My Experience with Smoking Cigarettes

When you were a kid, did you experience smoking your first cigarette?   Well, I did and you’re gonna love what happened.

I need to first acquaint you with my grandmother, Amy Dawes (we called her Mawdie), who was a smoker, and my grandfather, Tilghman Ray Dawes (Pawdie).  Mawdie descended from Germans and Cherokee Indians.  She grew up in a house with her grandfather who was a wine maker; her grandmother owned a turkey business.  I don’t remember Pawdie; he died in a car accident when I was two years old.  He was on his way home from Paducah and had been drinking when a semi-truck hit him head-on.  He called me “his little movie star;” that’s me sitting on his lap and his dog Ranger.  I wish I could have known him.  The first house I remember them living in was an old two-story house and there was a scary room which I will talk about in another story.

Mawdie worked at Ted’s grocery store which was within walking distance of our little block house.  When I was old enough, I went with her to the store each Wednesday to help her price and put away the supplies.  My aunt would bring her to our house and we would walk to the store.  I had to use a wax pencil to write the prices on the can goods.  She would give me a quarter and furnish my lunch.  I thought I was rich because candy bars, cokes and ice cream cost 5¢ each so I could get lots of junk.  I usually spent every penny too.

One of my girlfriends lived near the store where Mawdie worked and she would come to the store to buy cigarettes for her mother.  Sometimes, if I had finished my work, I would go to her house and we would play.  One day, we decided we would try smoking so she came in as usual to get her Mom’s cigarettes when in truth, they were for us.  We happily left the store and went to her brother’s trailer which was parked behind her parent’s house.  And, they would have killed us if they had known we were messing around in their trailer.  Anyway, we opened the pack and lit up a couple of cigarettes and we really thought we were big shots too.  When we tried to inhale (because that was what you were supposed to do), we both started coughing and gasping for breath.

Now, here’s the funny part – I had seen Mawdie light her cigarettes from the gas stove so my friend thought that it couldn’t be that hard and she decided she would try it. Yep, you guessed it, she singed her eyebrows and eyelashes and it smelled gawd awful.  It stunk up her brother’s trailer so much that we had to open all the windows to get the smell out.  She was really scared that she would get into trouble if her parents noticed that her eyebrows and eyelashes were singed and tried to fix them as best she could.  Anyway, we smoked nearly every one of those cigarettes.  I don’t think her parents ever had a clue, or never let on if they did.   See how clever we were!

See ya next Wednesday.  And, don’t forget to check your answers for Tuesday Trivia on Friday.


Trip to West Palm Beach, Florida

A couple of weeks ago I flew to West Palm Beach, Florida, to see my cousin, Robert, whom I haven’t seen in many, many years.  Robert’s mother, Edna, was my mother’s sister, and it seems they always lived in Missouri, and the only time I saw them was when they came Kentucky or we went to Missouri. Not only had I not seen Robert in a long time; I had never been to Florida. So, my trip was doubly exciting.

Robert and Oscar met me at the airport on Friday afternoon and the adventure began. They first took me to Cheesecake Factory for a delicious meal and dessert, of course.  They even talked me into trying new drink; it is called the Arnold Palmer.  It consists of half tea and half lemonade – wonderful drink.  You gotta try this first chance you get.

We then went to their house; and I have to tell ya, this house was absolutely gorgeous.  It sits on a golf course and the back of the house has lots of windows so you can just sit back and enjoy the scenery.  I took some old family pictures with me and we started looking through them and relating some of our past memories. Oscar and Deb, one of their co-workers who was staying the weekend, probably thought we were nuts because we would start a sentence with “oh, do you remember” then we would talk about what each of us remembered.  About 9 pm, we decided it was time to eat again so we went to a pizza parlor and had some pizza and another Arnold Palmer.  I tell ya, I ate more in those three short days than I eat in a week.

On Saturday, Robert took me to Palm Beach where we saw huge houses nestled among palm trees along the coast.  One interesting thing was the houses across the street from the ocean had tunnels that went underneath the street to the beach.  I also saw some yachts that were huge, and I mean huge.  Since it was windy, the ocean waves were fairly good sized and we saw some folks parasailing. We also went to the Jupiter Inlet Light. It is located between Cape Canaveral Light and Hillsboro Inlet Light. When we returned from our little excursion, we all had a snack before going to dinner. In the meantime, Robert and I started going through the family pictures he had, and we found that both of us had a lot of the same pictures.

On Saturday night, Robert, Oscar, Deb and I went to Three Forks Restaurant and had a wonderful meal.  The food was excellent; however, the entertainer played the piano and sang so loudly that we almost had to yell at each other to talk. We went to a yogurt shop and had frozen yogurt for dessert (like I needed anything else).

On Sunday, we went to the Wycliffe Country Club for brunch where we were met by several members of Oscar’s family. And, what a wonderful family they are.  From the moment I met them, I was made to feel that I was a part of the family.  Robert and I related some of our hillbilly heritage to them and it was hard for them to really believe just how far back in the sticks we grew up.  We had so much fun; I think we were entertaining the entire dining room.

It was hard to decide what to eat since the buffet was huge and everything imaginable was on it.  But I forced myself to fill a plate full of food and then stuffed myself.  I had such a great time; but unfortunately, I had a flight scheduled for home and had to leave my new-found family way too soon.

I really enjoyed my trip to Florida and getting to see Robert after so many years.  I hope to return to Florida soon and maybe I can talk my little sister into going on the next trip.

See ya next Wednesday.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Snow Sledding

We lived in St. Louis, Missouri, for a short time while Dad worked construction.

My best friend was Betty and she lived down the street from me.  We played together all the time and sometimes we would let my little sister join us.  St. Louis gets a lot of snow during the winter so all my buddies had sleds.  One day we decided to go to another friend’s house to sled in their back yard.  Now, their yard slanted toward a big deep ditch and there was a fence to keep one from falling down into the ditch. This yard was perfect for sledding.  Let me add here that I had never been on a sled in my life so this was a new experience for me. Everybody took turns riding the sled down the hill and then it became my turn.  I got on the sled and started down the hill and boy did I go fast.  I could see the fence coming up but didn’t know how to slow down or stop. The fence got closer and closer until I slammed right into it face-first and I can tell ya right now, that hurt like the devil. There I was hanging onto that fence trying to keep from falling into that big ole ditch.  My friends ran down and saved me from certain death and then laughed at me for not having enough sense to just jump off the sled.  Besides being wet from the snow, I was shivering from the cold so my friend’s mom made me some hot chocolate to help me feel better. When I got home, I told my mom how I nearly died; but she wasn’t impressed and I got a whipping for being late.  I got a lot of those during my childhood.  But, I loved sledding down that hill and tried it again many times.

People have said that I’m a lot like my dad and I’m gonna give you one little example of how we were very much alike.  One winter day when it had snowed, he and his older brothers decided they would have some fun in the snow.  I don’t know what kind of sled they used, but I’m sure they rigged up a good one.  In an earlier post, I said that my dad was the youngest and was open to the suggestions of his older brothers. So, when they suggested that he go down the hill first, he was quick to say he would do it just to show them he wasn’t afraid.  He jumped on the sled and went sailing down the hill toward the corncrib.  They did not, however, tell him that he would need to lie flat in order to go under the corncrib.  Yep, you guessed it, he ran smack into the crib and mashed his mouth.  Of course this set up a howl from my dad; and when they got him to the house, the whole lot of them got into trouble for that little omission.  Now you see the similarity; neither one of us knew anything about sledding in the snow.

See ya next Wednesday.



My Mother

My mother was born June 8, 1926 to Tilghman Ray and Amy Rhinehart Dawes (Mawdie).  Mom was a homemaker; and at one time, sold Avon products door-to-door. She kept an immaculately clean house, cooked supper every night and froze or canned food from the garden.

During World War II, she worked at the defense plant, which, according to her, was not a nice place for a young single girl.  So, an older lady who also worked there took Mom under her wing and protected her from the thugs.  She also worked at a dry cleaner but was fired because she was accused of ruining the blouse of an influential lady.

Speaking of blouses, Mom bought herself a pretty new blouse which her younger sister, Rose, wanted to wear. When Mom refused to let her wear the blouse, Rose rode her bicycle over Mom and tore the blouse off of her.  Gee, does that sound like somebody else’s sister who ran over her with her new bike!

Aunt Edna, Mom’s older sister, and Uncle Fred had two sons, Arthur and Robert.  Aunt Edna was a hair dresser and Uncle Fred worked construction.  They lived in the St. Louis, Missouri area, and we spent many summers visiting them.  I looked forward to visiting them in the summer because I got to see Robert and Arthur. They both were older than my sister and me, but we always had fun with them.  Arthur married and worked for his father-in-law until his retirement.  We’ve since lost Aunt Edna, Uncle Fred, Arthur and his wife.  Robert owns an interior decorating corporation. I haven’t seen Robert in many many years; however, this Friday, I am flying down to see him.  I am so excited!

As long as I can remember, Rose, lived as close to Mawdie as she could.  She and Billie had three children, Greg, Toni and Gina.  Rose was also a hair dresser; Billie had a full-time job at the Texas Gas Company and cut hair on the weekends.  I loved hanging out with Rose; she was so much fun.   When I got older, she even asked me to cut and perm her hair.  Sometimes on Saturday night, she and Billie would take me with them to the drive-in theater to see a movie. Even though they were married, they acted like they were still teenage sweethearts.  She was always such a cut-up and the life of the party. I’ll have to tell you about some of the Christmases we spent with her.

See ya next Wednesday.



Fall Festival

Do you remember Fall Festivals/Halloween Carnivals at your school?

Every October, the Sharpe Elementary School in Marshall County, Kentucky, held a fall festival and chili supper. The gymnasium floor was decorated and filled with activities which included the Cake Walk, the Doll Walk, the Duck Pond and other booths where prizes could be won.  Some of the classrooms also had activities in them.  The second grade classroom held the Country Store where homemade pies, preserves, canned vegetables and such were sold.  And, after the chili supper, bingo was set up in the cafeteria.   At the end of the festival, a door prize was given away.

Students from the fourth grades were responsible for furnishing cakes for the Cake Walk.  A big round table was built for the cakes and chairs with numbers on them were placed in a big circle around the cake table.  Folks would find themselves an empty chair and pay their dime to play.  Once everyone had paid, they would all get up and start walking in a circle in front of the chairs.  The person overseeing the Cake Walk would yell “stop;” and once everyone sat down, a number was drawn from a bowl and the person sitting in the chair with that number won the cake.

And, each girl in sixth grade was given two dolls to be dressed for the Doll Walk. The Doll Walk worked exactly like the Cake Walk.  When I was in sixth grade, I took my dolls to my Aunt Avis and she made dresses for them.  Aunt Avis was an excellent seamstress and she made several dresses for me too.  But I digress.  So, she made a pretty gingham dress for one of the dolls and made a Sharpe Green Devils cheerleading outfit for the other one.  I tell ya, everybody wanted to win that doll, including me.

A costume contest was held each year; my sister and I were entered a couple of years but never won.  I tell ya, those plastic halloween masks were so hot; we took those things off as soon as we could.   There was also a Fall Festival Queen elected each year.  The candidate who collected the most money won the title.  My little sister was a candidate when she was in first grade; that’s her right in the middle of the picture. And one year, my cousin, Angelyn, was crowned the Fall Festival Queen.

One great thing about the Fall Festival being at the school was that we kids could run around by ourselves because we knew everybody; and if we got lost, someone would help us find our parents.  The Fall Festival was always fun and it was something in which parents and kids alike could participate.

See ya next Wednesday.