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Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017

The Vanderdyke ... and other Childhood Memories

Posted Thursday, August 19, 2010, at 10:59 AM

I have recently reconnected with all three of my cousins on Facebook (for all the complaining I do about what they do with my information but they do allow me to reconnect with old friends and family and for that I am thankful). We have been sharing a lot of memories about our childhoods. The one constant that always comes up is the old house in Pryor, Oklahoma where we shared most of these memories.

It was our grandparents house (Nana and Papa) and it was our home away from home. We shared a lot of memories in that house.

There were six of us (three on the Hendricks side, three on the Stumpff side). Brandon was the ring leader of course, that is where the Vanderdyke comes in.

Brandon had a flair for scaring the life out of us at every opportunity he had. He had invented the Vanderdyke, but there were only two places the Vanderdyke was every "seen"; in my mother's old room and at night on the highway following Papa's pickup.

My mother's old room was originally on the outer wall of the house but along the way Papa had built an addition to the house and her old window became a door into a bathroom. But the doorway was actually closed by a folding door. Naturally, even fully shut it allowed light in. It cast weird light shadows on the ceiling, but only when the bathroom light was on. This was when the Vanderdyke came out. That room, not having any windows was pitch black at night so we often could see the "eyes" of the Vanderdyke. Brandon always told us that if we ever saw the Vanderdyke's eyes it was already too late. I was scared of that room for the longest time.

The other time the Vanderdyke came out was when we were headed somewhere at night. Always during the summer and only when we were riding in the bed of the truck. Brandon had told us that whenever we saw two red glowing eyes that the Vanderdyke was right behind us trying to get in the truck (he always conveniently forgot to mention that at night we would always see the red eyes because of the taillights of the truck).

Here's the amazing thing about the Vanderdyke, Brandon never described it beyond the eyes. He never had to, the eyes scared us enough.

That house was full of our memories, the late nights that we would spend in the kitchen making up weird concoctions and daring each other to drink and playing a breaking news game where we could poke fun at each other. All the times that we broke Nana's bed practicing the wrestling moves that we saw on WWE. Running away from the Papa monster whenever it came out of the attic (usually around the same time that Papa was taking a nap in his room).

Every Christmas and a lot of Thanksgivings were spent in that house as we were growing up.

We are all grown now. The two oldest cousins are now married, the youngest has served in Iraq. Brandon is gone and myself and my little brother just got married within the last year. Both Nana and Papa have passed on.

That house is still there but it no longer belongs to the family. Maybe, one day, we will pool our money together and buy back that old house so that our children and our children's children will be able to share memories just like the six of us did.

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Michael Hendricks
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