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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: PICNIC - deadline 7-12-12 @ 9:59 AM NY Time (07/05/12)

TITLE: Wheezed and Sneezed
By Laury Hubrich


Daddy detested picnics. The flies, heat, kids running around with water balloons… Just something about that made his stomach turn. We kids never could figure it out because it’s everything we loved. But once a year, Daddy got excited! He lifted me up and let me pull the string that brought the attic ladder down from its secret hiding place. Then he climbed the steps, one-by-one, all of us at his heels.

The closer Daddy got to the top, the more he wheezed and sneezed. One time, I giggled so much I tumbled backwards. This caused my middle brother to lose his toe hold, which caused little brother to fall into oldest brother. I sat on top of the pile. Daddy looked down at us, his handkerchief over his nose and mouth, a cobweb hanging down from his ear. I started to guffaw. This made my pile of brothers I sat on jiggle like gelatin and howl like crazy, all except for big brother at the bottom. He huffed and puffed and threw us all off.

That made me, the princess of the family, cry. The boys dusted me off and dried my tears with their hankies. I looked up at Daddy, and he saw me with those fake crocodile tears on my cheeks. He shook his head; winked; then held up his little finger and wiggled it, our secret code. The only one who wasn’t wound around my little finger was Mama.

He put his two fingers in his mouth and gave his special whistle, and we all flew up the steps, not minding the cobwebs or the spiders or the dust or Daddy’s sneezes and wheezes. We were in magic land. We were only allowed in the attic a few times a year, and picnic time was one of those. Our mission: to find the Chaudoin family banner for our reunion at Miller Park for that coming Saturday, 1963.

Big brother found it. I’m sure he peeked last year when it was put away. The rule was: whoever found the banner got to go with Daddy and sleep on the picnic table underneath the pavilion to hold our spot. Mama said girls couldn’t go. I never thought that was fair. I got stuck helping make the sugar-raisin pies, but…I did get to lick the bowl. Everyone had their jobs for the reunion and making pies was Mama’s.

Auntie Sophie made the potato salad and Auntie Louise, the cole slaw. Auntie Gertie brought dozens of pitchers of sweet tea. The uncles, all except for daddy (whose job it was to camp out at the park), took care of the KFC (that is, Killed and Fried by the Chaudoins. The uncles took their axes. One held the body and the other chopped. I liked to watch those chicken bodies flop all over the yard. It sure isn’t something you ever forget. Oh the memories! Gramma Chaudoin’s job was to pluck and cook.

My job was to watch my little cousin, Lukey, at the picnic. He was in this big baby buggy, and Cousin Irvin kept hanging all over it. I was scared he would flip the whole carriage over and get me in trouble, not to mention hurt the baby, so I guarded the two every single second. I missed out on some fun stuff until Daddy spanked Irvin, and he went away with his feelings hurt. He didn’t stay gone long though.

Irvin dangled over the handle while I changed Lukey’s diaper. Just when I had enough of Irvin’s nonsense, Lukey took care of the problem. Before I could get his diaper back on, he made a perfect arc with his pee right up into Irvin’s face! I giggled so hard, the buggy fell anyway, and me and Irvin both got in trouble!

We sat around picnic tables laden with wonderful food, family members we got to see a couple times a year, with Gramma Chaudoin at the head of the table. Everyone got real quiet when she stood. It was time for her blessing for each family represented. A blessing, a prayer, delicious food, amazing fellowship, clean, wholesome fun. Good memories!

Daddy hid the Chaudoin banner for another year. Big brother tried to peek, but Daddy announced he would be old enough to help with KFC. I peeked just in case Mama might change her mind. She never did. Irvin still pays to this day for that little stunt he pulled that one Chaudoin family picnic!

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This article has been read 463 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Yvonne Blake 07/12/12
What funny memories! You did a great job of painting these characters!
Beth LaBuff 07/12/12
Oh my! WHAT FUN! Loved the KFC chicken! You completely captured my attention, imagination, and smile with this. :)
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 07/13/12
This is a delightful story. I had giggles and nods of recognition as I read. I felt like you took me on a journey to simpler times when everyone helped and the work seemed easier.

Just some tiny red ink. I was confused at the beginning when you said Daddy didn't like picnics but in the next line he got excited. later it made sense but I did have to reread it. I also struggled why Irvin still pays til today for his prank--perhaps because he gets teased for being at the end of the target? perhaps I just don't pick up little details like others do :)

All-in all this was a delightful read and left me with a warm feeling. You did a great job painting pictures for me. I love the image of the baby peeing. Anyone who has changed a boy's diaper gets it! (pun intended)
Verna Cole Mitchell 07/13/12
It was just like the "princess" was talking to just me with her story. I loved it.
C D Swanson 07/13/12
Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! I was laughing through this entire well-written and simply delightful piece.

If I had to choose one part that I loved the best, I'd be unable to do it. It was great all the way from the first sentence to the very last. Thanks for this memorable entry!

God Bless~
Catrina Bradley 07/14/12
You had me grinning all the way through. I got lost in your writing and felt like I was a member of the family. One only one red ink - the ending may be a little weak. I don't quite "get" the last line about Irving's stunt and I was left scratching my head. Could just be me. :) Other than that, this story was a hoot - a fun read.
Helen Curtis07/14/12
Such great fun to be had and so beautifully told. I wonder, is this an anecdote or a fictional family? I do agree with the other comments about the last line; it would have been a fantastic ending to leave it with "She never did." I really enjoyed this good wholesome fun tale; may we all remember to create long-lasting happy memories for our families. Well done.
lynn gipson 07/15/12
This is so funny, I enjoyed it a lot. Thank you for your memories, i felt as if i were there..God Bless
Myrna Noyes07/18/12
What a fun picnic story! It sounds like a true one to me, but if not, you really are very creative! :)