It’s an amazing feeling when an ancient joy from one’s childhood reintroduces itself to you after it has been long forgotten.
This past week an old family joke snuck up behind me and tapped me on the shoulder like an old friend.
This happened through a flurry of emails exchanged between myself, my Aunt, Uncle and cousins.
In response to one of my emails, my cousin wrote me:
I also remember the plaque on the wall of the kitchen:
“Fürchte dich nicht, glaube nur!”
We used to make fun of it, saying…
“Freak da Deek Neek, Cow Manure”….
Sorry, hate to wax sacreligious…
As I read this e-mail, it all came back to me.
I immediately envisioned my Aunts’s kitchen in the 1960’s. She and her family had a lovely home in Virginia, not far from Washington D.C.
I visited there often and enjoyed playing with her two sons, my cousins. We would climb trees, play games, watch television. Sometimes we would walk to the end of their street where a ravine overlooked a major highway, Route 66, which led straight to the nation’s capital. From there, we would often count the Herbies (or Volkswagens) as they whizzed by.
My Aunt also had another young son and infant daughter, which I grew to love dearly as well.
Their family lived in a large multi-level house tucked into a huge wooded backdrop. There was a huge wooden deck and even a tire swing in the back.
The kitchen included the latest brown modern appliances with wallpaper in an orange motif.
On one of the walls, hung a brown wooden plaque engraved in a traditional German style script bearing the formidable Baptist religious message:
“Füerchte dich nicht, glaube nur!”
Which in English translates into:
“Fear not, only believe!”
In the middle was a large kitchen table where my cousins and I shared many noisy mealtimes, chatting, laughing and being typical children.
At one point during the meal, one of my cousins would suddenly put on the sternest faces they could muster, stand up, point to the plaque on the wall and give their phonetically revised rendition of above said plaque:
“Freak da Deek Neek, Cow Manure”….
Of course, that’s when we all lost our compose and fall upon each other in heaps of uncontrollable laughter.
How could any child not love that carefully constructed homonymous series of words, (or wordy wanna-bees) with the irresistibly wicked kicker…
“Cow manure,” for an ending.
If I try hard enough, I can still hear our delicious snickers.
After a few minutes, we would finally compose ourselves and then check our clothes and placemats to clear off the bits of food we were chewing before they were unceremoniously spewed from our mouths while we laughed.
Only when it was all over, and our stomachs were sore from laughing, would we then turn our attention back to the meal.
The incredible beauty of this scene is that not only did it happened once or twice, but virtually every time we gathered at this same table.
We laughed over this same amusing string of words over and over again with almost every meal. All it took was for someone to choose the most unsuspecting moment to spring it upon the others who were gathered at the table.
It never got old.
And so, it happened again this week…
Once again, one of my cousins sent me an email, and caught me totally unaware with an eclectic moment from our past…
…And I was laughing and feeling like I was eleven years old all over again.
Thank you cousins.
We’ve got to get us some of those signs to put in our own kitchens!