Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Simple Times

There was a time when life was easier and safer. Children were able play outside without fearing that someone would attack or steal them. I was accustomed to leaving the house with dawn streaking across the morning sky, dew sparkling like fairy dust in the grass and going a half mile away with an old tin can to catch polliwogs in the creek. Then, possibly rollerskating or hanging from the highest limbs of a big maple tree by my knees . Life was good and fun was free. If I did something wrong, like piddling in the urns at the old orchard site, someone in the neighborhood would drag me home for the appropriate punishment. They might even smack my behind and my parents would thank them for their concern.
Parents never thought about buying all the latest toys on the market, though there weren't that many anyway. Little boys had bicycles, baseballs, bats and maybe fishing poles. They could always make their own poles out of a stick, a string and a hook swiped from Dad's tackle box. Picking up night crawlers with a flashlight was a guy type of fun in itself. An old tennis ball was good for lots of things. Little girls has some sort of doll, a baby blanket, roller skates and paper dolls. They could always make the paper dolls out of a Sears Catalog model and then design clothes on drawing paper. Crayolas were a staple as long as they had a point, enabling you to color inside the lines of the coloring Book. ( you could sharpen a crayon on the sidewalk by scraping the edges) We coveted the box of sixty-four, but settled happily for the box of twenty-four. Oh, how we loved the silver and gold ones!
We had three meals a day, but if you missed lunch because the polliwogs were jumping into your tin can, then you would certainly eat a better dinner. Sugary treats came at the end of dinner and were called dessert. People worked and played hard and were not overweight. I cannot remember ever having soda pop in our home as a child. Even birthday parties served milk with the birthday cake. If your birthday was right after Christmas, there was no party. You just became a year older.
When I was starting third grade, we moved to southeastern Ohio where my sister and I had to have vaccinations to start school. The smallpox vaccination almost killed us... we were so sick, but the doctor wasn't called. Oh, they'll get over it ... and we did. We didn't go for regular check-ups, but when we had strep throat and bronchitis, the doctor came to the house and painted our throats with iodine. (penicillin was not around, yet) Rheumatic Fever was treated by staying in bed until we could walk again. During the third grade, we lived in two cities and went to three different schools. WWII was just ending and there was a housing shortage. Nobody would rent to a family with five children ranging from nine to eighteen. Dad taught English, Economics and Sociology in high school during the day and was an attorney (JD) at night. When our rental home sold, we split up for six months. Dad took the two boys and went to his sister's home, so he could teach and they could finish high school. The oldest sister became an au pair for the next door neighbor, so she could finish her senior year of high. Mom took the youngest two girls and went to her Dad's in southeastern Ohio. Grampa was a draftsman for the Sunday Creek Coal Company and lived downtown in a little town, above the local Elk's club. This is where I became aware that there are black children in the world, but children are truly color-blind. I was blond haired, blue eyed and pasty white. They were black haired, brown eyed and brown skinned, but we all could do leg spins around the teeter-totter bars and giggle like all little girls do. My sister and I had to race the delivery truck to the paper stand every Wednesday, because there was rationing and we each could buy a Mounds Candy Bar for our Dad back home in the big city. It was Mom's gift to him, because you couldn't get them in a bigger towns. The drunks from the Elk's Club used to stagger upstairs and fall down in the back hall, where they would drink the dregs of Grampa's beer bottles. Were we scared? Yes! But, were we abused? No! People were of a higher moral quality and grown-ups took care of kids. From the milkman, who chipped pieces of ice out of the sawdust to the policeman on the crosswalk, adults were there to make kids safe and special.
By the end of the third grade, Dad was building a house to get us together again. He hammered and nailed late into the night after teaching school all day, but we went along to keep him company. It was a wonderful place outside the city, where I could wander in the woods all day and play in the creek. The gypsies camped on the other bank of the creek, but nobody ever worried that they would take me --- or were they wishing that I would disappear?
In middle school, all girls needed was a jump rope and a set of ball and jacks to keep them happy at recess. The boys were still tossing baseballs and wrestling on the playground. Nobody worried about the swings being dangerous or someone getting a concussion by falling off the teeter-totter. We have become pro-active and worry about everything under the sun, instead of reactive after the "God-forbid" has happened. Without television, we went to bed when it got too dark to play outside or you played games with your siblings or read books. It was a lovely time, when people were not on Prozac, chasing their tails or eating themselves into obesity. The pendulum swings both ways and I wonder when it will swing back to simpler times. The times were safe and uncomplicated and wonderful. "Everything we've wanted, was everything we had. Honey, take me home, let's go back to yesterday." Niel Sedaka

Thursday, June 1, 2006

Twenty two years ago today, a beautiful baby girl was born to our youngest daughter and her husband. This was a first baby after one miscarriage, but unfortunately she was born with very little brain tissue. She existed on this earth for nine and one half years and then took flight to be with The Lord. During that time, our daughter had four more miscarriages, one little boy and another child just like our Courtney. That child died at birth. I think of our granddaughter many times ... on holidays, birthdays, the anniversary of her death and when dusting her pictures, etc. The many women who have lost children know the horrible feeling that goes with the loss... the whys, did I do anything wrong, what happens to cause these kinds of problems? In this case, we have thought probably the diethylstilbesterol I had taken twenty-three years before, when I was pregnant caused our daughter's many pregnancy related difficulties. I suppose I am writing today to warn young women, who were born between the early 1950's to the 1980's that their mothers may have take this drug to prevent miscarriage. If your mom is still alive, ask her if she took any medicine while pregnant. You could be a DES Daughter and need to talk to your physician about it. To my wonderful daughter and son-in-law.... our hearts are with you today as always.