Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Way it Was

(The teeter-toter Dad made in the back yard. That is my Grandpa Foil making sure I don't fall off. Besides Ron, the second from the right, the rest are cousins.)

During this past year, I enjoyed sharing stories about my youth and had several comments about those stories from others. Ron and I have talked about growing up in Show Low in 1950's and 60's. We both agree, it was the best place and the right time. We had great adventures. We did things that we should not have, but they were basically harmless (most of the time). Life for the neighborhood boys was filled with the kind of things that help you grow up and the experiences that make you more confident.

Recently, Ron reminded me of some other "boy things" we engaged in, such as "pocket knife chicken". I remember making darts from wood match sticks and guns from clothes pins. There were rock fights in the street with other boys. The Spudnut (donuts from potatoes) Shop was within walking distance during my early years.

I guess the things that made the difference were the different era and the small town - along with parents who allowed their boys to be boys. We wrecked bikes, scooters, motorcycles, go-carts, and cars; but survived it all. We shot birds, frogs, snakes, squirrels, rabbits, prairie dogs, and an occasional cat or dog. Once in a while, we even shot each other. We dissected lizards to see how they worked. We were chased by ranchers who did not want to hear the sound of gun fire while we shot rabbits during the night.

We hunted for arrowheads and pottery, camped out in old log cabins, rescued a litter of wild puppies, fell out of trees, examined the spray distance for skunks, caught poly wogs and watched them grow into little frogs. We explored an abandoned dump with rusty cars from the 30's and 40's. During the night, we had to hide from a policeman after hitting his car with pine cones as he drove by. We saw puppies and kittens being born in the wood shed. We knew how to fix a bike tire flat and stick playing cards in the spokes for sound effects.

We had fox holes with tunnels in the field behind our house and a rope swing in a pine tree beyond that. We camped out under a lean-to we made by chopping down small pine trees. We burned our trash in a 55-gallon drum in the back yard.

We would shoot BBs straight up in the air, watching them as they went up and listening to them hit as they came back down. Ron had one come straight back down and ric-a-shay off of his stomach. We enjoyed building things and built a club house. We made model cars and painted the details. We had a crochet-golf course mowed into the back lawn. We built snow forts and sucked icicles.

Those early years helped shape our futures.

Probably just as important as the things we did were the things we did not do. We did not drink beer or smoke cigarettes. We had not heard of "pot" or harder drugs. We did not spend time in front of the TV because we did not have one until the late 50's. Even then, it was one channel in black and white with undependable reception through a converter box and roof top antenna. There were no video games. I had kids before I ever saw my first video game. It was Pong and though was interesting at that time, no one today would be interested in playing it. There were no computers, boom-boxes, remote-control toys, etc. This was before seat belts or car seats. I remember standing up behind the front bench seat while we drove along.

It all added up to an amazing time in an amazing place with an amazing family. I am very blessed to have that start.

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