Showing posts with label memories. Show all posts
Showing posts with label memories. Show all posts

Monday, May 31, 2021

Sunflowers on Memorial Day

Tall sunflowers blooming in summer in las cruces

These sunflowers are standing tall and still in the heat, as if they know of the solemnity of Memorial Day.

"All gave some. Some gave all."

pretty sunflowers in a field

My father was an ensign in the U.S. Navy in World War II. Beyond dirt poor and extremely thin, he borrowed as many coins as he could from friends and filled his pockets, so that he could "make weight" and enlist. His first non-home haircut, his first train ride, his first venture out of a small town in Louisiana, all courtesy of the Armed Forces. 

His first swimming lesson: He could jump, or he could be tossed from, a high platform into the deep pool below, in San Diego. After seeing a few thrown off the diving platform, he jumped, despite his intense fear of heights.

In the mess hall in San Diego, the sailors were served two "alligator pears" each at every meal. One of his buddies bit into his, right through the peel, then spat it out, quick. "It's bitter," he said. Not having seen them before, or even having heard of them, he, like many other country boys, threw them out, untouched. 

My father loved to tell that story. "I threw away a fortune in avocados," he would say, ruefully. "If only I had known."  

Something else courtesy of Uncle Sam: A Harvard education, free, gratis, no strings attached. And no say in it, either. You signed up, you took their tests, you went where they said to go. My father wanted to study engineering and serve on a ship. No, said the Navy. You are going to be an actuary.

I do not glorify war, but I do not want the wars forgotten. But as the history teacher at our school was explaining, the wars of our fathers and the wars during our youths will be as big an abstraction to today's students as the War of 1812 is to us. It will carry no emotional import, even second-hand import. Although I was not yet born, the tales of WWII are vivid in my mind, were vivid in my childhood; part of it, ever-present, really. 

His remarks really distressed me. "It's how it is," he said. "Just remember, as long as you can. Just remember." 

sunflowers memorial day

Kind regards,

Olde Dame Holly

Monday, April 26, 2021

The Games of Childhood

Here is a bit of "growing sunshine" to brighten your morning. I think it is called Damianita Daisy. The blossoms are born on short, woody stems, and these plants are always in xeriscapes.

damianita daisy desert low shrub

The comments on the "Toad Catcher" and Mulberry Time posts got me to thinking. It is common now to think children don't play as we used to do. The world is certainly changed, and I can remember when childhood went from quite free to greatly curtailed, from considered safe to considered unsafe, when it went from outside exploring to inside lives, from being raised by family, usually mothers, to spending much of the waking hours in some sort of paid care.

I am not weighing in on judging it all, today. Rearview mirrors and rose-colored glasses are not reliable ways to view the world! What is that grammar joke? "We tend to find the past perfect, and the present tense"? I think both past and present have their good points and their bad. And I also think life is lived forwards, understood backwards.

But the children of today may be playing more old-time games than is realized.

The students at school line up by the front office on their way to the playground. Sometimes I can hear their conversations as they wait to file out. At school, they wear traditional uniforms and walk with their hands behind their backs, and wait with hands still clasped. And they chat about what they are going to be playing. 

Oh, it is so cute, their ongoing games. Last week among the "lower school" it was all talk of being Day Bats. Now, don't ask me, but it seemed to be they are different color bats, of different ranks. They are awake in the day and fix problem situations. I thought it was charming to hear them excitedly speak of moving up to be Blue Bats, or bemoaning dropping back down to an Orange Bat. I think it's based on the rainbow somehow.

When I go get the mail, I see also the little "houses" the even younger kids have created, out of the landscape rocks and the flowerbed bark. 

And I hear the old, old chants from childhood repeated now, fifty years later: Ring Around the Rosey, Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush, London Bridge. 

Grades 3 through 12 all have jump-ropes, too. The boys are as good as the girls at it. And they play tag a lot of the time. The big kids are not above chasing each other: Flirtation disguised as a slow game of tag.

Some of the kids are bookworms, of course! That was me, nose always in a book. And the students are reading the same series, the "classic" books! The horsey series by Walter Farley and Marguerite Henry; the Little House books; The Borrowers; The Witch of Blackbird Pond; On Your Toes, Suzie; and the late Beverly Cleary's books. All the old favorites are there.

Something I haven't seen, nor do the students seem to know about, is clapping games. Girls played a lot of clapping games at recess, played to a chant, when I was young. I can still recall some of them. Girls and boys alike played table-slapping games clear into college. 

When I was young, we played four-square in the street. It was probably our most favorite game in the preteen years. Mudpies was my absolute favorite as a younger child. We used the little foil tins from pot pies to hold our creations. Pot pies were a weekly meal for many of us, so there were pie tins galore.

The streets of suburbia were thronged with kids in those days! Kids were literally in the streets with the four-square games, or riding bikes, or digging up tar and popping tar bubbles during the summer. There was lots of roller skating and pushing box scooters along the sidewalks. I can, to this day, "skate" my block, remembering the idiocyncracies of every inch of sidewalk, and sometimes at night I return to that long-ago childhood and skate along in a sort of waking dream. I can see each house and recall every neighbor, yet I can not picture my current neighbors' homes in any detail. 

Housing was still being built apace during the Baby Boom, so there were lot-sized gaps along the route, and we'd run across those weedy areas with our skates still on. Skateboarding was not common in our area, and I didn't know of it back then.

Of course, we drew hopscotch on driveways and sidewalks, too, and girls played jacks, but by my childhood, jacks was waning in popularity so I didn't play it often. I was glad; my hands were so tiny I couldn't gather more than three jacks up. To a child's mind, it is important to win, or at least make a good showing.

So take heart; it isn't ALL video games and TikTok now. Some of the old games still survive. Can you recall games of your childhood?