October 25, 2018

What Did You Love As a Child?


I had a very pleasant and supportive childhood. At one point before she died I told my mom that I had no bad memories of growing up. I know that made her feel very good about her performance as a parent. I know for an absolute fact that my satisfying retirement is due, in large part, to that upbringing.

I realize that not everyone can make such a statement. In fact, the longer I live and the more people I meet, I realize how very blessed I was. Particularly in my past volunteer work with prisoners I heard horror stories of childhood abuse and neglect that pretty much guaranteed a flawed adult.

Even without serious parental failures, I understand a happy childhood isn't always the case. Even so, I hope what I am writing about today brings back some pleasant memories of things you loved to do when you were so much younger than today.

When I was a young child I'd love to:


Is there anything better
than Winnie the Pooh?
Read anything I could get my hands on. I came from a family of librarians. My earliest memories are of having Winnie the Pooh read to me. Before TV took over, we would spend our evenings reading books and playing games.

 My room usually had as many books as toys. That set me up for a lifetime of reading. Even today I have several books on the nightstand, and another few next to the "daddy chair." I turn to books for comfort and stimulation.




Mom & me saluting the flag
at the farm
Go on car trips and vacations with the family. Most summers found us piling into the back of our station wagon for the 7 hour drive from our home near Philadelphia to my grandparent's "farm" north of Pittsburgh. A 32 acre wonderland for kids, there was no running water or electricity in the large, two story house. The bathroom was down the path to the outhouse.

Coffee was boiled over a grill in a large speckled pot. Days were spent exploring the woods and fields. Near the end of our two week stay my brothers and I, along with my uncle, would try to walk the 5 miles to the nearest town, Mars, for ice cream cones. The other adults would meet us with the car for the trip back to the farm. To me, those memories defined summer until I started my own family.

Go on picnics and hikes. Weekends in the summer always meant a drive to a local lake or park for some hiking and a blanket-on-the-ground-ants-in-your-food picnic. Eating outside was a time when mom, dad, and the three boys would be together to laugh, complain, share, and run around.

Notice: no helmets in those days!
Ride my bike. Every kid in my neighborhood had a bike that became his or her freedom machine. Mine was decorated every 4th of July for the town parade. I put baseball cards in the spokes to create a motor sound.

I had fringe on the handle bars, baskets on the back, and a bell that announced my arrival. Getting my first 26" bike was a recognition of my maturity. 

Build a business. I was an entrepreneur from a very early age. My first money-losing scheme was to publish a neighborhood newspaper. I would write a few stories that mom would then type, using carbon paper, to make copies for me to distribute to neighbors. The only subscriber was my grandmother. She paid 10 cents for a mailed copy.

A few years later I got the idea that I could make money buying postage stamps from other countries, repackaging them, and selling them to stamp collectors. I had a desk filled with small plastic envelopes, a catalog of foreign stamps for sale, and a marker pen for writing the price on each bag. I don't think I actually sold anything, but for a time I was in the exciting world of commerce.   

Like most boys of that era, I had a paper route after school (remember afternoon newspapers?). Unfortunately, my route covered a neighborhood that was down a steep hill and started over a mile from my house. That wasn't really a problem except in winter time.

Cambridge, Ohio gets a lot of snow. Many a day I would be pushing my bike around my route or back up the hill because the snow was too deep to ride. It was dark and very cold. Today, parents wouldn't let a 12 year old attempt such a job alone. The world has become a much more dangerous place.

I finally decided to become the "boss" by hiring others to deliver my papers for me when the weather was bad. There were serious flaws with that plan. By the time I paid the boy to deliver my papers I lost money that day. My "employee" was less concerned with doing a good job so I usually got a few complaints about customers being skipped or papers thrown on the roof after my fill-in was finished.

Play the clarinet. After a few years of struggling with the piano I switched to the clarinet at 10 years old and later joined the school band. I guess I played well enough; I was selected for two years in a row to play second chair clarinet in the All New England Band. But, I never thought of myself as a musician. The clarinet was more a hobby and a way to be with people I enjoyed.

After high school my music "career" ended until recently when I started playing the guitar. I have found the basics of reading music and playing survived a 52 year layoff. I missed making music for my own enjoyment.
__________________________

Childhood in the 1950's and early 1960's in suburban America was a great time to be a kid. All the problems of the world were kept at bay. Howdy Doody and his friends made everything OK.

Of course, a childhood like that was in many respects artificial. We never experienced, or were even aware of, racial inequities and discrimination or poverty. Most everyone I saw was white and prosperous. A few years later when I left for college my eyes would be opened to what the real world was like.

But, for awhile, childhood kept all that at bay. Today I am certainly more aware and troubled by what the real world is like. Even so, the positive memories and habits formed way back then live on in me today. And, for that I am grateful.

How about you? What are your strongest memories of your childhood? What helped you become the person you are today?



34 comments:

  1. When I was a child, I loved going horseback riding. My dad would take me to the local stables and initially walk the horse with me on the back of the horse. Later, when I was a little older, about 8 he would take me to the stable and I could ride by myself. Without a helmet, can you imagine??

    My parents both played golf so consequently I was introduced to golf and played golf as a youngster. It was not my passion, but I didn't mind. It was an opportunity to spend time with my parents in a different setting.

    I loved to read. As an only child, I had a lot of free time so I filled that time with books. I can remember spending Saturday mornings at the local library sprawled out on the floor in the juvenile section reading and picking out my books for the week.

    My dad was in the Air Force so we had the opportunity to travel by car from base to base. In those travels, my parents took the time to stop at local attractions, state parks and monuments.

    I was a child in the 60's and a teen in the 70's.

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    1. My parents took the three boys horseback riding once, and once only. It wasn't our thing. It was like my dad taking me fishing once. He didn't fish but thought every boy should go fishing at least once with his dad. We caught nothing and I don't remember him repeating that experience with my younger brothers. But, I still remember my time with him at the local pond and look back fondly on his effort.

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  2. I was blessed with a carefree childhood full of wonderful memories thanks to my parents who worked hard to make it so. Our family wasn't financially wealthy but very rich in relationships with family and friends.

    My Mom would take me along to garage and yard sales, and allow me to buy as many books as I wanted. I could also order new books through a program at elementary school for a reasonable price. No matter how tight money was, there was always more than enough for books and I became a lifelong reader due to my parents' generosity.

    My Dad would take me out on Sunday mornings, either to the small, local zoo with a package of crackers for the animals, or down to the creek where we would skip rocks. He also took me ice skating - even though I wasn't very good at it. :)

    I would join the neighborhood kids for a full day of adventure - playing ball, tag or hide and seek. We'd jump rope and go to the local park to ride the swings or walk to the local store for popsicles. We were on our own for most of the day although there were always parents at home to provide snacks and lunch. Life has certainly changed in that regard.

    My parents didn't have money for actual vacations, but we would travel with my aunt and uncle to visit extended family a few hours away. Two of my aunts lived within two blocks of our home and, for some reason, our house was the meeting place for relatives who lived outside of town. I learned at any early age how important family and friends can be and it was one of my parents' most important lessons.

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    1. What a wonderful collection of memories, Mary. I wish today's society was more family oriented and understood how much young children love simple pleasures and doing them with parents. The latest Xbox isn't really required.

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  3. Always nice to reminisce Bob. My childhood sounded much like yours, growing up in a relatively small town in a northern climate. I have only one sibling who is almost 14 years older than I am, but I had lots of friends and we also rode our bikes all over town all day during the summer months. My mom was a worrier, but she didn't seem to have any problem with us being out of contact for most of the day when we were 8 or 10 years old. Interestingly, when our kids were young we were the opposite, like many, I suspect. We didn't even let our boys bike around the block in that same small town until they were about 8. I have since read that stats show that crimes against kids such as assaults and abductions actually occur at a lower rate now than when we were kids. Of course now parents have the internet to worry about.

    I also liked to read, but my reading was most often from the World Book Encyclopedia. I recall closing my eyes and pulling a random volume from the set, then spending hours just seeing what I could find there.

    We did go on trips, which I loved. My dad and I were big baseball fans, so he planned several baseball trips in the summer. We would usually do a circuit of 3 big league ballparks and catch a game at each. I still feel lucky to be able to look back at seeing Hank Aaron, Johnny Bench, Steve Carlton, Brooks Robinson and many other Hall of Famers in person. My mom was a trouper to tag along.

    Finally, being a good Canadian boy, I look back with great fondness on my childhood hockey career. That included playing organized hockey in arenas all over the area, but also playing on the frozen pond in the park behind our house. Out there by 9 am, shovel off the snow, and play all day, with a break only to have a quick lunch and warm up our frozen feet by the heat register in the house.

    Thanks for the memories!

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    1. You bring up one of the "lost" joys of childhood: the freedom to explore and be free to do so until mom called for dinner. Today, that just can't happen.

      Like you, we had a set up encyclopedias, updated every year with the end of the year summary book. I loved to pick a volume and just read and learn. Obviously, the same information is available online now, but it is just not the same as curling up with a big, thick, book with everything important that began with K.

      I spent most of my childhood in cold climates, though not as cold as Canada. Being in Boston when the Bruins were a big deal was fun. My dad and I went to a few games at the old Boston Gardens, where the Celtics also played.

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    2. Oh my, I loved those World book Encyclopedias!!!!

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  4. The freedom most of us experienced as children was far closer to reality than the imaginary fear that grips parents and society today. I read somewhere that the distance from home that children could travel independently has, over the decades, gradually shrunk from several miles to almost nothing. Children are always in the presence of adults now (in fact, an unaccompanied child can lead to social worker investigations for negligence), and all travel is by car. Bob, you say that "the world has become a much more dangerous place," but I'd argue that the world has become a much more fearful place, that the fear has no basis in reality, and that this constriction on children's independence in the name of "safety" does them no favors. It inhibits a healthy adventurousness, curiosity, and risk-taking (from which they can learn). Perhaps I'm overstating things, but it seems to me we're gripped by a kind of hysteria that warps the process of growing up.

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    1. You are right..it is more fear of something out of our control than reality. Being free to ride my bike, walk alone for the paper route, spend an hour in a local park, and walk as far as my legs could carry me were important in my developing a sense of self and how the world works.

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  5. I grew up on a subsistence farm in rural Alberta. I remember chores - filling the wood box, pumping water for the cows, bringing in the milk cows, washing the milk separator components, making butter, emptying the "slop" pail, feeding animals, picking garden vegetables and fruit, gathering eggs. I joke that we were the "original" organic farmers; if you didn't grow it, pick it or kill it, you didn't eat! I have a strong work ethic and I'm very connected to nature. I still love growing and processing my own food. There's something so grounding about "barn" chores. I have fond memories of harvest time when we had to take lunch to the fields for dad and whomever was helping him; and when I was older I got to drive the grain truck in the field. I remember the first trip to the library. I still revel in the ability to access any book I want to read. We were the only ones in the extended family who lived on a working farm; there were often extended visits from extended family when we would get to play with the cousins. There were community picnics and rodeos and afternoons at the lake. The weekly trip to town to deliver the cream for sale and buy groceries was a treat, especially when we went with dad, who always bought things that weren't on the list and there was always a treat for us. Saturday afternoon meant watching Bugs Bunny with dad before the hockey game. I remember the day we got power, the day we got a tv and the day we got running water and central heating when a new house was built in the 60's. I still appreciate those "luxuries" everyday. I agree with Lydgate; I'm not convinced that the world is more dangerous having grown up on a farm where children were often asked to perform tasks that may have been beyond their capabilities. I was left with a sense of pride in contributing to the family function.

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    1. Your life sounds like it came directly from Andy Griffith or Little House on the Prairie...that type of self-sufficiency is not very common anymore. What great memories.

      The farm equipment then was probably not designed with safety in mind so young kids learned to be careful around machinery or suffer the consequences.

      Bike helmets? Didn't exist. Yet several generations made it with our heads intact.

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  6. I had a mixed childhood, I guess you'd say. I loved reading and going to the library, going to camp in the summer, riding my bike everywhere, playing in the woods next to our house (filled with houses now), lying on my back in the grass staring at clouds in the sky, playing kick-the-can on summer nights, picking berries in our yard. We did have lots of freedom to wander when we were kids, which kids don't seem to have any longer.

    Sheila

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    1. One of reasons kids can't wander as much is the lack of open space. Houses and apartments, shopping centers and medical complexes quickly fill any vacant lots in our part of the Phoenix metro. Getting to a park probably means driving to it.

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  7. I came to this country as a refugee as a child of 6, fleeing Castro's Cuba with my family. I remember a lot of anxiety I experienced as a small child because we were constantly aware that the neighborhood committees were seeking information about who was trying to obtain visas to leave the country. I witnessed many violent pro-Castro marches, and at one point, my father had to go into hiding. We had little to eat and stood in lines hours long with our mother, who had 4 small children, of which I was the oldest. At one point, I thought I spotted my father and began screaming and a soldier pointed a machine gun at me. My mother hit him with her purse and ran away with us all. So, my early childhood was filled with anxiety and fear. My parents had to pull me out of school early on, because the teachers were brainwashing us. For example, they would tell us that God did not exist, and to prove their point, tell the class to ask God for candies. Of course, none appeared. Then, they would tell us to ask "our great leader" for candy, which we obediently did, and magically, from the teachers desk packages of candy would appear ! There were many street assassinations during this time. We were finally granted permission to leave Cuba and come to the USA. We waited in Spain for 3 months, until we were cleared to come, but once we did, we had quite a wonderful childhood. This was in the early sixties and we were so happy to be here.

    My father retrained in his profession (he was a doctor in Cuba) and initially, we were rather low income because he had to start from scratch. But honestly, we never realized that until we were adults. We went to school and learned to speak English very quickly, as did our parents. Our summer vacations were spent visiting family in NC and FL (we lived in Maryland). The trips to 2-3 days by car but my mother would prepare food days ahead of time to take with us in our station wagon. We would drive to a rest stop to eat, as fast food restaurants weren't plentiful back then. We spent the summer with our cousins playing in the streets until nightfall. In the fall and winter, we enjoyed the change of seasons. We had one TV and that was ruled by our parents. After school we rode bikes all over the neighborhood visiting our schoolmates. It was a wonderful life. I was plagued by anxiety though throughout my childhood and even today and realized the impact having lived through the revolution as a small child had on me. I am blessed that my siblings and I had a wonderful life, thanks to my parents sacrifices and the benevolence of this country. When we were children, my father used to tell us, "this is the best country in the world, appreciate it". And I always have.

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    1. What a moving story. Few of us can relate to what your childhood was like, so I appreciate your sharing it, along with the "happy" ending.

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  8. First thing that popped into my mind was playing outdoors and I love being outside to this day.
    I also loved family trips to the Smokey Mountains.

    Mostly I loved the simple safe life I had, in part due to the time frame of growing up in the 50s. Life was slower, not so much technology, social media and violence on TV, movies and video games. None of this existed then.

    People had squabbles, but no the pure hate we see today.

    We could walk in our neighborhood at night for Halloween and never be concerned.
    Christmas was a happy time without all the commercialism of today.

    Church was separate from politics and more about being good and treating people well.
    So many things I loved...and miss

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    1. Halloween trick or treating seems to be one of the victims of our times. It is very rare to get more than two or three groups of young kids at hour home, always with the parents watching carefully from the sidewalk. That was a big deal when I was growing up in Southern New Jersey.

      I remember the excitement of the Good Humor Man driving around our neighborhood, selling ice cream and creamsicles during the warm summer months. Again, gone.

      I am been trying to remember what I did during the winter months. Our family wasn't sport-oriented so no skiing or ice skating. I guess I sat inside and read books..waiting for warmer weather.

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    2. That's the "Smoky" Mountains for you non-Tennesseans, Mary :)

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  9. A lot of similarities for many people here. Like yourself, Bob, I started with the paper route at a very early age (7) and it led to me working my whole life, even while I went to college. I have always been thankful my parents instilled a work ethic in me, since it resulted in whatever success I was able to achieve.

    Loved all sports - baseball, basketball, football. We played all the time, yet I still found time for the library, which I loved. That also instilled a lifelong love of reading in me. Our bikes were a Godsend since they gave us the ability to traverse all over the city. A lot of good memories, and very little are bad.

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    1. I told my mom I had no bad memories and that wasn't just to make her feel good near the end of her life. It was true. Hopefully, my kids would respond in about the same way if ever asked and the life Betty and I tried to provide for them.

      A happy and secure childhood is the greatest gift a parent can give a child. I believe it sets up an expectation of what life can be like if love and commitment are at its core.

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  10. My father was in the Army and was always gone. I was an only child and we moved frequently (11 times) usually in the middle of the school year especially November or March. I remember alerts when we were stationed in Germany when the whole base would be activated. I remember crouching beneath the school desk in case of attacks. I was 6 or 7 and thought grownups were stupid for thinking a little wooden desk would protect us from bombs. We were supposed to go on an evacuation route but for some reason we never practiced. I remember when Daddy went to Vietnam and the first thing mama did each morning was write him a letter. He went twice and when he came back the second time we moved again in November. By the end of the school year (9th grade) there were only 7 kids that had been there the entire year. After that Daddy was medically retired and I finally got to know him. He didn't like kids but things got better once I got older. I had a hard time meeting my cousins because they had all grown up together and I didn't fit in. My Aunt told me I was a bad influence on her daughters because I read too much and my Grandmother told me "Children should be seen and not heard". It was a difficult time.

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    1. Yes, that certainly wasn't the type of childhood I experienced. I truly hope you have made some kind of peace with all that and have had a much better adulthood.

      I do remember the nuclear drills. We had to go into the hallways and cover our heads. I'm not sure the teachers thought it would do any good or they were just following policy. Looking back, it is silly and sad.

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  11. I liked books and music (piano and dance) and hanging out with friends. My Mom helped my Dad run his business so I was on my own a lot. But I had friends in the neighborhood and lots of freedom. I was never afraid or lonely. But my best memories are family trips. We had a little cottage at the beach and spent lots of time fishing, swimming, water skiing, playing rook or canasta, reading mysteries and painting by number. My parents were fun and spontaneous. My Mom, who was not the domestic type, did not like to cook. Many years we opened our Christmas gifts early and left NC for south Florida to spend Christmas day in the pool. No traditional Christmas dinners for us! We once made an impromptu girl-trip by train to New York City. And once when my parents took me and several girl friends to an out-of town-high school football game, after the game they had the girls call home to get permission to head on to the "Smoky" Mountains from there. So we stopped to buy toothbrushes and had a great weekend. Needless to say, my friends loved my parents.

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    1. So, you had the cool parents in the neighborhood! Having adults be fun and spontaneous made all the difference. You childhood sounds like it left you with lots of positive, fun memories.

      Thanks, Judy.

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  12. When sharing my childhood story I'm always surprised at how terrible it sounds. My dad was an alcoholic and a very mean one at that. As a result my mother was a very bitter, sad and angry woman and I would describe their marriage as one of the worst I've ever seen.

    In spite of that there were many wonderful things about my childhood that I loved. Some I share with you, riding my bike and reading ranked high on my list. I spent many hours sitting on my bedroom floor with my feet on the heating vent reading a good book. We spent most holidays at my grandparents house and it was always fun with my cousins. I am a Navy brat and there was always tons of kids in the neighborhoods I lived in. We made friends easily out of necessity and were always organizing baseball games and other kinds of neighborhood fun. We could go to the movies for 10 cents on base and I spent lots of time at the beach.

    I am so grateful I was born in a time when kids could run free and just be kids without a care in the world. One of the saddest things to me is that this has been stolen from children today. Most of them will never know the fun of summer nights after dark playing hide and seek or catching fireflies until their parents called them in at bedtime. It was a wonderful time to be a child even if everything wasn't perfect.

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    1. I appreciate you sharing the dark parts of your childhood but making it clear you did not let that define you.

      An earlier comment made an interesting point: how much of the restriction on kids is due to fear rather than reality? Are things that much more dangerous in most neighborhoods, or do we just imagine they are?

      I do not have an answer. Frankly, if I had young children I would err on the side of caution, too. But, it was an important question that deserves at least some thought. Fear can do some pretty nasty things.

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  13. This is always a difficult question for me to answer - I have to think deeply about the things I loved as a child because on the surface I would prefer not to think about my childhood. I did not have anything resembling a miserable childhood, I was not abused, we were solidly middle class, grew up in an affluent community with lots of advantage, etc. - from the outside looking in it probably looked pretty wonderful, but it wasn't. For whatever reason my parents made it clear I was not at the top of the pecking order. Looking back now I realize I was an introvert in a family of extroverts and they just didn't know how to deal with me.

    Still there are some things I remember fondly, like summers or weekends or school breaks at our family beach house in San Clemente (my grandparents owned the house; we lived the closest so used it the most). The house was very simple, and open plan decades before that became popular. We would get up in the morning, have breakfast, then walk down to the beach where we swam and played hard. We walked home for lunch, took a short rest, then walked back down to the beach in the afternoon for more swim and play. Then home for dinner followed by a trip back down to the beach in the car for some "beachcombing," where we'd walk down the beach to the pier, to the end of the pier and then back down the beach to the car and home for the evening, where my mom or dad would light a fire in the fireplace almost every night (it got cold in the evening near the Pacific Ocean, even in the summer). It was a very simple, easy life. There was no TV - my parents kept a small transistor radio that was only turned on for Dodger baseball games. We read books from the San Clemente library (Nancy Drew for me - they weren't allowed in our hometown library and I couldn't get enough of them), did big jigsaw puzzles, played croquet and other games in the vacant lot next door and my siblings and I made up our own games, or played hide and seek in the house. It's funny that I remember our life there being so different from "regular" life because it was all the same people, and yet for some reason at the beach the dynamic was totally different, as were expectations.

    I also loved the time I spent with my grandmother, at her house especially (she lived in the same town). She was an introvert like me, and unlike my family was happy to let me curl up by myself with a book or two. She just let me be and liked me for it. She also lived the expression, "if you don't have anything nice to say then don't say anything." I never heard an unkind word from her about anyone, ever, and she always had a positive word for everyone. My favorite to this day was when she watched The Beatles on TV for the first time, and after a long silence said, "well, Jesus had long hair too so they can't be all bad."

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    1. Great Beatles quote!

      My wife could probably relate very well to your childhood. She was never as well liked as her brother while growing up. That obvious parental bias has left questions and wounds to this day.

      Like you, she was an introvert, though that wasn't the reason for her place in the family. Rather, it was just because she was a girl and came very late into her parent's life. She spent many private hours inventing games, drawing, and building her own world. She was pretty much a non-entity at home.

      Thanks for your moving story that shows the power of the human spirit.

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  14. I also loved reading...mostly Trixie Belden but also Nancy Drew and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. I have tons of cousins, and they often visited as both sets of grandparents lived in our small town. Especially exciting were the summer visits by the City Cousins. :-) Great trips down to the penny candy counter with a nickel and coming home with quite the haul. Playing Kick the Can and Capture the Flag until dark.

    We only had one channel on our tiny TV, but we managed to see Captain Kangaroo, Sky King & Penny, and Roy Rogers on Saturday mornings while we ate our Cheerios and Kix. Luckily, Ed Sullivan was on that channel so we were able to catch The Beatles!

    We all took piano lessons. I hated them but am glad I was forced to keep at it. My mom always wanted to play but had no opportunity, so all of us were required to do at least two years. My brothers mostly switched to band instruments ASAP, but I did both. Glad I did. Reading music has come in handy, as I am taking harp lessons in hopes of adding bedside music to my hospice volunteering. (Hardest of the four instruments I've learned! Or maybe it's just harder to learn an instrument at this age.)

    Being in northern Michigan, we also had a winter ice rink with a wood stove in the warming shack. Great fun after school and on weekends, with games of Crack the Whip, racing in circles and slapping our ice caked mittens on the wood stove to "melt" them - but of course, then they were just wet wool. Ha!

    Overall, small town America had its limitations, but it was a great place to grow up in the '50's and '60's.

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    1. You reminded me of when, as a Boy Scout, I would help sell Christmas Trees. It was a big deal to be in the wooden shed with the hot stove, warming up between work shifts. I felt very grown up

      Captain Kangaroo was one of my favorites, too. I do remember Roger Rogers and Dale Evans, plus Sky King. We must have had the same channel!

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  15. My husbands' childhood and mine were quite the opposite. While I ran and played kick the can, he was handed a gun early and asked to provide a pheasant for dinner. While I rode my bike into the orange groves to eat as many oranges as I could, he rode several miles to get his papers in the cold and snow and then delivered them by foot to the poorest neighborhood in town. While I was taken to the library and read, he spent his money on comic books. While I learned in a basically open classroom, he was punished because his parents could not afford glasses. While I played with the many, many children in the neighborhood, he played with his brothers in the back yard. I went to church, he informed his parents he would not when he was 10. While my "think" was steadily controlled, his was totally open. I went to the beach every summer, he "visited" grandparents in the next town so his parents could continue to work.
    I was given college, he worked his way through after his Vietnam time. I sat in classes summer and fall, he was a lumberjack in Alaska. It took him nine years.
    Still, we felt we had ideal childhoods. Go figure.
    It is what we make of it, isn't it?

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    1. Excellent perspective on two very different childhoods. One factor that probably accounts for this is, as a child, we only know what we know, so to us that is normal. Your husband's experiences were his universe so he had little to compare it to.

      While most of us would say you had an ideal childhood and his was not, he knew no other reality. I assume he was loved by his parents and grandparents. For a child, that is what sets the plate for a childhood that is remembered fondly.

      It is human nature to look for the good; he (and you) found it while on two very different paths.

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  16. We didn't have much money but I loved going to the park three blocks from my home in brooklyn ny.In the summer we went to the beach at coney island for the day. We brought our food and drinks with us and just needed carfare. The library was a big old fashioned building six blocks away and I could spend hours there. Loved to read as so many others have mentioned. A Saturday matinee was an inexpensive treat and we would bring our lunch with us. Having a little clubhouse in the backyard. Most of the museums were free then and I spent a lot of time hanging out in them. Just being able to play outside with my friends without any fear. My father worked a lot of overtime,but I do remember that sometimes we all went to the movies together. A lot of simple pleasures.

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    1. I find it fascinating that the type of childhood you describe in the midst of a big city is not much different from those in the suburbs or more rural areas. Kids will be kids.

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