Born in 1904 in California, Seuss had a very successful writing career. Hated his work to be described using the word ‘whimsical’ and kept much of his life private while suffering from stage fright. His death in 1991 left a hole in the hearts of Seuss fans everywhere.
Growing up with a bookshelf full of Hop on Pop and Fox in Socks, I often re-read these classics and enjoy the way the words seem to roll off of my tongue so effortlessly. I can’t help but to imagine how these books might have sounded with a different catapult behind them….say….a southern one.
You can’t imagine what I’ve discovered living on Mulberry Street….Mulberry Street in Alabama, that is. There is plenty to see from yonder to me and you won’t quite believe what your mind will conceive. Front porches with hound dogs spread out across mats, only moving when needing to chase away gnats. Big fat aunt Berthas with moon pies in hand, wearing curlers and a moo-moo, kids playing in the sand. “Get yerself inside, do sumthin with yer hair…don’t make me get my switch and come after yer tail, hurry up and get in the car, Piggly Wiggly is havin a sale.”
You’ll see cats running wild and an occasional goat, the one on the corner always standing in a boat. He’s got nary a tail cause the bull chewed it good but he’s great entertainment for all the kids in the hood. On Saturday night you can try for 8 seconds….but little Billy counts slow, for his numbers, he don’t quite know. One second, two seconds, three seconds, four….but by then that billy goat done knocked you to the floor. Next time you’ll win it cause you got a plan….nail handle bars to those horns , the rules say you can!
And the visitors that visit cause quite a stir; often leaving reminders of visits and the things that occur, like the Cat in the Hat all covered with fur. He arrives in a Buick with camo-colored seats, his fur flyin out the windows, smoking cat-nip treats. Adjusting his overalls, he struts up to the house; a dip in his mouth, the size of a mouse. Behind him a box brought along for the ride, with a bright yellow sticker that reads “rednecks inside.” He opens the box and what do I see, two tiny little cowboys as tall as my knee. With belt buckles large, what was I to do? On those buckles I read “Redneck One and Redneck Two.” They were cussin like sailors, tobacco they’d spit and I was soon to discover that the little one bit. They let themselves in and started looking for food. They made quite a mess and were extremely rude. They plundered through the cupboards looking for the Spam, but all that they found were some green eggs and ham. “Were’s the mustards and cabbage?” they started to shout. “Fry up sum cornbread n taters,” I started to doubt….that this mess they were making would ever come clean, then that Cat in the Hat produced a bright shiny machine. “It’s a clean-a-nator 2000,” he pushed it my way….and as it turned on, I had nothing to say. That thing was here to hopefully save the day. It sucked up the rug but I didn’t mind, it was just an old one, a flea market find. That machine was a cleanin, fast as Nascar, it ran quicker than Lil Billy, that time he was kicked out of the bar. Soon that old trailer was nothing but shine and that machine headed out, it seemed just in time. But before it was gone, it did just what it had to do, it reached across the living room and sucked up Redneck One and Redneck Two.
Most never leave Mulberry Street; this is something that I know. But those that escape, oh, the places that they’ll go!! Most head up north cause the ocean is down…and they know they can’t swim and don’t
want to drown. Some head for the mountains and some for the hills, some end up in Arkansas, working in mills. Some try to fit in with folks from the city but they don’t drink sweet tea and that’s just a pity….one boy I know ended up in New York City. He tried drinking pop and reading real books…the kind with no pictures that are published on Nooks. He started combing his hair with a comb, very fine, and on days he felt fancy, he gave his tooth a great shine. He mended his undies and washed all his socks and put away all his collection of rocks and began collecting stamps, of which he became very proud, and burning his rebel flag brought in quite a crowd. He traded his truck for a nice Land Rover and found him a lady which he tried to win over. But his roots started showing whenever he spoke, when he told her bout momma and how she could toke. “She had learnt it in prison after she killed my dad, he had been kicked out of the circus and come home real mad. He got to fussin at maw and she had enough, she grabbed up her skillet and come at him rough. She gave him some whacks and a woop-ly-doos, and before he knew it she knocked him right out of his shoes.” Needless to say, that boy’s story was rejected and he headed back to Mulberry, just as I had suspected. As he rode into town, he looked up to see….an old oak with no branches, his family tree. He stopped and he smiled, he had made it back home. Where old cars lined the property and every yard had a gnome. Where you could spend your days counting one fish or two and if you got lucky, saw one in red or in blue. Where if you paid close attention Yertle the Turtle was near and if you listened real close you knew what Horton could hear. Where kids hopped on pop and visited Sam I Am and pockets were filled with wockets and little boys say yes ma’am.