Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2 Falcon Road

We lived in the Country Clubber; 2 Falcon Rd., in the Forsythia Lane portion of the planned community known as Levittown, PA.

Across the street, our newspaper boy snacked on cat food. Next door, Donna Jean and her family had a chicken, who used our back porch as her chicken coop; she was aptly named, "Dirty Bird." We found the neighbors on the other side perplexing. When Randy Tidd's white canvas tennis shoes - sneakers out East - got dirty, he grabbed the white shoe polish and gave them the once-over. Sister Denise wowed us by curling her upper eyelids inside out so the pink underbelly laced with tiny veins fluttered at us as she blinked.

From 4 p.m on, ice cubes clinked in stubby glasses, some sporting frosted backgrounds imprinted with leaves and other designs. Cigarette smoke hovered at nearly every gathering. Women wore shifts. Men in sensible suits - brown seemed to be the color. Under the suit jackets, short-sleeved tailored shirts: yellow with a brown suit, blue with brown, white with brown.

That summer, re-upholstering had captured my mother's imagination. Chairs, shoes, couches, purses. Just about anything could be reupholstered with nubby, rugged fabrics. She toted a putty knife around, wedging it into her latest victim: most recently a high-heel shoe that would perfectly match the wool skirt, suit and hat - her spin on Jackie O. Add a few of her own finishing touches as she worked on the shoe: pedal pushers, white Keds, sleeveless cotton top and a head full of permanent hair rods. Eggy smells emanated from her head. A cigarette was usually nearby. Talk radio was on the air - maybe even KDKA from Pittsburgh. People kvetching. Mom kvetching about them kvetching.

As dusk neared, the thick, heavy, moist air was suffocating. Soon, the alert would be sounded: "Close the Windows!" We'd slam windows shut and jump onto our steeds: single speed bicycles - the lucky kids had Stingrays with banana seats. In unison, a stream of kids snaked behind the mosquito sprayer. The houses were safe from the fumes, though no one seemed to notice our cycling Conga line as we inhaled DDT. Ah, the 60s. That time of innocence and ignorance.

The pesticide-laced air blanketed Forsythia Lane as the bicyclists trailed to our respective homes. Returning to 2 Falcon Drive, the TV lit up the room. June bugs thunked against the screens. "Laugh-In" was socking it to us - psychedelic flowers, Go-Go boots, bad jokes and the Fickle Finger of Fate.

Outside, the sky twinkled with lightning bugs: On. Off. On. Off.

Mom sauntered in, hair newly permed; spiffy "new" high heels clacking on the floor, you could still smell the fresh glue.

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