Mixsonian Morrs and Barbara

The Mixsons

The Mixsons

January didn’t start out all that well for the U.S. space program when the US sent Ranger 3 to study the moon and it misses the moon by 23 thousand miles but things get better when on February 20th John Glenn becomes the first American to orbit the earth in the Friendship 7 Mercury capsule.  Being the American in orbit, Glenn became a national hero, met President John F. Kennedy, and received a ticker-tape parade in New York reminiscent of those honoring Charles Lindbergh which I watched raptly on the evening news that night sitting next to Dad.

Mom had enjoyed her new found freedom the past few years with Brenda, David and I all in school but she was once again busy with baby Beth, but it was much easier this time with only one child instead of three as when Brenda, David and I were small.  Mom enjoyed Beth writing, “I remember dressing her up so cute and doing my shopping every Friday.”    On some weekdays when we older kids were at school Mom would go out to Grandpa’s Ranchette and help him fill orders for his  Book and Bible business which he ran out the pool house garage.  While mom worked for Grandpa, Grandma Junior would take care Beth.  For his business Grandpa had the biggest station wagon that was made at the time and the back was so filled with check protectors in boxes that the rear of the car sagged several inches.

Easter DuckDavid kneeling, Brenda, Beth, Larry
Dad in Back

In April Dad got each of us kids a real live baby ducks which we kept in a pen in the back yard.  I don’t remember them ever getting big and always wondered what happened to them.  We never had duck for dinner, but we ate fried chicken quite often.

One Sunday in May we drove out to Grandma Mixson’s after church.  Here is Dad holding Beth outside grandma’s back porch with our ’55 Chevy on the right.  Just behind Dad by Beth’s foot was Grandpa’s tool chest which I loved opening and playing with all the tools inside, saws, planes, screwdrivers and my favorite a hand drill or brace and bit as it was called.  On day when David and I spent a few days with Grandma I got out the hand drill, put in a bit and proceeded to drill two or three holes at the edge of the porch just behind Dad.  Grandma got real mad at me and gave me a real scolding, I had never seen her so mad, in fact I don’t recall her ever getting mad except that one time, she always was kind and gentle. The window was to a small room which was one of the original two rooms of the house along with the kitchen which was to the left. I always it being Grandma’s sewing room which I liked to explore as was filled with all sorts of interesting things.

 Dad with Beth at Grandma Mixson's

With school over, in early June Brenda, David and I again went to Vacation Bible School at Westside. Later in June Spider-Man makes his first appearance in Marvel’s comic books. Spider Man, aka Peter Parker was my kind of hero, a nerdy teenager with regular teenage concerns and tribulations turns into a superhero after getting by a radioactive spider.  Uncle Corky, then fourteen, always got the latest comics at the time, and I would sometimes read them when we visited Grandma and Grandpa.  A few years later Corky went off to boarding school and gave David and I a two foot pile of comics which we kept on the bookcase in the family room. Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, The Green Lantern, The Fantastic Four, I read them over and over with dreams my own superpowers.  Years later after I had moved out of the house, I asked Mom what happen to the comics, and she said, “Those old things, I threw them out years ago.”  I am sure in that stack was the first Spider-Man comic now worth millions of dollars. 

The Library

In the summer of ’62 I discovered the library, first at school then the public library.  At Littlewood Elementary school once a week the class would go to the library where the librarian explained the Dewey Decimal System of how the books were organized, how the card catalog worked, and how to check out books.  Two of the earliest books I remembered was Rufous the Redtail hawk and My Side of the Mountain both of which I had night and daydreams about in later years.  From Rufous I’ve had dreams about soaring in the sky and when I’ve been up on a mountain top and seen a raven or hawk soaring above I have visions of being the bird soaring high above and looking at me sitting on the mountain top.  The story of the boy in My Side of the Mountain that runs away, hides in the forest and lives in a hollow tree has always had an alure to me.  As I child, as probably most do at one time or another, I an occasional thought about running away for what ever reason and living in a hollow tree in the forest where I could be alone.  When I was older, in my daydreams, the hollowed tree became more sophisticated, with a secrete door, multiple stories inside with a spiral staircase going up into the tree where I could come out on a branch high above the forest floor. 

The Gainesville Public Library was a special place that Mom would take us kids to every couple of weeks.  The library was then on North University Avenue with the parking lot on the side next to a creek.  The summers are hot in Florida neither our house nor our car had air conditioning so it felt amazing to walk into the library where it was so wonderfully cool and spend an hour or so look at books which we could choose six to take home.  When Mom told us it was time to go, I would make a last minute decision about one book or another and then go to the counter. At the counter I handed my books to the librarian who would open up each one, take out a small card from a sleeve inside the cover of the book  and stamp it with the return date.  She was very efficient with a rhythmic sound of open book, get card, stamp with a thunk, put card back, close, put book in pile and repeat, thunk, thunk, thunk six times in a row, she was done and handed the pile of books back to me.

After my brother and sister got theirs stamped Mom usually Library Certificatehad a book or two herself and then we would leave the building.  I almost didn’t notice the heat when we exited the library being so excited about the books I got and which one I would read first.   I would read the books over the next couple of weeks and record on a card their names when upon our last visit to the library at the end of the summer I turned the card in to the librarian and received a certificate but wasn't happy the spelled my name wrong.

Updated: 08-02-2022

Summer Vacation