Wednesday, January 28, 2009

BEING BORN SEVENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO

What does it mean to have been born 75 years ago? Well, the obvious things. I don't remember seeing a television until I was in my teens and a computer--nah. No way. Cars certainly didn't have them and you certainly couldn't scare up yahoo or google. If you needed to do research you went to a library. You walked to school--at least I did. I don't remember ever being driven. I lived in Minnesota--in Minneapolis--and during the winter I would walk through cold grey mornings all bundled up but I walked and I enjoyed it. During the springtime there were showers--rain storms--and we'd put rain gear on and we'd walk. One of the streets would flood and after school we'd put on bathing suits and paddle around in the water.

Given there was no television or computers for entertainment we'd play outside or we'd read. I'd join a bunch of kids on the street and we'd play games--Hide And Go Seek being the one that comes to mind. I was very much into books. I remember fondly a little library about a ten minute walk from where we lived. I went to that library religiously once a week and brought home exactly seven books each time. I read one book a day. At the end of the week, back I would go with the seven books to get another seven.

There were two ways you could walk out of my neighborhood: the way that led you the opposite direction from the library led through an empty lot (if you were disinclined to take sidewalks--which I was) to a country road in the middle of the city--odd, but there it was--to an old house that looked to be deserted. Oh, you could go on from there but I often stopped because I wondered about that house and whether it really was deserted. Being curious I used to squash my nose against a windowpane and look in. I did that any number of times; then one day found a woman staring out at me. She was probably tired of having me poking around her property. Anyway, she scared the Beejeezus out of me.

I avoided the house after that. Still, I would take that route when I wanted ice cream. There was a little shopping areas in both directions but only one way led to a store that sold nothing but ice cream and that, my friends, was Mecca. Another thing different about being born 75 years ago? The ice cream cone cost a dime.

The other way you walked out of our neighborhood led past a spooky site that had never been built on that had springs or a creek running through it. I had to go that way because it led to the library. There was probably a story behind that big piece of property but I never heard it. I'd imagine all sort of horrible things coming out of that bog to get me. All I know is I'd breathe a sigh of relief when I'd get past it safely. Up a hill, turn right, up a sidewalk to a little string of shops, to the library--and bliss.

I didn't like school. On the way I would slow my walking to a crawl and all of a sudden I'd find myself late! Or almost late! That was far worse than having to go at all. In the winter I had an advantage as I could walk through a solid, unbroken string of yards. Wonderful to go the way of the yards and know, on a morning of a fresh snowfall, that your footprints were the first to grace those yards.

4 comments:

JKB said...

You are not old. I don't believe it - not one bit. :)

marsh to the fore said...

Jen, with my foot up on a stool today because of a very obstreperous knee, I don't believe being old maybe-old can mean a lot of things and old I don't feel, but I am aware of the passage of the years and what they've meant!

Anyway, it was so good to see your comment here. I am now wondering how you are. I think I'll check your site!

Love Marsh

Heidi said...

what great memories! I think I could write something like this for my own kids already... we walked, no computers or microwaves or DVDs - and the TV only got three channels and you had to get up to turn them!

That list could go on and on. Nothing like progress to make us feel old, eh?

marsh to the fore said...

I keep forgetting how recent so much of this is! You're so right. And now there's not going to be DVD'S, there's going to be Blue something or other. You can't go through a day that something rather major doesn't start moving toward being something else.