Cold rain falls in the river, flows down to the sea, gets into the skyline, circles endlessly. Same old rain on the wind, same old pain in my soul.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

growing up

I remember still, a time when the line would go out and my eyes would jump before my hands could react. Just a dirty river behind the barber shop and it didn’t matter how long I fished or what I caught. I was young, it was summer, and there was no place I had to be.
Later, I might find some of the guys and play army behind Pete’s yard, or bike out to the gravel pit, or go work on the tree house on Gilmore’s hill. God, how that hill seemed a mountain back then.
It didn’t matter, what didn’t get done today could easily be had tomorrow. We knew when and what streets Willie the milkman with no thumbs would be on. With just a glimpse of us he’d pull over and we’d buy the best pint of ice cold orange drink a dime could get you, and his smile was genuine.
There was wiffle ball in the “cage” behind the elementary school and if the wind was right, the street could be reached. There were swimming lessons in the morning at Lake Pulaski. A dime would get you a frozen candy bar.
Sometimes, we would follow the street sweeper around town and on Wednesdays, the mosquito sprayers would go around town and kill the little buggers. I’m sure the poison was bad for all but it worked and smelled so good. Other parts of town would be getting the road tarred and that too smelled good to a kid on a hot July day. I might stop by my Grandmother’s across the street. She had orange slices on the table, tapioca on the counter and ice cream bars in the freezer. She loved to play cards, or at least pretended to, and had a great collection of marbles if she was too busy baking.
Our neighbors across the alley had a large yard. On any given day a game of croquet might be had. We also played kick the shoe from their swing set. The trick was to get your tennis shoes hanging from just the toes of your foot and at just the right moment let her fly! If you did it just right, you could put a shoe over the garage three yards away! When you got tired of chasing shoes, we would throw the plastic ball up in the tree above the swings and the swingers would avoid being hit by it’s falling. Simple games.
Sometimes the boys and girls might end up together in someone’s garage and the differences between us, along with awkward first kisses might be learned through dares and made up games. At night there were tents on yards and rendezvous in dark alleys as heat-lightning danced above us.
This was maybe ten percent of the things we did on summer break from school. No one was hurt (too badly) and we learned of life from life. There was no such thing as day care or ADD. Kids were simply different. Drugs weren’t necessary. There was no Internet or video games. Television was five channels, went silent at midnight and we were too busy anyway.
I can still feel the heat, smell the smells and hear the noon whistle of the only factory in town. I remember the coolness of the river and the taste of Eskimo Pies.
I’m not saying the old way is the better way, but it sure worked for me.