Wednesday, May 21, 2008

More Childhood Memories, Part...Um, I've Lost Track

I suppose watching Miss Emmy growing up before my very eyes has made me a bit introspective about my own childhood. As I see her experiencing new things and learning more every day, it tends to make me try to see things more from a child's perspective.

For example, Jessica and I were talking just the other day, wondering how much of what Emmy learns now that she'll retain as she grows older. What is she really thinking as she's playing and learning? What's really going through her little mind? Does she think we're totally insane as we sing silly songs and make rude noises at her, trying to coax her to laugh and mimic us?

I know that Emmy will have very different memories as she grows up because she's growing up in a very different world than the world in which I was raised, but it's my most earnest prayer that some things that I experienced will be present in her life as well. My childhood wasn't perfect by any means, and my sisters and I experienced some difficult times as we grew up, as most families do, but we had love and we had each other. Love truly does cover a multitude of sins. Thank you Lord for that!

I pray that Emmy will grow up surrounded by family and a host of life long friends, knowing that she's loved unconditionally, and that when the hard times come, as they inevitably will, that she'll have precious, happy childhood memories to cherish and hold close to her heart, as I do my own memories.

Our memories are unique to each of us as individuals and mold us as we grow and mature from infants to adults and into our golden years. These are just a few of my childhood memories about Spring and Summer as I was growing up in the late 1960's into the 1970's.I remember a little 4 room shotgun shack on a gravel road, just a mile outside of Trumann, Arkansas. We moved there in the late 1960's and after living in "Town", moving to a 2 acre yard with cotton fields on every side was like being let out of prison for Cecil and me, and the nieces and nephews that came along shortly after us.

That tarpaper shack was home. Not just home, but HOME. We had the run of the place and we made the most of it. I don't know if anybody else has noticed, but when you're a kid you tend to be short, which means you're close to the ground. When you're close to the ground you're closer to the plants and flowers and see things in closer detail than after you grow up and farther away from those things.

I remember the smell of clover flowers. Do you remember the last time you actually smelled clover flowers, or do you just think of it as a pesky weed that has no place in your lawn? We never had a lawn, we had a yard, and every Spring mounds of clover sprouted and awaited our scrutiny as we searched for four leaf clovers. When the blooms came along we alternated between making clover blossom necklaces and shrieking at the tops our lungs as we ran from poor honey bees as they innocently tried to collect pollen from the blooms.

Now I see them as innocent, but back then they were stinging devil-possessed bugs whose sole mission in life was to sting us to death. Or worse, whatever's worse than being stung to death. I remember also that my imagination was fairly vivid when I was 6 years old. Ahem.

I remember the sweet scent of that clover and the sun warmed grass when we'd lay in it, looking at puffy white clouds in that impossibly blue sky, searching for animal shapes in those clouds. Of course, I also remember the itching and stinging of my legs when Mama gave us a sponge bath with a soapy rag in the dishpan before bed. That grass got it's revenge for us rolling in it when those invisible and unnoticed grass cuts came alive with that soapy water!

I remember my sister Ducky's pear tree that bloomed every Spring. I loved those poofy white and pink blossoms. They had a sweet dusty scent that made me sneeze every time I inhaled a deep snoofle of their fragrance, but it didn't stop me from smelling them over and over again. They smelled like dusty sunshine, with a fruity undertone.

I remember making bouquets of dandelions and clover and whatever else I could cobble together. Some I kept to put in an old bottle I used for a vase in my playhouse out by the storm cellar, and some I presented to Mama. She'd accept them and say "Thank You!" just as if they'd come from the finest florist, and keep them in her little pink and white hobnail vase until they wilted beyond resurrecting before she tossed them out.

I remember red and yellow 4 o'clocks that bloomed every Summer under our bedroom window. I've grown some 4 o'clocks since I married and had my own place, but none have ever been as intoxicating and intensely fragrant as those that bloomed every afternoon on those hot Summer days. What a heavenly scent that wafted in through the screen on those Summer evenings as I lay sweltering on top of the sheets, thankful for every meager little breeze that found its way inside.

It was endlessly fascinating to me how those flowers knew to bloom every afternoon at the same time! Every afternoon, those blooms would open like, well, clockwork! If you were still long enough to sit and watch them, you could see those flowers actually open before your very eyes. And when the flowers opened I knew Daddy would be home soon, because he got off work at the Singer Sewing Machine plant at 4 o'clock every afternoon, you see.

I remember one time after a good rain, Cecil and I had the bright idea of throwing mud balls at the outdoor toilet. Of course the mud dried on there, and the next time Mama had to make a trip down the back path, it almost literally hit the fan! She made us rake off the mud we could reach with old cotton stalks and sticks.

When you're young and short, that puts you pretty close to the business portion of a privy. That was a punishment in itself, never mind dodging the various bugs and insects that always seem to be attracted to such, um, fragrant things. Of course the next hard rain took care of the mud we couldn't reach.

I remember we had a china berry tree (anybody besides me remember those?) which I dearly loved, even at 6 years old. It had beautiful smooth shiny bark and lacy foliage, and sweet smelling purple star-like flowers. The flowers made clusters of hard green berries that stung pretty good when chucked at you by a skilled thrower. Not that I'd personally know anything at all about that.

We had a huge sycamore tree in the front yard that had silver dollar-sized seed balls on it every Fall. Now they downright stung when you got winged with one of those. Once again, I came by that knowledge anonymously.

I remember coming home from school on one of those first truly warm Spring days to find all the doors and windows open and being greeted by the clean smell of Pine*sol and lemon*Pledge. We knew before we got up the porch steps that Mama had been cleaning house. After a long Winter of the house being closed up and having a wood fire every day, airing out the house was a welcome thing and signaled that Spring was surely in the air, quite literally.

I remember Mama forever getting onto us for slamming the screen doors. But when you're 6 years old and you run everywhere you go, (where did we EVER find the energy?!) who has time to slow down and gently shut the screen door behind you? Life is too short for that, even at 6 years old apparently.

I remember long Summer evenings when we could stay outside as late as we wanted and chase lightning bugs and look at the stars, or until 8:30, whichever came first. Daddy had to get up early to go to work, so that meant everyone went to bed by 9 pm every night. We didn't have air conditioning in 1969, and only one or 2 box fans, so we slept with the doors and windows open and the screen doors on a hook latch. For that matter, our door didn't even have a lock on it, except for a slide bolt on the inside to keep it from blowing open at night, and it was rarely used.

I remember simpler, happy days, growing up in more innocent times.I hope you all have happy memories of your childhood, and I challenge you to put some of those memories down in words on your blogs, not just for your children and grandchildren to treasure, but also to bring those memories alive again for yourself.

Also, I'm selfish. I'd like to read them as well. :o)

I hope y'all are having a wonderful late Spring week.


Our Home Schooler and Jen said...

Im sure that Emmy will know she is surrounded by heaps of people who love her

All she is learning now will be the building blocks of all her future learning

I use to make daisy chain necklaces when i was a girl :)

We had lots of clover growing in our back yard at my childhood home and i often looked

I had a great imagination as a child too I was convinced for years that fairies lived in an apple tree in our backyard

I remember putting buttercups under our chins and finding out whether we liked butter or not

I LOVED our wild violet flower bed picking many a bunch over the years
Ive been thinking recently that Id like a flower bed like we had

We had access to a holiday house and yes the creepy crawlies liked the outhouse

Oh yes I use to LOVE day light saving where we too could go out outside again after 6pm dinner

thanks for sharing Diane it was interesting

Our Home Schooler and Jen said...

you inspired me go look at my blog and thanks

Jo said...

I have found that no matter how bad a person's childhood was, there are still good things that happened that is a treasure to have as memories of long agao growing up.

Thanks for sharing your childhood memories sweety. May Miss Emmy's memories of growing up be happy ones too. Wouldn't it be great if we could shelter them from any bad that could come into their little lives?

thislittlepiggy said...


Tammy said...

What beautiful memories you have! I found myself smiling as I recalled doing a lot of the same things you did as I grew up on a farm.

You are right! There was a certain freedom about having so much land to wander around, investigate and just have fun on.

I believe Emmy is extremely blessed to have a grandmother like you!

Sammy said...

Wonderful post, Diane! Your language is so descriptive. I could really picture the sights you describe.

I grew up in a small, rural area and remember creating fun with the other kids in the neighborhood. We'd stay outside as long as we could on summer nights, running around barefoot.

From the looks of Emmy playing in the mud in your last post, I'd say she's going to have some wonderful childhood memories as well! I just love how you all let her get dirty and play! Parents here in Manhattan just don't do that, and I think it's sad. Kids need to explore their environments fully. That means getting dirty sometimes!

Excellent post! This one will be a treasure.


Betty said...

We all have some happy and some not so happy childhood memories. Thanks for sharing your's, Diane. Little Emmy is so cute, and I can't get over how much she looks like you. You and your daughter must look just alike.

Jess said...

Well, I really enjoyed this post. I know that I grew up in complete different times with central heat and air, inside toilet, and all those comfortable things...but, I can honestly say that I was wrapped in love my whole entire life, and still am. Family is so important to me...I mean I don't know what life would be like without talking to my aunts, and uncles, parents, grandparents and cousins every week...I know I am very lucky and i hope that Emmy is lucky enough to know the family I know. For some reason I don't have the love of plants and bugs that you have...I mean don't get me wrong I love the smell and sight of flowers in bloom, but I just don't have the interest to grow them and know all about them. And as for bugs.. unless it's a ladybug well it needs to stay far away from You know I can picture in my mind how grandma would have been with you guys, because I know that she treated the grandkids like her own. This was a great post mom... I hope I can read more of these in the future. Love you.

Mim said...

Sweetness and all down now for Jess and Emmy to read. I can tell you are very close to your sister's plus you are lucky that in this day and age you all live so close to each other. Very special.

kansasrose said...

This is some of your best writing hon...just beautiful, ver poignant. Emmy is blessed to have kin like you, her momma and daddy, the whole kit and kabodle family surrounding her. She is soppin' up this love, selfless acts of kindness and good you all are living every day around her. She will have good good memories to carry her through life my friend. They will make her strong...holding her up in the tough times too. YOur post made me realize what sweet days childhood was without all the 'stuff' that is around us now. I'm 7 or 8 years older than you hon...but I recall the freedom of running all day into the night when the stars were out with out fear. Making daisy chains, clover chains, snapdragon jewelry, building forts, little red wagon trains, picnics, kool-aid stands. We had no AC either...the fresh cool morning air smells, fresh line dried sheets, ice cream was all heaven. We had some good know down scraps and fights with other kids in the neighborhood, that kind of thing. It was all learning ways though.

I'll have to post more memories on my blog when I get the time...Really enjoyed your are special because of those years...and your loving family. God bless Jen

Dick said...

That was a good post. I had a good childhood, growing up in Spokane, WA in the 1950s. Summers at a lake just a few miles outside town. Building my hotrod when I got to that age. It was good.

Honest to Ya~Ya said...

Clover necklaces...made 'em

Swollen feet from running around barefoot...check!!
Stings and cuts and abrasions...oh my!

Cool bath and shorty pajama's and waiting for a breeze while laying on top of the did we ever do it??

Great post!☺

Mississippi Songbird said...

awwww, love clover necklaces.

Barb said...

I swear, Diane, southeast Texas must be a lot like where you grew up because I share so many of these memories with you. The clover was wonderful and we knew that you could catch the honeybees, spit on your jeans, and if you rubbed the bees backwards on the spit, their stingers would come out. And half their guts but I digress.

I remember the 4 'clocks too and if they'd grow in western Colorado, I'd have them everywhere, I have such fond memories of them.

To this day my mom doesnt' have a screen door. I couldn't begin to tell you how many times we got yelled out for letting the screen door slam. Ridiculous that we even had one since withing two days after Daddy had replaced the screen, yet again, we'd pushed it out, yet again. LOL

GREAT memories!

Barb said...

I wanted to stay and chat longer, but I need to get on to my typing and proofreading class. :-)

Lib said...

What a Beautiful post. Sure took me back to my childhood:o) Thanks!
Have agreat wk.

Susie said...

Hi Diane,
What a lovely post that brought so many wonderful childhood memories to mind. I may take you up on your invitation to travel down my own memory lane once again. I'll let you know if I do.
I remember making clover chains and getting stung by bumblebees quite a few times (seemed like there were more bees in those days!)
Great post!

It's All Good! said...

That was a wonderful read, Diane! I'll have to start writing one soon. I was fortunate to have a nice childhood.

God bless,

Lesa said...

Great post Diane! I must have tied together 100s of clovers to make bracelets and necklaces.
We shot china berries in slingshots - talking about stinging...
I remember running out of the outhouse when wasps or bees were in there! We also had a Sears & Roebuck catalog hanging in there for "use" and I don't mean shopping!
Thanks for sharing your memories and bringing back several of mine!

Reva said...


thanks for your nice comments on my site. It helps to know everyone has something in their lives to count blessings for too. I love your descriptions as I came up just about the same time but in another state. similar stuff though for kids so a good memory booster for many folks I'm sure.

PEA said...

Dear Diane,

I've so enjoyed reading this've made me remember things I did in my childhood that I had forgotten about!! It truly does make me wish I could sometimes go back to those pure innocent days:-)We always made do with what we had and had tons of fun with even the simplest thing. As for Emmy, she is surrounded by such a loving family, she will indeed always feel very loved and blessed. Grandma can teach her many things she used to do in her childhood:-) Take care dear friend and hope you're having a great week!! xoxo

Diane said...

I'm so glad to have found your blog through Stephanie (Mississippi Songbird). I love it. The trip down memory lane gave me the inspiration I need to write some childhood memories of my own. The innocent days...

Would love to have you drop in to my blog too!

Hugs from another Diane!

Rachel said...

Diane, I just loved reading this. It brought a BIG smile to my face. Gosh, I hadn't thought about tarpaper in ages!! I remember my grandma had it on her house. I have heard of china berry trees but can't recall them. There was some kind of a tree that we would go and get berries from every year and it was called a "sarvis" tree? They were orange berries and a real treat!

You write so nicely Diane! You have a real gift there! Do write more childhood memories. I will copy and print this one and read to my husband. I think it will make him smile too, as he also has some of these memories!!

Greeneyes said...

Beatiful Sister friend !
I just got back last night and couldnt wait to catch up ,love these kind of post you write ,just beautiful.
I have to catch my breath and once back on here ,we need to have a long chat ,I miss you dear friend .
By the way I love the latest pic of Emmy ,thanks for sharing ,your new Bio pic is really pretty too ,Sugar for Emmy please and BSHfor you.

Love you sister friend
Miss G

Dawn said...

I,too, was smiling as I thought of many common memories. We had such great imaginations. We used to make playhouses out of everything. We played school, Sugar Creek Gang, missionary, Bible School, house, church, revival, Billy Graham Crusade (are you catching a pattern here?) I need to write these things down as well.

We used to suck the nectar out of hollyhocks, I think. You probably know what I mean if I got it wrong.

Nicely done. I have been wondering when you were going to go back and give us more memories. Emmy is blessed with so many family members, and church friends, to spoil her sweet!

Dawn said...

Yep, it's honeysuckle. I knew you could tell me. It was late and I could only bing up the "ho" part of the name in my poor fried brain. Thanks!

Nancy said...

What a wonderful post! I am older than you but can recall most of the things you wrote about and then some! Maybe someday, time permitting, I will write about some of the things I recall during my childhood years. Sure takes one back to those "good ole days."

Emmy is a real cutie and one blessed little girl to have such a loving family, especially such a loving Grandma as you! I have so many memories of both of my grandmothers. You have inspired me to write about them someday, too!

Thanks for allowing us all to share in your childhood memories! It was wonderful and actually brought a tear to my eye...I totally loved it! God Bless you!!!

Mountain Mama said...

It's fascinating to me that even though we live in different parts of the country and grew up in different generations, we actually experienced many of the same things.
My cousin Carol, whom I grew up with, and I were talking one day many years ago and she said something so profound that I have never forgotten.
She said, "We were poor, but there was so much love we never knew it."
We played the same as you and your sister did, but under different kinds of trees, and our grass didn't cut our legs because it was a soft grass. We didn't have such miserible hot summer days or tornado's to worry about either.

Everything Little Emmy is being taught now will be a part of who she will become, love being most important of all.

Blessings Diane and thanks for sharing.
I may try to do as you suggested. Have to think on it a bit.

MightyMom said...

thanks for sharing dearie, that was wonderful

Lucy Stern said...

Oh my, the memories you have brought back....We had two china berry trees in our front yard and one in the back yard. Dad said that he hated those trees because of those hard berries all over the ground. We used them as weapons and he got tired of stepping on them. He actually cut down one of the trees after Hurricane Carla tried to take it down. The other tree was bent, after the storm, and looked funny.

We had lots of honeysuckle growing on the fence in our back yard and it smelled like heaven to me.

WE lived in a little Post WWII house that had indoor plumbing but on air conditioner, in Houston. The summers were hot and we had an attic fan that tried to keep us cool. At night we would open all of the windows, turn on the fan and sleep with the curtains flapping in our face. Those were the days of clean air and we could sleep and not have to worry about all the smells of the refinerys. We didn't wake up with a scratchy throat or allergies. WE didn't get an air-conditioner until I was in my late teens. our High School Didn't get an air-conitioner until two years after I graduated.... I remember going to summer school one year, an nearly sweating to

We were poor, but we had so much love, that we really didn't care. Dad would take us to the beach on the weekend and we would play and swim till our hearts content. We went to the dollar movie "outdoor" theater almost every Friday night during the summer. We would eat hot dogs for dinner and dad would make popcorn to take to the movies. When we were little, we went in "jammies" and would fall asleep in the back of the station wagon.

I'll have to do a post on this too.

As far as Emily goes, she gets plenty of love....

Bev said...

I share some of those memories with you - childhood was wonderful, regardless of what we did or didnt have. Obviously you feel the same! xoxox

MammyT or FriziLizi said...

Oh, Diane, I so appreciate this wonderful post. Your memories are so similar to mine in so many ways. Although my story would inevitably have to include a lot of honeysuckle. You had to be reading my mail when you spoke of the 4 O'clocks. I have also grown them on this side of childhood and it is just not the same, somehow. I don't think it's all about being short and closer to the ground. It's about some kind of magic, attendant to children, I think.
I hope you are saving things like this for Emmy to read in years to come. she is blessed to have you.