Friday, July 27, 2012

The Best Time Ever to Be a Kid

When I was growin' up in the '50s, my best friend was Colby. Now, we didn't go around tellin' everybody we were best friends, like girls do. We didn't even tell each other. Heck, we didn't need to. The things we did together demonstrated our relationship better than any words could describe it. We had more fun than any two boys ought to. If our parents knew half of what we did, they'd agree.

I should warn you, if you wanna' read our adventures, they can make you laugh, gag, hold your nose, cry a little, call us crazy, or maybe liars. Did you know people do those things to geezers ... all six of 'em?

Our stories got told so many times they sorta' grew into a book, Colby and Me: Growing Up in the '50s and '60s. Its premise is that we grew up in the best place, best country, and best time ever to be kids. I'll bet you want some evidence though.

As Perry Mason says, "exhibit number one" – in 1956 a kid could walk into a drug store, hand the druggist fifty cents, walk out with a can of saltpetre, mix it with a little sugar and blow up … uh … moving on to exhibit two.

You can't beat the good ol' USA. Everybody wants in. Nobody wants out. By the time Colby and I were born, we had antibiotics. Without them, I wouldn't have survived to have any friendships. About the time we became aware of polio, we had the Salk vaccine. From the time we were aware of wars, we had only the Cold War to worry about, but we knew our beloved Ike would protect us.

Colby and I lived in Southern Oregon, a virtual paradise for young boys. Besides the Pacific Ocean, the many rivers and hundreds of lakes for swimming and fishing, we had a bazillion acres of uninhabited forest land to wander as far as our legs could carry us in a day. To top it all off, we had a great spring and fall with a long, hot summer sandwiched in between to give us plenty of time to enjoy the outdoors.

We were raised before those doggone, no-fault divorce laws that brought the marriage meltdown. Only one kid in my whole school came from a divorced family. And none of us worried about bein' snatched by some evil maniac while outside, in town, or anywhere for that matter. There were no illegal drugs. That came later when hippies from San Francisco invaded us.

We had no real worries as kids except report cards or, as we grew older, zits. It was a time to just enjoy bein' a kid without anyone trying to speed up our growing-up process. To top it all off, I had a best friend, Colby, who when combined with all those other bests, gave me the best childhood of any kid that ever lived. At least I think so.

About H L Wegley
H. L. Wegley served in the USAF as an Intelligence Analyst and a Weather Officer. He worked as a Research Scientist in Atmospheric Physics at Pacific Northwest Laboratories, where he published scientific articles, reports and books. In his second career, he worked as a Systems Programmer at Boeing before retiring in the Seattle area where he is involved in a small-group ministry. In 2010 he began his third career, writing fiction. His romantic thriller, Hide and Seek, is coming soon from Harbourlight Books, Pelican Book Group.


Liz Flaherty said...

A fun post. We had some of that Utopia here in the Midwest, too, though I think selective memory adds to its perfection. :-)

Alice J. Wisler said...

Enjoyed this! Thanks!

Marilyn said...

Wow. Sweet memories. Thank you for taking me back.

H L Wegley said...

Glad you enjoyed the post, Liz, Alice, and Marilyn.
They are indeed sweet memories from a much
more innocent time -- not that my buddy
and I were completely innocent. He did get
picked up by the sheriff once for hot-wiring
a road grader and taking a joy ride when
the county left the attractive nuisance in
front of his house overnight. And me ... well at least I
can say I was never arrested or given a ticket.

Sharla L. Shults said...

What a wonderful post that brought back some absolutely awesome memories - for you see, I am also of the 50s-60s era. That was the time when the windows stayed open to let in the fresh air and the front door was never locked, clothes dried on a clothes line and smelled of sunshine instead of artificial perfume, and time was spent with friends and family enjoying picnics and reunions. It was pajama parties and ice cream sodas. That was the time when America was America, honored and respected through and through. I miss those days:>)

H L Wegley said...

I miss them too Sharla. Today kids text in digital isolation. We talked and touched -- dirty, sweaty hands clasped when a teammate hit a home run. Hands patted you on the back, and you could feel it. Sometimes it smarted a bit from their exuberance. We grinned and laughed from our own unique mouths and with our own unique voices instead of sending identical, yellow smiley faces and LOLs back and forth. I don't mean to rant, I just miss it and feel bad that my grand kids will never share those experiences.

tomynate said...

Nice post. I grew up in those 50's in SE Kansas. Things weren't quite as innocent there, but me and my buddies Larry, Gary, Charlie, Jerry and Lonnie had ourselves a little gang. Not a gang like today, maybe more like the Bowery Boys. Thanks for the memories.


Tom Blubaugh, Author
Night of the Cossack

Darlene Franklin said...

I recently became a resident at a nursing home where I am one of the youngest residents. But the generation of those old enough enough to be my parents and even a few grandparents are here as well.
I was reminded of this when a musician came and played a bunch of Elvis Presley favorites. This generation of quavering, wheelchair bound senior were the original rock-and-rollers, the teen girls who went crazy for "the King." Hand clapping, toe tapping, twirl your partner music that even today's youth can probably recognize as some version of rock and roll . . .
Even today the thought brings me mixed joy and sadness. That brief hour of music gave me a window into the past when they were rebellious, fun-loving teens.
And how today's young people (like us, when we were that age), can't see past the shells to the lives this just-past-the-greatest generation lived.
Not too long and we'll be listening with great enjoyment to the mamas and the papas, the Monkees, and the Beatles. . .

H L Wegley said...

Thanks for your post, Darlene. But please don't leave out The Beach Boys. :)

Debra Ullrick said...

OMG! I checked out your book on Amazon and even did the looky-see inside. What a hoot! I've got to get a copy. As soon as I meet my deadline, I'm going to. I love, love, love the 50's. I was born in '55, but I still remember a lot of things about the 50's. I wanted a pair of saddle shoes soooo bad, but my mom wouldn't let me get a pair. I think they were starting to go out of style or something like that and were hard to get. Still, those were the good ole days. Too bad we can't go back in time. Well, we kinda can with American Graffiti. One of the best parts of that film is the cars. Oh yeah. That's when they made fabulous cars. '34 Ford coupes, '55, '56, '57 chevy's. sigh Love, love, love them. I better stop or I'll be writing a book here pretty soon. *smiling*

Thanks for the memories.

Debra Ullrick

H L Wegley said...

Thanks, Debra! The cars back then were fantastic! My very first car was a '57 Chevy Bel Air 4-door hard top with mag wheels. My girl friend (now wife of 46 years) cried when I traded it for a '60 Ford Falcon. What can I say, I was an idiot. At least she still married me, and I've since made up for it with cars purchased more recently.

Donna B said...

Great post, Harry. I agree they were simpler times. I grew up in the 60's with the same kind of stories - playing in the streets, riding bikes, going to the corner store - even traipsing through the woods to pick berries (on some stranger's property).It was a good time to grow up. We didn't worry about every stranger we saw. Didn't even know about drugs until high school. Thanks for the memories!

Martha W. Rogers said...

Oh my goodness. Our first car when we married in '59 was a Bronze and white '57 Chevy Bel-Air hardtop and we traded it for a '61 Falcon when our first son was born and we couldn't afford the payments or gas for the bigger car. I cried too. :)

I was a teenager by the time the 50's rolled around and in college when the Elvis craze hit. I liked his songs and even saw a few of his movies but by 1960 I was married with a baby on the way and my husband had two jobs to help make ends meet when I had to quit working.

I was telling my dil the other day how different it was when I was the age of my grandchildren. They don't go anywhere alone and are rarely outside except to swim. Doors are locked securely with an alarm system in place.

I remember leaving home in the morning and going with friends to each other's homes and not getting home until lunch and then out again until supper time or Mother called me home. Riding bikes, playing hopscotch, hanging out in the hammock, playing jacks, or sitting under a shade tree reading a good book were among my favorite activities as a young girl in the '40's, and I rode a street car and a bus to the library alone, took my younger sister to the movies on Saturday alone and went shopping at the five and dime alone.

Yes, a much simpler time, but I do like the conveniences of today.