Saturday, August 27, 2005

Montgomery Ward Winter Catalogue

Thanks to RETURNING's piece Christmas in August, I just spent a few happy minutes reminiscing.

Winter in the Adirondacks. For a child who preferred reading and imagination over cold and wet farming activities like, oh, say, feeding the cows or banging nails backward out of boards so we could use them again, or hauling supplies up to the sugar house (this was back when sugar houses were in the actual maple stands, when you didn't have a million miles of ugly blue or black tubing weaving through the woods standing at the ready to decapitate an errant snowmobiler) The Sears Wishbook and the Montgomery Ward Winter Catalogs were the delight of my childhood.

I'd sit for hours in our back kitchen, with my feet in the oven of the wood stove, a blankey around my shoulders, and the Montgomery Ward catalogue on my lap. My favorite imagination game was, at that time, Let's Raise an Army and Go and Free All the People under Apartheid. (I'd heard an early radio broadcast on PBS or the CBC-Radio Canada, and 12 year old self was pissed off. Equal work for equal pay was a commandment, wasn't it?)

The Montgomery Ward Catalogue had clothes and boots and camping supplies. It had hard cheeses and saucages and fruitcake, rifles, hunting bows, rope, parkas, trucks, motorcycles and tools. Everything I needed to outfit my army.

I'd make long shopping lists, making sure that my army had enough food and supplies, that everthing would fit in their backpacks. I'd make sure that they had light sox and heavy sox, that their underwear would hold up over time, and that there was a good amount of candy included in their supplies. I'd order different kinds of boots so my army would have choices, and they could share and make sure that everyone had shoes that were good for them. I had worn army boots, and they stunk.

In between bouts of outfitting my army, forced to do chores, I'd lean on the clothes dryer while waiting for it to finish, and I'd read about Deitrich Bonhoeffer, and Martin and Malcolm and think about using violence to end violence.

Then I'd close my books and fold clothes and wonder why no one else was doing anything to free people in South Africa.

This compulsive planning thing would later come in handy when I decided to be a DRE... Happily, my job doesn't require guns.


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