I have been tagged by Maria at Silver Fox Whispers.
The topic is a list of five things I miss about childhood. For days I have been thinking. At first, I wanted to change the meaning to include what I don’t miss about childhood. Or maybe what I missed out on during childhood.
However, I believe the idea is to maintain a positive attitude, and try to tie in with knowledge of what I do these days.
1) Very much I miss the town I grew up in. It was a steel mill and coal mining town along the Ohio River. The streets were laid out going up and down the hill, around the hill, or along the river. I never could understand what it meant when someone said they were headed North. Did they mean upriver? Or west. Wasn’t that away from the river?
The sounds of the whistles to signal the changing shifts at the mill, the bells when a mine car was being loaded, the towboat horns as they passed each other in the main channel, or to tell the dam’s gate operator it was time to fill the locks, the trains everywhere.
The smell of coal burning in the foundry furnace, or the days when the second shift at the steel mill was doing the galvanizing of the washtubs and garbage cans.
I loved walking with my dad or friends down to the switchyard, climbing the pedestrian bridge and watching how the engine moved the cars forward and back until they all were hooked in proper order. Soon, a couple engines would come chugging up the tracks, and that long train would head upriver.
There was a sense of work going on, that important objects were being built or moved, and that people were making it all happen. Pollution, yes, indeed, but it meant money in the wallet and roof over our heads.
Even going back to see relatives and high school reunion is not the same. Many of the mines are gone, mills have closed, the Lock 12 dam between Martins Ferry and Warwood is dismantled and the Pike Island Dam is 5 miles upstream. The railroad track was torn up years ago, and some of it has been converted to a bicycle path.
2)This time of the year, I miss going out with my dad (and whatever other kids he could round up) and going out to the old strip mines and finding wild blackberries. We’d pick enough for us to have pies and jelly at home, then sell any extra to housewives on other streets whose husbands didn’t know all the secret hiding places that my dad knew about. They were 50c a quart from the back of the station wagon.
Then we would use that money to go out Rte. 250 for some Walker’s homemade ice cream. If it was too late to get there before closing, then we had to make do and get dip cones at the Dairy Queen. My dad could make even the scratchy branches and itchy bug bites of the berry patch seem to be a worthwhile achievement.
3)I miss my Grandma and her ability to organize the supply list and the recruits and the schedule for canning season. Usually at least 5 females of varying ages in the kitchen and back porch, and Grandma always at the stove doing the stirring and watching the timer for the pressure canner. All the while, she was barking orders at whoever was washing jars, blanching vegetables, cutting out seeds, clearing shelf space, making lunch, or watching the little ones. No air conditioning, no dishwasher, and no slacking. By sunset there would be hundreds of jars lined up on tables waiting to make sure the seals had closed.
With only an 8th grade education, she kept three households in goodies. And she taught me how to read a crochet pattern.
4)Those were the days when friends were whoever lived on the same street and went to the same school. I miss the time when I could just walk around the corner or up the hill and know that someone would be glad to see me. We would play games with the neighbor kids, or help each other with whatever was on the chore list. Just sitting on the swing, or on the boulders between the crick and the railroad tracks and telling stories or dreams. Everything seemed so open and possible, without a “what’s in it for me?”
5)My knees say that it is unlikely that I will ever again climb a tree or hang upside down from the jungle gym. Even though I was never much of an athlete, at least the opportunity was there. Too many years of jobs standing on concrete floors, and leaning over work tables have taken a toll on my framework that my 10 year old self would never have imagined. My body still says it needs to be used well to keep going, and it is never too late to start.
So, this is a list of memories about childhood. If you read this, and want to participate, have at it.