Thursday, February 08, 2007

More Childhood Memories

Every time I read someone's post about their past memories, I recall more things I could have added to mine. I hope my trips down memory lane are not too boring for you, as they are intensely pleasurable for me.


The house we lived in when I was ages 9 to 12 had a chicken coop on the property; a holdover from the days when it was okay to keep chickens in that area, before it was taken into the city limits. My dad used it as a tool and garden shed, and my mom convinced him that he could share some of the space with me, to use as a playhouse. We scrounged up some carpet remnants and mom made curtains for the windows, and added a small table and chairs. I spent hour upon hour in there, either alone or with friends, having tea parties and playing house. In truth, it was a ramshackle building and sadly in need of repairs, but to me it was a castle. The only downside was that the remaining faint aroma of chickens drew black snakes all too often. The snakes were disappointed to find only dolls and tea party dishes!

I spent most of my time on a bike, when I wasn't in the playhouse or in the woods. I became a daredevil; riding down the hill in front of our house, standing up and not holding the handle-bars. I got away with it most of the time, but I fell once, skidding my knees on concrete and coming to rest with the kickstand penetrating my calf. My knees took almost 5 months to heal, because every time they got a good scab on them, I knocked it off again. I still remember one time when I approached the teacher's desk at school, hit the corner of it with one knee and screeched with pain and the knowledge that I had broken it open once again. If you look closely, you can still make out the scars.


In the summer, my friends and I were addicted to telling ghost stories. Most of us had been to some form of summer camp, where such stories are legendary, and we brought them home to share with each other. I remember sitting in Julie's big walk-in closet, lights out, and being scared to death by the story. Inevitably, at the point where the fear was the greatest, someone would reach out and grab me. I screamed bloody murder on more than one occasion and her mother would come running to see if we had been spirited away. When we weren't telling stories, we played paper dolls. I had boxes and boxes of them, and so did my friends. Little girls nowadays don't know what they are missing! I bought some nostalgic ones for my granddaughters, but they were not too impressed. I guess they pale by comparison to video games.


Our picnics were not too frequent, but when we had one, we did it in style. Sometimes mom would pack a lunch as we would just get in the car and drive, stopping whenever we got hungry. It might be a roadside park or a cemetery or a church yard but the location didn't matter as much as being in the open air and having a great picnic. Sometimes we went to Coal River; I don't know why it was called that. Perhaps a WV'ian will see this and be able to tell me why that is the name. There was a section that had been dammed up and it made a wide swimming area. They had formed a beach with sand brought in for that purpose. There was no place to buy foods or drinks at that time, you had to bring your own. So mom would pack a picnic the likes of which few have seen (except maybe Jen and Angie): fried chicken, ham, potato salad, devilled eggs, biscuits or cornbread, and desserts to make everyone else jealous, plus the inevitable watermelon. Cokes (the old-fashioned kind in 6 oz glass bottles) were flowing like water. I have a few photos from those days; I will post them when I learn how. When I was about 16, a group of girls and I went to the river with a huge inner tube from an airplane tire. It held all 6-7 of us, and we floated lazily downstream. We got so engrossed in our conversation, that we were about 2 miles down river before we realized it. We had to walk back, carrying the inner tube.

My first "date" took place while I was living in this house. I was all of 10 or 11, when a neighbor boy invited me to go to the movies on Saturday. My mom said I could go, but that I shouldn't let him pay for my ticket or my snacks. She sent me off with money for it; his mom drove us there and my mom was picking us up afterward. When his mom let us out of the car, I made a mad dash to the ticket counter and bought my own. I don't think he was happy about it, but then he realized he would have more money for snacks - so he happily let it go. I hope he learned to be first in line after that!

27 comments:

Heather said...

Your memories are never boring:-)

srp said...

I agree, memories are never boring.
Reading yours, I see myself and think we might be cut from the same cloth when it comes to bicycles. See Clutz.

Ria said...

Do you find your memory has changed as you've got older? Are your childhood memories sharper than before?

I'd love to see the photos you mention. Let me know if you'd like help posting them.

:-)

Unga~Chunga said...

I felt like I was there with you! I can relate to the bikeriding. Biking, skating, and sledding (when we were lucky enough to have snow) were my favorite outside activities.

colleen said...

I had The Lennon Sisters Paper dolls. I thought they were so cool. And I used to pretend my bike (always a hand me down) was a horse.

Kevin B said...

This post reminded me of lazy summer days spent roaming around with siblings and cousins at my grandparent's expansive Illinois farm, and also of family driving trips on winding Rte 60 through WV, dodging huge semi-trucks while looking over scary precipices overhanging river gorges, before they completed the more sedate I-64. Thanks for sharing your wonderful memories.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Nothing like "the ol' swimmin' hole." Good stuff, Jude.

Melissa said...

I love your memories.
Black snake=chicken snake...
I had a scab on my knee like that. I kept knocking it open and I still have a scar!

Angie said...

This is an excellent post. I smile so much reading about your days as a girl and a young wife. If you look closely you can still see the scars on my knees too. My girls have always loved paper dolls. They can be hard to find but we have managed. Sometimes my oldest will draw dolls and clothes for the little one to cut out and play with. And the picnics! We have the same menu! Steven loves cold fried chicken, potato salad and deviled eggs. I add in some pickles and olives, something for dessert and it is a feast washed down with cokes or iced tea or lemonaide.

Paul said...

Very good stuff! I like it! Keep it coming!

Square1 said...

Reminds me of summer days spent roaming. Good times. Gladt to see you got the line breaks to work!

Kevin B said...

Hi Judy,
Please stop by my place, I bet you've got one or two good scary stories to contribute. Thanks!

poopie said...

wow judy..you sent me back in time! did you ever have mayo or mustard sammiches on those picnics? i swear we ate those. surely we had some bologna somewhere?#

i wish i'd had a place for a tea party, but if the snake had showed up i'd have fainted. dead OUT.

Müzikdüde said...

I had a memory once...

steelcowboy said...

Sounds like a fun filled youth..

Miz Peg said...

Enjoy sharing your memories with you. Those were the days, huh?

Duke_of_Earle said...

Well, Hello Kenju! Thanks for stopping by "Romantic Ramblings." Hope to catch you there again some time. Can't imagine how you found me. I think, from a quick glance at your recent posts, I'll assign you the song "The Way We Were" (Barbra Streisand -- the one that starts out, "Mem-ries, light the corners of my mind...")

John

Inanna said...

Hey Judy, Coal River was named by John Peter Salley because of a large outcropping of coal on it. I swear it sounds like you were on, what we called, Peytona Beach. I'm sure there are dozens of little areas like that on Coal River. One of the past times in summer is to start tubing where I used to live, which was right on Coal River, and drift all the way to the Kanawha River. The two meet in the city I live in now.

Ivy said...

Hello!
Here via Michele but i'm certainly glad im here.

I remember paper dolls! I remember begging my mom for new ones and being told no. However I dont remember them costing as much as they do now days (Its amazing how much something made of paper costs now days!)

Ivy..

Melody said...

Owww, I love memories like that. Ones that make yo all warm and fuzzy.... Your memories brought back a lot of my own, many similar in fact. It's good to have these down on paper (or in your computer) so I hope you show them to your children, or even your grandchildren. Memories like these should be cherished and shared. Great post.

Here via Micheles...

jane said...

hi kenju,
michelle sent me. enjoyed reading your blog. thanks for sharing your memories.
jane

rugdesigner said...

Wonderful memories; I'm still smiling! And you are right, reading yours has brought back so many more of my own. Thanks for sharing. We can get together some time and compare scarred knees!

Gerbera Daisy said...

I loved reading your childhood memories. It brought back my own childhood memories, some very, very similiar to yours. I made a play house in an old out building/chicken coop. I also not only played with paper dolls, my cousins and I made dolls and their clothing! We had great imaginations...something kids of today are lacking in.

David Parsons WV said...

That was Peytona Beach where you had your fun on Coal River. It still exists, but houses are encroaching on it. You certainly know how to bring back memories of a simpler time when life was less complicated. God bless you!!

tardevil said...

I am ecstatic about the Heels victory. Of course, hubby & I did not discuss it this morning. Didn't want to start the day off on a bad note! :O)

Jennifer said...

I don't know if you remember me or not, I used to post on Happy at Home. I was in the Hearing Loss Association of America chat tonight and someone named Kenju asked a question...was that you?

Femin Susan said...

I loved reading your childhood memories.I agree, memories are never boring.