The McManual

Blogging my little heart out in poetry and prose.

Category: childhood memories

Memories of Kenny


My cousin Kenny died last week.  He had a heart attack.  He was only 56.  The story I heard is that he was working in the yard, came in and said he was tired, went to rest on the couch, and died. This story, while shocking, reminds me a lot of the story of how my grandmother died, except that she had an anerurysm, and she wasn’t working in the yard, she was cutting cake.

My memories of Kenny are vague.  I remember playing at his house, which was very close to Aunt Carol’s house, I remember sleeping there, it seems to me that I remember celebrating Easter and maybe Christmas there.  I definitely know that his house is the only place I ever got to see Captain Kangaroo as a child.  I remember STP stickers, Kenny being outside and working on cars.

I also remember a lot of laughter.  All my memories of his home are colored in a sunshiny warm yellow glow – although I don’t remember talking much, which is unusual for me.  Oh, and they always had Alphabet cereal.  I don’t remember the actual name of it.

I am sad that I never even knew Kenny.  He was already grown up with kids of his own by the time I knew him, and I never saw him once I became an adult.  I would go to the funeral tomorrow, but my husband’s father died yesterday, too, and we have a lot going on down here in the Cities.

My heart goes out to Kenny’s children – all younger than me – and his wife, a woman I never met.  I hope that they will cherish their good memories and pull together as a family, just as we are trying to do here.

An Afternoon on the Farm


Two hour van ride, carsick in the back.  My family, actively a family, even during mundane tasks. Not like some families- mine loved to be together.  Playing games and laughing.  Listening to Dad’s jokes.

The only time we got upset was helplessly watching cars pass us in the left lane – admonishing dad, Step on it!  Step on it.  We’d wail like greek mothers upon learning a child was fated to die.The farm was like no place else we visited – even a gentler purgatory than the one we believed in.  Illisium fields, had we ever heard of such a place, we would known we were there . Timeless, detached from space – country road C wound by like a thread back to the rest of the world = a world easily forgotton as a we walked back and forth on the gravel road from the mailbox to the farmouuse – Dad maintains that it had electricity in the end, but that’s not my memory of the place.  Farmhouse.  Still with it’s original tarpaper sides

Looked crooked as though it had been dropped by dorothoy’s tornado.  No ruby slippers, though, I checked.  Just field after field, on Grandpa’s poorly farmed farm.

With nothing to do, mom would say Go Play!  And we would.  Trounce out to what must be the center of a field of hay, my brother and sister and I would use our forearms to press down the grasstalks, forming mazes to crawl through.  We marveled at bugs and flies, stalks that bulged with baby insects frightened and fascinated us.  Our skin grew tan in the unending golden sunshine, and we didn’t run away from anything.

You’ll like her she’s black too.


When I was 12, we had a baby-sitter – Evelyn.

She was black and 15, and so very cool.

She told me all aobut dinosaurs, that’s

all I really remember, but she was

beautiful – and she could make her

hair stand any which way – and I

was profoundly jealous because

my hair was very long and straight.

It would never stand on end.

My dad said to his friend

John – you’ll like her, she’s black, too.

Oops.  No more friend Joh.

You’ll like her, she’s black too.

Yes, offesnive, yes, rude, but I

think dad meant well.

Not you can only like other blacks

but there’s something that links

something like racism faced

homes misplaced

ghosts chaced

always raced

often erased,

disgraced

sometimes maced,

and on nothing is it based.

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