Childhood games and the Old Ice Box

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The games of childhood can bring back wonderful memories.  Times gone by in a world that too has changed drastically.  It is amazing at times how any of us survived those days, when children ran and played without much supervision at times.  Our childhood weekends were spent with our cousins who were most certainly also our best friends.  Those days were filled with love, laughter and games of hide and seek, kick the can and tag.

The games provide wonderful memories, yet also moments of protection from guardian angels watching over us.  I remember vividly, one such game of hide and seek.  I must have been around six years old at the time.  We were happily playing in our yard and finding new places in which to hide from my brothers and my cousins as they searched for us.  It was a sunny summer day and I remember the excitement as I most certainly found the best spot ever in which to hide.  Surely no one would ever find me.

As my cousin started counting we took flight to our destinations.  Excitedly I ran as fast as I could around the side of the house and into our back yard.  Under the tree sat our tent trailer and I was headed straight for it and close on my heels behind me was my twin brother whom I grabbed and asked for his help with my hiding spot.

Quickly I climbed up on the front of the trailer, lifted open the door to the ice chest and raced inside.  I knew this would be the best spot that no one would find me in.  As I lowered myself in the ice box, I saw my older cousin Donald look my way as I climbed in.  Donald must have been ten or eleven at the time.  As I slipped inside, my twin brother quickly shut the lid behind me as he then raced off to find his perfect spot to hide.

Excitedly I sat in that dark, hot ice box outside listening to my brothers and my cousins run around it looking for me.  No one could ever find me!  I won!  I listened as they gave up searching for me one by one and the game ended. 

Minutes passed away as I pushed up on the lid to get out and revel in my victory.  My enthusiasm quickly vanished as fear flooded over me, the door would not open!  I was trapped!  Anxiously I began pounding on the lid, sweat dripping down me as I sat crying and alone in the dark, trapped and unable to leave.  No one heard me and they had all gone off to play something else.  I was left behind and alone in that ice box as fear washed over me of being trapped inside.  How soon I regretted this choice to hide in as I could hear my playmates running around playing something else, yet realizing none of them could hear my cries.  Sobbing, I sunk into my resting place certain I would never escape.

After what seemed hours, yet in reality was only about twenty minutes, to my surprise, the lid opened and I saw Donald’s face staring down at me as he reached to lift me out.  Overcome with relief and joy, I grabbed a hold of his hand and climbed our as fast as I could.  I was soaking wet with sweat and tears yet so overcome with emotion I could only cry. 

Apparently my mother had begun asking everyone where I was.  My mom had noticed that I was missing and began looking for me.  When she asked my cousin Don if he had seen me, he said that the last place he had seen me was  awhile ago climbing in the trailer.  He ran and lifted open the door to the ice box and found me crying in the dark box.

The ice box had a latch on the door that prevented me from opening it on the inside.  That ice box latch was removed that night, never to be used again. 

This event has altered my life forever.  I am certain beyond any doubt in Guardian Angels and the daily involvement in our lives.  I am forever indebted and grateful to my cousin for him being there for me.  I am also claustrophobic as a result of that hot dark ice box.

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Childhoods Lost in an Everchanging World

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Freely we roamed the neighborhoods as little boys.  We spent many hours chasing frogs, catching snakes and jumping our bike across the canals.  We were free to roam and explore with little risk.  The weekends we would spend with our cousins chasing through the fields for miles on end, walking to the local movie theater and climbing trees.  Life was simple, grand and quite the adventure.  Our lives were much like the adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.  We were always exploring and finding new adventure.  We would be gone from sunup to sundown.

Now as my children are of similar age as I was during those youthful adventures I find myself reminiscing much about those wonderful days full of innocence and filled with adventure.  I look at the dramatic change in the world we live as the freedoms we enjoyed as little children have been lost for this generation.  Gone are the innocent days of adventure.  Our children’s childhoods have been replaced with an ever increasing vigilance to protect them from the harm that others would do to them. 

As I reflect upon these days for me, I am reminded of the joys I found while exploring and roaming.  I search for ways to provide these same opportunities for my children while balancing the increasing need to protect them.  In many ways, in this world we live, the innocence of childhood has been lost. The repercussions of which we may not know for generations to come.

A New Bike and the Apple Tree

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As young boys, my brothers and I desired greatly to have a bike and learn to ride them.  We dreamed of feeling the wind in our faces and racing each other around the block.  Our friends all had bikes and we watned one too.  We were young and didn’t comprehend that they cost money to buy.  We didn’t have much money, we were not given new bikes, my dad built us our bikes out of old broken and salvaged bicycles he would find. 

I remember watching him nightly as he would take the bikes completely apart, replacing broken parts on one bike with good parts from another.  As always, with any project he started, the time and detail he spent making sure everything was perfect was unmatched and his workmanship was better than anything we could have been given new. 

When my dad finished with each of our bikes, they were shinier and better built than anything we could have gotten out of some box in a store. We were excited and anxious to learn to ride them.  Our eyes were filled with wonder and imagination as we watched the painstaking effort and detail spent on each bike.  This combined with the excitement and anticipation we felt as young boys has left a profound imprint upon my mind.

We learned to ride our bike around the old apple tree in our front yard.  The rotten apples would make for a bumpy journey around and around the tree as my dad dutifully chased after us.  There were many crashes and bruises as we continued circling that tree, yet the excitement of learning to ride our magnificent bikes made the challenge of learning seem null and void. 

We felt so invigorated as we learned to keep our balance along that bumpy grass and we gained a great sense of balance and gratitude along the way.  We learned to ride on that grass and around that tree to soften our landing when we would crash.  My father knew we would crash and fall many times and wanted to keep us as safe as possible as we learned. 

Finally we graduated to the street in front of our home.   My dad would run behind us holding the back of our seats before letting go. We would find ourselves on our own journey down the streets imagining to ourselves that we were racing the train that passed in front of our home. 

Eventually we were off and riding on our own.  We would spend hours each day riding around the neighborhood.  We were cowboys and indians racing across the plains on our horses to the police officers in the tv show CHiP’s.  We would race along the canals and jump the banks.  We lived on our bikes in the summer months and very seldom crashed.  We had develped great balance and coordination riding over the old apples in the front yard.

I fondly reminisce about this time in my life. The memories of my father running behind us and my mother proudly watching us as we took flight on our bikes flood my mind.  I cannot help but think of the lessons that were taught during that important time in my life.  Lessons of gratitude, humility, trust and perseverance are among some of the things we learned. 

I learned that a loving parent allows us to journey along a sometimes bumpy path in life for our own growth and development.  Paths that make us more balanced and capable.  I learned how loving parents desire to give us those things that we want, yet sometimes they require great effort and sacrifice to obtain.  I learned to be grateful for the gifts that I have been given and to live within my means.  Sometimes in life, the things we desire the most must be torn apart, cleaned, repaired, painted and reassembled where they become new again and stronger than before.

There are so many lessons about life that were taught when we learned to ride a bike.  I am grateful for wise parents who taught us by example and not just word.  I am grateful to know that each time I fall, I can get back up stronger than before.  Lessons for life learned around the old apple tree.

 

image courtesy of free clipart

 

 

Childhood Memories – Rafting the Green River

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We spent many summer vacations traveling by camper around the west coast with our family, aunts, uncles and cousins.  These wonderful opportunities to be with our cousins have provided many of the great and amazing memories of my childhood.  My cousins and us were very close friends growing up, that closeness can still be felt today at those rare moments when we are all together.

One such memorable trip was to Flaming Gorge and river rafting the Green River.  River rafting can be such an exhilarating experience, especially for young children.  We would launch the raft below the Flaming Gorge Dam and ride the current, with its many rapids for seven miles, all the way to the first stop at little hole.  We would unload the raft, load it on top of the truck and do it again.

Oh wow us kids had fun!  We would fish along the banks of river as we anxiously awaited for our turns to ride.  These were wonderful times we spent together in nature and great opportunities to build friendships.

My dad was a avid fisherman so we would also fish along the river as we gently floated along.  My dad fished this river often and knew all the best fishing holes to stop in along the way.  We would pull off to the shore and eat our sandwiches and have ice cold soda.  Afterwards we would all head to the campsite where we would eat dinner in front of a roaring fire, roast hot dogs and marshmallows. 

One trip down the river was uniquely memorable and extremely different for us than all the others.  I remember I had to have been about ten years old.  We floated gently along river in one of my dad’s fishing holes, when a couple of the fishing lines became tangled together.  I can still vividly see my father as he sat on the back edge of the raft working to untangle the lines.  He was wearing his faded blue fishing hat, his tan fishing vest and his legs crossed in front of him at the ankles as he worked to untangle the mess we boys had made with our fishing poles.

My dad, being the expert fisherman he was, quickly untangled the lines, replace the hooks and bait on the first pole and handed it back to us.  He then went to work on the next pole, replacing the hook and the bait.  While we floated gently along the river, the raft suddenly dropped a couple feet as we went over the first of many rapids ahead of us.   My dad had his head down of course while working on the fishing pole and was unaware that we had gotten to the next set of rapids, as minor as they were.

As the raft dropped out from below we watched in panic as my father fell over backwards out of the raft.  Everything moved in slow motion as I watched my dad first reach for his precious fishing hat and then the fishing pole.  He gathered himself and prepared to ride the rapids with his hat in one hand and the fishing pole in the other.  There was no sign of panic in his face whatsoever.

I turned to watch the rapids and in wonderment watched my cousin Deb, who must have been about sixteen at the time as she paddled her little heart away attempting to reach my dad.  The amazing thing is that as fast as my cousin Deb was paddling you would have thought that she would have defied the current of the river and moved us upstream faster than any propeller could have.  Sadly, Deb forgot one little thing as she paddled her little heart out…… she forgot that the oar had to go into the water in order to be of any benefit. 

My dad could see her paddling and missing the water.  He laughed as he caught up to the raft and held on.  Safely we made it through the small rapids and over to the shore where my dad made certain we were all safe and then climbed back in to complete our journey.

This image of my dear cousin as she frantically tried to reach her Uncle Dave and save him while missing the water all together has stayed with us over the decades.  It’s a memory I treasure, not only for the humor, but for the amazing times with my mom and dad, my aunts and uncles, and my cousins and the love for the outdoors I developed as a result of these amazing trips.

Childhood Memories – A bucket of sand

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One of the most memorable stories of my youth involved a beach.. a cousin… an uncle… and a bucket of sand. My dad convinced my cousin Marilyn during a family vacation to California to sneak up behind my uncle Gail with a bucket of sand…  My uncle Gail always wore cowboy boots and jeans… and here we were at the beach and he was sitting down watching the kids play in the water… he didn’t suspect a thing although he should have known better. Marilyn who did anything Uncle Dave asked dutifully obliged my father and dumped this bucket over Uncle Gail’s head… while my dad videotaped it of course…   Imagine the laughter as we watched a teenage girl in sandals outrun a cowboy in his boots on the sandy beach as he chased her until he couldn’t run any more….  He never did catch her…