Yesterday I attended the birthday party of my oldest great grandson.  There were the usual gifts and good wishes, and his stepfather made a beautiful German chocolate cake for him, which was served with three-flavor ice cream and orange drink.  The conversation of the adults guests was mostly centered about the recent attacks on our nation, of course, but when I got home I began to think back to my childhood.

I remember a couple of my early birthdays, although I did not have a "party" until I was thirteen!  I know that my family always made my special day nice, because I remember some of the gifts I got, and I remember that Mom always cooked my favorite meal.  Until now, I never wondered why there were no parties! 

One birthday remains especially vivid in my memory.  It must have been when I was about four.  I had a pet hen named "Picky" and when I asked Mom if she was going to bake a cake for my birthday, she told me she needed two fresh eggs.  So I went out to check the nests in the chicken house, and found only one egg, which innocent little old me assumed had been laid by my friend,"Picky."  When I brought that one egg in, Mom exclaimed, "Well, you better talk to "Picky" and tell her she has to lay another egg!"  

I found "Picky" sitting on the bannister of one of the side porches, and told her what my problem was and asked her to please, please lay another egg so Mom could bake my birthday cake.  I smoothed her feathers, and talked to her for about fifteen minutes, I guess, and guess what?  My friend "Picky" laid an egg in the palm of my hand!  I got my birthday cake, and for years told everyone that I had a hen that could lay two eggs in one day!

The day I was seven, my big brother "Gee" came home from doing a hitch with the Merchant Marines.  He had been to Germany. He brought small gifts for everyone.  Since it was my birthday, he gave me something special.  It was a miniature deck of playing cards.  I treasured those little cards and kept them for many years.   I must have been fourteen when I visited at my big sister Nan's house Goose Creek, Texas, and when I came home, my cards had disappeared.  I think I know who took them, but since I had no way of proving it, I never did any thing about it.  

Everyone knew how I loved books and writing, so many birthday gifts were books and writing tablets and pencils and big yellow boxes of crayons.  I had books of nursery rhymes, coloring books, books of paper dolls with the dolls on the cardboard front page and the clothes on the inside pages.  I had Little Women and Black Beauty and when I was living in Perry, my teacher gave me a copy of Ben Hur, which is still my favorite fiction book.  

Then, finally, when I reached my thirteenth birthday - when I became a teenager - I had a real birthday party.  I think it was planned by my older sister and brother, because Mom's health was not too good at that time.  I recall that it was my sister "Dee" who made my cake, which was served with lemonade made from fresh lemons.  And I remember how proud I was of the dove-gray pirogue that Dad gave me and the kid-sized paddle that Grandpa had whittled for me.  And this was a dancing party!   Finally I got to dance, instead of being the one to keep the Victrola cranked up.  That little old house was packed to the eaves, almost like when so many people in Perry sought refuge in our house when a hurricane was brewing in the Gulf.  The boys stayed mostly on the porch and in the yard, coming in once in a while to ask one of the girls to dance.  The girls stayed indoors, giggling and gossiping and waiting for the boys to come in to invite one of them to dance.  I did not dance very well in those days, but I was a fast learner, and before my next dance (a school dance in Orange, Texas) I was a really good dancer. 

Next to swimming, dancing was my favorite form of exercise.  After I married Joseph, who did not dance at all, I danced around the house with my broom or mop when I was cleaning house.  I can no longer do that, but once in a while, I still find myself tapping my feet to the sound of a good old Cajun tune.

18 September 2001

Copyright © 2001 Aline T. Meaux, Abbeville, LA

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