Back Then

I was a youngster in the days of 2 snowy television channels or 3 if you were lucky and you did not have to run to the top of the mountain to check the antenna line.  We had rotary dial party lines if we even had a telephone.  We swam in the river and caught crawdads from the creek to use for catfish bait in the same river.  The best memory was lying back beside a fire on a hilltop staring up at a zillion stars and listening to hounds chase something through the woods.  In my mind, I have always kept the image of that amazing star filled sky.  I am going back to that hilltop someday just to sit and look.   I know exactly where it is unless there is a Wall Mart there now.  We would choose up sides for Cowboys and Indians and chase each other around in the woods.  Nowadays that would certainly offend someone.  We played tackle football wearing nothing but jeans and a tee shirt.  Our Little League baseball team rode to games in the open back of a pickup truck.  If we won the game, we rode through the neighborhood in the same pickup standing and yelling at the top of our lungs, “The Yanks beat the Reds!”  We always beat the Reds and no one ever fell out of the truck.  We would climb hills and rocks.  We would go into caves knowing that we were going to find some treasure or a skeleton never once imagining the most likely case of encountering a cornered wild animal of some sort.  The black bear is our state animal.  Every day during winter, we hoped for snow.  We would ride our sleds straight down the snow covered dirt road that wound its way up the hill.  We also got snow days because the school bus could not make it up.  This encouraged us to ride more and make the snow pack even more treacherous.  Shorty, my cousin Preston and me would drag a piece of roofing tin up to the top of a hillside pasture and ride it back down the hill.  We had to bail out at the bottom just before reaching the barbed wire fence and the creek.  We always made it.  When it was time for a Christmas tree, we would go into the woods and get our own.   We would ride an old push car left on the rails into an abandoned coal mine.  Before that mine closed, the train operator would come out with cars filled with coal and toss big lumps to us.  We would put them in our sacks and carry them back home for our coal stoves.  During the summer, we worked a little in the garden – as little as possible, fed the hogs and chickens, filled up the water buckets from the well or pump and then be gone the rest of the day.  We would drag back in around dusk and suppertime having survived the day on adventure, green apples and blackberries and occasionally we would climb the mulberry tree at Shorty’s house and eat until our hands and faces were purple.  We would coast a bicycle without brakes down a long hill that ended up by crossing the two lane blacktop.  Never had a casualty unless you can count the time Grant went over the side of the hill and through a briar patch.  Grant could be heard all over the neighborhood when his momma started doctoring all of his scratches with Merthiolate.  The only automated game I can recall was a football game where you lined up the players and flipped the switch.  The players then vibrated in every direction except where you hoped they would go.  Occasionally one would head in the right direction and then fall over right before getting to the goal line.  And by then I was not yet 12 years old.

There is more that I can probably dredge up from the cranial hard drive and I think I would trade all of my modern gadgets for a replay.

I do believe that is the longest paragraph I have ever written.  Hi CG.

© 2016 J. D. Pendry