Monday, February 25, 2008

The Christening

This is my brother, Bill (William Lowell, to be exact) circa 1955. He was 15/16 years old....yes, I said fifteen or sixteen. Now you may think that's a little young to be an enlisted man in the United States Army Paratroopers and you would be correct, except for one thing. This young man is Bill, who has always been a "try something new" person for as long as I can remember.

By the time he was fifteen, he'd had all the farm life he could stand. He was done milking cows, repairing equipment, (since he was old enough to walk), hoeing beets, planting potatoes, slopping hogs and all the other chores required by a large family to keep a small farm running. It was a hard life and Bill was ready to head-out to see the world. School was not his cup of tea, although his mind is like a trap, capturing more knowledge and understanding of more things than anyone I've ever known. He is a very interesting man; also very determined, which is why he somehow managed to change every record about himself that ever existed, to make him a year older than he actually happens to be, which in turn got him into the US Army. That, and a lot of pleading and good reasoning to persuade my Mom, who finally gave in and signed the consent papers. And, as a note of interest...........He is, to this day, legally one year older than his twin sister, Lois. (Wilma Lois, to be exact, Phyliss for fun).

Today's blog, however, is not about Bill's Army career, it is about a time a few years earlier. It is, in fact, about the year we moved from the farm into Pocatello, after the death of our father. The reason for the move is another story for another time but I will say this much; the move came about quickly and without much notice.

Having been raised on the farm, where life was, by today's standards, very backward and unsophisticated, we kids were a very, very long way from being worldly. Mom cooked on an ancient stove, water was hauled from a pump and heated on that same stove for cooking, cleaning, and bathing. As I've mentioned before, this farmhouse was three rooms and a path and as plain as an unsalted soda cracker.

Well, when the day arrived for the move to be made, Bill was in the boondocks somewhere in the hills, tending sheep for someone, living in what was basically a covered wagon. He was, at best, thirteen years old and since he had no way of communicating with us on a regular basis, he had no idea about the move that was about to happen.

I don't recall the packing and actual move, but I do remember seeing that "mansion" in the city for the first time. It was huge (about 800 sf) with real bedrooms, a real kitchen with cabinets and counter tops, and a double sink for washing dishes, and HOT and cold water coming out of this fancy lookin' contraption connected to this marvelous sink. And, for Mom, there was an electric stove to cook on. It had a soup pan (Mom said it was a deep well cooker) built right into it where she could cook her fabulous soups, stews and home made chicken and noodles. (Our favorite) Then there was the electric oven, where she could bake her bread, rolls, biscuits, cakes, pies, and cookies and roasts. It was almost more than a seven year old farm kid could ever dream of living with. The youngest of us thought, for sure, we'd died and went to heaven.

Back to Bill, or Billy as we called him then. It so happened, a few days after our big move, Bill had finished up his sheep herding for the year and came home to the farm, only to find that he had been abandoned! The whole fam damily and all of our belongings were gone. Bill never got too exited about trivial things like this so he just found a neighbor, who just happened to have all the information he needed to find us. Once he had that information, he ventured into Pocatello to the new homestead. We, of course, welcomed him with open arms, happy to have him back in our midst.

Bill, like the rest of us, was quite happy with our new digs, and started exploring the new possibilities of this place. Being a twelve or thirteen year old man of the world, he wasn't nearly as impressed with the running water, electric appliances, indoor bathroom and such. He had, after all, learned about these things at school and during his limited (at that time) travels. However, there was one item that was new to him. Like every other object he ever ran across in his life, he had to figure out what it was and how it worked.

He looked this simple object over carefully, studying it's construction, what purpose it might serve and, most importantly, how it worked. It just so happened he was in the dining room during this study, a room that was wall-papered in a Cabbage Rose patterned paper, very fashionable in those days.

Perhaps if Mom hadn't been out on an errand at the time, his revelation may have ended a little differently, but fate was not on his side that day. It was easy to see the light of realization come on in his eyes about that object's purpose and his intent to give 'er a try. We watched in wonder as he changed the way he held that object, into the same position a soldier would carry a bayoneted rifle as he lunged toward the enemy. Bill gave it everything he had as he aimed for his target, a Cabbage Rose on the wall. Holding on for dear life, his thrust with the object hit the wall with a loud bang, Bill pulling back immediately. a degree. Those of us watching this, gasped in horror as the Cabbage Rose refused to die, clinging with all it's might to that toilet plunger, and bringing a few it's neighbors with it for support.

The new house had been christened! Bill got a few choice words from Mom and a lesson on the proper use of the aforementioned toilet plunger, that day's object of his never-ending curiosity.

Life on 8Th St went on and the Cabbage Rose paper came off. Life was adventure indeed, in the early fifties..............I love my brother Bill!


Michelle said...

What a handsome young man Uncle Bill was! I can just imagine Grandma Beth was horrified over the cabbage roses! :)

Anonymous said...

Love it and I love you...Kim