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Mom's Little Brother
The Golden Prize: by Lori Cotten
Mom’s parents lived on a farm in rural Sunburg, MN about 25 miles northwest of Willmar. Mom married Dad when she was nineteen years old but her little brother, Marvin, lived at home with Grandma and Grandpa until he married at the ripe old age of thirty.
Marvin worked in Willmar; at Burlington Northern Railroad from the time he turned eighteen to his retirement at sixty years. Even though he worked in town, he managed to make it home each day to help out in the barn with Grandpa, my great uncle Clarence, and mom’s cousin Douglas. There, the four of them would milk the cows, and make sure all the pigs; cattle, chickens, and ducks got their tummies full. When the work was done, they would each sit outside the barn on their own little stump and relax with a 6-ounce can of Pabst Blue Ribbon. They’d small talk, and tie up loose ends from the day, then retreat back to their own homes for a light dinner and an early bedtime only to start all over again at the crack of dawn.
Renae and I would stay at the farm for long periods of time in the summer. Two homes stood side by side on the farm. The big white one was Grandmas’, the smaller of the two, also painted white, but sported red trim, belonged to my great uncle Clarence. Moms’ cousin, Douglas, parked a trailer house on the far side only steps away from his father, Clarence. I never met Clarence’s wife, she passed away before I was born, and he never remarried.
The main attractions to our long visits were, Doug’s kids, Shiela and Keith. We played more make believe in two weeks than kids today do throughout their entire youth. We had no electronic games, and only one television station. Needless to say we used our imaginations, and we used them well.
One late afternoon we waited with batted breath for Marvin to get home. While one of us was always on the lookout for the car to come sliding down the gravel road turning up a tornado of dust in its shadow, the rest of us just jumped around with excitement wondering what it was going to look like. Marvin bought a new car, and we couldn’t wait to see what it was. Marvin always had a cool car. He never drove one of those old four door boxcars; his were always two door sports cars. The anticipation was almost too much.
Finally, there he was! In all the excitement of waiting, we completely missed the forecast of his entrance. No one saw him coming down the dirt road with the billowing clouds of dust following him from behind…but we caught the first glimpse on his turn into the driveway. We all ran up to the sides of the new automobile, it was spectacular! There it was, a brand new 1972 Gold Chevy Chevelle Malibu! Marvin smiled as he drove ever so slowly down the shaded, twisting driveway. He could see our excitement, and I believe he’d be spreading his feathers if he were a peacock. He didn’t even have a chance to get the beauty parked before we begged for a ride. He laughed as he said,
“You kids get back! I could run over your toes!” After he parked her, he opened the door, got out, and said “NO.” Of course he had chores to do; he had to have his 6-ounce Pabst Blue Ribbon, and retreat back to the house for dinner.
All that anticipation, and we just had to wait some more. The excitement was contained for a short period of time, but with the last bite of dinner it was back Ten-fold. Eventually, he did give in.
All of us argued for the front seat, and with a bit of commotion we each settled in and enjoyed the ride with smiles from ear to ear. It seems so funny that a ride in a car would be such a highlight in ones life memories. But as I’ve said, we had no electronic games and only one television station. A ride in the “Golden Prize” was quite an event for all of us.
Marvin was good to us little rascals. Numerous times on a hot summer night when they had finished all the chores, and we were through with dinner, he’d pack us up in his awesome sports car. He’d take us over to Games Lake to cool off in the water, splash around, and let out some penned up energy we always had so much of. The ride there and back was just as much fun as the lake itself. We had all the windows rolled down, and the radio was playing loud music; top-40 music, it was the kind we liked, not the kind that Grandma ever listened to. I’m not sure what I enjoyed more, riding around in my uncles car, or spending time making life long memories with Mom’s baby brother. I love looking back on my childhood, sometimes I think it would be nice to travel back there for a spell… although I’m afraid all that energy and all the anticipation would be more than I could handle.
Before too long, Marvin once again purchased another new car. Grandma and Grandpa bought the “Golden Prize” from their son, but it seemed to have a different flavor when they drove it. Grandma would never drive over fifty miles per hour, and neither one ever drove with all the windows down while loud music played on the radio. Time changes everything, even the life of an automobile. My sister inherited the old Chevy in the end, the paint job was dull, and in need of wax. It seemed difficult for the Golden Prize to shine even with the dampness on a rainy day. The black carpeting inside was worn and nearly impossible to vacuum clean any longer; the sand from years of traveling down the gravel road were woven into the fibers with no chance of escape. It’s been said many times by many people that all good things eventually come to an end… but in reality the beauty of it all lies safely inside the memories of the mind forever.
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