During one of their visits, Otto and Eddie took me on board for a tour of their ship and a memorable lunch. Over the years, I’ve often tried to recall the name of their vessel. It still escapes me. What I do remember was the obvious respect the crew paid the two mates. And I remember the lunch as an ugly platter of codfish and boiled potatoes, followed by the most unusual, richly- flavored vanilla ice cream Id ever tasted. It was real vanilla bean ice cream, a proud specialty of the ship’s cook. He made it himself.
My grandmother was probably the only other person in the whole wide world who could dip into soft vanilla ice cream with the same insatiable gusto I displayed. She blushed and beamed with pleasure that next day when Otto and Eddie brought her a bouquet of flowers along with a full gallon can of freshly-made vanilla ice cream, right off the ship. They said the ice cream was a treat for the two of us.
We took ’em literally.
After they left with my mother and Agnes, we wasted no time. My grandmother and I began digging deep into the ice cream, piling one scoop on top of another in cereal bowls—gorging ourselves—and coming back for more. Sometime later, when we gradually slowed down, feeling satiated, bloated, vaguely sick and somewhat guilty, we realized we could see the bottom of the one-gallon can.
The entire episode was self-indulgent, gluttonous and glorious. Somehow, I think Brillat-Savarin would have understood.
Once in awhile, Agnes Peterson liked to get down in the dirt and shoot some marbles. Said she’d been a “deadeye” when she was a kid. On two successive shootouts, after she won all my marbles, I learned that I’d better believe her.
We were only playing “funsies,” so she gave them back to me. But at Buckman, during the lunch hour and after school, kids “played for keeps.” That’s when you keep any of the other guy’s marbles you knock out of the ring. Or vice versa. I won a few and lost a few. One time, however, I lost all my marbles in a hard-fought game with a schoolmate named Fred Hage.