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Part Three - To Felix Or Not To Felix, That Is The Question

Story ID:10646
Written by:Charles Dishno (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:In Memory
Location:Bly Oregon USA
Year:1948
Person:My Mom
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Part Three - To Felix Or Not To Felix, That Is The Question. And There By Hangs A Tail…


The Shopping Trip, Saturday December 18th

Christmas was one week away when Pop made the announcement that we should all pile into the Pontiac and go to Klamath. The words were hardly out of his mouth when we were all seated and ready to go. The old 1936 Pontiac looked beautiful. Pop had washed off all the Bly mud and had even found a set of bumpers to replace the ones he took off and donated to the war effort. That combined with a new set of recaps and a tune –up the old beast was ready to go. We had been anticipating the trip but until Pop says go we don’t go.

Mom and Pop sat in the front seat and Etta and I occupied the back. My dog, Wags, wanted to go but we left him sitting on the front porch. Even though the trip to Klamath was only 53 miles, it usually took close to 2 hours since Pop was no speed demon. He was still used to the 35 mph of the wartime restrictions but had improved to at least 45mph by now. The trip was always enjoyable and Grandma, Etta and I entertained our selves by singing little ditties from her past and Mom kept her eyes straight ahead to keep from getting car sick.

Upon arriving in Klamath, Pop always tried to find a parking place near Montgomery Ward’s so the bunch of us could make a hasty trip to the restroom. After that we would meet in the shoe department where Pop would give us our instructions. We were to go our various directions but be sure to meet at Bing’s Café at noon for lunch then back to our shopping but meet again at Wards shoe department by 2 pm to head home.

As soon as Pop said go, we all headed out for our shopping destinations. I went directly up Main Street to Sears and into the sporting goods section with my pockets loaded with at least 50 silver dollars. There I found what I was looking for. I had seen my Pop wistfully looking at an automatic fly reel. Pop was a great fly fisherman and often thought an automatic reel would be nice to have but too expensive. To me it was just right and I forked over the cash without another thought.

After making my purchase I headed for the ladies department and blushing like a red beet I asked the sales lady to see their selection of long handled underwear. I told her it was for my Grandmother who was always cold. She asked me what size I wanted and when I said she was really small and old. About that time I looked over at the pet department and saw Etta buying some bird seed. I pointed her out to the sales lady and she agreed with me on her size and said she had just what I was looking for. She took out 3 pairs of underwear and even held them up in front of her for me to see. I was really getting embarrassed and said the first one looked fine to me. They were pink, had long legs and those garter straps around the waist. I would take them, I didn’t care how much the cost was, I just wanted out. I then, asked her if she would wrap them for me. I didn’t seem right to sneak back into Etta’s bedroom, snitch another piece of her ironed paper and wrap her own present.

That embarrassing task done, I went to the men’s department where I found a pair of nice warm leather gloves for my brothers. I also bought a couple of scarves for my two new sisters-in-law. I then made it to the pet department and bought a box of “Fives” dog biscuits for my faithful old dog, Wags.

Hey, my Christmas shopping was done and I still had 20 minutes to make it to Bing’s Café for lunch. Mom, Pop and Etta were just getting there when I arrived. We went in and parked at booth then ordered. I don’t remember what the others ordered but I ordered Bing’s famous hot roast beef sandwich which was delicious. After we had all filled or bellies, Pop paid the bill but I was still loaded with silver dollars so insisted on leaving the tip. I flipped a silver dollar down and we left.

Etta said she was tired and had done enough shopping and was going back to “Monkey Ward’s” to rest. The rest of us still had a few more placed to go so we split again. I stopped by Pool’s Hobby Shop to see if they had any new issues of a model car I had been building called “Old Timer’s or Hudson’s Miniatures’. I had about a dozen and wanted to add more to my collection. Finding none I went back to the Sears sporting goods. I thought I might buy something for myself. There were several things I wanted but was hoping that Santa might bring them to me since I had been such a good boy (ha ha) over the last year.

One thing that I did want and could buy for myself were a couple boxes of 12 gauge Hi base shells with a #2 shot, the better to reach out and knock down those large Canadian Honkers. I also would like to have a nice soft recoil pad for my old shotgun but after contemplating it for a while decided that since I was getting to be a better shot and had grown much more into a man over the past several months I would forgo that purchase. I am glad I did because now that old shotgun sits in the corner of my closet in all its glory, having never been embarrassed by having a soft rubber pad on its butt plate. It hasn’t been fired for over 40 years but I would bet that it still works perfectly and still kicks just as hard. It now awaits the time when my son. Mike, will come pick it up as I have always promised it to him. I know how good a gun it is and helped me to dispatch over 100 geese and who knows how many ducks.

Having made my last minute purchases I headed back to Ward’s to meet Mom and Pop. By the time I got there they were sitting in the shoe chairs along with Etta and ready to head home after one more pee stop. In fairness to Montgomery Ward, we did buy our shoes and other items there. It was not just a convenient place to rest. No one seemed to mind.

Our shopping spree over we piled into the old Pontiac and headed home, but before leaving Klamath we had to make one more stop out on South 6th Street at Parks Grocery to load up on our month’s supply of groceries and staples such as 100 pound bags of flour, potatoes and smaller bags of sugar and rice. Pop also wanted to buy the biggest tom turkey he could find for Christmas dinner that was just one week away.
Grocery shopping over and the car loaded, Pop said we had better get going since it had started to snow and he wanted to get over Bly Mountain before he had to put on tire chains. We made it just fine and upon arriving home I had to deliver my papers then head for the theater for my nights work and to collect another two silver dollars. All in all it had been a great day for all of us and now all we had to do was wait for that glorious Christmas the next Saturday.

All that week the presents began to pile up under our Christmas tree and with my brothers and their wives arriving on Friday, I knew the pile would be even higher.

With Christmas rapidly approaching great things were happening. The house began to smell of baked pies and cookies, church services were being planned for Christmas Eve with Etta playing the piano and stockings were being hung over the mantel.

On Friday my brothers and their spouses arrived and the house was full again. Of course more presents were added to the pile. In taking a quick survey it looked like Etta was going to be the big winner to the delight of all.

On Christmas Eve after church we all sat around the house singing carols accompanied my Mom and Etta on the piano and my talented brothers playing their various instruments. Pop and I were the only ones who could not play anything. After a very late evening we all headed for bed. Mom and Etta were adamant that no presents were to be opened until after breakfast the next morning.

Christmas Day, Saturday December 25, 1948

I woke up about 8am to the smell of breakfast being prepared. When I went into the dining room the table was piled high with huge buttermilk biscuits the size of saucers, mounds of bacon and eggs and stacks of pancakes. Everyone was gathered around the dining table ready to dive in. I joined the group and after the prayer was said we started to make quick work of Mom’s fabulous spread.

About 9am breakfast was over we waddled into the living room and sat around the Christmas tree. I was elected to play Santa and hand out the presents. As per Mom’s and Etta’s instructions I was to give them out one at a time and wait for them to be opened and enjoyed by all before going to get another present. I could see this was going to take a long time but what the heck, it was their idea and I wasn’t about to spoil the party.

I don’t recall what everyone got but I will say that Etta was proud of her long handled underwear and when encouraged to show it off she just stood up and held it if front of her. Pop was delighted with his new fly reel and promised more trout the next spring. I got a shell vest that I had been wanting and wool cap with ear flaps that I could pull down. When the pile finally diminished down to one present, Mom kept saying, “Well, there is one left, I wonder who it is for.” I couldn’t wait any longer, picket it up and placed it on her lap saying, “This is for you, Mom, especially from me.” Mom much to the dismay of Etta, ripped the paper from the box and saw the smiling face of Felix the kitchen clock with his swinging pendulum tail on the cover of the box.

I will never forget the look on Mom’s face as she took Felix out and saying, “Well, I never thought I would get one of these.” She immediately told Pop to get a hammer and nail to put Felix up right away. We all headed into the kitchen where Mom instructed Pop where to place the nail. My brother, Shad, attached the tail while Mom set the time on the clock. It was exactly 11:30. Brother Bud was given the honor of hanging Felix on his nail and the cord was handed to me to plug in. As soon as I inserted the plug the room erupted with applause and I looked up at Felix just as he started wagging his tail and swishing his eyes back and forth. To me his tail was saying with each swish, “You did it, Charlie, You did it, Charlie, You did it, Charlie.”

About two that afternoon, Mom out did herself and presented us with a fabulous turkey dinner complete with her famous stuffing, yams, mashed potatoes, and gravy, hot rolls and mince meat pie. We all stuffed ourselves but there was enough left of that meal to last over the next few days.

That was almost 70 years ago and Mom, Pop, Etta and my two brothers are gone now along with their wives. I am the only one left. Forgive me for telling such a long story but it has stuck with me all these years and I feel it must be told. Especially to my kids and grandchildren to let them know a little more about my fabulous life and the way things were back when I was growing up. My advice to them is to never give up even when faced with adversity.

Now that my time on this Earth is winding down I like to think ahead and envision myself walking through some heavenly mist toward those Pearly Gates. As they come into view I can see Saint Peter standing by one of the posts and as I get closer, I see, hanging on the other gate post, Felix with his pendulum tail swinging and his eyes focused on me. With each swish of his tail he is saying, “Good job, Charlie, Good job, Charlie. When I look back over at Saint Peter he is looking up at Felix and writing my name in the “Book of Life” the exact time that I cross thru to be re-united with my loved ones on the other side. Felix has done his job well and can now retire.

God Bless all you and you are invited to join the Dishno big bash when your time comes.

Chuck “Stub” Dishno