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God’s Hill

This sent to Kate, 2004

The Story of Sadness

I recently read that the people of certain parts of Africa look upon sadness the same way they look upon a bucket of rice for sale in the family store. Each day some of the rice is removed from the bucket. The rice in the bucket becomes less and less, until, one day, it is completely gone. That’s the way sadness over something lost is. Little by little, the loss hurts a little less until the day comes when the sadness is over. Other feelings and other memories have arrived.

When I was 4 years old I was very sad when my friend Joseph did not show up to play Hopalong Cassidy cowboy games with me. This was back in about 1949 or 1950, the same time in which Jackie Robinson started hitting homers for the New York Yankees, and the world was recovering from the terrible horrors of World War II. Elanore Roosevelt was writing newspaper stories about what the people could do to improve the quality of life and reduce the threat of wars. My family lived at 2942 Sullivan Ave., in a red brick house with copper gutters, a slate roof, a 50 ft. long wrought iron fence along the sidewalk, and beautiful inside woodwork including those giant sliding doors like at Newberry House. My Mom’s name was Mary Patricia Donnelly Godsil. My Dad’s name was Joseph Dennis Duncan Godsil. I had two older sisters, JoAnn, who was 14 at the time; and Jean, who was 10. We had a black terrier dog that showed up one day at our house, named Sissy. Mrs. Janecek was a family friend and babysitter for me. She lived upstairs in one of the 6 rooms my Mom rented out to supplement my Father’s wage at Bachman Tool & Die, where he was a tool and die maker(they turn a design on paper into a metal piece that stamps out things of metal like pots and pans, car doors and handles, hammers and screw drivers).

Joseph lived one block south and a few houses west of us. Because it was necessary to cross 2 busy streets, I was not allowed to visit his house on my own. Either someone had to walk me to his house or someone had to walk Joseph to my house. So it was a special treat when we got to play together, about a once a week event.

Now on the Saturday morning that Joseph did not show up, I was especially excited about his visit. This was because my parents had bought me a new cowboy costume, holster, and cowboy guns for Christmas. I was very proud to wear them and show them to Joseph. But even more important, there was an especially great way of getting hit by a bullet by the bad guys, grabbing one’s stomach, and falling forward into a make believe creek of water with lots of stones in it that I wanted to perform for Joseph in our cowboy games together. I think I may have even practiced getting shot and falling forward so I would be a good actor.

I waited, and waited, and waited, and Joseph never came. Eventually I gave up and turned to something else. Later my Mom told me that she heard that Joseph’s family moved. Joseph never was able to stop over and say “goodbye.” I suspect that his family did not have a phone, or, perhaps, for some reason, our parents did not exchange phone numbers. In any case, I never got to play with Joseph again. And I did not back then have any friends with whom I could do that particular scene in a cowboy game involving someone getting shot in the stomach and falling forward into a rocky creek.

But, like the bucket of rice in the family store, my sadness at losing Joseph as a friend and playmate eventually dwindled away, little by little, to the point when there was not any memory on the surface of my mind to remember. I was no longer sad about Joseph and the cowboy game that never happened. Other things, some good, some bad, arrived to fill my mind.

Joseph was a good friend. I met other good friends in my neighborhood near the ballpark where Jackie Robinson hit home runs for the New York Giants, while playing aganst my home town team, the St. Louis Cardinals. The best Cardinal players in those days were Stan the Man Musiel and Red Schoendist. When my family moved to St. Joan of Arc Parish, in Southwest St. Louis, at 6209 Marquette St., a house your Mom Rachel played in when with my Mom and Dad, I rode my bike over to Stan Musiel’s house in St. Louis Hills. And Red Schoendist lived in a nice but small house a block away from St. Joan of Arc School, at Hampton and Pernod, where I went to gradeschool, from 1951 until 1959.

Well, I’ll be back for another story another night.


Grandpa Godsil

Last edited by g. Based on work by TeganDowling.  Page last modified on February 08, 2006

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