Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Flower Child I Was Not

Being born in 1961, my most vivid childhood memories are of the late 60’s and early 70’s. When I went looking for a Google image to post with my blog, my search led me to very psychedelic looking things. It was considered to be the age of Flower Children, LSD, making love not war. It actual fact, growing up in Owen Sound, Ontario during that time was more like Leave it to Beaver. The biggest rebellion going on in my household was my brother’s desire to wear his hair a little bit below his ears. I do remember every time I visited my grandfather he would give my brother 25 cents to get a hair cut!

I also remember a variety of other moments:

Shopping: The only place to shop was “down town.” There was no mall. We parked on the street, put a nickel in the parking meter and walked up and down the street to buy our needed items. And they were needed items. Shopping was not a past time, it was a chore. If it was a day when my mother didn’t have the car we took the bus which came every hour on the hour. Because we couldn’t bring a bunch of groceries on the bus, the grocery store would delivery them to our house. My grandmother even just called the store and told them what she wanted and they would bring them to her door and sometimes even helped her put the groceries away.

This never happened on a Wednesday afternoon. Stores were closed then to make up for the fact they were open on Saturday mornings. The banks closed each day at 3:00 pm. We were strictly a cash society so we had to plan our purchases around having the money out of the bank and into our wallet. There were no ATMs or debit cards. My mother did have a credit card that she was only allowed to use sparingly. It was a Chargex Card. "Will that be Cash or Chargex?" The company eventually changed the name to VISA.

Playtime: Often my mother would kick us out of the house. We would get in the way of her cleaning the house, which was her job. We didn’t call Family and Children Services, we just joined all of the other kids in the neighbourhood who had been kicked out of their houses as well. We spent the entire day outside just doing stuff. Mostly we explored in the woods a block away that is now filled with houses. We built forts. We wandered. To be honest I can’t remember exactly what we did all day. My brother played endless games of baseball in the warm months and endless games of road hockey in the cold months. Without a watch, we always knew when lunch and supper were ready. After supper we often had a neighbourhood game of “Kick the Can.” The game was always over when the streetlights came on. We knew every kid in the neighbourhood five years older and five years younger.

I was five when we first moved into the new house I spent the rest of my childhood. Our new house was built on the vacant lot where all the kids had played ball. The first thing I remember was my new best friend Donna Macdonald telling me my family took their play lot away. We soon found another lot to play on until several years later a church was built there. By then we were in senior elementary school so we were too cool to go outside and play any more. We just went on bike rides instead. We always ended up in a different neighbourhood where Donna’s cute boy of the month (or week) lived.

School: School was our job. My parents did not give us chores. Our job was to do well in school, no exceptions. I never got in trouble at school, because I just didn’t. It was unsaid, it was not acceptable to talk back or misbehave. My parents ALWAYS agreed with the teacher. I didn't find out until just recently they actually didn’t always agree, but they certainly had my brother and I convinced they did.

Snacks: At school there was no snack time like there is today. For some time now it is expected we provide class-time for students to have morning and afternoon snack. When I first started teaching, kids had snacks with them, but ate outside. Now, because of garbage concerns, and so many kids with bee sting and food allergies, we don’t allow the kids to eat outside. Back in the day, when I was a kid (God, I’m sounding soooo old) we didn’t have snacks. We ate breakfast, lunch and supper. All meals were made by mother at home, and we ate them together with the whole family. Always. We never stayed at school for lunch. I walked home each day. Some days my mother would give me a quarter to stop at the store to buy bread. The bread cost 23 cents and I was allowed to keep the 2 cents change to buy candy. That was a real treat as that two cents would give me a little brown bag full of penny candy.

Food: TV dinners were considered a big treat. They were only for those very rare times my parents were not at home and we had a babysitter. Pop and chips were only for company. I distinctly remember a roast every Sunday night. In the winter this was always after my brother’s hockey game. While we ate the roast, my father gave my brother a play by play recap of the game along with “advice.” I took piano lessons….my father never had advice for me.

TV: Leave it to Beaver was a re-run I watched every school day at lunch time. As soon as it was over I knew I had to start running to get back to school on time. Later it was changed to I Love Lucy re-runs. My brother and I held Friday night sacred for TV watching. It was Batman and Get Smart. It wasn’t until many years later I discovered they were comedies. I took both shows very seriously. The Flintstones was the first show I ever saw in colour. I vividly remember that moment at Judy Cunningham’s house. On those few evenings there was a babysitter, she would let me stay up late to watch “The FBI”. That was when I learned the word “Epilogue.” They showed this word on the screen prior to the last scene of the episode. Whenever I hear the word epilogue being used, I always remember the baby sitter and "The FBI". I also vaguely remember being at my aunt’s house on a Sunday night watching the Ed Sullivan Show. There was some strange group called the Rolling Stones playing. All of the adults in the room were disgusted by their long hair……

I am beginning to see a common thread through all of this. We were obsessed with hair in the late sixties.!Maybe I should write a Broadway play about it......

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