West on Highway 80

Eleven hours from middle Minnesota takes one to Grand Island, Nebraska. We left at 6 am and watched the sun rise on our left. Bernie and I passed the time by working through two of those grandma/grandpa journal books that ask you all sorts of questions about when you were little.
One question: “How did you cool your house?” Bernie said, wondering why we were doing this, “With a fan.” I told of how my mother created this amazing system of blowing a fan out one window of the apartment and opening only the windows in our bedrooms so the cool night air would sweep over our beds. Sometimes she would put a bucket of ice in front of the fan and we would all sleep in the same room where she’d initiated this unique air conditioning system. I lived in Chicago which is considerably hotter in the summer than Minneapolis. We had to get creative.
Another question was “How did you light your house?” “With a lamp,” said Bernie. I wrote the same thing. I wrote down his answers since he was driving. I read him mine. We played the same games as kids: red rover, red rover; hide and seek; kick the can. He had more snow to play in and their ice rinks didn’t melt and freeze, melt and freeze all winter. He had a nifty fireplace in his cozy little house. I lived in an apartment building heated by a coal furnace and clanking radiators. His mother arranged Sunday afternoon picnics in Minneapolis lakeside parks. My family had family gatherings with beer and card games around Grandma’s dining room table. Neither of us baked Christmas cookies and both went to Midnight mass on Christmas eve. He was tormented by his older brother, I was tormented by two older brothers.
All and all, our upbringings had a lot of similarities. We saw a lot of our extended families, played with the neighborhood kids, played the same board games. He got in trouble more than I did. His nickname was “Barnyard” and mine was “Jutebox”.
Tomorrow I move on to school stuff in the books. We are learning things about one another we never knew. Good trip.

One thought on “West on Highway 80”

  1. I love it! One of myvery favorite things I did in teaching 2nd-3rd were the open-ended questions or statements, especially regarding feelings — i.e., “One thing that makes me really happy…”, “If zI could change one thing about Mrs. Keeton, it would be…”, “The kindest thing I ever did was…”. What a great way to get into their heads and hearts…

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