Archives for posts with tag: childhood

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The newspaper I work for is putting out a Summer Camp Guide for local parents, and it made me think of how badly I wanted to go to camp as a child.

From grades 5-7, I was really good friends with a girl named Leslie.  Her parents were divorced, and her mom lived in this beautiful old house in the heart of town. It was fun to hang out with her because the park and the candy store were all within a stone’s throw to her house, whereas I lived at the far end of town close to nothing fun at all.

You could say she was privileged, even though it must have sucked to have parents that were divorced. Her mom was out a lot and they had a live-in nanny, who never seemed to be around any time I slept over. She would be “in the house” but usually was up in her room on the top floor, which was creepy to me.

Her dad lived in New York City, and every now and then we’d have a sleepover at his apartment, which was both a thrill and completely uncomfortable. I didn’t know the father all too well, hence my discomfort.

But every summer, for at least 3 weeks, Leslie would be shipped off to summer camp. I saw it as this magical place where nobody knew you, and any stigmas that might plague you in your hometown, simply vanished. You could be anyone. You were brand new.

She would come home with tales of juicy social interactions, clandestine meetings with crushes, and long nights gossiping with girlfriends. And I was pea green with envy. All I had done was hang out at the Leonia pool, trying to dodge insults while using the diving board…from my future husband.

The following year I begged my father to let me go with Leslie, even if it was for just a week. But there was no way…her camp was just too expensive. I understood, but it was still disappointing.

I especially get it now that I have kids. I would have loved to be able to send either of my girls to summer camp, even a day camp, to give them a fun summer experience while mom and dad were working. I looked into it a few years ago, but just about every camp was way out of our price range.

And it is glaringly evident if you attend one of the summer camp expos in the area. Impeccably dressed Moms and Dads usher their children with straight, white teeth from table to table and try to decide which soul-enriching camp their lucky little offspring will spend their summer at. Because money is no object.

But it’s okay. My kids have great memories of summers hiking up to Blue Hole to swim in a mountain pond, and jumping off the dock at Lake Monticello. Trips to King’s Dominion, Disney on Ice, and weeks spend in Florida visiting my dad.

Yeah, camp would’ve been great for them, and maybe even for me. But I don’t think any of us suffered greatly in the long run.

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Last Friday my boss gave me the day off because we had just finished a very grueling production schedule that required a lot of overtime. I could have slept in and loafed around the house, but it was going to be sunny with temperatures nearing 80°. We needed to get out and DO something.

So, I called my daughter in sick and my girls and I headed to Richmond for the day. We spent the morning walking around Maymont Park, then lunched on Greek food in Carytown. We decided to visit this one candy shop my girls have always wanted to check out.

Now, every time I go to a new candy store I am always on the hunt for one candy in particular…Delfa Rolls – now referred to as Broadway Licorice Rolls. As a rule, I don’t like “red” licorice, but growing up these tightly wound rolls of strawberry ribbon goodness were a favorite of mine.

I was reintroduced to them at the Virginia state fair about 8 years ago, and once I knew their new name, I’ve been on the hunt for them. World Market used to sell them for a while, but stopped a few years back. A local candy shop just a block from my office carried them for a while as well, but also stopped.

When I stepped into this chocolate shop in Richmond, I was immediately encouraged. It was a fairly large store (for a candy shop) and they had a very large variety of old-timey candies. Not wanting to waste any time poking around the aisles in search of the candy of my dreams, I asked at the counter.

While I was expecting the typical look of puzzlement when I asked “Do you carry Broadway Licorice Rolls?” I was instead rewarded with a look of recognition, and a “now where do we keep those?” The clerk lead me to a shelf with a box of those strawberry beauties. I kid you not when I tell you I danced in place, clapping my hands like a giddy school girl.

blog-2There were only 6 or 7 packs left in the box, and I grabbed them all. My youngest said, “you know those are $1.29 each, right?” To which I looked at her and said, “And your point is….?”

It was a happy day. I ate one on the drive home from Richmond, demonstrating to my girls the various methods I had invented to eat a Delfa Roll as a child.

Right now the balance of my candy cache is tucked safely away in my cabinet. I will reward myself with one package each week. And I feel happy knowing that there is a finally place where I can still find my candy.

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Everyone can remember foods they loved as a kid, but can’t stomach the thought of eating now. Fluffernutter sandwiches come to mind, as do tuna fish and baloney. But there are some foods that I was never quite able to shake my love for.

GAOCB.jpgPickles: My mom nicknamed me Pickle Annie when I was a kid because I could tear through most of a jar of dill pickle spears in one sitting, along with drinking half the juice.  I don’t know what it is, but I adore pickles in almost every form except the bread and butter variety. I find a sweet pickle repulsive.

And I like any and all brands. There are times I am more partial to Claussen, and then other times, I need Vlasic or Mt. Olive varieties. But I don’t drink the juice anymore…my youngest daughter does that now!

HashCorned Beef Hash: One of my favorite breakfast choices of all time is Hash. But it’s terrible for you, so I mainly avoid it.

My first memories of hash is having it for dinner. My mom would cut both ends of the can off, push out the hash, cut it into slabs and fry it up. I guess back then two cans of hash was a way to feed a family of six cheaply. To this day I don’t know how she managed to keep the hash in individual patties, but she did.

If we are in a diner for breakfast and hash is on the menu, I will almost always order it. And I have to admit, every now and then I cannot resist reaching up for a can at the grocery store to make for Sunday breakfast. I’ll fry it to within an inch of it’s life and plop an over easy egg on top.

Doritos2000sDoritos: After school my sisters and I would demolish a bag of Doritos along with a two liter bottle of Diet Pepsi. We’d watch General Hospital and Match Game while licking orange dust off our fingers.

If I buy a bag of Doritos for a party or company, I find myself repeatedly reaching into the bowl. And if my kids have a bag open, I manage to find a reason to visit them so I can grab a handful.

I don’t know how Lay’s coined the slogan “you can’t eat just one” because that’s how I feel about Doritos.

spaghettios_sizedSpaghettios with Meatballs: Okay, this one is really embarrassing because there is no way to justify my liking of this food as an adult except for that it’s so utterly comforting for me.

When I was in Kindergarten, I would come home from my half day at school and eat a bowl of Spagettios with Meatballs and watch Underdog. But it had to be the kind with the meatballs because the plain kind had a sauce that was too sweet. For some reason the meatball version had a sauce that was zestier.

But I wouldn’t touch the kind with the little hotdog pieces ’cause that’s just gross.

If I’m in a real rush I will grab a can of Spaghettios with Meatballs for lunch at work…but I bury the can in the garbage and cringe if anyone actually sees me eating it.

28556Salami: We always had a package of Oscar Mayer hard salami in the fridge growing up, and that yellow package was my go-to food after a late night at the bar. I’d peel off 6 or 7 slices, slap them between two pieces of Wonder bread, and watch TV before going to bed.

I stopped buying the Oscar Mayer brand long ago, but I still love getting it cut at the deli counter. I remember one deli guy at the Grand Union supermarket by my house up in Jersey would slice it on the bias, so the slices were oblong rather than round. Mmmmmm – those were the days. I still enjoy a good salami sandwich from time to time…super thin, piled high and dry on rye. For some reason I don’t use any condiments on salami.

What are some foods that you never lost your taste for?

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Out of all of my siblings, I was the one, by far, who wound up in the hospital the most. I’m actually curious as to what the final tally of my trips to the ER were…so here goes. Let’s list ’em!

Losing My Two Front Teeth – an unfortunate accident on my tricycle resulted in my teeth hitting the pavement and breaking them both into pieces. I was rushed up the street to the dentist on the corner where what chunks were remaining were pulled. I spoke with a lisp until my teeth grew back in, and even then had to go to a speech therapist at school. This calls for a Brady Bunch reference; “Baby Talk, Baby Talk, it’s a wonder you can walk.”

Stuffing a Shell Up My Nose – One day when I was obviously very bored, I decided it would be fun to take a small shell, that had come from a broken bracelet, and shove it up my nose and blow it out again. I did this repeatedly until I shoved it up too far…no amount of blowing could get it out. I had to be taken to the ER where I kicked and screamed on the table while a doctor attempted to pluck it out with some sort of tweezer.

No clever Brady Bunch reference for that embarassing tale….

Cat Scratch Stitches – I’ve written about this incident before. I was afraid to tell my mother that I’d picked up a stray cat who then used my forehead as a springboard to make his escape. His back claws had left a few serious gashes by my scalp, but I lied and told her I’d fallen down. I needed stiches and had very swollen eyes for a few days.

The Broken Fingers – When our neighbors got a new refridgerator, we used the box in as many creative ways as possible. First it was a club house. Then we used it to climb inside and roll down the hill in their backyard. Once it really fell apart we opened it all the way up and used it as a slide. We’d run down the hill and slide on top of the box. But when I did this my hand got caught in one of the many tears along the side, so as my body was headed down the hill, my hand wasn’t.

My three middle fingers swelled up at an amazing rate…all I had to do was race in the back door, show my mom, and she was grabbing her car keys and her insurance card. I had a cast on my right hand for more than a month, and had to learn how to sort of write left-handed in order to do homework.

Stitches on my Knee – while playing Eeyore in a improv production, I donkey-kicked my legs in the air and my knee came down on a nail that was sticking out of the stage. My pale grey pants were soon turning red, so I improv-ed my exit stage left. I got four stitches and very painful tetanus shot.

Apendix – I was a 7th grader on my first real date – we went to carnival up in Fort Lee, NJ and what do I do? I get sick on a ride. After throwing up all over myself, and collapsing behind the goldfish toss tent, my date and my friends called over the paramedics who loaded me into an ambulance. By that evening I was sans my appendix, but had upped my stuffed animal collection considerably.

Complications Follwing Appendectomy – Something went wrong a few days after I got home from the hospital. I had horrible stomach cramps and a fever, so back to the hospital I went.After a thoroughly embarassing rectal exam, they determined my intestines weren’t functioning properly. So they had to snake a tube up my nose and down my throat to pump out all the rotting food in my stomach that wasn’t going anywhere. I was stuck in the hospital for at least a week, and couldn’t go home until I took a proper shit.

Ovarian Cyst – I was diagnosed as having an ovarian cyst when I was a sophomore in high school. The cyst, which was the size of a grapefruit with hair, was removed, but thankfully I was able to keep my ovary. It left me with a horizontal scar from hip bone to hip bone, but thankfully fell right below the bikini line. Cause you know, I could still wear a bikini in those days.

That concludes my list of childhood maladies resulting in trips to the hospital. While it might not be impressive to some, this list far outweighs anything my siblings went through combined, although I have to say, my sister Judy had a few major accidents of her own.

And I wasn’t even a dare-devil. I was just a normal kid doing normal things, and somehow it resulted in 8 trips to the hospital. I don’t know how my mom did it. My kids are 20 and 13 and once my oldest daughter needed stitches. That’s it.

Wow…I guess I should consider myself lucky!

Old House

My daughter has a summer job that requires a lot of my time – she works with my husband at the outdoor event arena that he works at as well. Problem is their shifts don’t mesh, and I am stuck driving her home from most of the events she works. Like at 9:45 pm. I’m not a late night person…yes, 9:45 is late night for me.

Don’t judge – I get up at 5:00 am. Plus the venue is a 25-30 drive from my house. The other night between the travel and getting her food, it was a 90 minute excursion.

I had jobs as a kid – but I lived in a town where you could walk to everything. My first job was working as a cashier in our local supermarket. But the manager was a sour-pussed old man who glared at you from his little office perch and yelled at you each chance he got.

So I quit that job and began working as a cleaning gal in one of our town’s 200+ year old homes. One of the main reasons I took the job was for the pay…$5 an hour. Back in 1981 that was, to quote Jeff Spicoli, “righteous bucks.”

The couple who lived in the home were a nice elderly man and wife. However, they turned out to be a tad, well…eccentric. But I liked that, especially after supermarket sour puss. But it didn’t take long for me to realize these two were not your average couple.

My first day on the job they broke me in by having me clean the kitchen. This would usually mean doing some dishes, cleaning the counters, maybe sweeping the floor, right?

I walked in to see fish heads boiling on the stove. There was a thick, grey foam gathering around the sides of the pot as one fish eye stared at the beamed ceiling. They used the meat that fell off the heads to feed their cats. I really did not relish the idea of cleaning that pot.

But that was not the first of many odd jobs I would be given at that house. I would spend an entire Saturday morning oiling the old wood floors. Funny thing is, I used vegetable oil that came out of a big yellow jug – or maybe it was corn oil. I’d pour about a cup’s worth out, and spread it over the floor with a sponge mop. You know those floors would suck that stuff up almost instantaneously?

There was a small wing of the house that was the original 200 year old portion – a very small cottage that had been subsequently added on to. It was the most charming part of the home; you could imagine some little colonial family living there, and cooking over the fireplace. Yet his pleasant, historic little room was used by the cats as their litter box. It was my job twice a week to find and dispose of all their little turds. Whee!

Did I mention these two were a bit slovenly or are you starting to figure that out for yourself…

I remember one time I had to clean their bathroom & bedroom. The bath had a bidet – I remember thinking, “who the hell needs a bidet in New Jersey?” But the worst was what I found under their bed while picking up their dirty laundry. I found a stack of very old porn magazines. I’m not talking Hustler or Playboy. I’m talking about some shit from the 50s or 60s.

I was horrified. You have to remember, I was only 16 or 17 at the time, and these folks were old enough to be my grandparents. Finding this porn bummed me out – it was like walking in on your parents havng sex…I had a hard time looking either of them in the face for at least a month.

I remember another instance where I was sitting with the wife at her dining room table. I was telling her how a girlfriend of mine at school had died of Hodgkin’s Disease, and how upsetting it was to me. It was at this point that she opened her mouth and let out a very loud, very wet burp. She didn’t cover her mouth, she didn’t embarrassedly pardon herself afterwards, she just kept looking at me and listening.

It was so odd.

All these things aside, they were still a cool old couple. They helped sponsor me when I was in the New Jersey Miss National Teen Age Pageant (now there’s a blog post), and the wife actually helped me write my essay on who I admire the most. She suggested I choose Alan Alda, who I did not admire in the least, but he was from our home town and was big on feminist issues…it was a good hook.

And it was a good job – the work could be hard sometimes – washing the multitude of 12 paned windows with 100+ year old glass in them was no picnic, but you could daydream while you did it. I worked there until I graduated high school and had earned quite a tidy little sum of cash.

I think back on that job, and that kooky little couple from time to time…especially when I see a bidet, boiling fish….

or vintage porn.

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I recently listened to a podcast about jobs that are becoming extinct, and it made me think of George.

For as long as I can remember, a man named George came to our home every Saturday morning/early afternoon to pick up and drop off my parent’s dry cleaning. While the art of dry cleaning clothes is not likely to fall by the wayside like the milkman any time soon, this man actually delivered his services. And nobody does that anymore – not around here, anyway.

Except Domino’s and Papa John’s.

Each Saturday George would spend a few minutes standing in our foyer as my mom took dad’s freshly cleaned clothes wrapped in cellophane, and would hand him the week’s soiled suits. He’d hang them on one arm and talk with mom or dad for a few minutes, then he’d be on his way. He was bald and had a moustache – and he wore glasses.

George saw me grow up in an odd sort of way, one Saturday at a time. As a kid he saw me in my pajamas, in my bathing suit, and with curlers in my hair. When I got older, he cleaned my Leonia High School jacket, and my prom dress, and. And each Saturday someone would chat with him in our foyer. For years and years and years. It was really a very intimate sort of relationship.

And I had sort of forgotten about him until this morning. So here’s to you, George. Thanks for being a part of my family each and every Saturday.

Christmas Tree Pins

This past weekend my girls and I were browsing around the various antique stores in Staunton, VA. I came across a collection of Christmas pins, much like the ones pictured above, and man did it take me back. My mother had a quite a collection of garish pins, mostly given to her by us kids as Christmas presents.

When I was young, I might only have $4.00 or so to spend on my parents for Christmas. I’d squirrel away the quarters and dollar bills pressed into my hands by grandparents or doting aunts, earmarking that stash for my annual trip to the Five & Dime to do my Christmas shopping.

Our Five & Dime, located on Broad Avenue in Palisades Park, was a treasure trove of crap. But it was absolutely perfect for the Bucek children to do their Christmas shopping. Gloves, hankercheifs, ceramic knick-knacks – all could be had relatively cheap, then taken home and wrapped in the discarded funny pages, and placed under the tree.

Dad was hard to buy for. Most years I would buy him a new ink pad, a box of paper clips or a pen. Dull, yet somehow humorous now that I look back. I can picture the father in “A Christmas Story” trying to appear pleased with his can of Simoniz.

KC-05301.1LBut with mom you could get creative. One year I (or one of my siblings) bought her a glass paperweight that looked similar to this one. It had an undulating ribbon of beauty inside that reminded me of a psychadelic flower-covered meadow. I spent hours turning that glass ball around in my hands and peering at all the amazing details inside.

And then there were the pins. Snowmen, wreaths, reindeer and Christmas trees, all chintzy and showy dripping with rhinstones and enamel. Mom would ooh and ah over them on Christmas morning, and would carefully place them in her jewelry box. Every winter when the holidays drew near, you knew you could count on one of those pins being secured to her blouse or her jacket.

How I would love to rummage through my mom’s jewelry box once again and gaze upon all those wonderful treasures we bought for her. And how I would love to stare into that glass globe – wondering what it would be like to run through the flowers.

mother-scolding-daughter-63Do you remember all the stupid things you did as a kid? Things that started off innocent enough, but wound up getting you into trouble?

Once I thought it would be fun to run away, so I tied up a few things in a hankie, tied it to a stick (in true hobo fashion) and walked to the top of my street. I sat on the bus stop for a while, got bored, and went back home. It was a bone-headed move. I don’t think my parents ever knew.

My parents had some good friends that we visited frequently, and they had a girl Arlene who was just my age. Arlene and I would play records and hatch up all sorts of stupid schemes. Once we decided it would be fun to stow away in a department store until it closed and then have fun “playing house” for the night in the bedroom and living room displays. I told my mom about it one day, and wanting to douse what could be a dangerous spark, she told me that after hours they let killer dogs loose in the store. Not wanting to get eaten, we passed on that idea.

A trick Arlene and I always tried playing on our parents was hiding in the car of the visiting family right before they were getting ready to leave. Our thought was, we would stow away in back seat until the car had driven too far to turn back and then “surprise!” Instant sleepover! Problem was, our parents were well aware of this trick and always caught us.

Almost always.

Arlene and I actually fooled them once. They must have forgotten our little joke that night – cause they never checked and Arlene and I were stifling our giggles of excitement as we drove down the block. After 15 minutes or so, I jumped up to surprise them, and found that our little caper was not well received at all. Her parents were pissed, and the ride to her house was a lecture-filled one. Once we got to their house my parents were called and we were sent straight to bed. I had a breakfast of eggs and undercooked bacon the next morning, dreading the ride back home with my father. Lecture #2 was no fun without Arlene along to share in the shame.

Other times you got in trouble as part of a crowd. When I was super young I can remember me, my sisters, and a bunch of neighborhood kids were fooling around in our front yard. Someone found a small square of wood or a shingle and hurled it at a car that was driving up our street. The wood landed in the guy’s wheel well and got whipped around making a horrible sound.

The guy stopped his car, got out and began chasing us up our front steps. The neighborhood kids scattered; one sister hid in the crawl space under the porch, and the other hid in a closet or something. I can remember not being able to get on my feet and crawling on hands and knees onto my porch in a rather frenzied fashion and cowering in the corner. I don’t know why I was so scared. I hadn’t done anything – but I knew my sisters were in serious shit.

After knocking on our door and yelling to my mother about her disrespectful children, the man drove off. And mom? She went on the hunt, eventually finding both of my sisters, boxing their ears while she dragged them out of their hiding places. Since I was merely a bystander, I didn’t get into any trouble. That time.

Yeah, I wasn’t always quite so innocent. When I was a teenager I spent some time hanging around a bunch of kids from the next town over who were considered in “a bad crowd” by my mom. We were looking for a place to hang out one summer night, and I was guided through a parking lot, and down some alleys and wound up on a deck behind a house. I assumed it was one of the kids’ houses – everyone seemed to know exactly where they were, and I just trusted them.

Before long a flashlight was shining in our faces, and we were getting put into the back of a patrol car. I was bewildered because since when was sitting on someone’s backyard deck a crime? Well it was when the deck was on the back of a church. Yes, we had been trespassing and I hadn’t even known it because of the odd way we had come in. I was put in the back of a patrol car with 2 dudes and brought to the police station.

I was put in a chair and my parents were called. But I remained calm because I knew I’d done nothing wrong intentionally. Had I known it was the back of a church – part of the rectory, I think – I would have left in a second. I explained this to the police. I was very polite, and very cooperative, and for this the police berated me. I can still remember one of them saying to me, “And you missy! You think you’re going to get out of this by being nice? You’re going to juvie along with the rest of them!”

My father came to get me, and I won’t say that he wasn’t furious with me. But, when I told him the whole story, followed by how the officers had treated me, he went back to the station the next day and gave those cops a piece of his mind. I know they were just trying to scare me, but still. Cops can be such dicks.

He was less forgiving the time I missed the last bus back to Jersey after seeing Cheap Trick in New York, though. My friends and I had to take a subway to the Port Authority in the Bronx, and walk across the George Washington Bridge, through Fort Lee, and into my hometown of Leonia – all at 2 am. Problem was, my parents had no clue I was heading into New York for a concert. I was due home at 11 and my midnight they were frantic.

I never made it home. My dad had been cruising the streets for hours looking for me and picked me up about a half a mile from our house.  I can only imagine the relief he felt when he saw me hurrying down Broad Avenue unharmed. For that little stunt I got grounded for a month and missed being in the school play.

I was basically good though. I never got caught stealing, never got sent to detention, and aside from my one run in with the cops, have no criminal record. Hell, my last speeding ticket was in the mid 90’s (knock wood).

Wish my husband could say the same. I may have to write about a few of his escapades.

backyard-13One of the best things about my house growing up was the backyard. It was huge. It was a yard you could really play in, but also get lost in, and explore. There were nooks and crannies that could turn a boring Sunday into an afternoon of adventure.

The yard was sort of divided into two sections by a massive Weeping Willow tree. This tree was a great source of fun in itself. The vine-like branches would make a curtain of green that you had to venture through to get to the back portion of the yard. The branches were also good for swinging on when you were younger and lighter, providing you grabbed a hefty handful of them all at once. We had a tire swing from one of the branches for a while, but I think my mom made dad take it down once the rope got a little rotted.

The front part of the yard which was directly out our back door was sunny and open. The right side of the yard was bordered by our ramshackle metal garage and a gate that led to the driveway. Along the garage was a garden which I remember being jam-packed with tiger lilies and ferns. It was unkempt and wild, but sort of cool too – like a jungle. On the left side of the yard was a split rail fence that ran the length of our property, and beside that were these giant rose bushes that would get covered in fat, lazy blooms of white, pink and yellow. There were also pussy willows, forsythia and azaleas.

As a small child, this front part of the yard was great for playing in because mom could see me easily from the kitchen window. Plus the hose was right beside the house and you could beg to have the sprinkler set up here. As a teen, this was THE spot for catching sun. Wendy, Judy and I would lay a sheet down, lay in the sun, drink Diet Pepsi, and watch “All My Children” on a small tv that we would plug into the outlet on the back porch. This was great until a perverted neighbor moved in next door and used to leer at us over the fence. But that unpleasantness aside, I do remember getting just as tan during spring vacation as any of the rich kids who got to go to Florida or California.

When you got past the weeping willow tree, our yard took on a more lush, somewhat darker personality. There were at least 6 maple trees which kept 85% of the back-backyard in shade. To the left was a little grove of dogwood trees and very large, thick patch of pachysandra that was notorious for devouring Wiffle balls. Only a thorough search and rescue mission with a bat or hockey stick could retrieve them.

The right side of our yard was bordered by a broken down wire fence. Just behind the garage was where dad would stack the wood for the fireplace. I hated that wood pile because there were always tons of spiders in there. Plus, I thought it was a brainless place to stack wood as it was pretty far from the back door. We used the fireplace a lot in the winter and let me tell you, making that trek on a cold, dark, snowy night to get more firewood was like trying to summit Everest.

Beyond the wood pile was the 15% of the rear yard that got sun. This is where the blackberry bush and the vegetable garden were. We had a HUGE blackberry bush that would yield hundreds and hundreds of berries. It was a marvelous thing to take a break from baseball or hide & seek to grab yourself a handful of fresh berries. I wouldn’t wash them either; those suckers went straight from the branch to my mouth.

Just beyond that was a small plot of land where my mom attempted to grow vegetables. I remember multitudes of tomato plants, and it was fun as a kid to wander back there and see how they were coming along. Sometimes mom would send me out there with a bowl to pick the ones that were ready, and I thought that was fun because I could imagine myself as a farmer’s daughter rather than just a dopey girl in northern New Jersey. I think she tried to grow corn once, and cucumbers too. However, I only remember picking tomatoes, so I ‘m not sure if anything ever came of the other plants.

One of the best things to do in the backyard was play ball: Baseball, wiffleball, kickball. There was this giant root from the Weeping Willow tree that peeked up out of the ground creating a perfect home plate. As luck or fate would have it, there were trees perfectly situated for 1st, 2nd and 3rd bases. Unfortunately, there were lots of other trees in the yard which made playing baseball cumbersome. Unless you hit a ground ball or a line drive the ball would disappear into the branches and foliage of a tree and bounce around like a plinko chip. You never knew where the ball was going to land. It made the games interesting, that’s for sure.

The very back of our yard was quite overgrown with bushes and bramble. I remember there was always a pile of lawnmower clippings and sticks in one corner, which I think was my dad’s attempt at a compost pile. That corner was musty and moldy and it really sucked if you had to root around that pile for a stray ball.

There were a few bushes that grew together in a such a way that they made cool clubhouses too. Most of these were found out of sheer desperation during grueling games of hide & seek, but they would come in handy on a boring afternoon. It was fun to climb into these little clearings in the shrubbery and pretend you were somewhere else in the world. Or pretend to you were an orphan mountain girl and you had made this thicket your home. Yeah, my yard was an adventure land for a girl with a good imagination. There was always something blooming or growing and you could spend an hour or more walking around peeking into all the little ecosystems and territories.

It was also party central in the warmer months. My parents would throw at least one really good backyard party each year where every table and chair we owned would get hauled out of the garage and the basement and set up all over the yard. Those parties were great…endless food, stories and jokes from relatives, and maybe even some music if my grandfather had is accordion. Once it got dark we’d run out with an old Skippy jar and catch lighting bugs.

It’s sort of a bummer my kids don’t have the same experiences. We never really utilized the yard at our house properly, and it just sort of sits there. Oh, I have dreams of making it into a place where little things grow with paths and benches, but that all takes money, and I have more important things to spend it on. Even hubby, who had a backyard the size of a postage stamp, has great memories of him and his brothers making the most out of the little patch of land out his back door.

Yeah, it would be nice to go back there again. To smell a fat, drooping rose, find a wiffle ball or two, and eat a big handful of blackberries.

 

BrainlessYesterday on Facebook an old high school classmate posted a program from our 8th grade play. I usually eat up this kind of memorabilia with a large spoon, because I didn’t save enough stuff from my youth. Poems or drawings that were in our quarterly school publications are gone, until someone opens up a trunk in their mom’s attic, finds some relic from our school daze and decides to take the time to scan it and share it on Facebook.

So I looked at this program with the hungry eyes of one who wants to remember – to be transported back in time if even for a few seconds. The look of it made me laugh; this was decades before even the most rudimentary version of desktop publishing was available. The program was typed on some electric typewriter in the school office and then mimeographed.

As I read the cast and crew on the program, I saw my name. I was a gypsy singer. Hmmmmm. A gypsy singer? Me?

I have no memory whatsoever of being in this play. None at all. NONE.

I was in a ton of plays in my youth and I remember all of them. I remember playing Cinderalla in the 6th grade play. I’ve blogged about that one before.

I remember being in our town’s production of “The Music Man,” which was held outdoors during the summer of, I’m going to guess, 7th grade. I remember this because in between scenes I would run out into the park to meet up with friends and spy on this guy Erik that I had a crush on. I can still sing all the “townfolk” songs from that play.

I remember playing Eeyore in a silly little production my improv class put on for the elementary school kids. I wound up in the hospital after the show with 4 stitches in my knee from crawling over a nail that had popped up on the stage.

I remember auditioning for a high school play when I was only in middle school.  They needed kids for a few of the segments, and they had us sing a short portion of “Follow the Yellow Brick Road” as part of our audition. After I finished, the director said “Well!” in a pleased manner. I was given a solo in the opening song, but wasn’t in any of the rest of the play. This really bothered me, so my mom, who was also in the play, spoke to director and she let me be one of kids in the “Oliver” segment.

I can remember participating in our high school productions of “The Pajama Game” and “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” Those were almost no fun because the director of those plays always used the same actors for the lead year in and year out. I always got “chorus” which was a bummer, and made me stop trying out for them all together. However, once I was given a part in a one act scene from this play “Vanities”  about three high school cheerleaders – I was given one of the LHS uniforms to wear. Oh boy, I bet that made some of the mean girls snicker…

I remember my senior year play, “Stage Door” where I played Jean Maitland, the second female lead. I also remember how they left my name out of the play’s synopsis in our yearbook.

My point is I can remember all of these productions – maybe not every detail of them, but enough so that some memory of them has a permanent place in my brain.

So why in the world can I not remember one millisecond of having portrayed a gypsy singer in “Young Dracula or the Singing Bat?” Where on earth did those memories go?

I was talking to my friend John about this, and of course he remembered the play, and remembered me in it. This was beginning to feel like a Twilight Zone episode. It was actually really scary. It’s one thing to not think about something for a really long time, but to lose all recollection of it at all?

And then John said something sort of funny…he said, “Well, your busy, and have a lot to do. There’s a lot going on in your life.”

Is that how the brain works? I mean, at sometime in the past did a warning message flash inside my body “hard drive is almost full?” Maybe when my 2nd daughter was born, or when I started my new job did my brain needed to make room for new stuff and simply deleted old files? If so, what other great memories am I at risk of losing?

See folks THIS is why I blog. I need to have these memories locked in cyberspace. Cause like a nude selfie that was posted on instagram or tweeted, even if it’s deleted, what ever you’ve posted is always floating out there somewhere, waiting to be Googled and rediscovered.

Unlike my brain. I need to log onto Luminosity.com