossed in your story, I get disappointed when it finishes! lol and 18 hours of sunlight, wow! I could do with that, I read constantly, one book after the other, I use those silly night lights that you put on your book, it sticks to the side, but the stupid arm gets in the way, and the light gets in your eyes so that you can't see a thing! we also used to go down the river and catch bugs! I live about ten minutes away from the Thames, biggest river in England, so I can totally relate to getting upset when you lost that flying bug! cheers nell


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

Lily, I remember when I took a book and climbed a tree to sit there for hours reading. It was always cool up there and no one could find me and interrupt. Reading is an incredible gift.


lilyfly 5 years ago

First Hy, Congratulations! I am so happy! I knew when you said you trick or treated with a pillowcase that you were canny children! I'll be waiting...

And Nell, soon we will have five hours of daylight, so don't get too jealous. And, I stayed at the Savoy, which abutted the Thames, and I was thunderstruck by the beauty of your land... I miss it terribly sometimes. Oh, and stop writing all those goodie recipies,(I'm fat enough!) Love yaz, lily


Ghost32 5 years ago

Man, I could have used those 18 hours of reading time! Flashlights under the blanket were de rigeur for me, especially when I had the measles and was supposed to protect my eyes by not reading. Hah!

Never did crack the covers on either Pliny or Plutarch, but made up for that with get-down guys like Edgar Rice Burroughs, Jules Verne, Alexandre Dumas, Zane Grey, Victor Hugo, etc. Along about 8th grade, my classmates (who mostly struggled to pull a C in English, if that, and who ALL detested book reports with a purple passion) went from merely detesting me to a deep, pure hatred--after I turned in a serious report on Les Miserables.

Come to think of it, 18 hours of sunshine would actually have been a bad thing. There was always more work to do on the ranch, and it didn't stop until sunset...never mind!

I could see a book title to rival Harry Potter and then some: The Flying Snorks. Awesome.

Voted up and across.


lilyfly 5 years ago

Oh, a man of the cloth! I have a set of Dumas to the right of me that Dad gave me. I might eat mystery meat, but I bloody well have a limited edition (1000) in the world, of the Dumas series, so, I'm rich! haha! Yes, sir, there was was work too, and there will be a lot more, but the books are waiting for me.... right over there.

Thank you for such sweet words, Ghost... lily


Becky Katz profile image

Becky Katz 5 years ago from Hereford, AZ

Beautiful read, you have the gift of writing as if you were talking to us. My family went to the lake camping every weekend, all summer. Only extra expense was gas to get there. We played kick the can, hide and seek, used outhouses, sometimes sand hills, and brought lizards and horned toads home instead of bugs. My dad had a large family and we all went together. 40 or 50 kids playing 'kick the can' is awesome.


lilyfly profile image

lilyfly 5 years ago from Wasilla, Alaska Author

And you have a gift too Becky! Why don't you give us a childhood story... it would be great! Hyphenbird did, and hers were awesome... go on... try it! lily


femmeflashpoint 4 years ago

lilyfly,

I laughed when I read the line near the end about folks maybe thinking your childhood was dirty and dull.

If any ever thought that and read this, you'll have successfully set them straight. :)

femme

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