FromSusan Parker: More World Views From the Scrabblettes

Susan Parker
Tuesday July 13, 2004

I was in West Berkeley playing Scrabble with Louise, Rose, and Pearl. I hadn’t seen the Scrabblettes in over four weeks so we had a lot of catching up to do. 

“I saw the remake of Around the World in Eighty Days,” said Rose. “I don’t recommend it.” 

“I s aw Troy,” said Pearl. “I don’t recommend that, either.” 

“I saw The Saddest Song in the World,” I said. “I hated it.” 

“I saw Bill Clinton at Cody’s and got his autograph,” said Louise. This, of course, got our attention. 

“He’s very handsome,” she continued. “And so warm and friendly. He gave me a big hug. I can understand Monica Lewinsky’s attraction to him.” 

“Have you read his book yet?” asked Pearl. 

“No,” said Louise, carefully studying the board in order to make the first move. “It’s so big, I can barely lift it.” 

“He was an overweight child,” said Rose, rearranging her letters on the plastic holder. “I read it in the paper.” 

“I didn’t notice his weight,” said Louise, finally spelling “kea,” (a large green New Zealand parrot that kills sheep), for 14 points. 

“What about July 4th,” I said. “Did you do anything interesting?” 

“I watched the Jack London Square and Berkeley Marina fireworks from the 12th floor of a west-facing building,” said Pearl. “They were spectacular.” 

Louise picked three new letters from the bag. “I don’t like fireworks. You see one and you’ve seen them all.” 

“Really?” asked Rose. “When I was a kid, we were too poor to have fireworks. We each got one measly sparkler.” 

“We didn’t get sparklers,” said Pearl. 

“We didn’t celebrate the 4th of July,” said Louise. “That’s 14 points,” she added, pointing at the scorecard that Pearl was keeping. “Don’t cheat me.” 

“You didn’t celebrate the 4th of July?” asked Pearl, writing the number 14 in big numerals so that Louise could see it. 

“No, I don’t think so,” answered Louise. “And we only had sparklers at Christmas.” 

“Christmas?” asked Rose. 

“Yes,” said Louise firmly. “It’s your turn, by the way.” 

“How odd,” said Pearl. “I rode a horse in the Crescent City 4th of July parade once. It belonged to my grandfather. It must have been around 1946 or so.” 

“Did you celebrate 4th of July in the camps?” I asked Rose. Her family had spent the duration of World War II in an Arkansas camp for Japanese Americans. 

“Quiet,” she said. “I’m concentrating.” 

Pearl turned to Louise. “Why didn’t you celebrate Independence Day?” 

“I’m not sure, but I think we celebrated Juneteenth instead. Don’t forget, I left Louisiana when I was 12. That was almost 60 years ago, so I don’t remember all the details.” 

“Did you have sparklers on Juneteenth?” asked Pearl. It was obvious she wasn’t going to leave this sparkler thing alone. 

“No,” said Louise patiently. “I’m quite certain we only had sparklers at Christmas.” 

Rose sighed. “I’m going to turn in all my le tters and pass,” she said. “Enough with the sparklers, Pearl. It’s your turn.” 

“Rose, did you celebrate any American or Japanese holidays in the camps?” asked Louise. 

“Yep,” said Rose. “Christmas, New Years, Girls and Boys Days.” 

“Did you have access t o Japanese food while you were interned?” I asked. 

“Some. But you know what we did have?” 

“What?” we all asked in unison. 

“Velveeta cheese. Can you believe that? My older brother was sent to Montana to dig beets because all the regular farmhands were i n the service. He sent us Velveeta cheese and comic books. My friends thought we were rich.” 

“I can’t stand Velveeta cheese,” said Louise. “I ate too much of it when I was a child.” 

“I think Bill Clinton may have eaten a whole lot of Velveeta when he was a kid,” I said. 

“Well,” said Louise with a bit of mischief in her eyes. “It didn’t hurt him one bit, I’ll tell you that.” 

“Do you think Bill had sparklers at Christmas or 4th of July?” asked Pearl, looking up from the board. 

“Fireworks,” said Louise with conviction. “I could feel it at Cody’s last week. 

That man has always given off plenty of heat.”¿