wedding wears of linen fabric

50 years ago I recall tasting beer for the first time.

50 years ago, if you look at the pictures, my mom was always dressed stylishly. Like someone out of an Austin Powers movie. A tall thin woman with short hair. She always wore lots of color, not that you could see it from the black and white photos. But often as not, flowery prints, big buttons, sleeveless, all the standard attire found in the late 1950s early 1960s. She wore short dresses, and linen slacks, and even the occasional miniskirt, I'm sure, although photographic evidence to that is limited. You wanna glimpse of who I called mom 50 years ago, google for pictures of Twiggy, aka the Paris Hilton of her era.

Looking at our family pictures, I find myself a little taken aback, because I don’t particularly remember my mom this way. Little boys don’t often notice fashion, she was just "mom", someone playing a role in the production I knew as "my life". Also in that production, though, were two other women, my two older sisters. Yes, I was the baby, and yes, they both claim I was spoiled; but of course I don’t remember that, it all just seemed normal to me. Spoiled? As if! SMH!

What I do remember, though, was mom sewing all our clothes. Which probably explains why my sisters' fashions generally took after hers. You see, we weren’t rich or anything. Far from it, we were a single income household. My dad was ex navy, and good with his hands, and could fix just about anything. He was employed as a sewing machine repair man for a while, visiting housewives during the day, oiling up their machines, giving them a good tune up, to last them a while. He more often talked about his time as the manager of a Cornet drug store, aka the Walgreens of the era. But, what I remember most, about my dad's employment history, is that he was a mechanic.

He had a motorcycle, which obviously required constant fiddling, to keep running at peak performance. I sometimes even wonder if the book "zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance", which I have not read, yet, would give me any insight into his life? Wanna see my dad and his bike, see Mark Wahlberg in "Daddy's Home". He also talks about various sports cars he drove that also required constant fiddling. So lots of experience early. But later, when I was actually paying attention, he was always employed as a mechanic. Fixing cars mostly, but also a stint working on farm machinery, cotton pickers, here in Kern County.

He also drank beer. Which is how 50 years ago I recall tasting beer for the first time. You see, it was approaching Christmas, and my mom had sewn him a red flannel house coat and matching house pants. Probably just pajamas, but I remember it as a robe. Never got a real good look at it, but it was clearly something right out of a Norman Rockwell painting. My mom was so happy, proud of her work, she gave me a glimpse of the nice gift she was "giving your daddy for Christmas". I recall seeing it in the box as she was wrapping it. I must've wandered into the room and asked her what she was doing, so she showed me.

I spent years of my life blaming myself for my parent's divorce. You see, I spoiled the surprise. Sometime after seeing his gift, I found myself telling my dad about what was in the box. It all happened so quickly after that, but there was yelling and screaming and tears and my dad punched a rather impressive hole in the wall, and my mom literally shredded the gift; she actually tore the robe apart with her bare hands, rip, rip, rip; like some kind of mad woman, as it appeared to my young eyes.

Obviously, I had no idea what was actually going on. Maybe my dad was drunk, maybe he said something untoward about the gift. Maybe they were dealing with financial problems. Maybe they were dealing with other issues in their relationship, I'll never know. But, as adults, they, and not I, were solely responsible for their own actions. I regret spoiling the surprise yes, but, in my defense, I was not even five, and didn’t really understand the logistics of how surprises and gift giving actually worked. You get a gift, to find out what it is, you open the box. Once you know what it is, you celebrate and get excited and talk about what a great gift it is. Getting a preview of the gift, knowing what it was, I naturally jumped straight to the end game, getting excited and talking about what a great gift it was. That's what mom was doing after all, showing me, so why shouldn’t I do the same with dad? It was his gift after all!

So anyway, cut to the scene of us kids having a sleepover at "dad's house". I vaguely recall seeing the famous "hole" that was punched into the wall, here, at this point; but that doesn’t make sense to me; I don’t have enough information to sort it all out and explain why it was here, and not somewhere else? But anyway, we'd put the couch cushions on the floor and made them into a bed for me to sleep on. Later, on that same couch, we were watching television and drinking soda pop. The program was so engrossing, I couldn’t even take my eyes off it to drink my pop. So we were just breezing, watchin TV, blindly grabbing our drinks off the coffee table in front of us. And that's when it happened, I mistakenly grabbed my dad's beer instead of my soda, and took a rather big swig. Picture bugs bunny, spraying a drink from his mouth. It was so surprising, nary I say nasty, I spit it out right then and there, all over the floor, the coffee table, the TV, whatever was in front of me. wedding wears of linen fabric

And that is how, 50 years ago I recall tasting beer for the first time.