Last month, I wrote about my childhood (summers in the ’60s). After talking to my brothers, sisters and friends, I was reminded about so many more memories.
I remember walking home from school. We lived on the very south end of town (WaKeeney) and the grade school is on the north end, so it was a long walk (no, we didn’t walk uphill both ways in a snow storm!). We got a ride to school in the morning, but were on our own after school. That was fine with us — what an adventure!
The train must have passed through town around 3:30, because if we hurried, we could make it to the underpass. We could crawl up the limestone and get just a few feet from the top as the train passed overhead.
As we walked home, we never walked on the roads — that would have been boring! We cut through yards and over fences. We walked this route so much we would start to wear trails (which was not appreciated by people who were trying to have nice yards — and they’d let us know so).
We hurried home — because when we got there, we could watch Major Astro. I also remember watching the Superman TV series, which of course was in black and white. I remember what a big deal it was when we got our first color TV.
We could only get two channels. During the week, our mother had a tough job getting us up and ready for school, but on the one morning we could sleep in (Saturday), we had to get up early or we’d miss the Saturday morning cartoons. I remember Saturday afternoons watching some corny sci-fi movie about some creature or space travel. On Sunday afternoons, we would watch the Wide World of Sports or Animal Kingdom.
Some weekend nights, we were allowed to stay up and watch the late night movie. After the movie, the TV channels would sign off with the national anthem. I remember the picture of the Indian chief and the monotone steady sound that went on all night until the next morning when TV resumed.
I remember my two sisters dressing up in old dresses, fixing each others’ hair, and putting on makeup. They sure seemed to have a lot of fun.
We also had a lot of adventures in our neighborhood. A couple of blocks from us lived an elderly man in an old run-down house. He had a glass eye, and once we begged him to remove it and he did — how cool!
There was a lady a block south of us who had a lot of fruit trees. What fun we had sneaking into her yard and grabbing an apple, pear, or cherries. Believe me, we didn’t care about the fruit, but what a rush it was when she’d see us and yell at us.
We’d also sneak into another neighbor’s back yard who had skulls hanging on his shed. I’m sure they were cow or deer skulls, but my friends and I were convinced that he was a serial killer and if caught, we would become one of his trophies. We lived close to the cemetery. Talk about an adventure — walking through the cemetery with a flashlight that never seemed to work.
I remember spending nights in the yard looking up at the stars; what a beautiful sight! My best friend’s father showed us the Big Dipper, Little Dipper, and the planets. When they were visible, he also told about satellites.
I could go on, telling you a couple of other things we did that were pretty crazy and dangerous. If our folks had found out, we would have had our bottoms spanked, and rightfully so! When I became a parent, I never shared those stories with my son, because I would never want him to do those things.
Life was such an adventure back then. We created our own fun every day, never expecting our parents to entertain us. Maybe that’s carried on into my adulthood. I never have trouble finding things to do, just finding enough time to do them.
Rick Cunningham is an avid
outdoorsman from Ellis, KS