Thursday, 19 October 2017

 

 "The Road Back to Hell"

 This is the bittersweet story of growing up in an extremely dysfunctional home in the 1950's and 1960's. As the oldest child of my biological mother, Bonnie, and my adoptive father, Stew, I was the only daughter who benefited from the strong love my parents shared during the early years of their marriage. Shortly after the birth of my first sibling, Judy, their marriage started to crumble.  

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Thursday, 07 September 2017 12:58

The Boys of Summer

As this swiftly moving summer was ending, I invited my thirteen-year-old grandson, Truman and five of his friends for a sleepover on a Saturday night in late August. These boys had spent the summer riding their bikes all over Brookville; spending time at the dam; sleeping over at each other's home, (many of them at Truman's); playing basketball and football at the school, and of course, playing games on their cellular phones.

The night of the sleepover they drove down my driveway on their bikes, promptly laid them on their sides in front of the house, and ran into our huge yard where they started their first round of football. They broke long enough to come inside for supper and then headed back outside. My oldest grandson, Elliot and a couple of neighbor boys, which brought the team total to nine, then joined them. I stood on the sidelines with Gus and cheered them all on.

Following the football game, they made s'mores over the fire in the backyard. Then they grabbed the largest flashlight I own and ran into the dark night to play flashlight tag. I finally rounded them up about 11:30 and helped them get settled on the sleeping bags and the sofa in my living room. Gus and I went to bed at midnight and never heard another sound.

The next morning, as I was cooking pancakes, I heard one of them sadly say, "This is the last day of summer. It's over." They all groaned because they knew they would be starting in school the next week.

That afternoon after they left, I sat on my front porch reminiscing about all of the great times we have had at this house with our grandchildren over the years. Truman is the youngest, and at thirteen, experience has taught me that this slumber party could very well be the last one. Now that he is a teen, staying at Nonny's will probably not be the top priority on his list, and I understand that. However, if he decides next year he wants to do it, I'll gladly welcome them.

I pray that some of the great experiences they have had this summer will stay locked away somewhere in their memories, and sometime later in life, will cause them to smile. My personal memories of my junior-high years still bring smiles to my face!

When I think back to the summers of my youth, I remember the many sleepovers, the weeks at church camp, and the days my friends and I spent at Lakewood Beach. In the evenings, we often gathered at the Tastee Freeze on Third Street in Jamestown. Whenever I think about these years, my heart is full. "It was a time of innocence, a time of confidences"―these words from Simon and Garfunkel's Book Ends best describe my feelings at that time.

How exciting it was to get dressed in a freshly pressed, sleeveless shirt and a pair of Bermuda shorts and walk across the Sixth Street Bridge to meet my girl friends on a warm summer night. While walking up the hill to the Tastee Freeze, we would laugh and giggle in anticipation of some cute boy we all knew showing up that night. Some nights there would be several cool guys we knew from school, and each of us in our own coy ways, would vie for the attention of a special boy. The most that ever happened was that the one special boy might seek you out and talk with you, and if you were lucky, ask you to go the movies. However, most nights we simply sat around teasing one another and laughing at everyone's corny jokes. It was a time of innocence. The confidences came later when I spent the night with one of my friends and we talked into the wee hours of the morning about someone we had a crush on.

I vividly remember the summer between my seventh and eighth grade years when I developed a mad crush on a boy named Tom who lived two blocks from my best friend JoAnne. He often came to the Tastee Freeze and we would talk. I think, one time, he even bought me an ice-cream cone. One night, he kept dropping hints about how early he had to get up in the morning to deliver newspapers. I assumed this was a hint, and persuaded JoAnne to sneak out of the house with me at 4:30 am in pursuit of him. We quietly snuck out of her house, walked our bikes down her driveway and around the corner, where we jumped on them and road for blocks and blocks looking for Tom.  My heart was pounding when we finally spotted him! I don't know if I expected him to jump off his bike, run over to me and give me a great big kiss, or what, but that did not happen. Instead, he set his bike down on  the grass, walked over and said, "What in the world are you two doing? Spying on me?" I was speechless! When I finally found the courage to speak, I casually said, "No. We were just going for an early morning ride when we spotted you."

"Don't you think 5:00 am is a little early to be out riding around?"

He sounded like my dad. I turned my bike around and shouted, "See ya", over my shoulder. We rode like maniacs to get back to her house and into bed before her dad got up for work.  Back at her house, we tiptoed into her room, fell onto the bed and laughed until we cried.  Now that is innocence!

About a week later, he called and invited me to a movie. I accepted his invitation, but while sitting beside him in the theater I decided, this guy is not for me. End of my Tom story!

The night the boys slept over, I could hear them whispering to one another, and laughing. I was imagining that they were talking about some special girl. I am just grateful that they are still in the 'innocence' stage because, even if they do not realize it now, it is truly the best time in a person's life.

I would love to hear about some of your youthful shenanigans when you were a young and innocent teen!

I hope you have had a wonderful summer, now it's time to enjoy the fall.

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