I am rapidly approaching the 50th high school reunion for my class. That event doesn’t make me sad but just catches me by surprise. Been so busy with life and the kids and now grandkids that it stuns the mind to actually come to grips with the fact that the graduation was 50 years ago. Some of those events still seem as though they occurred only a few months ago yet the calendar has turn over many times since that event. When I think of myself I still “see” in my mind’s eye a young man I suppose of some indefinite age but late twenties or thirties I suppose but then I step in front of the mirror and realize that haggard face is mine not just a hazy memory of a dream. As they say it is a shame that youth is wasted on the young.
My mom was always a good sport about things and usually ready for just about any adventure. My Dad was the cautious one and much more likely to want a few more restrictions on my activities, not the social stuff but the cars, traveling out of the neighborhood and who I was hanging out with. Mom always encouraged me to be more social and mix with the groups. I started having a real passion for reading when I was pretty young. By the time I was a teen ager I would just as likely prefer reading one of my books in my room as watching Lucy or Gunsmoke on TV. Mom couldn’t stand that. She was one of the few parents who fussed about her boy reading too much! But she sure let me and my brother have our fun in the neighborhood.
She always let us build our forts in the backyard or trees if they were large enough. The forts were used to play cowboys and Indians or soldier. We would get whatever sticks or rods we could scrounge up and some cardboard boxes. We could always find some of those. We would plant the sticks in the ground which was often very difficult because the earth was so hard from the drought during the ’40’s and ’50’s. As long as they would remain upright we were set. Then we would cut the cardboard to size and tie or tack it to the sticks to make walls. The walls often collapsed during construction and required constant attention and rebuilding. We course had to leave a door way somewhere and that was usually determined by the bends in the cardboard. The roof was always a challenge and more than on ce it made the whole thing fall in or over and had to start afresh. They always looked like something out of a real junk yard but up0n completion we had a place of privacy and a spot to get into and out of the direct rays of the hot Texas sun.
In hindsight they must have been very unsightly but Mom always let us build them and we could keep them as long as they would last which was until the first rain and the 20th collapse of the structure and we couldn’t repair it any further. Of course we would take out toy guns and things inside them and the kit items from the Army and Navy store. In those days those stores were loaded with surplus from the War and Korea. Every stain on a backpack or musset bag we were sure was the blood of some fallen hero. Mom would let us take our baloney or peanut and jelly sandwiches out there to eat and kool aid.
At the heat of the day we had to come inside to play because of the scare of polio. It was generally believed at that time that exp0sure to heat would trigger the polio condition. I have no idea if that was true but all the moms believed it and from about 2 to 5 we had to stay inside. Of course it was only marginally cooler inside that out because the only cooling was by electric buzz fan or rotating fan. No one could afford air conditioning. By the time I was about 15 we got our first window unit a/c and we thought we had the life of Riley. (Do you know who Riley even was?) The only downside about playing inside was that was when Mom would talk with me and help me with school work.
She would often set up the ironing board and do that while she had me sit at the table beside her and work on my numbers, letters penmanship. Sad to say I never developed the pen hand that she preferred. Mom was from the old school that thought it was very important to have a good “hand”. Hers was magnificent. You’ve seen those shot in movies where the pen scratches across paper and the script is beautiful. My Mom could have written those words for those shots.
When I was released back outside I could ride my bike or go play with the neighborhood guys. I had several friends within just a couple of blocks to that was great and they usually wanted to come to my house to play and I naturally wanted to go somewhere else like the creek a block away. If I was home I always feared Mom would cut off my play time sooner that normal if all she had to do was open the door and there I was. She would always let me play until dinner time. Poor Mom me and my brother and Dad always wanted the same thing–meat and potatoes. Mom constantly tried to get us to try something new, liver, fish, cauliflower, rutabagas, greens or chicken. She would fix something that we considered weird a couple times every week and was always surprised and disappointed that her guys didn’t like that stuff. She would ask about the next day’s meal and it was the same refrain–we want meat and potatoes. In fairness to us we could take our potatoes, baked, fried, boiled, mashed, au gratin or thick cut. See we were flexible. Thanks Mom for the memories.
“A good wife who can find? She is more precious than jewels.” Proverbs www. olcranky.wordpress.com