Sunday, August 23, 2015

Now when I was a kid...

Soon we’ll be looking at another summer in the rearview mirror, waving goodbye either with gladness or tears. When I was a kid, the older adults said, “Now when I was a kid, things were different.” 

I'm now, not so suddenly, that person.
When I was a kid in the sixties, summers were different than what kids experience today. As a child, I played outdoors, my brother and I pretending we had a ranch, using tree branches for our horses. Our cattle were illusions of our minds. Leafy grasses became our currency. Often barefoot, we stayed outside all day, except for meals. When we moved to the city, for three years, we still played outside all day, but we had other kids to play with and bicycles to ride.

In the country, our bathroom was an outhouse, our bathtub--a washtub or a pan of warm water. I didn't know that air-conditioning existed. We slept most hot summer nights, upstairs. After church, summer Sundays were spent at my grandmother's house eating good food, making ice cream, swimming in the creek or river, and playing with cousins. 
My summers as a teenager were different than younger childhood. My brother and I no longer played together. We fought as siblings do. I thought about boys a lot. I read many books. One summer, I discovered the wonderful world of mythology through the traveling library from town.  I also discovered the classics written by authors like Jane Austin, John Steinbeck, and Kurt Vonnegut. I willingly disappeared into fantasy worlds. 

I taught myself to play the guitar. I played John Denver and Eagles songs. 

One summer, I discovered soap operas. They became my family and friends. I cried with the characters, fretted, fell in love and looked forward to seeing the characters each day. And "so were the days of our lives". 

I discovered talking on the telephone with friends, while being careful of what I shared, since we were on a party line and had neighbors who gossiped. Our phone was attached to a wall in the kitchen--a rotary dial. I didn't know about cell phones, but did fantasize about "what if" we had a car phone, and I could talk to my friends on the way to town. By that time, we had added a full bath for five people, to our house.

In the summer, rural teenagers(in my area)dated or hung out in groups of friends and drove continuously around our "square" in town on Saturday nights. We ate hamburgers and drank cokes from Mr. Swiss or the Snack Shack. We watched movies at the town movie theater, but preferred the drive-in movie at the edge of town. Some kids sat on river banks drinking beer or wine, bought by older peers, while some kids smoke their cigarettes and other things.


All summers, for most kids, were spent in church activities, ice cream socials and Vacation Bible School.

I enjoyed my summers, but always longed for school to begin again, since I craved the social life with my friends. 

Kids in my day were imaginative, read books and played hard physically, but that was my childhood. Kids are still imaginative and read. Every new generation forges their own childhood summer memories according to what is available to them and what they choose to do. Their memories will mean no less to them, than mine do to me. They will inevitably say to a younger generation,"Now when I was a kid...." 

Looking back on summer. 


Mason Canyon said...

I remember summers like that. I do so miss them.

Pat Hatt said...

Used to go outside a ton too, and yeah, each will remember theirs their own way.

Mary Aalgaard said...

Lovely reflections, Teresa.

Gail said...

Our child hoods were very similar. Throw in a mom going through the change and a workaholic family and we are much alike.

Great write.

JoJo said...

My childhood sounds quite a bit like yours! I was raised mostly in the 70s, but Cape Cod was pretty rural in those days except for the summer tourism. Summers in those days seemed to go on forever and ever. Now they fly by.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Teresa .. my summers too were like that - without the soap operas, or for that matter coke or being in a square with friends ... but summer was carefree for romantic books, rushing around outside having fun ... and all the good things in life - freedom of being a kid ...

Lovely post ... great memories .. cheers Hilary

Arlee Bird said...

Aside from the lack of a bathroom, your summers sound very much like mine. When I think back on childhood I can't remember much about the school times of the year very vividly, but summer I can recall like it was not that long ago. Summers of my youth were the best.

Arlee Bird
A to Z Challenge Co-host
Tossing It Out

Fundy Blue said...

I enjoyed this post so much, Teresa! It brought back many memories of my growing up. Thanks for sharing your memories!

Robert Bennett said...

Sounds like my summers out in the South. But, you're right, no matter what makes up our identity and memories, the next generations will have their own.

Huntress said...


All of the above...Me Too!!!

Having grown up with the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, my dream when I was a kid was to marry a farmer.
Yesterday, we celebrated our 42nd anniversary, LOL.

When we started, no AC but we did have a bathroom. We had chickens, a Jersey cow. I made butter and cheese. Bought flour by the 25 pound sack and had a monster-size garden.

I grew up in a small town where kids stayed outside until the moms yelled, "Dinner's ready." We made mud pies and played in the creek. Probably ran with scissors and rode on the pickup tailgate too.

Kids have no chores now. They don't know what it's like to pick up little round bales and "walk beans". Shove a hen off her nest so you can grab her eggs or teach or herding dog how to work cattle.

what a shame.