Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Well, here I go again. Yesterday I was reading Gord Harrison's blog, It Strikes Me Funny, and as I was leaving a comment I got to thinking about old times, and old friends. He asked about small pleasures. I recalled the many times I was playing with my friend, Jack, and we would decide we needed a little treat. We both loved those big Hershey bars of milk chocolate. (They were considerably bigger in those days than they are now.) Jack always wanted to go to his mom for candy, because she always gave us a whole strip of those little squares. My mom only gave us two squares each. But she always gave us saltine crackers too, to "take the dark brown taste out of your mouth". I still love a couple of squares of chocolate on a saltine.
Maybe it was because Jack's mom had three boys. My mom had two girls and a boy, and I was the youngest by eleven years, so might as well have been an only child. My mom was always worrying about stupid things like safety and health. Jack's mom sort of took the attitude that what happens, happens, and we'll worry about it after it's happened.
Our houses were very similar. At our house, we'd go up into the attic to play sometimes. We'd open boxes and trunks, and play with various things we would discover. Our attic was as spotlessly clean as the rest of my mother's house, and there was a safety railing around the stairwell. But I liked playing in Jack's attic. It was dark and dusty and dirty. The stairwell came up in the middle of the floor, with no railing, so we could play cops and robbers, and jump from one "rooftop" to another over that stairwell when the chase was on. We only fell down it a few times, and I only sprained my wrist once. Not bad.
Out of sight of my house, we climbed trees together, and jumped off the garage roof, and went down the sewer after a stray ball, and explored the woods nearby. There were some caves, and a stream with an old rotting bridge. And there was a quarry not too far away. I could scale the walls of the quarry in nothing flat. My mom would have fainted if she'd seen me.
I was pretty good at getting dirty. I mean really dirty! My mother was crazy clean. The only place in our house that was dirty was the coal bin in the basement. And yes, I managed to get into that too. When coal was delivered, the man dragged a long chute from the truck to the little window in the coal bin. When he was done and went into the house for his payment, before he put the chute back, Jack and I would climb into the window and slide down the pile of coal to the basement floor, run up the steps, and repeat this as often as time allowed. When the man came back he'd always chase us, but I think he left the chute there for us on purpose.
Gee! It's been a long time since I climbed a tree or explored a cave - or slid down a coal pile.