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Kitchen redo story gives me sinking feelings

Rather than give my kitchen sink a hard look, a degunking and rearranging, as suggested by the how-to feature story on this page — 'cause who wants to do THAT? — I believe I'll look to sinks of my grubby past.

Oh, wait. It just Dawn-ed on me. This could be draining. Caution: When it comes to puns, I am for open-carry.

First things first. I know it sounds crazy, but I remember being little enough for Mama to bathe me in the kitchen sink. It's true. Just outside the window was one of several barns on our place, maybe 15 or 20 feet away. Against it was a picnic-type table and work area. Strung above, between the house and the barn, was a trouble light.

Nothing shocking. (There I glow again!)

That memory comes up quite a bit for some reason, I guess when I'm homesick or missing my late mama. My big brother passed not long ago, which triggered lots of down-home memories. It's an odd little memory. Imagine. I am 6 feet, 4 inches tall, and I weigh nearly 300 pounds. Once upon a time I could have gotten a toe stuck in a sink strainer.

Then there was my first "work" sink. One of my first nonfarm jobs was as a pot scrubber in town — at Lewis Cafeteria in Fort Smith, Arkansas, when I was just old enough to drive. I started my evening shift by going down a list of to-do's.

It still cracks me up after nearly 40 years. What an awful job, one of the ones that convinced me to go to college. I lasted two weeks.

The pots were as big as trash barrels! Pans were about as long and wide as a tailgate! Utensils the size of farm implements! My first to-do every evening was to light the sink.

Light. The. Dang. Sink.

It was an industrial pot scrubber's sink, with a burner and a pilot light. It was the first and only sink with a burner I ever saw, although they must be out there. But how would I know? I lasted in pot scrubbery for just two weeks.

Then there was another work sink, two actually, and the less said about them the better.

Truck stop. Lonely stretch of Interstate 40 (then, in the early 1980s). The restrooms were at the back of the building, and were checked and cleaned once per shift. I worked the graveyard shift. You don't want to know what people did in those sinks. I just always wondered why? And that's enough said about them.

Another sink has been coming to mind lately, probably thanks to my late big brother.

Carl Mize Jr. loved his little brother, and I miss him dearly. He never got over the fact that I moved away from home for good. He actually helped me make my first big, permanent move, from Stillwater to Wichita Falls, Texas, in December 1988.

After unloading his truck and my car, we headed to what we were told was the best barbecue joint in town, the Bar-L. We each had what I later, as a regular patron, called the what-meat-don't-you-want plate. That's what the waitresses would ask if you ordered the combination plate. "What meat don'tcha want?" Saved time.

Wet naps put a dent in the grease on my hands, but I went to the restroom to wash up, and this happened:

I took off my brand-new Oklahoma State University class ring, gold, and placed it on the sink.

I washed up.

I walked out.

We left.

An HOUR LATER, with a sinking feeling (zing!), I realized what I'd done.

I rushed back, and my class ring was exactly where I'd left it.

There is no way no one had been in that restroom. The Bar-L was, and is, a barbecue joint and a beer joint. I could not believe it then, and I cannot believe it now: Nobody swiped it.

The scare did, in pun and in fact, leave me drained.

Richard Mize

Real estate editor Richard Mize has edited The Oklahoman's weekly residential real estate section and covered housing, commercial real estate, construction, development, finance and related business since 1999. From 1989 to 1999, he worked... Read more ›

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