Lunch Money

4/16/2004

The time machine

In one of my favorite Ray Bradbury books, Dandelion Wine, there is a chapter titled "The Time Machine". If you are a sci-fi like fan me and know anything about Bradbury, you might make the same mistaken jump to a conclusion I did when I first read the book. The chapter has nothing to do with space travel or time travel per se. No, Bradburys’ time machines are the old men who hang out on the down town park benches and spin long winded yarns about what it was like "back then", when they were young. And the kids of the town would occasionally hang around and listen to the stories of civil war battles and wagon trains and all sort of things from the past. In their minds they would travel back in time to before they were born as they listen to the sories from the old timers.

I had a conversation with a friend and co-worker the other day. She was morning the sudden loss of a friend. A friend who had worked at the Park with her years ago, when she first started her career with the National Park Service. We got to talking about the losses and the scars, both internal and external, that befall us all. While we were talking I notice the rather large scar on my left thumb. It’s been there for years. But, in re-noticing it I began to remember how I got the scar. I was about 14 and helping out my Mom by painting the garage. I fell off the ladder and sliced my thumb open on the sharp edge of the coffee can that I was using as a paint bucket. This was before the days of consumer protected "safe Coffee cans". With that first thought I began to remember back to that time in my life, to all that was going on, the good and the bad. The scar became the "on" button for another kind of time machine. My own personal time machine. The kind that we all have and ride on when we take that mental journey back in time to what once was for us.

A few days later I was cleaning out the old "junk box" on my dresser. Actually an old metal box in which I keep rings, tie tacks, coins and various other trinkets that I have collected over the years. It was full of old memories including 17 years worth of AA "birthday" coins, pieces of jewelry that were once worn by my father and my mother, and a couple of wedding rings. Lots of fodder for trips on the "time machine". But the major find was six pieces of plain 3" by 4" paper with some very poorly penciled lines of text. I immediately remembered it. I vividly remembered being 10 years old, sitting in the rocking chair next to the fireplace, in the old house on Santa Paula Street. I remembered what I was feeling as I tried to journal some of what was going on in my life. I felt it. I traveled back in time and smelled the smells and tasted those home cooked meals. I traveled on my own personal time machine.

I am sure there is tons of stuff for some Freudian Psychiatrist in this short journal but I am not including it for that reason. I am still not too sure how I feel about the child who wrote these words. So, I include it, spelling and all, in the hopes it will kindle someone else to take journey on their own personal "time machine".

Hear I seat beside the Christmas tree so beautiful and bright and the wind blows by outside. Grandma is in the kitsion and mother in the dinning room, daddy is dead. Around by the fireplace by ther is the T.V. The roof in here is newly painted but still a few cracks that are hard to see. My life story is not very good but now I have learned right from rong. I used to steal lie and ceat but I know that is gone. I can remember back as far as frist grade in Oxnard Calif., but that is hard to do. Lets go back to thrred and maby I can do better. My teacher Roggow. I only stayed there a little and then we moved to Santa Paula and I went to Glen City School. I think I will rest now but I will be back sone. Hear I am back again. I made many friends their like Gye Ingles. He was my best friend he was a year older then because I was in 3 & 4. We played baseball and all other games. Sone summer came and I got ringworms . I almost notissed all the swimming that summer. Then summer was over and we moved to Santa Paula St. and I went to McKevette School. I was in Mrs. Rogers room. She was all right except when you rong. We did allmost all work and no play but day by day the months went by. And summer came and I had fun swimming and playing and then we had to go to school. Not much happen then but as time went by Christmas came and that brings it up to date and I will add to the book as things happen.