Ah, The Good Old Days

Looks like store displays have made the change from vacation fun to back to school. Out with the flip-flops and beach towels and in with the backpacks and spiral notebooks. Yep, there are just a few more weeks for kids to enjoy the freedom of summer and it’s got me to wondering just how their days will be spent. Back in the day you’d have found me hitting the streets with the neighborhood kids looking for something to get into. We were “running wild” as my grandmother used to say.

If I could turn back the birthday clock and be 10 again for a day there are a few childhood joys that I’d find missing here in the 21st century.

  • Roaming freely around the neighborhood without concern. We were out the door in the morning, back for meals and out until bedtime. The words “I’m bored” always got the response, “go outside.”
  • Neighborhood creeks. There was a creek within walking distance of our house. It was a favorite haunt for cooling off and collecting watery things like tadpoles, crawfish and bream.
  • Fireflies. Where did all the fireflies go? Except on a recent trip to New York state I haven’t seen a single one this summer. We used to make lanterns by placing fireflies in Mason jars, which may be why there aren’t any around anymore.
  • Shopping at five and dime variety stores. I used to love to get cleaned up and head downtown with my grandparents to the Ben Franklin or Lay’s. I could spend an eternity browsing through all the treasures and art supplies at these stores.
  • Rear-facing station wagon seats. Claiming shotgun was never an issue when one of these was available. Oh the joy of sitting backwards looking out the big, often open, rear window. It also helped that the back of the station wagon was out of parental reach. Heaven was getting that seat all to yourself on a road trip.

What would you miss from “the good old days” if you were 10 today?

54 Responses to Ah, The Good Old Days

  1. patti g says:

    Thanks for reminding me of those wonderful days. I loved spending time at my grandmothers during the late 1940′s. She lived way out in the country, had no automobile, just an old mule and wagon. I loved riding on the end of the wagon with my feet swinging and her old dog next to me. Early each morning we’d go out to her garden and gather the veggies and fruit for canning. If it was “butter making day” I was allowed to sit on the porch and churn butter. Later I’d sit in the swing and watch the hummingbirds dash from flower to flower or chase butterflies until I was “red in the face” (Grandmother’s expression for over-exerting oneself). As for fireflies, I have had plenty of them this year, mainly because I do not use any pestisides, and despite the extreme heat here in the Athens, GA area.

  2. Dolly Sarrio says:

    I love this. I want to copy some of these beautiful gardens. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. Denise says:

    Allen…
    “…If you have a heavy infestation of wild garlic, you may have to resort to using chemicals 2, 4-D is a herbicide that kills broadleaf weeds as well as wild garlic…”

    You and your staff must know that this herbicide is illegal — No?? Please tell me this was a mistake. Someone by the name of Rachel wrote about this a really long time ago now… Silent Spring ..remember?

    The stuff is surely NOT a safe product!

    Denise

    • Mary Ellen says:

      Hey Denise! – Thanks for catching the 2, 4-D reference. That Q&A was written many years ago and the info is outdated. We’ll get that removed ASAP.

      Appreciate your pointing it out to us.

      Best,
      Mary Ellen
      Digital Manager for P. Allen Smith

  4. Denise says:

    Sorry… thought the above would post to the weed section of your website. That’s where I read the part I quoted… in an answer to the gardner who has trouble with wild garlic. Did not think it would show up here.

  5. Bo says:

    Thanks a lot for finding the time to describe the terminlogy towards the starters!

  6. Christine Palmer says:

    Waking up after a midday nap and feeling a breeze coming through the open window that caused the curtains to move softly across my face. There would always be the sound of a small plane flying over head and a rain bird sprinkler singing its unique melody as it watered the lawn.

  7. Margaret says:

    My brother and I are Baby Boomers and our Good Old Days are similar to the article. Shortly after breakfast we got kicked out of the house for some fresh air. As long as we were in the range of my father’s piercing whistle [it could be heard for 4 blocks] we could roam freely. We were reeled in for lunch and a nap during the heat of the day then out again until dinner time. The word ‘bored’ was a dirty word in my house. The solution to this was: Go outside and read book! The children today don’t know what they’re missing.

    Fairfield county Connecticut still has fireflies and butterflies. I miss my childhood stargazing. The lights from I-95 and the cities interfere with past time.

  8. Sue Powers says:

    Growing up we traveled a good bit as our Dad was a Coast Guardsman, but that meant we lived in neat places like Miami, Florida, Oahu, Hawaii and Kodiak, Alaska. Dad retired in Biloxi, MS but I remember such treats as sledding and TRULY walking up hill both ways in the snow during the school year in Alaska, wearing fresh leis and homemade hula skirts on Lei Day in Hawaii and taking cousins down to the ocean shore to play in Miami and on the Gulf Coast of MS. A drive from Miami, Florida to Seattle, Washington (with all the sights in-between) to take a ship to Kodiak (no AlCan highway then). My mom, the trooper, would cook for us on a Coleman stove (not any fast-food restaurants either:) This opportunity to share such fond memories is such a joy! Thank you Mr. Smith for the gracious charm with which you give audience to so many people.

  9. p joseph says:

    growing up on a farm in ne s.dak..in the winter we owuld sneak up in the haymow, in the barn…and peek, down to watch a cow have a calf…using the flashlight…sneaking back out of the barn, pretending we were outside in the snow the whole time..hand milking the cows before school and after school. and of course all summer long too…, picking potato bugs off the potato’s…pleading to get the car, so we could drive to town to go rollerskating on sat night..

    going barefoot all summer…tying ropes in a old willow tree, so we could practice being jane and tarzan…and realizing..it wasn’t as easy as Tarzan did it….playing hide and seek…playing tag…I never walked down stairs..I hopped down…when was the last time you jumped rope???? when was the last time you skipped???

    and having my lil house in a break in the trees and making mud pies on the lil stove….and begging and pleading for my aunt to please, please come and visit and have some cookies with me…and bless her soul, she came down and visited with me,,,and told me how good my mud pie cookies were and my green tea…(water that was green w/scum)

    and every year having a lamb that was raised on a bottle bec ause the mother would not accept it…and every one of them were named Orphan Annie every year….

    in the winter, I wouldpull my lil brother on his sled with my horse…with a long rope tied around h orses shoulders…we would slowly walk to end of driveway,,turn around and race back up the driveway as fast as we could go……to add a lil excitement to it…we would make piles in the driveway so that the sled would fly thru the air….our uncle was furious…he had spent hours on the tractor in the cold, getting that hard frozen snow out of the driveway, and here we kids were putting it back in driveway…

    summertime, we”d ride over tot he neighbors, and take a bunch of green apples off his apple tree…(no one lived there) we always heard…”your gonna get sick’ but we never did…eating wild gooseberry’s, when they were green…we thought they were declicious…just like those green apples….standing in the haystack, waiting for the next load of hay, and looking at the clouds, finding horses, snakes, other animals in the sky…why dont’ we do that anymore?????

    having bb guns and being the lone ranger and tonto…or roy rogers and dale evans or lash larue or hop a long cassidy…

    walking out to close the coop door for the young chickens, just at dark, and having a skunk walk out in front of me…me screaming my lungs out, running for the house…aunt and uncle come running what is wrong…A skunk, a skunk…uncle gets out the shotgun, i run into the house, jump in bed, and cover up…skunk is now next to house, uncle is shooting. aunt is screaming “don’t shoot there,dont’ shoot there, that’s the bedroom” and the pellets are hitting the bedroom wall…

    i still dont’ k now if he got that skunk….it was like the keystone kops..

    getting company, and hearing aunt say to us…”grab a couple chickens so we can feed our company.’….We’d grab a couple chickens do the dirty deed with a axe, get rid of the feathers and innards…and then it was up to her to do the real cleaning and cooking of that chicken…

    picking eggs evry day…so we could sell them at the creamery and most of that money went for food at the store. what lil we bought, because we had our own veg’s, meat, and usually homemade bread…

    after drinking coffee, uncle would look in the bottom of the cup, to examine those coffee grounds, and predict whether we would have compnay or not today…and he was never wrong…and he promised to tell me that secret some day and he never did, and i was furious with him for that….

    lil brother taking his bike, me taking my horse and we would sneak off down to the lake 5 miles away..and we’d play in the water all day long…getting home before dark, or once n awhile auntie would walk down and be furious with us…we would get on our transportation and take off for home..and leave her to walk all alone…somehow…it didn’t matter cause we’d probably do it again in 2 weeks….horrible children….

    as we got older we spent hours on the tractors in the field, plowing, (uncle used to call lil bro, the youngest plowman in So Dak) cultivating corn, cutting hay, raking hay, but we were never allowed to run the combine, or the corn picker…he felt that was too dangerous for us…and he never let us plant any grain or corn, cause that took accuracy….

    but the things we did on the farm???? were done by all kids on the farm…. it was just a natural thing…..

    going over to the neighbors….and playing in that old model A? T? that sat beside the shed that had a rumble seat in it…

    and once in awhile giong in the neighors house and taking a couple cartons of cigarettes..she smoked pall mall, he smoked winstons..so we’d take a carton of each….. and we would go home and puff on those cigarettes and talk about the price of grain, and how many acres we had and how many bushels we got this year..we were gonna be farmers, just like our uncle….

    uncle used snuff, he didn’t smoke…of course we tried snuff, but it just made us sick….
    Years later I saw those neighbors and told them about us taking a few cartons once or twice…and she said…

    “you know, I thought I had a carton missing, but I figured Delmar had smoked them….and Delmar thought once in awhile he had a carton missing, but he figured i had smoked them, so we never even mentioned it…”

    ahhhh the good ole days…I sure miss them…..and I had the best childhood of any kid in the world……

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