"You Are Here"
If you were to ask who had the coolest mom, we'd have told you hands down it was Gary Butler's mom, Mrs "B". Heck, she was probably the best in Alpine Springs, maybe even in the whole state.
On those long hot days of summer Mrs B would always have a big plate of bologna and cheese sandwiches for us to munch on and a pitcher of of ice cold lemon-aid to quench our thirsts.
Sunday's were one of my favorite days to happen by Gary's place. Like most of us back then he had a house with one of those big covered porches in front and you could bet your bicycle Mrs B would be sitting on the bench swing reading from an old tattered black, leather bound Bible. You also knew on the table next to her would be a large ceramic platter with a couple dozen freshly baked cookies.
I never realized until that summer that there were so many different kinds of cookies. She made oatmeal-raisen ones and little ball shaped ones dusted with powdered sugar. There were round scalloped edged ones with jam filled centers. There were peanut butter cookies complete with criss crosses on top and then there were my favorites of course, chocolate chip with walnuts. Those in particular were best when they were still warm in the center from the oven and you could smell the melted chocolate hovering in the air.
The cookies sat there ready for the taking, but they did come with one small price. Before we could have one, (or two, or three) she'd read a verse from the good book and then ask each person if she could pray for them. Saying yes was never a prerequisite to getting your treat, but we always figured it wouldn't hurt either. Most of us thought it was a little goofy at the time, but now that I sit here all these years later preparing my sermon for the upcoming Sunday service I remember Mrs B's cookies and prayers and it puts a smile on my aging face.
The weekly trip to the cookie laden platter was great, but there was one other thing Mrs B did that clearly put her into the "Mom Hall of Fame".
It was the last week in August when summer vacation was coming to a close and the threat of another school year loomed on the horizon. I think Gary's mom knew we needed a boost and boy oh boy did she come through in a big way.
Making the rounds from one buddy's house to another, we eventually ended up at Gary's, and there it was. Hanging on the back fence was a hand drawn map. Not just any map mind you, but a fell fledged treasure map, complete with an "X" marking a yet undisclosed location. Scribed at the bottom in elegant handwriting were the words, "Young pirates... An adventure awaits you. Go forth, follow the clues and you will find the hidden gold!". It was signed, "Mrs Blackbeard".
I'm sure they heard us three counties away as we danced about cheering and shouting. With the speed of a gold medal relay team we tore around the side of the house to the front porch where a smiling Mrs B was waiting. Dressed in black pants, a white blouse and a scarlet sash tied around her mid section, she definitely looked the part of the piratess. She even had one of those traditional black flags with the skull and cross bones on it flying proudly where she normally kept one of her flower pattered ones.
"Where is it?"
Where's the gold Mrs B?", we cried loudly.
Through her ear to ear grin she handed us a rolled up scroll and said simply, "You found the map and now you have the clues to go along with it. Take them and find your gold."
Then she interjected, "Oh, and before you go, you may want these."
The "These" she was referring to was a bag full of bandannas, eye patches, feathers for our hair and even a couple of plastic swords. Yep, we were unmistakably a band of pirates now and were ready for our quest.
The next two or so hours would take us all over the neighborhood and even through the nearby park. From one discovery to the next, we trudged about, hooping and hollering all the way. With swords raised high we practiced our "Arrrgh's" and "Aye Matey's".
Up trees and over fences we went hoping each clue would be the one that ultimately led us to our treasure, and that's when we found it; the clue that said, "Congratulations young pirates, you've made it this far. Now go to Blackbeard's hideout and look for the X."
We knew exactly what it meant. Blackbeard's hideout was Mrs B's house.
"I knew it!" we all yelled. Like being shot from a cannon we took off for Gary's pla... that is, Blackbeard's place.
Once again we found Mrs B on the front porch.
"Where's the X?" we squealed.
Shrugging her shoulders and lifting her palms up she said, "Don't know. Maybe out back?"
That's all we needed. Around back we went like a flash. Pinned to the fence just where we started was a new note. This one said, "You are here". Below it was freshly tilled soil with a giant X placed on top of it fashioned out of golden fabric and leaning on the cedar fenced next to it was a shovel.
Gary got the honors and started digging. A few scoops in we all heard a "Clank!" Dropping the shovel Gary and the rest of us fell to our knees and started pawing at the dirt unearthing the small metal box that now doubled as a treasure chest. We lifted it out of the ground and popped open the lid. Our eyes opened wide and jaws fell agape as we looked inside. Dozens and dozens of gold coins lay glistening before us in the late summer sunlight. They were chocolate filled of course, but as far as we were concerned, they were pure gold.
Dedicated to my mom who was and still is a Mrs B mom.