Thursday, August 23, 2007

Childhood Memories ~ Thursday Thirteen

Favorite Memories of Growing Up

1. Mudflats ~ I grew up in Bandon, Oregon ... where the Coquille River flowed into the Pacific. Just across the street from our home on Riverside Drive, we could access the tidal flats when the sun and moon played tug-a-war. My brothers and I would frequently walk out onto the mudflats to explore, look for crabs, and dig for clams. About 50 meters from the shore, there was a rock outcropping that was accessible only on a low-tide. We would all climb up and pretend to be pirates or shipwrecked merchants.

2. Tessmans ~ About a half-mile down the street lived a family of 7 (4 girls, a boy, and their parents). The older girls, when they came of age, were our babysitters. The youngest, Christy, would frequently accompany them - I loved this because it meant that I would have a girl to play with. Together with my 2 younger brothers, we would play Monopoly, Barbies, or Hotwheels. We built forts in the woods, explored the neighbors property, and would often walk to Wilson's Market, taking the shortcut up the hill behind their home and across the old school property.

3. Wilson's Market ~ Wilson's Market was located upon the hill and if we kept to the roads, it was about 2 miles round trip. We'd save our allowance or beg for a few quarters each from my mom. With the money, we'd debate whether it was better to buy one standard candy bar or a bunch of penny candy. Occasionally, we'd pool our resources to buy a box of doughnuts or cookies.

4. Cheese Factory ~ As we got older and our parents permitted us to roam farther from home, we enjoyed going to the Bandon Cheese Factory where we'd sample the many delightful cheeses and curds. From their large viewing windows, you could watch the workers as they made the cheese, sliced it into smaller bricks and packaged it for sale. They sold ice-cream there as well, and of course we'd use our money to buy a huge scoop.

5. Roadside Craft Sales ~ In the summer months, we would occasionally set up a lemonade stand to earn a little money. More frequently however, we would sell our home-made crafts (typically a piece of driftwood with lichen and a small plastic toy animal glued atop to create a miniature scene). We never sold very much but there were two sales that I'll remember always.
  • A group of Canadian tourists were traveling through on their bicyles and gave us $5 in Canadian currency. As little kids, we were elated! The foreign bills were so colorful!
  • The other sale was to our neighbor, Mr. Cole, who was like a grandfather to us. He bought a small piece with a plastic mouse perched atop some lichen. He displayed that 'sculpture' on his piano and as us kids got older, he would proudly remind us of the day he bought it.

6. Mr. Cole ~ Our 'adopted' grandpa. He will always be remembered for his kind spirit and generosity. Every Halloween, he would give each of us kids in the neighborhood a little baggie with a snack-size Baby Ruth, Snickers, and a box of raisins. Every day after school, we'd get off the bus, drop our backpacks on our doorstep and run over to his house. He would be waiting with Ritz crackers, Grandma's cookies, and fig newtons. In the summer, he had fresh strawberries almost daily. He grew them himself... he had a huge garden in his backyard.

When I was in junior high, he had sustained an injury on his shin which later developed into a severe infection. He had difficulty walking and thereby didn't get around as easily as before. Each day after school, I would come over to visit with him and help him with a few chores as well as prepare his evening meal for him. When he was younger, he enjoyed woodworking. To my surprise, for my birthday one year, he presented me with a small wooden chest that he made for me. I have it to this day and will cherish it always.

7. Mr. Luthold's Property ~ Mr. Luthold lived just to the north of us and had a significantly large property with rolling hills and meadows. There was a patch of small white flowers upon one hill that we came to call "Snowwhite's Dress". There was a small sand dune on his property as well and we would spend entire afternoon's sledding down the hill in cardboard boxes. As we got older, we even tried skiing down on makeshift sand boards.

8. Monopoly ~ During one particular memorable game of Monopoly (Life, Uno, or ??) - to be honest, I don't recall the exact game we were playing - all I remember is that I kept losing! I didn't win once! I was becoming very frustrated and made the announcement that if I lost again, I would jump out my window (we lived in a 2-story home). Sure enough, I lost again. They others wouldn't let me out of my proclamation and so I proceeded to climb out my window. My parent's room was below mine and their window was directly beneath my bedroom window - I was therefore able to step out and get my toe on the upper ledge of their window. Beyond that, however, I didn't have anything to get a hand on... I lost my nerve and feared I break my leg if I were to jump. As I struggled there, we heard the mill's whistle blow announcing the end of the day-shift. Dad would be home within minutes! Everyone grabbed my arms and pulled as I climbed in as best I could. It was a close call. :)

9. The Property Out 7 Devils ~ My parents purchased a 30 acre piece of property along 7 Devils Hwy (between Charleston & Bandon) when we were young. Over the years, they worked hard on getting the building permits to construct their dream home. My dad would spend every weekend out there making improvements (he built a cabin, a ric-rac fence along the main road, and cleared an area to build upon). While he worked, my brothers and I would spend the time exploring the forest... building forts, making trails, collecting amphibians and insects, and creating our own Terabithia (one of my favorite books from childhood). I know this is why I grew to love nature and science.

But shortly after they had blue prints for the house drawn up, the mill where my dad worked closed down. He had a hard time finding work as other lumber mills were in the same situation. As a result, economic & environmental changes forced my parents to sell the property. One of the hardest decisions my dad ever had to make.

10. The Dares ~ Due to our economic situation, we didn't receive an allowance. Instead, my dad would hire us to do odd jobs: we painted his flat-bed truck - with brushes!, we helped paint the side of the house (as far as we could reach, anyway), we stacked firewood, hand lettered signs for his one-man sawmill, and anything else that needed done. Our family vacations always involved camping in some remote location... while there were often extra jobs to do on vacation, Dad would instead dare us to accomplish some unusual feat... treading water in the lake for 45 minutes, swimming a specific distance without taking a breath, and the most bizarre, sticking our tongue out for 30 minutes! If we were successful, he would award us with the pre-determined amount of money. Originally, he said he would pay us $2 to hold our tongue out for 30 minutes. When time was up, only 2 of us had successed (I being one of them) and we convinced him it was worth much more than $2. He paid us each $5.

11. Walking on Stilts ~ Our Dad was very innovative and would frequently construct climbing structures, forts, and other toys that would rival anything you could purchase at the store. One of my favorites was a pair of stilts he constructed from wood and bolts. The step on the stilts could be adjusted to different heights to accomodate our different skill levels. I got to be really good on them and in order to get onto the 4' step, I'd have to stand on the bed of Dad's flatbed truck and step onto the stilt steps. We even got creative one summer and invited our neighbors to an 'Imaginative Circus'. My brother dressed as a lion

12. The Inner Tube Trampoline ~ One day, Dad brought home the inner tube from a huge truck. It must have been 5' in diameter and all of us kids could stand on it. As we awaited the bus each morning, we'd jump on it like a trampoline... alternately launching one another skyward.

13. Bedtime Stories ~ I would have to say that our nightly ritual Bedtime Stories is one of the most precious memories that I have as a child growing up. You might assume that my parents would read us a story from a book before they tucked us in for bed. But that isn’t quite accurate. After each of us kids had brushed our teeth and changed into our pajamas, we would all gather together on one of the boys’ beds and Dad would tell stories of what it was like when he was a kid.

He grew up on the outskirts of Portland and his family later moved to Gilchrest, where he spent his elementary school years. He would describe adventures he shared with his two older brothers and jaunts he experienced alone. Some of the most memorable tales are when he and his brothers tried to fly by fashioning wings from materials they found around their home and then jumping off the roof of the barn ~ I remember we tried to emulate them a few times from the roof of Mr. Cole’s garage! They pestered hives of yellow-jackets. They found old cars abandoned in the woods and dragged them home in attempts to repair them. Many times, he would share the same story over and over… we never tired of hearing about his days as a child. Everything seemed so different back then, so innocent and magical.

Bedtime Stories of times past is a continued tradition in my home. Many nights, rather than reading a story from a book, my daughter will request stories from when I was a little girl. I do my best to accomodate her, but I am not as good a storyteller as my dad. Perhaps it is an acquired skill and with practice, I'll improve over time.

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  1. What a wonderful list. I enjoyed sharing your memories!

    Happy TT :)

  2. Those are great memories! Thanks for sharing.

    Happy TT!

  3. That inner tube trampoline sounds like so much fun!

    I really enjoyed our list. Thanks for sharing your great memories.

  4. I too remember bedtime stories as one of the best times with my Dad. When my father saw me open up a box of old books my mother sent, he saw "Bambi" and immediately started reciting it. He'd memorized the whole thing and could still recite it 40 years later. Guess that was my most-frequent request....

  5. I love your memories... sounds wonderful!
    Thanks for sharing!


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