Saturday, April 16, 2016

AtoZ of Melody McDonald: “N” is for Nightmares

If there was one thing Melody was famous for – other than her built-in left fist, that is – it was her nightmares. She usually had them after watching her favorite kind of movies: horror movies. Don’t get me wrong, here; Melody also loved movies about sports or animals, but it seemed that she were magnetically drawn to scary movies. She KNEW she would have nightmares and that those images would remain imprinted in her mind forever, but as soon as Chiller came on, she would be lying on the floor right next to Ross with her eyes glued to the TV, ready for the very next show. And nightmares there would be!

She also enjoyed watching “One Step Beyond” and the “Outer Limits” which would, from time to time, also cause nightmares. And, it didn’t even matter, sometimes, if the movie was scary; all that was necessary was someone hurting an animal: that would have her screaming and crying at some point during the night. Yes, Melody was a softie in certain areas.

One memorable time, she, her siblings and several of their friends – if they provided their own ticket and candy money, they were welcome to ride along – had gone to the Costa Mesa Cinema to watch a movie called Dinosaurus! It was NOT a scary movie, in any way, shape or form, but there was one scene, towards the end, when a gigantic brontosaurus, which Melody had decided she would have liked as a pet, had gone onto the beach and suddenly a big, nasty, toothy-grinned T-Rex, which had been the bad-guy during the entire movie, killed the gentle and kind Brontosaurus. (To see a trailer of the movie, click here ).

That night, the McDonalds’s sleep was interrupted by hysterical crying, as Melody relived that sad moment when the evil T-Rex killed the poor Brontosaurus; Melody was riding the brontosaurus when it happened and she tried to protect him, but the T-Rex was too fast. And, just as he was grabbing for her, Melody woke up. And cried for the poor, dead brontosaurus.

One of the movies that gave her the worst nightmares was “Frankenstein’s Daughter”. She had watched it at Steve’s house one Saturday afternoon, and had thought it was the funniest “scary movie” she’d ever seen. But her screams that night had never been equaled.

Now, she has no desire to watch horror movies because, more than scary, they’re just gory and bloody, complete eyesores.


How about you? Did you ever suffer from nightmares?

Copyright © April 16, 2016. Mary E. Purpari. All Rights Reserved. 

Friday, April 15, 2016

A to Z of Melody McDonald: “M” is for Mickey #AtoZChallenge

Like a lot of people, Melody had a nickname. And like a lot of those with nicknames, hers was based on her last name. And it seems that people with a last name beginning with Mc or Mac always end up with one of the same three nicknames: Mick, Mickey or Mack. And so it happened that two of the McDonald had names or nicknames Melody was Mickie, and Mark’s middle name was Mack. Strangely enough, no one ever called Mark, Mack, though.

What follows is an excerpt from Old McDonald Had a Funny Farm; it’s a conversation between one of the newest neighborhood wannabe bullies and Melody/Mickey. Mickey, in her own mind, saw herself as one of the baseball world’s greats, someday in the future.1 Finding Melody/Mickey’s left hand heading toward her mouth was her way of attempting to not use it as the fist it resembled.

After assuring herself that the book was safely put into the overnight bag that she would be taking onto the plane, Melody raced out of the house to see if Blackie and Pink Ears had come back yet. She wasn’t sure she would be going on the trip across America if they hadn’t come back by the next afternoon. She’d been hoodwinked once, but it wasn’t going to happen a second time, you could be sure of that. Not finding them there, she walked disconsolately out into the front yard.

Wrapped up in her woe, she didn’t notice Juan sneak up behind her until he shouted out in a sing-song voice, “Mickey Mouse, Mickey Mouse, here we have a little Mickey Mouse.”

Drawn out of her misery by the rascal’s taunting words, an infuriated Melody swung around and shouted back at him, “Take that back!” Her left fist crept threateningly towards her mouth.

Either not noticing or not recognizing the threat, the boy continued his taunts. “Your name is Mickey, ain’t it? I heard ‘em call you Mickey, so you’re Mickey Mouse, Mickey Mouse!”  

“I am not Mickey Mouse; I’m Mickey Mantle! I’m gonna play baseball for the Dodgers when I grow up and I’m gonna be just like Mickey Mantle.”

The annoying boy gurgled with laughter. “You can’t play baseball and be like Mickey Mantle; you’re just a dumb girl and girls can’t play baseball like boys. Mickey Mouse, Mickey—“

Juanito lay gasping on the grass where Melody had just wiped him out flat. The wiry little girl looked down at him, flexing her muscles, and said, “I’m Mickey Mantle and if I want to play baseball, I will ‘cause I can do anything I decide I want to do.” With that, she walked calmly away from the very red-faced, very embarrassed boy lying on the grass. As he watched her go, the suffering bully muttered under his breath, “I’ll make you pay for that, Mickey Mouse.”


Did you have a nickname as a child? Do they still call you by that name? Melody has a cousin whose nickname is also Mickey. She is the only person who still has permission to call her by that name.  



1Old McDonald Had a Funny Farm, Mary (McDowell) Purpari, Amazon Kindle Version, pg. 220-221. Copyright by Mary Purpari September 2009.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

AtoZ of Melody McDonald: “L” is for Lightning #AtoZBlogging Challenge#

As everyone knows, it NEVER rains in Southern California, so when Melody and her Grandmother drove across the country in 1960, there was a new adventure. Of course, it’s not so that it never rains in Southern California, and Melody HAD seen lightning, of course, but her experience had been a somewhat watered-down version of what she experienced during her exciting vacation. The story below, though seemingly impossible, actually happened and Melody has never, ever forgotten it. I hope you enjoy the tale.


Melody, a few months after
 this story took place.
Around 1960


Basin, Wyoming Oug. 14, 1960

Dear Grampa,

I am having so much fun. Nauturly it rains every place we go. It thundered and lightninged all night long. I hope you like your card.

Love Melody


“Thunder and lightning” was minimizing the “fireworks display” that had gone on the night before. In fact, it was quite unlike anything that Melody had experienced before, and very exciting. The whole thing had begun while she was in the barn with Joe Sterling, in Wyoming, helping him milk the cow. They had been standing in Bossy’s stall, while Joe was getting the stool ready to sit down and begin when the first loud crash had sounded just outside the door. The frightened Bossy kicked the stool over and just as Joe bent over to put it right a second crash set the barn to ringing; simultaneously, a long flash of light entered through the back door of the building and left it through the front. Old Joe stood up as quickly as his tired, surprised body would permit and stared down at Melody, eyes bulging with wonder.

“Melody,” he said in a somewhat strangled voice, “please tell me that you just saw what I just saw. Please,” he pleaded softly.

“Yeah, I saw it. What was it?” 

“That,” he whispered dramatically, reassured that he wasn’t imagining things and gesturing towards the open doors, “was a bolt of lightning. It’s a good thing,” he continued in a rather more normal voice, “we were here beside Bossy and not standing in the middle of the corridor. We’d’ve been a pile of ashes instead of standing here discussing what just happened.”

“Wow! You mean lightning like the stuff that flashes during a rainstorm? At home we just see it in the sky and it looks like a fork. Gee,” she said, shaking her head in wonder, “I didn’t know it could open doors like that and just walk through a barn. Neat! Do you think it will happen again? Just wait until I tell Gramma Mary; she won’t believe it.”

“You can just bet your boots she won’t believe it; nobody will believe that a bolt of lightning went right through here without burning up everything it touched. Mind you, it didn’t touch much except for the back door. Let’s go see if it left some kind of mark on the door so we can prove it went through here. We’d better not say anything if there’s not, ‘cause no one’s gonna believe anything except that we’ve been seeing things that aren’t really there, and that’s not too good.”

They both walked gingerly towards the door, taking care to not touch anything on the way; even though it seemed that the lightning hadn’t touched anything, there was always a chance that some kind of electrical current had been left behind. The first hint that they found that something odd had happened was that one of the doors to the barn was hanging slightly off-center because of a damaged hinge; this had been caused by the force produced by the lightning as it flung the door inward. There were a number of new dents, but these could have been caused by any number of factors found in and around the Black Angus farm.

“Nope, there’s nothing here except this hinge that will bear out our story. I guess we’d best not say anything to anyone. I won’t say anything if you don’t, and I won’t anyway, even if you do.”1


Have you ever had a strange experience during a thunder and lightning storm? Would you like to share it with us?


1The preceding is an excerpt from Old McDonald Had a Funny Farm 2: New Friends and Old by Mary McDowell Purpari, publication date pending


Copyright © April 14, 2016.  Mary Purpari. All Rights reserved.

AtoZ of Melody McDonald: “K” is for Kisses #AtoZBloggingChallenge

There are different kinds of kisses and when Melody was a child, her very favorite kind of kisses was the kind she got from her grandparents and parents on her cheek.

Another kind was the chocolate kind made by Hershey’s and which they got only on very rare occasions, like at the Coca Cola Company Christmas party or once in a while in their Christmas stockings. Honey and Ross were of the opinion that their delightful, ever-active children didn’t need more energy than they already had. That’s okay – when Melody was old enough to make her own decisions regarding chocolate, she made up for all the uneaten chocolate of her childhood. When she made her way to Italy, the Italian kisses, known as Baci Perugina, were her undoing. Oh my… But I digress.

But, Melody outgrew her childhood and when she turned twelve, she had the first kiss of another type. His name was Steve Crayfish. It was just before Christmas and this new Steve had just taken Melody to the junior high school Christmas dance. They’d been accompanied to the dance by Steve’s mom, while Ross brought them home…

Remember, this is Southern California, and at a certain point – the room becoming too warm – Steve accompanied Melody outside the school gym and then, in a completely unexpected move, he kissed her. On the LIPS!!!!!! Needless to say, but I’ll say it anyway, she was shocked and a little embarrassed… at first. But then, she thought it was kind of neat and kissed him back. (Did I ever mention that Melody was a bit, shall we say, precocious?) It was a very chaste kiss and was never repeated. Probably because Steve’s family moved away shortly after the beginning of the new year.

Her next kiss came around a year and a half later, during the summer before she started high school. There was this cute boy named Larry who was visiting his aunt and uncle who lived down the street from the McDonalds, who she liked a lot, but he was going to be a junior when school started again and she would be a mere freshman. She didn’t realize that she had blossomed during the summer… Anyway, she was washing the dishes after dinner one night when Larry came in. He usually came to deliver messages for his aunt and uncle, but that particular evening he headed straight for Melody, just while she was washing a big, sharp knife. He called out to her and she turned to look at him; she was so startled when he kissed her, that she involuntarily tightened her grip on the knife. Unfortunately for her, it turned out that the part of the knife she was holding was the blade…

As Honey disinfected and bandaged Melody’s hand, Larry quietly finished washing the dishes and left. That was the last time he came over and she never saw him again.

Her next kiss was again an unusual awakening. It also turned her completely off French kissing. She got a birthday card on her sixteenth birthday that said “Happy Sweet Sixteenth: If you swear you’ve never been kissed…” open card “…You have a perfect right to swear!” Well, at least she couldn’t swear about that.

Those random kisses were the only ones she got until she hit college. But, that is a different story and different times…



Copyright © April 14, 2016. Mary Purpari. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

A-Z of Melody McDonald J is for Jump Ropes and Jacks

Although Melody spent a great deal of time with Steve Evens, she also spent an even greater deal with her girlfriends during breaks at school. And one of the things she liked to do, other than play tetherball, was play jump rope. She was pretty good at jumping rope all by herself – probably because it was one of things that people said she couldn’t do (aka the magic words).
But, it was more fun, indeed, to play up rope with her friends, especially as they graduated from a simple back and forth with the rope, as we sang “Bluebells, cockle shells, easy ivy overs” and then they began swinging the rope over the jumper’s head. The rope turners would then star going faster and faster, counting. If one of the jumpers made it to 50 without tripping, she would then exit without having to turn the rope.
Melody’s favorite, though, was double Dutch. That was tricky, and it took her a little while to gain enough speed and confidence to give it a try. Melody’s biggest problem was that she had way too much energy, and she could actually go an entire break without stopping.
And then, Chinese jump rope made it to Bay View Elementary School. Melody and her friends took advantage of her father’s newspaper delivery job and used the rubber bands to make huge chains that they could do all the intricate footwork involved in Chinese jump rope. It was easy to get tangled up in those double rows.

Another game that she enjoyed was playing jacks. She was very good at jacks and rarely had to start over from the beginning. Even when they got to the last stage, when they had to gather up all ten jacks AND the ball BEFORE the ball could hit the ground. This was one game where being a tomboy stood her in good stead, because she used the same skills she used for playing marbles (she won all the puries in the neighborhood games.)
Did you have any favorite games that you played as a child?
 Copyright © April 12, 2016 by Mary Purpari. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, April 11, 2016

The A-Z of Melody McDonald “I” is for Imagination

Melody had a very vivid imagination, which often got her into a lot of trouble. It was also the reason that her parents rarely left her without reading material for long periods of time. They valued the integrity of the house and remembered often the moment that Melody’s chemistry set almost left a very large hole in the roof. It was, of course, her last chemistry set. Oh well; it had been fun while it lasted.

However, her imagination was also one of the reasons that people who knew her well tended to question the veracity of the stories she told. Not that she was lying; in her mind, these things really happened. (Saturday’s story of the haunted house trailer was true, though). It was this imagination that allowed her to write stories, too.

When she was in the fifth grade, she wrote a series of stories about a little fire-breathing dragon that she and her brother Mark named Hotstuff. The reason Mark had the right to help name him was because Mark was the illustrator of the collection (even Melody had to admit that Mark drew much better than she did).

This little dragon slightly resembles our Hotstuff 
The series was actually so well-liked that one of the school teachers, Mrs. Dietrich, who taught the hearing-impaired children, asked if she could borrow it to share with the children in her class. Melody and Mark entrusted it to her care; it was the last time they saw it again. At that time, the only copying machines were mimeographs and the process was long and unavailable to young children. Mrs. Dietrich had been transferred to another school and so the little book went with her.

It may only have been a coincidence, but many years later, when Melody was a mother, she was watching cartoons with her little daughter. She looked closer at the TV and almost fell off her chair; there, on the screen, was a little dragon that looked exactly like another little dragon she had seen almost thirty years earlier, whose name was Hotstuff. The story-line was also a more than a little familiar, too. But, without a personal copy, there wasn’t much she could do about it. At least a lot of people could enjoy the fruits of Melody’s and Mark’s vivid imagination.

Another example of what some say was Melody’s imagination was Fluffy. Melody insists to this day that Fluffy truly existed; she carried that little ball of feathers all over creation with her. And, she wasn’t the only one who saw him. Her Grammy saw him, too.  

She found Fluffy one day as she was lying out in the backyard counting ants. It was another of those boring summer days when she had nothing to do and that usually tended to get her into trouble. She had awoken from her five minute nap perfectly refreshed (or at least as much as was possible on a hot summer’s day in Southern California) and raring to go. Unfortunately for her, her brothers and sister were still sleeping and Honey had told her to be quiet. She had already counted two hundred forty-nine ants…

And then she saw the little ball. It was weird the way it kept popping up, and some might have called it an imaginary friend. Indeed, no one else saw it except Grammy. In fact, even Melody didn’t remember putting it in her suitcase when she went for a week to Grammy and Grampa’s house, but Grammy found it there in the suitcase as she was helping Melody put her clothes in the chest-of-drawers. But then again, she and Grammy had a lot in common…

She imagined being a wild horse running on the plains; an eagle, flying high above in the sky; sitting on clouds.  She dreamed of singing like an angel and of becoming a writer.

Maybe it was because of her imagination that people imagined that she lived in a world all her own… It could be, but there is one thing you could say about her: when you were with Melody, you could count on not being bored.
Did you have a wonderful imagination when you were a child. Did you have an imaginary (according to others) friend?

Copyright © April 11, 2016. Mary Purpari. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

A to Z of Melody McDonald: “H” is for Haunted House #AtoZBloggingChallenge

In reference to Melody and her explorations, perhaps one of the most compelling was the one where she and her friend Steve went to explore the Acacia Street haunted house.

One day, walking home from school, Steve said to Melody, “I found a haunted house; wanna come see it?” Did she want to go see it? What a question! Of course she wanted to see it! She tore into the house, put on her play clothes, tore back out the door and caught up with Steve before he reached the corner: it was a two house walk. She did shout out to Honey that she was going to Steve’s house, so at least Honey knew what to name the cyclone that whipped through her living room.

Steve was already wearing jeans, but he also had his books with him, so they dropped them off on the way to the haunted house on Acacia St. And then, they were off. Acacia St. was just around the next corner after Steve’s house.

When they arrived at the haunted “house” (it was really a trailer) Melody knew as soon as she got there that it really was haunted, even if it wasn’t really a house. The door was hanging on one hinge and it was screeching as the wind blew it back and forth. It looked like a house from a typical cowboy movie ghost town.  With a miniscule bit of trepidation – the atmosphere really was eerie, even in the bright sun – but, tiptoeing quietly, they edged their way to the creaking door. Steve, ever the gentleman, let Melody go in first. She carefully turned her head around the corner and shrieked. Steve bumped into a paralyzed Melody in his hurry to see what their exploration adventure had brought them to. The drops on the blood on the floor stopped him for a moment, too, but then their intrepidity returned and they entered the house and started following the trail of blood. The fabric on the furniture in the house was torn and tufts of filling were strewn across the creaky, rain-sodden floor of the trailer. Melody jumped back when she saw something moving ghostlike from the corner of her eye; she landed on Steve’s foot, causing him to shout in pain. Melody turned and glared at him and he shrugged his shoulders. They avoided the ants and flies crawling around on the floor, but Steve just couldn’t resist picking up the shed snake sin lying on the floor.

And then, Melody froze as they reached the door into the kitchen. Steve also looked into the room; the look of was horror that appeared on his face mirrored the one on Melody’s. The blood on the kitchen floor, almost black from the presence of flies and ants, seemed much fresher than the tiny drops dotting the other floors, but it was the giant blood-stained knife lying in the center of the floor that inspired their terror. The slamming door was too much for them: they turned around and skedaddled out of the trailer as fast as their legs would carry them. They didn’t stop running until just before they reached Steve’s house.

Right then and then, even before they could properly breathe, they vowed to each other that they would never, ever tell another soul about what they had seen. Who could they tell, anyway? Melody’s parents would shoot her if they knew she had been on Acacia Street; she was only supposed to go as far as Steve’s house. And, who would believe them? Melody’s imagination was well-known, and Steve was just as imaginative as Melody. Or almost, anyway. Nah, it was better to just leave things the way they were; now, if they could just convince their imagination to leave it alone…

The above story is true. I thought I had told Honey, but I guess I kept my word. When I was talking to her last night, I said, “Who could we have told?” She suggested, “Your parents, maybe?” And I said, “Right, and risk being grounded? Are you nuts?”

There you have it folks. Have you ever explored a haunted house in your lifetime? I mean, other than the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland/ Disney World. I’d love to hear about it.


Copyright© Mary Purpari. April 4, 2016. All Rights Reserved.