A Milkweed Memory

Walking about the woodland Saturday, I some noticed milkweeds along the driveway ditch which Blog 047brought to mind a story. It’s a story that gives a little idea of what Dad was like.

Dad was sitting out with Mom and me in the side yard late one summer. He had a Falls City beer in hand and his green work uniform on; that’s all I ever saw him wear. I believe he left the matching green cap inside that hot day, but the Vitalis kept his hair neatly in place.

Finishing his Kool Mild, he looked over to me with a grin. “Hootenanny (yes, really), go in there and get a bag and bring it out, a big bag.”

I raced in, eager to participate in whatever he had planned. I reached behind the Warm Morning coal stove in the kitchen and selected a folded grocery sack. They were made from nice, heavy brown paper with a flat rectangular bottom and straight sides for those of you unfamiliar with the pre-plastic trash days. I ran back out and presented it to him with a conspiratorial grin.

He didn’t take it. “Go over across the road and fill that about half full with milkweed pods.”

I said, “They ain’t ripe yet!”

He said, “Just go get ’em.”

Blog 051I did as bade, harvesting the plump green pods with dexterous 9 year old fingers. We lived on a white gravel road, had a white gravel driveway that segued into our white gravel sitting area under a tall poplar tree. Inured to the sharp edges, I ran back, barefooted as always. You only wear shoes to church and school, right? Dying to see that he would do with them, I passed them over and stood waiting.

“Go put ’em in the car and bring me another beer.”

Oh dern it! Would I ever know what they were for?

Fast forward a couple months. We were all in the living room watching Hee-Haw. In a commercial break, he laughed and told Mom the rest of the tale. For it to make sense, you Cabin June 2015 076must know he stopped by Ron and Herm’s beer joint after work every day and came home in time for supper. We pick up the story after supper, TV time. Well, here it is:

“Remember I took that milkweed up with me a while back? I emptied the bag in the heat pipes when George wasn’t looking. They set in there all this time! I got there just in time today to see white snow flying all over the damned place! He was cussin’ and havin’ a fit and it was in his hair and everything!” He laughed and nearly spilled his beer, then added, “It looked like it was snowin’ up a storm!” He looked so satisfied.

I was so proud to have done my part! Then Buck Owens sang ‘The Race Is On” or something and the event became the past. Maybe sometime I’ll write about what I did with the ant-covered dead roof rat…


Potato Dictato

Potato Dictato

Mary Ellen Wall


I come into the living room with Jimmy’s dinner cause it was football on and his eyes was glued to it. I set the fried pork chop Dougand buttered taters on his lap and was sticking the fork, not the pointy end, into his hand when the TV went to commercials.

Stereo“What the hay are you doing? These potatoes are not fried, and I told you a hundred times I don’t want nothing but fried potatoes!”

Says I, “Them’s perfectly fine taters with fresh butter and green onions chopped all through ’em. Every little cube was cut the same size so as they’d boil even. You better eat all that if you know what’s good for you!”

He finished chewing up his first bite of the pork chop and swallered it. He dropped the rest back on the plate and made to pass it to me. When I didn’t take it, he put it on the pillow by the cat and Inky snagged the chop and was shoot-gone but he acted likeBarto short legs he didn’t see it. “Go on off with that and fix me some decent food.”

I turnt around and got the cable box, unplugged it and quicker then he could jump, I opened the window and throwed it out. His stupid beagle went straight for it while he watched and his jaw dropped to his knees.

I sidled around him, picked up his plate of cold taters, and headed for the kitchen. I announced, “You are a Tater Dictator!”

As I was dumping them in a pot to heat up so as to not waste ’em, he stomped out to the yard and retrieved that cable box. The cord was bare wires in places and I almost laughed but had no death wish.

He looked about to scream and cry at once like he does. “They were fourth and long with the two minute warning going off!”

He stared me down as I squared off with him, not willing to take any more crap from him. I do believe he well understood that.

He set the cable box on the kitchen table. “It is not ‘tater’, you ignorant hick. It is po-ta-to. Where are the keys. I’m going to Jerry Jay’s for a decent dinner.”

“Drunks don’t get keys no more. Walk. If you come back, sleep in the kennel ’cause that’s where your stuff’s gonna be.”

My Cabin!He come up real close so I had his whiskey breath in my face. I did not budge or flinch. He made an ugly face and stomped out. I smelt taters about to burn and in a flash realized I had turnt them on up high without paying attention. I turnt the burner off and shook the pot around to see if any really was burnt. Oh, Lordy, they smelt good! That butter got ’em golden and the first little chunk I picked out was crispy on one side and steaming buttery with the onion just right all through it.

I like fried taters as well as anybody. I just hate the same dang thing all the time; it gets old.