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A Trip Back in TimeA Novel
By Edwin F. Becker
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2011 Edwin F. Becker
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThey sat on the patio facing the fourth hole in a plush, gated golf community. It was a sunny morning, and it was also LeeAnn's birthday. She chose to spend the whole weekend with her grandparents. She loved talking with her Papa because he seemed to know everything. However (and even better) when he didn't, he would just make up all kinds of funny stuff.
"When I was your age, they didn't have houses built on golf courses like this." LeeAnn's grandfather explained.
"Papa, why don't you get a golf cart?" She asked, as a parade of golf carts drove alongside his property.
He smiled. "Well, for a starter, I don't golf."
"But Papa, we could drive it around and have fun." The 'we' she was referring to was her younger sister, Ashlee, and her two cousins, Krystal and Madeline. They normally attended their grandparent's home together, but this was LeeAnn's birthday weekend and she was enjoying having her grandparents to herself. Her sister and cousins would arrive later in the day. LeeAnn was ten years old today, but far more mature and perceptive than your average ten year old. She was entering the age of 'tween', as it is referred to. This is the uncomfortable age of no longer being a child, but not yet an adolescent. She had blonde hair with bright blue eyes, that sparkled as she kidded with her Papa.
"Come on, Papa, buy a golf cart. It would be a blast!"
"When I was your age, we didn't have golf carts." He answered.
LeeAnn gazed out at the vast acreage of what was only two of eighteen fairways in sight, and gasped.
"Are you telling me that they carried those heavy golf bags for the whole game?"
"No. Some had wheels on the bags, so you could pull them along, but mostly they had caddies. Caddies were typically high school kids that would carry the bags for the golfer and make a few bucks."
"Papa, I wouldn't carry the bags for a hundred dollars all that way." She replied.
"When I was your age, that's what they did and they were happy to do it to make a little money."
"Come on Papa. Are you sure you didn't have dinosaurs pulling golf wagons?" She laughed.
"Okay, I realize it sounds a bit absurd, but that is how it was and we loved every minute of those years. I never realized that the 'Good old days' were really the good old days!"
Papa laughed and pointed. "Just look at that guy with headphones on. If someone yells 'fore,' he is not going to hear them and will likely get hit in the head by a golf ball. Must everyone today have something stuffed in their ears?"
"Oh, Papa, you slay me!" She laughed.
"LeeAnn, learn to spot an idiot when you see one. He probably comes from a long line of idiots that were sent here from Europe. A little known fact is that in 1492, Columbus really arrived with four ships, not three. There was the Nina, the Pinta, the Santa Maria ... and then this last ship, the Idiota. It was this last ship that was filled with idiots that Europe sent to Spain to get rid of. No one ever talks about that fourth ship, but those idiots spread out all over America. Come to think of it, maybe getting a good shot in the head with a golf ball will straighten out his whole gene pool!"
LeeAnn just laughed, as Papa always seemed to make fun of everything current. Just then, the patio door opened and her Nana announced "Breakfast is ready! Come in before it gets cold."
LeeAnn surveyed the table, which was filled with pancakes, a platter of scrambled eggs, a pile of bacon, and stack of toast. "Geez Nana, this is what I call breakfast."
"What do you normally eat, young lady?" Nana asked.
"Oh, a pop tart, or maybe just some cereal."
"When I was your age, this is what we normally ate in the morning. We could never face the day without a good, hearty breakfast."
"Nana, did they really carry those heavy golf bags in the old days, or was Papa just making up one of his stories?"
"They sure did. Even the women golfers carried their own clubs, but most used caddies. Did he explain what caddies were?"
"Yeah, but I thought he was just kidding. What's a fore?" She asked.
"Fore means to be forewarned, and is what a golfer yells when he hits the ball where people might be in the general vicinity. It warns them to watch out." She explained.
"Papa called a guy wearing an iPod an idiot!" she laughed.
"Well if he can't hear what is going on around him, a golf course is not the best place to be walking around. I would say your grandfather is right. He pretty much knows an idiot when he sees one."
LeeAnn piled her plate, as this breakfast was a real treat. Meanwhile, Papa did his usual mock-complaining.
"Where's the sausage and French toast? Woman, what are you, on vacation?" He growled.
"Old man, you are lucky to get that. With your heart, I should pile your plate with tofu." Nana snapped back.
LeeAnn just laughed, as this is how Nana and Papa normally kidded one another. Forty-four years of marriage had bonded them, and their love for one another radiated-regardless of their verbal jousting. Just watching them was humorous, as Papa was six foot three and Nana was barely five feet tall, yet she bossed him around and he knew never to push her limits.
"Nana, this is great!" LeeAnn complemented.
"Well, it's really nothing dear. When I was your age we would also have some sliced tomatoes to go with those eggs and a bowl of fruit."
The relationship between grandparents and grandchildren can be unique and special. From a grandchild's perspective, at first they don't know exactly where grandparents fit within the family order. They initially know they smile and like them, but it's only later that they understand that their parents were once their grandparent's children, and as grandchildren they will always receive unconditional love and acceptance that is unmatched in life. All too soon they become used to being showered with lots of good things in concentrated doses.
No sooner than breakfast was over, LeeAnn gathered the plates and cleared the table, proceeding in helping her Nana in the kitchen.
"Thank you, dear." Nana said as she went about her business cleaning the kitchen. "The only time your grandfather will help with the dishes is when we have takeout food! He throws the bags away and then boldly announces 'I did the dishes today!' He is really something!"
As if offended, Papa yelled from the living room. "Are you talking about me?"
"You quiet down or I'll really hurt you!" Nana shouted back.
Meanwhile LeeAnn giggled loudly. "Nana, you and Papa are funny! When Papa tells me about when he was a child, is he kidding?"
"No, likely not. You know when he is kidding, because it will really be a whopper. No, when we were your age things were a lot different. You see all the stuff in our freezer? 90% of it did not exist. Frozen dinners were brand new and nobody had a refrigerator this size. I could never imagine getting water or ice right from the door. In fact, even the word microwave did not exist. Everything happened on the stove."
"Cooking was that different?" LeeAnn asked.
"Oh yes! Almost everything was made from scratch. We even made our own biscuits. We did have canned vegetables, but we had very few prepared meats. You had to go to a butcher shop or the delicatessen for cold cuts. Way back then, I could never imagine a store like Wal-Mart, where you could get almost everything under one roof. We went from store to store. Papa and I grew up in very different environments, as I grew up in a small town in Texas and Papa grew up in the center of Chicago, which is a huge city."
"How did you get to Missouri?" LeeAnn asked.
"Well, Papa just decided it was better for us all, once he was done working. Someday maybe we will sit down and I will explain the whole story, but Papa and I always loved Branson. We were first here in 1967 and fell in love with these beautiful mountains."
"Did you help your mom when you were young?" LeeAnn questioned.
"When I was your age, I did an awful lot. But we didn't have the things we have today."
LeeAnn was curious. "Like what?"
"We had no vacuum cleaners, for one. We had a carpet sweeper. Plus, floors had none of these protective coatings; we had to scrub and wax. Yes, cleaning was different ... in a bad way." She laughed. "We used a lot of kitchen cleanser, which was an abrasive powder."
Just then, the doorbell rang and Ashlee, Krystal and Madeline came running in. They went straight to Nana with hugs and kisses, but as usual they all immediately asked "Where's Papa?"
"Where's my girls?" Papa bellowed from the front room.
"Can we stay the night?" The three asked at once.
"You must get permission from your parents, but this day belongs to LeeAnn." Papa responded as little Madeline jumped in his lap.
"We want one of your stories!" Ashlee demanded.
LeeAnn was smiling smugly. "Nana was telling me how we came to live in Missouri." She bragged.
"Tell us Papa!" They demanded.
They could tell by the expression on his face that everything he was about to say was one of his wild, fabricated tales.
"Well, it was back in 1998 that we loaded all our stuff in the wagons and pointed the horses west. It was a dangerous time, as the west was wild with Indians. I don't know which was more dangerous, fighting the great Indian war of 1999, or having to swim across the mighty Mississippi!" He was grinning the whole time.
"Well, if you swam across, how did Nana get across?" Ashlee wisely asked.
"Ah, I put Nana on my back. I even put Benjii on my back!"
Benjii the Shih Tzu wagged his tail as if he knew Papa was telling a tall story.
Krystal looked at him in wonder and asked "Papa, are you telling the truth?"
"This I swear; everything I just said was all a bunch of bull plop!" He laughed.
"Papa, told me a bunch of stuff about when he when he was our age, for real!" LeeAnn bragged.
"Tell us Papa! Come on!"
He looked at the innocent faces and wondered if they would ever realize how much this world has changed in the fifty plus years that divided them. The times were certainly different, and his culture had been as innocent as their little faces. But, he decided to throw out a few tidbits. As soon as he began, he knew this curious group would not let him rest.
"When I was your age, we had no computers at all. We didn't even have calculators!" he stated.
LeeAnn chuckled. "What did you do, Papa, use your fingers and toes?"
Her younger sister Ashlee thought this was hysterical and began laughing, as did her cousins, Krystal and Madeline.
Krystal laughed. "Papa had to count on his toes!"
"I suppose they still had horses." Ashlee joked.
Papa smiled. "As a matter of fact, they did. Horse drawn wagons would come down the alley and a junk man would collect whatever things he thought were valuable from the garbage. Plus, a horse drawn vegetable wagon would also use the alley and the vendor would yell out 'POTATOOOOES! TOMATOOOOES!' and he would ring a bell. He would yell so loud you could hear him for a block. Then the housewives would rush out and buy fresh produce."
Leave it to Ashlee to ask "Who cleaned up the horse poop?"
All the girls laughed. This made Papa scratch his head.
"You know, I don't really know?"
LeeAnn was giggling hysterically. Her blue eyes were starting to tear up.
Krystal was confused. "What's an alley?"
"Well, in the city they had something like a street that was behind the houses by our garages. Our garages were in the back of the house, along with garbage cans."
As usual, it was Ashlee that asked "Did you ever step in the horse poop?"
"No, but I had a few friends that did!"
"Papa, my face hurts from laughing! Now tell us how far you walked to school." Krystal wondered.
"Well, since my mother and father were divorced and I lived with both of them at various times, it was not unusual to walk eight city blocks, which is about a mile. It was a lot different living in the city of Chicago, than where you live now, in Nixa, Missouri. How far do you walk?"
LeeAnn answered first. "We walk to the corner and the bus picks us up. We have buses now, Papa!"
All the girls were cracking up.
"Oh you mean you don't have your own cars yet?" He joked. "You tell your parents that I expect all of you to get your own cell phones and credit cards. You poor babies are living in poverty."
"I have my own cell phone already." LeeAnn bragged.
"Who do you call?" Papa asked.
"I mostly text." She answered.
"You know phones were invented so people could actually talk to each other."
"Yeah, but I can text in school and communicate when I can't talk." She quickly replied.
"Well, when I was your age, we had what was called 'party lines,' where more than one family shared a phone number."
"Get out! How can you share a cell phone?" LeeAnn asked.
"Oh, it was easy, because there were no cell phones. There were only land lines. You picked up the phone and if another family was having a conversation, you hung up until they were done." Papa explained.
"No cell phones?" They all gasped.
"Did you ever listen in and hear other people talking?" Krystal questioned.
"Oh, all the time. When I was younger, I thought it was funny to pick up the phone and make a farting noise!"
Now he had them all laughing hysterically. Even the youngest, Madeline, was laughing, as they all started mimicking conversations interrupted by farting noises. LeeAnn, the oldest, was sharp as could be and just could not believe there were such times.
"Come on Papa, are you telling us the truth?"
"I swear. That's how it was."
In the front room was a projection television that displayed a 120 inch picture. Papa pointed to it. "You see that monster of a TV? When I was your age, our televisions were only this big." He made about a 15 inch gap between his hands. "And, there was no color, only black and white."
"Get out!" Ashlee replied.
"I wish I could go back in time and see this for myself ..." LeeAnn replied.
"Let me tell you about Winky Dink, and how he got all the kids in trouble."
They all laughed.
"What the heck is a Winky Dink?" Ashlee asked.
"Well, Winky Dink was one of the early cartoon characters, like Dora the Explorer, or Sponge Bob. His show was on Saturday mornings on black and white TV. The stores sold a Winky Dink set that everyone was expected to buy, but hardly anybody did. It was a clear plastic cover that you were supposed to put over your TV screen. When Winky Dink came on, the bad guys would chase Winky Dink and he would have to escape by trying to cross a cliff that was too far to jump. The announcer would then tell the kids to draw a line on the TV that would represent a bridge, and a few seconds later Winky Dink would run across. This made it appear like the kids saved him. Then he would say to draw some stairs Winky Dink could climb, which they did, etc. The television got really messed up, because kids drew with crayons all over them, since nobody bought the Winky Dink set with the plastic cover. Kids all over the nation were drawing with crayons on the television screen. Parents became angry, kids were getting punished, and Winky Dink was quickly over and taken off TV."
Ashlee just laughed at the name. "Winky Dink?" she giggled.
"I can't imagine kids drawing with crayons on the television. Man, their parents had to be mad. I would never do that." LeeAnn replied.
"Oh, the guy on television actually encouraged them to do it! Even I didn't understand why my dad was spanking me, when all I did was save Winky Dink!"
"Gee Papa, I wish I could have seen all this. It sounds so funny. I wish we could go back in time." LeeAnn said smiling.
"Well, maybe that should be your birthday wish. Tonight, when you blow out the candles, make a wish. You never know. It just might come true." Papa suggested.
Yes, LeeAnn seemed to enjoy knowing what her Papa had experienced and as they talked and laughed, he made a wish that she really could see what it was like.
That evening, the whole family gathered to sing Happy Birthday to LeeAnn. Afterward, she concentrated really hard and made her wish. She wished she could see the world that her Papa had grown up in. As the candles were blown out, she felt a strange tingling feeling, but thought it was because she had blown so hard that she was out of breath. The opening of the presents was always fun and the evening seemed to zip right by. Everyone eventually went home, leaving LeeAnn to spend the last night of her birthday weekend with her grandparents. It had been a long and fun filled day, and she anxiously tucked herself into the king size bed in their guest room. Her thoughts were filled with the discussions about the old days. 'Life without cell phones? Weird.' This was her last thought, before falling into a deep sleep.
Excerpted from A Trip Back in Time by Edwin F. Becker Copyright © 2011 by Edwin F. Becker. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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