I am from powdered milk poured back into empty milk containers, from Tide and Joy and root beer floats on New Year’s Eve.
I am from the little house on the corner that Dad built and lived in with his mother, and the bigger house across the street--the house with ceramic tile in the hallway and in the bathrooms, and in the built-in vanity my mother never used.
I am from the Pacific Ocean and the Redwood forests of California. From magnolia trees and freshly mown grass, from dusty miller, nasturtiums and geraniums, from hydrangeas and red and white rose bushes, rows of corn and hills of potatoes. From tomatoes and peas in pods, from a well-stocked pantry of pumpkin, Dinty Moore stew and string beans my Mom put up in jars.
I am from Saturday night popcorn and Kool Aid, singing in the car, hamburgers five-for-a-dollar, Skate Night, creamery whistles and two pairs of shoes.
I am from the "Sweet" side of the family, from those who hugged and those who didn’t. From Grandma Susan and Grandma Pearl, but not Elizabeth Ann. From an aunt who loved me unconditionally, and a funny uncle who loved me inappropriately.
I am from iceberg lettuce wedges, tomato soup salad dressing, and turkey dinner holidays. From mounds of homemade French fries, bags of artichokes, and fresh Dungeness crab when it was in season. From gallon jars of Joe’s leftover crab cipppino, and Mary’s Swiss Dance sponge cake.
I am from honesty and the golden rule, from paying for your hot dog at Louie's, from respecting your elders and watching out for your little sisters.
I am from He Lives, When the Roll is Called Up Yonder, In the Garden, and The Old Rugged Cross. From Reverends Lanning, Lokkesmoe, and Cole. From Daily Vacation Bible School and plaster of paris plaques, from Good News Club and memory verses and Sunday night youth meetings.
I am from Swauger’s Station, from "a pleasant place at the end of the water," from a "peaceful verdant valley where the land of plenty lies." From mill towns and logging towns and dairy farmers, from participants in the Oklahoma Land Rush, from strawberry farmers and carpenters and owners of boarding houses and motels. From LUES class of 1964 and FUHS class of 1968.
I am from pictures stored in drawers, from family reunions and stories told and retold, from the legend of Jesse James.