Perceptions of an Easy Bake Oven
It seems odd to me that I can’t quite remember, but when I do the math, and calculate the clues –I must have met Debbie in Kindergarden –or just before. Was she in my class? Mrs. Clark’s room with the soap bubble cartoon character bottles on each table to indicate where we sat? I can’t remember. I do know that Debbie was my best friend.
~ ~ ~
Debbie Pobur lived down the street from me in Saginaw, Michigan. I lived in a two-story yellow brick house with a green roof and a green front door. “The one shaped like a barn,”I always inaccurately said. She lived in a one-floor white ranch, similar to all the others in the subdivision – the new part of the neighborhood that started a few houses down from me. For a little person of five or six it was a long walk - but always worth it.
We played every day – long before I knew the term “hung out.” She had an older sister, Laurie who rode a horse, and a brother who cried a lot, a mom, of course, and a dad - but I don’t remember him, dad’s weren’t important then, moms were. She had brown hair, I had red, and we both KNEW that blondes were prettier. I’m not sure if the Poburs were rich – or if I even understood that concept, but there was something different. I mean, she got an Easy Bake Oven for Christmas one year!
For my first two years of school, Debbie Pobur was my hub. If she wasn’t home, I would wait on her back steps and entertain myself with ants and leaves and sticks until they returned – it was a simpler time – no one missed you when you were gone for hours on end. But, Debbie and her family went away one summer for… well… FOR - EVER. And, although reassured to the contrary many times, I was quite sure, that they were, in fact, never coming home. When they finally did come back, she told me about somewhere fantastic called California - an uncle or someone lived there – and they flew in a plane to get there! My grandparents were in Canada and Pennsylvania – we always took the station wagon. She came back with stories about some place called Disneyland (which I really just didn’t understand) and she was singing songs that were not part of our regular repertoire, ones from a movie (perhaps that her uncle worked on?). These were new songs I had never heard before. We practiced, endlessly, the perfect perfect way to sing about spoons full of sugar and getting the medicine down.
~ ~ ~
One day, while playing at Debbie’s I was asked, unusually, if my parents knew I was there. Of course they knew I was there. If I wasn’t home, I was at Debbie’s. A while later, after some sort of parental second-guess, a call was made and I was suddenly, and rather abruptly, ejected from the house. It seems that one of the Pobur kids had the mumps and, I, like a little social Typhoid Mary, carried the disease home to my sister and two brothers. It’s nice to share.
I believed that I might not pass first grade that year - due to being out of school so much. I am not sure if I was really out that much or, if it just seemed like that: mumps, German measles, three-day measles, strep throat, scarlitina, and scarlet fever ALL that year – or at least I REMEMBER that I had all those things. I KNOW I had scarlet fever because I remember that I knew that during the Civil War (when my mom was little) they used to put big Xs on the doors where the sick people lived to keep other people out - and sometimes people died! Were the shades always pulled to protect my eyes from blindness during that illness or another? Which one did I have at Christmas, the one when I got to spend the days in bed in my mom’s room during the day (it was on the first floor) and watch Huckleberry Hound on TV? There was something very princess-y about those illnesses (mmmmm, lemon pudding). But no friends over to play, not even Debbie.
~ ~ ~
In spite of all of these gossamer threads connecting me and Debbie, first friend, first grade, first taste of cool (her sister got a TRANSISTOR RADIO for her birthday!!!), it seems that she, like the spoon full of sugar, would melt away into the deep recesses of my memory. Except for one thing. The sesame seeds on the top of their fancy Italian bread.
I swear that if it weren’t for the fact that my family had regular white bread, and Debbie’s had the odd shaped (two curves on the top) heavier, tastier, and seed be-speckled bread, I would have no solid reality from which to answer the often asked question of my generation. I can answer with certainty:
“I was at Debbie Pobur’s house, sitting on the bed in her mother’s room, picking the seeds off the top of Italian bread and eating them one by one while her mother was sewing.”
Her mother had suddenly started crying – no, SOBBING - and left the room, after telling us that someone had died. I remember asking if he was Debbie’s uncle (the only reason I could think of for her mother being so upset). No, he wasn’t even related. We sat and vaguely watched the fuzzy, crackling, black and white TV and continued our seed project, caring more about the sesames than anything having to do with this confusing situation and curiously mother-upsetting President Kennedy.
~ ~ ~
I drove by the Pobur house when I was visiting Saginaw. It was half way between my house and Weis Elementary School, a much shorter distance than I remembered. It was still white but strangely normal looking. Debbie moved the summer before 2nd grade. I went to her new house, once. I wonder where she lives now? I wonder if she remembers her Easy Bake Oven? I wonder if she buys Italian bread with the little seeds on top for her kids, and if they stare into mirrors for hours discussing the benefits of having blonde hair or how to exactly sing about spoons full of sugar? I guess I really wonder if she remembers …me?
~ x x x x x ~
editor's note: after submitting her piece to me Suzie emailed me this addendum to her piece:
"Since writing 'easybake oven' I took a stab at googlingDebbie Pobur.
I got a call the other night from Mrs. Pobur. A distant cousin of her husband (passed away 17 years ago!) pooled their collective brains and figured out who had a Debbie that would be the right age. Mrs. Pobur and I chatted for a while last night. It was so very nice. I have sent her a copy o fthe piece, and asked her to tell me 'the truth' behind my memoir.
ALSO, I should mention, that my son, two years ago for christmas surprized me (and made me cry) when he got me an Easy Bake oven for Christmas 'so I could be a rich kid'."
Suzie is a consumate communicator, writer, and teacher, and much to many's dismay, speaker! Her enthusiasm for new experiences has taken her (temporarily) to China, where no one has heard of Boonesfarm or Krug. Suzie is a professor, voiceover artist and private consulatant in all things oral. Her clients include actors, asians, and the Air Force! Learn more about her and her work by contacting her at: www.redhed.info