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. 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

I blame the turkeys.

I'm the little girl, far right, in the photo.
No fence separating us in this photo!
(Sorry for the grainy picture.)
When I was a young child, my paternal grandparents (see header photo, bottom far right) were raising turkeys, probably I was familiar with chickens because my maternal grandmother (see header, bottom left photo) would take me with her to gather eggs, showed me how make them leave their nests and even tied up a hen or two so that I could have a pet chicken, while I visited. (No hating on me, okay? I was a child.)

Turkeys were a different matter.

One day we were visiting my grandparents and ended up outside the turkey pen, looking in through the wire.

“Stand back from the fence,” Grandpa said, “They could bite.”

The turkeys seemed as curious about us as we were about them. While the adults talked, I watched them. They strutted about, sometimes in circles, puffing out their chests, fluffing out their feathers and all the while screaming turkey words at us, in gobbler sounds.

Bold, but not so beautiful, the turkeys moved closer to the wire fence.
I moved closer to the fence.
Something told me to stick my finger through the wire and wiggle it. Know what happened next? Yes, one rude turkey rushed to bite it.
At first I was in shock, then I burst out crying while holding my finger. My grandpa raced to me, lifted me to his arms, and studied my (non)injury.
“A turkey bit me,” I blubbered.
“The turkey thought your finger was a worm and wanted to eat it," he said, rubbing the pain from my finger. "Now don’t do that again.”
I remember I stopped crying to look at my finger. A worm? Eat it?
I also remember the turkeys and I never became friends.