Blog posts expand, bursting from the confines of a few hundred words to full-fledged books . . . or at least beginnings of books. I excel at starting books . . . and soon I will excel at finishing them.
Shirley, Queen Of Her World, Saves The Day(zinski) Park sprang from my April 27, 2017 post “Make Room for Sissy Ann Jablonski.“ It is the first of four book beginnings I’m sharing.
I invite you to think like a third grader and read my “in works” children’s book.
Shirley Ann Jablonski, AKA Sissy, has ideas. Not just regular ideas, but great ideas, genius ideas. Not all of them succeed. Set on the south side of Chicago in 1958 Shirley plans to save Dayzinski Park, a local park, from demolition. Although some of her ideas fall short of genius, the bumpy chain of events uncovers secrets, unites her neighborhood, and provides the exciting post third grade summer Shirley knew it would be.
“Nosey, do I look different?” I twirled around in my new pink pedal pushers, madras plaid top and spanking white Keds. Nosey didn’t bark once for yes and two for no like Lassie did on TV. He yawned. That’s one difference between a really smart collie and an ordinary beagle.
I nudged Nosey from his center mattress snoozing spot. I stood on the bed to see my whole outfit (minus my head) in the dresser mirror. I still looked like me, but in a different outfit.
It was the first day of summer. I was an official fourth grader. How could I feel so different on the inside, but not the outside?
Maybe it was like birthdays. You don’t look different on your birthday. You feel different. It took time for the outside look to catch up with the inside feel.
I bounced off the bed and sang so that my outside looked like how my inside felt – excited! Nosey followed me downstairs and howled as I sang. I think it’s his way of joining in. My brother, Roy, thinks it hurts his ears.
“School’s out! School’s out!
Teacher let the monkeys out!
One ran in! One ran out!
One ran in the teacher’s mouth!”
I giggled at the idea of thirty-eight third graders crowding into Sister Mary David’s mouth.
“Quiet, Nosey,” Dad scolded without lowering his magazine. He read National Geographic. “Or we’ll send you to Alaska to be a sled dog. Looks like ‘Uncle Sam’s icebox’ will be our 49thstate.” Nosey settled under the breakfast table. “Yowling cats all night, barking dogs all morning.”
“Mr. Grumpypants needs more coffee.” Mom filled Dad’s cup and ruffled his hair. “I know Anna’s cats can be a nuisance.”
“I need a good night’s sleep. You know the saying; ‘Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.’ Have to be wise when I’m building homes.” Dad lowered his magazine and winked. “Otherwise I might leave out the kitchen.”
I chuckled. Mom could change a hornet’s bad mood.
“Trix, Babydoll?” Mom set out a bowl and my favorite cereal, “Raspberry red, lemon yellow, orange orange.”
“I’m going to the park first.”
“At six-thirty in the morning?” Mom turned from making Dad’s baloney sandwich. “Come back here, young lady!”
I almost made it to the back screen door. I never got my way when mom said “young lady.”
“You promised! You said I could go to the park alone when I was a fourth grader.”
“What’s the harm, Betty?” Dad tossed the magazine aside and snatched up his lunchbox. “It’ll be a quick trip, right Babydoll?”
“Don’t know why you can’t sleep in like your brother,” said Mom as Dad pecked her cheek and my head.
“I’ll deliver your packages.” My speedy roller skate delivery of Mom’s Avon orders helped her win awards.
“This early?” Mom protested.
“Mrs. Carey’s up with her babies. Miss Rosemary opens the store early for bakery delivery. Mrs. Russo gets the morning paper from her drive.”
“Stop!” Mom held up her hand. “You know everyone’s business. The orders are on my desk. Deliver them, a quick trip to the park, then breakfast.”
The packages sat between Mom’s “1958’s Most Improved Sales” award and a box of perfume samples. I scooped up the packages. Then like a flash an idea struck! Like a shooting star! Not a regular idea, but a great idea, a genius idea! I could wear a sample and advertise Mom’s products. Everyone would love it. They’d order gallons of perfume. Then Mom would win “1958’s Most Improved Sales in the World” award. A dozen tiny glass containers jumbled in the box.
I uncorked one labeled “Lily.” It smelled like church on Easter Sunday. I dabbed it behind an ear. What if another smelled better? I uncorked and smelled one after another. They all smelled good. Then my great idea turned into a genius idea. I’d wear them all! Wrists, elbows, knees and armpits – I had places for all of them! I was a skating Avon perfume ad.
“Hello, Louie!” I clamped on my left skate and turned the skate key to tighten it to my Keds.“Good morning, Reggie!” I did the same to my right skate and pocketed the key.
My best friend, Rennie, helped me name my skates – Louie for left and Reggie for right. It helped me remember which was left and which was right when I was younger. Louie and Reggie carried me all around my world- both sides of Brandon Avenue and now Dayzinski Park. The park was near Mrs. Cary’s house.
I raised my right arm and sniffed my pit- English Rose. Who could resist?