In the Fifties the Bruce Strachan family scattered, though they were theoretically still all living at 5103. My dad was on the road, my mother went back to college, I was in high school between 1953 and 1957 and spent many evenings back at school rehearsing plays, Mark was in high school between 1955 and 1959. He had a paper route, rose very early, and slept a lot when he was home.
So Paul, still a child (b. 1944) was thrown back on his own resources, mostly Duncan McTavish, the little dog my mother said he HAD to have. (She always wanted to have a dog around, but always said it was “for Paul.” She was saying the same thing in 1998, but I was afraid she’d trip on it.) Much of the time Duncan was enough for Paul.
The dining room was a combination of my mother (her colored glass collection in the window, her antique spoons, and her little coffee buffet which is now my bedside table) and my father (books, books and more books). My mother did NOT let us wander around eating out of our hands. In the Depression and during WWII it had been impressed on women that people MUST sit down at the table for decent meals. Even if you were the only one. (NOW I wander around eating out of my hand.) Until he was older than this, he called this meal "breksus."
The car in the drive is my mother’s going-to-college car, which often had to be pushed down the street in the morning to make it start. It was dark green, that carriage color, and at some point a kid had owned it and customized it with the spotlight (very helpful when Mark needed a little help delivering papers) and a diesel truck horn, which my mother greatly enjoyed. She’d sneak up behind someone doing a Wrong Thing and blast them.
Paul is demonstrating our family attitude toward yardwork: a full-scale blitz versus “what lawn?”
Paul’s cowboy phase lasted a long time, just about throughout his childhood. He always had a black hat. The smell of capguns was a constant. If all the cap pistols were broken (There were a LOT of them, but if you dropped them on cement, well... too bad.), we spent hours pounding rolls of caps with rocks to make them explode.
Then one day this photographer showed up with a pony! A REAL pony! What bliss!!
“Mary’s Old Cat” Willis was not above “helping” Paul. It’s unclear whether that means reading the newspaper or counting pumpkin seeds.
But some things a boy can do best alone. It takes concentration to run a railroad properly.
This boy was headed for Benson Tech like his brother. A bit of the engineer in him. We bought the “cello” at Disneyland because it looked like Duncan McTavish. It’s from “Lady and the Tramp.”
At the end of the day, with a sore throat (note Sucrets on arm of chair) it’s best to quietly read. This is my reading chair in Valier now -- when the cat’s not using it.
But there’s really nothing quite like a nap with a warm friend. The magazine is “Field and Stream.” Sleep quietly, Paul, while we go get a quilt to put over you.