Friday, March 27, 2015

Layer It With Brick

Idaho winters are cold.  They used to be even colder.

I remember waking up winter mornings, hearing Dad get up just after 4 a.m. to go milk the cows, rustling around to stoke up the stove to bring a little warmth into the house while making some coffee to warm up his insides.  I would reach up to touch the window just long enough to make sure it was as cold as it felt and was never surprised to find it so.

I would hear Dad go outside at 4:20 a.m., pushing his little cart with the two milk cans full of warm water, its wheels making crunch noises in the frozen snow and would place my hand back on the window which had thick frost even on the inside of the pane, leaving it there just long enough to thaw a hand shape. Jack Frost spent extra time at our house.

There wasn't any heat in the bedroom, just cold bricks at our feet, sometimes still wrapped in their towels. They were put there the night before to help warm up our bodies, which were covered in layers of warm flannel pajamas and wool socks, and homemade wool quilts. Mother would wrap a warm brick in a towel and tuck it in the bed a few minutes before bedtime.  Right at bedtime, we would put our pillows on the top of the Warm Morning stove, heating them up just until we began to smell the scorch of the pillowcase,  then flipping them over to warm the other side the same, and then running pell mell to the bed, with our faces still against the warm pillow.  I can still almost smell that scorch in my mind...and now and then still do when I iron :o)

Even as a child I knew that the real reason I reached up and touched the frosted window was to honor the hero in my dad, for working so hard to feed us and keep us warm so we could sleep in a little longer and be a little cozier.

Thanks, Dad.  And thanks, Mom, for getting up a bit later, and stoking up the fire again to warm him when he came in from milking and for getting us warm food in our tummies.  Many is the time when I had Campbell's soups for breakfast just to help warm my insides, either chicken noodle or vegetable.

When the wind would blow a certain way, the smoke in the stove would gush out of the stove and fill Mother's clean kitchen.  She would then have to banish us out of the house for a while while she cleaned up the mess. Soot was everywhere and had to be washed down by hard-working hands, Mother's.

They got us electric blankets years later and we thought we had died and gone to Heaven. Then the problem was forcing ourselves out of bed in the mornings.  


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

"Pealing" Rubber

The boys and I went to Idaho two weekends ago. I rode with Jason.  Nik rode with Jared and family. (Off the record, I think Jason is secretly a fighter pilot.)

There is a several-mile stretch of road north of Lagoon that Dad used to call "Flat Tire Avenue" (FTA), so named because the road felt like a big army tank had driven along it right after it was paved. You could have started a rubber factory from all the tire parts strewn along the road. It looked like an explosion in a manufacturing plant.

Saturday it didn't seem quite as bumpy as in olden days for some reason.  I was telling Jason about how it used to have the FTA name when, interestingly enough, I realized the moniker still fits.  There were big hunks of tires along the entire stretch, thankfully not ours.

It's got to be more than just a long-time coincidence. Surely some of those tire sections belong to the UHP or UDOT people.  All I know is that the tire people probably call that "Happy Avenue".  That's good news for cousin Lisa, though. More shopping fodder.

FTA is probably an old-timer's phrase, sort of like Sardine Canyon.  You have to have been there to know this stuff.  Google doesn't even reference it.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Old Stores

Sprouse Reitz:  This was one of my favorite stores as a child. Unfortunately, it went out of business in 1994, though most of its stores closed before that.  There was one in Preston that you could wander through for hours just looking at stuff. The chain was started in Washington State with headquarters in Portland. I can't find out the origin of the store's name but it was likely after a Mr. Sprouse and Mr. Reitz.

Kings: This was the king of stores to my kids.  Before the big corporate stores opened for business, Kings was almost a one-stop-shop.  You could buy clothes, lawn hoses, wind chimes, pencils, makeup, protractors, kleenex, sunglasses, holiday decor, picture frames...and fresh popcorn for a dime! The best thing about the store, however, was the basement, a literal toyland.  We have probably bought over 2000 marbles from the Kings over the years, at least as many caps for cap guns, board games, puzzles, stick horses, hula hoops, you name it. Maybe that's why it's referred to as a "variety" store.  Thankfully, there are at least 26 Kings stores still in business, most of them in Idaho but several in Oregon, Nevada, Montana, Wyoming and Utah.  My favorite one is still Preston, but the one I visit once or twice a year is in beautiful Heber, Utah. Going there is as nostalgic as walking into a malt store with a juke box, almost extinct but twice the treat if you can find one.

Coronet: There was a Coronet store when we moved to Orem in 1986.  It was like a mini-Sprouse Reitz/Kings.  The popcorn machine was right at the front of the store, so if somebody accidentally opened the door, they got sucked in by osmosis.

Bluebird:  Now here's the weird thing.  I have never personally been in the Bluebird Cafe (Restaurant), due to it's reputation of being "high end" for the area, but it is so iconic that I feel tied to it nevertheless. When we drove through Logan recently, I was pleased to see that it was still open for business. Surprisingly, it first opened as a candy store and soda fountain. I see where they still have the candy and soda fountain, including ironport, so maybe I'll have to stop in next trip north.

Smithfield Implement: Going shopping to Preston was a big treat; going even more south seemed a cut above that.  Smithfield wasn't far from Logan. Logan wasn't far from Salt Lake in a kid's mind, so it was always a special day when Dad would invite me to go to Smithfield Implement with him.  I don't know if it still has the same charm inside, but it's still "cute as a bug's ear" from the street, white with bright blue trim.  It should be featured in a family movie sometime.

Horlachers: This is a meat store in Logan, Utah.  For my family, it is a jerky store. It's not any better than Papa Jay's jerky, just in bigger, rounder form.  It's something to eat until you can get to Papa Jay's.  You turn into Horlacher's right in front of the old A&W north of town.  The A&W is remarkable in its own right. At least the outside has not been remodeled since the day it was built in the early 1970's. I wouldn''t be surprised if they serve their root beer in the old chilled glass mugs.

Maddox: A restaurant and drive-in located in Perry, Utah.  Before the freeway, it used to be on the main drag. The only time we pass it now is if it's summer or fall and we want to stop at one of the fruit stands on Highway 89, Utah's Famous Fruit Way.  We used to pull into one of Maddox's drive-in stalls and grab one of their "famous burgers" years ago.  I don't even know if they have a drive-in anymore, but the one time we stopped in several years ago, the line to the restaurant had about an hour's wait and if I have to wait more than ten minutes to get into a place, I lose the taste for it.

Pepperidge Farm Thrift Store: A place near Richmond that is so secret it's on a need-to-know-only basis, so you either know where it is or will have to find out from somebody who wants to take the chance you might buy their cookies and goldfish.  Nik's a very punny guy.  Jared selected a couple of cakes to buy when we were in there recently.  Nik said to him, "So are going to buy your cakes and eat them, too?"  That day they had made an overage of goldfish crackers.  They are about six bucks at a regular store, but they were selling them in bulk, about twice as much for $8.  I bought two big bags and Jason got some, too. It was pretty crowded in there between the fish-laden shelves.  Nik sneaked up behind me and said, "I don't know.  Something seems real fishy in here."  Mom and Dad used to go there to stock up on Pepperidge Farm cakes and bread.  I think they enjoyed the little trip there, too, just as we did.

Stores just aren't the same anymore.  You're in and out, very little to look at and dream about.

Time for a trip to Heber.