Thursday, January 10, 2013


Back when I was a pre-teen, it was sorta what I'd call the olden days. There were no personal computers, no cell phones, no remote controls for televisions. When my grandparents refer to their younger days as "the simple times," I, too, look back and think that compared to my daughter's generation, mine in its youth was indeed a simpler life.

As a little girl turning into a teenager, the days of playing with Barbies seamlessly led to innocent yearnings for teen idols. With things much "simpler," our glimpses of Davy Jones, Bobby Sherman, Donny Osmond, and David Cassidy were from a possible weekly TV show, Tiger Beat and Sweet 16 magazines, and album covers. While putting away some old photo albums the other day, I came across this page torn from an old Life Magazine.  The image was from some story about farming or something or other. As a 10-year-old, this picture was pinned to my bulletin board. I remember thinking he was the handsomest being I'd ever laid eyes on. I knew I'd never get Davy Jones to love me, but this random boy in a wheat field might just walk into my life one day and love me then and the rest of my life.

That got me to thinking about growing up in the 60s and 70s. How the limited TV shows and reception rendered our summer days filled with sunshine from the moment our feet hit the floor until we were bathed for the night, wearing crisp cotton seersucker pajamas  and smelling like baby powder. Our posse was a roving mess of mischief and imagination, running barefoot from back yard to construction sites to neighborhood pool. Summers lasted forever back then. Once back in school, the afternoons held us girls hostage by the daily phone call with the best friend. She and I would have been together all day, but had a world of things to talk about once back at our home bases. And with a landline kitchen wall phone, the conversations took place on the linoleum floor, changing from lying on your back to sitting with feet propped on the wall, a curly cord in hand to play with, completely immune to who might be trying to call (only to get that annoying busy signal). We had no microwave ovens, and so popcorn was dangerously prepared on the stovetop with a pot and oil (which is right up there with bicycle helmets not having been invented; it's a wonder our generation survived).

I had an autograph book, yes an autograph book. I didn't save it, so I have no idea whose autographs I collected, but I remember it being filled. At Christmastime, we counted down the days until Rudolph, Frosty the Snowman and The Grinch came on TV. There was one, only one, opportunity to watch these half-hour gems (we had no video recorders/players or DVDs). At one of my first jobs, working in a German bakery in our small town, I rang up the orders on an old-fashioned cash register. And we tied our white bakery boxes with red and white striped baker's twine long before it became the craft rage. I learned to drive in a car with a stick shift and a manual choke. 

And the boy in the wheat field . . . he never materialized. Not as a boy. Not as a man with leathered wrinkles from too much sun and an endearing paunch from too many breakfasts smothered in country gravy. May my daughter look back on her youth and think that they too were simple times. And may she find her boy in a wheat field.


Claudia said...

I've written on this very subject before. They were simpler times. And I'm grateful to have experienced them. There's a great deal to be said for the way in which we grew up. Long days outside with our friends, imaginative play, not being tethered to a phone or computer - all of it sounds kind of perfect.


Elizabeth said...

Love this post a lot Dawn! You pretty much summed up my endless summer days as well. Did you guys ever have "party lines" I remember my parents doing this for a short time, and you could hear the neighbors conversation full on if you picked up the phone. Wow, can you even imagine that today!!!

The saddest thing I notice today, when I drive around any neighborhood, that there are no children playing in their yards or anywhere for that matter! When my girls were growing up in the late eighties and nineties, I made them play outside, and we never bought video games. They played endlessly like I did in the summer time.
I hope that when they have kids, they pass this on.

ali said...

i absolutely love this post and your writing... you sparked some great memories for me by sharing yours. thank you.

ali said...

i absolutely love this post and your writing... you sparked some great memories for me by sharing yours. thank you.

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