Doxology and Brylcreem

It’s where my mother grew up, where she met my father, where her parents are buried. Our family left Plainville, Kansas in the summer of 1966.

I was nine years old.

Drove through the other day on my way west and was surprised at what remains, 45 years later.

When we’d get a hankerin’ for homemade ice cream, we’d pump a coupla nickels into this monstrosity and a ginormous block of ice would magically emanate from somewhere deep within its bowels.

As a kid I would imagine some poor shlub in a coat and gloves sat inside this deep freeze and shoved ‘em out whenever a consumer of ice blocks would happen along. Not sure what I thought he did the rest of the time. Read comic books and shiver, I guess.

Regardless, we’d haul it home, bust it up with an ice pick and commence crankin.’

When he was in high school, my Dad was a gas jockey here. Check out the telephone number. Phone numbers used to begin with two letters, an abbreviation for a word. The Plainville exchange was GEneva. We were Geneva 4-7151.

Out in the Rooks County boonies, we shared a party line – several phone customers on the same loop. Each farm household had its own ring. Ours was two long rings, followed by a short. Anything else was a neighbor’s call.

In the dark, you could see the outer ring of this neon clock from a long way off. It’s faded over 45 years, but still adorns the window of a liquor store on the south end of Plainville, on the way home to our farm.

The folks’d stop here every now and again for some Coors. Six tin cans in a cardboard sleeve. They’d puncture two opposing, triangular-shaped holes in the top with a church key and in the heart of the High Plains, enjoy a cold one brewed with pure Rocky Mountain spring water.

Decked out in my Sunday best (clip-on necktie, a 2-button navy and white checked sport coat), hair pompadoured with Brylcreem, I’d belt out the Doxology standing between my Mom, who could carry a tune, and my Dad, who most decidedly could not.

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;

Praise Him, all creatures here below;

Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;

Praise Him Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

One summer, my sister and I waited on these steps for the ol’ man to pick us up after Vacation Bible School (Disciples of Christ’s caps). There was a guy sitting in a blue-green Volkswagen beetle who sure looked like Dad, but ours drove a GMC pickup.

We uttered the 1965 equivalent of ‘WTF?’

Turns out he’d swapped the pickup in anticipation of our

move to the city




grade: Mrs. Elva Prout buried her head in her hands and cried upon learning our president had been assassinated in Dallas.



grade: I would have aced spelling for the year, had the kid behind me (Dennis Ensley) not erased the stem on my “a” in the word “am.” (We’d pass our tests one seat behind and grade each other). Did Mrs. Vickie Brown actually think I would spell it “o-m?”

In retrospect, one can imagine her taking advantage of the opportunity to teach an abject lesson in ego deflation. Not sure it worked. Ensley remained on my shit list for years.



grade: Phil Sloyer threw up on his arithmetic book and the rest of us got an extra recess.