Ruling the Roost ~or~ How to Survive Childhood


Angelic. Check out that hood ornament!

Angelic. Check out that hood ornament!

Who by this time has NOT seen the internet meme that doles out the list of what we kiddos of a certain vintage were able to “survive.” Stuff like playing outdoors until the streetlamps came on, cars without seat belts, saccharin laced Tab cola, red dye #5, and a plethora of other dangers, poisonous weaponry passed off as toys, and ways our mothers laid us down for naps.

I’ve come to task you with a challenge– to take a trip headlong down memory lane. This is one of those projects you can use either way. It can be left behind as a love-note to future family historians generations in advance, or you can do some digging and write about an ancestor’s point of view.

Today, tell your blank page about your childhood, or that of a loved one who also survived it. By childhood, I mean the insignificant daily doings that went on, that in retrospect were so damming that they could be titled “it’s a wonder the human race exists at all now.” Take a walk through your early years and recall the heady smell and creamy mouth-feel of a new jar of school paste. Were you the kid who ate the paste, or the one who sat watching someone else who ate it like it food of the gods?

I am up to my elbows in this Nanowrimo self-induced sickness. As I write this (and it IS SO LOVELY to take a break from fantasy and fiction) I have clocked just over 25,000 words so far. I have passed the half-way point for word counts, goals and calendar days survived under the heading of November 2014!  Woot Woot!  I just might make it after all. This is a bit like our writing topic for today–surviving in spite of all the little real or fretted snares lying about trying to kill us…

Here’s an excerpt from the Mom’s Book of Childhood I will share with you as and example. Maybe next month when my brain re-solidifies, I will post a Nano sample page for anyone who is interested in taking a peek behind the curtain in front of the alter of the Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz…no wait…that was the movie I watched with Doll-baby yesterday. Boy, my brain is really past its own limitations at this point!
When i was about 5, my mom and dad built our house in the country. I loved this time in my life. To save money while the house was being built on a little spot between two bridges over the drainage ditches we called creeks, we moved in with Gramcracker temporarily.

Each day when my dad finished his day job as a house painter working on the Brady Bunch mansions and Tri-Levels that were smothering the woodsy north side of Indy, he zoomed home, picked up my mom and his sandwich and headed out to the country to “work on the house.

“I’m not really sure how he survived it. He left for his job before sun-up in the morning, and then together my parents  were rarely back from the country before my grandmother came home from 2nd shift at the Rubber Company around midnight. Being a kid of very few rules, I staid up as late as I wanted, watching old movies and “spook shows” with my great grandmother Kate who I knew as Granny. The highlight of my semi nocturnal existence was Gramcracker’s home coming each night. She always had a little “something” for me in her pocketbook. I had no understanding of money or origination…I just thought that the Rubber Company must have been the most incredible place in the world.

Arriving home, each night Gramcracker grinned, hugged me tight and called me Goldie. Then she would ceremoniously reach into her trademark large handbag and pull out a prize. Never failing to dazzle me with a treat, there was always something in that big purse for ME! Sometimes the prize from the rubber company was a small carton of chocolate milk, or orange juice. They looked just like the ones at the grocery, only these were so amazingly small… made just for kids, midgets, and Munchkins. Sometimes a pair of Dolly Madison coconut snowball cakes was my treat. A Popeye Pez candy dispenser was not out of the realm of possibility, and sometimes my own pack of Twinkies was the prize nestled next to her Zippo and Luckys. Anything available in the vending machines was open game for my nightly gift.

When i look back on this time with modern  adult eyes I am appalled that I was left alone in the house basically unattended night after night for 6 or so hours with only my Granny to watch me. She was completely immobile, could barely speak and mostly sat in her chair smiling at me, rocking, and never complaining when I stood between her and Gunsmoke on the television.

I’m not sure what kept me from burning down the house, running out into traffic or choking to death during those hours.

I don’t think this arrangement lasted real long though.  After a few months, my mom, pregnant with my brother, became too “big” to help with the “house.” Never mind the lead laced paint fumes, the open stairwell in the floor to the basement, or the 20 mile drive without airbags or safety belts, her tummy and my brother became just too “in the way.”

She started staying home with me and Granny, handing my dad his thermos and sandwich and waving goodbye from the porch as he headed off to Boone county. She headed off to bed of course around 9,

and I watched the spook shows and waited for my Grandma and her pocketbook with Granny…my life went on as usual.

So what moments of childhood can you point to as those survived only via providence of a skilled Guardian Angel? Laugh it up, have a cry, marvel at the terror in the rear-view mirror of life…whatever or however it was…

Maybe someone should write that down…