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Mowing the Lawn
Baseball Games in Bed
Wine and Shinglehouse Cheese in the Basement
Da Sauce and Da Seats
Joey Hughes is Not My Son!
Are You Going to Marry My Daughter?
The New Oven and the Recipe
Fluffernutter Sandwiches
The Picnic
Da Viper
Vat is Da Name of Dis Dog?
Other Sonja-isms
Mowing the Lawn

Before Charles and Roger were old enough to mow, people would drive out of their way to watch Hans mow the lawn in his suit. As they grew older, the role of the sons in the van der Horst family was to mow our two acres of lawn on Hillcrest Avenue. Our father purchased a small, narrow, pale blue, electric lawnmower from Sears along with multiple, endless yellow extension cords which had to be tied at each junction to keep them from pulling apart with the tension. Since the lawn mower cut such a narrow swath and the grass was a thick dense green from all of our upstate New York summer rains, our scrawny frames could barely push the mower through the grass. The motor would repeatedly stall as well, forcing us to gently tilt up the mower, flick the switch on the housing to start it again and slowly lower the mower as it chewed up the six inch high grass. Like Sisyphus, we would push it from one end to the other over a two week period only to be required to start immediately over again at the beginning. There were great, if solitary, celebrations by Charles when Roger joined him at bat. One challenge was that at the end of the row, depending on the location, the mower had to pick up the cord and with a huge jump rope-like heave flip the yellow cord to the other side of the mower. Of course, if we forgot to do that, we would run over the cord and sever it. Despite numerous entreaties to purchase a riding mower, father always declined. That is, until we were both gone off to prep school at which point he promptly purchased a giant red riding mower. For years afterward he could be seen happily smoking a cigar, sitting on the mower in his impeccable long sleeve white shirt and tie, the epitome of a European-style suburbanite.