In the Time of COVID. Day 43
April 30, 2020
Ode to “Idaho Red”
Staying home like this just naturally gets me to thinking. I’m an adventure man, myself, and when I can’t have one of those, why I just run off into my memories because I’ve have plenty. I was just thinking of old stuff from when I was a kid. There was lots of leavings. Old wood, old cars, old fruit trees from old houses and yards. Old falling down sheds full of fascinating what not. My neighborhood was built in the 1907 building boom. There were some strange old timey plants along the alleys and I loved those alleys.
Unlike today, kids use to just wander off. Folks thought nothing of it. I loved to wander off of a summer day. Wouldn’t need a lunch, lots of fruit hanging from the trees. Old timey apples and apricots and peaches and berries, volunteer tomatoes, wild asparagus tastes good, and the bite of rhubarb and pucker of choke cherries. Stuff was just growing, ripe for the picking. I’d fill my pockets and find me a perch. I’d look off at the world and set to wondering.
There was a high bank I especially favored. It was atop an underground reservoir and had a big play field on it. Kids used to fly kites from it and play fly up baseball on it. I’d dangle my legs over the edge and look down on a grocery store and an abandoned gas station and at Edith Lauer’s amazing building project.
My dad had a goofy name for everybody. He called Edith “Red” on account of her red hair, and he called her “Idaho” on account of she was way out their somewheres. Well, the state of Idaho was only 36 miles away but folks would say “Why go way over there, when we got all this, right here?”.
Idaho Red was a man woman. She did stuff men do. She built a house that must a took 7 years. She and her boyfriend Leroy would come a driven up in her old Hudson. She’d must a welded a lumber rack on that old boat, come to think of it. They’d pitch down a bunch of found wood, like they’ed tore down some old shed cause it was free stuff. Just pile it in the yard. Lots of piles in that yard. Now, I don’t know if Red started from scratch. To think of it, that wasn’t her way. Mighta just started building on a stout shed and up sprouted a two story house. Nothing fancy, heck, she didn’t even cut the weeds. That place was ah-naturale.
I can still see her up on the roof beams. Stripped to the waist , but for an industrial, ready for World War III, bra. Big old butt pointed skyward and driving nails like a man. She’d yell down to Leroy for a cut. She’d give the dimensions and he’d wander off into the piles. Best not wasting half boards, find the right length. Leroy was good at cutting but he was no show up high. I remember he favored red stripped pants and big suspenders. In summer he wore that wife-beater undershirt, but he was a pink guy. Had blond hair like that Boris Johnson over there in England. I never saw him work a hammer. He was more of a “got get that Leroy” sort of a sandwich and Kool-Aid man. Ya Idaho Red was a man woman and she had things to her liking.
I remember my sis, Janette , saying at the dinner table how that Idaho Red aught not to be going around in her bra, wasn’t decent. My mom said, “You going to go down there and tell her that?” We all had a big laugh. No one in that neighborhood gave Red any sass.
That’s how I learned women can do anything they want, especially if folks are afraid of them, Now it was always a big time watching those two love birds build their dream house.