That each generation has its own kids is obvious. What is also true is a writer in his 80’s cannot find a bridge to today’s world. We had good ones (kids) and bad ones in my day in time, just like you have today. But, in a way, I still feel a bit of regret and sorrow for kids today that ‘just can’t remember when’.
I remember when doctor’s came to the house for anything from a common cold to measles. They always carried a bulky black valise that had the answer to our specific need. The letters RX comes from Latin origin that means “Take thou so much of”. So we would watch Doc as he would take a bit of this and that and the other and grind them in to a powder and then press the stuff into a pill. Handmade, homemade, and fit for individual needs. That was our family doctor.
I remember when families were rather large. We had 9 in our house, three daughters, three sons and then me. I was the youngest and mother always referred to me as “My baby”. How all seven of us made it though our juvenile years is still a mystery. To swim in our favorite swimming pool (the creek), on a hot summer day and bare-butted is something today’s kids just “can’t remember when!”
With a rope (treasured item) hitched onto the middle Pine, with a gunny sack filled with sawdust tied to the bottom of the rope, we would climb to the heights of the neighboring tree (some thirty feet), catch the rope and bag between our knees and yell, “Tarzan”. That fun, exercise, and danger lasted about two weeks before the rope broke, and we turned our attention elsewhere.
To get down in the Florida dirt, draw a large ring, put your bag of marbles by your bended knee and shoot for the marble in the middle, was a joy that so many today have just never had. We played “for Keeps” when our parents weren’t around. We made up our own rules as the game proceeded. “No Uppens”, “No Aggies”, no Bowlers (big marbles), no Trenching, and at least a half dozen more to the game as we went along. We felt no sorrow for the one who starting crying (losing his marbles), and threatened to go home and tell his Mama.
Rubber gun season is a lost art today. We built pistols, rifles, and repeater ‘Tommy-gins’ out of wooden crates from Moore’s Furniture Store. We made an anti-aircraft gun that took 34 rounds of a cut inter-tube tied together, and took two hearty souls to load it. It went off accidentally and hit a little neighbor boy in the belly and knocked him down. We found ready ammunition down at the filling station and cut them in narrow strips to hang them about round our shoulders and waist. We invented our own games, built our own huts, held drama plays in an old deserted barn and produced our own neighborhood newsletter, which sold for a penny a copy. I remember those early years when I was six years old and that may have begun my desire to later in life to write books and columns. I have been a columnist now for 30 years.
I remember sitting around the large oval table at supper time. Supper means “The last meal of the day”. We could miss breakfast or even lunch, but EVERYONE WAS REQUIRED TO BE THERE FOR SUPPER TIME. Mother would always be standing at the back door, calling and checking us in just before nightfall. We were always ‘hungry as a bear’ and mother always had two things on the table. TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT! If we said we were to full to finish our plate, we didn’t get any desert. There was always an extra large bowl of beans in the middle of the table. We never went away hungry.
We gathered after supper on the front lawn (mostly crab grass) and played games. Tag was a favorite, along with “As I draw this magic circle on your back”. If we had enough there we played “Bum, Bum, Bum,”, or ‘Mother said, may I”. When it was raining we met in the garage and one at a time would run through puddles and lightning to see which one would get struck first. I feel somewhat sad for today’s kids who “feel bored” when they have all the used electronics lying around. We were never bored. We skated and when the straps wore out we took the skates apart and made skate boards. One neighbor boy had a bicycle and we made a two foot ramp and took turns to see who could jump the farthest.
We cut palmettos, trimmed the fan, notched the stem and with a string rather than a pocket on our slingshot, could shoot those things nearly out of sight. We had watermelon fights (with the remains), tomatoes wars with the rotten tomatoes left in the garden.
Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself and that will fulfill the law”. We sure loved ourselves a lot. We had gangs but not the kind that we have today. The most damage that was ever done was a ‘black eye’ or torn knee denim. In some ways I liked the old generation best, but time now is only memories.
“Time doesn’t go — it stays. It’s we who go”.