Saturday, June 21, 2014

SNGF - Summertime!

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Summertime Fun as a Child
Calling all Genea-Musings Fans: 

 It's Saturday Night again - 
time for some more Genealogy Fun!!

Here is your assignment if you choose to play along (cue the Mission Impossible music, please!):

1) It's the first day of Summer 2014, so let's talk about what we did as children (not teenagers or young adults) on our summer vacations from school.  

2)  Write about your life as a child in the summertime (say, any age between 5 and 12).  Where did you live, what did you do, how did it influence the rest of your life?

3)  Write your own blog post, or leave a comment on this post, or write something on Facebook or Google+

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything here...

I grew up in a couple of places I can remember well, plus a couple more I can’t.  First, I remember living on a farm halfway between St. Cloud, and Foley, Minnesota, on State highway 23.  We rented an old farmhouse from the farmer who had built a newer house.  I was about 4 when we moved there, and almost six when we moved away.  Being that young, I had lots of free time to wander around and look at the cows and pigs, play in the dirt with my cars, and ride the farm wagons and other implements.  I remember riding along to bale hay, harvest corn, spread manure and pick rocks, for example.  I remember “helping” to feed the cows.  I remember swinging on the rope in the hayloft.  The farmer had a son about a year older than me, and we got along well.  We played a lot together.   I’ve recently heard that he now owns and operates that farm.

When I was almost six, we moved into St. Cloud, to a house on Breckenridge Avenue, right across from the railroad yard.  We rented that house for a while until our landlord decided he wanted to sell it, and my parents purchased it.  That’s where the rest of my childhood was spent.  My youngest brother is currently living in the house; my parents recently opted to move to an apartment and forego the lawn maintenance in summer and sidewalk shoveling in winter.

There were a number of kids on my block, and we played together more or less, depending on which kids were feeling “cooler” than others at any given time.  Most were older than me, and didn’t always want me around.  We played football beside the street, and kickball in the street.  We played variants of cops & robbers.  We rode our bikes up and down the sidewalks.   Certain driveways would be designated as having “stop signs” and we would have to stop, or the “cop” would give us a ticket.  No one had helmets or pads, and occasionally someone would fall and get a scrape, but generally there were no injuries. 

We rode our bikes along the rail yard in a wide swath of packed earth.  In fact, we played in and around the trains, looking for odd bits of stuff that would fall off the trains, like ball bearings more than an inch in diameter, or taconite (iron) pellets less than half an inch in diameter that made excellent slingshot ammunition.  We found stubs of flares they would use for directing train movements at night.  We found that the sulfur would burn hot and bright red, with choking fumes.  We weren’t supposed to be on the tracks, and sometimes would get caught by the railroad employees and escorted off the property.  We learned when it was likely we could get away with sneaking around, and when we should probably find other things to do. 

We biked other places, too.  All over town, really.  Down to the park, with the swimming pool in the summer, downtown to the library, although that was mostly later when I was a teen.  Across the highway on a railroad bridge to a wooded area where bike trails had been hacked into the undergrowth, and we could ride and jump our bikes for hours.  Over to friends’ houses to play with them, many blocks away from home.  We always knew we needed to be home for supper, and I don’t recall missing that mark too many times.

You might notice the missing element here – we had no video games, no computers.  We had a television, a color one, even, but the four channels we got over the antenna offered little choice in what to watch, and you watched what you wanted when it was on, or you missed out.  And you only had ONE television, so had to compromise on when you got to watch, especially as a kid.   The time period involved here was at the very beginning of what would be come home video game consoles and personal computers, and no one we knew could afford either one.   And by video games, I mean the likes of Pong, simple black and white back and forth tennis-style games and similar.  About this time Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs were creating the Apple I, a kit computer that one could build if they had the skills for a few thousand dollars.  Phones all had those twisty coiled cords, and a rotary dial, because that’s what the phone company provided.  AT&T had not yet been broken up, long distance calls were expensive.  Some homes shared a phone line with other homes, known as Party Line.  If you picked up when another house was using the line, you could listen in to the conversation.  We’ve come a long way in technology!

This and all other articles on this blog are © copyright 2014 by Daniel G. Dillman

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