April stories

Susan Manzke
Now Media Group

Along with April showers, this month brings memories. Both my parents had birthdays in April. Dad's was the 10th and Mom's was the 19th.

Since thoughts about them and other family members have been running through my mind all month long, I figured I'd share a few stories here.

Dad was the storyteller in the family. Last year I wrote his account of the WWII events that led to him receiving the Bronze Star. This year I'll share a few accounts of lighter events.

When I speak to groups about saving family stories, I often show portions of the ones Dad wrote. In a spiral-bound notebook, Dad jotted down a few of his remembrances. He printed in all caps and used punctuation sparingly. Even with errors, my sister and I cherish this treasure. I adapted some of Dad's childhood stories in my book, 'Chicken Charlie's Year.'

During our childhood, Dad would often get my sister and me ready for bed by telling one or two of his stories. The only way I knew anything about Dad's brother was from his stories. Uncle Eddy died before I was born. Here is one of Dad's stories about him.

My brother, Eddy

'Eddy was the oldest among us kids so he was always the boss.

'Eddy had a room up in the attic. In the summer it was hot, and in the winter you froze.

'Our cat, Tigro, was out for a stroll one day. He rubbed up against our legs, as cats do.

'Eddy said, 'Do you know, if you hold a cat by its legs and drop it, the cat will always land on his feet?'

'I didn't believe him, so he picked up old Tigro, and up to the attic we went.

'He opened the attic window, and he held Tigro by his four legs. I could see Tigro wasn't too thrilled about this trick. Well, Eddy let go, and Old Tigro went sailing through the air. He landed on his feet OK, and stomach and I don't know what else.

'Eddy thought it was great. Tigro took off for parts unknown. We didn't see him for days.

'One day, I saw him sitting on the fence, none the worse for falling 25 feet. That night, I heard Eddy going up the stairs to his room.

'All of a sudden I heard cursing and Eddy saying how he was going to kill Tigro.

'Tigro got even with Eddy. He got up to the attic somehow and pooed all over Eddy's bed.

'Tigro stayed out of Eddy's way for a long time. He would sit on our back fence with a big grin on his face. We could all pet that cat, except for Eddy. My brother couldn't get close to Tigro ever again.'

Another one of my favorite stories is about my mom making barley soup.

'When Izzy and I were first married, her cooking wasn't the best. She burnt everything, especially the toast which she made in the oven.

'One day, she worked hard making homemade barley soup from scratch to surprise me. When I came home, our flat smelled so good, I couldn't wait to dig in.

'The soup tasted as good as it smelled, except the barley was still crunchy.

'I didn't say a word about the under-cooked barley. I didn't want to hurt her feelings. She worked so hard to please me.

'When we both got to the bottom of our soup bowls, we found that it wasn't the barley that was crunchy. You see, instead of taking the box of barley out of the pantry, my new bride grabbed the next box, birdseed.'

That story is in my new novel, 'Barley Soup and Slug Spit.'

Dad gave stories. Both my parents gave love. April is a good time for remembering and sharing.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;;