Our shade tree…

The house that is pictured in the Blizzard of 78 post, is the house that I spent the majority of my youth at.  That picture doesn’t really show the tree I am talking about, but on the left side you can see the top of the tree.

That tree is old and huge. The trunk branches of in three directions and each of those sections are just as full as can be with leaves. It is one of those trees that you can just climb up and find a nook to relax in. Calvin and Hobbes would have loved it.

My grandfather, who lived about a mile away, used to come to the house and setup a lawn chair under that tree.  I can still picture him sitting there as he watched the world go by.  It was a great location to just sit. The leaves were so thick that sunlight could barely penetrate anywhere under the canopy.  Even on the hottest days, when there wasn’t a single cloud in the sky, you could be under that tree and catch the faint whisper of a cool breeze.

My grandfather rarely spoke, so I always just figured he was sitting there and thinking about things. Maybe he didn’t, maybe he was just content to watch the world go by and not think at all. I really don’t know, but I do know that he always seemed at peace there.

I am not big on believing in ghosts, but I would like to think that on hot days his spirit is still there enjoying our shade tree.

 

One of my biggest regrets…

While looking at all of the pictures of our old house, all the memories that came flooding back to me made me realize that I do have a regret from my childhood.

I should have lived every day to it’s fullest.  It was the outdoor adventures that gave me the most memories. There were sunny days that I spent inside playing with my Johnny West figures or working on my model train set. I should have spent those days enjoying the sun, watching clouds, playing in the creek, and seeing what wonders nature had produced. That other stuff could have waited for rainy and winter days.

I did spend a lot of time outside, but it could have been more. Sometimes when I read Calvin and Hobbes comics I think “Wow, did that kid know how to live.” They say hindsight is 20/20, but boy do I wish I could get another crack at being a kid.

How about you? Do you every wish you could do it all over again?

My Old House

I will apologize in advance as this post will probably be extremely boring to most people. This post is more for myself than anyone else. I wanted to store some memories.

My Old House pic 1
My Old House pic 1

This is the first house that I remember growing up in. My dad didn’t own it, but he rented this place. The window at the top floor was the bedroom for me and my brother.  You can’t see it here, but to the left of the house was an old water well with a hand pump that worked. We would also lay in that part of the yard to do our cloud watching. You see a lot of amazing shapes and images in clouds.

The lower left window was the kitchen table area. (I can’t remember what room was on the right.) And if you have followed my post for any amount of time, that gravel curve is where I wiped out on my bicycle (first day without training wheels) and pushed my two incoming front teeth back up into my skull. The dentist said they would come right back down… and they did. I really like the big tree in the front yard. I have always loved huge trees.

My Old House pic 2
My Old House pic 2

This view would be facing away from the house at the previous picture’s location. That was our swing set. I remember one year bumblebees built a nest in the pipes and my dad had to smoke them out. The landlord had horses in the barn and we were able to ride them. I can only really remember one horse, so maybe there was only one, but his name was “Corky”.

My Old House pic 3
My Old House pic 3

Talk about a lot of room to run around. The yard here was huge. And those three trees you see are apple trees that we use to play in. They were great trees for climbing. I have to admit though, I hated picking up all those apples out of the yard. But it was nice to be able to walk out back and pick a red apple right off the tree when they were in season.

My Old House pic 4
My Old House pic 4

This is the last one. You can see to the left there is a dog house. We had yellow German Shepherd (it was my brother’s dog, my mom and dad got it for him before I was born) named “Pebbles”. Yes the same “Pebbles” from the Flintstones. You can also barely see the porch to the right, and the car was my Dad’s (I think) Pontiac 442. This is also the part of the yard where a bumble bee got his stinger stuck in my pants right on my knee and stung me like a dozen times.

I had a lot of good memories here. By the time I was in 2nd grade, my dad built a house in another town about 15 minutes away and I had a whole new set of adventures there.

I am looking for the name of a movie…

I have searched many times on Google, trying to figure out a movie that I saw as a teen. If anyone can help me come up with a name, I would be grateful.

The movie was about two robots that are traveling together after the world collapses. (I can’t remember why the world was in ruins.) I want to say the two robots where loosely based on and sort of looked like Laurel and Hardy. I remember one scene where they came across a man dragging a suitcase full of money which, of course, was silly since money had no value anymore. I also believe it was on PBS so I am sure it had some kind of environmental theme to it.

Anyway it was one of those movies that parts of it have stayed with me for years. I have been pretty lucky in figuring out most of those movies and was able to buy or download them. This one escapes me though. I can’t find any information on the internet based on what I remember. (Which makes me wonder if some of those memories are false.)

Indian Summers

Indian Summers were another magical part of my childhood.  For those of you unfamiliar with the term, let me give you a brief explanation of what an Indian Summer is.

In Indiana (not sure how much of the north actually has Indian Summer) during the fall season the temperature outside cools to the point that you have to wear jackets, sweatshirts, and such just to even go outside. But usually in late September, for about a week, it warms up enough that you can go outside in a short sleeve shirt.

For a kid, you knew that the coming weekend during Indian Summer was it. That was the last weekend of the year to fit every adventure you could into it. And take advantage of it I did. I was outside until the last of the suns ray’s disappeared from view.

The simple things in life where the greatest.

Energy Crisis of 1979

I was watching some older McDonald’s commercials when I ran across this one.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjXhwevOVAE

I was thinking “Hey, I remember that commercial.” but when I was a child I didn’t understand what it was all about. I would have been around 13 years old then, but I do not have any memories about that gas shortages. Maybe it had to do with the fact that we lived in a small rural town, so I didn’t see the long lines at the gas pump.

Through the eyes of the child, the world is still a magical place, and we don’t always understand the real problems of the world that is going on around us. It reminds me of my father. I have talked with him several times about WWII. He was 7 when Pearl Harbor was bombed, and he said he can remember seeing the bombers flying in the sky but it didn’t mean anything to him. He had no idea what was really going on in the world.

How ironic that the same issues exist today that occurred in 1979. (For us in the states anyway.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4PGfp_IJts

 

Tom Waits Part 2

I wanted to talk a bit more about Tom Waits. I can really relate to him in one way. It seems to me he has (had?) a real aversion to the public. That was one arena he did not seem to be comfortable with, but was forced to take part of due to his popularity.

I have a fond memory about a story that a friend told me about when we were shooting the breeze. I used to go to a lot of parties at her house when I was younger. I would arrive at the party, nod my head, smile if needed, grab a beer, and then sneak outside to the front or back porch and watch the night sky. That was were I felt comfortable. I really enjoyed my friends company, but not when her house was full.

One day we were just sitting around talking about various things when she told me that during those parties people would tell her that they better check on me. She would stop them dead in their tracks and tell them I am fine and basically not to bother me. She was one of the few people that actually understood me. She knew I was right were I wanted to be.

When I see this Tom Waits interview I just get that same feeling that he was like us. Amazingly he is not drunk or high. He was just extremely uncomfortable. Martha has had a few discussions about introverts in her blog posts. I think she will be able to relate to this interview as well.

http://youtu.be/uUFklia47WM

School Hell part 2

The first two of my friends that came along at the new school were Jim and Jenny.

I will always remember that Jim had bad ankles so he wore cowboy boots for support. When the weather was bad, recess took place in the indoor gymnasium, but due to his bad ankles, Jim wasn’t able to wear sneakers to play on the basketball court. So on those rainy/winter days, I sat with him on the bleachers and we played board games and/or talked to Jenny. But on nice days we had a mission that I will never forget. Some of my favorite memories of grade school was of an oval blacktop track, in the back of the school, that was used by the track team. Jim and I would create maps (usually during class lol) that showed enemy army positions along this oval ring and during recess we would fight our way around the entire track field.

(I will  also never forget the time when Jim and I were playing on the playground and I saw a group of girls covering something with rocks on the road. I can’t remember if I knew what it was, or if I wanted to find out what it was, but I went and got it. It was a doll arm that the girls had “buried”. Well they told the teacher what I had done so next recess I had to write 100 times on the black board “I will not dig up graves.” Are you kidding me?!? So now the curiosity of a child is likened to a grave robber. Teachers suck, just like people.)

Jenny… I don’t know why Jenny hung around with us. She was a pretty girl and I guess I kind of took a shining to her even at that young of an age. You know that feeling you get in your stomach when a certain someone comes along? That was Jenny. She was cool too and didn’t seem to mind hanging out on the bleachers with us.

Later on, Lisa began to hang around with us too. I think she fit in well because she was sort of a tomboy who liked to play our imaginary war-games. She soon became the third musketeer in our conquest of the track-field.

The sad fact is all good things must come to an end.

Jenny would be the first to go. I think it was the start of a new school year and she… just wasn’t there. I lived in the country so I never kept in contact with other kids. I don’t know why, but I never used the phone to talk to other kids and I can count the times on one hand that any kid from school came to my house to play. During summer break it was just me, myself and I for the most part. I only played with kids from school during the school year at recess. But I have never forgotten her and she always seems to pop into my mind now and then. I still wonder to this day about her.

Jim was the next one to come and go, almost like a gypsy. He had disappeared for a year,  maybe two (the early school years are a hazy memory for me), when to my surprise I saw him again at the start of a new year. I know I asked where he had been, but he never really said and I didn’t push it. I was just glad he was back. But the following year Jim didn’t return to school and I never saw him again.

And Lisa, I think Lisa just became less of a tomboy and more of a girl. We graduated together, but at some point in time during the years of grade school we became distant and I don’t remember why. It is odd how my memories work. I remember the times we played together but I don’t remember when we stopped.

I guess it is normal for people to move in and out of friendships as time passes, but that didn’t happen to me. I never made friends easily. When I finally reached 7th grade, my group was gone. I didn’t even seem to fit in with the misfits anymore. I wasn’t a jock, or a brain, or a motor-head, or druggie, or, as it would seem, even a misfit. I was 100% under the radar.

(This is also the year that my brother will die. He will graduate in May and be killed four months later in a car wreck. Even though, by this point, we are no longer hanging out, it will still be one less person in my life.)

Being under the radar had a good point and a bad point. The good was that I didn’t belong to any group that someone hated. I got along equally well with almost everyone in my class. The downside was that you never had friends or were invited to do anything.

I really like what Martha said in her comment on part 1.

“Introverts are very selective about friends, and sometimes end up alone for awhile until they find the right ones.”

How true this is.

School, at this point, became something I had to do. I no longer had any interest in it. I watched the clock everyday until 3:15 for the next six years. By the time I reached 9th grade I had stopped bringing books home. I had figured out how to complete everything I needed in a one hour study hall. My work wasn’t great by any means, nor was it even good, but it was enough. I even stopped reading books for school assignments because I could just randomly pick answers and still pass with a “D” on the exam.

My world, the place that I belonged, the place where I could recharge and become alive, started at 3:16.

The greatest school day of my life was the last one. The one that I left that hell hole behind.

School Hell Part 1

There really is no purpose to this post. Just something that needed saying.

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Me and school did not get along, which I have mentioned many times before. Oddly enough, I did not hate school because of a slew of bad experiences, though I didn’t have a lot of great experiences either. I began school in a bigger city (around 18,000 people) were I was quickly introduced to bullying. I still remember this one particular day when a kid threatened to beat me up if I took the bus home. So I waited around on the playground and cried until all the buses left, because I didn’t know what else to do. I was in kindergarten when that happened and very clueless to how life worked. (This probably is when I came to realize, that for the most part, people suck.)

Surprisingly, I was a sort of a gifted child. I say surprisingly because if you had seen my high school grades you wouldn’t think that about me. I wasn’t an eleven year old college student gifted, but I was smart for my age. I think Mom said at that time I was in the top 1% of our state for that age. The school system wanted to put me in advanced classes but my parents decided against it. My folks wanted me to be with kids my own age. I completely understand their decision and I don’t blame them one bit. If I was in the same situation, it would be a tough call for me to make. But unfortunately, I probably should have been placed in the advanced classes because I quickly grew bored of school. Watching the clock until 3:15 had become an art form for me. But there were many other issues as well.

First of all I didn’t click with the kids in my school so it probably wouldn’t have mattered anyway. I was a misfit. I was scrawny, had zero knowledge on how to play sports, was physically uncoordinated, had almost no tan, and overall just an odd person. (My grandfather use to tell everyone that I walked to the beat of my own drum.)

Secondly, my kindergarten or first grade teacher (I really don’t remember which) told my parents that she felt something was wrong with me. Her reasoning for this? Because I painted everything black. Really? Is that your professional opinion? Maybe you should just stick with teaching because I happen to like black. It has been my favorite color my entire life, even to this very day.

Thirdly, I don’t think I had any friends at this school. I can’t remember them if I did. In fact I don’t have any good memories from those first two years at school period. That tells me something right there, because I have plenty of good memories about being at home.

It wasn’t much later, sometime during the second grade, when we moved to a small country town. This town had a whopping population of 1,000. The school here was basically made up of all farm kids and it was bully free. Even better yet, I made three friends.

I will talk about this new school in part 2.