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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Walking With Jackie the Ripper

Thursday, July 8, 2004

Jackie and I love to look at all the beautiful flowers this part of the world is blessed with, and on our walks we rarely fail to find a new one to enjoy. Hollyhocks are beginning to bloom now and those hardy, colorful stalks of flowers remind me of a simple pleasure I enjoyed as a child.

Did you ever make a doll out of hollyhocks? It isn't the least bit difficult, and it's lots of fun, especially if you are lucky enough to have a grandmother to show you how it's done. I had such a grandmother.

Probably I've mentioned this before, but let me tell you once again that in my childhood years my maternal grandparents, Good Mama and Good Papa, lived on a tiny hillside farm in the southern Ozark Mountains, and some of the happiest memories I hold of my growing-up days were made during the vacations I spent with them. Making dolls from the flowers of hollyhock plants is one such memory.

The raw material for such a summer project could be found in great abundance all around the old log house; the plants are sturdy perennials and reproduce themselves with wild abandon. At least they did for Good Mama.

There is no need for me to describe the flower since every sighted person in the world knows what they look like. (It might interest you to know the flowers are native to China. But I don't know, it might not interest you to know that.)

If you ever get the urge to make a hollyhock doll, all you have to do is get a full bloom, stick a bud in the end of the blossom, and pull a couple of the green leaves of the top. With a good imagination you can see little bitty eyes shining through. I have always had a good imagination, so I always saw them.

What wonderful times I had with my dolls! With Good Mama's help I created a vast array of the beauties, and almost every color of the rainbow dazzled our eyes when we placed them carefully on the grass with their little skirts billowing out like southern belles in full hoop-skirted costume. With little effort I could visualize our lovely creations dancing on deep, green carpet in a spacious ballroom, similar to the one at Twelve Oaks of Scarlett O'Hara and Ashley Wilkes fame.

At an early age I became acquainted with Scarlett and the rest of the folks there in the South because I read Gone With the Wind after Mama wouldn't let me go see the movie. She allowed it wasn't "something a child should see," but the library had the book, and due to lack of time Mama didn't pay much attention to what I read.

Daddy did, though. He was a firm advocate of censorship. Once when I got older I somehow got a paperback copy of God's Little Acre, which is in no way a religious publication, and made the big mistake of leaving it where he could get his hands on it.

After reading the first few pages, Daddy -- who, I may have mentioned, had a temperament given to sudden great bursts of anger -- exploded with righteous indignation. Wildly shrieking to the heavens, "God help me! I don't know what the world is coming to," he loudly vowed that such filth was not going to contaminate the minds of his children, whereupon he flung open the stove door and consigned the book to perdition. The whole episode was really melodramatic, as you can imagine.

I try not to think what he would say concerning present day reading material.