This is my first attempt at writing a children’s book.
It is heavily based on my childhood and told from the perspective of me at age five, which would mean it takes place in the year 1992.
I initially wrote most of it in the Summer of 2016, but recently did some editing and now I feel as if I’m ready to share it with the world.
Without further ado, here we go:
I arrive at my grandparents’ house and they welcome me with open arms.
My grandma offers me breakfast: oatmeal with hot syrup.
My grandpa sits at the table with me.
Suddenly he sneezes very loudly, “HYEH-HOO!” My grandma jumps out of fright. I just laugh. She then gives him a dirty look and he rubs my head. I finish eating my breakfast and then look out the front door. The mail truck is coming in the distance. I watch. Finally, it is near my grandparents’ mailbox and the mailman puts several letters in.
“I’m going get the mail,” My grandpa says.
“Our Social Security checks should be in today, honey.” My grandma replies.
We walk to the mailbox and my grandpa picks up the mail then we walk back to the house.
“Yes, our checks are in. I’ll go to the bank and cash them,” He says, handing her the rest of the mail.
My grandma opens the envelopes, signs her check then says, “After that go to the hardware store and get a new light fixture for the utility room. ”
I look at my grandpa and ask “Can I come with you?”
“Sure,” He replies.
“Get our medicine from the drug store too, honey,”
“Yes, ma’am.” He answers.
My grandma gives him another dirty look.
We then walk to his old truck and he starts it. The engine makes a loud noise and then we take off.
As we are driving down the road there is a car in front of us going super slow. My grandpa blows his horn and shouts, “Come on you turtle!”
“If your grandma saw me acting like that she would fuss, so don’t tell her what I just did.”
I nod my head and grin.
We go through the drive up window at the bank. My grandpa signs his check and also hands my grandma’s check to the teller. She then hands him a lot of money, then she also gives me some candy.
My grandpa leaves the bank and I eat. “Don’t tell your grandma I let you have candy,” He tells me.
I motion as if I am zipping my lips and he smiles.
We arrive at the hardware store and my grandpa parks his truck. We walk through the store and into the electrical department. I stare at all the lights on display.
“How is this one?” He asks.
“It looks cool to me,” I reply, then continue “Could I help you put it up?”
“Sure!” My grandpa replies, “I do need a helper and you’re perfect for the job.”
My grandpa picks up the light, still in its package and then we walk to the counter.
He pays the check out lady.
She prints some papers and hands them and the light to my grandpa, then we leave the store.
We get back in his truck. He starts it and the engine makes that loud noise again. I laugh.
“One day, when I am really old, this will be your truck, E.J.”
“Awesome!” I say.
We then drive to the drug store, then enter and both sit on a stool at the counter while the pharmacist gets the medicine.
She tells him the price and he hands her the cash.
“Boy, thank God for Medicare!” My grandpa tells her as he is handed several bags.
“What’s Medicare?” I ask.
“Something for old people like me and your grandma,” He replies.
Another old man walks up to my grandpa and they begin talking in French. I’m puzzled because I don’t know what they’re saying.
I look at my grandpa, point to the old man and ask, “Who’s that?”
“E. J., that’s Mister Cecil. We worked together at the factory.”
Mister Cecil looks at me and says “Your grandpa told us many jokes and made us laugh during those long shifts.”
“He makes me laugh too. What was his job at the factory?”
“He loaded the syrup we made into railroad cars and I was in charge of the piping system,” Mister Cecil replies.
“That’s awesome!” I say.
“We’d still be working there if it wasn’t for the factory closing,” My grandpa says.
“Well, you know durn good and well there were some dirty dealings going on,” Mister Cecil adds in.
“Yeah, but that was way beyond our control,” My grandpa answers.
They go back to talking in French for a while then finally shake hands and Mister Cecil leaves.
My grandpa and I leave the drug store as well.
He starts his truck and the engine makes that loud sound again.
We both laugh.
We head back to the house, then walk through the door.
We walk into the utility room and my grandpa opens the door to the broom closet. He gets his flashlight and tools out, then goes to the fuse box and turns off the electricity.
“Safety first-remember that, E.J.!” He tells me.
I nod and smile.
The house is dark, so he turns his flashlight on.
He takes a chair from the kitchen and brings it to the utility room. He then stands on top of it under the old light fixture.
My grandpa hands me his flashlight and says “E. J., shine me some light.”
I shine it at the fixture.
He then says, handing me his pocket knife, “E. J. cut the box open.”
“I don’t want E. J. handling a knife, he’s too young!” My grandma shouts.
“Aw, shucks! I’m old enough!” I say.
“No your grandma is right, E. J. I don’t want you to hurt yourself. I just forget how young you are sometimes,” He pauses then says, “I’ll open it.”
He cuts through the package and takes out the new light, along with the wire nuts and fasteners.
“Now keep shining that flashlight E. J. and get me a screwdriver and cutting pliers.”
I hand him the tools. The old fixture soon comes down and grandpa puts the new one up. My grandpa then pulls the switch cord.
“All done!” He says, “Now shine some light on the fuse box, E. J.”
I shine it and he turns the electricity back on. The new fixture lights up the utility room brightly.
“Now turn my flashlight off E. J.”
Reluctantly I turn it off and say, “Aw shucks.”
“Now, E.J., I need to conserve the battery. You never know when a big storm will come.”
“I guess you’re right grandpa. I just think your flashlight is so cool!”
My grandpa looks at my grandma and says, “Now, hopefully, the next time that fixture needs to be replaced E. J. will be a grown man and he can do it for us.”
“He better finish college first,” My grandma says sternly, then continues, “Since the power is back on, I’m going to watch my stories while I do some cooking and sewing.”
“Well I’m going work in the garden,” My grandpa says.
“I’m coming with you,” I tell him.
We pick green beans, corn, okra, and tomatoes until I see a raccoon coming into the garden.
“Look, grandpa, a raccoon.”
“E. J., get inside right now!” My grandpa says with urgency.
I go, but watch and listen through the screen door.
My grandpa chases the raccoon clapping his hands several times while stomping his foot and shouting “Get. Gone. Get outta here.” The dog begins to bark. Finally, the raccoon runs away. I laugh until my sides ache.
“All right E. J. you can come back now,” He says, then continues “Never go near a raccoon, they’re vicious and they carry rabies.”
I nod and keep a sharp eye looking for more raccoons. Thankfully no more show up.
My grandpa continues working in his garden until we hear my grandma shout, “Dinner’s ready.”
We walk back to the house.
“What are we having?” I ask.
“Green beans and potatoes.” My grandma answers.
“Yuck!” I say.
“Well if you don’t want that, you can have a can of Vienna Sausage,” My grandpa answers.
My grandma gives my grandpa a pair of eyes.
“What the matter now, honey?” He asks her.
“You should know very well that Vienna Sausage isn’t good for him,” She answers.
“Oh, doggone it, let him enjoy that whiles he’s young. He won’t be able to eat that kind of stuff when he’s old like us.”
“I guess, honey. But you know his parents want him to eat healthy food,” She replies.
“We don’t have to tell them about it. Besides what will one little can hurt?” My grandpa says as he opens the can and hands the sausages to me.
We all sit down to eat.
My grandparents take their medicines during dinner. They pop several pills and wash them down with Royal Crown Cola.
I drink Cherry Kool-Aid to wash down my Vienna Sausages.
“One day I want you to try green beans, though, E.J. They taste good and they’re good for you,” My grandpa says.
“Okay, I’ll try them one day when I am all grown up.”
My grandma says, “Hopefully before then.”
“Better late than never.” My grandpa says.
After we eat my grandpa takes me in his truck and we ride through the fields. He checks his cattle and the fencing around the property.
He works on the fence and I watch until the sun begins to set. We then head back to the house.
We walk up the back porch and into the door. My grandpa washes his hands in the kitchen sink, then shakes them dry. I stand on a chair and do the same.
“E.J., use a towel instead.” My grandma says with irritation.
My grandpa then begins to scratch his back on the doorpost.
I smile, then go across the room and scratch my back on the other doorpost.
My grandpa then lets out a loud sneeze, “HYEH-HOO!”
I laugh, then say, “I’m going to sneeze like that too from now on!”
My grandma says angrily at me “Don’t you dare E.J.!” She then looks at my grandpa and says, “You see that honey, E. J. is picking up all of your bad habits.”
“That’s because he’s my flesh and blood,” My grandpa answers proudly.
“But he starts school in a few weeks and we can’t have him acting like that in the classroom.”
My grandpa pokes his tongue at my grandma and then asks, “What’s for supper?”
“Homemade bread and coffee. But E.J. will have hot milk instead, we can’t have him up all hours of the night. So, don’t give him any.”
“Yes, ma’am!” My grandpa answers her.
“Aw shucks,” I say.
She gives him a dirty look, then we eat. My grandparents take their nighttime medication.
After supper, we watch the television for a little while.
The news is on.
Suddenly we hear the dog barking and the cows mooing incessantly.
My grandpa retrieves his flashlight and turns it on.
“I’m going see what’s going on outside,” My grandpa says.
“I want to go too and see grandpa’s flashlight light up the night.”
“No, E. J. you need to get to bed,” My grandma says.
“Aw shucks!” I reply.
“Now, E.J.!” My grandma orders.
My grandpa goes outside. I hear his truck start up, then reluctantly I go lay down in the spare bedroom and soon fall asleep.
I guess I’ve been asleep for a while, but then, suddenly I’m woken up by the screen door opening and shutting. Then I hear a loud “HYEH-HOO!” I laugh to myself and realize that my grandpa is back.
I get out of bed and walk into the living room.
“What happened outside?” I ask.
“One of my heifers got stuck in the barbed wire fence.”
I see him picking up his flashlight and then ask, “Could I play with it for a little while?”
“Sure.” He says.
“Yes!” I reply.
I shine it all over the room, on walls, windows and pictures then I notice some writing on the flashlight. I ask my grandpa “What does it say on the sides?”
“Eveready Commander.” He replies. “Eveready is the company and Commander is the model of the flashlight.”
“What does N o dot five one two two mean?”
“The No. means number which is fifty-one twenty-two.”
“What does it say below that?”
“Made in Hong Kong. That’s the city in China, where this flashlight was made.”
“On the other side of the world. And, you know while it’s nighttime here, it’s daytime over there.”
“And what does it say on the left back side?” I ask.
“Union Carbide-that’s the company that owned Eveready when this flashlight was made. And below it says New York, NY. In other words New York City in New York State. That’s where one of Union Carbide’s offices were located. The 5 numbers, one zero zero one seven is the zip code for that part of New York City,” My grandpa replies.
My grandpa then looks at my grandma and says “You see that, honey, I’m teaching E.J. geography and how to read.”
“Teach him tomorrow; he needs to be in bed at this hour.” My grandma says.
I hang my head in disappointment.
My grandpa looks at me and says “Tell you what, if you go to sleep right now, you can have my flashlight. I worked many night shifts with it, loading syrup into tank cars, but it’s yours now. I’ll just buy a new one at the hardware store tomorrow.”
“You really mean it, grandpa?” I ask.
“Sure, so why don’t you get to bed.” He says.
“All right,” I reply, happily.
“You better not take it with you to school or your teacher will take it away.” My grandma interjects.
“Yes, that’s right. And we don’t want that to happen.” My grandpa replies.
I begin to get sleepy and they both hug me good night and I walk to my bed. Soon, I am fast asleep…