Butterfinger Blizzards and Cherry Cokes

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My daughter’s answer to my question put a smile on my face. Last night I asked: “Andrea what is you favorite childhood memory?”  Without giving it a second thought she immediately answered: “Butterfinger Blizzards and Cherry Cokes.”  Her answer made me feel good.  I knew exactly what she was referencing.  It was father/daughter time.

It was our Saturday morning routine.  Let me briefly give you the back-story.  As a family, Treva, Craig and I moved into our new home in Henly on Christmas Eve, 1980. A week later Andrea was born on January 2, 1981. Her arrival caught us quite by surprise.  For one thing, by the time we arrived at the hospital in the very early morning hours, I barely had time to park the car before she was born.  We skipped the labor room and went immediately to delivery.  I guess you could say, “We were cutting it close”.

Since our first-born had been a boy almost a decade earlier, it never occurred to us that we wouldn’t be bringing another boy home.  I actually had to go shopping to find a dress to bring Andrea home from the hospital.  No, let me reframe that, “I was privileged to go shopping to find her a dress.”  We still have the dress. It is framed behind glass and above it is the signage I took from the only playhouse I ever built for her.  The playhouse was fashioned after a Fredericksburg cottage with a metal roof, small front porch and three windows.  It even included electricity.  I figured when Andrea was done with it, I could use it for something else.

Our home was built on a ten-acre track of land covered with large oak trees.  It was a perfect environment or so it seemed. The only amenity missing was the absence of garbage pick-up.  What do you do with your trash?  It was a good question.  My neighbors all resided on large tracks of acreage and many had fashioned their own personal dumb site somewhere on their property.  Maybe if I had owned more land, establishing a place for trash might have been a consideration, but I doubt it? I am not that utilitarian. 

Consequently, my Saturday morning routine was to take the trash to the county dumpsite in Johnson City.  I can’t recall how old Andrea was when she starting going with me on Saturday mornings, but she was very small.  Part of the Saturday morning routine included a stop by Dairy Queen before we returned home.

Dairy Queen started selling Blizzards in 1984. Consequently, she would have been three years old at the time.  Obviously Andrea’s memory is fairly keen. Probably she can recite for you, “Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost.  It begins with the line: “Whose woods are these?  I think I know. His house is in the village through. He will not see us stopping here to watch his woods fill up with snow…”

Before you write me off as certifiably crazy, you need to understand that I grew up in Odessa where there were no trees. Consequently, every opportunity to drive the 17-miles from Henly to Johnson City where hills and trees were in abundance prompted my memory of that poem and reminded me we were privileged to live where we did.  I also would make up crazy songs or sometimes sing real songs. My daughter would sing them with me and we would laugh. If fact, on occasion we still both break out in song.  Back in the day, there was something special about “Butterfinger Blizzards and Cherry Cokes”.

The General is still out of town.  I had lunch plans yesterday and I mentioned to Andrea and Kevin after church that I might stop by later if that was okay.  They only live a couple of miles from us.

Yesterday afternoon, I got preoccupied with other stuff and forget that I mentioned I might stop by.  For starters, I attempted to find Andrea’s baby book.  She has one. Craig has one. Both are somewhere in our home, but I am absolutely clueless where to look. The General would tell you that “clueless” is fairly descriptive of my knowledge of where to find lots of things in our home.  At any rate, earlier in the week, Andrea had inquired about her baby book and I thought I’d find it for her. 

In my figurative “Hunt for Red October” I noticed Ronnie’s leather zippered notebook in the top of my closet.  I had made a commitment on Friday to look in it and see if I could find a number. Actually, we had the number, what we didn’t have was the source of information associated to the number.  It was important to us to find it.

The contents of the notebook surprised me.  The notebook had previously been in my parent’s possession. I’m sure I had looked inside it before, but I didn’t remember the contents.  The notebook included keepsakes from long ago. They were things my Dad had stored away. For starters, a well-worn Seiko watch had been replaced in the case and box in which it came.  Dad had received the watch for Christmas in 1972. It was a gift from Ronnie.  Opening the box and looking at the watch was the catalyst for my eyes filling with tears.  The watch looked absolutely worn out, but that’s not what caught my attention.  What caught my attention was the numerical number signifying the date that appeared on the watch.  It was the number “27”.  In case you miss the significance, my brother’s plane went down on December 27, 1972.

Almost reverently, I closed the lid on the case and slipped it back inside the cardboard sleeve.  Other surprises in the notebook included my parent’s marriage license, birth certificates, high school diplomas and my dad’s discharge records for the U.S. Army. 

Because of residual questions related to information that surfaced related to Ronnie, I telephone one of the A-6 pilots who knew Ron best.  He didn’t have an answer for my question, but ours was a thoughtful and welcoming conversation.   

Later in the evening when my daughter texted to ask if I was still stopping by, I responded, “Yes – I’m on my way if that still works?  She affirmed that it did. I backed out of the garage with the top down. It was perfect convertible weather. Seriously, it was very pleasant outside. 

In fact it was so nice outside that I suggested we visit outdoors. It was a perfect evening made better by Andrea’s mention of Butterfinger Blizzards and Cherry Cokes.  Later that evening as I drove home, I recited to myself Robert Frost’s poem. 

All My Best!

Don

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