Henrietta, Texas, 1955: Yesterday I received a comment on the “Sleuthhound Club” post from Mary Lefevre, who would have been the youngest member of the club, but she was only a toddler at that time. We sleuthhounders attempted to play a trick on her and on John Burkman, regarding a rocket-ship, which we’d read about in a Little Lulu comic book.
The deal was that Lulu and Annie came along and found the Boyz Club boys — I think that it was after the Boyz Club in Little Lulu comics that several rap groups are named — and the boys were constructing a rocket ship to fly to the moon.
Later, when the girls had gone, the boys hid the wooden rocket ship, and sprinkled some ashes on the ground to simulate the flames of departure.
Annie and Little Lulu were quite surprised upon their return to see these ashes, and concluded that the boys had indeed flown to the moon.
As Annie and Little Lulu walked around their neighborhood, the boys, in hiding, lofted bottles containing messages. These bottles, apparently falling from the sky, told some lurid tale of moon-monsters.
We of the Sleuthhound club thought this plot ready-made to trick Mary and John. After all, they were very young.
We were actually too lazy to build an entire rocket ship, so we arranged some chairs and boxes, and then had Donny bring the two of them to show them the rocket ship. After they’d been led away, we deconstructed the so-called rocket ship, and sprinkled flour on the ground, not having any ashes. Then we hid and awaited the return of Mary and John.
While we’re awaiting the return of the children, Mary — in her email today, now grown, now married with another name, and teaching in our home town for many years — reminded me that as a child I’d invented the “shirtless shirt”. The shirtless shirt consisted of a collar and cuffs, with nothing in between. Perhaps this was summer garb; perhaps something kinky in the making. I cannot remember. But it does make me pause, thinking about the things that mothers must endure, raising the young.
Mary’s mother, Elwyn, was from the Bragg family; that entire family was saturated with a marvelous sense of humor. Elwyn, now 88, still lives in our hometown, and leads an active life. A marvelous woman, she never seemed to be thrown off by anything. Elwyn’s brother, John Bragg, the town pharmacist, claimed to play a three-stringed banjo. The three strings were: bass, treble, and reverse.
Where were we?
Oh, yes, waiting for toddler Mary and young John to return.
We waited for a long time.
Eventually they came along. John and Mary looked at the flour on the ground, looked around for the rocket ship.
“Hmmm,” said John. “Looks like some flour on the ground.”
We heaved our first message-containing bottle over the hedge. It thumped at their feet.
“They’re over behind that hedge,” said John.
After that, the trick kind of fizzled out.