THE SIMPLE LIFE: Scars and Joys
It has been many, many years since I've been a child, but this week I have been pondering some things that I used to do at this time of year.
First, the first day of school was the best day of the post-summer season. I can remember shopping for new clothes and shoes, being able to buy new notebooks, lined paper, pencils and erasers. Do any of my readers remember those two-inch, rectangular erasers that were a dull, dirty yellow color? You know - when you used them to erase your penciled work they made the biggest mess that you got to shuffle off your desk on to the floor? I'd give anything to smell one of those again!
I was one of those kids who loved going to school. For me, school was my second home! Teachers, my friends, lunch in the cafeteria, recess, library, music, band, reading, writing and arithmetic. During recess, there was jump rope, kickball and gossip circle time, and my favorite - the blister machine!
I've written about that blister machine in a previous column so I won't elaborate too much, but it is what it says it is! A group of kids would gather round the circular "machine,” put both hands on the bars in front of you, someone would say "go!", and everyone would run in a circle as fast as they could until it was spinning round and round. Then, the kids all lifted their feet, and the different weights of the kids made the blister machine go around and up into the air and down again. The key was to hold on the entire time until you started again.
Believe me, we ALL had blisters on our hands. But, we didn't care because the fun and excitement were worth it!
When I was not in school, one of my favorite things to do was play in the woods in our backyard. There was a place that my brother Oscar (Ricky) and I made into a fort, and no one else was allowed to enter. We made a round circle of rocks we gathered, and even made a campfire circle (although we never built a fire). We just pretended to be hunters in the woods - rounding up twigs and tree branches, looking for interesting leaves and maple tree "helicopters.” Many hours were spent in those woods.
There was a next door neighbor I played with, too, and Becky had the best Barbie collection I ever saw! She had many Barbies, accessories, clothes and shoes, and a huge case with everything organized impeccably. I tried that with both of my granddaughters with no success. Their Barbie stuff was scattered here to kingdom come!
When Becky and I played Barbies together, we played a record over and over and over called "The Green Beret.” We just loved that song, and still today, that song is very special to me. That is when my love for music, records and record players began.
Music. All of my life it has carried me through happy times, play times, love and heartbreak, and through many meaningful, profound experiences. When I was 8 years old, I begged my mom to let me take piano lessons, but with a baby and three other children that was an extravagance not to be afforded. At that age, I didn't understand why I just couldn't take a $10 lesson every week. Sounded like a simple request to me! But, since she would not budge, I asked if I could teach myself. She bought me the beginner's book, and thus began that journey to playing the piano.
When it was time for fourth grade, I added to my love for music by starting to play the clarinet. I tried other instruments as we all did when we first started, but I felt most comfortable with the clarinet. I remember trying to play a trumpet, and wondered how in the world could a person blow into the mouthpiece and get out any sounds! I suppose I just didn't have enough hot air for that! As for the clarinet, I continued playing up through first semester of college, but then put it away and never picked it up again.
I'm happy as can be that my grandson Kamden has developed some musical ability and interest, as he has taken guitar lessons from Matt Borror for almost two years, and has joined Mountain Ridge High School's marching and concert band as a junior - playing tenor sax. I'm amazed at that young man's up and coming successful life.
Another of my other childhood interests included Girl Scouts, which I loved so much. I started Brownies when I was 7 and continued all the way through First Class then as a leader. I found the friendships, community service, the badge work and camping activities the most fun. I'm so glad I can reflect back and feel a sense of pride in my time spent in scouting. Even today, ummmmmmm some 50+ years later, I would recommend scouting with no reservation.
Where we lived at the time, my dad built a zipline in the backyard, well before the popularity of ziplines today. He ran the cable downhill from one tree to another, and we kids would stand in line, awaiting our turns to get our hands on the handles, and then Dad released the brake. Off we went down to the other tree, stopping at the end Dad had prepared so we wouldn't run into that tree. All of the neighbor kids came to take turns, and everything went well for the most part until one of my friends named Deanna fell and broke her arm. Soon after, no more ziplining.
Now, one of the best times of every year was winter. We kids watched every day, November through March, to see if it were going to snow. It was like waiting on Christmas every day! Snow meant sled riding, and our street was one of the best. Back in those days, the streets were not treated right away like today. In fact, it might be a couple of days before the town threw ashes on the streets. We kids took quick advantage. How I wish I could sled ride today. The joy of it remains in my memory like it was yesterday.
Sometimes when the snow was deep (and we got a lot more snow back then than we get now), the neighborhood kids got together and built igloos. We thought it was so cool to build an igloo that you could crawl into like a little cave. What fun that was! Dad was also a big fan of building snowmen, so there was always a snowman at the Cavin's house - wearing a hat, scarf and a carrot for his nose
When winter comes each year, I still wait for the snow. I look forward to a nice nighttime walk in fresh-fallen snow, especially while it's still falling and the town trucks have not gotten to my street yet. I bundle up, put my cell in my pocket, play some of my favorite music, and enjoy the peaceful venture in the snow. Perfect in my book.
As I got older into my teens and in high school, little child games and activities were replaced with boyfriends, Friday night football games, date nights, school dances, band, chorus, musicals and even one opera! Can you imagine an opera at Bruce High School? We did it, it was unique to our area, but we were all proud of what we accomplished. Mrs. Fran Hartman, our illustrious director, believed in each one of us as we strived to perform the opera "The Medium.”
I was so out of my comfort zone playing the role of Mrs. Nolan, for you see, I was a true alto, and the role I played was meant for a mezzo-soprano. Mrs. Hartman believed I could sing it, so I did - for her. But this was the first-time I realized how hard it was to step outside of my comfort zone. This experience taught me so much that I have been able to draw from throughout my life. Thank you, Mrs. Hartman.
My childhood and teen years consisted of so many learning experiences - some exceptional, some heartbreaking. But, I know everyone has memories, and every single one of us has been through good and bad times. I'd like to believe that the scars and joys of our lives made us who we are today. We learn lessons, some really hard lessons, yet here we are today. God understands the pain we hide and try to forget, and he walks with us as we step on to the train of life.
God's blessings, my friends. Until we talk again.