The Lakin Depot – Maylene Williams
Everything I ever knew about art, I learned from Santa Fe calendars. The intensity of color, the drama of light and shade, the depth of texture, the play of movement, the working of shape and form.
So every year, somewhere around January 1st, Dad came whistling into the kitchen. He carried a brown- paper, wrapped tube. And it was probably lunch time or supper. He unwrapped, unrolled, and hung the new Santa Fe calendar on our kitchen wall. It was always a magnificent event. All year we admired it. Every January we were eager to see what was next.
That wasn’t the only adventure in our lives. We rode trains. Linda and I got on the train by ourselves with our little cardboard suitcases and rode the Doodlebug to Grandma and Grandad’s house 30 miles West. We were little, maybe eight and five. We did that for several years. Mary was a baby and had to stay home.
Once our whole family saw both the Engine of the train and the caboose of the train from our coach window as it went winding around the Rocky Mountains on our way out farther West.
Trains and calendars weren’t our only adventures. There was music too.
It started with Dad’s whistling. He stood at the back door whistling to the mocking bird in the huge elm tree out back. He’d whistle a series of notes. The mocking bird would whistle the same notes in return. Dad whistled everywhere he went. In tune. From Wagner to Gershwin.
And the walls of our house shook when he played his records. E. Power Biggs , The Art of The Organ, Erroll Garner Concert By The Sea, Poulenc, Prokofiev, Lena Horne.
He sang a rich baritone in the church choir. My sisters and I sang with him in that same choir in our turn. When we started giggling or snorting at something that struck us as hilarious right there in church, sitting in our alto section, he would stare at us from the bass section with a look that meant sudden death.
Dad could dance. The Charleston, The Fox Trot. Sometimes I would stand on his shoes and he’d dance me around the room. With my head reaching as far as his belt we cut the rug. He smelled like tobacco and cloves. There was always an adventure going.
Dad laughed long and hard and made us laugh too. And he could spin a yarn like nobody’s business. My sisters could do that too. We were story rich.
Thunder storms were a sensation. Out there where we lived, we could see three or four thunder storms on that vast horizon happening all at once. And when a thunder storm came to us, Dad and I sat on the back steps and watched the lightning gash through the black clouds and felt the thunder shaking our bones while the rain cut though the elm tree and our fence and our faces. And then there was such peace as the storm faded away. Right there. On our back steps.
Dad was a colorful character. He had a zest for life as my sister, Linda says. My sister Mary and I get tears in our eyes when something strikes us as a memory of him. We both get a lump in our throat and we can’t talk. Sometimes words just won’t do.
Remembering Dad, after all, is an adventure.