Have you ever had one of those days where everything is just so confused, so screwed up, so emotional, and the weight is so heavy on your shoulders that you wish you had a time machine to take you back to when you were, say, eight years old? This, my friends, has been one of those days. I certainly do not mean I want to go back and do everything again…no, no, no! I wouldn’t want that, but just a day….one sunny, summer’s day when the neighborhood game might have been baseball, or red rover, or doing the hokey pokey. A summer day when the temperature was still bearable, and the sun felt warm, not burning hot, and the water from the backyard hose was delicious. A day when you would take your banana seat bicycle and cruise the streets as fast as possible, taking your hands off the handle bars! What a rush!
I think of sitting in the backyard, smelling the honeysuckle, playing with my dolls and my horse figures; throwing a baseball with my brother, or playing pickle with one of the neighbor kids (a runner between two bases trying not to get “out” is being in a “pickle”). Laying back in the thick, fragrant grass, looking for four leaf clovers, watching the clouds roll by; sitting in the shade and reading my Nancy Drew books; playing chase with my dog, Gordy, the stupidest dog ever born (my dad called him the “barking idiot”). There were no fences cutting us off from everyone, but great big green open spaces where all the backyards met, and all the kids gathered. Neighbors knew each other and said “hi.”
We lived in a “new neighborhood,” what we called a “platt.” All platts were named, ours was “Northview Estates.” The trees in the yards were tiny, having just been planted. Everything was brand new because “old” was OUT. There wasn’t a single pothole in the road because they were so recently built. Everyone had “shag” carpet. A lot of moms kept plastic over their “good furniture,” and told you to take your shoes off when you walked in the door (not at my house). All of the moms had teased-up hairdos and did not want to get wet in the pool because it would mess up their hair. My mom kept an assortment of wigs…just in case! Doors were unlocked and windows were open, you could smell dinner cooking at a dozen houses in the late afternoon.
When we were hungry we raided the pantry for potato chips…but not national brands…I’m not sure they even had national brands. We had cans of “Charles Chips” or bags of “Mikesell’s” potato chips, and they tasted like they just came out of the kettle! When we were thirsty we gulped Kool-Aid LOADED with sugar, Hawaiian Punch or Coca-Cola out of the bottle. Candy was a staple of our diet. We never got fat because we played outside, hard, all day long. No one wanted to be inside, that was for punishment only!
At dinnertime my parents rang a huge bell they installed outside, loud enough so that no matter where we were in the neighborhood, we could hear it. All the kids went home for dinner, and came back outside as soon as possible, and stayed out until dark. We didn’t watch TV in the summertime because the shows were just reruns. As the stars came out, we watched and caught lightning bugs in jars, then let them go. Bath time, then bedtime.
Ah, a day without being plugged in…distracted by iPods, smart phones, computers, iPads, tablets, cable tv and constant movies. A day where my biggest responsibility would be taking care of my gerbils. A day without stress and worry. You know, now that I am remembering it, maybe I’d like two days back in time….