The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 Chapter 8 Summary
by Christopher Paul Curtis

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Chapter 8 Summary

After their telephone conversation with Grandma Sands, Momma and Dad start acting "real strange." Momma starts writing copiously in a notebook, and Dad starts buying all kinds of things for the Brown Bomber. After a few days, the Brown Bomber looks terrific, and Dad says that it needs only one "final touch." With his typical flair for the dramatic, Dad brings home a special something in a small bag, calling it "the height of technology...the ultimate in American knowledge...the pinnacle of Western civilization." The amazing item turns out to be a "smelly green pine tree," and while the rest of the family groans, Joey is delighted to receive the honor of hanging it from the rearview mirror.

On Saturday, Kenny wakes up early and watches Dad brush his teeth and shave in the bathroom. Dad asks if he wants him to lather him up, too, like he used to do when Kenny was little, but Kenny says he is too old for that now. Dad says that it will not be long before Kenny will be shaving along with him, which makes Kenny feel very proud.

After he is done in the bathroom, Dad leaves the house and will not say where he is going. When he returns, he makes the entire family walk outside, single file and with their eyes closed, holding onto the shoulder of the person in front of them. When they get to the Brown Bomber, Dad chooses Kenny to unveil something very special in the middle of the dashboard. With great fanfare, Kenny uncovers a brand new "true-Tone AB-700 model Ultra Glide" record player. The children are ecstatic, but Momma, worried about the expense, is a little perturbed and stalks back to the house. Dad is disappointed with her reaction, but this does not stop him from putting on a show for the kids, acting out the part of the man who sold him this example of high technology, the precursor of today's automobile stereo systems. Byron runs into the house to get his favorite records, and when he comes back out, Momma follows him, fussing at him about stomping on the stairs and slamming the screen door. Kenny knows that Momma is using Byron as an excuse to come back out and join in the fun. The first record Dad plays is a favorite of his and Momma's; after that, he allows the kids to play four songs each. When the family has enjoyed the Ultra-Glide for a good long while, Momma tells Dad that it is time to turn it off; they have something important to say.

Momma announces to the children that...

(The entire section is 663 words.)