Wednesday, January 11, 2012


I would ask them to tell about some childhood memory, that is, to write it as carelessly, recklessly, fast and sloppily as possible on paper. Their only effort became to tell spontaneously, impulsively, what they remembered.

And I asked for childhood experiences for this reason. A child experiences things from his true self (creatively) and not from his theoretical self (dutifully), i.e. the self he thinks he ought to be. That is why childhood memories are the most living and sparkling and true.

From If You Want to Write

I have three brothers. I wanted a sister but my Mother kept handing over boys! I was 11 years old before I got a sister and by that time, it was too late. We were a generation apart.

But I always have my brothers. We share all the same memories and experiences. Three of us were born within 27 months of each other. I can not imagine how my Mother did it. I suppose she was just one of the many.

As I grow older I find my childhood memories are fading. I remember pieces of things, like tiny snap shots. The face of my brother in the car rolling down the incline headed for certain death, or a wild ride through the back of the garage and a head first plunge into the old rail road track gully that led to the tunnel. And my mother, obviously pregnant with Patrick, chasing the car, jumping in and slamming on the brakes in the nick of time to avert certain disaster.

Snap shot of same brother handing on the car door, my Mom taking a curve from Douglas to Morgan too fast, door flying open, brother swung out on door, door swung back and brother was redeposited into car.

Now we understand why car seats and seat belts are so important.

But I do have a lot of grammar school memories!

Such as our recess and lunch hour. The play ground was a seriously dangerous and wonderful place. We had a sliding board that was a least 10 feet high, two separate swing sets that had those heavy duty foot long links and heavy rubber seats that were retrieved from the shed and attached. We had the Mother of all Merry-Go-Round. A
Metal Beast that not only went around around and around but also tilted back and forth, much like a top.

When the doors swung open from our tiny class rooms (we were a four room school house!) we raced to the
Metal Beast to secure a place on one of the eight seats.

The game was to stand erect, spread eagle holding the top of the rungs with your hands and securing your balance with your feet placed at the sides of each seat where the rails connected from the top. Then you would be given a push and you would begin to go round and round, up and down and BANG the pole in the middle hoping to jar someone off, to have them fly through the air and land on their head so that someone else could take their place and the game would continue. Usually we had someone in the middle dodging the Beast heading for the pole.

Great fun! You would most certainly get squished if you faltered!

We were not a bunch of coddled sissies. We were Baby Boomer Kids. Our parents survived a depression and a World War.

We were born tough.

We would take wax paper and slick down the slinging board. If it was very cold, we would pour water in a path leading from the end of the board as far as we could extend it, sometimes precariously close to the jaws of the Death Trap. The object was to squat down and wrap your arms around your knees and
FLY down the slippery slope, hit the ground and the icy course and see who could slide along the pavement the longest.

At times you would have to lay back in a prone position if you had enough trust to end up under the
Metal Beast!

Those were the days.

The Death-Go-Round endured for perhaps 70 years until some wimpy kid fell off and broke his leg. Then it was deemed too dangerous and removed.

I wonder where? When I think of my hair flying and my legs pumping and my body swinging my weight from right to left to gain gravity defying speed I smile and I think how much fun that was.

Worth every skinned knee, every bleeding elbow, every concussion.

 One of Paint Rock’s merry-go-rounds was used by August McWilliams for a photography assignment in May. The two merry go rounds are being removed from the playground due to safety concerns.


Lisa :-] said...

I have to say, our playground experiences in the olden days definitely made (wo)men out of us! There wasn't a piece of equipment out there that you couldn't serously hurt yourself on. I remember when I was about five, I fell off one of those laddery things suspended above the ground that you were supposed to navigate across hand-over-hand. Fell flat on my back and knocked all the wind out of me. I thought I was dead! Nowadays playground equipment is so safe it's boring; and parents refuse to take their children to the playground, anyway, because of "all the germs." We are raising a generation of sissies...


LOVED this. I would add I used to play outside in all kinds of weather. My daughter won't let her kids go outside if it's too cold, too hot, snowing etc. What kind of fun is that? I have been driving a porcelain bus, battling the flu and losing this week. So-oo sick. Feel horrible. I'll be back again to comment, when i'm feeling better. take care.

Nelle said...

I had an older brother and a younger brother for seven years until I got my baby sis. Five years later a third brother joined the family. Brothers seem easier to get along with in mnay ways. My mother didn't enjoy reading but I did. I set up a library and made my younger siblings check out books! Your Mom would have loved me. lol