Monday, June 22, 2009

I Miss Mayberry, too


Rascal Flats had a song out a while back called "I Miss Mayberry". Here's the chorus:
Well I miss Mayberry
Sittin on the porch drinking ice cold Cherry Coke
Where everything is black & white
Pickin on a Six String
Where people pass by and you call them by their first name
Watching the clouds roll by
bye bye.

The song paints such a nostalgic picture and it got me thinking about how things were so different when I was a kid and how we have an entire generation of children growing up with some of the most amazing technology but sadly missing out on some of the most simple, pleasurable things life has to offer.

As a child, instead of sitting in front of a computer my biggest and happiest pastime was to: Go outside and play! It was also a child raising philosophy my parents exercised to the fullest - bless them. I have such vivid memories of playing hide and seek outside at night with the neighbor kids with only a caution from mom and dad to, "Not stay out too late, now."

Bunches of us would go down to Beaver Creek (yep, Beaver Creek) and take turns swinging out over the old swimming hole on a ratty rope. Some of the kids had horses and we'd clamor up on their backs without benefit of saddles, bridles or crash helmets. We'd run barefoot through the gravel, fly down the middle of the street on our bikes (again, no crash helmets) or in the winter, grab our sleds and race down the steepest street in town, or lace up our skates on a cold winter day and then play chicken on the ice rink that my dad (who was the town cop) had made for us by flooding the high school's baseball diamond.

I have vivid memories of having to use an outhouse (I was VERY young), of an old man who used to wheel his wheel barrel full of fresh sweet corn door to door selling it and the scent of my mom's lipstick and Evening in Paris cologne.

As a teen it was all about Dippity Do for my hair, drive in movie theaters, hemlines, making the rounds to the local teen dances, peanuts in a bottle of Pepsi - because it was well known that the combo could make you a little drunk - at least we liked to think so.
It really was all very innocent and black and white and I hate it for our kids and their kids that they can't indulge in such simple pleasures and freedoms because of the fear and safety factors and yes, because technology has replaced the "go play outside" methodology that so fosters a child's imagination and broadens their actual personal experiences.

Our son and our goddess of a dt-in-law work very hard to bring those simple things to the table for our grandkids but they lead such busy lives that it's difficult for them. That's where Gramma and Grampa come in. :o) We try very hard to introduce some of those simpler pleasures to our grandkids when we get the chance. That's why I loved Kathy's post about the garden and teaching her little ones about the origin of vegetables so they can see where they come from. It's also why I love getting our grandkids up to our cabin where we have campfires at night, take bath's in the lake (it's a tradition to take at least one bath in the lake per visit), look for gnomes in the forest and visit the BEAR - which is what we call our second bathroom, aka the outhouse. :o)

So, what about you all? What do you miss from the good old days? And if your good old days aren't that long ago, what do you wish you could have experienced from the Mayberry generation?

34 comments:

Playground Monitor said...

And here I thought peanuts in a bottle of Pepsi was just a southern thing.

I actually grew up in NC, home of Andy Griffith and Mayberry and my parents gave him a ride once when he was hitchhiking to his job playing Sir Walter Raleigh in the outdoor drama, The Lost Colony.

But I digress. My childhood sounds a lot like yours minus the swimming hole. My boys are old enough that their childhood wasn't dominated by a computer, but they did have some video games. I'm lucky, though, because we had woods behind our house and they both loved to stomp around in those woods. We'd fixed them a place to pitch a tent at the very back of our lot and we dug them a firepit so they could roast hot dogs. They made their share of s'Mores too. (So did Mom *g*)

What I miss most is the sense of innocence that allowed us to play kick the can at night in the neighbor's yard and roam the neighborhood on our bicycles (with playing cards clothespinned on the wheel so they'd rake against the spokes and make noise) in a gang. We had 2 break-ins in our neighborhood last week and everyone's watching over their shoulder now.

Marilyn

Angie Ledbetter said...

Glad I grew up in simpler times too, where playing outside all day until dark was the standard. Sorry my three teens didn't have that.

Great post.

Cindy Gerard said...

Marilyn that is so cool about your parents giving Andy a lift!

Another thing I forgot this is so vivid was that my Aunt and Uncle had a dairy farm. We'd drink fresh milk right out of a pitcher in the refrigerator with the cream settled on top. And we used to feed orphaned calves with big bottles. I can still hear their little smacking sounds as the milk ran down their chin.
And yes, it was so innocent. So sad that it's gone.

Agnie - when we'd come inside after playing all day, I can still remember the smell of sunshine and dirt on my clothes :o)

Helen Brenna said...

I miss catching fireflies. They were always to pretty to watch in a jar. Seems like we don't have them around any longer. Then again maybe my tolerance for mosquitoes has dropped considerably.

I know my kids have definitely been impacted by the technological age and the "fear factor", but they have some great memories from when they were little. Camping, fishing, making play dough cookies. Spur of the moment trips to DQ. Home made popcorn has become a novelty! How's that for funny? And they've always done night games outside. Oh, and picking wild black raspberries! We have a patch not far from our house!

Good thing kids have grandparents like you, Cindy, to give them a taste of the simpler life. They will so treasure those times at your lake cabin.

Cindy Gerard said...

Helen you're so wise to make sure your kids got those opportunities.
And YES to homemade popcorn. Mom had an ugly old heavy pan, she'd put the oil in, we'd wait for it to get hot, then she'd drop in a couple of kernels and when they popped, she'd dump in the rest then drizzle the whole batch with real butter. Yum yum.

Debra Dixon said...

My step-father is an Eagle Scout and he made sure all the boys did all the outdoors things.

My dad was a water sports guy so the kids all had their fill of lakes and streams and fishing.

The whole family had a canoeing fetish for a while so all the kids camped and either floated or canoed the rapids (or stayed in camp swinging off ropes) depending on the age.

But my kids didn't really have the neighborhood "come home with the streetlights come on" experience. They were supervised from dawn to dusk and then whisked inside.

Fast forward to today's 8-10 year olds and they are definitely missing some experiences. Most of their parents either have no time, no money, and no access to make these memories happen. And yet, there are still kids that fish and drive trucks on country roads and camp and (ugh) hunt and build beach bond fires and grow vegetables themselves and...

So, maybe those of us who have these memories are making sure to pass them along?

Christie Ridgway said...

I grew up in suburbia, so what stands out in my mind is my visits to my grandparents' "farm" in Oregon. They had horses, chickens, raised a cow (steer? I'm such a city girl) for beef. I remember standing on a horse's back in order to pick peaches and then eating them sliced, still warm from the sun, with my grandmother's homemade whipped cream on top. Best food ever.

Also, we were able to have fireworks when I was a kid. My kids can't have 'em in my county (fire danger).

But though we live in suburbia now too, the kids have always used their imagination. We have a 3-story treehouse with an ocean view and the pool and the Legos etc. have always provided play away from the computer. We're also the corner house and the neighborhood is chock full of boys, so it's always been Fun Central here. I think they'll remember their childhood as pretty Mayberry-like.

p.s. The group of women I go out with every month--we all met through kindergarten class and we call ourselves the "Mayberry Moms."

Michele Hauf said...

That whole 'outside' thing seems to alien to our kids nowadays, doesn't it? I always made my kids go outside and play, but sometimes it was a struggle. Nintendo and tv and talking on the phone and computers always seemed more interesting. I know they could never gauge the complete joy of just being outside.

When I was a kid we'd be out all day. We lived in town, and would hop on our bikes and ride for many blocks (our mother didn't even worry). Some days she'd actually call us inside--just to see us. Because we were out and about so much. Making forts out of blankets and lawn chairs. Running around in swimsuits all day and having water fights. Going 'camping' with our barbies and the barbie camper.

Sigh...

Kylie said...

I miss being able to wander all day in the summer and only come home for meals. There was a huge school yard right across the street and it's property was fringed by a woods and river. Now mind you, my parents didn't *know* I was roaming the woods. But we had a blast playing tag on the dirt trail, catching crawdads in the river and building forts.

Across the road the river continued and was hemmed by a large pasture and then more woods. Unbeknownst to my parents, LOL, we'd walk across the dam barefoot, ice skate on the river and play in the tree fort someone had built in the woods.

It was all outdoors, all physical exercise and based on imagination rather than sitting mindlessly in front of a video screen. I get nostalgic just thinking about it.

Cindy Gerard said...

Deb - here's to passing the experiences along. I love Helen's note about popping real popcorn :o) I think that's a perfect example of how parents can get involved with their kids with very little cost. Heck, remember when we used to make tents in the back yard by stringing an old quilt over the clothes line? It was too much fun!

Christie - my mouth waters at your description of those Oregon Peaches!! And yea for you for realizing that you kids need that 'imigination' time. It's just so easy to let the TV or the computer do all the entertaining. You have lucky kids!

Cindy Gerard said...

Michele - yeah. Big sigh. Maybe it's our youth we're missing as much as the 'way it was' :o-0

Kylie - our school grounds were like that too. The play yard gave way to a woods that gave way to Beaver Creek. I used to sit in the elbow of an old maple tree right on the river bank and pretend I was Jane waiting for Tarzan. and when the creek was low, I'd walk it looking in the sand for clam shells. When I think back, if my mom knew some of the fool hearty things I did, she never would have let me out of the house.
All that daydreaming in that tree paid off though. Still spinning stories in my head only now I get paid for it :o)

Liza said...

I remember leaving the house after breakfast with the only rule being you had to be home by dark. You ate lunch with your friends, either the one you packed or what they were having. We rode our bikes everywhere. We lived really close to the school, so in the summer it was our playground. All the kids in the surrounding area would meet up and we played kickball, softball, baseball, football or whatever we wanted. Now all of the playground is fenced off so no one can go in during the summer. We didn't have a swimming hole, but there were always sprinklers and slip-n-slides to be found.

My dad also took me fishing all the time when I was growing up. There is nothing like sitting on the bank fishing or just riding around in an old boat. My siblings didn't like to fish, so those trips were normally just me and my dad. I still love to go to the lake with him and just ride around. We still fish some, but more riding than fishing.

Cindy Gerard said...

Liza - it sounds like heaven. My dad loved to fish too. One time he took me to a farm pond with my cane pole (talk about an Oppie moment). anyway, something tugged on my line and I jerked the pole so hard i flipped the fish up onto the bank - only it wasn't a fish. It was a snapping turtle and when I saw it I dropped my pole and ran away screaming.

Caroline said...

Ahh, love your post. I do miss the good ol' days a lot.

Growing up we lived on ten acres out in nowheresville, California. I would ride bareback up to my frineds house where we'd play the game of LIFE all day long, drink tank and eat circul animal cookies. LOL

Or we would get on the ponys (different from my horse)in the pasture without saddle or bridle and just nudge them with our heels. We'd be flying down (yes, down the hill) then up. They'd come to a stop on their own where we started. Great fun--all we had to do was hang on.

Yep, loved those times!
But, I love these times too. My boys are grown and falling in love. I'm writing and doing what I love. Yes, love these times too.

Thanks for the fun post.
~Caroline

Cindy Gerard said...

Hey Caroline
Ah ... ponies. My cousin had a Shetland Pony. Orneriest little critter there ever was. He ditched us under low hanging tree branches every chance he got :o)

And yes, i agree, there are some pretty good times now, too, it's just that I truly did grow up in an age of innocence and I wish kids now could have a little more of that. In the meantime, I love how our kids are raising their kids, lots of family activities and starting traditions of their own.

lois greiman said...

Sweet post, Cindy. And now I'm going to have the Mayberry song in my head all day.

I remember telling my mom that a friend and I were going to go camping with the horses and we'd be back in a couple of days. She didn't even know where we went. We rode probably twenty miles one way, down highways, through woods and camped all by ourselves with whatever food we had thought to take along. It was definitely a different time, but my kids were raised very similarly. We're out in the country far enough so I'd just send them into the backwoods to play.

When I went to Costa Rica with my son a few years ago, we saw two little boys (9-10 years old) racing along on their horses down a dirt path. They ran them into the river and dove in, letting their horses meander back to the bank to graze on their own. It was so reminiscent of a different time. Fun to see.

Cindy Gerard said...

Ah, those camp outs. Geez. We could have burned the woods down we had so much free rein. Not that I had no supervision of discipline. My parents were strict but when I was on my own time, it was all about adventure.

We played a lot of cops and robbers back then too. Remember toy metal guns with caps? i LOVE how those caps smelled when they went off :o)

ForestJane said...

You played cops and robbers - we played buried treasure. :) We'd split up into a couple of teams, get cigar boxes and fill 'em with stuff. (I remember one of the old glass/crystal doorknobs was renamed 'The Door Diamond' and was a particularly valuable bit of treasure!) Then we'd draw elaborate treasure maps, bury the boxes, and swap maps.

Of course, we'd dig decoy holes and make our map really difficult to decipher... to the result that sometimes we couldn't re-find our OWN treasure... lol

My other summer memory is homemade ice cream - Mom would freeze water in those cardboard milk cartons, in the big chest freezer, then on a really hot day, my Dad and brothers would drag the freezer outside to defrost. While it was defrosting, we'd use the old hand-cranked freezer and plenty of rock salt to make the best tasting ice cream. We'd throw the milk cartons down repeatedly on the cement porch until the ice inside got chipped. The ice cream became a reward for dragging the big freezer outside and defrosting it.

ForestJane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Estella said...

I grew up with a BEAR. Never had indoor plumbing until I married in 1961. Believe me, I do not miss the BEAR!
I grew up in the country---outdoors winter and summer. Just be home by dark.

Cindy Gerard said...

Oh My Gosh, Forest Jane. I forgot all about the homemade ice cream. there is NOTHING like it in the world.

I'm just loving hearing all these childhood memory stories. I'm glad it got you all thinking about it.

Cindy Gerard said...

Estella - I'd say your really lived the adventure :o0 I use the BEAR up at the lake quite a bit. It's a brand new outhouse complete with an exhaust fan, a heater and reading material :o) I just like the rustic aspect of it.

Kathleen O said...

How strange that you picked this topic for your blog today. I was just having this conversation with my oldest niece about how we would play outside in the summer time. If we weren't playing baseball or going to the local public pool for a long afternoon of swiming, then we were off to the school playground for some fun.. From morning until night we would always find soemthing to occupy us in the great outdoors.
Now you have to blast kids out of the house away from there "toys and games"...
Then we were lucky as we got older that we were able to spend the summers up at our cottage.. but we would have summer jobs with a friend of the family at their snack bar on the beach.. But hey we still got time to have some fun too.. Oh those were the days..

Cindy Gerard said...

Yes, Kathleen, those were the days.
My hope is for all kids growing up in any decade that they will have some fantastic memories of special summer fun.

GunDiva said...

Wow. I miss those days. The open field where my friend and I used to ride her horse is now developed. Stacie's horse was our transportation once I moved out of the old neighborhood. She's hop up on Babe, ride across the field, cross a not-so-busy street, cross another field and turn Babe loose in our backyard while we played. Our "city" neighbors **HATED** it. They complained more than once about having livestock in our backyard. Mom would just laugh at them and tell them that the livestock wasn't living there - just visiting and fertilizing!

When my kids were younger (they're teenagers now, so it's not as easy to keep them entertained) I allowed them to play with their friends at the "dirt hills" just down the street from us where all of the developers dumped their dirt years ago. There are "cliffs" to climb, a "river" to play in, and a dirt bike track that the neighborhood kids have built. I wanted them to have a "normal" childhood by my standards, so their rule was to just check in with me every couple of hours (just like when I was a kid) and have fun. They could tell me what they had done at the dirt hills, but I never asked for details. They've all come home banged up and bruised - once with a broken arm, but they were being kids. Now that they're teenagers, I know the dirt hills serve a little different purpose (hey, we had a place to make out when we were kids too), but at least they've got something that hopefully they can look back on as the good old days that don't involve a computer, game system, or texting.

Betina Krahn said...

Coming late to the party. . . but we're from the same generation, Cindy. We played hide and seek after dark with flashlights or by moonlight while the parents and "old folks" sat on the porch and talked or played cards. We rode our bikes (remember bike lights?) after dark on our gravel road. . . sheesh, we were probably a menace to traffic!

I miss the summer afternoons lying in the sun on an old quilt stuffed with cotton batting. They had a unique smell, especially in the sun. And the smell of the warm grass. . . and the feel of the sun on my bare legs. And I loved going swimming every other day and getting sunburned and eating popsicles -- banana and grape and cherry.

And I remember Dairy Queens for special treats and the sound of the TV coming out the window on a friday or saturday night as the folks watched the Show of Shows or Perry Como or Jackie Gleason.

I remember cutting branches off our weeping willows and trying to braid them into bullwhips. (!) I remember climbing trees and forming "clubs" of various kinds.

We pretended to be Detectives or Spies, Hollywood actors and actresses, Puppeteers, Princesses, and Secretaries. (Yes, we played "Secretary." We also played "Teacher" and "Judge" and "Fashion Designer" and "Cowboy"!)

I confess, I always made my kids come in when it got dark and they took some razzing about it. But I knew the kids in our neighborhood and I figured there would be mischief and that my kids would be the ones who got "caught." Sure enough, the one time I let them stay out and run at night, one of my sons came home with a local rancher at his heels. Not major trouble, but I got a chance to say I told you so. . . and my kid finally "got it."

Ah those more innocent days. . .

Cindy Gerard said...

GunDiva - the dirt hills. I love it. A mom just has to NOT think of all the germy things that might be hiding there for the sake of the kid's imagination :o)

Cindy Gerard said...

Betina
Love reading about all those memories. Makes me smile :o)

Pat Cochran said...

I guess the thing I miss most is
the freedom to get out and about
in this city without having to keep
looking over your shoulder. In my
elementary school days, I could set
a blanket under the trees across
the street and read all afternoon.
In high school, I could catch the
bus on a Friday night in the fall and ride all the way across town to a football game. I was in my drum & bugle corps uniform & no one ever bothered me. You can't
do that today, I miss that freedom
and that world!

Pat Cochran

Cindy Gerard said...

Pat - i so hear you. We still live in small town Iowa so we can don't feel the total loss of that 'take for granted kind of trust' simply because we don't have the population of urban areas. It's kind of a Mayberry, 21st century version. Still, we're much more careful than we used to be.

Cindy Gerard said...

Pat - i so hear you. We still live in small town Iowa so we can don't feel the total loss of that 'take for granted kind of trust' simply because we don't have the population of urban areas. It's kind of a Mayberry, 21st century version. Still, we're much more careful than we used to be.

Anonymous said...

Cindy,
I know this is a couple of days behind, but I just had to tell you how much I appreciated everyone's little walks down memory lane. It worries me sometimes that the kids, and possibly their whole generation will not have the ability to adapt because they have not had the opportunity to use their imaginations. What about all of those experiences where we had no fear of wearing a helmet as we rode at break neck speed up and down the highways, or even the gravel roads...I have may scars on both knees that I went limping back and home to mom and dad with blood running into my shoes. Mom always tells the story about from the age of 2 to 6 I would be up at the same time as my grandfather, who lived with us, got up to go milk the cows. I had a pair of little red keds, blue cotton shorts and a t-shirt from Mount Rushmore....mom wouldn't see me the rest of the day. I had a whole world of adventure waiting for me in the barn, way up in the hay mow where i could look down upon grandpa milking the cows. I had my duties every morning and evening to help with it. My grandfather was killed by those very same bulls when I was 7. The barn is gone, a victim of the storm of '98. A lot of times Dad and I still stand at the fence, and I know we are both seeing it for what it was. I have taken the kids all over the property trying to explain to them what it was like, and how special it was in forming me into the person that I have become.
I could go on and on, but that is the one memory that sticks out about my Watkins upbringing.
On the other side, was my Amana life. Having Great-oma, Oma and Opa and us in the house. Playing flashlight tag until they yelled at us to come in. Riding our bikes down to the mill race to fish, or even skim stones, listening to the locusts warm of their chorus of movement. Even the smell of the Inns starting up their evening meals can still stop me in my tracks. No helmets, no video games. We played games on Saturday nights while we listened to the oldies station play stuff like, "cookie, lend me your comb" I still love hearing the "true" oldies on the radio....unfortunately for me, today's "oldies" are what I thought was so hot in the 80's...oh well, good for me the kids think that music is cool too, so I haven't turned into an old fogie yet.
Thanks for letting me walk down memory lane. I always love the trip, and don't always want to return to the present.

Cindy

Anonymous said...

ps: i know you dont milk bulls! i got typing too fast. he had bought this very expensive dairy bull that had a pretty mean streak...unfortunately it caught him in the wrong place at the wrong time

Cindy Gerard said...

Hey Anonymous - Cindy :o) - yes, I knew you know the difference between a cow and a bull :o)
And I love your memories too - all except for the wind taking the barn in 1998. I remember that June day so clearly and all the damage that was done in the state. We couldn't even get in our drive for all the downed trees and were without electricity for 5 days.
Thanks for posting.