5.18.2008

Sibling Assignment # 63: The Good Life

doing dishes with my parents at my grandma's house
Silver Valley Girl gave the sibling assignment this week. What is it about telling people you were born and raised in Kellogg that gives you a sense of pride?

You will find Raymond Pert's remembrance of Silver Valley voices here and Silver Valley Girl's will be here soon.

"A memoir is a piece of autobiographical writing, usually shorter in nature than a comprehensive autobiography. The memoir often tries to capture certain highlights or meaningful moments in one's past, often including a contemplation of the meaning of that event at the time of the writing of the memoir. The memoir may be more emotional and concerned with capturing particular scenes, or a series of events, rather than documenting every fact of a person's life." (Zuwiyya, N. 2000).

In sorting out certain highlights of my past I feel a sense of pride of being raised in Kellogg, Idaho. Ritual was always woven in the meaningful moments of growing up. There is comfort when events of life are always the same. It gives a child something to hang on to, something that can always be counted on. In Kellogg spring was greeted with Camp Fire mint sales. We could count on lilacs filling the air with fragrance every May. There was also the Elk's Round-Up parade that included the newly crowned Miss Kellogg, the Drum and Bugle Corp, and the Kellogg High School band. Soon after the VFW would be out raising money with their poppy sales. There was also the Kiwana's track meet to look forward to before school was out.


Summer meant standing in a long line the first day the pool opened, remembering the cool chlorinated water, hot showers, and green mesh bags that would hold your belongings. It was soft ice cream cones at the Hum Dinger, and dragging sleeping bags outside and falling asleep while watching falling stars. Summer was also slow afternoons that moved into evening with endless games of Spoons in the Terry Trailer at Absecs, Hide and Seek, Sorry, and Monopoly.


The ritual of the Fourth of July at Rose Lake was a significant event of summer. The day included sunburns, recipe sharing during the pot luck, cold drinks, firecrackers, old friends reminiscing about adventures back in the day, and a bonfire with sparklers, roasted marshmallows, a big fireworks display and a chorus of "God Bless America". The evening always finished with family members doing four-part harmony with songs like "Tell Me Why" and " Cockles and Mussels" while friends put arms around each other, got sentimental, and joined in. The final song was a loud rendition the University of Idaho fight song.


I always knew I could hang onto fall with memories of new school clothes, Sunday soup and homemade bread, the smell of burning leaves, trick-or-treating around the neighborhood, Dad's birthday,and riding bikes through the gnats that gathered around Mr. Hanson's hedge that go stuck in our noses and mouths. Fall also meant trips to Spokane for ballgames at Joe Albi stadium, the smell of dill at Grandma's house, and listening to " The Rain, The Park, and Other Things" on KJRB on Grandma's old radio. It was also enjoying Broadway musicals, old standards, and the Ray Conniff Singers on the stereo upstairs or sitting with my dad as he enjoyed brandy, a cigar, Diane Washington, Teresa Brewer, and Nat King Cole.


When the weather grew colder the rituals of the holidays were always anticipated. Thanksgiving with friends included good food, football games, women in the kitchen and kids upstairs, and the first snow. Sleigh riding, Christmas caroling, hot chocolate, and learning to ice skate created meaningful moments in the winter months. Snow up the roof, holiday food and music, snowmen, and wet boots and mittens always take me back to that growing up time.


Reflecting back on growing up in Kellogg reminds me of how those meaningful moments were a glue that held our family, friends, and community together. Rituals were essential. I can see a old friend after twenty years and we jump immediately to a conversation like, " Remember Mungy Day in sixth grade? Did Walden's really sell rotten eggs on Halloween? or Did we really wear hot pants and halter tops?" Laughter followed. We grew up with smelter smoke, lead in the soil, brown hillsides. Men worked in dangerous conditions in the woods, the mines, the smelter, and the zinc plant. Wives packed lunchboxes every morning, the whistle blew ending the day shift, and dirty work clothes came home each Friday. As long as my brother and I had Shasta pop, Super Balls, Silly Puddy, and sunflower seeds we lived the good life. When Silver Valley Girl came along that good life included strollers on the escalator, grits, and "back, butt, hair".


My parents and their friends did the same thing. Many of them were connected by growing up together, meeting in college, or sharing dangerous jobs. The stories were always there. Memories have been captured in photo albums. There was lots of laughter and feelings were worn on the sleeve. Dreams for the good life were held in the heart. They felt pride of families, Kellogg, their country and worked at continuing rituals for their children.

Take a trip back with Tony Bennett and enjoy The Good Life:


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