(Excerpted from “Ironing Board Chronicles”)
In 1957 our family bought a historical house, which had a grand chimney in the kitchen. Mom had the chimney removed because it was a nuisance. The top of the chimney went through the kitchen ceiling and then the floor of Mothers closet.
Someone got the keen idea that sheet rocking the ceiling of the kitchen where the chimney had been, was completion of the job. The hole in the closet floor was left open covered only by an area rug. The empty kitchen space was the perfect spot for the baby’s highchair.
Mother’s closet was off limits, making it a place of curiosity. A toddler cannot comprehend the adventure of flying through a hole to the kitchen underneath, until the precise moment it occurs.
Mother was standing in front of the gas stove cooking breakfast, oatmeal with bananas. “Children, come for breakfast,” she cried. Bonnie would be the first to arrive.
One step too many and Bonnie came flying through the ceiling landing bottom and legs first smack down, perfectly in her own high chair. Mother’s face seeing her child coming through the ceiling on a magic carpet told us the name P-A-U-L had so many four letter words attached to it, we to this day don’t recall all of them.
“You had better get up those stairs and fix that floor before one of my children is killed or not one breathe will be inhaled in your lungs again you, you blanketty blank, blank!”
Bonnie was ready and anxious to eat her oatmeal, but decided a little reassurance was necessary after her speedy flight. She raised her arms to reach for Mom.
“Lord Helen, what happened now?” Weary, Dad comes rushing into the kitchen, pepper shaker in hand. Mom’s arms were thrashing all over the place.
“I told you once and I told you twice one day this would happen. My child just flew through the ceiling, you idiot! It’s a miracle she isn’t dead!”
“Mama. I eat now?” Bonnie questions wondering if she was in trouble.
“I don’t believe you, Helen,” Paul states looking up at the clearly visible hole through the sheet-rock. “This is impossible!”
“Are you both dumb and blind Paul? Look at this child!”
She continues scraping sheet-rock out of her hair, fighting the tears.
His eyes fixate on Bonnie and he too rubs her head. “Are you okay, little sweetie?”
“I eat? Daddy please?” she questions, tasting the sheetrock dust on her tray and coughs.
“Honey, you cannot play in Mommy and Daddy’s closet,” he answers, as if that is a solution. “How in the world did you get in there?” He looks Bonnie over checking for scratches. Still not believing she landed square in her highchair and still thinking she might have a realistic answer for him.
“Paul! Get some tools! I do not have time to clean up after your mistakes! I do not have time to care for children with broken limbs! My patience is wearing thin and you’d better get out of here now before I take this frying pan to your head!”
Then, kissing Bonnie’s hand, she calmly says, “Are you sure you are ok, Bonnie-Jeanie-Bug? Use your spoon. Drink your milk.” She continues to soothe while rubbing her own head with sympathy and disbelief her child is not dead from a ten-foot fall through the kitchen ceiling. She shoos Dad out the door saying she will clean up and wants him out of her sight.
As Dad goes out the door Mother adds, oatmeal spoon in hand, “Wait till I tell your mother this one!” She had to do it. She peers in the toaster and after a glance towards the other children throws the frying pan in the sink not wishing for eggs anymore this day.
Understanding nothing of the mysterious negotiations going on between the parents, three of the other children are still gawking at the scene. Looking up and then down, analyzing the strange truth. We had a sister that could fly! A chubby flying baby was seated right in our own kitchen. Wait until we tell our friends this one.
“You kids sit down and eat your breakfast! You are going to be late for school. David, did you wash your hands with soap? Gary you hush. Yes, Bonnie is all right. Eat for God’s sake. Your mother has a headache! Where is that darn school bus!”