Monday, August 8, 2011


Copyright © 2011 by Patricia Lieb
No part of this book can be used except for brief quotes for book reviews without written permission from the author.

Riding around town after a day of swimming at Bramble Pool.
Me, atop Margaret Ann’s convertible

(For Connie Francis:
You give me more than a song)

“When the skies are gray
Or blue, any place on earth
Will do...”

I think I was about fourteen

years old when I joined a car club.
Together, with other teens, wearing our
Red-and-white school jackets with
The “Spinner” emblem attached—
Yep, we were the Spinners,
And we met, at some paved turf
Usually off Tennessee Road, I think,
Where we drove cars at a special speed
And then stopped on the dime.
Yes—we stopped
On a real dime. I even got a rating
Once, says Wayne’s records.
But I don’t know how.
All the time music from car
Radios accompanied loud pipes and giggles
With sounds that lurked from the back-woods
And frogs from Wooten’s pond.
Lyrics, were they those
Of Chuck Berry, “driving along in my automobile”?

Or was it the voice that would forever sound
Through the reckless nights, and leave an enigma
Twisting like a hurricane in my mind?
You confess in song,
“Blame it on my youth,”

Connie Francis cried the night
Cut the air like headlights beaming
From long convertibles
In and out of every selected drive-in
Hangout in Texarkana;
In 1957—we knew
Where the boys were, where

Around the corner a sudden
Captivating face to face encounter—
A boy with a smile
And simple words formed
On his mouth, and depth in his eyes.
Again and again dancing
Prom nights; and after the music,
The spring air and song of crickets
Tranquilizing endlessly
My head and my heart
As my cheese-cloth formal
Crinkled and cracked against my legs
And his pink carnation
Crushed my matching courage.

“A million years it seems,
Have gone by…”

And soon perplexed
Times came with hanging-out,
With teens that rocked;
When everybody was somebody’s
Fool and Connie’s songs blasted
From the stereo of some boy’s red convertible
With spinner hubcaps glistening silver in the night.
We girls squealed like baby pigs—
Jumped in for the ride.
We saw him a few times that winter,
When he’d come down to Texarkana
From somewhere up in Arkansas.

“Frankie, wherever you are...”

But some of the boys
From the rich side of town,
Fast and careless,
There, waiting,
Their music playing—
From stereos of their “daddy-bought”—
Just from the showroom—
White convertibles;

Teens were allowed at the honkytonks
And other night places
As long as we brought our own
“Stuff” and purchased snazzy setups
(You know—a bucket of ice, festooned with
Lemons, olives, cherries…)
Expensive, certainly—fifty cents a tub—perhaps.
The I’ve-got-it-made boys with money paid—
At the Hut Club, where police
Kept their distance—
And we went along for what could have been
A deadly ride—

Guess we followed the boys,
Some innocent, some wild.
Innocent were those dancing nights,
Those drive-in movie nights,
Those hold me tight and don’t let go nights;
Wild were the mister-tough-guys—
Like one who carried a gun,
Thought it was funny when his bullet
Took the cigarette from his girlfriend’s mouth
And stunned all
Partying late at the lake that night.

“My heart has a mind of its own,”
Your lyrics clearly stress.

Convertibles and dances
Come and go with romances
But the words and music linger
The long night after youth—

I love my granny. You really here?


Nights were cold in the winter and hot in the summer.
There was no in between. Under the cover
On my bed, I tried not to move from the spot my body
Had warmed on the icy starched sheet.
I pretended fresh cut straw
Was piled thick between me and the loose wallpaper
Hanging from the bedroom ceiling, past the house rafters,
All the way to the moon. Straw packed tightly against me.
So much straw it warmed my whole bed
To the point I could not possibly freeze. To the point the water
Running from my eyes and nose would stay warm
As it rolled over my cheek.

When winter turned to spring, the need for straw disappeared.
I slept with only Baby-Doll pajamas covering my skin.
Then summer came blowing dust and sand spurs
As if Hell’s fiery furnace suddenly opened to refuel
In this Arkansas-Texas border town.
Unbearably hot—we forgot the sound of rain dripping
From the tin-roofed porch. Restless
On the old enter-spring mattress,
I tried desperately to remove the straw,
Leftover from winter’s cold, as now it stung my skin.
But the harder I tried, the more the sweat rolled from my pours.
The straw, on fire, burning. Burning my sub-consciousness.
Never, ever, ever could cold come over me again.

Straw, now cracks so its juices tinge my nostrils
And swells my taste buds.

The mercury rises.
Too much comes.
I lie here, beside myself, and sizzle.
Mother and little Gary 
Daddy, Paul, baby Gary in the buggy, and me. Notice the scarf tied around my head to protect my hair from the sun. That wool scarf wasn’t comfortable at all.  

With your name on my sweater,
I walked across the Arkansas viaduct,
Wind blowing my skirt
Like a parachute.

We rode December nights
In convertibles;
Hung out at Lake Texarkana
Went swimming in our jeans. Partied,
Between the trees,
Danced on the boat-docks.
Remember the night Robert Earl
Was singing “Three little pigs,
We’re going to the hut club,
The big bad wolf
Wouldn’t let us in” and he grinned
Like he was about to do something out-of-the-blue.
Guess that’s why he bent over on the wooden dock,
Poked the car key to his new Chevy convertible
Right through a crack,
Turned loose and the key sank
Deep into the dark dam water,
And he just kept that grin, his whole cheeks
Glowing under the midnight moon,
And sang another song—“Lavender’s blue,
Dilly dilly, Lavender’ green,”
Like he thought we’d remember.

At about 8-years-old
My toes scraped letters in the dirt,
Drew lines and circles and stuff
While the swing swayed
Back and forth
Its ropes twisting
From the White Oak limb
In our yard on Bramble Street:
I spun round and round
And I dreamed to the music of leaves
And danced stories in my mind
To linger the years.
Aunt Ginny, Gary, me, Mary and Paul on the playground at College Hill School

Product Details

  • File Size: 708 KB
  • Print Length: 86 pages (poems, photos, essays of growing up in the 1950s in Texarkana, Arkansas
  • Publisher: Lieb Books (June 19, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008D4S3XG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled 

AMONG-MY-SOUVENIRS-Kindle ebook by Patricia Lieb