Jan's Window Fashions on Second Street (Main Street) is where my mom worked when I was just a little shaver, before I went off to kindergarten at Elm Park. This is pre-Star Wars, so I would go off to work with her - and later, my baby sister, too; who slept in the crib under the sewing table - with a Batman coloring book and action figure in hand and a head full adventures I would have that day in the 'BatCave.'
The BatCave wasn't really a cave of course, it was just a little storage space in the back of Jan's building, behind a partition, where she put empty cardboard boxes and various odds and ends out of sight of the customers. I would set up my fort for the day in the boxes, with the occasional reminder from mom to 'play quietly' and to 'stay out of the garage in back' (there was a neat motorcycle back there that had a side-car and looked just like the Bat-Cycle!) I was always easing open that door and sneaking peaks at the 'Bat-Cycle,' thinking that one day I would actually dare to get on it and ride off to fight crime, my cape fluttering out gloriously behind me...
There were a couple of bathrooms to the side by the BatCave at my disposal (with the occasional reminder from mom to 'not play in the water' and the ever-present reminder to 'not drink out of JC's cup!' JC was John, Jan's son. He had diabetes and had to pee into a cup every once in a while). John also had his special sugar-free diabetes candy that I was welcome to eat if I wanted it, but it tasted pretty gross, so I avoided it unless I was desperate. I usually didn't get that desperate for candy, though, because Dee's Cafe was just down the block, and if I batted my eyes and asked with just the right tone of voice (kind of a sigh with a hint of pleading), I could often talk my mom into a quick walk down to Dee's for a candy bar, and, if I was really lucky, a soda pop, too. Mom would chat with me - ask me how my day was going, and I would ask her who she liked better: Batman or Robin?
A short walk back to Jan's and we would be met by Patches, Jan's little dog (eventually replaced by Caramel, who smelled like mothballs...) and Jan's daughter Laurie would be there, too. I thought Laurie was the prettiest girl in the world, and would blush furiously when she would say "HIIIIIIiiiiiiii, Maaaaaarky...!" and blow me kisses. Paul McCartney would be on the radio singing 'Silly Love Songs' (because Laurie switched the station from KQWC to the Fort Dodge station), and on the white metal post in the center of the room was taped the picture of all the Ziggy-type characters laughing hysterically with 'Jan, Laurie, Mona, and Alice' written on the characters.
It was a great time to be alive, and I still look back fondly at that time in my life - remembering it like it was yesterday. At the end of the day, mom would tuck me into bed, sing me a couple of verses of 'You Are My Sunshine' (although I could usually talk her into one more song, which usually consisted of: 'Goodnight, Batman'). The lyrics are thus:
It's time to go to bed.
It's time to go to bed.
And on and on with various other superheroes. Then, with a kiss on the forehead and an 'I love you, Marky,' (and a promise to leave the door open a crack), I would close my eyes and drift off to sleep - all too eager to wake up and spend another perfect day with my mom.
Happy birthday, Mama! I love you!