Last Saturday, while walking south in the early morning dapple of Kansas spring, I suddenly stooped and grabbed a handful of dried, maple seedpods and tossed them straight up. Arlo watched them spin and descend with a quizzical look. I flashed back to being 10 or 11 and getting the same head tilt from my black Lab, King.
• • • • •
That afternoon, as a reward for maintaining social isolation throughout the day, my little bride and I loaded up the Labradorian to go for a spin and run errands.
As we drove Broadway, I had flashbacks to the 60s and 70s when we rode back and forth on in chrome-fendered cars — cigarettes glowing and eyes burning for excitement.
Saw myself with all the windows open in my ’62 Chevy, doing my best to adjust my speed to roll the entire length of Broadway without having to come to a complete stop at any stoplight. Then cruising slowly through 1106 Drive-in, AM radio blaring WHB (the “World’s Happiest Broadcasters”), out of Kansas City. Listening for a call out from disc jockey Phil Whitmore, a former Pittsburger known as “Phil J” on the radio.
Then late at night tuning into WLS out of Chicago with Art Roberts and Larry Lujack and the Silver Dollar Survey. Or KAAY in Little Rock with "Beaker Street," which lots of times started off with "Stairway to Heaven."
All intertwined with visions of hot cars, Impalas, Mustangs, GTOs, Road Runners, Chevelles and ‘55 Chevys — along with family station wagons — rolling past the latest fashions on the manikins in the windows of Walt Panneck’s, Ramsay’s, Little’s, Seymour’s and The Jones Store. Glancing over to see “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” on the Fox Theater marquee. Scoping out the weekly food specials in colorful, hand drawn signs in the enormous plate glass windows of Safeway and Foodtown. The manly scents of English Leather and Canoe cologne mixing — as the night air flowed from passing car to car — with the come-hither fragrances of Emeraud, Tigress and Tabu perfume (most likely purchased at Crowell Drug Store at 4th and Broadway).
I was, in fact, lost - totally lost - in the euphoric tingle of youth when Linda’s voice broke in. “I thought you said we were going the bank?”
“Yeah, that’s where I’m headed,” I murmured.
“Well, you just drove right past it.”
“Oh, okay … I’ll turn around. How ‘bout we go by the 1106 and get us some cheeseburgers and Suzy-Qs on the way back?”
“Sure,” she replied with a half smile. “And we’ll go dancing at the Roadhouse tonight. The Gass Company is playing.”
• • • • •
On Tuesday, sheltered-in-place friend Kathy Spigarelli Kirkland caught me on my cell while on a yard work bathroom break to share a flashback to the early 70s and my crib on east 13th Street. More specifically, telling how she had recently made a retro snack using the recipe I’d concocted to make munchies for the old crew (Pallucca’s tuma cheese on slices of hard crust bread with a sprinkle of garlic powder toasted in the broiler).
“How did you put up with all of us coming and going back then?” she asked.
“I loved it - my first place after graduating from college and moving out my parent’s house.” (As I spoke I had visions of scrounging for a couch and chair; making a stereo platform and bookshelves out of cement blocks and pine boards covered with contact paper; and creating a coffee table with an old wooden crate).
“We sure had some good times there,” she laughed.
"Yeah, I was just thinking about 13th Street the other day — about the music on my first stereo. One album in particular.”
“’Tapestry’, by Carole King.”
“Oh yes,” she said, her voice filled with yearning. “That’s a wonderful album.”
“Well, gotta’ get back to cutting grass. Love you. Don’t forget to grab a handful of whirlybirds and toss them in the air every chance you get.”
(Laughter & pause) “Okay, I will. Love you too.”
As I headed back to mow I had a vision of Carole King, barefoot, sitting on a window ledge with her cat on the ‘Tapestry’ album cover and started singing softly to myself, “I feel the earth move under my feet, I see the sky tumbling down.”
• • • • •
A couple hours later, while quietly eating a salad alone at our kitchen table that abuts a south window, I heard a rush of wind in the trees and turned to see thousands of tiny, beige, seed-pod helicopters twirling in the dappled of light of early afternoon.
CORRECTION In last week’s column, I incorrectly reported that Wesley House is funded by the First United Methodist Church. It is self-funded through a variety of grants, private and personal donations, foundations, and several churches, organizations and local businesses.