Tag Archives: childhood memories

My World as of July 2, 2018

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Tell us about your first bicycle or car? My first bike, the one pictured above, was inherited from my sister, complete with training wheels.  By the time this photo was taken, the training wheels were far in the past and I had about outgrown it.  Christmas brought a brand new Hiawatha girl’s bike— beige with rust detailing. My most lengthy adventure on that Hiawatha involved a ride to the North Dam with my friends with a picnic lunch in our bike baskets.  I also remember riding it on the two-lane highway to White River, pulling off onto the gravel shoulder whenever we heard a car coming up behind us.  It was a different world!

What fictional world or place would you like to visit? I would love to visit a different friendly planet if I could get there quickly and return to earth quickly as soon as I wished to.

If you could have someone follow you around all the time, like a personal assistant, what would you have them do? Organize all my files, then compile stories and poems into books and attend to all of the publication details.  Heaven. When they were finished with that task, they could organize all my photos and convert all my slides to computer images.  I have the machine to do so, but not the time.

What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week?  Please see the video below:

https://theconcourse.deadspin.com/criminal-couples-harrowing-attempt-to-escape-convenienc-1827242416

First Kiss

First Kiss

“Allemande left, allemande right.
Promenade your lady, hold her tight!”
Years later, I recall demands
for touching waists and holding hands.
To “Promenade. Go ’round the world.”
We do-si-doed and faced and whirled.
Square-dancing was called to blame
the day I first encountered shame.

Just six years old and mild and meek,
a boy my age dared peck my cheek.
His mother pulled him off the floor,
then jerked him rudely out the door,
shaming him with words and action
before I knew my own reaction,
which might have merely been a measure
of a friendly mutual pleasure.

Instead, for twelve more years together,
held as classmates in close tether,
much as I perhaps desired
that we might have again conspired,
he never tried what once was censured.
Another kiss was never ventured

’til in our twenties, home from college,
emboldened by our further knowledge,
home briefly for summer vacation,
heartened by a small libation,
finding ourselves in darkened car
up on a hill, his mother far
away in town, we finally kissed,
discovering what we had missed.

Then we went our separate ways—
that one night just a summer’s phase.
Years later, though, I still recall.
that first kiss, and his mother’s gall
over what was a gentle theft
prompted by an “Allemande left.”


The “guilty parties” are, it is true, pictured above, but I’m not one to kiss and tell. This true memory was prompted by today’s “Daily Addiction” prompt of
 promenade.

At Play: NaPoWriMo 2018, Day 16

“Ring Around the Rosie” for my sister’s birthday & a backyard production of “Cowboys.”

At Play

“Annie I Over,” ” New Orleans.”
In shorts or dresses or cutoff jeans,
we ran and threw and played and shouted.
our pent-up energy thus outed.
“Send ‘Em,” “Ditch ‘Em,”  “Cops and Robbers.”
“Poor Pussy” turned us into sobbers.
Do you remember these childhood games?
All vastly varied, with different names?

Before TV or internet,
games were as good as one could get
for transport from reality.
Back when we were cellphone-free,
“Drop the Handkerchief” we knew well
along with “Farmer in the Dell.”
“London Bridge” went falling down
each birthday party in our town.

All the long-lit summer nights
“Cowboys and Indians” staged their fights.
“Cops and Robbers” led to searches
of school ditches and behind churches.
The whole town our playing ground,
each chid lost, each child found
in hours long games of “Hide-and-Seek.”
Count to one hundred.  Do not peek!

In childhood games of girls and boys,
imaginations were our toys.
Does such magic now reside
in minds of children safe inside
their cushioned worlds of rumpus rooms,
sealed safe within their  houses’ wombs?
For dangers real now lurk in places
that formerly hid playmates’ faces.

Safety dictates different measures
for insuring childhood pleasures.
But oh, I remember so well
joyful flight and heartful swell
of friends pursuing through the dark
back then when life was such a lark.
Now children seek  play differently
on cellphone screens and Smart TV,

scarce imagining a world
with internet not yet unfurled.
Our world had not yet been corrupted
with connections interrupted
with wireless servers on the blink,
for we needed no further link
than friends pounding upon our door
to come outside and play some more!

 

daily life color161 (1)Stylish cowboys Karen Bossart and sister Patti.

 

This is a rerun of a piece from two years ago.http://www.napowrimo.net/day-sixteen-5/

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24 thoughts on “At Play”

    1. lifelessonsPost author
      Me too. Why don’t adults ever play these games? I guess in Britain they used to…The one where one person would hide and when they were found, the person who found them would crowd in with them. More and more as the bame progressed until everyone was in one confined space with just one person left looking for them.

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      1. Karen Bossarts Rusthoven
        Oh, Judy! This was wonderful! Those were the days. What ever happened to childhood?
        Thanks for the memories! I’ll see you in September. Love you! Karen

        Liked by you

    1. lifelessonsPost author
      Did you play all of those? I’ve never met anyone else who played New Orleans. My sister and I were tryng to remember what happened after the “it” person droped the button into your hand. Wikipedia just says that everyone tries to guess who has it and the one who does then gets to be “it.” That doesnt sound very exciting, though. I thought there was some chasing involved, but perhaps I’m confusing it with “Drop the Handkerchief.” Charmingly naive names for these games, as were the rules. But what fun they were. In the winter, Fox fox Goose.

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  1. Venkatacharya
    Those were all wonderful days. I used to play many games that you mentioned above at my childhood during those years of 1950s and 60s. We miss all this happiness now.

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      1. lifelessonsPost author
        Thanks, Mary. My poetry group doesn’t quite know what to make of my humorous rhymed stuff. They don’t want me to put any of it in our new anthology, which they say is intended for more “serious” poetry…But the rhymed humor cheers me up, too, when it decides to appear, so I keep welcoming it with open arms. I will describe Poor Pussy, Poor Pussy in a post.

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    1. lifelessonsPost author
      Thanks to sister Betty, at least for the first seven years of my life.Then I took over the role of family photographer, or Patti did when the photos were of me. I now take more photos in a week than we did in ten years back when it was a bit more work and a lot more money to get a photo.

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      1. lifelessonsPost author
        Is the story about the women in your family the 1500 word story you were talking about? I enjoyed it. Didn’t seem rambling. I’d enjoy knowing who the people were in the photos, though.

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  2. Mary Francis McNinch
    I longed for the simpler world, before Internet and real danger lurked. Tonight I cried. Cyberspace became a stranger, now I feel like a two faced jerk. Truly Judy.. I love the way you tell it like it is or was.

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The prompt: write a poem that prominently features the idea of play. It could be a poem about a sport or game, a poem about people who play (or are playing a game), or even a poem in the form of the rules for a sport or game that you’ve just made up 

The Holy Apewoman of Mexico

This post made years ago at the very beginning of my blog answers today’s prompt of “conjure” perfectly, so here it is again after a small edit:

The Holy Apewoman of Mexico

th-8th-9th-6

 My dialogue takes place between my 7 year old self and my 70 year old self who, ironically, is writing this in Mexico.


Childhood Dreams

7
The mysteries
of Grandma’s barn
and basement—
whole lost worlds there.
Our own attic—a door held down
by a gravity never challenged.

I wanted to see
the hanging gardens of Babylon,
Mexico and Africa—
all these places from books,
their pieces jumbled together
like puzzle pieces
in the deep recesses of my closet,
scattered,
but ready for assembly
some day
when I would
make my future memories
happen.

70
I crouch with myself at seven—
sharing imagined dangers
in deep closets,
trying to conjure the world.
So many small town stories
overlooked
while I dreamed of living
in those fairy tale places
of Bible stories
that stood on a shelf
sandwiched between
the Bobbsey Twins
and Tarzan.

Some of us spend our lives
trying to be like books,
then spend our old age
trying to remember childhood,
mainly remembering
childhood’s dreams.

*

The prompt word today is conjure.

Unvarnished Truth

The prompt today was “varnish” and whenever I hear that word, I think of a certain lady in my far past. Here is a story from an early blog that will tell you why.

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First Friends

I am three years old, lying in my Mom’s room taking a nap. I can hear voices in the front room. The world comes slowly back to me as I rouse myself from the deep sleep I swore I didn’t need. I hear my mom’s voice and the voice of a stranger. I slide my legs over the side of the chenille-covered bed, balancing for a moment like a teeter totter before giving in to gravity and letting my feet slide through space to the floor below. I creak open the door, which had been left ajar. My mom’s voice gets louder. I smell coffee brewing and hear the chink of china coffee cups in the living room.

I hear a dull rubbing sound and move toward it—through the kitchen to the dinette, where a very small very skinny girl with brown braids is sitting at the table coloring in one of my coloring books. She is not staying in the lines very well, which is crucial—along with the fact that she is coloring the one last uncolored picture in the book which I’ve been saving for last because it is my favorite and BECAUSE I HAVE IT PLANNED SO THERE IS SOMEWHERE IN THAT PICTURE TO USE EVERY LAST COLOR IN MY BOX OF CRAYOLAS!

I sidle past her, unspeaking, aflame with indignation. Who could have—who would have—given her the authority to color in my book? I stand in the door of the living room. My mom is talking to a mousy gray-haired lady—tall, raw-boned, in a limp gray dress. My mom sees me, and tells me to come over and meet Mrs. Krauss. They are our new neighbors. They are going to live in Aunt Stella and Uncle Werner’s house two houses down. Did I meet their daughter Pressie in the kitchen? She’s just my age and Aunt Stella and Uncle Werner (who are not actually related to us, but just friends of my folks) are her real aunt and uncle.

The gray lady calls Pressie in to meet me. She is quiet and I am quiet. Then we go back to color at the table together. We drink orange juice and eat potato chips. We will be best friends for what seems like a lifetime but what is really only until we approach adolescence. I will have a love-hate relationship with her mother, who will continually set up competitions between Pressie and me to see who will win. She will try to coach Pressie first; but still, I will always win.

Pressie and I will play hollyhock dolls and dress-up. We play, sometimes, with Mary Boone; but her parents are too religious and don’t think we’re nice enough to play with her very much. I want to put on neighborhood plays and circuses, but none of the other kids want to perform. I want to play store and school, but Pressie eventually goes home to help her mother varnish the floors.

Pressie’s house is full of loud brothers and a sulky teenage sister. It is full of high school-aged cousins who tease us unmercifully and old ladies who come to play Scrabble with her mother. It is full of a missionary sister who comes back from South America and married brothers who come from Florida with babies that Pressie and I take charge of.

Pressie’s house is full of slivery floors that are always in the process of being varnished or de-varnished. There is one drawer in the kitchen full of everybody’s toothbrushes, combs, hairpins, hair cream, shampoo tubes, old pennies, crackerjack toys, rubber balls, lint, hairballs, rolled up handkerchiefs and an occasional spoon that falls in from the drain board above it. They have no bathroom—just the kitchen sink and a toilet and shower in the basement, across from the coal bin and the huge coal furnace. Their toilet has a curtain in front of it, but the shower is open to the world.

Sometimes when I am peeing, someone comes down to put coal in the furnace or to throw dirty clothes in the washtub next to the wringer washer. I pull the curtain tight with my arms and pray that they won’t pull it back and discover me, my panties down to the floor, pee dripping down my leg from my hurried spring from the toilet to secure the curtain. To this day, I have dreams about bathrooms that become public thoroughfares the minute I sit down. To this day, I get constipated every time I leave the security of my own locked bathroom.

Pressie babysits with the minister’s kids for money. I go along for free. She spanks them a lot and yells a lot. I think I can’t wait until I’m old enough to have kids so I can yell at them, but when Pressie is gone and the minister’s wife asks me to babysit, I don’t yell at them.

At Christmas I can’t wait to have Pressie come see my gifts: a Cinderella watch, a doll, a wastebasket painted like a little girl’s face, complete with yarn braids, books and toilet water from aunts, a toy plastic silverware set from my sister, stationery from my other aunt, playing cards, sewing cards, paint by numbers, a new dress. I run over through the snow to Pressie’s house to see her presents: a new pair of pajamas, a coloring book and new crayons, barrettes and a comb. In her family, they draw names. Quickly we run to my house, but she doesn’t pay much attention to my presents. She is funny sometimes, kind of crabby. The more excited I get, the more withdrawn she gets.

Later, I want to make snow angels in the yard and feed leftover cornmeal muffins to the chickadees, but Pressie wants to go home. Pressie always wants to go home. What she does there, I don’t know. She doesn’t like to read. None of us will have television for another five years. She doesn’t much like games or cards. I don’t know what Pressie does when she isn’t with me.

When she is with me, we take baths together and sing the theme music from “Back to the Bible Broadcast,” washing our sins away in the bathtub. We play ranch house in our basement. We pull the army cot against the wall and put old chairs on either side of it for end tables. We upend an old box in front of it for a coffee table. My grandma’s peeling ochre-painted rocking chair faces the army cot couch. We sneak into the hired man’s room and steal his Pall Mall cigarettes and sit talking and smoking. We rip the filters off first, which is what we think you’re supposed to do.

Pressie will always stay longer if we smoke. I blow out on the cigarette, but Pressie inhales. We smoke a whole pack over a few weeks’ time and then go searching for more. When the hired man starts hiding his cigarettes, we discover his hiding place and learn to take no more than four at a time so he doesn’t miss them. When he has a carton, we take a pack and hide it under the mattress on the army cot. My mother wonders where all the filters are coming from that she sweeps from the basement floor, but never guesses our secret.

Pressie spends more time with me than before, drops by almost every morning and always wants to go to the basement to play and smoke. Then the hired man finds another room and moves out and when Mrs. Church’s granddaughters come to visit, I will want to play with them but Pressie won’t. Then we will pair off—Pressie with Sue Anne, the girly one, me with Kate, the boyish one. We have a little war—mainly instigated by the sisters.

When the new farm agent moves in with two daughters—one a year younger than Pressie and me, the other a year younger than my sister Addie—I want to ask the girl our age to play with us, but Pressie won’t. I have a slumber party for everyone—all the girls we know. I invite the new girl, whose name is Molly, but no one talks to her much. She is shy and doesn’t push herself on us. No one else ever wants to include her. I go play with her anyway and spend the night at her house. Her mother is nervous, her dad cocky. Her older sister laughs nervously under her breath a lot, as does her mother.

Many years later, by the time we are in high school, everyone has accepted them. By then, all of those girls have parties where I’m not invited. They are always a little reserved when I come up to speak to them. Maybe they’re always reserved. How would I know how they are when I’m not around? Later, they all got to be pretty good friends. But in the beginning, I was everyone’s first friend.

 

The prompt today is varnish.

Sweet Clover

Getting ready to leave for Minnesota in an hour, so I’ll rely on a poem written two years ago that meets the demands of the prompt word today, which was “honk.”

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Sweet Clover

Before our dad told us its real name,
we used to call it wild mustard.
What did we know about sweet clover except for its color
and that summer smell, cloying in its sugared perfume.
It filled the air and smothered the plains—
bright yellow and green where before
brown stubble had peeked through blown snow.

On these dry lands, what flowers there were
tended to be cash crops or cattle feed.
Sweet clover or alfalfa.
The twitching noses of baby rabbits brought home by my dad
as we proffered it to them by the handful.
Fragile chains we draped around our necks and wrists.
Bouquets for our mom
that wilted as fast as we could pick them.

Summers were sweet clover and sweet corn
and first sweethearts parked on country roads,
windows rolled down to the night air,
then quickly closed to the miller moths.
Heady kisses,
whispered confessions, declarations,
unkept promises.
What we found most in these first selfish loves
was ourselves.

The relief of being chosen
and assurance that all our parts worked.
Our lips accepting those pressures unacceptable
just the year before.
Regions we’d never had much congress with before
calling out for company.
That hard flutter
like a large moth determined to get out.
Finding to our surprise,
like the lyrics of a sixties song,
that our hearts could break, too.

Hot summer nights,
“U”ing Main,
cars full of boys honking
at cars full of girls.
Cokes at Mack’s cafe.
And over the whole town
that heavy ache of sweet clover.
Half promise, half memory.
A giant invisible hand
that covered summer.

IMG_1056

The prompt word today was honk.

White Boots with Tassels

JudyBen1954This is the only photo I have of me wearing the white boots lauded in this poem.  Too bad the tassels aren’t showing! That’s my dad being silly and sporting as a hat a centerpiece brought back from Mexico by our neighbors.


White Boots with Tassels

Hand over hand, hand over hand—
we were a little twirling band—
Sharon, Diane and Meridee,
Jerilyn, Sheila and me.
We felt that we were in cahoots
as we donned our tall white boots
that sported tassels hanging down,
strutting them all over town,
dropping batons we soon retrieved
and we all truly believed
one day we’d be good enough
so we would come to strut our stuff
before the band, wands held on high
then thrown aloft into the sky.

Those dreams, alas, soon became dated
when our high school mentor graduated,
going on to college where
her baton rose to higher air
while ours were relegated to
shelves that sported a single shoe,
old castoff dolls and castoff dreams,
Teddy bears ripped at the seams
and small batons barely abused
because they were so rarely used.

Yet in our dreams, we strutted tall,
the finest majorettes of all—
batons twirling as they rose high
above us far into the sky,
returning safely to each hand
in sync with music from the band
we marched in front of, pert and sassy,
our tasseled boots sexy and classy.
Big girls now grown up from small,
the coolest high schoolers of all.
The truth of this, alas, it seemed,
 to be something we merely dreamed. 

The prompt word today was strut.

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