Monday, July 13, 2009

Carnival of Genealogy - 76th Edition

Carnival of Genealogy - 76th Edition

My Summer’s As A Child

I know it may sound like a foreign language to the kids today, but back when I was a kid, when school let out for summer, it didn’t mean endless trips for summer vacation. It didn’t mean sleeping late every morning and then spending the day either in front of the TV, the PlayStation or GameBoy, or on the computer [those things had not been invented yet; computers were the size of our house, not something we had in the home!]. We had television, don’t get me wrong! But there were a total of 4 channels: ABC, NBC, CBS, and PBS. Cable TV hadn’t come along yet. Heck, Sesame Street had never aired yet, either!

No, when school let out for those long summer months, we got on our bicycles and we rode through our neighborhood. That old bike became the horse when we played ‘Cowboys and Indians’. It was the get-away car when we played ‘Cops and Robbers’. And it made for some fun sessions when we found out we could play tag on bikes, too!

When we weren’t riding our bikes, we strapped on our roller skates, tightening the leather straps, and cinching them onto our shoes with a key. [Oh, yeah, roller blades were a long distant invention, as well!]

We didn’t wear helmets when we were on our bikes. And we didn’t wear them as we skated. No knee or elbow pads either. Guess we lived dangerously.

We went out the door, usually by 9 a.m. at least, and we didn’t come back in until the streetlights came on. That was the rule for everyone! Mom’s liked it best that way.

If we were hungry or thirsty, whichever house we were playing at, the Mom just made an extra peanut-butter and jelly sandwich, and poured an extra cup of Kool-Aid. One day we’d all be gathered at Debbie’s house, the next at Jimmy’s, and the next we might be at our own house! Mom’s liked it best that way.

Some of the Mom’s began to work once the kids started to school. And the other Mom’s in the neighborhood kept a respectful eye out for those poor kids whose mother had to work. Yeah, it was real tough for us. I’m surprised we didn’t all end up emotionally scarred for life! You know, being passed from maternal figure to maternal figure that way. But then, Mom’s liked it best that way.

I was one of those poor kids. My Mom waited until my sister and I were both in school, and then went off to join the working forces. In the summer months we were one of those kids that was “semi-watched” after in the neighborhood. Yep. We didn’t mind our “p’s and q’s”, and not only did Jimmy or Debbie’s Mom take care of us right then and there, but we got it when Mom got home as well! Yep, you got it, Mom’s liked it best that way.

Twice a week Mom left us a dime each, and when we heard the faint bells of the ice-cream man coming down the street, we would rush to grab our dime and head for the sidewalk where we waited impatiently for him to stop on our block.

I grew up in a naval seaport town. And during the hot days of summer, we longed for the cool Atlantic waters to cool us off! During the week, we turned on the water hose and connected it to the lawn sprinkler. There we’d run back and forth through the spray, and cool ourselves off. On Saturday’s, Mom would pack a picnic basket full of sandwiches and Kool-Aid, and off we’d head for the beach. [I still think my sister and I learned to swim before we learned to walk!]. Mom would spread her blanket on the beach, and off the two of us girls would head for the water. We’d swim and play in the water until we were no longer little, pink girls, but wrinkled, reddened prunes! Many times we’d return home and we’d be sunburned and tired from a full day in the sun. Yep, Mom liked it best that way.

We didn’t have air-conditioning back then. I don’t recall a single house having an a/c. Shopping centers and stores did. We didn’t get our first mall until I was about 10-years old. This was in Norfolk, Virginia, and it was the Military Circle Mall, considered the largest for the east coast at the time it was built. By the time I was 13, Mom would drop us off there on a Saturday morning and pick us back up that afternoon. It was a safe place for us to spend a day. Yep, Mom’s liked it best that way.

Usually, once or twice per summer, we got into the car and made the long trip to Indiana to visit my Mom’s parent’s. Until I was about 8 or so, the Interstate system hadn’t been completed, and what would now take about 15 hours to drive, back then took a good 2 ½ days to drive. We usually drove to my aunt’s home in West Virginia, and then on to Indiana the following day. It was quite the tiring trip. But it was so worth it. We always had so much fun at my Grandma and Grandpa Dreher’s. They lived in the country and we got to play in fields and woods and explore paths and lanes from sunup till sundown. I think Mom liked it best that way!

Hours were spent fishing, or swimming in the creeks. Playing with cousins who were seen only once or twice a year. And being completely spoiled by grandparents who were the best in the world! Yeah, I’m pretty sure Mom liked it best that way!

The places where we used to go when we visited my grandparents are all gone now. Houses and stores are in the fields we once walked and played. The house where Grandma and Grandpa lived is gone now. A more modern home sits there.

I went back to the old neighborhood where I grew up a few years ago. The houses are all still there. And the one I grew up in still sits there on the corner where it did back then. It was a new home when I was a kid. Today it’s not aged so well. The paint was peeling, and the roof appeared bowed and sagging in places. The sidewalk was cracked out front. And the tree Mama and Daddy had planted was cut down.

I went to the beach where we’d played as kids. It wasn’t so big any more. The shoreline depleted by houses and stores. There was a fence around the swimming area to keep the public from moving onto these “private” areas.

My husband and my daughter and I walked the shoreline and picked up seashells. Before we got back to our car my daughter was already complaining about missing her time with her PlayStation.

The only way to go back to those areas and those times now is in my memory. And so, every now and then, I’ll close the door to my bedroom, lie back on the bed, close my eyes, and I go back to those summers of childhood.

I see Eydie, my sister, in her little sun suit, playing on the beach. And there’s Mama, lying on the blanket, soaking up the sun [without sunscreen no less!]. And I feel the salty air blow through my curly hair as I stand on the beach and just take it all in. I breathe deeply and smell the ocean, and I know I am home! Oh yes, I think I like it best that way. Most definitely, I like it best that way.


Janet Iles said...

It sounds like you had fun with the other children in the neighborhood. It is great that the moms were willing to feed the extra children.

Bill West said...

You brought back memories for me. We
never had a/c either when I was a kid. My folks couldn't afford it until long after I was an adult.

My Mom was one of those who kept
an eye on the whole neighborhood.
I think some of my friends feared being caught more by my Mom than by their own!

Thanks for sharing.