A babysitter named Corrine and a Banana Splits lunchbox

It was the Euclid house. It was fall. The mornings were cold. It was a contest. We wanted to see who could make it to the babysitter’s house without wearing a coat. It wouldn’t have been bad, except we rode our bikes, so it always felt like the wind was blowing right in our faces. We rode the whole width of the street. We thought we were cool. Brats riding bikes in the middle of the street. We were every parent’s nightmare. We had to carry our lunchboxes too. We used to have the brown paper bags, but for some reason I begged my mom into getting me a regular lunchbox. Mine was from the TV show The Banana Splits. It was white vinyl. It had a snap fold-over closing. It smelled weird, that strange vinyl smell.  The kind of smell you can’t stand, yet you keep smelling it. 

Every morning we did this. Same time, same place. No coats. Contest. 

I was curious, so I looked up The Banana Splits show. It was around until about 1970. It started in 1968. The puppeteers, Sid and Marty Krofft, made it big after this show ended. Their next cartoon was H.R. Pufnstuff. Remember that one? I also just lost 1 minute and 22 seconds of my life listening to the theme song from The Banana Splits show. It’s called “The Tra La La Song,” and you will never get it out of your head. Seriously. Not even kidding. 

We were going to her house. The babysitter’s house. I always wondered, if we could get ourselves to a babysitter’s house, why did we need a babysitter? Weird. Anyway, it was only about two blocks. I tracked it the other day because I couldn’t remember. We would cut through the alley and out into the street. We rode over to Grand and then two blocks north. Her house was a few houses in from the intersection of Grand and Elizabeth. The house was big. It had a wraparound porch and was painted white. 

She was pretty. She had dark hair and beautiful dark olive skin. She was really tan. Her voice was kind of different. It’s hard to describe. Not high pitched, not deep. Just different. She taught us about life. She taught us about doing our part. She taught us about working. We liked to help her. There was a clothesline in the backyard and a big garden. There were rows and rows of green beans. We picked them for her and ate them the whole time we were picking. We helped with the laundry. We helped with everything. We even helped with cooking and baking.

She let us be kids. She let us play in the dirt. She didn’t get mad if we were dirty or muddy, or if we made a mess. She just let us be. She taught us how to knit and how to put together jigsaw puzzles. The hard ones. The 500 or more pieces ones. I vaguely remember music too. I can’t remember what it was about the music, but something…

She treated us right. She treated us like we were her own. I loved her. 

Thanks Corrine Leidholt. You were a positive influence in my life and I am forever grateful for you. 

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