Giovanni’s grandfather will occasionally tell the story of the Bird and the Cow to his grandchildren in order to instruct them on a lesson in life. The story goes as follows:
There once was a bird that was flying south for winter, but he had left too late into winter that the air was extremely cold. While he was flying, his wings began to freeze, and he could no longer continue to fly. He became completely frozen and fell to the ground. While on the ground freezing to death, a cow happened to walk past and noticed the freezing bird. The cow takes a crap on the bird and then walks away. The poo actually warms up the bird, and eventually the poo thaws him out. When the birds mouth is thawed out, he begins to sing for joy, knowing that he eventually will be out free. Then a fox that is walking by hears the singing bird thawing in the cow dung. The fox digs the bird out of the cow dung, and then he eats the bird.
There are three lessons that are meant to be learned from Giovanni’s story. The first is that not everyone who shits on you is your enemy. The second is that not everyone who gets you out of shit is your friend. Lastly, when you are deep in shit keep your mouth shut.
In West Los Angeles on Louisiana Avenue, there was a certain house where an old lady lived by herself. She would yell at the children walking by if they came too close to her house. It was rumored that she was a witch who would take the lives of children walking by in order to keep her alive. It was said that if you walked past her house and stepped too close to her lawn, you would get stuck on her grass because the grass would grow around your ankles. Then she would come out of the house screaming and take you inside of her house. Once taken, you were never seen again. However, it was said that she planted another rose in her front garden for each child that she took.
Danny and his friends would always cross to the other side of the street when they got near the old lady’s house in order to avoid walking to close to her lawn. Sometimes, Danny and his friends would pressure someone who thought they were brave to walk on the old lady’s lawn. They would play a game to see who could get closest to the house or who could stand on the lawn the longest. Most likely the witch on Louisiana Avenue was just an old lady who yelled at all the kids who would constantly ware out her lawn.
Will’s grandparents would watch him and his siblings when his parents went on trips. Whenever Will would act up or do something wrong, his grandpa used to say to him “Little Willie mean as hell, threw his sister in the well, mother said when drawing water, ‘Gee it’s hard to raise a daughter.’” When his grandpa would say this to him, it was a sign of disappointment. It was a way of making Will feel bad about whatever he had done wrong without actually getting angry with him. Will would protest and say that he wasn’t mean, and he would try and disprove his grandpa the first few times his grandpa would say the phrase to him. There were other versions of the saying that Will’s grandpa used to say to him, but he can’t remember exactly what they were.
Charlie and his cousins would play a game they called Cool plays. The game was a mix between baseball and football. There would be two teams of four, but if there was one bigger person (and generally there was always one kid who was a lot bigger than everyone else) then they would have a team of five and a team of three (the team of three would have the big kid). The team on offense would stand out a little past half the field length, while the defense would stand a third of the way to half field. One person on defense would stand a third of the way from the end zone with a bat, while one person on offense would stand a few feet away to pitch the ball. The special thing about Cool Plays is that the ball is a basketball-sized tennis ball. The pitcher would throw the ball with one bounce at the batter, and then the batter would try and hit the ball as far as he could. With a successful hit, the people on offense would try to get the ball to the end zone without being tackled by the batting team. If the offense made it to the touchdown, they got three points. However, if the defense tackled the person with the ball before they got to the end zone, the defense got a point. Each person on defense bats one time before they switch sides. The team who gets to ten points first wins.
As a morning ritual before school days, Cat’s mom would always come into her room to wake her up. Since Cat was such a terrible morning person, her mom would try and perk her up by singing the song: “You Are My Sunshine.” He mom would come into the room singing You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are gray, you’ll never know dear how much I love you, please don’t take my sunshine away. Every time that her mom got to the line “love you,” her mom would pull off Cat’s covers to lovingly force her out of bed. Because her mom would pull her covers off every day on the same line, Cat would clutch onto her covers as strong as she could to try and thwart her mom. However, every day Cat’s mom would always succeed in waking her up to go to school. They performed this ritual every school day morning from Fifth grade through senior year of High School.