Janna of Mommy’s Piggy Tales began a project to share our youth with our children. Every Thursday, I will tell a story about my childhood as if I were telling it to my children. At the end of this project, I’ll have a collection of stories about my childhood for my children to keep, and hopefully treasure.
In the summer before third grade, I lived in a little town across from a red brick church with a tall steeple, in a red brick house on a red brick street named Main. Late at night, when I was closing my eyes in the back seat of the car, I could always hear the rumble of the bricks under the tires when we turned onto our street. When the summers were hot, the house was cool, and yet Mom always made us go outside to play. It was so hot, it seemed like the cement driveway sizzled. We would sit on the steps, too hot to run around or ride our bikes, and watch the heat waves radiate out of the white concrete. Tar bubbles formed on the blacktop street we had to cross on the way to the playground, and we would get sticky, black circles on the soles of our feet.
At the end of a hot, hot August, my baby sister came home. I remember the exact day; I was amazed at her tiny, little feet. I didn’t want to hold my baby sister, because I had a small cold and didn’t want to pass it along to my new, baby sister. Now our family of six was complete.
We spent a lot of time outside. Since we lived 35 miles away from the city where TV was broadcast, we only received 3 television stations on our tall, outdoor antennae. Cable and satellite weren’t available back in the early 70’s. My city-dwelling cousins would talk about Romper Room and Speed Racer, but the stations we received didn’t broadcast those shows. We were able to see PBS, so Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers were what we watched, at the demand of my baby brother and sister and insistence of my mom.
As television was not a draw to the indoors, we stayed outdoors. We had a huge tractor tire full of sand in the shade of an old plum tree. There was a metal-framed swing set under the apple tree. My sister and I were only 13 months apart, and we were playmates. We could go pick some rhubarb stems, snap off the leaves, wash them in the hose and eat them raw. We would climb the pine tree next to the alley, and get covered with sap. We rode our bikes in the same alley, seeing if the neighbor girl was outside and wanted to play. In the fall, we would build leaf houses, piling up the leaves to make walls and rooms and hiding places for our treasure. It was always fun when one of our friends came into town from her house in the country, and played with us for hours in our backyard.
Third grade was a wonderful year, the year when reading became a joy and an escape. We read Little House in the Big Woods, and my parents started buying us each book in the series. Of course, we also watched Little House on the Prairie and spent time with Laura and Mary every week! We also started collecting the Nancy Drew books. My sister was only in second grade, but she had been reading since Kindergarten. She was in my reading group at school, which was the highest reading group in third grade, but I never thought a thing about it. We just thought it was fun to be in the same reading group! Second and third grades were combined, so she was in my classroom anyway.
Third grade was when I start to have the most memories, and almost all the memories are good. There were a few times when I felt left out by classmates, but for the most part, childhood is a wonderful memory. To be continued…