Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Little Thought About Memory--and Ice Cream

Yesterday, I was writing some little doggerel to include in the Easter cards we are sending to our grandsons (9 and 5). For the older boy, Logan, I'd written this silly thing ...

Logan wondered if it would be
Really kind of dandy
If he found a way that he could
Get all Easter candy.

Later, lying in bed, the lights out, sleep somehow playing cagey (Morpheus stubbornly refusing to extend his arms), I began thinking about mountains of candy--not that I wanted any, mind you. Just the image appeared. And then--who can tell why?--I began to think about my father. And I remembered ...

When I was a boy, living in Oklahoma, we took several long summer drives to Oregon and Washington, where Dad had grown up--and where he still had many relatives (it seemed to me that there were thousands of them). Our drives--in the late 1940s and on into the 1950s--were in the days before most cars had air-conditioning, so you can imagine the pleasures of driving across the Great Plains, the deserts? Windows wide open, three boys whining for a stop at every Dairy Queen and A & W we passed? Begging for a motel with a swimming pool (a rarity then)? Mom was in charge of the Thermos jug of lemonade that sat at her feet in the front; it began the day cool, but before long the contents were warm--or worse. Nothing like tepid lemonade on a hot day in Utah.

But Dad was full of stories and silliness. He used to tell us--Just wait. Soon we'll be in the Rockies. And then you can be on the lookout for Ice Cream Mountain and the Root Beer Falls!

I believed they were real, early on. And as soon as we nudged our way into the Rockies, I was on fierce lookout for them. As was little Davi, four years younger than I. Dickie--three years older--never believed, I don't think, but--bless him--he did not (as I recall) disabuse us of our belief. Maybe he was just grateful that it kept us quiet so he could read War and Peace in peace (yes, he read books like that in childhood; I first read it when I was in my 60s; comments welcome).

Of course, I didn't live much longer before I realized the Ice Cream Mountain and the Root Beer Falls existed only in Dad's imagination. But I don't remember feeling any resentment for the Adult Lie; instead, I think I felt more gratitude for a father who could tell fine stories--and for the image of a mountain I could eat, a waterfall I could drink--ideas that appeal to me even now, in the dark, sleep evading me, and memory washing over me like ... like ... like a Root Beer Falls.

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