Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I Should Have Got a Whipping

I remember Daddy's old 1950-something dark green car parked in a gravel driveway behind the asbestos siding covered duplex apartment we lived when I was six or seven years old. I was sitting in the front seat watching the tiny dust motes floating in the warm springtime sun that was brightly shining through the car's windshield.  It was not unusual for me to play alone outside while Mama cared for my three year old brother. I had my blanket wrapped baby doll with me when I noticed the cigarette lighter Daddy and Mama used to light their Pall Mall cigarettes. Actually, I think Daddy smoked Camels.

Daddy would show me the front side of the Camel package and ask if I would rather live in the small tent, the large tent, or under the camel. After I chose the larger tent, Daddy would flip it over and say he would choose to live in the Turkish Palace.

As I usually rode standing in the back floorboard of the car hanging my head over the back of the front seat, I had seen both of them operate the shiny chrome lighter. I knew if I pushed it in, it would pop back out and the tip would be red hot. I am sure the factory installed ashtray overflowed with Mama's Theater Red lipstick covered cigarette butts. Although I doubt I tried to light one of Mama's leftovers, I did repeatedly push the lighter in just to watch it pop back out. After playing with it a while, did I accidently drop the lighter on the car seat and note the smell of burning upholstery? Who knows how I went from being fascinated with the mechanics of the in and out cigarette lighter to trying to brand the entire front seat upholstery. I know I liked watching the lighter's coil turn red. I do recall the smell of the scorching upholstery. I remember I liked the smell of the burning fabric. I can still see the perfectly round and blackened holes in the bench type seat of the car my parents could not afford to have re-upholstered. As much as I deserved it though, I don't remember getting my backside warmed.


  1. Beautifully written! Like a scene out of a movie. I never studied a Camel pack, but I do remember trying one or two. Horrible tasting. You life does sound right out of a 50's movie. So glad it was just the car seat.

  2. Your parents were rare for their generation, in holding back on the whipping!