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Showing posts with label Cashiers Writing Group. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cashiers Writing Group. Show all posts

Saturday, March 13, 2010

IT'S PARTY TIME, BY DEBRA V. EDWARDS

(Debra V. Edwards)

Debra Edwards answered the call to submit her essay from Memories in Black and White, the anthology published by the Royal Scribblers of Cashiers, North Carolina. Enjoy!
And if you want to order a copy of this anthology, please go to City Lights Bookstore's website--www.citylightsnc.com.



It's Party Time

(Let the good times roll !!!)


By: debra v. edwards

My parents were very strict. In this day and age, I'm sure they'd be considered abusive. Especially Momma. We got the belt, slaps, (sometimes for just walking past her) hits, switches and restrictions. We were never allowed to go to the movies, dances, sleep-overs or drive-ins; definitely not drive-ins. We were, however, allowed pets. My refuge and sanity and best friends, were our pets. Otherwise, we were caged or chained to momma's watchful eye.


Very much like a dog that is chained, day in and day out, week after week, month after month, even years. But then some occurrence causes the animal to escape, or be freed, and it will run and run and run wild. It does not want to be caught. It will not listen to pleadings to come back. No. It knows that it will be chained again...harder, this time; or tighter. This dog needs to be free or with ‘his humans'. He was not designed to be ‘tied up'. Once given that freedom, he willingly, comes back and lays on the porch, if kindness is shown. Too many folks (or parents) don't understand this philosophy. I desperately needed some freedom.


To this day, I hate to see a chained dog.


The most revered and severe of our corrections, though, came from The Board of Education! It sickened us when Momma would laugh about that cleverly worded disciplinary rod, to us and to visitors. She boasted of her ‘authority' over us. It always got our attention. It was one inch by two inches and about two and a half feet long. It literally was a wood board.. The Board of Education stayed as a constant reminder in our kitchen, above our back door trim. It fit comfortably there. I remember it well. We all did. Mother had written in bold, black, magic marker on that simple piece of wood, The Board of Education! She was so proud of it. When it was used, we girls had to disobey school rules back then, that we could only were dresses or skirts to school. But when our legs were black and blue, we wore jeans or slacks.


I was the youngest of five siblings and often a witness to that board's use. When taken down, it was "going to be used" and someone was going to be the recipient. When we were in church or a restaurant or, any place where Momma thought we were being a little bit out of line, she simply snapped her fingers, clenched her jaws and with squinted eyes, she pointed to the culprit or at all five of us - sliding that finger down the line. If the response was not immediate and she had to snap again, we knew that was it. Our bodies would start trembling. Everyone thought we were such well-behaved, fine children. We were not allowed to show any hatred in her presence. But we all harbored it anyway. With five of us in seven years, Momma believed you couldn't love a child and discipline them at the same time; she chose discipline.

Daddy was an airline pilot, who was gone many days and nights. We never heard, "just wait till your father gets home." No, sir'ree, that discipline was given often and promptly and seemingly with great pleasure..

So in the summer before my senior year in high school, with my brother and sisters now gone and out on their own; (all leaving by various means of escape), Momma and Daddy decided they could trust me and they took a trip alone for the first time since their "babies started coming!"


I lived seven miles from my high school; boys never dated me. It was either my parents' reputation, the distance from town, the lack of transportation, or maybe as I often felt, it was me. Nobody wanted to date me. So, when my parents' trip was planned and departure time was imminent, I called several girl friends and asked them to come and stay with me. I had found a golden opportunity to taste a little freedom. We decided we would learn to drink and smoke.


The spend-the-night party was to be the Friday night my parents left. They did. I called my friends and said, "Come on, they're gone!" One of the girls was bringing some booze, another some cigarettes, and we were going to finally be ‘free from parental supervision'. Of course these ‘sins' were all coming from their own parents' stash.


Seven miles out, on our forty-five acre farm, distance suddenly was no longer a problem. One of my friend had an older boyfriend that drove and had his own truck. When she showed up, he was with her. The other friend had several guys with her, as well. Then car after truck, after truck, after car began a steady stream up, down, and around the long driveway to my house in the woods. Word had apparently gotten out fast!


The drinking and smoking began. I feverishly began trying to clean up the spilled beer bottles or cans and throw them into a trash can that was rapidly becoming full. The cigarette burns on my mother's fine rugs and carpet, where they were carelessly being tossed down and snubbed out with a boot or shoe. The burn spots were not clean up-able, as desperately as I tried.. cigarette ashes were falling onto the fine "seven different colors of green" sofa, that Momma was so proud of and repeatedly telling us and everyone that visited. "It was special made", she would say. Glass bottles were being christened together; "cheers" and "bottoms up"and one of those even broke as it was christened so hard.. The bottle parts found it's glassy way with tiny blood drops into the carpet below. The five bedroom doors on our main level, were now being closed. It became a hall of closed doors.


I was trying to be in the partying spirit, after all this was officially my first real party. One of the uninvited classmates said she and one of the guys were going back into town to buy more beer and booze; they'd be back soon. An hour or so later, a police car came up to the door and everyone just scattered into closets, under beds, and even ran out into the woods. It seemed that this friend and her fella had had an accident, and although they weren't seriously injured, he totaled his car. She convinced the cop, whom she knew well, as we all did, not to tell her parents. The cop brought her back to the spend-the-night-party and he joined us.


There were many people in my parents' home that I didn't know, as a matter-of-fact, most of them. The word had spread like wildfire, and I learned that night, when there are girls and booze and "cigs" to be had, everyone wants to party. There were older men and younger men and men with "pot". I didn't know what it was at the time, most of us didn't. But the ones who did, were sharing it, one puff at a time, around the room and back. It was disgusting to me to think that one "joint" with so much saliva on it, was passed around and then another would be lit up to follow. Even some of my closest friends were trying it for the first time. This was more than I could handle. I went downstairs to digest it all, as more vehicles seem to be joining us. I was stunned and in a state of stupor. The smell of pot alone was making my head swim. I had to stay more in control.


Our basement was a total apartment in itself as Daddy believed in paying cash for everything and the basement is where we all seven lived until he could afford the upper, main level of the house. It's also where our freezer was kept packed with food. I found the door wide open and the freezer empty. The small t.v. set was gone, the only one we had, as was the majestic clock that Momma cherished and said was an "heirloom". Anything that was toteable...was gone. I didn't cry. I don't remember being scared. I was feeling betrayed by friends and I was in total page shock as to how this could have so easily gotten out of hand.


The highway patrol had radioed ahead to be on the look out for Momma and Daddy in their Chevrolet station wagon. The cop that had joined us, I later understood, stayed just in case an

outcome such as this, would occur. He had disappeared from the party, and reported the accident and at the same time, had also reported "a party out of hand." He knew that my parents were strict and this would never have been allowed. Since it was my house, he could only "call the folks!"


Mom and Dad had turned around half way to Florida and drove back in our driveway in the wee hours of the morning. I had not had the first thing to drink or smoke. I was too busy cleaning up as my parents' home was being destroyed. I was disgusted that people could be such ‘users'; so callous and filthy, not caring where they snuffed out their cigarette, if the beer was spilled on the sofa, or the booze bottle was broken on the teakwood coffee table. How could someone steal from us? What kind of people do things like this? It was such a rude awakening for me. I learned a lot that night. Stuff that I was just not prepared to learn. How did their parents train them? I couldn't bare to look at the bedrooms. At least condoms were used. I saw my first in my own messed up bed, as was all the beds.

As friends were passed out in various places, I continued to make beds and clean up bottles, butts and glasses. I wrapped up the garbage bags and threw them in the back of a leftover truck still parked outside. My truck driver, brother-in-law, came through the door and just shook his head and then went straight to bed downstairs, for a layover. He said nothing.


As I was experiencing exhaustion and worry, I debated about just running away from home with some of the leftover partiers...and then they... walked in the door.


Face to face contact with disgust and pierced lips...I shuddered. But nothing was said. Mom started calling parents of my friends that were still there to come and get the girls, while daddy commenced to ‘escort' the male drunks down the steps and out the back door, telling them "I better never see you back on my property again!" I deserved whatever was coming to me.

I escaped to my bedroom but not a wink of sleep did I get. It was morning now. I kept awaiting that authoritative voice to soon be calling my name. It never came. Days later, nothing was said. Nothing.

To each of their dying days, it was never mentioned and I certainly didn't bring it up either. I'd hear mom talking to other parents about it, but not to me. It was just always referred to as "The Party." When one of my siblings inquired about the whipping that I must have gotten, Daddy just simply said, "She had already paid dearly."

The Party's Over................................


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

MEMORIES IN BLACK AND WHITE



MEMORIES IN BLACK AND WHITE: A Collection of Childhood Memoirs, by the Royal Scribbler's, Cashiers Writers Group, was published in 2009 by Main Street Rag Press. Here's how they describe themselves:

The Royal Scribblers is a group of writers who are about as well-adjusted as any creative community can be.

They have been getting together twice a month since 1996 in Cashiers, NC. Meetings are called to order by a quacking duck and a squawking chicken--two wind-up toys that dance simultaneously to different tunes.

And that pretty much describes the Royal Scribblers.


Now, I ask you, what would you expect from a writers group like that? I'd expect to have some fun with them, to enjoy their meetings and their work. And I did--not the meetings, since I've not been to one yet, though I'd like to (if only to hear the duck and the chicken!), I mean this anthology that begins with Foreword by my friend Joyce Foster, a fine poet whose work I featured on my Laureate's Lasso blog last year.


"Time tumbles down the stairs two by two in this last spiral of my life. I have stories that want to be told. They sneak around corners and slide sideways, like naughty imps, into my poetry. For my children, for their father; for my brother and family long gone; for friends here and there; for dreams and for life, I remember and write. Our lives touch and come apart. Through poetry I heal. Through poetry I celebrate the gift of this fragile moment."


I haven't read a better testimonial to the power of words than this in a long time. Besides Joyce, other contributors include Netwest members Ben Eller, Bob Fahey, and Deanna Klingel, as well as Kathie Blozan, Bill Christopher, George Cowan, Debra Edwards, Stephen J. Fischer, Karen Gilfilllan, Elsie Sameulson Haight, Eva Hanson, Jeanne Larimore, and Alicia Savino. Contributors' notes at the end feature photos of the authors, as children and as well-adjusted creative adults!
Perhaps if some of these well-adjusted folks will email me their memories from this book, I will post them on our Netwest blog. Is that a deal?