Goodbye Training Wheels, Hello Gravel

I still get a chuckle with my parents about the many incidents I had as a child. I being one of those children that just seemed accident prone.

On this particular sunny day, it was decided that the time for my training wheels to come off my bike was at hand. (I think it was my older brother who decided this. I don’t remember my parents being outside at the time.)

So one side of my bicycle was cleared of a training wheel and I rode around until I got used to it. Then the other side was removed and I rode some more. In no time at all I was biking around just like the big kids do.

As I got more confident my speed became faster and faster. We had a gravel road for a driveway back then and there was a sharp curve to get back to the barns. I remember hitting this curve and I don’t know if the front tire hit something or if I just lost control but the front wheel turned side ways and the bike stopped suddenly sending me face first into the handlebars resulting in a bloody mouth and lots of skin abrasions.

I had already lost my upper front baby teeth and my new ones were starting to grow in when I kissed the handlebars. And as you probably have guessed, I ended up pushing both of those two front teeth back into my head.

So off to the dentist we went where the doctor assured my parents that I was fine and the teeth would resume their course of filling the big hole in my mouth. And eventual they did, though to this day I wonder if that is the reason I have a severe overbite.

Adrenaline Rush of the 70’s

I get a chuckle out of watching My Summer Story (also called It Run’s in the Family) when Ralphy flies down a steep hill on his bicycle making a comment about how he was an adrenalin junkie way back then.

It was fairly quiet living in the country, but my brother and I also had our own form of adrenalin rush. It was called, (dramatic pause), the neighbor’s dog. The meanest, nastiest, two wheel chasing canine you would ever see. That dog could hear you coming a mile away and would lay in hiding so that he could spring into action as soon as you were in his sights. The minute he had a target lock on you, he would be right on your heels with his lips curled, fangs on full display, growling, barking and nipping at your feet every time the pedal came around.

This of course would be the challenge of many a dares, our own little proof of manhood. And it was upon one of these challenges that I was speeding by the venomous house on my three speed bicycle when a gear slipped. The adrenaline had my legs peddling as fast as I could, but the bike just kept movingĀ  slower and slower. I think the only reason the dog wasn’t able to take a chunk of flesh out of my foot was the fact that my feet were just a blur from pedaling so fast. Just when I thought I was dead meat the gear kicked back in and I took off like a rocket.

These days, a dog like that would probably be shot by law enforcement or the owners would be forced to pen him up, but back then it was just a part of life.

The Blizzard of 78

A 1970s remembrance blog for a Hoosier would not be complete without an entry about the Blizzard of 1978.

I was 12 years old and stuck in school. The teachers had moved all the students to the high school auditorium where we watched movies until our parents could come to get us. I only lived a quarter mile from school but I do not remember why I was not able to take the bus home. They may have suspended all bus travel that day. I think we had five inches of snow already and they were forecasting a blizzard.

Around 7 or 8 PM my dad was finally able to get to the school to pick me up. I can vaguely picture the swirling snow in my mind and I remember how cold it was. It was a bad storm for sure, but nothing that we had not seen before. Two days later I had a new meaning to winter wonderland. We had twenty plus inches of snow. I can imagine that it was a nightmare for my parents to deal with all that snow. But for me and my brother it was an amazing time.

We lived in the country in a one story house, and I kid you not, the drift in the back of our house was as high as the roof. You could literally walk up the drift and step right onto the roof of the house. The roads were completely covered. Neither man nor beast stirred as far as the eye could see.

Within a few days my brother and I had so many snow tunnels in the back yard that the Viet Cong would have been envious. Ammo depots were strategically placed throughout the tunnel system filled with snowballs ready to repel any invaders. (Never mind the fact that the roads weren’t even open! lol)

Since we had been supplied with groceries by snowmobile, we just had to wait patiently for the snow plows to open the roads. I do not recall how long it took, I just remember what it was like to finally climb in the car and pull out onto the highway. The drifts must have been ten foot tall on each side of the road. It was like being in a tunnel. You could not see over them, you could only see where you were going and where you had been.

The Blizzard of 78 is one memory I will never forget.

This was the only picture I could find in my parent’s photo albums. It doesn’t show the drift in the back of the house that reached the roof but shows a lot of snow none the less.

Blizzard of 78

What were your memories of the Blizzard of 78?

1970s Remember When…

“All skaters, change directions.” meant something to you.
your phone had a rotary dial.
you believed Mikey died from a Pop Rock and Coca-Cola cocktail.
you watched Saturday Night Live just to see Mr. Bill.
your first love was Wonder Woman, Daisy Duke, or one of Charlie’s Angels.
you lived in the country and getting only four TV stations was normal.
AM radio had the best rock music.
you had to get off the couch to change the channel on your TV.
you had a collection of 8-track tapes.
you actually went outside to play.
you lived for Saturday morning cartoons.
you have done the Hokey Pokey.
Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers were the greatest scifi series ever.
“Na-nu na-nu” meant something to you.
you had Sears Toughskins in multiple colors.
you were a Hoosier and used to drink Chocola.
you were a Hoosier and watched “Cowboy Bob” and/or “Sammy Terry”.
you rode your bike into town and Mom didn’t have to worry about you.
you used to check your TV tubes at the drug store.
you wanted to have the “chuck wagon” from the dog food commercial.
you went into town with your garage door open and house unlocked.
you bought “Bazooka” gum by the box.
your action figure collection consisted of “G.I. Joe” and “Johnny West”.
you remember how fun “Pong” was.
the only thing buckled up in your car was the belt on your pants.
you bought coke in glass bottles and took the empties back to the store.
you sang along with School House Rock.
a predominant color in your childhood photos is “plaid”.
you watched The Bionic Man/Woman, Wonder Woman, or the Incredible Hulk.
spent all your hard earned money on Space Invaders.
you got in trouble for using the in store C.B. displays without a license.
you know what “Time for Timer” means.

A Time When Cereal had Toys

The only thing better than a walk down the cereal isle was getting to browse thru your local toy store. Not only where you presented with cereal of every shape and flavor conceivable by man, but each box contained a wondrous toy that held endless possibilities. I can imagine the frustration of our mother as we looked at every single brand of cereal to see which one had the best toy.

I will never forget the time my eyes lit up when I spied a toy car in Fraken Berry cereal. It was a beauty. You could just tell it was built for speed. A must have for any connoisseur of cereal toys. I quickly grabbed a box and placed into the shopping cart. Now all I had to do was wait a few agonizing days until my current cereal was consumed.

That day did finally arrive. I sat at the table ogling the toy car in it’s plastic bag as I poured myself a bowl of Franken Berry cereal. The quicker I ate my breakfast the quicker the fun could begin. I scooped up a spoon full of strawberry goodness and shoveled it into my mouth. At that moment my chewing slowed down to a halt as my brain sent a message to my taste buds. “You do not like strawberry cereal, this stuff is awful.”

Now my parents weren’t dirt poor but money was tight and it was not wasted. That meant I had to eat every bit of that cereal. I do not remember if it took a week or two weeks to finish it off, but I learned that a toy is not worth the price of taste.

I think my favorite cereal box toy was a catapult and castle that came out of King Vitamin. You would set the castle up then use the catapult to knock it down. I would love to hear what other peoples favorite was.

Sadly, they only offer activities on the back side of boxes now. Law suits and profit margins have driven that magic from breakfast.

The two cereals I ate most were Quisp and King Vitamin. I still buy King Vitamin from time to time but Quisp was taken off the market until recently. I just found out that Quaker Oats are offering Quisp thru the Internet. I will soon be ordering a box of nostalgic memories.

Quisp Cereal
Quisp Cereal
King Vitamin Cereal
King Vitamin Cereal


Cap Guns and Bang Caps

The sun was beating down on me from its zenith position in the sky. I wiped away a bead of sweat from my brow, who’s slow descent was threatening to temporarily blind me.

I was crouched down behind the cement pedestal that surrounded the hand water pump. It had protected me well. The battle had started earlier this morning and lasted thru to the afternoon. The distinct smell of black powder filled the air and streams of red paper lay at my feet.

My adversary was behind the old barn about 100 yards in front of me. I could see by his shadow he was getting ready to make his move. The steel of the gun felt warm in my hands as I loaded the last roll of ammo. As the sound of gun fire reached my ears, I raised my pistol and began to return fire.

Bang Caps were practically a Saturday ritual for my brother and I. They came in a white, red and blue box that contained five rolls of caps. I do not remember the name of the gun I had. It was silver with white grips and loaded from the side. The cap chamber (where you would put bullets in a real gun) lifted like a gull wing door. I had played with the gun so much that eventually the grips fell off as well as the sliding chamber. I always loved the smell of those guns after firing a bunch of caps.

Bang Caps And a Cap Gun
Bang Caps And a Cap Gun

It was on that same cement pedestal that we discovered the magic of what happens when you hit a whole roll of caps with a hammer. I kid you not, I think my ears rang for about ten minutes after that incident. We would also use a rock with a sharp end and scratch at the raised bubble which would cause a flash and puff of smoke.

Amazing how such a simple toy could provide hours of fun.