My poor abandoned blog. It’s in good company. Memory Lane is littered with my poor abandoned blogs of old, started with good intentions, some even lasting several years, but inevitably visited with less and less frequency until forgotten. *weeps*

In any event, I had a discussion with a co-worker yesterday about different soda flavors (it’s my job to procure soda for the holiday bash we’ve organized next week to include catering from Jimmy John’s – huzzah!), and I offered diet coke, Sprite, and something else (not Poopsi cuz it sucks), but something like “Mello Yello” I offered, and then recalled that lesser known yellow soda, “Sun Drop” and launched into a story of the LaPoint family on Burdick Street in Oshkosh, WI.

Gail and Neil LaPoint are my aunt and uncle, Gail is my mother’s older sister. She’s a buxom woman, big-boned, jolly, short black hair, and big glasses that seem to take up her whole face. She is boisterous, home-bodied, and talks with a lisp. Neil looked like Frank Sinatra in his day, is a comical man who’s always wise-cracking and making people laugh, but in the next breath can be completely serious and take you (or me anyway) off guard and keeps me guessing as to his deeper nature.

Gail and Neil lived in a small white house on the west side of Oshkosh, WI near fairly near the lake on Burdick Street. They had a red Explorer or some kind of SUV and a pot-bellied wood-burning stove in their garage. They both worked at the same factory and had no children of their own. Every so often my mom would take my twin brother and I to their home for a visit. Ross and I loved Gail and Neil, and a few things we did every time we came for a visit. Sun Drop. Gail and Neil could be counted upon to have a fridge full of Sun Drop at any time, it came in a green can with a big yellow drop on the can. We each got a can. Every time. Gail also had an old-fashioned style phone that looked like something Cruella DeVille would use. We loved this phone and always like to play with it.

Neil had a basic weight lifting set up in the basement, old-fashioned, maybe a few dumbells and a bench. We would go down and play with these for a few moments, and move onto the most exciting of all – the swords. Neil had two swords in the house – one similar to a Samurai sword and the other more like a daggar. We didn’t play with them, but we liked to look at them, unsheath them and be amazed. On each visit when went to find the swords, always in the same place – lingering around Neil’s work bench area with tools and other items a handy man might use.

It was curious to me that Gail and Neil slept in different beds, had in fact two separate rooms. Gail’s room had an old-fashioned hand mirror and brush on the dresser and may have had pictures of pheasants or hunting images on the walls. My memory is fuzzy. I remember being a little unsure whose room was whose, save for the brush and hand mirror, because they both seemed a bit androdgynous if not masculine.

There was also an attic where we were not allowed to go. In my memory the door to the attic was in the dining room and the stairs were steep, the walls painted a light shade of green, maybe close to sea foam. Grown-ups never seemed to like children playing in attics, what a shame!

Burdick…I know why that name sticks out…The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, a wonderful book. Remember?

I remember Gail had something of a fear of illness, I think. She came over once when I was getting over chicken pox and warned me not to touch or come near her. I thought she was kidding and giggled and touched her and she jumped and said, “Don’t you ever do that again!”

I remember two times when Gail came to babysit my brothers and I. One time she did not seem to like children very much because she would say things like, “I wish you were a T.V. so I could turn you off.” Then she wanted to play a game where my brothers and I would lay on the floor and whoever was the most quiet and the most still for the longest would win, the ultimate goal was to fall asleep. Pretty transperent, I thought, though I was competetive and played the game.

The other time Gail was only over for a half hour at absolute most and my brothers and I were arguing, like young children do and Gail said, “I’ve had it with your fighting. I’m leaving!” And we stood there, mouths agape, as she stormed out, got in her car and drove away. We were stunned. I remember thinking it was a joke and she was coming back. She didn’t.

And those are my standout memories of Gail of Neil. I love them, they are a bit strange and certainly set in their ways.