The Reading Room
Pg 5 - The Sunshine Express
yourself, rejoice! For you, and I, can be diag-
It flowed under a train trestle. One day as the
nosed with "disorder deficit disorder"!
train passed over a cousin yelled out "here she
((Kelly Turner is the station manager
comes, the Wabash Cannonball!!"
"Seasonal Affective Disorder...is that from
at KRTZ-FM Radio 98.7/92.1 in Cortez.
The large oak table was heavy laden with
where we derived the word `sad'?" asked one
food, home fried chicken, mountains of
high school student to another as I passed
mashed potatoes, homemade dinner rolls
nearby during a recent foray down the fright-
with home churned butter so much food. Not
ful hallways of my alma mater. "It's sad that
to forget to mention the men's contribution
you have to ask that," I wanted to tell the
homemade ice cream. They had taken turns
young woman whilst shaking her by her
cranking the ice cream maker as they sat visit-
shoulders. Alas, I held my peace and moved
ing in the front yard.
on, figuring the courts might have some small
As the day faded the boys chased after light-
criticism for a 38-year-old man who shook an
ening bugs to capture in their glass canning
unknown teenager in a high school hallway.
jars while the girls sat under the grape arbor
There have been times when I felt like I must
whispering their secrets, june bugs flew under
have seasonal affective disorder, but as the
the porch light and bull frogs screamed from
spring thaws out my sensibilities, the bulbs of
their pond down by the barn.
self-pity bloom into...uh...jonquils of jovial-
The "Quilt " had quickened memories of that
ity? Chrysanthemums of contentment? As
The summer I graduated high school my
time. As I refolded the "Quilt" to return it to
I've written in the past, I am not a big fan of
grandmother gave me a quilt she had made.
the cedar chest, I wished my children and
winter, yet fully understanding that if I lived
For many years it, along with other winter
grandchildren could have experienced those
on, say, the northern Michigan peninsula, it
blankets, kept us warm.
magical times with family.
might be a wee bit worse. So, my seasonal
Came, though, the day I noticed the edges
Son called tonight, seems he, his sisters and
affective disorder is either a mild case or not
were beginning to fray and the colors were
cousins have been talking planning a family
really a disorder at all.
fading. The time had come to put it away in
reunion. He talked on with a touch of excite-
They used to call it "the blues" until 1981
the cedar chest.
ment in his voice, relaying their memories of
when the Louisiana Supreme Court heard the
On a recent visit from Son and grandchildren
the times they were all together as children at
case of Otis "Boom-Boom" Turner (no rela-
my grand-daughter asked to look inside the
their grandparents home.
tion) vs. Tulane University Board of Regents
cedar chest. Out came each item to be scruti-
I realized then, that they did experience those
and Tulane School of Medicine. Attorneys
nized then gently put aside, folded at the bot-
times with family, different than mine but just
representing Boom-Boom argued that med
tom lay the "Quilt".
as special to them.
students and doctors at Tulane University,
Sitting on the bedroom floor in a puddle of
Perhaps when my granddaughter is older
by diagnosing patients who experienced, at
sunshine streaming through the south win-
she would like to have the "Quilt". Our lives
certain times of the year, periodic anecdotal
dow we spread out the quilt. It covered our
are like the quilt; bright yellows, reds, blues,
emotional lows (no doubt attributable to
laps overflowing onto the floor. Her small fin-
spring flowers, happy times, dark times and
those harsh Louisiana winters), should not
gers traced the quilt blocks. She seemed awed
occasionally an elephant or two.
tell patients that they have "just a case of the
by the colors and design.
(Karen Schafer lives in Naturita)
blues". In his testimony, Turner (still no rela-
Abruptly her fingers stopped moving looking
The Make-Up Test
tion) was quoted as saying, "When I hears
at me with wonder dancing in her eyes she
Instead of studying for the last exam of col-
folks talkin' about `a case of the blues', my
said, "look, there is an elephant!"
lege, four seniors spent the night partying.
mind pictures the thing where I keeps my
I recognized that piece. It was from a dress
The next morning they waited until the test
harmonica!" In the end, the Supreme Court
I'd worn as a child. There were also remnants
would be almost finished, and then made their
sided with Boom-Boom, forcing the medical
of material from grandmother's aprons. She
way to class. Along the way they all put grease
community to devise another term: seasonal
always wore full butcher aprons when in the
on their hands to support the story they were
kitchen cooking, baking, churning butter. We'd
going to tell their professor.
Unfortunately, that one court case that origi-
sit at the kitchen table chatting to the sound of
The class was almost done with the exam
nated in a smoky bar in a remote parish, 85
the paddles slapping as she churned.
when they burst into the room. They told the
miles outside of Shreveport would open the
She laughed a lot, loved flowers, growing
professor that they had a flat tire along the
door to a culture obsessed with diagnos-
them among the rows of vegetables in her
way and asked if they could please take a
ing the most pathetic of circumstances. If a
garden. Hollyhocks bloomed around the large
make-up test? The professor was a reasonable
60-something Broadway has-been enjoys a
wooden rain barrel outside the back door.
man and scheduled the make-up test.
liquid lunch every day, she now has "distill-
Scattered across the "Quilt" are blocks from
Their plan had worked! They studied diligent-
ery-generated beverage dependence disor-
Grandmothers Sunday dress, Grandfathers
ly for the next week, making the most of their
der". (She's NOT a drunk!) If a 17-year-old
work shirts and some from my sisters dresses.
time. The day the test came they were ready
boy can't stop looking at college girls with
Randomly throughout the quilt are blocks
for anything. Each was separated for the test.
low cleavage, he now has "hormone-driven
of black, grey, and drab brown. All pieces
There were only two questions on the test.
anatomical surveillance syndrome". (He's
of Grandmothers life together with bits and
The first, worth 5 points, was easy. The second
NOT a pervy little peeper!) Let's say you're
pieces of ours, sewed together with tiny per-
question was worth 95 points, and it simply
a 30-something heterosexual male from an
fect stitches and tied with candle wicking.
read, "Which tire was flat?"
undisclosed western state who has a secret
Letting my fingers meander across the "Quilt",
affinity for the music of Barry Manilow...well,
I opened a door labeled childhood.
that's just pathetic!
Every year as soon as school was out in June
If you, like me, look in the mirror and see no
our family traveled back to Illinois, the land of
significant problems or challenges with
my parents birth. It was a glorious two weeks.
The family reunion was the best.
Both my parents came from large
families. The gathering began
early on reunion day. So many
aunts, uncles cousins and of
We children ran wild play-
ing hide and seek in the fields
of corn, exploring the woods
under the canopy of Maple, Oak,
Hickory and Spreading Chestnut
trees. Every deer, raccoon, opos-
sum, and squirrel within a mile
of the farm house must have run
The creek was made for wading.