The good times Brad Telly and her sisters had when they were kids were always the day after their family fights, which were usually on the days before a holiday. Christmas Day was always fun happy because it was after the big Christmas Eve scrape. All the presents didn’t hurt, either.
The fights usually happened before or on the holiday, not afterwards. On Easter, the 4th of July, and Thanksgiving there was always a knockdown. Alma or Fred, or both of them at the same time, would start the fight. Afterwards the family pulled it together for the holiday, to look good for the big day. They had to look better for the neighbors and in-laws and pets.
One Christmas all their cousins from Pennsylvania, Telly’s mom and dad’s sisters and all their kids, were at their house. The house was warm and cozy and there weren’t any fights. They were all looking good.
It was Christmas Eve morning and Eric from Philadelphia passed gas.
“Oh, that’s a wet one,” somebody said, and that started the whole thing, which turned out to be the flu. It went from Eric to Curtis on down to Kim and Skip and the rest of them. Everybody barfed and barfed for days.
Alma was beyond pissed. She was beside herself. She wanted to go to a hotel, even though she was a nurse. She would have jumped ship if she could have, but Fred made her stay.
Every 4th of July there was a street party. They lived on one of the only two cul-de-sacs in Bay Village. In the morning all the kids would decorate their bikes and they would have a bike parade. Their parents judged the bikes and gave out prizes.
They played games all day and later in the afternoon everybody carried their grills and picnic tables to the end of the cul-de-sac for a party. They had food and their parents had coolers of beer. Everyone would party and they were great times.
Alma wore a t-shirt that said JOE BALLS on the front and FROM NEWTON FALLS on the back. It was a family joke. They had an uncle named Harold who lived in Newton Falls, but they called him Joe Balls. Nobody knew why.
One summer a waterspout from off the lake touched down in Bay Village during their street party. They were out in the street playing. All of their parents were trashed. When Telly ran into the house to tell her mother she said, “Go back out there and play.” But they ended up having the rest of the party in our garage once Fred saw what was going on.
When Alma became a nurse, she wore a t-shirt that said BUSHER THE PUSHER because she was an IV Therapist. She was the one who loaded the IV’s with drugs. She became a nurse when Telly was in 5th grade. She had all of them still in the house and before they knew it decided she wanted a career. Telly’s grandparents put her through nursing school, paying for it all. She studied at Tri-C and later worked at Lakewood Hospital.
It was the same year, when she was at Normandy Elementary School, during the Miracle of Richfield, that Telly got a pair of tennis shoe roller skates and lived in them for years.
They had a teacher named Mr. Barton and he loved to hoe down dance and dribble basketballs at the same time. He taught them to do it and they got so good at it that they were invited to perform at a Cleveland Cavs game.
It was the year the Cavs were scrappy and good and played the Washington Bullets in the conference finals. They watched it on TV. The crowds were so noisy people in the stands wore earplugs and the players on the benches stuck their fingers in their ears.
“If you don’t drop your ball, or double dribble, or anything else helter-skelter during the performance, I’ll buy you whatever you want,” her dad said. Telly told him she wanted tennis shoe roller skates.
“Whatever you want,” he said.
They were colossal that night doing their hoe down dribble dance at halftime at the Richfield Coliseum, which isn’t there anymore. It’s just a big empty field full of weeds now that it’s been torn down. They danced to the song “Saturday Night” by the Bay City Rollers.
Telly lived in her skates from that day on. She put them on first thing in the morning and skated all over the house. She did axles in the streets and figure skated every day in her tennis shoe roller skates But, she wasn’t allowed to wear them to school. Even so, she wore them all the time until she got her first pair of high heels.
“The roller skates came off right after that and I’ve never been out of high heels since. The reason is that I stopped growing when I was in 6th grade. After that I found out I was going to be short, a pygmy. My mom was a pygmy, too. I don’t know that she was ever taller than five-foot-one. Everybody else in our family was taller than me. My dad was six-foot-something. I was the shortest of all the kids, shorter even than Bamm-Bamm.”
Alma got Thelma a pair of Candies. They were plastic made to look like wood and had a strap across the top of the foot that stopped about mid-way up. A girl could wear them with anything, shorts, skirts, disco pants. They were the hot shoe. Every kid had to have a pair.
“You’re going to be in these for the rest of your life,” Telly’s mom told her. “You will never get out of them.”
She made Telly practice walking in them, up and down the driveway, then up and down the street, and finally up and down the stairs.
“You don’t want to walk like a clod,” she said. “A lot of girls stomp in their high heels, but you’re going to walk like a lady.”
She got to the point where she could run in them fast. She could chase dogs. She was still fast, not as much as she was then, but still fast if she had to be. She didn’t know who invented high heels, but thought women owed them a lot. You put high heels on, and you change. Everything is different in them. Your body moves to a different kind of tempo. Her favorite things were dogs and shoes. She loved dogs the most, but shoes were a close second.