Monday, October 22, 2018

The Zipperers Down the Road

It's time for me to take a break from Ol' Lady Tottingham and Granddaddy (ha, ha, ha!), and tell you about my second cousins the Zipperers who lived maybe two miles down a dirt road from Grandmother's 'ouse.

The mother was a very big and mostly jolly woman named Marjorie which I often confused with margarine, and the father was Hilburn, which I used one day to make some grownups laugh. I made up this joke, on my own:

"One day, Marjorie was sitting on her front porch when she saw smoke rising from a forest on the other side of their cow pasture. She said, 'Oh Lordy, I hope that ain't a forest fire, because Hilburn just went over that way to look for a pig that rooted out of its pen.' And then a friend sitting next to her said, 'Oh, don't worry, Marjorie, Hilburn . . . '"

What makes that so funny is that Southerners aren't much good at distinguishing some vowel sounds: They say "git" for "get," and "pin" for "pen," for example. So "Hilburn" sounded like "He'll burn." So, hearing that, Marjorie cried out in unnecessary grief.

That's hilarious! And it makes no sense! And grownups cackled courteously!

Anyway, the Zipperer sisters, LaNora and Jean, were older than Martha and I (Joe and Mickey still didn't exist), so we looked up to them. What we really admired about them, though, was that they drank Pepsi Colas with their breakfast.
Pepsi bottle from the '50s

Yes, Pepsi Colas, not Coca-Cola or Royal Crown Cola. Just so you know, soft drinks only came in bottles back then, never cans, and they cost 5 cents each. Boy were we angry when they raised the price to 10 cents!

LaNora and Jean also played on Pinetta's basketball team, and LaNora was quite good. They also played piano, and Jean sang as well. 

Every year, the school would have a recital in May so students who were taking music lessons could show off their talents and their formal dresses to the Pinetta community as they performed on a stage in our combination gym and auditorium.

We usually went to the recitals for two reasons: One, there was nothing else to do in Pinetta and hardly anyone had a TV. Two, our cousin Joyce Elaine played piano, so we wanted to see her perform.
Formal dresses like the ones LaNora and Jean wore

After one of these shows, someone was taking a picture of Jean with those old-fashioned cameras whose flashbulbs lit up the place like lightning from a severe thunderstorm. Don't forget, dear reader, we didn't have cell phones with built-in cameras.

While Jean was trying to regain her vision from the supernova flash, she sort of duck-paddled her hands in front of face -- like she was trying to put out a fire or scare off a bee.

For some reason, that made a big impression on Martha and me, so the next morning we reflected on it during our Pepsi-less breakfast, each of us imitating it to the best of our ability. But neither of us was altogether persuaded by the other's imitation. "It wasn't quite like that," I would say, "but more like this," and I would go to flapping my hands in front of my face.

Then Martha, who always won these arguments, demonstrated Jean's hand movement a little too dramatically, and she hit the side of her cereal bowl full of Cheerios and turned it over and made Mama and Daddy mad and there was some yelling, and after that, we didn't want to think about how Jean flapped her hands after her picture was taken. We sulked in our room! I probably said, "In all fairness to me, I didn't do anything."

I'm sorry to report that in that same little combination kitchen-dining room, and just a few days after the recital, Martha had what has come to be called "The Great Marshmallow Mishap." 

We had a gas stove, and my dad thought it was fun to put a marshmallow on a fork and hold it over the burner with it's small blue flame and roast the 'mallow like you were out camping or something. It really did improve the marshmallows' taste and texture. Crispy, brownish skinlike exterior!

But Martha held one of her marshmallows a little too close to the burner and left it a little too long and then, when she tried to blow out the flame, held it a little too close to her mouth which then ignited a little flame for a little while on her bottom lip.

We were able to extinguish the blaze almost immediately, so the only scar Martha received was that she was never again allowed to roast her marshmallows on the stove, and neither was I.

It's important to point out that the house we were in during that time was owned by He'll Burn Zipperer, so in a sense he was at least partially responsible for Martha's very hot lip.

There are at least two more significant Zipperer events that need to be stored in history's vault, but I'll stop here for now. And I still have to tell you about Granddaddy's cows.

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