Mr. and Mrs. Thompson lived to the south of us. He worked all day and Mrs. Thompson stayed home to care for the tiny house.
During the summer, my friend Stevie and I spend most of the day outside. He’d walk across the street, knocked on the screen and yelled, “Mrs. Chrisman, can Bobby come out and play?”
I was already to the door when Mom would say, “Now don’t you go bothering Mrs. Thompson. She doesn’t have time to play.”
As soon as I was out the door, we climbed the wall into her yard. We ran to her front door. If the interior door was open, that was the sign that she would play with us. We knocked and she’d call out from the tiny, dark living room. “Who is it?”
We giggled and then called out our names. We were “her boys.”
She was a very large woman to two, little five-year-old boys. She always sat in a big wooden rocking chair. We opened the screen door and closed it behind us because she didn’t like the door to slam. Then we ran over to her chair and she’d hug us. “What do you want to play today? Tag?”
“No.” We jumped up and down. She knew what we wanted to play, but this was part of the game.
“No.” We waited.
“Okay, hold my hands. Ready. Go.”
She rocked as hard as she could and we jumped up and down until we got to the part “Ashes, ashes and all fall down.” She stopped rocking as we collapsed in laughter on the floor.
We repeated the game again and again until she said, “You boys wore me out. No more today. You want a treat?”
Of course we did. “Help me up out of this rocking chair, please.” We pulled as hard as we could until she rocked herself to a standing position. Holding our hands we headed to the kitchen. She’d stop to call our mothers despite us begging her not to.
“Mrs. Chrisman, Bobby’s over here and I’d like to give him a treat. Is that okay with you? No, no, they’re no bother. I love to see them.”
My mom gave her permission and then Mrs. Thompson called Mrs. Wilson and asked the same question. Only then could we proceed to the kitchen.
Stevie usually chose one of the sugar cookies in the clear glass jar on the kitchen counter, but I wanted the hidden treat.
“Bobby, what do you want?”
I’d point at the cupboard over the stove.
“You want a cracker?” She stretched to open the door. Out would come the Ritz cracker box. She’d fish around inside and bring out two crackers.
The three of us would sit at the kitche table while Mrs. Thompson watched us eat. When we finished, she walked us to the door, opened the screen, and said “Good-bye.”
I remember her kindness to two small boys and how she always had time to play Ring around the rosey with us. To this day I think of her every time I eat a Ritz cracker. Thanks, Mrs. Thompson.