"We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike." ~Maya Angelou

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Childhood Remembered

My friend Brenda is also a blogger and this week she wrote a post for her granddaughter about "back in The Day"....you know, way back in the last century, oh wait, the last millennium when she was a child.  She was sharing some of the fun things she did for fun back before computers or video games or iPads.  I think I will do the same: remember some of the joys of my growing up days for the sake of posterity.

      My family lived in OKC in the years when I was between three and eight years old.  Our street had kids in every house so we were always playing up and down the street, into the houses and in the back yards of everyone.  We lived right across the street from an elementary school (grade school, as we called them then) so we could go over and play on the playground equipment whenever we wanted.  I remember I played with Tinkertoys and paper dolls a lot. My favorite place to play was under the baby grand piano.  I made pretend houses under there where I was out of sight. It was my own little pretend world and it was safe. There were five of us and for some reason I felt that I needed a safe place.
     My brothers wandered to the creek and back and threatened me with crawdads. We also used to get pieces of waxed paper, put them in the palm of our hands and catch honey bees in our hands, to feel them buzzing in the paper. I don't remember getting stung but I do remember that buzzing in the palm of my hand!
    We spent a lot of time watching bugs, ants, birds, worms and such, and when I was older we spent hours climbing around in trees. Kids used to climb trees a lot but they don't seem to anymore. It can be dangerous but we didn't think so at the time.
     We moved to Okeene the summer I was eight and we did different things there. Mostly we rode bikes all over town all summer long and once the swimming pool was open we lived at the pool, took lessons, and could all swim like fish.  The season family ticket was a heck of a deal for the Dotter family.
      I can remember spending quite a bit of time playing 'store' out in the garage and watching my older brother doing science experiments in the cellar. We helped mom with her vegetable garden some and we had work to do in the house, always. The girl's jobs were washing and drying the dishes, sprinkling and ironing everyone's shirts and the pillow cases, helping with supper, setting the table and clearing it off afterwards, washing the woodwork, sweeping the kitchen and vacuuming the rugs, hanging out the clothes and taking them in again and helping fold them and dusting. I don't remember if the boys had jobs or not. They always seemed to just be hanging around out in the garage, fiddling around with car engines. I felt it was unfair then and I still do. Times have changed.
      When I wasn't riding bikes or swimming, or helping mom, I was usually reading. I was so happy when I was old enough to help out at the library, stamping books and pulling the cards.  My first job and I loved it although I was really just helping my mother most of the time.  I loved the smell of the place and even though it was very small, it was full of magical books that could take me places I would never go in real life. I loved it!
    We only watched television for a short time on some evenings and on Saturday mornings, when the funnies were on. (The one show I remember watching in the daytime was Superman. It came on right after school and I can remember running the block home from school hoping to get there before the theme music started playing.) Most of the shows were either comedies or westerns or variety shows in which there were comedy and skits, sometimes singing and dancing and monologues by the stars.  My favorites were My Friend Flicka, Roy Rogers, Rawhide, Wagon Train, Bonanza, The Dick Van Dyke show, The Danny Kaye Show and, best of all, Gunsmoke with James Arness as Matt Dillon. Friday nights were the big TV nights because that's when Gunsmoke was on. All the shows were only thirty minutes long with one short commercial in the middle. Lots of them were in black and white but a few were in color.
     We had one television (I still only have one television) and TVs did not have remotes then. You had to walk up to them and switch the channel if you wanted to watch something else. There were only three channels I think but that was plenty for us.  Mom and Dad decided what we watched. Period. No negotiations.
     We didn't spend time on the phone unless someone needed something important.  There were no cell phones then and, although the people in the country still had party lines, where each house had their own ring pattern and you were only supposed to answer your own ring, in town we had our own numbers (in Okeene ours was 394) and you picked up the phone and told the operator what number you wanted her to connect you to, and she did.  The phones didn't have any dials on them, at least our first phone in Okeene didn't, but it seems like the one in OKC did (Windsor 20259). I don't know that I ever used the phone in OKC because I was just a kid and phones were for grown-ups.
    Most of the time I was outside in the fresh air and I loved it.  We played a lot of badminton once we were a little older, and baseball, tree tag, and hide and seek after dark.  I loved 'after dark hide and seek'.  Of course there was always the piano playing, with most of us taking lessons at one time or another, and Ann taking them all the time, and then all of us practicing our band instruments in the evenings too, we always had music in the background.
    So you see, we didn't live in the virtual world, we lived in the real world and entertained ourselves with whatever we could find to do. We played a lot of board games and card games together and we built things out of stuff and we colored and painted and made things and had pretend adventures outside. We lived in nature a lot and I'm sure that is why I love it so much now, because I learned to understand it and be comfortable in it when I was young. I try very hard to take my grandchildren out into nature every chance I get so they too will come to understand and love the earth we live on. I see that as one of the most important parts of my job as a grandmother.
     There you go, a few memories of my early days growing up. Nothing earth shaking but a different life than kids have these days I think.  I suppose every generation's childhood is vastly different from the generations that came before, because circumstances and society changes so much and so quickly.

1 comment:

Brenda Cohorn said...

Debra,I love this! Thank you so much for sharing this. Isn't it interesting the difference between town and country kids? BUT - I do believe you spent more time outdoors than I did!! - and I was the farm girl!! I was outside helping a lot but would always hurry back in to read... I bought ornamental kale and pansies today! Which is just an afterthought!! Miss you.