30 June 2008

One or Two Porch Time Stories

I was down at Amy's last Friday evening, enjoying some porch time.

She remembered something she wanted to tell me, but didn't remember it exactly, just mostly. It was a question on Jeopardy!, she said. It had to do with presidents and their mothers, specifically their mothers voting for them.

Well, after discussing this for a bit she realized that no, it wasn't Jeopardy!, it was Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, since there were 4 choices. Something about a president's mother voting for him. Which one was it?

The answer, as it turned out, was Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Putting the pieces together then and since, I've figured out that the question was which president was the first president whose mother was eligible to vote for him. And thinking more, I realized, of course, that the basis of the question is women's suffrage. It is difficult to realize that women did not have the right to vote until the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920.

1920, sheesh!! Sometimes the shameful history of this country just jaw drops me.

When it got too dark out on the porch and time for me to go home anyway, since I worked early the next morning, Amy remembered that she had something for me.

We went inside. Amy went off looking for the item in question. I brought in my water glass and gathered up my stuff, ready to leave.

Then, in a little ceremony in the kitchen, Amy presented me with a battered black book. She said, in fact, that when she saw it on the shelf, she thought it was an old Bible.

It was a holy book of sorts.

It was my father's old crossword puzzle dictionary!

Many an evening in his later years I would see him at the kitchen table working the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle, and consulting his precious dictionary and some other books.

And here was this book, now battered, falling apart at the spine and taped up multiple times, pages soft with thumbing and somewhat dirty, and with my dad's additons written in where he considered them lacking.

This was such a special thing for Amy to give me. She knows that I love to do a crossword puzzle or three with Larry after work. And while we might call it "cheating," we will definitely consult sources when the frustration level gets too high.

But much more than that was just the fact of the thing. This book that still held and projected a feeling of my father, that he used every day, that his dirt and his markings decorated and perfumed.

I let the book open in my hands, riffling through it a bit. It opened to page 91.

Page 91 showed the beginning of the alphabetical 'F' lisitings.

There, in column two, my eyes fell on the first entry under 'F'

"F.D.R.'s mother.....................SARA"

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