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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Another Ramble

This is the first post I have ever attempted to do without at least a good idea of what I am going to write. (I don't know how other people do this kind of things, but what I do is see/hear/remember something and then do a general outline in my head. Then I sit down and write it from beginning to end in one fell swoop. I never go back and correct or change except for spelling and gross grammar mistakes - at least the ones I see). This one is just coming as I type, basically because I felt it was time to do a post for my adoring fans (I know they are there somewhere!). I was thinking about how life today is soooooo different, especially for kids, than it was was for me. (when I start waxing nostalgic like this, I always have a deep seated desire to put on a cardigan, some slippers, and develop a quiver in my voice, but I digress) I cannot imagine my world as a kid adding computers, video games, 100+ channels of TV, cell phones, and all the other modern "conveniences" that are taken for granted now. In my day (excuse me while I button my sweater) we were lucky to get a stick. (and in keeping with an earlier post - see "Perchance to Play" from 11/29/07 - it would have been a pointed one) Add a tin can and we were rolling. Seriously, I cannot imagine what it must be like now. My kids all have complained about being bored. I complained about being bored. Although not MAJOR metropolitan areas (with the exception of my two oldest when they were little, being in the Ft Lauderdale/Miami area) we have always lived in or around cities. My town was of a size (HOW SMALL WAS IT?) that I have stayed in more than one hotel that could have given a room to every man, woman, and child and still had room if a bus showed up. (granted I am talking about some of the largest hotels in the world, but you get the point) When we had nothing to do, there was nothing to do. When kids now say they have nothing to do, it means no one is on-line, or their phone battery is dead, or all the shows they watch are in re-runs. Oh, we had TV - all three channels - four if you counted PBS. (no one counted PBS, back then they were a REAL educational channel and it was like going to school to watch) Excitement when I was growing up involved someone getting a bigger stick. (or a sharper one) I did build treehouses. Or tree platforms, being more accurate. We would nail 12" - 18" slats to a tree as a ladder and climb up to a level of two branches that were close to perpendicular to the ground and parallel to each other (I can hear my math teachers now - "See I TOLD you geometry would come in handy!") We would then nail boards across the gap between the two branches to make a platform. I probably built ten or so of these things. One or two of them were probably thirty or forty feet in the air. (it seemed to be hundreds of feet when you looked down, but I know it wasn't) Oh, the adventures. I had one friend that climbed up into one of the "treehouses" and through a rope accident (we used a rope to pull up anything that we needed in the tree) fell out. A thirty or forty foot drop! We thought he was dead, but he got up from the leaves he fell in and walked home a while later. That same treehouse was also the site of one of my finest hours. I decided to revisit this treehouse years later when I was in my teens. I climbed up, but as I did the rotten boards that had been nailed to the tree as a ladder - broke. So, I was in the tree (thirty or forty feet - that seemed like hundreds) without a way down. (unless I took the falling route, but...) So, I was rescued by the fire department in a few hours. I don't remember how I got help as we had no cellphones?!? I guess I just yelled. That was the entertainment for the town, and particularly my family and friends for a while. They all were very anxious to relive that over and over and over....for weeks! Glad to have been of service. In the post I mentioned above, I talked about the playgrounds we had and in particular the slides. I was not kidding when I described these megaliths. A playground was not compete without a tower of terror located somewhere on it. The playground behind the elementary school had several. Each was higher than the last. The first was five or six feet off the ground at the starting platform. The tallest was six hundred and thirty-two (well maybe I embellish a bit - more like fifteen or so). I saw many a kid reduced to a quivering mass about halfway up that ladder. There was usually an older sibling involved egging them on - "Come on, don't be a baby!" "What are you chicken?" "Do it, you'll love it!" Meanwhile the five or six year old would be bawling their eyes out, gripping the ladder handholds like a baby koala on its mother and just praying for the sweet release of a quick death. As the older brother/sister cajoled them to go "Just one more step", the sheer terror on their faces was satisfaction of a job well done by an older mentor. The other great thing about the design of these slides was - they were constructed of steel. No stinkin' plastic for us. We had slides made of a grade of steel that would absorb the summer sun like a high-tech heat sink. When you finally made it to the top, sliding down would sear the skin from any exposed body parts like a steam cleaner. (an added benefit - in winter it was colder than cold. I always suspected Lord Kelvin deduced absolute zero after a winter trip down one of those metal slides) And you could not get a quick trip. The metal was of a finish that unless your skin was bone dry (rather difficult outside in 100 degree plus weather) you would take about twenty or thirty minutes "sliding down". With your skin sloughing off during the trip, it was a marvelous event! But, we were always fighting to be the first up. (then again, WE had nothing to do!) Ah, good times! (ramble complete)

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