Hello, my dears,

Here’s the first installment on the childhood memories. I have to warn you that one night while I was trying to go to sleep, I began thinking about some memories to share, convinced that I’d have to dig deep to retrieve them, and once I began was so overwhelmed with them I had to get up and start jotting them down as fast as I could. So watch out, we may have loosed a flood!

As most of you know, the streets here in the cove have been a total disaster while they are putting in the sewers, storm channels, drains, curbing, and repaving. The last couple weeks, there’s been lots of loose gravel right where Sharpless runs into Chuperosa, (just across from my driveway). All day long, sitting back there in my cave, I hear the cars crunching through the gravel — not too many, since basically only residents brave these streets. The first few times I heard it, it brought back a memory from childhood. You remember where the house in Glenrock sits; when I was a kid, that was totally on the outskirts of town, and the street was unpaved. Not many cars drove up around there unless they had good reason, and so hearing a car crunching the gravel meant it might be someone we knew, maybe coming to see us. So I’d rush to those big front windows to peer out (having climbed up that “secretary” Dad built — oh heck, you didn’t get to go inside, did you? This will require more explanation later) to see who it was. Now fast-forward to my teens: I was still (now nonchalantly) rushing to those windows at the crunching of gravel on the chance that my current boyfriend might be slowly driving by — who, of course, would be (nonchalantly) driving by hoping to see me. Whether I would give a wave or go outside would entirely depend upon careful calculations of how that would appear — did I want to be seen, showing interest? There weren’t a whole lot of fun things for teens to do; movies, athletic events, or in the summer, the park, (mainly to watch baseball,) or the swimming pool, so that left driving around town seeing and being seen. All that memory just from hearing the gravel crunch under tires!

I have other memories of those streets in front of the house: the “little hill”, left standing at the door, looking out at the street, and the “big hill,”, to the right, it being longer and steeper. (The street which now continues on down to the cemetery and freeway access was not there then, or at least in it’s present form.) The “little hill” was the scene of many a bike trick, (Look ma, no hands!) or even standing on the seat of the bike while still holding to at least 1 of the handlebars. It surprises me now that my mother allowed that one. These bike tricks were a big deal for me, especially since I had a hard time learning how to ride. I think I must have been in about the 3rd grade when I got my first bike (for my birthday; I had accidentally come across it in its huge box downstairs, because I went to get the dress-up clothes one day. I think I pretended that I hadn’t seen it yet, but I’m pretty sure they realized that I’d known about it, parents being what they are.) No such animal as training wheels in those days, so with my little group of neighborhood friends, all of whom could ride, I’d actually just run along with them, pushing the bike, to keep up, but not actually daring to mount it! Is that silly, or what?! Finally, the brother of two of the Gooder girls (Virginia and Georgia), Gary, took pity on me and would keep his hand on the “passenger seat” in back to balance me, and little by little took his hand away till I could ride off unsuspectingly and confidently. Bless his little heart — most of the time he was our tormentor.

In the winter, the little hill and the big hill made for great sledding. The big hill was more dangerous because there was an intersecting street at the bottom, and cars on snow might have trouble stopping in time. The other reason, though, was what held me back: it was just longer and harder to climb back up the hill with the sled to ride down again! So I mostly used the little hill, and the hill of the vacant lot next door. (Keep in mind that when I was really little, there were no houses on any side of our house!) On that lot, we used the scoop shovel more than the sled: one would sit in the shovel’s scoop, legs folded in, Indian-style, facing the handle, which you held up in front of you. It was a bit of a challenge to hold that up; lose even momentary control of the handle, and you were unceremoniously dumped off. But it was all fun, even if you got dumped over and over. I remember playing outside for hours and hours in the truly frigid winter, going in only when I was soaking wet and freezing, or was called to dinner. One didn’t go in and out much, because it was just too much trouble to put on and take off all those coats and leggings and boots and hats and mittens!

I have a lot of memories about the winter. The snow was often so deep that unless you walked out on the road which had been plowed, you couldn’t make much headway (or unless you had a lot longer legs than I had!) because at each step, your foot and leg would sink down in snow up to your hips. Then you’d have to kind of use your hands to pull that leg up again, only to start all over with the next step. We needed snowshoes, but I don’t remember ever having them — maybe adults did. On many occasions, it was so cold that my nostrils would freeze together if I didn’t keep a muffler or mask on. In one huge blizzard and storm, we literally had to dig our way out of the house; the snow was higher than the door. Dad had to make a tunnel, which of course I thought was wonderful. And the wind blew so hard, that he had to walk down to school to get me, because I could not stand up against the wind; he would carry me all the way home. Usually, after the first really big storm of the season, the snow would be there to stay until Spring. Often it would blow up into deep drifts, and new snow would fall on top of the old, layer upon layer. Even though the sun would shine and the sky be blue, the temp was so cold the snow didn’t melt much. By the end of the season, it was really ugly, because it was full of dirt and weeds, and rocks. Driving was a hazard; but you learned how to drive safely early on. I remember the first time I drove out onto the highway, on hard-packed snow and ice, when I braked, the car spun completely around in the middle of the highway. Scared me to death. I learned the hard way, not to put my foot down hard on the brakes! I pulled back over to the station (that’s a whole other story for another time), and shakily got out. Dad made me get right back into the car and try again (after he told me what I’d done wrong) so that I could conquer my fear. Later on, he may have had second thoughts, if he knew that sometimes I’d spin the car around on purpose — at a corner where there was no traffic and you could see for a long way. I’d figured out by then just how much and when to brake, allowing the car to slowly skid around. Wheeee! Like I said, there wasn’t a whole lot of stuff to do! Oh, and I remember hanging out clothes and gathering them in, frozen stiff. If the sun was shining, they’d kind of dry, but still be stiff as boards. Unless, of course, the wind was blowing — which was a good part of the time.

Well, that’s enough for the first round. I’ll just add an update on the streets up here; at last Chuperosa Lane is paved — actually only from the house just below me, and all the way up at least as far as I can see. Terrace is still a disaster, and right there by the church parking lot, it’s like off-road driving — in my little car, a very rough ride. Once you get below that, it’s paved all the way down Van Fleet — luxury! So the end is in sight; it’s been more than 6 months since they began.

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Mom and I were talking the other day about the wonderful e-mails she sent out last year with some of her childhood memories when it suddenly occurred to me how easy it would be to set up a blog for her and copy and paste them in. I was thinking about how cool it would be if we had a way to interact with those memories as a family, sharing our thoughts and feelings . Blogging can be such a wonderful tool to stay connected, especially for those of us who live far away, and I can’t think of any group of people that I want to interact with more!

So welcome to your blog, mom! I hope you find it comfortable with lots of room to grow.