Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Back To Childhood

Do you still remember those endless summer days when you were a kid?  The first week out of school was wealth abounding -- so many days ahead, bright with the promise of joy and discovery.  I would leave the house in the morning, and often not return until the dinner bell called me back at dusk.  We would ride our bikes five abreast down the middle of the road, off to catch minnows in the creek or visit the new kittens in a neighbor's barn.  When it got too hot to bike, we would take our quarters and visit the little general store in town, which was always a dark and cool place to spend an afternoon.  We would buy candy or ice cream, and eat while we dawdled on the front porch.

We used to saddle our fat ponies and trail ride all day, delighting in the chance to jump a fallen log or ford a gurgling brook.  Sometimes we would set up small jumps, and practice over and over.  We even spent a few nights sleeping in the stable, relishing our freedom from enforced baths and bedtimes.  On those nights, we would catch fireflies in a jar, and stay up till all hours with our flashlights winking in the darkness.

We brought baseballs and bats to the firemen's baseball field, and argued over who got to hit first.  We would visit the mobile library when it parked at the grammar school, and borrow the latest Nancy Drew.  Then, when we discovered an older girl in town who owned almost the complete set of mysteries, we would haunt her house until she loaned us armloads of books.  

Reading was often my favored pursuit, and I can vividly remember taking an old blanket out under the canopy of a low-hanging branch, and losing myself for the entire day in another world.  I was absolutely certain that I would grow up to be, if not a titian-haired beauty, at least a brave and intelligent young woman.  

And while the titian hair was a lost cause, and the bravery questionable, I do trust that a little of the intelligence came to be.  But the feeling of having the world spread before me, and time enough to explore it, is the thing I miss most about those endless childhood days of summer.  I suspect that is true of most of us.  

May we all have a day of bright exploration still ahead.  Do you have a childhood memory that calls out to you today?


  1. Mary, I was also an avid reader. I loved to sit and read, and I devoured book after book. I didn't ever get into Nancy Drew, but I did read Cherry Ames. My favorite section at the library was the biographies and autobiographies.

    And yes, I would love to be able to have carefree days, but instead its off to work I go.

  2. Summers and books, the perfect combination. Somehow I discovered that one of my classmates' Mom had a complete set of Nancy and they were less than a mile away. I would "borrow" 3 at a time at least twice a week. From there it was Cherry Ames and Donna Parker, Trixie Belden and to this day I still prefer mysteries. Isn't it astounding that we roamed with our friends and amused ourselves all day. My mother always said "you are too young to be bored" if we ever even mentioned boredom. I suspect that at 91 years old, my Mom is still not bored.


  3. Good Morning Mary, what a treasure trove of memories you have unlocked! Yes, reading, bike riding, days spend in the cow pasture at grandma and grandpas farm wading in the creek and catching minnows, running in the yard at night watching the fireflies and reveling in the soft, cool air. I sometimes think our children have missed out on so much freedom, imagination and joy because it would be dangerous to let them roam on their own now. Television should be outlawed for children in the summer so they could really enjoy life.

  4. Mary

    One of my vivid memoris is all of us on our bikes following the town bug spraying vehicle...riding our bikes through the mosquito fog was a favoritet thiing to do to mark the beginning of summer. What were we thinking??? But, boy, was that fun!

  5. Yikes-I typed without my morning coffee!

  6. Yes Mary, like you I would read in the outdoors. My thing was TENTS......tents worthy of Kubla Khan. Multi-room tents decorated with whatever I could sneak out of the house. It's a wonder I didn't grow up to be an architect.

    Tara - we ran behind that mosquito fogging machine also. It's a wonder we haven't all died from that.

    We also played ball, but in the street. We'd curse if there was a car coming because they interrupt the play.

    Fireflies!!! Chasing fireflies and catching them and putting them in glass jars....until my sister fell and cut herself on the glass.

    How the heck did we get through our childhood without a helmet? I agree that it's sad that kids can't just roam and explore and play like we did.

    - Suzanne, the Farmer's Wife

  7. I remember summers like that except for the fat ponies. I remember, too, being alone, lying on my back looking up at the puffy clouds in the blue sky thinking I am the only person on earth.
    Thanks for the memory.

  8. Mary~
    Thanks for the beautiful memories.. I smiled at your mention of the book mobile! A little library on wheels that would come to your neighborhood to choose summer reading books for the week.. who could ask for more..
    As an elementary school teacher, I feel that same joy felt as a kid on the last day of school, knowing I have an entire summer full of lazy days to linger with a stack of books and watch the clouds float by .. !

  9. Mary,

    What wonderful lovely childhood memories! I have similar ones--riding horses and being at the barn all day and into the evening. I lived on Lake St. Clair in Michigan so we also spent lots on time on the water--boating, sailing....then to the snack shack for a treat. They were magical times...thanks for taking me back.


  10. Hi Mary,

    Oh boy do I remember, like you we would leave in the morning and not return until dinner time, most times on our bikes but sometimes on foot.. Always looking for an adventure, I too chased the mosquito truck, what were our parents thinking ??? Then kickball in the street until dark and of course the ice cream man. I was into playing house and school, we had a little house in the backyard that we would convert. Another thing we loved to do was put on shows. And last but not least I would take my little radio and climb up into the willow tree and veg.

    Those were the days...and we were never bored !!!

    Great post Mary,
    Kathy :)

  11. Ohmygosh! YOUR memories are MY memories! I used to ride my horse with my sister and friends (bareback though- never a saddle!) from sun up to sun down. We'd picnic at the local pig farm! Sounds horrible to think about now. :o) We had baseball competitions all summer long in the field beside our house. We even handmade trophies for the winners. We rode bikes to the "little store" to buy bottles of RC Cola... collecting bottles along the way to get the deposit back. And Nancy Drew. Oh, Nancy, I loved her so. I still do. I have a box full of those books in my garage that I still read from time to time! Thanks for the memories. :o)

  12. Mary, you are physic. I just posted another white flower, and at the end I was reminded of all the fun I had as a child at that park. Trying to sneak into the Museum in our wet swimsuits. Winding the May Poles. Spinning on the merry-go-round so long I felt sick. (Why don't parks have those anymore?) Checking out the rose garden. Catching minnows. Watching the ducks. Ah, yes...endless days of fun.
    Hugs, Laura

  13. Boy is that from one extreme to another... and International model to a jockey... hilarious... I'd like to be a singer in a rock n roll band or a lounge singer on a grand piano a la Michelle Pfieffer... are we ever happy...LOL

  14. Love that leaf shot!!! Very pretty!

  15. This is one of the best pieces I've ever read about reminiscing our your childhood. I am goint to print it to keep by my desk. Oh, the photo is perfect for this too. Thank you Mary.

  16. Yes, it is funny that we both had memories of childhood at the same time!

    I love the way you write, Mary. I can see you as a child, riding your bike down that road, with your friends at your side.

    Such a lovely post today!

  17. What a beautiful post. Oh how I remember those long ago days. With the fondest of memories. My hubby and I have talked a lot lately about how much more freedom we had than or children do today.
    I could still sit under a tree and read a book all day, if only I could make the chores magically be done so that could be possible.

  18. When I was almost 10 my parents put in a swimming pool. We were the only family in our town to have a built-in swimming pool and from the day it was filled with water I spent my summers by the pool! Many memories with many friends enjoying the pool. Thanks for the reminder!

  19. Many of your childhood memories sound remarkably like my own...loved time spent in the woods or in secret "houses" beneath the trees reading Nancy Drew and Judy Bolton. Thanks for a wonderful essay on the joys of not being in school!

  20. Memories of endless summer days with nothing to do other than dream and enjoy.
    Seems like a very very long time ago. Youth - as they say - is definitely wasted on the young!

  21. Hi Mary,
    I used to ride my bike with a friend from morning to night too! There was so much to explore then. We used to go to a place called the "monkey jungle". What fun we had walking the trails and spending the whole day outside.

    Oh, to be young again.


  22. Yes, I was a child of your generation too, except I was a city kid. We could get anywhere we wanted to by foot, bicyle,or city bus (a thin dime in those days and even a transfer to another bus if one wanted it!) We headed to the city parks and beaches, the library, uptown to Woolworth's to spend our quarters on little plastic dolls for which we fashioned wardrobes from fabric scraps. Back in the neighborhood, there was a hoard of kids. Nobody played in the flats. We were always outside playing chase, rollerskating, putting on plays, "art shows," Koolaid stands etc. One fond memory was when my best friend's father, a carpenter, made stilts for all the kids. We proudly walked the block in our stilt parade! We were deliciously independent, yet responsible with the freedom. I cannot compare that childhood with what I see today. It was magic!

  23. Ah, I was such a reader too. I spent hours and hours reading in the summertime. What a glorious way to spend those hot summer days. I was into biographies that were written like a fiction story, and Trixie Belden books. Well, and any other book I got my hands on.

  24. ooooo, Mary...I do have some of the BESTEST memories in the whole world...that is another post and I will be sure to mention it to you so you can read it. As old as I am...I have some dandy memories of the 40's and 50's that are dancing all around in my head as I speak!
    Thanks for sharing your memories!
    hugs, bj

  25. Wonderful post! Sounds like you had a terrific childhood. Reading was one of my passions too when I was a kid and it still is. I didn't read Nancy Drew, but couldn't get enough of another mystery family, the Happy Hollisters.


  26. Beautiful memories of your chldhood, Mary! I have almost the same, minus the pony. I loved to read and I was outside playing all day and evening. Everything was so carefree!


    Hugs, Pat

  27. I was always mystified by what exactly "titian" was and I still don't know how to say that word. I assumed it was something similiar to strawberry blond, but have never been sure.

  28. You have such a gift for writing and I do so love to read your posts.
    I well remember the Summer I read so much that I strained my eyes. I had to forgo reading for a week and it was a HUGE blow to me!

    I remember my first Nancy Drew.I still have it and a few others. I loved them all.

    I do not really remember being bored...no videos games, little TV to watch, no structured play dates and lessons as so many have now. We just ran and rode bikes and played. Or lay in the grass and stared at clouds...

    Hunting for milkweed pods and setting uo lemonade stands. We used to put on shows in the back yard with the only theater goers being one another!

    Of course there were fireflies to catch after dark.

    They were good days...thank youf or this post dear heart. You are a treasure.


  29. What fantastic memories!

  30. Ahhh....the endless carefree days of summer. I have very similar memories and try as best I can to replicate the same for my kiddos.

    Love this post!!

  31. Hi Mary :)

    Wonderful post! I loved laying out in the sun and doing belly flops in the pool. Wearing a bikini without being self conscious and running around barefoot all day.... wait I still run around barefoot LOL

    Thanks for the memories :)



Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment. I love to hear what you have to say!