I loved my Boom Box more than anything in the world. And my cat Bandit. And my funky hat and red glasses? Blame the 80’s. Today? Still love music. Still love cats. And still have a unique sense of style. Ahem.
Christina Galina. My Cabbage Patch Doll. She was the coolest with the jeans and pink nylon zip up jacket. Alvin and Simon belonged to Lil Brother. Our cousin Brenda had Theodore. We played house with them of course. But mostly I remember not playing mommy and daddy and baby house as a kid, but COLLEGE. (Did anyone else play college???) We would get to the point of having a boyfriend and that was that. Did this effect who I’m today? Um, you tell me.
SNOW! SNOW! SNOW! Overlooking our playground area. We had balance beams (a tall and a short one) two small parallel bars and one high bar. My dad made it all for us out of grape posts. (See vineyard in background!) I loved playing in the snow more than ANYTHING else as a kid. I think we only came inside because our snowsuits were soaking wet and needed time to dry on the radiators. Mom would have Nestle Quik Hot Chocolate in a saucepan on the stove ready for us, we’d warm up and and then BAM! Right back out. While I can’t go back…I can still love the memories and the snow. Oh how I still love the snow. I can’t say the same for my love of gymnastics.
Glamour Shots by DEB! I’m not sure what I did before owning a camera. I have always loved my cameras…the more pictures the better! Plastic bracelets and the MOST excellent backdrop (sheet from bed!) My God did my hair look awful. Once in a while I had short hair. (Damn you Mary Lou Retton!) It doesn’t suit me. At all. The constant snapping of photos as a kid surely factored into who I am today. Thank GOD for digital cameras today. Man film was expensive to develop when you took 10 rolls at a time. I remember my Kodak Disc fondly.
And with the combination of the music, the stuffed animals (props), the camera and the our next door neighbors camcorder…the one thing I think I loved most was creating stories. Plays, musicals, concerts, newscasts. You name it. Make believe pretend. Even when playing with Legos days upon days it would turn into a story when you added the miniature Smurfs. Watching MTV became each one of us dancing/acting/singing out videos. Pretty much give me any chance to get up and sing (which also included the church choir for years and years) or be the center of attention. Reading the newspaper every night? Became a newscast we would tape on the tape recorder. Playing college? Meant having intricate story lines continuing day to day.
Ah, pretend. Make believe. How fun!
A few other things I recall as loving loving loving…
BOARD GAMES. We had so many board games and yet we still found the need to create our own! My brother made the greatest game of all called *The Mall* which was much better than my *Surprise* (Lil Brother outshining me rarely happened of course.) 😉 Even better? My sister-in-law also made a game called *The Mall* when she was a kid! Nerdy creative love at first sight.
COOKING. Oh how I loved to bake. We didn’t have an Easy Bake oven. (But Angie did, lucky Angie!!!) But every chance I had I was cooking in the kitchen and entering the confections in the fair. We also had a love affair with the show *Just Like Mom* where at the end of the game all the kid contestants would be placed in a kitchen with ingredients everywhere and asked to create something which their parents would taste test to find out who made what. Oh the fun and danger of getting everything out of the cupboards and just winging it! I do recall needing to be on the secretive side whenever playing this though, because Grandma Smith didn’t quite approve. Of course, mom let us anyhow! And I do recall, my Lil Brother made the best cookie overall. (Lil Brother outshining me rarely happened of course.)
DRAWING AND FURNISHING HOUSES. Graph paper and JcPenney, Montgomery Ward and Sears Catalogs were our friends. I had a folder full of *layouts* of houses that I would build in the future. Almost all the houses included at least 5 children. And a garden. And a giant kitchen and fish tank. Once the floor plan was complete, we would scour though the catalogs and furnish the entire home. Wall colors, comforters, kitchen mixers. ALL OF IT. And these lists would include prices. And we would add them up because we had self-imposed budgets in place. Something like $10,000. So I could get the expensive mixer for the kitchen, but would have to get the cheaper bookshelf for the study. Perhaps this game we played was an off shoot of the love of Board Games. Clue, Monopoly and Bargain Hunter anyone?
READING. Oh books. And magazines. And newspapers. I loved them all! And thanks to Auntie Carrol, I was a very early reader. This of course meant all my stuffed animals knew how to read (because I taught them) and my Lil Brother knew how to read young and my cousins and little neighbors. I played school in my sleep I think! Made up worksheets and lesson plans the whole nine yards.
Since we grew up on a farm and had a shallow well…we would take the weekly trip to the laundromat to wash our clothes. At the laundry mat plaza there was The Book Nook. And every week I bought at least two books at The Book Nook. All the Sweet Valley High books and the look-a-likes. Anne of Green Gables series. Little House on the Prairie series. My allowance went to books. My mom also very much instilled the importance of the library to us as children. I loved the days we would head to the Village and go to the Barker Library. So many of those books we took out time and time and time and time and time again. And once we were in school? Oh all the books!!! Nancy Drew, Judy Blume! And magazines too! Highlights. And Bop and Tiger Beat and Sassy and Seventeen. All the silly magazines. We were very blessed to grow up in a household that valued reading. Nothing was more exciting then getting that flyer sent home monthly with books we could purchase. And the book fairs twice a year that came right to the school. Awesome.
One more funny tale to tell. Whenever we would get in trouble and have to go to bed *early* Lil Brother and I would just spend extra time under the covers with our $1 flashlights reading books. And when Dad found out we had a flashlight and took them away? We would read by the faint, faint light of the window until it was far too dark to see the words on the page. Or sneak out of bed near the hall where a bit of light would shine through. At least, until the next laundromat day when we would go to D&K and buy another, shhh! Although this was always with mom’s secret blessing, she totally knew what we were doing.
Where on earth did all those books go???
The only other thing I can remember loving above all things, which is actually also the only thing that has not carried into my adulthood and made me who I OBVIOUSLY am today would be my bike and bike riding. My giant rusty blue bike. No speeds, no hand brakes, no gears. Just the bike my mom had as a kid. Giant seat. Giant handlebars. I loved that thing. We spent entire summers on our bikes. And once we were old enough to go on the *road* whoooosh gone. All over the neighborhood and the woods and our friends houses and in cherry orchards and in vineyards and creeks and Sullivan’s Charbroil for ice cream.
All of us in the neighborhood were outside ALL THE TIME as kids. All seasons all the time. All over the place. We slept outside most nights in the summer. Ride out bikes all day and play volleyball, basketball, soccer, kickball etc after dinner. We played board games outside. Brought the Legos outside. Books outside. Everything.
While the my love of the outdoors and country has continued, the love of the bike has not. Which I think comes from two things. One, I’m lazy. If I ever got out there I would love it. And two…I’m somewhat frightened of the bikes out there today. If I could ride the bike I had as a kid…and around places like the ones I grew up? It would be a different story. But all the fancy gadgets and skinny handlebars and gears to shift and riding around in an Urban setting? NOT what I like at all. So…maybe someday. But not today.
With all these fun things to play every day how on earth did we decide what to do first? We voted of course! Everyone involved would get a few options, a ballot would be created and you voted 1-10 on how much you wanted to play what game. Since I was older and wiser and the bossy one. I sometimes made sure I got what I want by understanding the law of averages. I would vote 10 on “Working on our Play” and a 0 on all the rest. Lil Brother would carefully consider if he at a 6-wanted to take a bike ride or 3- wanted to play college and well, I would win of course. NOT ALL THE TIME, but occasionally. And never, ever were their recounts. Lucky for me, everyone wanted to play the same things for the most part we just didn’t have enough time in the day to do them all.
Ah, the DEMOCRATIC process in action. I’m certain this has nothing to do with my love of the game of politics whatsoever.