Last week we announced that Lovely Whitmore’s 1378 OAK STREET is our Kids Corner Book of the Week and the sponsor of thousands of great bargains in the Kids Book category: over 250 free titles, over 500 quality 99-centers, and hundreds more that you can read for free through the Kindle Lending Library if you have Amazon Prime!
Now we’re back to offer a free Kids Corner excerpt, and if you aren’t among those who have downloaded this one already, you’re in for a treat!
by Lovely Whitmore
Kid’s today don’t know how to play… Growing up in Atlanta, Georgia in the 80′s was filled with fun, friendship and lots of adventure. Especially for me and my siblings, on Oak Street!
We weren’t rich, but we learned to take what we had and have fun with it. We played restaurant, made mud pies and had barbecue chicken made out of sticks and dirt. There was never a dull moment as we fought monsters, played chase and took turns riding one bike. It was a time when imagination reigned supreme and dreams were the stuff of life.
Take a walk down my memory lane. Take off your shoes, grab a cup of lemonade and stay awhile…you’ll enjoy your visit to Oak Street. A heartwarming story the whole family will enjoy.
One Reviewer Notes
“The story was very funny, heart-felt, and kept you wondering “What’s going to happen next?!” I would definitely advise parents to get this book to read to their kids.”- Amazon Reviewer, 5 Stars
And here, for your reading pleasure, is our free excerpt:
1378 Oak Street
A novelette by Lovely Whitmore
The New House
Children don’t know how to play no more. Nowadays all they do is sit on their butts playing video games or texting on their cellular phones, or surfing the internet on their computers, laptops, and other handheld devices.
It ain’t nothing like the good old days. When I was coming up we didn’t have all that high tech pricy stuff. It didn’t take much to keep me and my brother and sister entertained. Even though we weren’t rich we always knew how to have fun with what we had.
When I was six years old back in nineteen eighty-five, my family moved into a pink and yellow two bedroom house on Oak Street. It was located in Atlanta, Georgia in the West End. Although Oak Street was a very long road that had many connections; the end that we moved on only had three houses on it.
Ours was wooden and had a gravel driveway on the left side, a rectangular section in front of the house that could be used for a flower bed, and a huge yard area on the opposite side of the flower bed that was separated by a walkway. There was a brick border that went around the outside of the yard. This brick boarder got so much action from me and my siblings over the years. I’m surprised the bricks never needed replacing. We would walk along the trail like we were tight rope walking in the circus. On one end of the yard if we were to fall it would be at least a two foot fall. A huge tree stood in the front yard providing shade in the right side of the yard. That’s where we kept OL’ Boy.
The day after we moved in Daddy brought OL’ Boy home and put him in the yard next to the porch and chained him to a stake in the ground. OL’ Boy was a Rottweiler a big dog, he was black and brown. OL’ Boy was good at being a guard dog but not so much at being a pet. Well at least not to me. I was scared of him so I mostly stayed away from that side of the yard where he could roam.
Our two bedroom house had a living room, a den, a long hallway, kitchen and bathroom. My parents turned the den into their bedroom. Since there was no door that separated their room from the living room my dad had a sliding glass door put in. Mama put curtains up in behind the sliding door so we could not see in the room. Our porch was huge. I loved that it was so big that we were able to do so much playing on that porch.
If you entered the house from the porch you would be in the living room. It was a nice size room with plenty of space. It had a brick fireplace with a huge mantel piece above it on the east wall. There was a huge picture that sat on the mantel piece covering the whole wall. On that picture was a black woman with a big afro. She was not wearing a shirt or bra. As a matter of fact now that I look back she really wasn’t wearing anything. I use to be so scared to look at that picture so I hardly did. On the mantel were several small wood knots of animals and dolls.
Our furniture in the living room was decent, nothing fancy. There were huge oval shaped red with white stripe rugs on the floor. There was one under the coffee table and one under each end table. I don’t know why they were there. To me they were ugly but I guess my mama must have liked them because we had them for a long time. We had a floor model television in the living room on the north wall. It was brown. We didn’t have cable but there were quite a few free channels that we could pick up with the antenna. The big sofa was in front of the glass sliding door on the west side of the room that led to our parent’s room. We had another couch along the south side of the room.
If you walked through the living room heading south you would reach the door to our room. Me, and my sister Keasha, shared a room. We had a set of wooden bunk beds, some ugly yellow dressers, a toy trunk, and a huge window. Our room was big enough for the two of us. Even though I complained about sharing rooms with Keasha deep down inside I don’t think I would have liked having my own room, well having to clean up a whole room was worst than having to only clean half a room.
Keasha was two years younger than me. She was sick. She had a muscle disease that made it hard for her to stretch her arms and legs out all the way sometimes. She couldn’t do a lot of the things that I could. She couldn’t run as fast or play sports as well. Sometimes she had to wear splints or casts on her arms. She was very skinny. Her disease had something to do with her not being able to gain much weight too. Even though she ate a lot she hardly gained any weight that you could notice. Her doctors had her taking steroids for muscle. Her face was skinny and she had long black shiny hair. I mean her hair came all the way down her back. I loved her hair and wished mine could only ever grow half as long. She was lighter skinned about the same complexion as daddy.
Keasha wasn’t born sick. As a matter of fact she didn’t start showing symptoms of this disease until she was almost five. One day we were running to the ice cream truck and she just fell down mid flight. Mama told her to get up and she said she couldn’t it hurt. Her legs had somehow locked up.
My parents were young, very young. Mama had me when she was fifteen and daddy was only seventeen. So when they saw that Keasha was having problems with walking and stretching her arms out, at first they yelled at her. They thought she was playing. They thought she was doing it on purpose for attention. It took my grandmother to come over and tell them to take her to the hospital. That wouldn’t be the last time my sister Keasha would spend days or weeks in the hospital though.
My little brother was eleven months younger than Keasha. He was named after our dad. His name was Curtis Lee Jones Junior, and he looked a lot like Keasha but a boy version.
My brother’s room was right after ours. He had a huge room. He had a bed and some of those same ugly yellow stackable dressers in his room. He never slept in there though. He always slept on the floor in our room. He had this wool blanket that he loved and carried around with him all the time. It was blue when mama bought it.
All three of us kids sucked our thumb. I don’t know what it was about it that I loved but I sucked my thumb so much that my front teeth stuck out. My sister sucked hers but had excellent teeth. My brother sucked his backwards and would always hold a piece of that blanket up to his lip. I think he liked tickling his lip with the lint.
I was the tallest and the oldest. We all were skinny but me and Junior had a lot more meat on our bones than our sister. I looked totally different from Keasha. My skin complexion was dark brown, like mama and Junior. My eyes were always said to be bedroom eyes.
After you pass Junior’s room there was a long hallway that led to my parent’s room. You could go left to get to the bathroom. Our bathroom was basic; it had the normal necessities; a tub, toilet and sink. There was a linen cabinet above the tub that was used to keep towels, wash cloths, soap, extra rolls of tissue, and other things. If you opened the cabinet under the sink you could see under the house. It was scary.
Our kitchen was next. It had a huge table that was close to the wall and two windows. We had a table cloth on top of the table that hung down close to the floor. If you went into the kitchen from the hallway next to Junior’s room there was no door just a doorway. From the kitchen to mama and daddy’s room there was a swinging door that made a loud sound every time it was opened.
My mama was a pretty skinny chocolate shaded woman. She wasn’t very tall but she was taller than us. Her complexion was dark like mine and Junior’s. Her hair was shoulder length and she wore it in a mushroom style. That was a normal style in the eighties, many black women wore it.
My daddy was very tall and skinny. He had bedroom eyes like me; his complexion was more like Keasha’s.
When we moved in our new home on Oak Street it was still summer time. Daddy had started a new job at an auto repair shop and would be gone to work from early in the morning until just before it started getting dark. He was an auto mechanic. He fixed all types of cars, trucks and vans.
Mama was a housewife. Her job was taking care of the house. She cooked, cleaned, did laundry, combed me and my sister’s hair and gossiped on the phone with my aunties for the rest of the day when she would be done with her work.
There was only two other houses on our end of Oak Street. Our house was at the top of the hill. The house next door to us was blue and white. No one lived in it. The one next door to it was red and white and boarded up.
There was a house across the street that was pointing on Muse Street which was at the cross street to ours and the end of the hill. Directly in front of us was a big church that pointed on Langhorn Street. It was pink and had a huge grassy yard on the side of it that was across from our house. On the other side of it was a big paved parking lot with a huge oak tree in the middle.
The very day after we moved in Me, Keasha and Junior were outside in the yard playing with mud making mud cakes. Mama had told us we could play outside as long as we wanted but we were not allowed to go in the street. The sidewalk was our barrier. So that day we were playing in the front yard.
Me and Keasha were the cooks. We had walked around the yard and gathered some sticks, leaves, grass, rocks and dirt. Junior was running around with a soda bottle trying to catch a bumble bee.
“Maybe we should get some dishes out of the house to put the food in.” I told Keasha.
“Yeah, let’s get Junior to sneak in the kitchen and get some. Then we can have our restaurant on the porch of the old red and white house down the street.” She stood up, dusting the dirt off her pants.
“Juuuuniooooor,” she called out.
“We need you to go in the kitchen and get us some plates and spoons and forks.”
“What for?” he put the earthworm he had captured in the bottle and screwed the top back on.
“So we can have something to serve your food on when you buy it from our restaurant.” I told him.
“Food? You talking bout that dirt and them sticks?”
“Nooo when we take them to our restaurant, and use the real dishes, they gonna turn to real food. The sticks will be some good ol barbeque chicken, the grass will be spaghetti, the leaves will be collard greens and for desert we got these hot apple pies.”
“You telling a story, that’s just leaves and dirt and sticks, I ain’t bout to get in trouble over some fake food.”
Keasha rolled her eyes. “Well if you don’t get us the dishes don’t be mad when we don’t give you none of our ice-cream, yeah that’s right we got ice-cream but we keeping it in the freezer in the house so it won’t melt while we getting the rest of the food ready.”
“I don’t bah-leeve you. Punkin, do yall really have some ice-cream in the freezer.” He looked up at me.
“Yes if you don’t believe me go look. And when you see the ice-cream you will know we telling the truth. Then you can grab the dishes and meet us at the red and white house.”
It was always easy to get my little brother to do things. All I had to do was mention to him that I’d give him something he really liked in exchange.
“Ok I’m gonna go see and if it’s ice-cream in the freezer I’ll get the dishes but I don’t want no collard greens, just chicken and smuh-getti.”
Even though he was only three, my brother had a good vocabulary and could hold long conversations with folks like he was older than he was. Keasha and I, carried all the stuff we had down to the red and white house. A few minutes later Junior was coming down the street with the dishes. He had put them in a laundry bag and was struggling with it. I ran over and grabbed the bag and told him to sit on the steps while we got the food ready.
“Mmmm mmmm those pies smell so good.” Keasha said.
My sister and I flipped OL’Boys’ dog bowls over that we had made the pies in and patted them until the hard dirt cake was out of the bowl on the banister. We then put four sticks on each plate along with a few pieces of grass and leaves. Junior was playing with the worm he had caught, while he waited for us to tell him to come eat.
“You gonna need some money to pay for your plate Junior.” Keasha told him.
He went back up the road and in the house. When he came back he pulled three pennies and a dime out of his pocket that he had taken from mamas’ cigarette bank and gave it to my sister.
“Ok here is your plate. You have to eat everything off of it and then we will give you some ice-cream if you finish.” I told him, while my sister handed him the plate with a fork and steak knife.
He went and sat on the step. Less than a minute later he was screaming.
“What did you do?” my sister ran over and grabbed the knife from my brother’s bloody hand.
He screamed to the top of his lungs. My sister threw the knife on the ground and took off running up the street. I tried to look at his hand but he wouldn’t let me. Blood was all over his pants and my shirt. Mama ran down the street and grabbed my brother.
“Keasha told me you gave him a knife, Punkin what were you thinking.”
“Hush yo mouth; I don’t even wanna hear it. You are gonna get it when your daddy gets here young lady. You know better!”
She scooped my brother up and carried him up to the house. I walked behind her slowly. My sister had done what she always did in situations like this. Run tell mama and blame it all on me. I shoulda known not to let her give that idiot that knife but nobody told him to cut his hand all up.
Junior wouldn’t stop crying. Mama called the ambulance and told them to come get us. She then called daddy at work. When she got off the phone with daddy I started crying too. I knew I was gonna get a good whippin. I hated whippins, and daddy gave the worst whippin anyone could get. Mama always gets tired when she whips us but daddy don’t, he always gives at least ten paddles and they hurt bad.
Junior ended up getting twelve stitches. When we got home mama gave him and my sister some ice cream. I got a whippin from mama, a whippin from daddy and then when grandma came over I got a whippin from her too. I had to sit in the corner all the way till it was time for me to take my bath for bed. I hated that day.