Spring Forward

By Joe Talbot Jr. | May 17, 2018

I really think we should change the meaning of “Spring Forward.” I always thought this meant “It’s springtime now, so let’s move the clock ahead by an hour.” When in actuality, for us Mainahs, we ought to leave the clock alone until “spring” really gets here. Maybe we could compromise, and move it ahead 30 minutes and shout to the rafters “IT’S MUD SEASON, AT LAST!” We’ve been waiting for months for the snow to start melting, and then right about now each year, we could finally catch up with the rest of America, move it the other 30 minutes and actually see flowers, leaves on trees, riding lawnmowers on every street in town, mountains of leaves everywhere, and the “True Maine Man” wearing cut-offs, hiking boots and short-sleeve shirts beneath down vests and sun glasses resting atop the head. Fishing boats with outboard motors, and canoes on top of cars, is another sign that the ice is nearly out of the lakes, and trout & salmon will soon appear on the dinner table.

Fall Back …..Cool! We just gained the hour of sleep that we lost last spring. Outstanding! The most beautiful time of the year begins with the arrival of the “leaf peepers,” they come in droves to see the colors cascading down the hill sides, along the shores of lakes and ponds, and crossing bridges over streams. The crisp cool air heralds in the signal for many to start closing the camps, garaging the boats, and hiding the lawnmowers.

My mother and father, in the off-season, would go to Augusta, Georgia.  Dad was a bellman and my mom was a maid at the same hotel.  My mother's brother-in-law, Mickey Gallagher, was a golf pro at the Augusta National Club, and was the first pro to introduce golf to handicapped and amputee servicemen, along with the help of some of his pro friends.  My mother, Elizabeth, "Bunny" to almost everyone who knew her, went to the store one day for something for dinner and left her brother and closest friend to take care of me until her return.  When she came back, she couldn't spot me right away, I was about 2, and she found me hanging from the clothesline in the back yard by my straps that held up my little shorts.  She was known by all to be a staunch Irish woman, with a temper to match, fortified with a hair trigger, and living up to her reputation, she went after the culprit and broke her new kitchen broom on the backside of Sam Snead, a little known golf pro at the time. In spite of his lack of good judgment, Sam became a regular after that in our kitchen for my mothers’ soon to become famous pancakes.

I remember when I was 4 we moved to a suburb of Philadelphia to live in a second-floor apartment above my mother’s sister and husband’s home. My uncle told dad that he could get him a job with Freihofer’s Bakery, which he readily accepted. Wartime jobs were few and far between. He drove a small bakery truck every day through an assigned route in neighborhoods, with a weird “jingle-horn” to announce his arrival. I remember fondly that on Sunday evenings, dad would bring out a pound cake, and two glasses of milk, and he’d carefully cut our two slices into little squares. We’d have our cake and listen to “Baby-Snooks,” “Fibber Magee & Molly,” “Jack Benny,” “The Great Gildersleeve,” “Inner Sanctum,” and my favorite, “Abbott & Costello.” Each morning he’d take the train from the station about two blocks down the street into work, and come back in the late afternoon. One afternoon mom & I went to the station to meet dad. She told me he was bringing me home a present. The train came in slow, stopped, and no Dad! The train slowly started to leave, and near the end of the last car we saw him sound asleep with his head leaning on the window, with a puppy asleep on his chest. He didn’t get home until real late at night, as he had to go to New York, and then catch another train home.

My folks took me to a movie one evening, and as was customary during wartime, moviegoers were treated to live entertainment before the movie. The fellow singing that night was as skinny as a rail, wore a dark suit, with a wide-brimmed hat. He was really good. He was introduced by the master of ceremonies as a terrific, new singer by the name of Frank Sinatra.

Leaving the movie to go home, dad hailed a cab and took us to a small mountain, or high hill, and we got out of the cab and entered a little park. My eyes lit up really big when I noticed virtually hundreds of bonfires in the street intersections way below us, and as far as we could see. Dad said the fires were caused by all the homeowners taking the boards off all the windows and burning them in the streets to celebrate the end of the war. (For all you young folks, during World War II all buildings had to cover the windows with wood, so light could not be seen by possible approaching enemy planes.) In the newspapers the next day the headlines read “It’s over….Victory over Japan!” It was VJ day, September 2, 1945. All of the light created by the fires illuminated the smoke in the air, and it was a sight to see. I never forgot that night, and what it looked like. But I never rally grasped what it meant until I was much older.

Joe Talbot is a former columnist for Peterson Publications’ “Off Road Magazine” and “Four Wheeler Magazine.” He lives in Belfast.

 

 

 

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