Heritage, Volume 4, Number 2, Fall 1986 Page: 24

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Apple Cake and

You could see the faded pinegreen tail
fins of the old DeSoto just beyond the
fence that lead to the alley behind my
grandmother's house. Three red reflectors,
jutting out at an angle from the fins,
lit up making it appear as a giant rocketship
docking in its bay. As my eight-yearold
imagination was taking off, my grandfather
was precariously steering his pride
and joy into the carport. Momentarily
the commander-in-chief would holler
from the kitchen window "Ernest Verne,
have you lost all your marbles? You dadbur
near drove over my rose bushes, and
where in blazes have you been? My peach
cobbler has all but dried up in the oven.
You know what time it is? We were to be
at the lodge before Hollister and Jean got
there. Now get in this house and wash up
and hurry, you'll have to shave. My meeting
starts at seven sharp. I don't want the
entire group seeing your five o'clock
shadow and wipe your feet, there's a fresh
shirt layin' at the foot of the bed." I could
still hear Mom (Mom and Dad were the
nicknames we had given our grandparents)
harmlessly mumbling on about
this and that as Dad came meandering up
the path past an array of color. Lavender
irises with bright yellow seams and cream
daffodils with sunset cones stood unruffled
behind a thick trail of sweet
william.
There was no rhyme or reason to her
garden. There was no rhyme or reason to
their being a pair. My grandmother was
4'11" tall, my grandfather was 6'1". She
had more energy than a diesel locomotive
at full throttle, Dad liked doing things at
a snail's pace. Mom was a devout Baptist,
Dad was a devout Dodger's fan. She loved
her social functions, he loved puttering
around the house and driving the DeSoto,
even if it was just to the end of the
alley and back.
One Saturday morning in June, Mom
corraled all the kids; my older sister
Cheryl, my brother George, my two cousins
Anne and Mike, and myself, and sat
us in front of their black and white television
to educate and introduce us to an
evangelist crusade. "Now all of you listen
up and hear what he tells you. I'm off to
the market. Dad, it wouldn't hurt your
24

by Robert V. Davis

soul none to listen too, and put your feet
down off my clean cushion. I'll be back
directly." She whisked out the front door,
across the porch, down the steps and up
the walk. We sat mesmerized while the
voice of the man yelling at us overpowered
the fade of her steps. With no
malice or after-thought, Dad put his feet
down from the rocker cushion, rose up
like an eagle about to take flight,
stretched, sauntered passed us, reached
out his huge gentle hand to the television
that flashed a wild-eyed man flinging his
arms and hollering about who knows
what, and flipped the channel selector to
4. He returned to his favorite spot on the
sofa and his feet to the soft indentation
on the cushion. We were overjoyed to
find out our own grandfather liked watching
cartoons as much as we did. We sat
the hour glued to The Roadrunner, Porky
Pig, and Bugs Bunny. Dad sat reverently
with us, while a transistor radio tucked in
his shirt pocket broadcast a ball game
through an earphone, tuning our world
out. Directly we heard the click of Mom's
heels on the back steps. "You kids come
help put these groceries away. Did y'all see
that storm cloud coming? We're gonna
have a gulley washer. Verne, you better

roll the windows up in the DeSoto. Did
you kids finish listening to your program?
Ernest, did you call about the leak in the
basement? I hope to Joseph it doesn't hail.
Last time it just destroyed my tomatoes."
Dad was behind us as we scurried toward
the kitchen. He had returned the selector
to the "right" channel. The evangelist
was not there anymore, instead there was
a wild-eyed man flinging his arms and
hollering about a carpet sale in town.
The basement was down the back steps
just off the kitchen. There was a leak. It
was just about the last chore my grandfather
wanted to accomplish. He didn't
like the basement very much. I think he
was afraid of bumping his head on one of
the pipes zigzaging across the ceiling. To a
child of eight years old, the basement was
just about the best place to be on the entire
face of the earth. Cabinets, counters,
shelves, sink, bathroom fixtures were all
built low to compensate for the 6'ceiling.
"Us kids" got to stay in the basement
when we visited Mom and Dad. We loved
it. We could finally reach comfortably
what the grown-ups reached for granted.
Our world suddenly became one we could
manage. The entire space consisted of
three rooms, one fairly long and narrow

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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 4, Number 2, Fall 1986, periodical, 1986; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45442/m1/24/ocr/: accessed September 25, 2016), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.