Thursday, March 24, 2011

Draw your own conclusion...

Have you ever stared at the sky and looked for clouds that reminded you of someone or maybe a favorite pet? Have you ever looked at a wooden fence and seen the natural formation of a dog or a cat? Have you ever walked across the top of a chain link fence pretending you were doing a high wire act? Ever dig a hole for no earthly reason or one to replant a dead flower?

I think about things like that when I ponder the yard work ahead of me. I am reminded of the years when playing with dirt meant sliding my hands on it to make dirt roads for my toy cars or to draw lines to play marbles. Have you ever done that?

Have you ever thought that kids who stay indoors playing video games year-round are missing all of the wonders that they could discover outside like you did?

When it is raining outside and you are stuck inside have you ever thought about how you used to occupy your time on such days? Was a doll house or little plastic soldiers ever necessary to fill up a few hours? Did you spend time on those days coloring in a book or playing with an electric train? And if you did that have you ever placed toy cars on the tracks so the train would crash into them or read comic books you’ve already read?

Have you ever lain in bed at night with a flashlight and read a comic book? If you shared a bedroom with a brother or sister did your parents ever shout at you late at night and tell you to knock it off and go to sleep if you were talking too loud? And if they did, did you continue to carry on a conversation in whispers?

Have you ever lived in a home with just one bathroom? Did you ever have to ask your parents to order a brother or sister to hurry up and get out of it because you couldn’t hold yourself any longer?

Have you ever turned on a faucet in a bathroom hoping it would drown out whatever you were doing in there? Have you ever wished you were older? How about now? Probably not if you answered yes to most of the questions I have asked you so far.

However, was there ever a time before you were ten that you wished you were younger than you were? How about on the first day of a new school year, did you ever wish you were too young to have to go at all?

Reflecting on the past is what I do best, or at least it would seem that way sometimes. I do enjoy remembering things from my own youth and sharing what I think I remember. But sometimes it takes something someone might say or even a certain aroma to bring back a memory. Has that ever happened to you? Has the smell of a pesticide or some other foul odor caused you to reflect on something that happened long ago?

For instance, have you ever followed behind a vehicle that fogged for mosquitoes in the summertime? Like riding a bicycle in a thick cloud of white smoke pouring out of the back of it and making it nearly impossible to see where you were going?

Have you ever lit a cigarette in a hospital or inside of a courthouse? Ever seen someone else do that? What about in the waiting room of a doctor’s office? Did you know that smoking in a teacher’s lounge during school hours was once a common practice? I can recall seeing signs on the walls of hospital rooms that warned against smoking only if oxygen was in use.

Did you ever purchase a bottle of beer in a bar and then drink it without violating any laws when you were still a teenager?

Remember something called 3.2 beer that could be sold to eighteen year-olds?

Did you ever fear getting paddled in school by a teacher? Do you remember medicine bottles that didn’t have safety caps or food containers that didn’t have nutritional charts or the ingredients printed on labels?

Remember when they couldn’t say any four letter words on television and when none could be used in songs we heard on the radio? Remember when most radio stations played music and none of them carried talk-shows? Do you remember when most radios were only AM?

Have you ever made a trip to a store to purchase just one song on a 45 rpm record? Ever sit down at a lunch counter inside of a small drug store or have something delivered to your home from a neighborhood carry-out store? Have you ever visited a store that was called a Five and Dime Store?

Have you ever had your shoes resoled in a repair shop or had a repair man come to your home to fix your television set? Ever accompany your dad to a store to test television tubes? Have you ever held a flashlight for your dad while he tinkered in the back of a television set?

Ever had a knock at the door and heard a man shout, “gas man!” Or had one delivering baked goods? Have you ever seen a street sweeper on your street before dawn? Have you ever paid seven cents for a newspaper or a nickel for a candy bar? Have you ever gotten change from a dollar after you paid for a meal? Ever leave just a dime on a table as a tip?

Have you ever seen a commercial on television or heard one on the radio advertising cigarettes or cigars? Do you know what beverage was called the Champaign of bottled beer?”

Have you ever tried to light your way using something called a carbide light?

Have you ever seen a commercial for something called “Geritol?” Do you know what that was?

Have you ever drunk 3-V Cola? Ever filled your gas tank with Sun Crest or Pure Oil Gasoline? What about Humble or Sohio gas? Have you ever bought a gallon of it for less than thirty cents?

Are the names Durwood Kirby or Clem Kaddilehopper familiar to you, or do you remember Uncle Tonoose and Uncle Charlie?

What about the man from Uncle? Did your brother or sister ever remind you of someone on a TV series? Ever had a crush on someone on a television show that was about your age before you were twelve?

Have you ever sat on the floor in front of a TV with your legs crossed? Did your mother ever warn you that you would ruin your eyes by sitting to close to it? Do you remember your family’s first color television set? Did you ever have one with a metal cabinet, or one that also had a built in radio?

Was there ever a television in your house that had a round channel changer dial that lit up or one that you had to turn manually to change the channel? Ever get “shocked” after walking across a carpet when you did it? Have you ever stared through holes on the back panel of a television at tubes that glowed?

Did you ever accompany your dad to a store with a bag of television tubes to have them tested? Was going to a hardware store with him ever something exciting? Have you ever gone shopping with your mother and been surprised that she bought you a toy just for being good?

Have you ever stood on a chair to get something from the top of a refrigerator? Ever use your bed as a trampoline or hide something under the mattress believing no one would ever think to look there?

Have you ever put a dime in a pop machine and opened a glass door to remove a bottle? Ever spend a penny to weigh yourself or one to have your fortune told? Do you remember who Sky King was? Do you know what his daughter’s name was?

Ever pitch pennies? Have you ever heard the phrase “Penny wise and pound foolish?” Did it ever make any sense to you?

Have you ever felt like a penny saved was one that you earned?

Have you ever counted pennies to wrap them and forgot your count and had to start over? Have you ever tried to win a friend’s nickel by flipping yours to match his flip?

Have you ever tossed salt over your shoulder hoping it would ward off bad luck? Has your key chain ever had a rabbit’s foot on the end of it? Did you ever have a hat that had an animal’s tail hanging from it?

Have you ever handed your mother a bouquet of dandelions that you picked in your backyard? Did she give you a hug and then put them in a glass of water? Did you ever have to dress up for Easter even if you weren’t going anywhere that day?

Ever scuff a patent leather shoe? Has your mother ever spit on a napkin to wipe something from your face? Has she or your father ever said to you “mind your manners?”

Has your mother or father ever asked you “what do you say?” expecting the answer to be either “thank you” or “excuse me?”

Did your dad ever seem like the tallest man in the world, or did you ever think you had the prettiest mom? Have you ever laughed so hard while drinking something that it came out of your nose?

Ever ask a question and shake an 8-ball to get the answer? Ever discard the answer and shake it again hoping for a better one? Did you ever write your name on 45 rpm record labels? Ever loan a record to a friend and not gotten it back?

Have you ever cracked a record but kept it and continued playing it anyway because you liked the song and didn’t want to throw it away? Can you still hear the sound in your head? What about the sound it made when the song was over and the needle bumped the label? Have you ever cut a picture out of a magazine and pinned it to your bedroom wall?

Have you ever accidentally said a curse word in front of your parents and then wished there was a hole in the floor you could fall into?

Has anyone ever asked you “did you fall in?” anytime they thought you spent too much time in the bathroom? Have you ever drawn eyeballs on a closed fist and then moved your thumb up down as if your hand were talking?

Have you ever doodled on the side of the pages of a closed book? Have you ever intentionally made teeth marks on a pencil? Ever use a fountain pen to write an essay for school?

Have you ever polished an apple or ate one with salt sprinkled on it? Did you ever have a Mr. Potato Head kit that required you to use a real potato? Ever had a Colorforms set? What about a vac-u-form?

Have you ever owned a plastic movie projector or looked at the sun through a kaleidoscope or talked to someone through a tin can?

Have you ever made a toy out of paper or wood? Ever kick a field goal with your fingers or build a house or a boat out of pop sickle sticks? Have you ever leafed through a coloring book that you thought was finished and saw a page that hadn’t been colored yet and got excited? Did you ever color a picture so poorly that you tore it up and hid in the trash hoping no one would see it?

Have you ever lost the key to your diary and had to cut it open?

Have you ever put paper clothing on a paper doll when your sister wasn’t around or played with plastic cars when your brother wasn’t home? Did you ever own a toy that lit up and thought it was a high tech gadget? Have you ever made something using paper mache and a balloon?

Have you ever pricked a water balloon and then drank the water? Ever rub a balloon on your head and then stick it on a wall?

Was your mom or dad ever your regular barber? Have you ever been someone else’s beautician even though you weren’t trained to do it? Have you ever sat under a big plastic hair dryer that looked like something from outer space at home? Ever wrap a plastic cover around your head that blew warm air to dry it?

Do you remember when women wore hosiery that had a black line going up the back of their legs? Do you remember when most of them owned less than five pairs of shoes?

Did your blue jeans ever need to be cuffed at the bottom so you wouldn’t walk on them? Have you ever worn your pants like that with a long sleeved flannel shirt with the sleeves rolled up past your elbows? Have you ever owned a leather hat that had straps and a buckle or a jacket that was called a car coat?

Did your parents ever refer to the electric bill as the light bill?

Have you ever heard someone refer to electricity as juice? Did you ever hear anyone say “Give it the juice” when they wanted you to drive faster? Did you ever say “I’m out of juice” when you were tired? Have you ever heard of the liquid in a pickle jar referred to as pickle juice? Ever heard someone call a story juicy?

Ever heard someone call a cigarette a fag? Have you ever wondered why girls always kissed one another and held hands while skipping along a sidewalk but if boys did that they would be called a…never mind.

Have you ever wondered why girls like to tell each other that they are pretty and that they have beautiful hair but if boys said that to one another…never mind. Ever tried to hide a hickie? Ever put one on yourself just to see if you could do and then tell someone it was just a bruise?

Was there ever a time when only your father was allowed to change a glass fuse in the fuse box? And when he did it did he seem like a pretty smart guy for knowing how? Have you ever had bad luck after breaking a mirror? Have you ever said “bread and butter” hoping something else didn’t bring you bad luck?

Have you ever eaten powdered candy that came in a straw? Did you ever eat something that had Oleo on it? Have you ever sprinkled cinnamon on a piece of buttered toast or ate a handful of cereal before you poured it into a bowl? Ever drink milk from a carton and hoped that no one saw you or licked peanut butter off of your fingers?

Have you ever caught a marshmallow on fire with a match or by holding it to a flame on the stove and then ate it even though it was burnt to a crisp? Have you ever tried to make homemade fudge and then thrown away all but about a tablespoon of it because it didn’t turn out right?

Were you ever required to eat all that was on your plate at dinner time even if you didn’t like what was on it? Have you ever known dinner to be called supper? Has a parent ever reminded you that there are starving people in China when you didn’t want to eat?

Ever stick your tongue in a sugar bowl? Have you ever chewed Teaberry Gum or Black Jack or Clove chewing gum? Have you ever chewed five pieces at the same time? Ever rolled a wad of gum and thrown it against a wall to see if it would stick? Ever tried to scrape it from the bottom of your shoe with a pop sickle stick?

Have you ever bought a milk shake from a truck? Ever stood on a sidewalk after dark waiting for one to come? Have you ever thought someone named Mr. Softee was driving it? Have you ever tossed a baseball into the air to see if a bat would chase it? Did anyone ever warn you that a bat would land on your head and make a nest in your hair?

Did you ever do something even though Simon didn’t tell you to do it? Have you ever played hide and seek in your house? Have you ever really licked a mixing bowl (or did you lick your fingers after scraping them inside of one?)

Have you ever been licked in a fight or have you ever heard of a spanking as a lickin’? Ever used a metal garbage can lid as a shield or a broom handle as a lance while pretending to do battle? Ever use a garbage can lid as a sled or have you ever rode a horse made out of a broom handle? Have you ever tossed a garbage can lid and pretended it was flying saucer?

Have you ever knocked an ice cycle from a gutter and ate it? Ever had a waitress pop a balloon at a lunch counter to see if you won desert?

Have you ever felt warmer inside a snow fort than you were when you were building it? Have you ever decorated a snow man’s face and noticed the eyes were crooked? Did your mother ever warn you not to cross your eyes because they would stick they way?

Did your mother ever rub butter or grease on a wound or use a sliver of soap when she thought you needed a suppository. Have you ever feared a water bottle for the same reason?

Has anyone ever asked you…“jeet or want somethinteet?” when they wondered if you were hungry? Have you ever laughed when an old person referred to a car as a machine? Ever known someone who lived in a holler? Has anyone ever called your house a pad?

Have you ever had a crush on a school teacher? Did you ever believe they had one on you too? Have you ever read a teacher’s note to your mother before you gave it to her? Have you ever had to write “I will not...” several times on a blackboard?

Have you ever feared being punished at home for something that happened in school? Did a classroom ever look different to you after you returned from a field trip?

Have you ever made a wallet in shop class or brought home something made of wood with your house number on it? Ever make a spade or an ash tray in metal shop? Have you ever glued a picture of yourself to the bottom of a clear coaster in art class and given it to your mother as a gift? Have you ever made her a homemade greeting card out of construction paper? Have you ever sold popcorn fritters door-to-door for school?

Have you ever hung upside down on monkey bars and scratched your armpits? Ever climb up the slide instead of steps on a sliding board? Have you ever been scared to climb a rope in gym class?

Did you ever have to take off your shoes to walk across a dirty gymnasium floor? Ever been embarrassed because you had a hole in your sock when you did that? Did your mother ever warn you to always wear clean underwear in case you were struck by a car?

Do you remember when cartoons were only shown on television on Saturday mornings? Do you remember when Huckleberry Hound was gray instead of blue? (Black & white television of course?) And speaking of cartoon characters, do you remember Heckle and Jeckle?

Have you ever wished you could become a mouseketeer? Ever start your own club in your neighborhood? Ever actually build a clubhouse out of anything besides cardboard boxes?

Did your mother ever have something called a rag bag where all of the clothes your family outgrew or wore out ended up in? Have you ever gone to that bag to look for material you could cut up to make a tail for a kite?

Have you ever run down a sidewalk trying to fly a kite when there was no wind? Did your kite sometimes only crash into the pavement when you did that? Have you ever tried to make a kite out of newspapers?

Did you ever just run somewhere just to show someone else how fast you could do it? I mean even if you never had any thoughts of being on a track team or before jogging came into vogue.

Have you ever played touch football in the street? Have you ever climbed to the top of someone else’s garage just for something to do? Have you ever climbed a neighbor’s apple tree to help yourself to his apples without permission to do it?

Have you ever taken a picture with a camera that needed round flashbulbs? Have you ever had to use a hand crank on a camera to roll the film after the last picture was taken?

Have you ever had your picture taken while sitting on a pony in front of your house? Ever made toast in a toaster that had doors instead of slots? Have you ever called your refrigerator an ice box?

You do sound familiar.

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