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James R. Stout

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The Days and Nights of My Childhood

     This is just a little bit of me thinking back on how things were for me as a child. Consider it a sort of “stream of conscientiousness”. Never mind negatives for this little bit of remembering. Some people might read these and think they were negative, but trust me when I tell you I look back on them all with fondness. Feel free to comment with your own memories from those days gone by. Consider this a “family sharing time”! Here we go . . .

1. Going to bed on a summer night with the windows open. The attic fan was running and a faint breeze from outside cooled the air. No quilts or blankets. Just sheets. Clean sheets at that because Mom stayed home and sheets had to be clean so far as Mom was concerned. Occasionally, when the attic fan timer would shut off the fan for awhile, I would lay there in the dark and could hear the trains in the distance as they rumbled down the tracks and would blow their horns at crossings. It was a soothing sound.

2. Playing all day outside during the summer. There were some woods next to the house and they provided a world of exploration and make believe games. One day we played army (I always wanted to be Sgt. Saunders from “Combat”). The next day we were on a safari exploring the jungles of Africa. Another day we might be future astronauts visiting a far away planet. Everyday was an adventure.

3. Friday nights the whole family would pile into the car and go to the drive-in movie. We were poor so Mom popped popcorn at home and we took a big jug of iced cola, popcorn, and a box of those little miniature Butterfinger candies. There were always two features showing. For 50 cents (that’s what my parents would pay for me) I could see John Wayne, James Stewart, Gregory Peck, Audrey Hepburn, and so on. Of course, there was always “Bond, James Bond”. I usually made it through both movies, but sometimes I would nod off before the second movie. I have memories of being half awake in the back seat of the car as we drove home. I felt completely and totally secure. Life was great. I would stumble into the house, brush my teeth in about 2 nanoseconds, put on some pajamas and climb into bed.

4. On Sunday morning we would get ready for church. When we left the house there was a traffic jam from all the other families heading for church too. It was the busiest traffic of the week. Things have changed in that regard, huh?

5. Sometimes on a summer night we would get out the lawn chairs and sit out in the front yard to look at the stars. The whole family mind you. Families actually used to spend time together. You could see the stars even in the city back then. We would look for shooting stars, satellites, and try to count the stars. Sometimes I would lay down in the cool St. Augustine grass with my hands behind my head for a pillow and get the full view. I never wanted to go in - unless it was Friday night because  where we lived we got “The Outer Limits” at 10:30 p.m. on Fridays. I was always up for that.

6. Speaking of T.V., some of the shows we would watch were “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.”, “Twelve O’clock High”, “Combat”, “Hogan’s Heroes” (my Dad always loved the theme song for that show!) “ISpy”, “The Red Skelton Hour”, “Bonanza”, “Rawhide”, all the westerns, and later on “The Time Tunnel”, “Star Trek”, “The Invaders”, “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea”, and the many sitcoms such as “Andy Griffith”, “Bewitched”, “I Dream of Jeanie” (which I usually did!), and so many more. We got in 2 channels good and sometimes a third. We had a big tall antenna that my Dad would have to go outside and turn by hand while one of us kids stood at the door to let him know when the station we wanted to watch came in good.

     Well, I’ve only barely scratched the surface of those goods times. I haven’t even mentioned music, school, special occasions, special friends now gone, etc. Perhaps another time. Please share your good memories in the comments. I would be willing to bet we have some very similar memories in common. 

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