What’s wrong with this picture?
Last Sunday, I got up early and walked. I bought some groceries, went to church, barbecued and cut the backyard. Filled the Sentra with $2.94-a-gallon gas. Got a few $20s at the ATM. Fought the Highway 50 traffic to pick up some screening at the big box hardware store. Stopped at the discount store down the street. Watched the Cardinals hand the Tigers a 2-1 loss on TV. Picked a few weeds in the garden between innings. Picked up a pizza.
On Monday — as I do every Monday— I wondered where the weekend went. Who stole my Sunday?
I miss Sundays, quiet Sundays.
I miss Sundays when all the stores were closed. It was the law.
You couldn’t go out to buy a new pair of socks or a bag of sugar even if you wanted to. If we really needed that sugar, Mom would send me, cup in hand, to the neighbors’ house. I was instructed to ask the neighbors to come over later to enjoy some of whatever it was Mom was making with the sugar. Cherry pie. Stewed rhubarb. Oatmeal cookies. More often than not, they came over.
There were no Sunday traffic jams because there was no place you had to be, except home with the family. If Pop started the car at all on Sunday, it was for a slow, leisurely drive through the country on roads just wide enough for one car.
At our house, Pop made sure Sunday was a day of rest. He worked hard all the other days, climbing telephone poles during the day and building or fixing things around the house in the evenings and Saturdays.
But not on Sundays.
Sundays were for “getting up with the chickens” (we didn’t have any chickens, but we always got up with them anyway) and going to church early. 7:30 a.m. Then sitting out in the yard, reading the paper and waving to people walking or driving by.
When Pop came to the comics, he always had a crowd of kids on his lap. Henry, the Katzenjammer Kids and Blondie were a lot funnier when Pop read them out loud.
Pop took the funnies very seriously. Pop’s favorite line, when somebody was leaving, was “See you in the funny papers.” When I went away to school, when we moved to Texas, and years later when I’d leave after visiting him in the hospital, it was always, “See you in the funny papers.” And it was Sunday morning all over again.
There was no working on Sunday. One fall Sunday, my rookie brother-in-law, who didn’t know Pop’s rules yet, grabbed a rake out of the garage to pile up some leaves while we were sitting in the yard. Pop gave him the evil eye and made him put it away.
“Not on Sunday, son. Those leaves will still be there tomorrow,” Pop said. And that was that.
I miss a lot of things that once made Sundays so special. Like backyards with no fences.
I remember when we could walk out in the backyard and see neighbor Clara hanging up wash way down at the end of the block. When we’d play Red Rover, whoever they called for us to send over could get at least a two-backyard head of steam before he went crashing through the line of kids locked arm-in-arm.
When one of us kids hit a home run, it would keep rolling past Mrs. Spencer’s house, clean on over to the Ardeusers’ yard. Whoever went to retrieve it would stop and talk a minute. The neighbors liked home runs as much as we did.
The person who thought of privacy fences didn’t get it. Pop said if people need that much privacy, they probably shouldn’t be doing whatever they’re doing in there anyway.
I miss houses with big front porches. All the neighbors would sit out at night and holler back and forth. Or wind up on somebody else’s front porch.
I miss Mrs. Spencer rocking back and forth in her three-person (sometimes four or five, if the visitors were small enough) glider for hours. If you wanted to join her, you had to pick up her rhythm. Getting in and out of the moving target was a little tricky.
I even miss having to cram in that Sunday night homework that I had put off since Friday. And how good it felt when homework or a test was over. I miss those teachers I thought were slave drivers at the time but now I thank my lucky stars I had them. By the way, Mrs. Rudd, you were right about diagramming those sentences. It does come in handy now and then when I need a good predicate adjective.
I miss having babies to rock and sing to on a lazy Sunday evening. I miss westerns on TV. I miss Red Skelton and Ed Sullivan. I miss Kukla and Fran but not so much Ollie. I miss Mom’s soup, which she always made for Sunday lunch.
I know none of those things is coming back — not even in a month of Sundays. So, I guess I'll just end this now and leave.
See you in the funny papers.