Rainy days in October are really beautiful in Ohio.
When I was six years old, in the first grade in school in Cleveland, our class had a little “field trip.” It consisted of spending part of our lunch hour taking a walk around the block, where there were lots of big old houses and old trees, to look at the autumn leaves.
It wasn’t supposed to be raining for the field trip, but it was. And so we all had on our little rain coats and rain hats, and took our walk in the rain. And I thought that the fall leaves, clinging to the wet sidewalk in the rain, were the prettiest things I’d ever seen. And I never forgot it.
Now, whenever there’s a rainy day in October, and autumn leaves are clinging to a wet sidewalk, no matter where I am in the world, I always remember that moment in Cleveland when I was six.
Another part to that story, though, is that it happened when my adoptive grandfather was retiring down in Columbus, and so there was a big retirement party for him — but only for the adults. And so my parents went down to Columbus for the party and my older brother went to stay overnight with one of his school friends, but I was sent to stay overnight with friends of my parents who lived close to the school and so could drive me there the following day. (The following day was the day of our big field trip to see autumn leaves.) And I remember that my mom had packed my lunch for the field trip in a little brown paper bag and she gave it to the lady of the house I was spending the night at.
To me, it was such a big deal that my mom had packed my lunch because back in those days, we didn’t eat lunch at school, we always came home for lunch and then went back to school for the afternoon. So I just thought that was the coolest thing, that I had a little brown paper bag with my lunch in it and that my mom had made it for me before she went out of town.
I was really scared to be away from home for a night, and to be in a house where I didn’t know anyone. The family had an older girl and an older boy — they were a lot older than me, teenagers. And I was going to be sleeping in one of the twin beds in the older girl’s room, and I remember that she was so incredibly nice to me, because I was crying in the dark, and she told me not to be scared — that my mom and dad would be coming to get me after school the very next day.
But what I vividly recall is the older boy had a butterfly collection down in their family room, which was in the basement. It was quite an extensive collection and I had never seen anything like it before. Of course, nowadays, I would freak out because I don’t like to think of anything being killed simply for a “collection,” but back then, I didn’t know anything about stuff like that, and I just thought the butterflies were quite amazing.
The boy explained everything about it to me, how he caught them, how they were killed, and then mounted. And he explained what each one of the butterflies were named, etc. He must have been extremely patient to spend so much time with a 6 year-old girl who was on the verge of crying the whole time because her parents had “left her there, all alone.” I just remember that he was so nice. He was something like 17 or 18 years old already.
Even though that memory has followed me to places all over the country and in different cities all over the world, it’s kind of poignant that today, I am looking at fall leaves on a rainy sidewalk, back in Ohio 54 years later, but it’s my own house now. (Photo below.)
And I wonder if those two teenagers are even still alive now, you know? They certainly could be, but they’d be over 70 years old.
You know, it really just seems like yesterday. I can’t really believe it.
Okay, gang. I’m gonna scoot. Have a beautiful Monday, wherever you are in the world. Thanks for visiting. I love you guys. See ya!
“Hold On Girl”
I know about the guy who treated you so bad,
He took your love and then just walked away.
I know that you have got a reason to be sad
But help is on its way.
Hold on girl be a little bit stronger,
Hold on girl wait a little bit longer,
Hold on girl, help is on its way.
I know you feel as though your world is at an end,
But you don’t have to live with yesterday.
I promise you the sun is gonna shine again,
And help is on its way.
Hold on girl, now that we are together,
Hold on girl, things are gonna be better,
Hold on girl, help is on its way.
© 1967 Jack Keller, Billy Carr, Ben Raleigh