Growing up in a tiny town near Greensboro, N.C., I can remember being a kid and playing in the yard, getting skinned knees and bee stings. That’s what we did “back then.” I remember picking up pecans and climbing trees and riding my bike. We had a rotary dial telephone. What is that you ask? It’s a telephone that had a dial with holes in that had a handset attached to it with a curly cord, and the entire thing was attached to another cord that made it work! We did not have air conditioning until I was about 12 years old. Window fans were placed in our windows to draw the hot air out of the house, and indoor box fans blew hot air around inside the house. We had a gravel driveway, and I sometimes had to help fill in holes in the driveway with a rake or a shovel so we wouldn’t blow a car tire driving in and out of it. Listen to this; we did not have a weedeater!!! I can, believe it or not, remember using handheld clippers and having to go around the outside of the house and flower beds and trim the weeds BY HAND!!
My grandfather used to take my sister and me to a nearby store, and we got to pick a bottle of Coke out of the metal cooler and play pinball while he sat around and discussed world issues with the other locals. Getting that Coke and playing pinball was the highlight of my week. Grandpa would give me a quarter to clean his glasses with a paper towel and soap and water. A quarter! My other favorite thing was going to Woolworth and my mother buying me a 45 rpm vinyl record that I could play on my red, plastic record player that I worshiped. By the way, I was only allowed to get the record if I had been good that week, and if I didn’t get one, I was devastated. We hung our clothes on the clotheslines behind our house in the mornings and took them off the clotheslines in the afternoons, and if a storm sprung up, we had to run outside and snatch them off quickly, before the rain started.
I am not going to reveal my age but trust me; my upcoming birthday is a milestone birthday. In my mind, I’m still that little girl, but when I look in the mirror, I get a shock! Sometimes, people say, “you should be thankful to have a birthday, think about the alternative.” I am very thankful. I am also very thankful to have air conditioning, a washer and dryer, a paved driveway, a weedeater and a cell phone that can play music at the touch of a finger.
I wonder what the children of today will be saying in say, fifty years. What will their childhood memories be? As a mother, I’ve done my best to make sure those memories are good ones. My husband and I aren’t rich, but of course, we’ve tried to make it better for our children than when we were growing up. But, who’s to say what’s better? Yes, times have changed, but good childhood memories are good memories no matter what. Right?