I can’t remember anything about her. I don’t remember is she was tall or short, heavy or thin… I can’t remember anything at all about her face or the color of her hair. All I can remember is that she lived on West Street in Ahoskie… and that her name was Mrs. Oaks.
I’m not even sure if I went over to her house very often. I do remember it was a very nondescript little bungalow. My mom would just drop us off there sometimes on her way to…. well, where ever it was she was going.
There was something that seemed almost magical about Mrs. Oaks house. It wasn’t your typical babysitting situation. She was one of those people that truly enjoyed spending time with us. We were always doing stuff. She would teach us how to play card games, or we would go on big adventures in her back yard. I can still remember she had the first weeping willow tree I ever saw.
There were three things that I remember in particular that happened related to her. Once my parents were going to be out for the afternoon and evening too so my sister and I were going to have to spend some extended time with Mrs. Oaks. This was always okay with me but particularly this time because she and her husband were going to take us fishing! I had never been fishing before and so I was so excited. As luck would have it, it was raining when we got there. Not the passing storm kinda rain but that “setting in for a spell” kinda rain. I was pretty bummed. But this is Mrs. Oaks we’re talking about! She wasn’t going to let a little rain stop us from having an adventure. We didn’t go fishing but instead she took us to the the movies to see the original “Doctor Dolittle” with Rex Harrison. I loved the pushmepullyou… This movie was my introduction to the musical genre… which I have been in love with ever since.
The other event was also a rain storm… but like a lot of things associated with Mrs. Oaks, it wasn’t just your average rain event. we were looking out her front door at the rain when suddenly I noticed frogs… every where! very little frogs! It was raining frogs! It was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen! It was like she could make anything happen!!!
The last thing I remember, I had actually forgotten until my sister mentioned it to me recently and it came back to me. This was the first time I ever remember being directly affected by a war. Her son had been drafted… I remember a green duffel bag being filled with clothes… and a sadness that I had never experienced there before. The late sixties were some turbulent times in the US… but also, they were a great time to be a young kid… just starting to learn about the world around them… raining frogs, musicals, and war… my, what a rich world Mrs. Oaks provided for me.