When a family has lived in the same house for many years there tends to be a bit of wear and tear. For instance, the scratches etched on the ceiling near the backdoor of our family room are from the time my son, Steve, brought home a huge Christmas tree from Julian. It was a couple of feet taller than the ceiling, and a few gouges were the result.
The stainless steel sink in the kitchen has a slight depression where daughter Mary tried to crack a coconut on the sink divider. When that didn’t work she threw it down the patio steps. She was always messing with coconuts.
The dining room table is slightly marred at one end from the time daughters Gina and Debbie placed warm tortillas on the cherry wood table while entertaining a couple of beaus.
We can still see the spot where the girls’ friend, Lori Mata, spilled red punch on the parlor carpet. We all loved Lori so it was not such a big deal.
The kids used to hole up in the parlor during the summer when it was too hot to play outside. We had the piano, cello and guitar in there. They recorded lots of music and drama on tape recorders. Mary, Gina and Debbie were all pupils of Jack Kelly, one of Holtville’s esteemed music teachers. A couple of the more entertaining ones were plays about “Jaws,” and the “Kidnapping of Patty Hearst.” Gina portrayed Barbara Walters interviewing Hearst family members. We all took part in that.
Once son Tony hid in a playroom cabinet while playing hide-and-seek with the siblings. He said he faked getting hurt so he wouldn’t be punished for breaking the cabinet door. One of the playroom drapes has a small hole in it from the time “Gumbi,” daughter Mary’s mean spirited blue-fronted Amazon parrot, came to visit.
Last week I reached into a drawer of the china cabinet and discovered the first remote we ever had. I have no idea why it is still around. It is at least as old as the house. It’s an all-metal instrument, weighing just at a half pound. It belonged to our ZENITH Space Commander 400, a lovely TV in a maple cabinet. The remote is quite basic, but something the “Pickers” on TV might appreciate.
On Saturdays during the California Mid-Winter Fair season, the girls spent mornings bathing lambs and pigs. Gina liked to cover lambs with her Dad’s T-shirts, and quickly parade them through the house before I caught her. Fortunately we never had any mishaps.
Vehicles also have scars. While my husband was learning to drive in a ‘41 Chevy, he would paint his “kills” on the fender just like the fighter pilots showed their “kills” during WWII. His “kills” included a rooster, a mailbox and a tree. I’m glad our children never tried to continue the tradition.
Daughter Debbie recently reminded me of the time she picked up her son Ben to take him in for his allergy shots. As he got in the car she asked how he had done on his science exam. While she was backing out he told her he got an “F.” It was at that moment that she backed into a pole with her new car. The small ding is still visible in her bumper.
Sunday mornings aren’t the most relaxing time in many homes. Getting everyone fed, and dressed for church, can put a strain on family relations. One memorable Sunday my husband backed into Tony’s new/used pickup right before we left for church. Not a lot of fun that morning. My husband was in the pew in body that Sunday, but not necessarily in spirit.
It is hard to remember all the precious times we shared, or to describe all the beautiful sunsets we have enjoyed together as we watched the skies change from fuchsia to orange and pink and gold.
This old house has heard a lot more laughter than tears. Among the first tears shed in it were at the sudden death of my dear mother-in-law, Mary DePaoli, 60. She died on Sept. 26, 1965, just a month after we moved in. Since then we lost Grandpa John DePaoli, my parents, Otto and Louise Fasler, and my loving husband, John A. “Buck” DePaoli, at 61 years.