THE BOOT WAS….

The boot was made of very fine leather,

Tooled by an ancient Italian craftsman,

who had learned bootmaking from his father,

and his father before him,

generations of Italian bootmakers

who purchased the best leather

and refused to bend to accommodate the times.

A pair of boots might take six months to make

from start to finish,

With intricate carvings worked into the leather.

I was that boot, made of fine brown leather;

with a very dark wooden heel

and a great deal of design carved into the leather;

First I was worn by an Italian clothing designer,

a man quite fussy with his appearance,

Gay, you might say, but he took good care of me,

and I was cleaned and polished once a week

by his manservant.

When the designer changed his “look” I was

discarded but the manservant rescued me and

sold me, and my twin,

to a used clothing store

where a cowboy discovered us

and took us to America;

There I lived on a cattle ranch

and was often scuffed and dirty,

but it was an exciting life and I didn’t mind

the grit and soil.  When my cowboy removed

us from his feet at night, we all sighed with relief.

For a while we could breathe.

Eventually, the cowboy had worn down my heel

and there was a hole in my sole,

that no amount of cardboard could remedy,

the cowboy tossed me and my twin

into a dumpster, where we languished

for a time.

and then–a gardener found me and pulled me

out of the trash;

I do not know what happened to my twin.

The gardener took me to his home

and filled me up with dirt

and then added cacti;

I had a new life;

I was a planter,

willing to stand in the rain

or the sun

protecting the cactus that

happily grew out of the top.

 

Sandra Lee Smith

Originally posted June 5, 2009

Updated October 20, 2018

THE GREATEST REWARD, MY SONS

As a young wife and mother,

I wanted nothing more than to have children,

and to be there, for them, as they grew up.

I thought that  having newborn babies was

the greatest reward–

but then they became toddlers and I thought

this was the greatest reward–watching them

learn to speak and eat by themselves and

discovering all that life has to offer.

Then they became youngsters going off to school,

learning how to read and write,

and do multiplication tables–

and I thought this was the greatest reward,

as I became involved with their school and became friends

with some of the teachers,

and was a volunteer in their classrooms.

I taught my son, Steve, how to play Scrabble and

took them to book stores and thrift shops

to look for books.

I took all four of them on vacation trips to Ohio

to spend summers with my parents,

and boasted proudly that I could travel

with ease with all of them–including twice

on a Greyhound bus across country.

Then they became older boys and I thought

this was the greatest reward,

because we bought a camper and started

going camping with them.

Then they became young men and I thought

this was the greatest reward as they brought

girls home to meet their mother.

Then they were truly men, with wives

and children of their own–and yes,

I knew that this was the greatest reward,

for now there were grandchildren to love

and share my life with–

so, perhaps, in retrospect–it wasn’t any one

single period of time that was the greatest reward–

perhaps it was being able to recognize

that each stage in their lives

was the greatest reward.

 

Sandra Lee Smith

Originally posted May 9, 2009

Updated October 7, 2018

PROGRESS

My grandparents’ lives

were relatively simple

compared to that of

my parents,

and in the adult lives

of myself and

my siblings;

My grandparents had

no social security numbers,

no telephone numbers–at least

not in the beginning–

and when telephones became

available, the numbers were easy

to remember–GRanville 2334 or

Kirby 8846 (the first was Grandma’s

number and the Kirby exchange was

ours)

Their address was 1957 Baltimore Street

and a zip code was only two numbers;

their was 25.

It cost a penny to mail a letter. (When

I was a child, a first class stamp to

mail a letter was 3 cents.

There were streetcars (often called

trolley car) to take you where ever

you wanted to go. the fare was

five cents and you could ask for

a free transfer slip if you needed]

to change to another car.  There

was no need for my grandfather

to drive a car; a streetcar could

take him where he needed to go.

I think my father was the first

in the family to buy and drive a car.

My memory is that of a 1953 Chevrolet

that my father bought–he was loyal

to Chevrolet for many years.

My grandfather enjoyed a successful

career as a tailor; he created men’s

suits.

My grandmother was a cook in

the home of a well-to-do family

before she married and settled down

to be a housewife and mother.

She could be bossy and opinionated

but never with her grandchildren

who all adored her.  I think it’s

safe to say, she adored us, too.

My parents were both born

in Cincinnati, Ohio, and all

of their children were born here

as well. It was a fairly simple life

in Cincinnati when my grandparents

were young adults , where you paid

cash for everything. There were no

credit cards. They had a house payment

and once a month

grandma went downtown to pay

the utility bills and house payment

in person, with cash.

My parents met when they were both

teenagers, and my father had a metal

social security card with his number

stamped on it.

My parents’ marriage began

at the tail end of the Great Depression,

an event that greatly influenced my

mother’s entire life;  she would

always be frugal and reuse everything

that could be recycled and used again,

and sometimes more than twice,

items such as newspaper, wax paper,

aluminum foil and definitely all leftovers

from a meal.

It took them 9 years to save up enough

money to buy their first home,

at 1618 Sutter Street; this is the home

where my memory begins; I was going

on 5 years old when we moved into

the Sutter Street house;

My mother was one of a few working

mothers in the 1940s when most mothers

stayed at home.

My mother also took in laundry and I was

often corralled to iron hankies and other

simple items; mom also sold greeting cards

from Cardinal Craftsman and would send

me to pick up her order at 8th and State

since my car fare was only a nickel whereas

hers would have been a dime.  I also sold her

greeting cards to the neighbors generally

for five cents each.    My mother was as

frugal as it is for a person to be; she

bought our Christmas tree on Christmas

eve when very little was left on the lot

and she could get a tree for a quarter.

But mom had a charge-a-plate for Shillitoes

and sometimes sent me downtown to shop

for her.  she sent me downtown every

Saturday for several months to pay a

dollar a week for a new coat she had in

layaway at Lerner’s. (When I was older

and getting married, I bought my wedding

dress at Lerner’s too).

In 1955 my parents bought a brand-new

house; it was their dream house at

7099 Mulberry Steet; It was unfinished  inside

and unpainted–we children sanded woodwork

and they waited a long time before painting

the walls. (I believe someone told them it

was better to wait a year before painting

indoor walls).

All that being said, my father loved new

gadgets and we had the first television set

on our street. He bought a new Chevrolet

every few years.

My father retired from Formica –the only

place he ever worked at and my parents

retired in Florida in a mobile home park.

I obtained my social security card when I was 16,

to have it when I started searching for part time

jobs and found my first full-time job at Western

Southern Insurance a few months after my high

school graduation.

My married life began in 1958

and in 1961 my husband and I

and our one year old son

drove across country  to California.

I find in my life

we have a great deal more

to remember besides

a social security card–

along with

addresses

telephone numbers,

cell phone numbers,

account numbers for credit cards

We are a generation of numbers

and computers

digital cameras,

cell phones

but in 008

I bought a house

that is all numbers *yikes!)

this is, I think, Progress

where a woman

(and not a young one)

can buy a house–

My grandmother would

applaud me if she were

still alive.

Maybe she did..

and maybe she had a hand

in helping me buy my house.

 

Sandra Lee Smith

Originally posted Day 3, October 3, 2009

Updated September 14, 2018

 

 

n

 

YOUR PLACE OR MINE?

“Your place or mine?” the cowboy asked

with a smile that melted ice;

I read something deep in his eyes,

not quite gentleman or nice–

It wasn’t love or gentle sex

that I saw in his eyes,

But more like tumbling in  the hay.

Where I would be the prize.

“Your place or mine?” he asked again,

as fingers lightly touched my cheek,

I followed him out of the bar,

like a lamb, I was that meek.

Your place or mine?

It was neither one that night–

but a little place down on the beach,

where the surf was light,

and with a blanket on the sand,

And stars that filled the skies,

I found something in his arms,

that filled those light blue eyes.

And now he’s gone, I know not where,

He didn’t mean to be unkind,

and I smile when I recall

those words — “Your place or mine?”

 

Sandra Lee Smith

Originally posted March 39, 2010

Updated September 8, 2018

ABOUT THE AVOCADO TREE

In the far corner of the back yard in Arleta,

there stood a huge avocado tree

that had long since given up

producing any avocados.

Then one year,  the guys (Bob & Kelly) discovered

that a huge branch of the tree was rotting away

and in danger of coming down on the metal shed

we had put up after the guys  had torn down

a rotten old wooden shed that us to be on that spot.

They moved the metal shed to one side

and Kelly climbed up into the tree

and sitting on the trunk of the tree,

just slightly out on the big branch,

he began to saw on the dead branch;

it was so heavy that

when it fell

it shook the house

and Kelly reported

it shook him up too–

he knew, logically, that HE wasnt

going to fall but the impact

of the branch was enough to

shake the ground.

It took Bob a long time to cut up

all of that wood

but the most remarkable thing about this story is

that early the following spring,

avocados began to appear on the tree–

not just a few avocados–but hundreds

and I counted two hundred and fifty avocados

from which I made the biggest batch of guacamole

you have ever seen;  I packed it into zip lock bags

and laid the bags flat in the freezer.

We had guacamole for about a year

or maybe two.

That tree was home to many of our feathered friends

and I had photographed an owl and a red-tailed hawk

along with the other birds

that rested there from  time to time.

It was a beautiful tree;

I was happy to make its acquaintance.

 

Sandra Lee Smith

July 11, 2010

Updated September 6, 2018

THE SOUND OF YOUR VOICE

I trust by now you realize,

I have no claim on you,

You’ve gone your way

and I’ve gone mine,

This much I know is true.

My life has changed most drastically,

There is no place for you,

There was a time when we exchanged

The stories that were the glue

and fabric of our lives, we talked

With someone there to listen,

If that was love, then it was love,

To hear you was my mission;

No better audience was I,

Assuring you were heard,

As for me, I clung onto

Your each and every word.

Perhaps somebody else is there

To share your life and hear,

Everything you want to say–

It isn’t me, I fear.

 

Sandra Lee Smith

posted March, 2012

Updated September 3, 2018

THUNDER AND LIGHTNING

The night lights up with jagged streaks

that split across the sky,

Followed by a mighty roar

of thunder, as I try

not to listen to the cracks, as lightning

fills the night,

and heavy rains come falling down

above me where I lie

safe within the little hut,

a blanket over my head,

unable to drown out the sounds,

that fill my heart with dread.

Repeatedly the skies ring out

With thunder and my room

is shaken with the noisy sounds

that spell the sound of doom.

Sandra Lee Smith

Originally posted July 18, 2018

Updated September 3, 2018

Sandy’s footnote: most of the storms I write about aren’t from living in the high desert for the past 10 years, although we HAVE had some memorable ones–but I lived in Southern Florida for 3 years and storms there were a daily occurrence in the summertime. Sometimes, if you were out in your car when a storm broke over North Miami Beach, I would have to pull over and wait out the storm–the rain made it impossible to see where you were going.–sls