Posts Tagged ‘Dancing drama’

Paradise Valley Ranger Station.

We moved shortly after I started Kindergarten. It seemed like our new home was miles and miles and miles away – probably across country! It was, in reality, just another county over and up US Highway 95 from Winnemucca, then 20 miles off to the east. It is close to where we tossed our father to the wind in 2012, on the 4th of July. Mom was already at rest in the Santa Rosas.

The new house was the same as the previous three: white clapboard with green trim. The log cabin structure right next door was the Ranger Station, but it didn’t have bears living under the foundation. Maybe I was older, or maybe the addition of a little sister cum best friend had eased the terror.

There was enough other scary stuff around, like the white steepled church next door that boasted “Katty Kissin'” lessons. The house we lived in was haunted. There was a huge swimming pool in the middle of the yard that we couldn’t see in to or go swimming in.*

*It was a water reservoir for the pumper trucks and only used in case of a fire. Later, it would be empty and would be the final corral for Smokey, Dad’s favorite bronc. But that’s another story.

Denny and I clung to each other in the move. Terry moved on, making friends with the local ranch kids as easily as ever. I honestly have no remembrance of his transition (he will have to post a comment). I know he got his own bedroom upstairs and Denny and I got the other bedroom. I believe? there was a bathroom between us. There was a stair case to the living room with a long bannister and I sometimes hid on it, just out of sight of my parents, listening to the movie they were watching and afraid to go back to bed. I’d wet the bed or had a nightmare, or the ghost had awakened me. Sometimes, Denny sat on the stairs with me.

Caught, we were offered no sympathy. Only punishment from exasperated parents.

Once, I remember catching mom sitting up in the kitchen nook in the middle of the night. She was alone and teary. A 2-way radio was turned on beside her. I crawled into the booth with her and cuddled, asking why was she upset. I think Terry came down, too. Dad was off fighting fire. Mom was scared and worried for him. I was too little to understand the capriciousness of a wildfire. Later, when I read Young Men and Fire by Norman MacLean, I understood.

Hallowe’en came. There was a huge to-do in town, and one of the ranch mothers took all of us trick-or-treating in her car. It was so dark out and the roads were so long and straight! You could see ranch house lights twinkling in the distance and when we arrived, dogs would bark as children piled out of the car with paper bags in hand and little masks on their faces. I think mine was a teddy bear face. Then we’d get back in the stuffy car and make another long drive, until we’d exhausted all the ranch houses.

It was not fun. It was scary. It was long, lonely, and I think I was getting motion sick. I don’t remember getting ill, but I’m pretty sure the nausea began to play into my late night soiree.

The big party in town had a cake walk, booths to play in, and all the pumpkin pie you could eat (or so it seemed to almost-five year old me). I wanted a piece of that pie so badly! Dad told me I could not have it: last year, I didn’t like pumpkin pie and had refused to eat it.

Of course, I couldn’t remember the previous year and I was certain he was wrong, so I whinged. Pleeeeease. Pretty pleeeeeeease. I’ll eat it all this year.

I ate it all to spite him. (To this day, I love pumpkin pie.)

I turned five in the haunted house. I don’t remember my birthday (a cake and candles).

Best memory:

We were ballerinas. We had a little stool we could stand on and twirl on. The ceiling was low, with one of those old-fashioned light fixtures in the middle. Denny went first, but she couldn’t reach the ceiling and she was clumsy, at best. Me – I was a regular ballerina-diva-talented dancer. I pressed my finger against the little brass knob on the glass fixture and twirled away on the stool. Around and around and around. We sang. LALALALALA.

The brass knob came off and clattered to the floor, followed by the heavy, ornate, light cover. There was a crash and the sound of shattering glass. I looked down from my perch to see my sister, her legs sprouting bloody streaks. She shrieked in pain and fear. Dark blood spurted and dribbled. I stood, transfixed by the awful sight.

Mom burst into the room with Terry. DO NOT MOVE! She shouted at me as she grabbed my sister and rushed her down the stairs, wrapped in a towel. My dad was working in the log cabin and moments later, I heard him coming up the stairs. He took one long look at the room, at me in my make-shift tutu, the blood on the floor. Then he stepped through the glass and lifted me off of my pedestal, at the same time landing a hefty slap to my rear end.

I didn’t understand! I was being spanked?! I’d only been dancing! I didn’t make the fixture fall! I didn’t men to hurt my sister! I didn’t understand! My cries mixed the air with my sister’s pain-filled cries drifted up the stairs.

Denny and I laughed about it, years later: how I tried to kill her with my ballet routine. She carried scars in her legs from the shards of glass. Mom and Dad never did think it was very funny.

Oddly – they later paid for ballet lessons for the pair of us. Maybe they wanted me to learn how to pirouette without unscrewing a light fixture. Ya think?

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