A blast from the past

I was looking through old photos recently and came across one that I thought I could write a thousand words about. It’s been awhile since the last time I wrote about a picture, so, I thought I’d do it again with the one below:

 

Yes, that is me at 8 years old in 1965 or, maybe 1966. It was Christmas morning. My pile of Christmas gifts is on the floor at the bottom right of this picture. The biggest (size-wise) gift I got was the Green Ghost Game – the exciting game of mystery that glows in the dark.  The advertisers did an excellent job convincing me that I wanted it, so I asked for it and got it. Turns out it was more hype than actual fun.  The board was 3D with standing snap on features to look like a spooky town at night. The premise was to move your player, a cat, or bat or something else sinister looking to get keys that would open trap doors which held the glow in the dark ghost kids. One of the ghosts was special and at the end of the game whoever had it won. The game was big, clunky with cheap parts that broke.  And, since the game was so very stupid, my sisters never wanted to play it with me.

Also in my pile is a doll. I do not know her name. I think this doll would pee her pants after you gave her a bottle filled with milk water. My mother always loved dolls and I’m sure I got this one to satisfy her need for me to have one.

I also see a red book bag. Book bags were very popular that year. Most of my school friends had one at the beginning of the year, so I told my mom I just had to have one.

And, then, there were the ski skates – short skis that you could use anywhere there was snow.  My ski skates were not the kind kids get today with the expensive ski boots that clamp on to the ski, mine had plastic straps with buckles that never kept my foot securely on the ski. I spent the first time out in the snow, trudging around through snow drifts, ski skates dragging alongside my boots. The ski poles were pretty cool, though.

On the far right of my pile, I see a red and white suitcase. Suitcases were a must for all little girls, most importantly to use when invited to slumber parties. But, they were also used during their down time to store all kinds of other special treasures, like diaries, lipstick and nail polish stolen taken when the sisters weren’t looking. I’m also sure I used this one to run away from home once or twice, too.

I got a new baton that year, too. See it leaning against the radiator? This was a quality baton, weighted properly for a professional. I thought it very cool that my new sister-in-law was a majorette in high school and could teach me how to twirl.  She moved in with my family when her husband, my brother, served in the Navy during the Vietnam War. Several years later, when I was in sixth grade, I was a finalist in our school’s talent show with my baton routine to The Beatles, ‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.’

My favorite gift that year was my outfit, the one I’m wearing in the photo. I thought I was so hot in that dress. Do you see how the shiny red belt rides low to accentuate my hips? And, my matching stockings made me feel so grown up. They were my first pair ever. Not a true pair of fishnets, but close! I was also wearing my new penny loafers.

I’m dancing in the photo which means there was a record being played on the stereo. Maybe it was a Beatles album.  I cannot say for sure what dance I might have been doing. There were so many new dances going in and out of style in the 60s with names like the Monkey, the Dog, the Frog, the Pony, Mashed Potatoes, Boogaloo, Lindy Hop, Hippy Shake, the Hully Gully, the Frug, etc. I was probably doing the Jerk, which was my favorite dance and therefore, the one I did the best!

I was one of the coolest kids in my grade school because I knew all the latest music, dances, hair styles and fashion fads way before the other kids did, thanks to my older sisters!

Our Christmas tree was on the other side of the room. It was probably the aluminum one, which were very popular during this time. It had a floor based rotating color wheel that projected either a red, green, blue or yellow tint onto the tree. My dad would have had his Lionel trains set up around the base of the tree, too.   

The TV behind me was our first color set. It was an RCA and had a rotary antenna, too. I can see the antenna box on top of the metal stand (our record album cabinet) to the left of the television. I remember four channels – ABC, CBS, NBC and Public Television. Depending on what channel we wanted to watch, we would simply turn the dial on the rotary antenna box which in turn would turn the antenna outside to get the best possible picture.  This was super modern technology for the time. In the mid-60s we were watching shows like Gilligan’s Island, McHale’s Navy, Petticoat Junction, Green Acres, The Flying Nun, The Beverly Hillbillies, The Wonderful World of Disney, Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, Bewitched, American Bandstand and The Carol Burnett Show. News was the Huntley Brinkley Report. Late night TV was The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson (1962 – 1992). We still had quite a few black and white television shows, too, like Gunsmoke, The Lone Ranger, Cisco Kid and Poncho, although those programs lost much of their allure after we were introduced to color.

It’s a good thing I’ve reached the thousand word mark as I can’t think of another thing I can possibly say about that sassy girl in this photo!

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If a picture paints a thousand words…

If a picture paints a thousand words, can I write that many words about this picture?

 

From left to right: Tony, Pam, Queenie, Prince, Cindy. In the background are Grandma, Amy (our collie) and Mom.

I’ll tell you first what I can about the picture. The picture is not dated, but it was probably taken in 1965 or 1966 in our yard at the stone house. I would have been about eight years old, which would make Pam about 12, Mom about 41 and Grandma, I don’t know.  

I do not know, for certain, what season this photo was taken in. It certainly looks like early autumn. Pam and I both are wearing shorts, which would indicate warm temperatures, but there are quite a few leaves on the ground. We had many oak trees on our property that are obviously dropping leaves, but there is one tree in the right background of the picture that hasn’t dropped many leaves at all. Which reminds me, that raking leaves was a big project at our house. Dad would not start raking until all the leaves had fallen. And, he was very methodical about it. And, he never left a leaf. We had to help. Dad never did anything half-assed. He was meticulous to the point of obsession and leaf raking was no exception. Dad must have been at home when this photo was taken. I know this because his station wagon is in the driveway. Dad might be the one that snapped this picture. If he did, maybe he used his Argus camera.

Long before we graduated to horses, we had three ponies, Prince, Queenie and Tony. Pam’s perception might be different, so I ask forgiveness if I get this wrong, but as I remember it, Pam wanted horses. She wanted horses more than anything. At Christmas time, when the rest of us were asking for record players and ice skates, Pam would ask for horses. The rest of us, of course, got what we asked for, but, Pam always got the short end of the stick, so to speak. I think, one year she even asked for a bridle, hoping that that first horse related gift would eventually lead to the next.

Since Pam was always the good girl and really wanted horses, dad was ready to cave. He posed a question for a vote – a swimming pool or horses. Bonnie and I voted for the pool. Linda, my oldest sister, surely wanted the pool, too. I mean, she was already driving, dating boys, working a part-time job, what use could horses be to her? But, Pam and Dad voted for the horses.  So, we got our three ponies.

Dad built a nice barn, with stalls and hay loft and he fenced in an area of yard for our ponies to roam. Pam fed them every morning before school and in the evenings after school, she fed them, brushed them, mucked horse poop and did whatever else was necessary for their well-being.

We joined the 4-H. I remember going to a few meetings in the community building behind our volunteer fire hall. Prince could pull a cart. I vaguely remember dad taking me for a ride in the cart. Did Dad actually run Prince against other ponies in a cart race once?

Once, I walked too close behind Prince while he was grazing. I must have startled him as he bucked and kicked me in the teeth. I didn’t lose any, but I did bleed.

Tony was a mean pony. I didn’t like him. Truth was I was afraid of him. He bit Pam in the ass once. It was a nasty bite that made an ugly bruise. I think she may have been feeding him. She may still have a scar! Or was it her boob?

Neighbors down the road had a huge field and we would take the ponies there to graze. Queenie escaped once.  She walked about seven miles along the road – from country to suburbia and finally stopped walking at Ron Stephenson’s house. I remember his name because he was the news anchor at our local TV station, WJAC. Of the hundreds of homes that could have piqued her fancy, Queenie chose the one that would make the news. Well, that, and I think they had an apple tree that was pretty enticing. Later that night, on the news, for our whole town to see, was Mrs. Stephenson feeding Queenie apples. Yep, we were the “fluff” story of the day. And, of course, it took months to live it down at school.

I don’t know what ever happened to those ponies. I think we sold them or gave them away when we upgraded to horses. Pam would know and I hope she shares that in a comment.

Our collie, Amy, was a friendly dog. Shortly after giving birth to 13 puppies, she was hit by a car and died. Our new sister-in-law, living with us while her husband, my brother, served in Vietnam, hand fed this mass of puppies with an eyedropper every day while we were at school. By the time she got done going around with the dropper once, it was almost time to do it again. In the mornings before school and after school when we got home, we helped with the feedings, too. Well, no I really didn’t help much. I thought their bed stank of sour milk. It was mostly Pam that helped. She would assist with the puppy feedings right after she took care of the ponies. Like I said earlier, she was the good girl. Not all of the puppies survived. Maybe one of my sisters remembers how many did.

So, I just took a word count. I’m close to reaching 1,000 words! I could write more about just how doggone cute I was when I was eight! Or about the time I pooped my pants in school at that age because my third grade teacher, Mrs. Bowman, wouldn’t let me got the bathroom. Or, I could write more about the stone house, or my sister, or my super cool grandma or my mom.

I’m glad I stumbled upon this picture. Happy memories (well, except for pooping my pants at school)!

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The games we played

A short while ago I read a friend’s blog post about games we used to play as children.  It was fun thinking of how we entertained ourselves back in the old days.

Of course, if you’ve read my last blog post (http://cindyscountrycorner.com/2009/07/20/a-secret-place/), you know I spent a lot of time playing in the woods so very long ago. 

Back then, we sometimes spent hours away from the house and no one knew where we were, or worried about us, for that matter. And, we climbed trees and climbed rocks and crossed streams or played with some little wild critter if we were lucky enough to catch one.  

One time, when I was about eight years old, I was playing with some older kids in the woods. They were taking turns swinging on a wild grapevine from one hill to another across a rock filled creek. (We’d call it a ‘holler’ if we lived in Kentucky!) It looked fun, but super scary, too. And, after they taunted me and dared me to try it, I of, course, had to or never live it down. Now, I am sure that this was the first time I had ever tried to hold all of my body weight with only my two girly arms so, of course, I couldn’t hang on, and fell to the creek below! I had the wind knocked out of me and thought I was going to die. After my friends helped me limp home, bruised, but not broken, dear dad, unruffled by the whole event, told me to go lay down for awhile! (This, by the way, was the last time I swung on grapevines.)

jacksYep, those were the days! Other, not so dangerous activities included playing jacks – onsesies through tensies, Chinese jump rope, hopscotch, Simon Says, Button Button and Pick Up Sticks. ‘Course, now that I think about it, us girls had some pretty cutthroat jacks competitions!

The Cat's Cradle is the first of many string interpretations.

The Cat's Cradle is the first of many string interpretations.

Do any of you remember the string game? I used to love to play it, the cat’s cradle, soldier’s bed, candles, manger, diamonds, cat’s eye and fish in a dish were what the different patterns were called. (I know this cause I looked it up!) I also discovered that telling stories using string is very old and that Eskimos have one of the hardest to play!

I sometimes laid out stones or pine cones on the ground in a house design, complete with bedrooms, living room, kitchen and bath to play house. Or, made a tent from an old sheet draped across lawn furniture. I remember making mud pies, and cutting up earthworms to serve my guests! Well, the earthworms were only ever eaten on a dare!

I remember once I made a make-believe flute out of a stick and the caps from acorns.  I glued the acorn caps to the stick to represent the keys and then played my instrument in a marching band! The keys kept falling off and I spent time off and on that whole summer trying to improve my design (with no luck, I might add). And, by the time school started that fall I had grown out of acorn flutes.

My favorite board game for about a month was Green Ghost. It was a spooky, glow in the dark game that was really cool to look at, but no fun to play.

I loved my spirograph, too.

Brian had about six sets of Lincoln Logs and could build whole towns and he loved playing Capture the Flag!

Well, I could go on and on, but if I think of absolutely everything I ever did as a child, I wouldn’t leave room for you to share your kid stuff!

So, please, comment away! May you have as much fun thinking about your childhood play as I did mine!

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