Monday, February 11, 2008

Old Days

I've heard that song by Chicago for most of my life. Honestly I never related to the song when I first heard it as a teenager. I always liked the line about baseball cards because I collected them at the time. Never in my wildest dreams could I imagine one day relating to the meaning and emotion expressed by those guys some 33 years ago. Ironically I almost cry every time I hear the damn song on the radio now.

The 1970s were my stomping grounds. I grew up, matured, and experienced the change from childhood to teenager to "almost adult" in that decade. The time is now that I understand my father's sadness as he looked back at the fifties. Every now and then I'd catch a moment where he'd drift away to someplace special from the past usually due to a song he'd just heard. I guess I turned out just like him.

My mom & dad were "pretty cool parents" to all our friends while me and my brothers went through our teenage years. My dad even had an old jukebox next to our swimming pool that was filled with rock and roll songs on 45s ranging from Elvis Presley to Kiss. It is/was the time of our lives and we honestly never appreciated it. I do now as one of my own approaches that same difficult time in life.

I heard "Old Days" over the weekend and my mind was swept away to so many things I am forgetting and my memory just barely recalls now. Honestly, at the age of 45, I'm hoping I haven't truly reached my middle life. My hope is that it's about a third or maybe a fourth of the way over. I want to be there for my kid's milestones which my dad missed out on. So just so I have them on record here are some things I really do miss:

  1. My dad. He died way too young.
  2. My grandfather. He also too died way too young. The strange thing was that they both were very young at heart. ALL of me and my brothers' friends loved them both.
  3. Holding Jessie after she finished a bottle during the wee hours of the morning. She was so good. Still is.
  4. Endless baseball games in the backyard with my brothers, cousin, and neighborhood friends.
  5. Riding bicycles all day with my friends and then waking up the next morning without sore muscles and doing it all over again.
  6. Visiting my grandparent’s place in the mountains on Christmas Day. This was like experiencing Christmas in a really fun insane asylum.
  7. Collecting baseball cards.
  8. Tackle football with no pads. I still can't believe none of broke any bones.
  9. Playing soccer competitively. That ended the year Jessie was born. I tore my left ACL in the last game.
  10. My first dog, Inky. He was a Manchester Terrier. Blaze our Chihuahua resembles him a great deal. In fact my mom has noticed the same thing.
  11. Swimming in the huge pool at my parent’s farm. God, it was huge! It could entertain a whole class of thirty students at school's year end.
  12. Playing golf just about every Sunday with the "Young Married Dudes." This was obviously before children came along. Notice the reference to Mott the Hoople's "All the Young Dudes."
  13. My youth group at church circa 1978-79. These were the best years of my young life. Everything centered around this core group of friends. In fact this is when Joan and I became close friends.
  14. Spending all day every July 4th at my grandparents’ place. My whole family are pyromaniacs.
  15. All night bottle rocket wars in my parents’ pasture the rest of July. The cows and horses hid in the woods.
  16. My dad deciding we aren’t going to church on Sunday night and instead makes milkshakes and grilled cheese sandwiches. This was the Chef's Special that was a real treat. If dad were alive he'd love one of Joan's grilled cheese lovelies. The milkshake though is like having a Rembrandt stolen and never recovered.
  17. Having a buddy sleep over and then staying up all night watching movies. How could we function the next day? Jessie does this already.
  18. My Nissan 280ZX which I drove all through college. Stick shift. Five on the floor. I was stupid to ever sell it.
  19. Riding motorcycles in my parent’s pasture. The cows got used to it eventually. But not the horses.
  20. Happy Days, Welcome Back Kotter, The Midnight Special, WKRP, The Carol Burnette Show. There are more but I'm blanking out because my mind is going.
  21. Our first house. I lived as a bachelor in this fairly small old farmhouse for many years before Joan and I got married. When she moved in it really became a home.
  22. Eating shrimp. I had my first allergic reaction when I was 35.
  23. My mom’s home-cooked meals. I still get one every now and then but years ago my brothers, my dad, and me were treated to one almost every night. We actually sat around the table together and discussed the day’s activities. I also think that my mother became my best friend while I dried dishes for her afterwards.
  24. My dad washing our cars. I had no idea what a treat this was until he passed away and I had to let someone else do it. No one could drive into our driveway on a weekend during the warm months without giving up their keys. Seriously. My dad considered this a hobby. I can still picture him sporting a bathing suit or shorts while wearing a set of headphones connected to a Walkman and washing (pick one or all) my mom’s car, my car, my friend’s car, the neighbor’s car, the preacher’s car, the girlfriend’s car, etc.
  25. Playing tennis with my mom after dinner during the summer months. My mom was an avid tennis player at one time. So my dad had a tennis court built on our property at some point during my teen years and we all learned to play. In fact we all became pretty decent at the game. Even though I entertained many friends on that court the best memory of it was seeing my mom across the net. That seems strange because she beat me most of the time.
The photo is of some favorite things I've collected over the years: baseball signed by Hank Aaron, a limited edition Roberto Clemente plate, an antique softball, a rusty railroad spike taken from a track near my grandparents birthplace in Kentucky, and some antique pipes.


Gretchen said...

Wow, what beautiful, wonderful memories! Oh, it sounds so great. I think Jim and I drove a rental Nissan 280ZX on our honeymoon. Too bad you sold it ;)
We have an insane asylum on Christmas each year too.

Thanks for sharing. You always make me think.

Anonymous said...

Awww what a sweet list... sad thing is there are some similiar memories of my own I am already reminiscent of and I am only 27!!! How is Ben doing? Give us an update!

Nurse Betty L. Boop said...

#15-is that why the cow died??? Hiding in the river from your bottle rocket wars?

It is a wonderful list!

kimmyk said...

what great memories bennie!
what happens when you eat shrimp and where were you when you realized you had an allergy? how scary!

number 6? niiice. LOL!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing, those are some great memories! It sounds like your dad was a lot of fun.

Unknown said...

Great story.

I lost my dad when I was only 28, my mom at 34. I miss them more now than ever.

we_be_toys said...

Ok, if it makes you feel any better, I'm 45 too, and I REFUSE to be old! Of course it doesn't keep me from sighing over the "good old days", just like my dad does. Nothing like 70s music to take me there too.

btw, thanks for the kind words on the paintings - I am so rusty chile!