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I am exhausted. Even though I am retired. As so many retirees like to profess, “I don’t know how I did it all when I was working.” I work out at a gym, sing with a choir, breed crested geckos, had a book published, write a blog, yada, yada, yada.
For the past month my husband and I have been harvesting Concord grapes on our residential property. We have stepped into the kitchen sink and climbed through the window in order to pick grapes from the back porch roof. We have picked from ladders and along each step of the kitchen porch.
We canned 82 jars of grape jam, baked two grape pies, froze two pie fillings, and made four quarts of grape juice—much of this during the remodeling of our kitchen. For three weeks, we had to work around a portable kitchen sink and sometimes no kitchen sink, makeshift counters, displaced kitchen utensils spread on the spare bedroom floors, and a dishwasher sitting on the front porch.
Once we placed all of our kitchen items back into the cabinets, we were out picking grapes again. We gave numerous pounds of grapes to friends, neighbors, and choir members, including three five-gallon bucketfuls to one friend in order to make Concord grape wine. And we’re still harvesting. Did I mention that I am exhausted?
Did you ever wish that you could take a break and go back to visit your carefree childhood days—the days of little or no responsibility? How about just for one measly day a year?
As you may know, I recently asked 34 baby boomers and thereabouts, the majority being females, what their favorite childhood outdoor activity was. The top four responses, in order, were riding bikes, playing sports, playing jacks, and jumping rope. Some respondents gave succinct answers–even one-word answers; others expounded on their top choice. Still others gave me a dissertation.
I know that the latter were people who had undeniably fond memories of childhood. Like getting sucked into a vortex, I was transported back with them to their streets and creeks and woods. I wanted to step into their front yards, ring the doorbell, and ask, “Can you come out and play?” I wanted to learn how to play “Poison Beam” and “Roly Poly Hit the Bat.” I wanted to find out what the heck kind of game is “Huck a Buck how many fingers up on top of the big brown mailbox?”
Hey, whatd’ya say we borrow Doc Brown’s DeLorean and travel back to the 1950’s or early 1960’s for one summer day? Leave your job behind. Leave your yard work behind. Leave your high blood pressure, your arthritis, and your surgically repaired knees behind for just one day.
Look. Doc has the DeLorean ready for us. He has plenty of plutonium to power his flux capacitor, so there’s no need to worry about getting stuck forever in the 50’s (unless you want to). Step inside and take a seat. Sorry, no seat belts. Electronic devices prohibited. Bring cash only.
Keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times. Once we hit 88 miles per hour, we’ll be at our destination in a lightning flash. Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads. Where are we going, you ask? I’ve taken the liberty of booking us a flight . . . er. . . drive to southwestern Pennsylvania.
Some of those who responded to my survey have volunteered to run a camp based on their favorite childhood activities. You will have your choice of five camps. Register fast. Spaces are limited. First come, first served.
Here are your choices:
Camp Wayne—You’ll play baseball from morning till suppertime, but if it rains, you’ll play Monopoly under Wayne’s patio roof. Balls, bats, and gloves will be provided. However, if your second grade teacher didn’t smack the lefthandedness out of you with a ruler, bring your own lefty glove.
Camp Fran—In the morning, you’ll participate in a jacks marathon on Fran’s porch, and then in the afternoon, you’ll play Onesies, Twosies (You throw a ball against the side of the house and then hurry to perform specific activities before the ball comes back to you—activities such as clapping under your leg and turning around in a circle.) Finally, you’ll play ball at night under the streetlights. You break a streetlight, run like the dickens. If you get caught, you pay. Don’t sweat it. Luckily, it will be 1950’s prices.
Camp Donna—In the morning, you’ll go with Donna and friends to their hideout in the woods and then hike around to try to find the boys’ latest cabin and catch them smoking. Later, you will pack a lunch and go “down over the hill” to wade in the creek or climb up and down the strip pits. The only caution by Donna’s parents is to be home by suppertime and don’t go in the strip pits.
After dinner, you will ride your bikes to Donna’s grandfather’s farm on the edge of town so that you can pick strawberries and get paid the exorbitant wage of 3 cents a basket. Leave your Lucky Strikes and Pall Malls at home.
Camp Chuck—After breakfast, you will ride bikes, play tag, dig in the dirt, make mud pies in the creek, play ball, hike, climb trees, and swing like Tarzan. To start. Kind of like the 1950’s kid version of ESPN’s X Games. Five minute break to watch clouds. Probably get home for dinner but not guaranteed. You will “git hurt.” Bring Band-Aids and Mercurochrome.
After dinner, you’ll be out till dark or whenever Red Skelton, George Burns, Lucy, or Jackie Gleason are on Channel 3 of the DuMont TV Network.
Camp Elaine—In the morning, you’ll ride bikes and play “Roly Poly Hit the Bat” (The batter hits the ball, and then the person who retrieves the ball rolls it toward the bat. Anyone who hits the bat with the ball becomes the batter.)
After lunch, you’ll play softball and then Cops and Robbers, Cowboys and Indians, and/or Army. These all involve “hideouts,” “camps,” and “war hospitals,” which will be located on various back porches of a few houses. Soldiers parachute from porch rails, then, when wounded, are carried to field hospitals where nurses apply leaf bandages and provide red Kool Aid medicine. Elaine encourages everyone to be on the good side of the law. Toy guns with holsters will be provided. Red Ryder BB Guns are prohibited. You’ll shoot your eye out.
At night you’ll play “Poison Beam” with flashlights. (It’s like tag with the light accommodating for the darkness.)
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Could it be Superman? No, it’s the DeLorean about to land.
C’mon. Let’s get out.
Great Scott! I’m ten years old again! So are you!
Huh! I could’ve done without that split between my two front teeth, though. Not neato. Oh well, it’s only for one day.
And here is little Frannie, setting up her ball and jacks to open her camp on the front porch.
Ready to report to the camp of your choice? Be there or be square. This is the ultimate. It’ll be a gas!
Have the time of your young lives, my friends, but be back here at the DeLorean in twenty-four hours. You have grass to mow and bills to pay.
Here are some happy campers.
For which camp would you like to register?
If I have stirred some nostalgia in you fellow boomers, and you’re looking for more, check out my book The Crab Hollow Chronicles published by eLectio Publishing. It is a fictitious memoir based on my experiences growing up in a neighborhood full of boys in the early sixties.
Join nine-year-old Karen Schmidt in her attempts to navigate Crab Hollow Road amidst the overwhelming male majority who beleaguer her at every opportunity. Does Karen have the fortitude to weather toadnappings, midnight escapades, false impersonation, and more? Along the way, relive the people, products, music, sports, and headlines of the early 1960’s.
Virtually every page references the 1960’s. Lots of your favorite toys are mentioned in these pages. The paperback and e-book are available here: