Following the passing of Steve the dog, comes my birthday. Made acutely aware of life and death, each year should be celebrated. I don't dread em, just, as I've said before, not using them. There is no ticking away of a ratchet as it clicks one notch closer to the banana peel.
But today, I remember the past. Birthdays should be a time to celebrate past, present and future.
So,I am taking a trip back to, well the year is unimportant.
Let's go back to my third birthday.
I was up early, excited about my big day. We were having a nice dinner later and presents and a cake. I couldn't wait!
The weather was a cool pivotal October day. The sun was out, but the breeze was cool, so Mom made me wear a jacket outside. I used to play not just in our yard, which was small, but the neighbor's as well and the sidewalk to boot. We all knew each other then, so the Hiland kid wasn't a problem when he wanted to play cowboys and Indians or soldier and use their hedge as a wall or cover from arrows or guns. Sometimes I played the Indian. It was in my blood after all lol.
I could stay occupied for quite a while and that was playing by myself, since there were no kids my age around. I got good at it over the years. I think it helped my acting later on -s-, devising scenarios, roles and names for the characters I played. But today life wasn't complicated. I was Three!
Mom called me in for lunch and I had some vegetable soup with a pimiento cheese sandwich. She cut it in quarters for me. Sure, I was a little spoiled, but I turned out ok, more or less -s-.
She made me take a nap after lunch, but I was too excited to sleep. Aside from the hubbub of my birthday, I was a hyper little stinker. And visions of capgun fights danced through my head......
So, after about a half hour of staying prone (How did I do it? I've always had willpower -s-.), Mom released me from my servitude of slumber and back out I went to burn more energy, of which I seemed to have a generous, if not endless amount.
About two o'clock, here came my Dad, sporting a boat cake in his arms. Roselyn Bakery used to do specialty cakes. This was shaped like an ocean liner and festooned with mint lifesaver portholes. My other fave they made was a hamburger cake. Orangish brown icing outside, with white cake inside and divided by the 'burger', chocolate filling complete with a bumpy outside like a real burger.
Excitement mounted as my sister and big brother returned home. They were being very mysterious. Dinner was cooking and filling the house with the customary fragrance of Mom's cooking. She was the angel of the kitchen, whipping up from scratch, miraculous meals every day (She quit making breakfast when I got to high school. She deserved a break -s-.).
I was watching afternoon cartoons. We had Popeye, Bugs Bunny etc with a dose of the Three Stooges. Those were the days of culture, especially compared to the pablum viewing now. One eye on the screen and one peeled at the clock.
When Mom said dinner was ready, I jumped up and went to wash my hands. I did that sometimes without being told lol.
The dining room was decked out with balloons and everyone was there. Mom, Dad, my sister and brother and Great Aunt Estella, who was the sis of my Grandma Dola, Dad's mom.
At three, I hadn't gone haute cuisine and besides, Mom's hamburgers were better than boughten as she said. Everything on em and her homemade fries. Coke with ice was the beverage. These were my favorites at three. No matter how old I get, no matter where I eat, we have a hamburger night once a week. That won't last much longer withthe kids going their separate ways. but I will have one for myself. My burgers are pretty damn good too.
The piece de resistance was the fantastic boat cake. Out it came and Happy Birthday sung. three candles blown out and Miom dished the cake with vanilla ice cream. This was smooth and rich homemade stuff, not the generic bland stuff of today. And the Cake (!) was always moist, the icing thick and rich.
As the evening wound down, my brother sauntered by me and nudged my arm. In his hand was a package of circular caps for our top break capguns. Hehehe! Capgun fight!
And minutes later, in the dark bedroom we blasted away, the flashes enhancing our mock battle. Soon the smell of capgun powder filled the room, a heady perfume that I enjoy to this day, mostly with the real thing -s-.
Dad finally broke it up and we reluctantly got ready for bed.
Just before we hit the sack, Aunt Estella gave me a card with money in it, kissed my cheek and bade goodnight. A couple of toy guns rounded out the gifts. My lifelong love of firearms was nearly that!
Then, my sis came back from the drugstore that was about a block away. We had neighborhood stores then, owned by people, not corporations.
With her own money, she bought me a green rubber tractor. I don't remember why, but I had seen it and wanted it.
That was a birthday surprise. But the best one was better.
Dad was home (He often travelled.) and Bud and Susie stayed home that night too. Aunt Estella was a sweet lady and her presence was appreciated.
That was the true Birthday Surprise!
That love will never be forgotten either.
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