My Best Friend

December 18, 2017

Life was soo Different back in the late 50’s and early 60’s……


We NEVER had do use a key to get into our house in DC …the door was never locked unless we left for the weekend or for the summer to drive back to Northern Wisconsin….


When we came back from school…the neighborhood kids played “Kick the Can”….Wikepedia can explain it better than I can:


Basic play
One person or a team of people is designated as “it” and a can or similar object—paint can or metal pail or bucket—is placed in an open space: the middle of a backyard, a green, a cove or cul-de-sac, parking lot or street. The other players run off and hide while “it” covers his or her eyes and counts to a previously decided number. “It” then tries to find and tag each of the players. Any player who is tagged (caught and touched) is sent to the holding pen (jail) which is simply a designated area for all the captured players to congregate, generally in plain sight of the can. Any player who has not been caught can “kick the can” or “tip the can.” If they can do this without being caught, then all of the captured players are set free.[2] Alternatively, one of the captured players is set free each time the can is tipped—the first person caught is the first to be set free, the second person caught is the second to be set free, etc. until the person tipping the can is tagged or all the captured players are freed. If “it” catches all of the players he or she wins that round and generally a new “it” is designated for the next round. The new “it” is usually the person that has been held the longest by the time round ends.


We either played this or “capture the Flag”….


This went on as the light of day started to fade….when we all dispersed and went in for our dinner before doing our homework and going to bed……


Kids unfortunately do not have that freedom anymore…..we could travel on the public bus system to school alone….we could hike off…bike off alone at the earliest age…as soon as we could ride….


There were 5 of us…and Mother usually had Scandinavian help…who did the cleaning the cooking and minded  us…I will never forget Anita who came with her husband Gunnar….I think from Denmark…Gunnar had his own job (which I have forgot)  but occasionally worked as a butler at parties our parents threw…


I remember Gunnar told me he  had been a  police mortician back in Denmark and would describe the bodies he had to pick up in the woods……he was skinny….jet black hair…and had deep sunken eyes….he was kinda spooky…..


Anita was very WELL endowed…had a wonderful smile and seemed quite happy…..


They lived in a room in a corner of  our basement….. Where we had the laundry room…. a wood paneled sort of game room with shuffle board that Dad had someone draw on the floor…a ping pong table….a bar that someone had built before we had bought the house…we never used it….and our first and only Black and White TV..will never forget one evening my Wonderful older sister and I were alone in the house watching …what was a Spookey Horror movie……..we got so scared that we had to call Jack Burke over from next door to make sure there were no boogey men  anywhere in our house ready to grab our legs as we went to bed….… must have been when our parents were out at some DC party….and our “help” were off……


And this is when we only had 2 phones (landlines)  in the house….one in the den on the first floor and one in my parents dressing room on the second floor….which reminds me that Anita got a phone call one evening as she and Gunnar were eating their dinner in their basement room…on TV trays…


I went down to the basement and knocked on their door…and Gunnar grunted “come in”…so I did…well they were Both completely nude eating dinner off their TV trays in a no TV room….I was kinda of shocked..those HUGE Breasts…….


Besides the Scandinavian help we had a Wonderful, wonderful Black laundress….Alice Boyd…she had a glass eye…(I could never figure out in which socket it was…as I felt it so impersonally rude to stare at her face)


She was kind of portly…. had very thin hair….she would enter off the garage door every morning….and before anyone said anything would say “Just Fine”….I guess thinking we would ask how she was….


I ADORED Alice….she became my Best friend and was closer to me than my mother was…when I got home from school I would race down to the basement to see her…sit on a crate to listen to her stories….would tease her…she would chase me around the ironing board as the washing machine was sloshing back and forth cleaning all of Dad’s white office shirts…he Only had white shirts… that Alice ironed….


She taught me how to iron….a gift I will Always appreciate….as it has come in so useful over the years…..


And the few nights that Anita and Gunnar stepped out…Alice would cook us kids her FABULOUS fried chicken….which I Always looked forward to… one has ever been able to cook like Miss Alice did…..


And every Chrismas she would have her ex husband  Terry….(he was soo wonderful)…I often wonder Why they broke up…but can kind of guess……..but Terry would drive Alice from SW DC over to give us a Coconut Cake she had just baked for us… Always touched me…and I know Mom…..


Back in those days…yes it sounds strange but Alice was the first Black person I knew and who became so important in my early bullied life at St Albans…..I Loved her dearly!!!


She died when I was in college…and Mom (who hated to drive) drove herself for 3 hours down to the small town in Virginia (or was it West Virginia)….Miss Alice was from….


Mom said it was one of the Most moving times  she had ever experienced it…..


The old weathered beaten wooden  church with a bell tower sat hidden  in the middle of a  field of golden  wind blown wheat….it was June …humid and HOT…..


Mom entered…was welcomed Very warmly…was handed a fan with Alice’s face on it and a prayer on the back….she was the Only white person there….the Church was packed….


The ceremony was beyond moving…she could never try to talk about it without a LOT of emotion flooding her eyes…..


It went on for 2 hours….people  singing and dancing so much that dust floated up from the cracks in the wooden floor boards….


Mom drove the 3 hours home alone weeping silently…..


Miss Alice was not Black or White…she just was my Best Friend….and I still miss her so….


I Never Got to tell her how much I Loved her….(sigh!!!!)

4 Responses to “My Best Friend”

  1. jan said

    the sort of person Miss Alice obviously was….I cannot help but think she very well knew that you loved her. And now you’ve told her a bit of her story and we can love her, too. What a lovely sort of immortality that is.

    How i look forward, always, to a notice that you’ve updated your blog…..I hope you and your feathery ‘family’ have a lovely, lovely holiday and a new year replete with marvelous stories!

  2. Liz said

    Love your telling stories I have heard, or experienced, but not with such depth of detail Also noticed the card I received was painted by Rob!! Love that!! Happy soon to be Solstice!

  3. Jay said

    I LOVED this story so much, Robby!

    What a terrific tale of love… large breasts… and and ironing! But most of all, love!

  4. susi said

    Dear Alice… very immortal in your family. xxoo

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