I don’t feel up to writing a post, mostly because my head isn’t “fully on” yet, (I’ve managed to be jetlagged for two time zones at once) and I’m not up to writing the Witch’s Daughter chapter that’s ridiculously overdue.

I’ll try to do it tomorrow or tonight, around the promo post which, yes, I’m aware is ALSO overdue.

Look, the last two weeks were excessively 2020, okay? I’m trying to recover.

So I’m going to tell you what I was thinking of, apropos nothing (as far as I know) this morning.

I was thinking about Faustina, the elastic lady.


Well, it goes something like this: my family has a tradition of scaring unruly children into behaving.

I’m sure it will shock EVERYONE here that I was an unruly — though more pain in the neck, rule lawyering — kid. Actually that’s how I managed to get kicked out of kindergarten. I kept rule-lawyering the teacher, and not just about my issues (I was actually fairly well behaved, as I’d hide in a corner and read) but everyone the teacher tried to punish. Mostly because she had a tendency to pick on kids who didn’t know how to defend themselves.

After bribes of candy (I hate hard candy, and that’s what she offered) and a glow in the dark rosary (who can resist that you ask? Well, I did) had failed, she took me by the hand, walked me back home, and handed me to grandma with the words “Next year, we’ll have to take her. Until then the law doesn’t say she has to be at school. Keep her at home, please.”

Anyway, as you can imagine, since I was — mostly — impervious to bribes and kept coming up with creative ways to argue why I should be allowed to do whatever I wanted, my family had to come up with something that would …. oh, make me go to bed on time, or shut my mouth for a minute or two.

And that something was Faustina, the elastic lady. The weird thing is that I remember nothing about this woman.

She was one of the peddlers who made the rounds of the village one day a week, and sold — I presume — not just elastic and lace, but probably other sewing notions. I presume like the other peddlers she did the rounds of other villages on the other days. (On Sundays we got the fun peddlers: cookies, candy, soda and potato chips. But during the week we got the Olive Man (who also sold oils) and the fish vendors, and probably others I don’t remember at all. I remember the olive man, because his donkey wore a hat, and because if I had been good I got to give the donkey a carrot. And the fish man because if I had been good, I got a half dozen clams to cook on top of the wood stove. Look, life was very boring, okay?)

BTW it’s a measure of how much my life has changed that I can’t IMAGINE how someone could make a living, no matter how small, selling sewing notions (and I presume elastic was the greater part of her business, since she was called Faustina dos Elasticos.) Maybe fish, or oil since both were major components of our diet. BUT elastic and notions? I can’t picture it. Yes, things were more expensive, and buying these from stores involved going to the city,which cost bus or train fare (and my mom did, because she was a professional, but even she bought from Faustina of the elastics now and then.) But still. This woman was on foot, and sold only what she carried. How can she have made a living?

It’s unsettling to realize that my worldbuilding might suffer from not really understanding/being able to picture such limited economies.

I have no idea why Faustina scared me. I’m going to presume she did, or my family wouldn’t have seized on it, nor invented such an outrageous story about her. But I don’t remember her at all. It’s possible she had a squint, and a half a century later, I have the impression she had a weird hamster voice.

Kids are merciless about “strangers” — which is why all the stupid stories about how babies are racist are ridiculous. Of course children shy from strangers. That was part of remaining alive and not becoming dinner when humans lived in family-bands — and find things strange that wouldn’t even register for adults, mostly because they have such a limited experience of the world. They don’t know how weird things and people can be and still fall in “the range of normal reality.” (Now I think about it, that’s the problem with all the woke superannuated children. Having been raised with a narrow idea of what’s normal, and carefully indoctrinated to distrust anything and anyone new, they can’t imagine the different without assuming it’s “evil.”)

One thing I’m almost sure of, (though I can’t verify it unless I call mom, and if I call her out of the blue RIGHT NOW and ask her to verify it, she’ll think I’ve lost my mind, even more than she already thinks it): is that Faustina walked with a weird gait, probably because of having one leg shorter than the other, or perhaps she’d had polio as a child, or something.

Why am I sure of that? Because I think whatever she looked like/moved like scared the heck out of me, and I started hiding from her.

Having glomed onto this my family — honestly, probably mom because she’s the only one I remember telling me that — told me that Faustina had legs made out of elastic, and could stretch to any length, and that she specialized in reaching into houses and grabbing naughty children, which she took away in her sack.

I remember being terrified of her, to the point that mentioning her name would get good behavior from me.

I don’t remember when I stopped being scared, or when she stopped making the rounds of sales (though I think it was before I was six or so, when we moved to the new house and the lady down the street opened a newspapers/magazines/notions and tobacco store operating out of her front window. (I can’t remember her name, but her village nickname was “of the tobacco” and her virtue was that she sold whenever you knocked on her window, so during the hours the general store (which sold tobacco) was closed.

And I can honestly say I didn’t think of her again till this morning.

Which is how kids grow, I suppose. I mean, we scared older son into compliance by telling him if he didn’t behave the trashmen would take him away. This was after an incident when we’d forgotten to put our trash out, and the collectors banged on our back gate and screamed and cursed, scaring the little two year old playing in the yard.

For the next three or four years, we could get compliance by picking up the phone to call the garbage collectors. I don’t know when he stopped being scared, but my guess is when he was rational enough that we could argue for compliance without having to scare him (and we only scared him when he was a danger to himself, the pets or his brother.) And unlike what our friends told us, he’s not scared of garbage collectors, and is perfectly civil and well behaved to them.

I’m not particularly scared of people who sell elastic, either, I must say. Or even lace and notions.

BUT I realized that in a weird place in my mind, there is this dark figure carrying a sack, who shambles down the old village street at twilight, before jumping up on elastic legs, to snatch a naughty child through a second floor window.

And yes, I realize she must appear in that guise in some future story, poor woman.

85 thoughts on “Elastic

  1. I still remember that, when I was young, I got it into my head that if I didn’t sleep with my pillow over my head banshees would get me.

    I think part of it was, at the time RT hat started, my younger brother was having an issue that would lead to him generally waking up in the middle of the night with an coughing fit that would progress into, shall we say, painting the walls…

    They did sort it out: it was a combined allergy to corn that stirred up his asthma, and resulted in a low level lung infection that took quite a bit of antibiotics to get out, once they figured it out, but I still remember the banshee fear. I think I got over it in my preteens.

    Between that and the train, this was how I got to the point where I can, literally, sleep through the neighbors shooting at eachother, and merely append a giant bamboo tank to the school field trip I was dreaming about at the time.

    (No-one got seriously injured in that one either, so it’s funny in retrospect.)

    1. I guess it’s universal that covers are magical defenses against evil.

      My cousin scared me to death when I was 3 or 4 with a ghost story about me going to each bedroom in my home and finding the occupant gone, and a “big black coffin floating out the window”, culminating in a coffin chasing me through the house (it ended with a bad pun, with me pulling out a cough drop “and stopped the coffin’ ” but that didn’t help). I walked with my back to the wall for years, pulled the covers up to my chin every night, and I refused to watch spooky movies until I was 11.

      Now, of course, I love them, especially 19th century ghost stories.

  2. Not up to righting a post, indeed!

    One of my childhood memories is of The Peanut Man. In grade school, about once or maybe twice a year, suddenly the classroom door would fling open and suddenly would enter The Peanut Man, carrying a huge burlap sack of roasted in shell peanuts, handfuls of which he’d toss around the room, sending kids scurrying to collect as many as we could as he disappeared. Perhaps five minutes later order, restored, all sat again at their desks with their little piles of loot, perhaps a dozen or so peanuts, in front, many of us wearing peanuts clipped on our earlobes as earrings.

    I have no recollection of his looks, I am confident his bag was ne’er so large as childhood memory tells, nor can I say with assurance how frequently he appeared. All I know is the childhood glee of a dreary day enlivened by a magical event.

    I realize he must have cleared such activity with the school principal and teachers but as a third-grader such issues didn’t ever occur to me. Nor do I know whether mine was the only school so visited or if it happened in all grade schools across our little town.

    Nowadays I am sure it would not be permitted and he’d be arrested for assault with a deadly peanut for even trying.

      1. If one end of the peanut shell is split (a common result of roasting in shell, I believe) gentle squeezing of the shell near the split can spread it sufficiently to insert the child’s earlobe into the crack, then release pressure to allow the shell’s aperture to (mostly) close, leaving the peanut dangling.

    1. Mrs. Hoyt is a born storyteller. There’s a voice she has that comes through on these impromptu reminiscences and also on the Gold port stories that I really love.

      AtH is hands-down my favourite magazine 🙂

      As for scaring the incorrigably contrary, being Germanic Lutherans we had “shock-headed Peter” (Struwelpater). Let’s see if I can give you a picture…

      See? The bad girl made the poor kittehs sad! 😋

  3. In Central European (mostly Slavic) lore there’s a sort of antibody of Santa Claus, known as _The Krampus_. My own parents didn’t use him to scare me, but relatives and friends from the upper midwest spoke of him when we were grown up.

    1. You are not the only one to be reminded of Krampus. Seems like this character could be a potential spouse, or sister if that doesn’t work. Of course, they could be entirely independent – possibly competitors.

  4. I bet that most of us have sharp images/experiences from my past which beg use in a story somewhere.
    As one example:
    My grandfather died in a nursing home in Western Montana, far from where he had lived and worked most of his life (coastal Northern California). My father drove to retrieve his father’s body in the casket and take him back to be buried near Eureka, CA. My father told me, later on, that near the Tri-Cities region of Washington, as he was driving he was suddenly overwhelmed by what he was doing, and he had to pull over to recover.
    What would it be like to drive with your own father’s body, for over 19 hours, in the back of your truck?
    The sheer impact of that realization belongs in a story sometime, somewhere.

    1. My first summer in Alaska I was the mechanic assigned to a helicopter contracted to the state forestry department for fire suppression. Since it was a slow fire year thanks to the Exxon Valdez (another story altogether) the state tried to find stuff for us to do to justify the contract. One day we got a call for a medevac. In Chicken, AK, two young ladies on an ATV had been run off the road and it rolled over them. One girl died at the scene; her father put her body in the back of his truck and headed to, IIRC, Fairbanks to get her proper medical attention. The other had compound fractures of all limbs and internal injuries, but the EMTs were able to get her stabilized enough that we* could transport her to the airport in Tok where a dedicated fixed wing air ambulance could take her to Anchorage.

      * I didn’t actually accompany the flight, but I got to share in the experience post-flight when I ‘got’ to wash the blood and other bodily fluids out of the back of the bird. I had been considering working air ambulance up to that point . . .

  5. This reminds me of my nightmares when I was 4 and 5. I would be standing in a field and I would look up and up and see these corn people. They would try to stamp on me. I would wake up screaming. I must have a lurking corn person in my head somewhere.

  6. The one thing that unreasonably frightened me as a child was when my father assured me that people who lied had their insides turn into garbage – the really disgusting garbagey slime which accumulated on the inside of the old galvanized tin garbage can. I knew that that garbage can looked like on the bottom, and what it smelled like, too – and I went on believing that for years.

  7. I could see that story as an early children’s chapter book. With of course some title like “The Mystery of the Elastic Woman” with a cover of children looking through a window into the night.

  8. A lot of, “sustainability,” fans don’t realize how boring their “sustainable,” lifestyle could be. Or how “stable,” might translate to “boring.”

    1. I would be a great deal more impressed with talk of sustainability if any of the ideas out forth under that banner were, in fact, sustainable.

      I mean, seriously; organic farming? A major fraction of the world population would starve. So-called Renewable Energy? Intermittent, based on high tech materials that are not recyclable, and needing a huge footprint. And that doesn’t even touch the question of what happens when you take that much energy out of a dynamic environmental system. Battery powered cars? The batteries are high tech, un recyclable, and hellishly toxic. And just where do you propose to get the extra electricity from?


        1. Agreed. I tend to think what these people really want is utter predictability. That’s why they want control, so they can never be taken by surprise.

      1. At the present time, electric cars are mostly powered by coal. They are mostly charged at night, when solar and wind power are least available.

        If they really want ‘sustainable’ energy they will have to go back to burning wood, like early 19th century steam engines. Our ancestors did not like that technology.

        Today’s problems are the solutions to yesterday’s problems. They were found to be preferable to the problems they replaced.

        I recall an old proposal for a solar powered night light: a solar panel, a light, and 12,000 miles of two-conductor cable. 😀

        1. “Today’s problems aren’t the solutions to yesterday’s problems”

          I like that. I have to say that I suspect the Woke idiots who hate cars so much have no conception of what it was like to live in a city that depended on horses for transport. In 1880 the City of New York had to remove something like 18,000 dead horses from its streets.

          1. Today’s problems ARE the solutions to yesterday’s problems.
            (I presume the typo gremlin was lurking in your keyboard?)

            So, before condemning the ‘evil, polluting’ technology we’re using today, ‘environmentalists’ should take the trouble to understand WHERE that technology came from, WHY we switched to it, and what WORSE problems we had before we developed it.

            Our ancestors found oil-powered engines to be better than thousands of horses for transportation in big cities. How many MORE horses does it take to haul all those tons of horse feed into the city, and the corresponding tons of horse turds and dead horses out?

            How much land does it take to grow new trees for firewood fast enough that you don’t run out?

            Technological civilization has evolved to use ever more concentrated forms of energy. We started with muscle power — ours and animals — moved on to wind and water power, to wood, to coal, and then to oil. Each step provided more energy for less pollution and environmental damage. It’s just that our energy use scaled up so fast that the TOTAL pollution kept increasing. Leftoids see only the total pollution and declare that those old, crude, dirty energy sources were better, because there was only a tenth as much pollution from producing a hundredth as much energy.

            The next logical step is nuclear power, but a huge ‘environmental’ movement has risen up to oppose it. One ton of uranium can generate more energy than millions of tons of coal, but they screech “RADIATION!! NUCLEAR WASTE!!! CHERNOBYL!!!” without understanding that we already have the technology to solve those problems, but we are not allowed to use that technology properly due to politics.

            We used to reprocess our nuclear waste, turning 80% of it back into reactor fuel, until Jimmy Carter put an end to that by executive order. Now we have to just let it sit around, useless and dangerous. Chernobyl was caused by meddling politicians given the authority to tell the reactor operators to shut down ALL the safety systems while running the reactor far outside its normal operating conditions. Even so, they could have prevented the disaster at any time up to the last two minutes by simply letting the operators shut the reactor down — but that would have made some politicians look like the idiots they were.
            A politician is worse than a toilet. They’re both full of shit — but at least you can flush the toilet.

        2. Garage54 (a team of Russian crazies on Youtube) recently concocted a woodburning steam-powered car… using in part a standard IC engine. (To be fair, it probably started life as a Lada, and therefore can be turned into anything.) Great example of the massive inconvenience of such contraptions, and why wood-burning steam powered cars (which did exist) were rapidly superseded by just about anything else that didn’t have four legs.

            1. Yep, that’s the one, tho I watch their English channel. “Translation by BMI Russian” who is really good, totally in the spirit.

            2. [Let’s try that again with the right name in the slot… I have no idea how “dave elliot” got in there, to occasionally grab my mouse… nothing to do with here]

              Yep, that’s the one, tho I watch their English channel. “Translation by BMI Russian” who is really good, totally in the spirit.

        3. These people have no perspective. Oil used to be a nuisance that ruined otherwise arable land. It was literally garbage. People lit their houses with whale oil. (No save the whales for you.) 10 years from now, we’ll have a worse problem than nuclear waste with solar cell waste.

        4. “If they really want ‘sustainable’ energy they will have to go back to burning wood, like early 19th century steam engines. Our ancestors did not like that technology.”

          It also wasn’t sustainable. There aren’t many forests in Europe older than 200 years.

      2. “A major fraction of the world population would starve.”

        For them that’s a feature, not a bug.

        1. Story fragment, Free To Good Home:

          The villains (depicted positively up to this point) finally achieve their goal of reducing humanity to Sustainable and Renewable levels. And then are able to contact the earth spirit (flavor SF reason to taste). Gaia appears before them……

          And proceeds to spend the next several days screaming her head off at them.

          Because she watched her brother and sister planets die from catastrophic unmanaged ecological collapse, and had spent tens of thousands of years executing a plan to keep herself alive, and even to contact other worlds. The cybernetic implants (cities) were an entirely acceptable tradeoff, plus the cyberpunk look is like uber cool or something.

          Continuation of plot according to intended hopefulness of the story.

          1. It occurred to me once that if Gaia were real then she had a very good reason for creating a species like humanity. Without someone who can handle space travel, how else would you spread your biology to other planets?

            1. Hrmm.

              One of the themes of “Humans Are Weird” (etc.) stories is “Humans are insane… BUT… they can save you (etc.)”

              And in one of Eric Flint (et. al.) 1632 books is something roughly, “The uptimers are insane.. BUT… the children live!”

              If “insanity” is survival…

              1. And in one of Eric Flint (et. al.) 1632 books is something roughly, “The uptimers are insane.. BUT… the children live!”

                “For that, alone, I forgive their insanity!”

            1. But, the military will take OUR food on the orders of a bunch of worthless Leftoid wankers that have always treated them like shit! Of COURSE they will…

              1. Don’t you know, everyone in the military is a mindless automaton that simply does what it’s told without thinking or questioning. It’s all that brainwashing they do in boot camp.

            2. The faction without weapons has historically been handy to dominate. This time, tho, the faction with no clue how to grow their own food or produce their own energy… are a long way from the peasants who keep them warm and fed.

  9. We were told at my great-aunt’s farm that if we went upstairs in the pack house (because tobacco on the stick was packed down in piles there) the boogeyman would get us. There was a hole in the floor allowing the sticks of tobacco to be passed up and down that my folks didn’t want us falling through.

  10. Faustina of the Elastics – you’ve GOT to use her! She gives me a chill with just the few words you have here. She sounds like a children’s story, or something that starts with a children’s story, even if she follows through to the adult world.

    So it’s normal for children to be scared to death with stories like that, and what’s more, kind of healthy? I have a certain affection for my childhood terrors now.

  11. For my daughter, threatening to drag her by her ankles produces instant compliance. I don’t know why, but that terrifies her beyond reason.

    My own childhood fears are more nebulous, but I remember that when I was about three, I was terrified of the sound of the toilet flushing; I would always run out of the room before it finished. I don’t remember whether my parents ever made use of that, but I do remember it featured in one of the most vivid nightmares of my childhood: I was at McDonalds, playing on the playground, when Mom took me inside to go to the bathroom. As I did at home, I tried to run away before the toilet flushed, and got separated from Mom. I went back to the playground, but it was full of monsters. One of the monsters informed me that I’d gone out the wrong back and started leading me down a long, shadowy hallway…

    That dream has an odd coda. Two years later, I was at summer camp and went with the councilor to pick up some supplies. The hall to the supply closet was the exact same hall the monster had been leading me down in my dream–or at least similar enough that I actually mentioned it at the time! I’ve always wondered about that…

      1. Cue “Bailey’s 7”

        A tune about a planet of monsters.. and little cute fuzzy animals.
        But the ‘monsters’ are friendly and like to help out, and the cute little fuzzy ones will drink your blood.

    1. Different strokes for different folks indeed — my husband hauled an argumentative Sweetpea off to bed dangling by her ankles once, and she started requesting (or sometimes demanding) it!

      A stop has been put, because she was getting heavy enough he didn’t think it was safe to continue.

  12. I don’t remember any stories like that. I do remember being an evil older sibling though. I told my youngest sister that spiders would come down from the ceiling at night, crawl in her ears, and lay their eggs in her brain. I still feel bad about that especially since this is one of the sibling I helped raise.

  13. I tell the kids that don’t want to go home from the grocery store that they’ll have to stay and work the night shift, or that we might have to put price tags on them, or that they’ll have wait until they’re eighteen to work the night shift because of the forklifts. But I don’t really want to scare ’em, and a lot of the traditional mock threats aren’t really appropriate these days. (Like telling them they’re so sweet that somebody will eat them up. For some reason I find that not as funny now, at least not with strangers’ kids.)

    But there’s always kitchen ninjas. And the one where I tell kids who are squabbling that they’re not allowed to do that unless they’re in the grocery store Fighting Arena. And then they ask where it is, and I tell them they have to prove they’re worthy to fight by finding it. Kids of the right age to have watched a lot of kids’ anime find this hilarious.

  14. Well, I bought the entirely enjoyable series of stories about that stout american lad of Russian heritage who encounters the house that walks on chicken legs, written by an esteemed Hun who followed a rabbit sent by her muse down a rabbit hole for just one story to get it out of her system. A few stories with dabs of Portuguese village life, especially those used to scare little children, sounds perfectly delightful.

  15. Fortunately or unfortunately I remember very little of my life before about 10. I remember more my mother’s response when a nun told her, and presumably me, that the devil had me by he ankle and was swinging me around. That and other things about Catholic school led me to conclude that groups of celibate women living together were mentally unhealthy. I doubt harems are a good idea. Whether the priests were getting it on the side or just had a different response to celibacy, I never figured out. Maybe it was because there were usually only 2 or 3 priests living together in the rectory, and they usually had a cook as apposed to a dozen or more women in the convent all having to do their own housework.

    I had a terrible temper as a child, and my parents always told the story of my father holding me in a cold shower and, according to my mother, watching the steam come off me instead of having me calm down. Apparently I was rather incorrigible.

    As to the jailhouse lawyering, I loved the Baltimore Catechism. They made the mistake of giving me the rule book! No more, “It’s a mystery,” or, “Because I said so.” I had the church’s official rule book and could prevent silliness by appropriate appeal to authority.

    1. They used to send the young priests in every once in a while to “examine” the pupils and answer questions about the catechism before confirmation, which was 6th grade at the time. It would go like this. “.So Father, if the priest goes to baptize a baby and he says I baptize you in the name, and the baby dies does it go to hell?” imagine that in a really ripe NYC accent, “ sow fahda , make sure you emphasize the diphthong. I think George Carlin did a riff about it and his riff exactly matched my memories of it.

      My daughter had an assignment in HS, all girls, RC, nuns, the full Monty, — we’re gluttons for punishment, to ask her parents who God is. She asked me and I told her “God is the supreme being, infinitely perfect, who made all things and keeps them in existence.” My daughter laughed and told me that was exactly what my wife said and we found out that a fair proportion of her classmates got the same answer.

      My kids got a decent RC education using the new catechism but they never spent a hot day with 50 other kids being drilled … who made us? God made us. who is God? why did God make us? Rote, yep but I had the tools to demolish the (e.g.,) DaVinci code because I knew what the facts are. There was a rabbi who attributed the success of the whole Dan Brown oeuvre to a massive failure of Catholic catechesis. I think he was right.

      1. As to your first case. That’s a difficult one, and that’s why the whole myth of Limbo became popular. My wife demolished that one to a nun. “You say Heaven is the presence of God, and Hell is the absence of God, well if Limbo is not in the presence of God, then it’s Hell according to you.” She had a friend whose family left the church when one of their babies died in childbirth before she could be baptized. These days the question might be, “Do aborted babies go to hell?” Personally I think “baptism by desire” covers it for pre-rational infants.

        As to other silliness, my wife was briefly married (in the church of course) before we were married. Never tried to get an annulment, but I think our 41 years of marriage count more in God’s eyes than the 2 years she was married to first husband. Oddly though, we accidentally discovered a loophole. We eventually were “received” into the Episcopal church which allows, but discourages, divorce. Because we are Episcopalians in good standing, and because of ecumenism, we can actually receive the sacraments in a Roman Catholic church despite our not being able to if we had stayed Roman Catholic! As for the current state of the Episcopal Church, well, best not speak ill of the dead.

        I can’t speak for the state of Catholic education these days, but there’s a reason Catholics and Jews are overrepresented in the “rational” professions of law and engineering. Reasoning and understanding is as important as faith in those traditions. In many Protestant denominations, not so much. Dan Brown and Robert Ludlum may write an entertaining thriller, but the premise is preposterous to any rational and knowledgeable believer. Now if only thriller writers would turn their sights on the real conspiracies and heresies of today like the church of climate change, or focus on the true Bond villain (initials GS) behind the current insurrection. That would be infinitely more fun than the Left Behind and DaVinci Code genres.

        1. … That would be infinitely more fun than the Left Behind and DaVinci Code genres.

          More fun, also more likely to get authors Epsteined.

        2. According to Dante, Limbo was the outermost circle of Hell, whose inhabitants’ only punishment is the knowledge they are separated from God. His version is very similar to the Elysian Fields.

        3. Unfortunately, Catholic education is just secular education with more structure and crucifixes on the wall. I suppose the Catholic schools are not actively opposed to God like the public schools are. We sent our kids to Catholic school because we wouldn’t give them to the atheists and, while you cannot choose your children’s friends, you can influence the population from which those friends are drawn. That’s why I was willing to pay significantly more for HS than I would pay for university.

  16. I can’t remember any childhood terrors, but I do remember telling my parents I wanted a suitcase (to run away with). Forgot all about it of course. But then Christmas came and I got a suitcase. Thought they were telling me to leave. (My family would tell you “that’s Bobbie all over – she would want a suitcase to run away with.”)

    I am the world’s worse packer. I either have so much that I need a caravan to carry it all or I never have what I need for any particular occasion on a trip. My sister (who has traveled all over the world) comes to visit with a small handbag I swear and always dresses completely appropriately. So it is not genetic or environmental.

  17. Sorry for the test post, but Word Press has been giving me fits for over a week now.
    Seems I finally fixed the bloody thing, at least for now.
    Family always told me that as a young child, preschool for the main, I was deathly afraid of any woman dressed all in white. I do remember running out of a doctor’s office and hiding when the doc approached me to give me a shot.
    Later in life I connected the dots and put together than as a newborn through about 2 I had several medical issues including major surgery. Sort of expected what with a teenage mother who smoked and drank I suppose. Finally put together that younger me had a very reasonable fear of people who looked like nurses or doctors. You see, still in the early 1950’s the medical profession had some very different attitudes about pain management, particularly as involving small children.
    And still giving me fits, telling me this is a duplicate post.

  18. I spent a fair amount of my childhood in Ireland and things were different there. I can remember the peddlers especially the salt cod peddler *shudder*. They call it brandade and say it’s gourmet, or ethnic anyway, I call it cod and spuds for Friday and avoid it. All that and rhubarb. Blech.

    There was a huge, cast iron, turf burning range in the kitchen and I remember once, quite clearly, opening up a huge boiling pot to see what they were making. They were making brawn — head cheese. — and I remember that the pig’s head looking back at me when I opened the pot had a terrible eye. I screamed , dropped the lid, and ran away. Mrs. Lalor, who cooked for my grandparents, was not happy and used to tell me that she’d put my head in the pot if I did that again. I must have been six.

    She also had the “bum pan” for badly behaved boys, it would “sizzle yer arse.” Ah the joys of a county Limerick boyhood.

    I found out 50 years later that my grandfather’s sister had died when she pulled a pot of boiling water down on her and it must have frightened Mrs. Lalor to death that I would do the same.

    1. Salt cod -Bacalhau in Portugal. I tolerated it okay, until on a visit mom decided that it was my FAVORITE food and made it for every meal for two weeks.
      Now if I threaten the family with it they revolt, and I’m not so keen myself.

  19. I got expelled my first day of Nursery School, but the Anglican Nuns I was sent to for corrective action decided I belonged in first grade. I don’t think I missed much skipping K.

    1. First day of first grade they tried to push me to fourth grade. I’d think it was an attempt at getting rid of me from the village school (which only went that far) but my brother, who was oppressively well behaved got thus sped-up. So, I presume it was the fact I knew everything up to that grade.
      My parents didn’t give permission on account of my being sickly and a girl, and their not wanting me to take the bus to the city at 6 (which was sense.) Fortunately I missed so much of those grades through being sick in bed, I never actually got that bored.

      1. The current fashion of educating kids by time served rather than distance covered is one of the biggest problems of the public school model. With home schooling gaining in acceptance, reputedly doubling from five to ten percent of families, consequent to the lockdown (and with teachers unions showing their red asses) we well might see some crumbling of the Educratic state.

        1. I knew, decades ago – when I had a TDY and home leave, and my daughter wound up being home-schooled for three months – that one kid, having the undivided attention of one adult for two hours a day could learn just as much (if not more) than any one of 40 kids, having the divided attention of one adult for eight hours a day.

  20. In my wife’s family the boogie man was Don Simon. If a child was misbehaving one of the adults would knock and say “Ay viene Don Simon.” (Here comes Don Simon/Don Simon is coming.). One fine rainy December Night,my Daughter Maria Nichole, AKA Nickie, AKA, Nicolasa was throwing a tantrum. My brother in law raised the volume of the TV and started channel surfing and hit a Spanish language channel where a man in white and green fright make up proclaimed, “Yo soi Don Simon, y estoy buscando por Nicolasa!”
    Nickie stopped her tantrum in mid scream and never threw another one, and all it took was one international TV broadcast, and some great timing and luck. (And yes, we were all freaked out a little.)

  21. because if I had been good I got to give the donkey a carrot

    Maybe it is just me, but I wonder about a world where being kind to an animal is something you reward child with after good behavior.

    Yes, I do understand the dynamic and yes I understand that unlimited carrots isn’t necessarily kindness, but…I don’t know…it just struck me. Probably watched too many cat videos the week and a half I wasn’t home and missed my boys.

    1. Meh. Honestly I think it was because I loved all animals. This is not a given in that society. But I think the donkey was pretty well treated, from the way his owner talked to him, and replaced his cute little hat, or put flowers on it for spring, or whatever.
      It’s just, yeah, he ate his grain, not carrots. Carrots were a treat. And giving carrots was a treat for me.
      But it might NOT astonish you that I raised countless birds that had fallen from the nest (50/50 success), looked after abandoned kittens, and generally had an animal I was looking after at any given time, in addition to the pets.

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