GIANT YELLOW BLOWUP BUNNY

My Mother Shirley always tried her hardest, even when money was tight, to give me and my sister Pat a good Easter. Our Easter Baskets were always some type of Hat or Cap. I still remember the year of the Plastic Fedora. She would put a small amount of Easter Grass in the head wear, always green she did not like the pastel colored grass. There would be Peeps, Chocolate Bunnies, Brightly Colored Foil Wrapped Chocolate Eggs and lots and lots of Jelly Beans. Then the toys! I always got a model kit, some sort of flying toy; whirley gig, glider, kite or Frisbee. There would be smaller toys too. Plastic Toy Soldiers, Plastic Eggs filled with more Jelly Beans and Fuzzy Chicks and Bunnies.

My sister always got a Doll, A Game and some sort of outside toy; Ball, Jump Rope, Lawn Darts, etc. She would also get a lot of small toys similar to mine except instead of Toy Soldiers she would get small Plastic Animals or Dinosaurs.

My 11th Easter we were living in the roach infested duplex behind Saint Josephs Church in Topeka. This would be the first Easter away from my Grandmothers House. My Grandmother and Mother had an epic argument that had led to my Mothers eviction. Grandma had said us children could stay but Mom had to go. Mom was having none of that so here we were, on Easter, in a very different home from the wonderful and secure home us children had known all of our life. Mom was determined that Easter would go on as usual minus Church as the church we attended, First Church of the Nazarene, was also my Grandmothers Church home. The wounds were still fresh and Mom was still feeling very bitter.

Mom spent all night coloring hard boiled eggs and hiding them outside. Hiding them outside consisted of placing them in the Iris Bed between the side of the duplex and the alley and around a small brick patio behind the duplex. For all practical purposes the Duplex had no yard but Mom would not let that stop her. She managed to hide over a dozen eggs which me and my sister collected on Easter Morning while the sound of Easter Mass drifted on the clear and warm Spring morning.

After the eggs were collected we got our Easter Baskets (hats), and they consisted of the usual suspects (this was the year of the aforementioned Plastic Fedora). besides the Model, this year a 1956 Ford Truck, and a Kite there was something else. Mom had included in both my sister and my hats was a plastic giant blowup Rabbit. Now I am sure by now you are asking yourself; How did Shirley get all of that into a plastic Fedora? The answer is that my Mother was a Master Gift Wrapper and using an intricate series of Ribbon and Brightly Colored Tissue Paper she created a tower of Easter joy.

My Rabbit was yellow with a clear belly full of confetti and my sisters was purple with the same clear belly full of confetti. On the back of the bunny inside the belly was a joyous Easter Scene of the Easter Bunny with a basket full of Easter Eggs. In one hand the goofy looking giant yellow blowup bunny held an orange and green carrot. I was in that period between childhood and teenager; I felt I was too “Big” for this kind of toy yet I blew it up and took it outside. I sat on the curb by the alley turning it over and over, watching the confetti float inside. I sat the giant, yellow, blowup bunny by the purple blooming Iris’ and looked at it while I peeled an egg. I thought about how that would make a good Easter picture; maybe I would draw it later.

It was not long before my Mom came out and announced it was time for our annual Easter picnic. I took my Bunny inside and sat it on top of the dresser in my room. We left and stopped at KFC for fried chicken. My mother, me and my sister happily ate the Colonels secret blend of 11 herbs and spices at a coveted picnic table in Gage Park. After our repast my sister and I played upon the concrete animals in Animal Land. We then spent the rest of the afternoon at the Topeka Zoo which was crowded with other families celebrating Easter in a like manner. late in the afternoon we returned home.

I lay upon my small bed and stared at the blowup bunny on the dresser. I thought about Easters past. This one had been different because it wasn’t filled with Grandma’s cooking or the large family gatherings we usually had. We had not gone to church which seemed an odd thing to me. I did not totally understand the disagreement between my mother and my grandmother and it would be years before I did but to my eleven year old mind it seemed silly.

Soon I drifted off to sleep and within those final moments before the sandman visited I knew that my Mother had tried to give us the best Easter she could and she did.The giant yellow blowup Bunny sat upon that dresser until it eventually went to wherever giant yellow blowup bunnies go when their time has past. That Easter day of April 14, 1968 is long gone but my memory of it and its importance remains with me to this day.

HAPPY EASTER MOM!

-THE GYPSY- APRIL 12, 2020

Gypsy’s Blog: A Lament For Home

A LAMENT FOR HOME
There are times that I feel that I do not belong. I wonder if I truly know where my home is. Born and raised in Topeka, Kansas I knew where my home was until I was fifteen and then that summer of 1972 I was relocated, against my will, to Saint Joseph, Missouri and I have had no home since then.

From the smell of the Saint Joe stockyards to the glorious fall colors of the Weston, Missouri Bluffs I have been from one extreme to another. From the crystal clear mornings of Nemo, South Dakota to the struggle of living out of the back of a car in Cameron, Missouri I have seen full days and hungry days. From running away from the horror of the streets of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to the hope of a better life in Abilene, Texas I have seen Hell and Heaven. From the indifference of Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri to the Comforting embrace of El Paso, Texas I have seen Hate and Love. From the Crack Whores of San Angelo, Texas to the dust blown hopeless streets of Midland, Texas I have known the living dead and their haunts. From the small minds of Baxter Springs, Kansas to the driven souls of Independence, Kansas I have known ignorance and inspiration. All those places, all those lessons, all that time wasted and back to a place I once considered home yet my grip on that concept is not what it once was.

When I returned to Topeka after a 43 year absence I was energized, excited and ready to re-establish myself within my home. Yet what I returned to was not the Topeka of my youth. It was a place filled with crime encouraged by corrupted institutions that would have once fought against the onslaught but now have grown lazy. If it don’t affect me then why should I be concerned? Has become the mantra heard all to often.

Community organizations have been infiltrated by those who think that to help means to climb the social ladder. Oh yes I am a volunteer would you like to see my portfolio? They have forgotten that it is about something greater than them.A city that was once beautiful has allowed itself to be taken down a sewer pipe by individuals that destroy that which was once viable and now lies in ruins. Absentee landlords are not held accountable and buildings that once housed commercial business sit stark and silent collapsing in upon themselves.The state in it’s infinite wisdom opened the doors of the asylum and set the patients lose upon the street then closed the doors behind them so that they could no longer have a safe haven. The homeless and wanton wander the streets encourage by those who claim they help. The helpers line their deep pockets with the dollars spewed forth by well meaning people who feed not with food but with enablement as the lazy give birth to cardboard signs on city street corners.

I see glimmers of hope by those within the Topeka Community who have witnessed what I have and do not turn a blind eye to it. There are those that struggle and fight against the Avant-Garde invasion into their efforts. They fight to find ways to end the corruption, the blight, the despair and the collapse of the city they love, These are the warriors that go into battle with a pin knife and a candle to show the way. They pray that more people like themselves will bring their candles and pin knifes into the fray so that they may create a mighty fire and many sharp teeth to rip to shreds the apathy, corruption and divide that destroys the community.

I look at Topeka’s History and my heart aches for the loss of what once was. I look at the communities future and it is gray and uncertain. I know that the community must reinvent itself if it is to survive. I know that the community is striving to rebirth itself yet I worry. I worry that unless the dark elements that have crawled into the community are not dealt with first that instead of rebirth Topeka will suffer a miscarriage of the fetus of progress.There are times I want to join the fight and charge forward. Then there are the times, like today, that seem like a waste of my time. I fight to stay strong but I see ignorance, sloth, avarice and apathy. My stomach turns and I ask myself; Why do I even try? Yet the next morning I awaken and go forth to add my candle and pin knife to the fight, the fight where I cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel. Frustration fills my soul and sadness grips my heart. Where is my Topeka? Where is my home?

Are you still with me? Have you traveled on my journey this day? Do you feel what I feel? Do you want to move ahead and not fall back into the abyss? Are you thinking I may have the answer? The truth is I do not; I wish I did.

I reach down deep inside and my Gypsy blood calls out to me; Release material possessions, put it all behind you and head off to the next spot in the road over the next hill and at the end of the horizon. It is tempting however I will stay, for now, because deep down inside I love Topeka and I Love my state of Kansas; it’s people, it’s places, it’s history, it’s today and it’s tomorrow. I will stay not out of a sense of duty or obligation but because I know that if everyone ran when frustration fills our souls then we would never step into the better future that it takes each and everyone of us to create. For today I will call Topeka, Kansas home and try to ignore the times that I feel that I do not belong. I wonder if I truly know where my home is.

-The GYPSY-

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Copyright 2019

Oasis On 66 By J.A. George