The honeysuckle episode a couple of weeks ago has led me down the path of many childhood memories. Lately, I've had a great number of remembrances of the time my mother was hospitalized when I was six years old. My little brother, Jim, would have been three that summer and the two of us endured those months with only one another to rely on during lonely days and sad nights of missing Mom.
One of the families our Dad left us with for a few weeks was the Taylors. There was the old farmer, who used two canes to walk; his wife, with the funny, old-lady name I can't remember; and their 30-something son who had been blinded in one eye as a teenager. The story around Hinckley was that years before another teenage boy had put acid in a snowball and thrown it and hit this guy in the face. If that story wasn't enough to freak out a couple of little kids, seeing his poor scarred face up close was. Anyway, the Taylors were good enough to allow a couple of little snot-nosed, cry-baby kids to stay at their home during the day while their Dad went to work and their Mom was in the hospital fighting for her life.
Mrs. Taylor would make us sandwiches for lunch each day. She used crumbly, homemade wheat bread which wasn't anything like Mom made. The Taylors didn't have any toys at their house since their youngest child was an adult. Mrs. Taylor was anti-sugar, anti-white bread, and anti-noise. The Taylors didn't even own a television set. Needless to say, those few weeks were less than thrilling for Jim and me. Jim showed his displeasure at being there by running away at least once a day. A three-year-old on the run was big sister's responsibility so I would have to track him down. He was usually hiding in a haystack or old shed somewhere between the Taylor's house on Main Street and our place.
One day as we ate our crumbly sandwiches, Mrs. Taylor decided to treat us to some Kool Aid. We thought that sounded tasty on a hot afternoon. Mrs. Taylor chose the silver-aluminum tumblers for our drinks. (Does anyone who lived in the 50's & 60's remember those aluminum tumblers? They made everything taste awful and are most likely the cause of Alzheimer's Disease in that generation. For some reason they are a hot retro item now...go figure?) Mrs. Taylor filled two of those tall, metal tumblers to the top with orange Kool Aid. We each took a big, thirsty gulp only to be shocked into nearly spewing it all over the formica table. Mrs. Taylor hadn't added the cup of sugar to the water and little packet of orange powder. It was nearly the nastiest-tasting stuff I'd ever had in my mouth (second only to sage juice--and that's another memory for another time), but our parents had insisted we be gracious and say 'thank you' and eat/drink all we were given so as not to be wasteful, so I dutifully and miserably swallowed every drop of sour Kool Aid. I was never so relieved to see the bottom of one of those ugly cups. Just as I coaxed Jim into finishing his drink, Mrs. Taylor walked back into the kitchen and refilled our tall tumblers with more of the yucky stuff. Without even a pause for breath, Jim burst into tears, jumped from his stool, ran out the door and down the road...again.