Here follow transcripts of narratives told or written by Larry B. Scheiber and referred to in the preceding study.
LBS-1:“The Red Velvet Suit.” This story was recorded on a Saturday afternoon (February 2, 1974) at the Hotel LaFontaine Lounge. Present were Larry, my sister, Carol, my husband, Mark, and I, and Bob Gnass, who was working as bartender. The setting of the original incident is New Year’s Eve, 1973, in the bar in which the story is being told. Reference is made to Larry’s friends John Fisher and Bob Gnass and “the town heavy,” Doug Hall, who later became one of Larry’s good friends.
Larry:New Year’s Eve night—see? I’ve got this maroon velvet suit—[Larry whistles].
Larry:Did you ever see it?
Carol:No, wear it to work sometime.
Larry:Bob, tell them about my maroon velvet suit. With the pink shirt... [pause] [Groans] and the maroon collar and tie. Oh, man, I look super sexy in that dude. I’m not kiddin’ you, I just looked like the Christmas fairy or something.
Carol:Oh, yes, did you carry a purse?
Larry:Irresistible with my ...
Carol:Oh, I forgot about your secret weapon. [Reference to a special cologne he carries in a corked test tube]
Larry:. . . secret weapon splashed all over me. And Certs. And I just smelled so good and looked so good, the women just grabbin’ me, man, and I’m just lovin’ it, see?
Mark:Sure that’s not Brut?
Larry:No, no—At any rate, I come down here in my red velvet suit. I walk up the four marble steps in the lobby. And here comes some dude screamin’ at the top of his lungs—AHHHHH! AHHHH!—[growling noises]—tryin’ to juke everybody out. I thought, “Oh, gee, it’s going to be a bad night.” And the night hasn’t even started. He tried to hit some old woman! I thought, “God damn, the guy’s crazy!”
Carol:The dirty old man.
Larry:So the big hero runs up and I grab the guy, see?—hold his arms. And [more snarling, growling noises]. And he takes his false teeth out—opens his mouth by the nose and he’s spittin’ all over. There’s about six guys hustle us over to the elevator and throw us in there and push the button to the third floor. [Laughter] And here I am minding my own business, and I’m locked in the elevator with this goddamned mongoloid. And he’s rickashayin’ me around there like a ping-pong ball, man. He’s got blood all over just from hittin’ the walls. Gosh, I kept duckin’ and knockin’—I don’t want to hurt him ‘cause he—he musta been forty-five years old. But he’s stocky—built like a goddamn bull.
Anyway, we got to the third floor and the door slides open. And here’s the same six guys, ya know. They’re too chicken-shit to ride up with him. [Laughter] They grab the guy, and they got a chair there. And they set him in the chair and hold him down. I help ’em and we carry the chair and all to the room—302. [In breathless voice] We get inside and set the chair down. And I kinda hold him down. Said, “Now, easy, fella, easy. Lie right down there, steady—whew! [Laughter] The other guys run out, lock the door—click! Said, “We’ll be back with a doctor.” I said, “Hey, let me out of this room.”
Then I heard him comin’, and I ducked and his head went ploosh!—knocks all the paint off the door. And I thought, “The only way I’m gonna subdue this dude is just do him in.” So I goes around and [motion of encircling the man and lifting] ugh—buddy!—grabbed him by the goddamn throat and powered him over to the bed. He falls on the bed and I’m layin’ on top of him, see? And I’m chokin’ the shit out of him. I said, “God damn it, I’ll kill ya if ya keep messin’ with me. Now you’re screwin’ up my red velvet suit!” [Laughter]
And he keeps [snarling noises]. And his false teeth fall out. Oh, you know how his teeth fell out? Listen, I ain’t shittin’ ya. [Laughter throughout] He got my beautiful tie in his teeth and he’s pullin’ like—ugh. I’m gettin’ all red in the face and so is he. I figure ‘bout then I’ll choke him ’fore he chokes me. Finally I can’t take it any longer ’cause I’m chokin’, and I give a big jerk and his teeth fly out. And I thought, “Oh, my God, this ain’t real! Hell, I’m just tryin’ to be nice.”
Anyway, I’m holding the dude down, see? And his teeth are flopped out and my goddamn tie’s all bit to hell and my suit’s got blood all over. [Laughter] [In a whisper] All of a sudden I hear—click, click—and the door opens and in comes a dude with a doctor bag, see? [Whispering] And he says, “Shhh”—gets this bottle [makes motion of filling a hypodermic needle from the bottle]—and he runs over and goes—plosh—in my ass! [Laughter] They told him there’s a crazy guy in there, ya see? I said, “No, ya goddamn dumb-ass—this one!” He says, “Oh, excuse me, excuse me.” He gets in his bottle again, goes [motion of filling needle]—shoots the guy in the arm, see? And he says, “You hold him till he quiets down.” And he leaves. People keep leavin’. [“Yeah”—response to Bob’s gesture as to whether he wants another drink.]
And all of a sudden he gets this big smile on his face, see. First time I’ve seen him smile all night, and his old gums are hangin’ out. And he says, “God bless you, son!” I said, “No shit!” And he says, “What’s your name?” And I said, “I’d rather remain anonymous if you don’t mind.” [Laughter] And he says, “I’m going to be all right. God bless you,” and all this shit. I says, “Yeah, right. See ya later.”
I take off down the stairs, and I come back down to the bar. I still ain’t had a goddamn drink! And John says, “You goin’ to that party?” And I says, “Oh yeah, I almost forgot.” Supposed to go to a party. So John and I go up to this party. We get in there and—John’s so cool, he showed everyone this big knife he’s got strapped on him there. And everyone—hmm—they’re about half scared of him. They don’t know what to think of me. We’d been there about five minutes and here comes some little punk in, goin’, “F-this, F-that,” calling people M-fers.
Carol:Anybody you know?
Larry:And it turned out he’s a Scheiber. [Laughter] But anyway, I asked him three times, I said, “Hey, man, people have got their wives here and stuff. Now cool it or I’m gonna break your jaw!” “Who in the hell do you think you are?!” So I went [socking motion with fist accompanied by sound of impact]. He sat on a great big high stool like a high chair. And [motion of tall object falling over]—like timber!”
And the lady that owns the place comes out and says, “You son-of-a-bitch troublemaker!” And I says, “Me?! ! Didn’t you hear what he was sayin’?” “Yeah, I didn’t mind.” I says, “Well, then you’re a damned hog!” She said, “Out, out, out—!!” [Laughter]
So they threw us out of the goddamn party and I said, “John, this is getting to be a terrible evening.” He said, “We’ll just go down to the bar.” I still ain’t had a drink. So we come back down here to the hotel. I’m sittin’ there on the end and I order a drink. I just get it to my lips and in walks the town heavy—Doug Hall! The place is packed. [In rough, growling voice] “Who’s Larry Scheiber?!” I says, “I am.” He says, “Outside!” He comes over snarling through his kung-fu mustache. [Laughter] Soon as—soon as he got to my stool, I knew he was going to do something nasty to my bod, so I says, “Bop!” and judo-chopped him in the face, see? And he sorta bopped over against the wall, and I jumped off the chair and grabbed him around the neck. And . . . about sixteen guys got him. They shoved him out the door and shoved me back to the bar. I thought, “Oh, God,” ya know. Guy outweighs me ten to one. Ten years younger to boot.
But anyway, I go to drink my drink and he walks in this door [indicates door from lobby]. He sits down there and he’s starin’ at me like this [jaw extended, snarling mouth and ferocious stare]—and diggin’ [makes motion of digging fingers into table] his knuckles into the table. Thought, “Man, there’s gonna be trouble. Might as well go get it over with.” So I come over there and I set down. And I says, “All right, I know how ya feel. Ya got shoved and pushed but ya asked for it ‘cause you’re stupid .” Says, “You don’t walk up to me and tell me, ‘Outside,’ and all that shit.” I said, “You’re just dumb.” I said, “If ya think I’m scared of ya, you’re wrong.” I said, “I just don’t want to mess up my red velvet suit.” [Laughter] I said, “I tell ya what, go get in my car and we’ll drive out to my little Campfire Comer trailer. And I’ll get out of my red velvet suit—and I’ll fight ya—to the finish if you wish.” He says [in a tight repressed voice], “You know something—I’m gonna kill ya, gonna kill ya!” I says, “OK.”
So we quietly walked around there—out of the lobby. We get in the car. We no more’n slam the door when rrrr [makes noises of police siren]—flashing red lights.
Larry:Ding-dong here [indicating Bob, the bartender] calls four squad cars.
Carol:Ha, this is a friend?
Larry:More cops than we had for the San Francisco earthquake, ya know? They come over and rip the doors open and said, “Out!” And they frisk us all down and ask us what were our intentions. And we said we were going out and kill each other. And he said, “Wrong-o.” But they made us go home. They said if one blow was swung in Huntington County, we’d both spend forever in jail—maybe longer.
Carol:Aw, you had no fun New Year’s Eve.
Larry:No shit! I didn’t even get a drink! [Laughter]
LBS-2:“Koo-Nar, King of the Rats”—Version #1.
Carol:I must hear about Queue-Nar the Frog.
Larry:Koo-Nar, not Queue-Nar.
Carol:OK, who named him Koo-Nar? In the first place?
Larry:Well, we named him after the king of the rats who used to live—
Sandy:King of what rats?!
Larry:You never heard about Koo-Nar—the king of the rats?!
Carol:Nooo, you never told me about Koo-Nar [laughs], the king of the rats.
Larry:OK—when I first got out of the service, I was poverty-stricken. I went through my—my, what-do-you-call-it, separation money like flies on shit, you know? Buying drinks for the whole crew. I’d go into bars and just say, “Give everybody a drink,” and throw in a wad of money and go into the next bar and say, “Buy a round for the house,” and lay it out. I was really cool!
Carol:You were so glad to be home—
Larry:No, I wanted to make friends—’cause—I’d been out of circulation for so long.
Well, anyway, to compensate for this [pause] obvious lack of thrift, I moved in a guy’s—it was supposedly a garage, but it sorta leaned at a forty-five-degree angle and had about an inch slits in the boards—between the sides. And I hung a parachute up for a ceiling, you know, and I parked my MG under there. And I had a bed—three innersprings and three mattresses! And—and that’s all I had in there for furniture—and then an ironing board, and then I had a vise on the ironing board—and that was my kitchen. Really, I lived in this shack, and I’d wake up with snow drifts on my bed.
Carol:Think how it toughened you, Larry! You’re a better person for it!
Larry:Did you ever take a bath in Lake Clare in February?! [High-pitched] Oh, hoho—God! It makes my goodies blue just to think about it. Oh, Lord! So anyhow, where in the hell was I anyhow—?
Carol:King of the rats!
Larry:OK, OK, Koo-Nar, king of the rats—. [Everyone:Right!] OK, when I first moved in there I didn’t have money zero. And—and all I had was three pieces of celery that a guy gave me from work.
Carol:Oh, you poor baby!
Larry:—So I made soup out of it in a tin can. [Laughter] I really and truly did, honest to God, that’s all I had for all week. And as things got better I bought a loaf of bread and— but listen, let me tell you, before I moved out of there I had money stashed in nail cans, and . . .
Carol:You were a miser!
Larry:Yeah, you could say that! Really! Anyway, this rat lived in there with me, you see? Not by invitation! And, every night I’d hear him in the garbage bag, and I’d flash a light over there, and he’d run like hell. And he was a big dude! Well, he got so when I’d flash the light over there, he’d just go [puts thumbs in ears and wiggles fingers while making noise and sticking out tongue], blll-bll-bl. [Laughter] I’m not kidding you, this was a BIG RAT!—looked like a raccoon! [Laughter] And as long as I fed the dude we were on peaceful terms.
Carol:One night you forgot—
Larry:One night I forgot to feed him, and I heard him under the bed. You could hear him running around in the bed springs. Anyway, Koo-Nar got in bed. And I had this terrible nightmare, and I dreamed Koo-Nar was, was chewing on my leg. And you know how you move in slow motion in your dreams? And I dreamed I grabbed him and choked him and choked him, and the harder I choked him the harder he’d bite, you know, and he wouldn’t let go. And finally—he just succumbed—as rats do when one shuts off their air. And I dreamed I just threw him [makes motion with arm] just as hard as I could, but it was all slow motion in the dream. (’Course, when you got seventeen blankets and a snow drift on top of you, it slows you down, too.) But I never really woke up!
And I didn’t find out that dude was real till spring! I was gonna move into Momsy’s, see? Mom all this time had just been having a heart attack.
Larry:Yeah, poor Mom, one day she said, “Scheib, for God’s sake, you’ve proved you can live through the winter and all that crap in a shack. Now come home!” I says, “OK, just for laughs.” So I’m packing up all my stuff out of the old shack, see? And I pull all my blankets off the bed, which hadn’t been changed all winter [groans and laughter]. And when I got down to the bottom sheet—[lowers voice] there’s all this rat shit. And I thought, “Oh, my God!”
Carol:Koo-Nar’d been living in your bed.
Larry:All that time I’d been wondering what happened to Koo-Nar. Then I remembered that dream I had that night and I thought, “By God, I got him!” And I saw in a flash:he shit his drawers when I choked him to death. [Laughter] And I got to looking around, and I pulled these mattresses. And between these mattresses and the parachute—which served as a wall between my MG and my bed—there lay KOO-NAR preserved by the cold!
Carol:Poor baby, with your throttle marks on his very throat.
Larry:Well, he was scrawny—and decimated—and he looked as though—he’d dried there. But there that son-of-a-bitch was. And I thought, you know, “One plus one equals two.” And I looked down at my leg and there was scar, a big hole. I’d never bothered to look at my leg before. Guys don’t look at their legs, you know. But that little son-of-a-bitch had gnawed me! And I got him, even in my sleep, which proves what a great hunter I really am!
Carol:Right! However, it doesn’t prove where the name Koo-Nar came from.
Larry:OK, all the time I lived with Koo-Nar before [pause] his demise, for some reason I just knew his name was Koo-Nar. Because he was the king of the rats, the biggest of all, and it just seemed fitting that I name him Koo-Nar.
LBS-2:“Koo-Nar, King of the Rats”—Version #2.
Larry:Well, when I first got out of the service, I really didn’t have anywhere to live, you know. And I didn’t want to move into Mom’s ’cause that seemed like such a sissy-assed thing to do. So my buddy Brown, he was livin’ with his mom—he had no shame— [Laughter] he said, “You can live in our garage!” Well, I actually asked him. (You guys got me tellin’ the truth.) I actually asked him if I could live in his garage. And he said, “You’re out of your mind!” ya know. And I said, “Well, can I live in there?” And he said, “Hell, yes!—if you can hack it.”
But this is not a modern garage. This is an old shabby-assed, fallen-down thing that had a pile of bricks down at one end holdin’ it up. And it had half-inch cracks you could see between the boards. I mean it was really sad—leaned at a forty-five-degree angle.
And so I moved in there. And the first thing I did I took all those bricks out from under the garage, which made it lose another ten degrees, but I thought, “Hell, I’ll lift it.” And I made me a brick floor. And I got two bed springs and put ‘em in there and two innerspring mattresses, put those on top of the bed springs. And it was “broing, broing” [makes up-and-down motion with hand]—better than a waterbed!
But, anyway, I lived in this garage. And for the first two weeks, you know, I didn’t have a paycheck or anything. See, I was workin at Wabash Magnetics, and when you work there, you don’t get paid at the end of your first week. You don’t get paid until the second week. And I did not have shit—I mean literally nil, and I wouldn’t accept anything from anybody ’cause I was too damn proud. And good old Louis Shoenauer was eating his lunch one day and he says, “Larry, you want any of this?” He had celery sticks and carrot sticks there. And I said, “No, I’m not hungry.” He said, “Come on down and eat ’em, I’m awful full.” So I said, “Well, maybe I’ll eat them later.” So he said, “OK,” and he handed them to me, and I put ’em in my pocket.
And I got home that night, and I got a big old coffee can that was in there and I dumped the nails out—it was full of rust. And I filled it with water, and I got it boiling; Brown gave me a little hot plate. And I got this water boiling, and I gingerly and carefully [pause] chopped this celery and carrots into this coffee can and boiled it for two hours. And Brown brought me out some salt, and I put that in there. This had to last me two weeks, ya know. [Laughter]
So I got to cookin’ this celery and carrot soup, and it really smelled good. And I thought, “Boy, this is the life!” [Laughter] I had this big parachute; I’d stretched it across the ceiling hoping it would hold in the heat, my body heat, ya know. And I had another parachute halfway through the garage, and I had my MG pulled in it, on the other side of the parachute. ’Cause I was still livin this old paratrooper role, ya know. Had the strings a-hangin’ down, and I’d built a little fireplace and had a big fire cracklin’ there. I was really cool. And I had gourds all hollowed out with candles in them.
But anyway, I was hurtin’ for chow. Well, this goddamn rat, I don’t know if he’d lived there forever or if he just moved in when he smelled the soup or what. [Laughter] The very first weekend I was in there I heard all this rustling around, and I turned on my flashlight and here stood this goddamn rat looked like a cat. And I thought, “Oh, my God, he’s gonna eat me!” So I went over there and I took a couple of carrots to him—and a few pieces of celery and put them on the ironing board. (I had an ironing board for a kitchen table; it was the only thing in the garage.) And I put them down and I thought, “The rat’ll eat that and he won’t get me.” Next mornin’ I woke up and sure as hell, the old sacrifice was gone, ya know, and the rat hadn’t bothered me. Tryin’ to make that soup last for two weeks was just a bitch! I got hungry, you know. But still every night I’d have to leave little tidbits on the ironing board for Koo-Nar.
At the end of two weeks I had run out of food—and there was nothing for Koo-Nar. And I heard that son-of-a-bitch runnin’ around down there in my bed springs, and he was going berserk ’cause he was hungry! Course I was hungry too. But I thought, “Goddamn, that son-of-a-bitch’s gonna get me if I don’t give him something.” Then I thought, “Oh, the hell with it,” he wasn’t any hungrier than I was. So I went to sleep. Had this weird dream. I dreamed that Koo-Nar was in my bed and chewing on my leg ’cause he was hungry. And I dreamed that it hurt so bad right on the calf of my leg where he was chewing that I reached down and tried to strangle him. And the tighter I’d squeeze, the tighter he’d bite, ya know? And I thought, my God, I could never last and I would just pass out, but I thought I was not dreamin’. But anyhoo, I dreamed that he finally died and relaxed his grip. And the curious part of it is, when you dream, everything’s in slow motion. And I dreamed that it just took a gargantuan effort to throw him out of the bed. But I finally got rid of the noxious bastard. [Laughter]
So, I lived out there in that garage all winter long just to prove I could do it. You know, takin’ baths in Lake Clare. Goddamn, I’d take out a shovel and break the ice and jump in there, and [high pitch] yaai-ii-ah-ah. Turned blue. But anyway, I made it all through the winter just to prove I could do it. Then I’d wake up in the morning, and there’d be snow drifts on my bed. And you don’t really want to get up and go to work. You’d rather just stay there if you know you have five inches of snow to go through just to get up. But I made it that winter.
So when spring came—I went down to Mom’s one day, and she said, “Scheib, for God’s sake, you’ve proved your point, you’re a big outdoorsman,” and all this shit. She said, “We’ve got a room upstairs that’s completely empty. We’ve got no kids livin’ here; why don’t you just come home and live with us a while till you find a place?” I said, “Oh well, shit, OK, since it’s spring.” So I started packin’ up all my shit—dumping out all the nail cans, gettin’ my money out from under the nails. I was single; I didn’t have anything to spend money on. Hell, I’d a like to save four hundred dollars in nail cans. [Laughter]
Bob Gnass [from the bar]:Larry [they talk about an unrelated subject for several seconds].
Larry:Well, anyway, I’m packin’ up all this shit to go home, see? And I get down to where there’s nothing left in the room but the bed. And I pull all my big warm winter quilts off, [pause] and I get down to where it’s nothing but sheets. And I take off my top sheet, and down at the foot of the bed is—rat shit! [Laughter] In my bed, man! And I says, “Now wait a goddamn minute. This is too weird cause I know there’s no rats in here.” After the Koo-Nar episode and I had that bad dream, I bought rat poison and stuff cause I’d been paid. And no one ever ate it, so I knew there were no rats.
Well, anyway, here’s all these rat turds in the bottom of my bed, and I thought, “Goddamn, that’s really strange—except—maybe Koo-Nar really did get in bed with me that night, and maybe I really did choke him.” And I thought, “Well, now where would he be?” So I flop down on the mattress and I reconstruct the whole dream, see? And I think, “Ooh, Koo-Nar’s hurting my leg,” so I reach down and I grab him, and I throw him out of the bed—in slow motion. And I think, “Aha! He would be over by the parachute which separated me from my MG!” And by God, I pulled the old mattress back, and I looked down there, and there’s Koo-Nar! Ta-da! Stiffer’n a goddamn board! [Laughter]
Mark:Still frozen, huh?
Larry:Yeah, froze, man! This was like in April, but it was still colder’n a bitch out. And there he was, froze solid, and not a mark on him. I checked that dude over and over and over, and not a mark on him.
John Fisher:You killed him in your sleep.
Larry:I did, I kilt the dirty bastard!
John:Without your wakin’... ?
John:Yeah, it’s probably possible.
Larry:Possible, hell! Listen, this is months after this had happened. And I thought, “If that’s true, then I got a hole in my leg.” And I’d never checked before, I hadn’t even looked, and I had a GREAT BIG SCAR right here [points to a spot on the back of his leg]. [Laughter] And that son-of-a-bitch really was chewin’ on me!
John:And you were so drunk you did it in your sleep, huh?
Larry:I was so sleepy.... [Laughter]
Here follow transcripts of narratives told by my mother, Loretta K. Dolby, and referred to in the preceding chapters.
LKD-1:“The Barber Shop.” This story was recorded on October 13, 1974. The setting for the story was the little shop in downtown Huntington where my father worked as a barber. The date of the incident was 1942. John Thomas was a Huntington resident and a regular at the barbershop. Mom:Oh, I think Carol was just a baby. I may have been pregnant for Dick, I don’t know—it was in about that time anyhow. I’d wheeled Carol downtown in the baby buggy. That’s when Dad had the barber shop with the little room in the back there. So, I don’t know, I had either changed Carol or something, I don’t know just what the deal was, but anyhow I went back in that little back room.
And in the meantime John Thomas came in, and John was quite a storyteller, and it was always kinda rank. But anyway, Dad knew I was back in there, but he didn’t know how to get John shut off. John started telling some of his dirty stories. And they laughed and they’d “har-har” and carry on. And finally it just got to be time I just had to leave. And here he wasn’t through with John. John was still in there telling more stories. So finally, I put Carol in the baby buggy and waltzed out through there, and John just about died! He shrank down underneath his barber apron. It was really something.
LKD-2:“The Canary, or, The Yellow Dress”—Version #1.
Mom:When I was at Manchester that last summer, Mary Lyons and I roomed together. And we would live a whole week on about three dollars and something worth of groceries between us. And we would live—or we slept in one house, and then we’d arranged with a lady a couple of houses down to cook on a little old beaten-up oil stove in her basement. And we would have—we’d buy a quart of milk for about a dime, and we’d buy a box of cereal, and we could get four bananas for a dime, and that did us for two breakfasts on just a little.
And we could buy a pound of hamburger for twenty-five cents, or no, a pound of hamburger for ten cents, three pounds for a quarter. And we would—out of a pound of hamburger—we’d make our lunch and our supper. And her mother would give us leaf lettuce out of her garden and green onions out of her garden. And she’d pick raspberries along her fence row and bring ’em to us. Sometimes we’d have a peach or two—and I don’t know what else. We hardly ever had anything else to eat that whole summer.
That was the same summer that on the Fourth of July I was wearing a wool skirt and a pink satin blouse because that was about the only clothes I had. And my dad had sent me a five-dollar bill in his letter. And so I hurried downtown and—what’s the name of that store over there at Manchester now?— advertises so much—German name?—Oppenheim’s. Well, they were having a sale, and in the window was a bright—yellow—dress for three dollars or two-ninety-nine or something like that. So I went in and bought it. Boy, was it yellow! And then I had two dollars left, so I bought a pair of shoes.
And so I went home, back to the room, and Mary said, “Oh, where did you get such a pretty yellow dress?!” And I said, “Yes, I look like a damn canary!” I hated the thing, but it’s the only one I could get for that price, so that’s what I got.
That was the same summer—that was the broke summer—but anyway, Mary and I were getting awfully bored and we wanted to go to the show. But between us we had a quarter, and neither one of us wanted to go by herself, so we stayed home. And that night my name had been drawn for a hundred dollars—Bank Night. And I wasn’t there to claim it, so I didn’t get it.—Sad!
That was the same summer we stayed up all night swatting mosquitoes because our screen had holes in it—let the mosquitoes in. We couldn’t go to sleep.
LKD-2:“The Canary, or, The Yellow Dress”—Version #2.
Mom:Anyhow, that summer when we stayed there, we stayed in one house—and we had a room there, and then about two or three houses down we had a place in the basement. We’d do our cooking there on a little old kerosene stove. [Laughs] And that was really kinda funny when you stop to think about it. But we’d keep an account of how much we’d spent on groceries.
And then we’d get cereal, and that was our breakfast all week. And you could get—I don’t know, we’d buy a quart of milk [pause] and that would last us all week. And I don’t know, either she would bring some sugar from home or somehow, I don’t know how we did with that. But we’d buy a pound of hamburger for ten cents, and then that would—divide that up into four pieces, you know, and you’d have ...
Mom:Yeah, quarter-pounders. And that would last us for two meals. And we’d get a package of buns. And we’d get, oh, about four bananas. I don’t know, we didn’t have a great deal to eat. [Laughs] If I remember right, we were pretty hungry.
But then her mother would go picking raspberries along the fence and send us over some raspberries. And we’d get some lettuce out of her garden. I guess I must have lived off of Mary—[Noise of dishes being put away drowns out part of sentence—she repeats.] I must’ve sponged off of Mary quite a little bit. And green onions—we ate a lot of green onions. But actually I can’t remember—we didn’t have peanut butter. We must have bought some oleo. I can’t remember anything else we’d eat, really. Sometimes we didn’t eat very much. I think that’s when I got real sick of corn flakes. [Laughs]
Anyhow, that was the summer that Mary and I stayed awake nearly all night swatting mosquitoes. We’d start to go to sleep and we’d hear this bzzzzzz. [Laughs] We slept under the covers most of the night.
That was also the time that she and I were so hard up and my dad had sent a five-dollar bill in one of his letters. And of course I wasn’t to tell anybody that I had gotten it. But I—it was the middle of July, and I was still wearing my wool skirt—and pink blouse I had. I think that’s all I had about. So I went down to—what’s the name of that place there in Manchester?
Mom:Oppenheim’s. Anyhow, I had about two-ninety-eight—. They had a yellow dress; oh, it was as yellow as a dandelion. Real yellow, but it wasn’t wool, so I bought it. And then they had shoes on sale for—oh, it took another two dollars. So there went my five dollars.
So I came home and put on my yellow dress. And Mary says, “Oh, where’d you get that pretty yellow dress?!” And I says, “Yeah,” I said, “I look like a damn canary!” [Laughs] She’ll tell you that if she sees you, yet—that struck her so funny. She thought it was really pretty. I didn’t really like it, but it was the only one I could get for three dollars. But it was yellow! Yechh.
That same summer Mary and I were both so poor that we couldn’t do anything extra—couldn’t even buy a Coke, scarcely. And—uh—one night we were just so bored we wanted to go to the show, but we didn’t have enough money for the two of us to go. There was just enough for one of us to go, so we neither one went. We only had a quarter between us. You could go to the show for a quarter. And we stayed home that night. And the next morning everybody was telling me, “You should have been to the show last night. You would have won a hundred dollars. Your name was drawn for Bank Night.”
Sandy:Huh, they wouldn’t let you claim it if you weren’t there, huh?
Mom:Huh? No! Huh-uh, I didn’t even know I was enrolled.
Sandy:Well, how were you enrolled if you didn’t know it?
Mom:Well, I had a date one time, and he went and put my name in and I didn’t know it.
Sandy:Huh! How could they afford to be giving away a hundred dollars?
Mom:Oh, that was the big deal!
Sandy:What summer was that?
Mom:The summer of thirty-eight.
Dad [In background]:His name was Puffy.
Mom:No, his name wasn’t. His name was Glenn, Glenn Beery.
LKD-2:“The Canary, or, The Yellow Dress”—Version #3.
Mom:But that was the summer that Mary and I both—I bet we had three dresses between us maybe. I had a pink satin blouse that was very beautiful and this wool skirt with about five different colors of braid around the bottom of it—a really pretty skirt, but for July it was kinda hot! I mean that was wool! Yechh!
And uh, Dad had sent me a five-dollar bill. And anyhow, he’d inserted a little note to not say anything about it, so evidently he wasn’t supposed to be sending me money. I don’t know how that happened, but I took the five-dollar bill and we went downtown—to Oppenheim’s. In the window was this dress for two-ninety-eight or something like that—and yellow—as a pumpkin or canary or something. Boy, it was—it was nothing but yellow, didn’t have a white collar on it or anything, just yellow! But I bought it, and they had a pair of sandal-type shoes for a dollar-ninety-eight, so I bought those, and there went my five dollars. Good thing they didn’t have tax or I’d a never gotten it.
So I came home and put on my yellow dress. And Mary came in and “Oh, where’d you get that pretty yellow dress?!” “Yeah, I look like a damn canary!” [Laughs] You’d see Mary tomorrow, I’ll bet you she’d tell you that story—’bout my yellow dress.
Oh, I remember the night—it was that same year—that Mary and I fought the mosquitoes all night. Auch! I don’t believe either one of us slept all night. We’d sleep, and then bzzzzzzzz. We’d cover up our heads until we couldn ‘t breathe, and then we’d come out and there that mosquito was a-buzzin’ around. But, then we got the giggles, of course, but the screens were so full of holes that I’m not surprised.