1927 Time Machine
We all know we can’t go home again. Turning the clock back is a dream.
However, if we can find the right time frame, maybe the past will show its face once more. Here’s our story.
Fifteen years had passed since the five of us had been together at Mom’s funeral. I don’t need to tell you about funerals – tears rolling down the checks while laughing at hilarious happenings. We promised, “We’ll get together.”
Not until August 2014 did the “fabulous five” meet once more in Indiana. Luck had been with us. We are all still here. Mariam (87), Butch (85), Johnny (82), Al (75), the baby Susie (74).
The girls had wandered afar, the boys had kept their roots in Indiana. Butch and Johnny would meet Mariam (from Arizona) and Susie (from Texas) at the airport.
I (Mariam) came in first. Watching the multitude of runways as we touched down, I could not get a glimpse of 1948. Someplace out there on the grass I had made my first solo flight in an Aeronca Champ. At the same time, on the runway next to me, Allisons made one of their first tests of a jet plane, scaring the bejeepers out of me, causing a huge bounce, a throttle forward, go around and come back shaking, “What was that?”
Today inside of a jet plane I pulled my bag from the overhead and did the usual slow shuffle to freedom. No longer did the family stand at the end of the tunnel hollering “Here I am.” It took a wondering walk to find a familiar face. But there he was. Brother Butch, oh so much thinner, but with the same light up smile and waiting with open arms. We hugged, we talked at the same time, we hugged, Johnny, coming from the Cell phone lot, met us and more hugging, tears at our happiness in being together.
While waiting for Susie’s arrival we drove a tour of the airport. Where is Roscoe Turner hanger and his race plane stored high? What happened to the metal hanger that I had helped build and worked under the sign of Hurst Flying Service? All gone? All forgotten? The 40s had disappeared.
This summer would be our big reunion including a trip to the past. Susie rented the time machine – a seven passenger Mercedes – and we met at Johnny’s sixty year old house. Even as we backed out of the driveway, the boys were hollering driving instructions. “Take 61 to 55” or maybe it sounded like “The best way must be 40 to 36”. The family noises sounded the same as our growing up years and belonged to this day.
A variety of routes criss-crossed the map, all leading to Pine Village. Susie ignored the help, and following her I-pad Sammy, we were soon off of highways and traveling two-laners. Huge dark green oaks and maples and pines lined our way. Recent rains had added inches to ponds and created new ponds in hollows around tree roots.
Oh, for Mariam from Arizona, this became a scene to be painted in memory, to keep the smell of freshness, the deep greenness of Indiana. I hugged it close to me, couldn’t let it fade from three dimensions to flat.
The 150 miles included past escapades some only coming to light now that we could no longer be paddled for our misdeeds. As we passed over Little Pine Creek we got a glimpse of young boys skinny-dipping from the banks. Butch and Johnny yelled, they still felt the sting of the belly splash.
Susie drove slowly, we had come in the back way. On the side of the old deserted wooden building the words of “Ogborn’s Store” were fresh and bright to us. On the other side of the road – “Look, there’s the Pool Parlor.” It had been forbidden to girls – can you believe a time when someplace was forbidden to girls?
Our driver, who had been a babe in arms on those trips to Pine village, followed our shouts and turned right for the street to grandma’s house. Three of us, we were teeners and middle graders and pre-schoolers once again. “Here it is! Turn in to the driveway at the end of the road.” Butch hollered. “Booth’s chicken coops are gone.” A mowed yard and new-to-us house were now where hay barns and well used tractors had been parked.
Slowly the time clock wound back. “Our tree is gone.” The tree that Mom had climbed to read books, the tree where Butch had to be rescued from when he climbed it too young, the tree where I had hid behind the leaves and dreamed. No longer there. “The lilac bushes, the snow balls were over there.” We were still in the Now but we could see how the yard had been in the Past.
A “For Sale” sign had been hammered into the yard at the front of the house. Mariam timidly knocked the front door, Butch knocked harder, no answer, we turned away. Well, anyway Liz (Butch’s wife and our photographer) would take a picture of our Memory Five. We stood in place and she clicked. OK, good. Then a young man came to the door. He invited, “Come on in.”
The clocked rolled back to the Thirties and the Forties. We came through our enclosed front porch, we could see Grandma’s Boston fern in front of the window, long, almost touching the floor. Not daring to breath, we pushed each other, through the door into the living room. Grandma sat knitting in her comfortable cushioned chair. I gestured toward the tall window with the lace curtains. “That’s where the radio sat – that’s where I heard that Wiley Post had crashed and I cried for an hour.”
Straight ahead! The door to the Mom’s bedroom right in front of us. The time clock stopped. 2014 had disappeared. “Right here, right in the bed in front of this window, 87 years and 10 days ago, I was born.” I had heard the tale so many times and now it was real. The struggling young lawyer had brought his wife home to her mother from Washington for their first child. He had told of how Dr. MacGilvery and grandma had banned him from the birthing. I could see him pacing the yard in front of this bedroom window, I heard the doctor say “Push harder” and I could hear my mother hollering. Suddenly . . . quiet and then a baby’s cry. I saw the young man run back into the house. His first question: Was his Lily all right? Only after his Angel smiled at him, did he look to see his baby daughter.
Oh, that moment in time came so clear. The clock had stopped, the circle came around in time. If I could only give some words of wisdom to that newborn maybe I could make her journey a little easier. For a blink I lived in that room with my father and his Angel and the crying babe. Then the room spun and I returned to 2014. No message had been left for the baby. It didn’t matter, I knew I would not have altered her journey.
Brothers were shouting, going from room to room. The wall to grandma’s bedroom has been torn out to make the living room larger. The parlor just exactly the same, a wooden hatrack still in the corner. Same hatrack, same corner. The back bedroom, the low window, through the years we three had all climbed out of it early in the morning to escape chores.
Only we three could see the big iron cook stove taking up a good part of the kitchen. Grandma had heated washtubs of water for our Saturday night baths, big skillets of frying chickens on Sunday, big pots of chicken real-noodles and dumpling soup for sick kids.
We ran down the very same cellar steps and ignored the “modern” heating system. There on wooden shelves sat the Mason jars of peaches and green beans and chicken. “There’s the coal chute,” hollered Johnny. The brothers had moved many chunks of coal into the coal bin.
Out the back door and the cistern remained. “Look, the pump is gone!” announced Butch. “Where’s the tin cup for drinking?” The wisteria vine no longer bloomed over the trestle at the back door. However we could lead our host around to the side of the house and tell him “That’s the fish pond.” He laughed, “I always wondered why that area was so sunken.”
We had looked forward to our summer times with grandma and grandpa and, when we couldn’t sneak away early enough, had spent many an hour hoeing the weeds, shelling the peas, pulling and saving the feathers from the scalded headless chickens.
Scenes go through my mind too fast to record. The rooms appeared to me as they once were. When someone later mentioned the fireplace in the For Sale Flyer, I could not remember seeing it.
2014 came back into view. Susie parked on the circular driveway that we had once weeded. We began the walk along the same sidewalk, still cracked by tree roots. We passed Booths, passed Gepharts, we could get a pale glimpse of the sandbox behind Donna’s house where we had built so many castles.
In our Time Chariot we drove to the Methodist Church. We didn’t expect it be open but Butch went up the steps, grasped the handle, big surprise, it turned. Pastor Jeff Allen, catching up in his office, welcomed us and we explained our mission. The wood pews awaited our return. Then down the familiar steps to the basement and once more, the Time Clock would stop in the 1930s and 1940s. Same scene, the long tables covered with white tablecloths and variety of collapsible chairs in place. The Ladies Aid ladies had the ranges burning and the smells of breakfast frying overcame the dampness of the basement.
Pastor Jeff recommended the good cooking of Windy Mill for lunch. He promised to email us a copy of his completed History of the Church (which we now have) and then we walked up to the Main Street.
We raved over the tenderloin and chicken salad. Mariam’s desert came with a surprise! The friendly young waitress asked, “Did you ever know a Brutus?” I jumped up, and the name came immediately. “Rosie Brutus!” I rushed into the other room to meet the grandson of grandma’s best friend. We threw names into the air to see who would catch. Martindale, Metzker, Ogborn, my (step) grandpa Bill Kelley? “Did you know the Jones’ girls – Jo Anne was the best baseball player on the team?” Again, once more, time retreated and we could catch the smell of the old school.
Next destination, Mound Cemetery, to say Hello to grandma. Our GPS Sammy took us on a graveled road right to the marker we had last seen twenty some years before. We strolled around searching, but grandma called me her way. While I was by myself with her stone I whispered, “Grandma, thank you for being such a useful caring loving part of my life.” Then I gave our own family yodel to bring the others.
Well fed, well memoried, with lots of pictures, we returned to Reality. The brotherss gave suggestions for the best way to Hendricks County. From the back seat a voice announced, “Mariam’s asleep.” No, not asleep, my eyes were closed keeping memories. The time reel moved slowly, I didn’t want to come back to 2014 quite yet. I knew I wouldn’t be returning this way again.
Susie traded the Chariot for a smaller Nissan and the two out-of-town sisters began visiting. We would spend the night with brother Al and his charming Kerri. Next we drove through country roads to the small acreage of brother Butch and Liz, his wife of fifty some years and also our photographer.
Sunday would be Family Day, Reunion Day, Get Together Day. Johnny’s house began to fill. Tables and chairs were set up in the backyard where Marty’s green hand had taught coleus, moss rose and geraniums to bring forth their bright colors. Children and grandchildren of our brothers arrived and set their dishes on the long kitchen counter - Sinful potatoes, Fresh Corn Casserole, Shredded Pork, salads and plates of luscious Indiana sliced tomatoes. Fresh peach pies, fruit salad, Brownies. They were all without calories.
New arrivals were greeted with shouts. Once again we could put faces to names. Oh, what a wonderful warm fuzzy feeling to be surrounded by the clan I was born into.
There was so much talking and laughing that somehow we forgot a family tradition. In the growing up years, we had traded songs for dish washing. Mom would play the piano and with only a little arguing, we cleared the table and filled the dishpan while singing “Shine on Harvest Moon.” Throughout the years, it didn’t matter where we would be, someone would begin a familiar favorite, Mariam adding out-of-tune noise, and suggestions coming for the next song.
Too much excitement, we had missed our vocalizing. So, consequently here it comes from Big Sister: We, the Fabulous Five, all of us, are duty bound once more to board the Time Machine and be together again next year. Butch, start the harmonizing! "The Bell are Ringing . . . "
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