Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Goody Goods

This just brings me back to my childhood.

In the late 60s, I would have been about 10, next brother was 8, next brother 7, and little sister 5. Baby Brother was still on the to do list. We watched all the goofy shows like this, Gilligan's Island, Saturday morning cartoons. Typical suburban yahoos. What is so different is the freedom we had.

My mother would throw us out of the house. It's a nice day outside. Go play. Off we would go. All day. No mom breathing down your neck. We would ride our bikes to the neighborhood 7-11. Yes, even the 5 year old. We played in the wash in our backyard. In the winter when it rained, a small creek would flow down the middle of it. We did some of the stupidest things imaginable. We ran up and down the fences in our backyards. We rode in cars standing between our parents. On long trips in the station wagon, my parents would lay the seats down and make a bed for all of us to sleep. We would drive through the desert at night. I loved it. You could watch the stars. We played with toys that would make some of these goody good moms palpitate. We fell out of trees. We rode little mini-bikes with loud sewing machine sounding engines. We played in the street. Played hide and seek at night. Blew up army men with firecrackers. We went trick or treating ALONE. No parents. (Which is partly the reason being the oldest that I am a bit bossy. I couldn't let the stupidity get too out of hand. It was my ass that got paddled if trouble got too out of hand.)

My sister and I took her boys one day to see a real Thomas the Tank Engine at a railroad museum. We got to ride in train in an open car. It was a beautiful day with tons of little boys hyperventilating with all the machinery and guy stuff everywhere. It was so cool. We sat in a car with 2 docents who were conducting tours and we had a chance to have a nice long talk with them. They were early 30s, maybe older. They were totally getting into talking about the things they did as boys. Blow up things with chemistry sets. Practically set the house on fire with the wood burning tool with the tiny little cord. They were totally enjoying their stories. They both had boys, about 8 or 9, as I remember. When I commented that their sons must have a blast doing all those things, too, they looked at me like I was nuts. What? No way. Their kids were not going to be allowed to do those things. It was dangerous.

Here were two men who you could tell were totally competent about taking things apart, putting things together, figuring things out, fixing things because they were allowed to do that as young boys and men, but they were not allowing their boys to do those same things. Change oil. Mow the lawn. Fix the dryer. Build something. Drill. Saw. Anything. Maybe even cook.

I love running into young people who can do things. I know a huge mistake I made with my girls was not making sure they had jobs to do. As part of a family, everyone needs to pitch in. We all had chores growing up. Man, the whining we did when we had to do them must have driven my mom nuts, but you did them. I knew how to keep a house when I moved out. Although to this day, I hate to vacuum. My mom had a canister vacuum with a long ass hose attached to it. No upright vacuum that leaves those pretty vacuum tracks that now I make sure that no one messes up for a few hours because they make a room look so clean. No, I had to get on my hands and knees with the little itty bitty attachment and do all the carpeting in the house. I can still picture that olive colored textured carpet. It was a bitch to get to look clean. I would rather clean the harvest gold formica counter top.

I need to ask my mom one day how she did not have fits when we would be gone all day and she would have no idea where we were. Does she realize how many times we were in the storm sewers riding our bikes? Sheesh. Those damn mutant turtles used to harass the hell out of us.


@eloh said...

Ah yes, Harvest Gold, Avocado Green and wasn't there a third? These were the colors of my first home of my own (1970)?

There were fewer "people" back then.

We used to stop and eat all the cookies, popcorn balls and anything else homemade at Halloween because my mom would make us throw it away since the kitchen it was made in "might" be dirty.

My big sister made me bite a worm once and to this day I can't eat mushrooms because they squish like worms in the teeth.

Jeanne said...

@eloh - it was Tangerine.


So much of what you wrote resonated with me. I remember all the same things - staying out 'till all hours playing hide and seek, riding bikes and rollerskating. We used to play all day in an empty field next to my house were there were scorpians and snakes, although I never saw one. I biked all the way to the Utotem and bought candy - chocolate bars were only 15 cents! One time I stole a $5 out of my mom's purse and bought candy with it. Totally puked my guts out later. It's weird to think about how much we did without a parent's supervision. But to think of all those old shows - I Dream Of Jeannie, Gilligan's Island, the Mickey Mouse Club (yes, the original) was fun again. Loved the post.

Happy Hour...Somewhere said...

Man, what a memory that brings back. When we would go to 7-11, my mom would give us each eiher a dime or a quarter. You could buy candy that was like 3 for a nickel or if you had the quarter, you could buy chocolate and other candy, too. We could get a pile of sweet tooth-rotting stuff~! Do you remember horny toads? My brothers would catch them all the time and chase us around. They were ugly.

Jeanne said...

Ugh. I do remember horny toads. They peed like crazy. We also had big, fat toads of some sort that didn't need water, and I remember some of the local kids would catch them and blow them up with firecrackers. I'd kick their butts if that ever happened now.

Ah good ole' summer.

Funny in my mind said...

my mom would lock us out for the day with sack lunches. I'm the oldest of 5 so I was also in charge. I am still bossy. We climbed trees, played in the sewers under roads, ate 3 hour old mayonaise( still alive) but it is a different world. Pedophiles, murderers, meth dealers....