Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Back in the 50s

I was struck this week with a bit of nostalgia. Someone sent me an e-mail with a PowerPoint attachment that takes you back to an earlier time in life. As I scrolled through the list of youthful experiences, I was acutely aware that I had enjoyed nearly every single thing listed. Then I added some of my own. Allow me to take you back . . . .

Growing up in New England, springtime was cause for rejoicing as we said goodbye to winter. Baseball bats and gloves would come out of our closets and we’d begin playing Flies Up. There’s a tremendous feeling of satisfaction when you make solid contact with a baseball and bat. It just feels right. Holding a wooden bat in your hands was absolutely euphoric. At school we’d flip baseball cards. My, how many cards were exchanged with names like Willie Mays, Pee Wee Reese, Roy Campanella, Moose Skowron, Jackie Robinson, Ted Williams, Whitey Ford, Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron, and so on. The baseball cards we had more than one of we either traded, or we put them on the shaft of our bicycles with clothes pins so they would flap against the spokes as the wheel turned creating the coolest sound ever! Those cards today would be worth a lot of money I’m told. Little did I know then . . .

Remember going to the principal’s office? This was no big deal, really. But I learned very early that this was a bad thing. So I simply made it a practice to behave myself in school. Why? Because I knew that if I got in trouble in school, I had to go home and face my parents. They were on the side of the teacher and principal! This was also known as double-jeopardy, something I wanted no part of!

My step father gave me my first allowance when I was seven. It was a nickel. I thought that was pretty neat. Then when it was increased to a dime I realized I could actually go out and buy something. With ten cents I could buy a pack of gum; or a Coke out of the machine (you remember the glass bottles!); or I would walk to the 5 & Dime store where there was no end of trinkets to choose from. A dime could buy you a lot back then.

I remember that any adult had the authority to correct your behavior on the spot. “Do your parents know what you’re doing, Charles?” That was enough to bring me back in line. Or old Mrs. Dixon next door would think nothing of asking me to carry her groceries into the house. Seemed natural enough to me. She always had a cookie jar, too . . .

One of my very favorite things to do on summer nights was to take a glass jar, punch holes in the metal top, and then catch fireflies. This could occupy an entire evening!

You could get cooties from girls, but there was no one prettier than your mom!

Having two or more best friends was not unusual. In fact, it was normal.

Spinning around in circles on the grass, and then falling down from dizziness was great fun and made us laugh till our sides hurt.

Sitting in school all day having to wait for your Little League game was torture. Going to T&W’s for an ice cream cone after the game, win or lose, was always special.

Having your name mentioned over the local radio because you pitched a two-hitter was beyond ecstatic.

Remember giving your friend a ride on the handle bars of your bike? We didn’t wear helmets then either.

I can’t remember ever going to a friend’s home and his mom wasn’t there – unless she was at the grocery store.

One of my very favorite things to do was to climb trees. New England has great trees. We would look for the tallest tree and see how high we could go before possibly losing our nerve.

Remember the siren at noon that would blast every day? How about the volunteer firemen who would race out of their offices or shops the moment the fire alarm sounded?

Saturday morning cartoons were always cool. My favorite was Mighty Mouse. Then there were the Westerns, such as The Cisco Kid, Gene Autrey, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, The Lone Ranger, Johnny Yuma, Bat Masterson, Gunsmoke, Have Gun Will Travel (Paladin), and Bonanza (a new kind of western).

I loved the sounds of crickets chirping away, heard, but not seen. Playing hide-and-seek just as the sun was going down. Running through sprinklers was great fun.

Thanks for letting me reminisce.

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