The Reason I Get Up In The Morning and I had a great morning and early afternoon out together today and one of our stops was getting her faithful steed washed (not that it does much good with all the falling pollen, but I digress). As I watched the Santa Fe disappear into the maw of the wash bay, I thought about when I was little and how I used to ride the car through the bay and marvel at the water slapping against the windshield. Alas, those days are no more. Our litigation-happy culture has rendered many things once quite fun to a child, or at least interesting, completely off limits as business owners try to protect themselves from business ending lawsuits.
So I got to thinking some more about bygone past times that are off-limits today, but at one time were quite common. I’m going to list my few rememberences and tag three of you to do the same :)
#1) Sneaking a carload of people into the drive-in movies by riding in the trunk.
Actually, this one wasn’t just litigious, it was illegal, but in that “pesky teenagers” realm of illegality. Today, though, no one is sneaking into drive-in anymore, mainly because drive-ins have gone the way of the Great Auk and the Tasmanian Tiger. That’s a real shame, too. I still remember summer of 1977 being six and a half (remember when being “and a half” was REALLY important!) and sitting on the vinyl roof of Mama’s 1976 Gran Prix watching a cheap flick that no one expected much of. I can still see “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away . . . ” crawling in fuzzy blue letters up the screen at the old Augusta Road Drive-In. The movie turned out to be fairly successful. Unfortunately, that drive in is now paved and buried underneath the Augusta Road on / off ramp of I-85.
#2) Going up on the repair shop hydraulic lift while inside the car.
So maybe I’m the only one who ever did this, but I used to LOVE going with Papa (either Papa) to get the oil changed or the tires rotated on one of their cars. If I asked nicely and remembered my manners (and promised not to tell Granny or Mama) I could stay in the car while it went up on the lift. The view was pretty good for a short kid. I know the repair shops have pretty good reasons not to allow this “ride” anymore, but it was fun. You have to remember, I was from a dinky town. We had to have fun where we could.
#3) Riding on the “back shelf” in the rear car window.
Okay, this is another one of those things we can chalk up to “not being around anymore.” After all, a 1969 Buick Electra 225 (“Deuce and a Quarter” for those “in the know”) had enough room to lay down in. Shoot, Mrs. Catherine’s gold 225 had more room in the rear window than some single beds I’ve slept in. A 2005 Toyota Camry? Not so much. Add to the lack of room a seat-belt law attaching a $50 fine for the pleasure and, well, it’s just not as much fun as it used to be.
#4) Jumping off the High Dive at public swimming pools.
Now I never did this one, but I had the option. The neighborhood pool where my Aunt Cathy and Uncle Larry lived for the first 20 years of their marriage had like a 20′ deep section with a 15′ diving board. It was a test of mettle to climb up the ladder and just jump, much less attempt any sort of real dive. Since, as I’ve stated before, I swim as well as a ’59 Cadillac, I never even attempted to go over there, but I had a lot of fun when I was eight and nine watching the teenage boys try to impress the teenage girl lifeguards. Now though, I can’t recall the last time I saw any diving board at a public pool, much less a real high dive. I blame the lawyers.
And finally #5) BB Gun Wars
Anyone who’s ever watched “A Christmas Story” for 24 hours on TNT on Christmas Eve knows what a genuine “Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-Shot, Range Model Air Rifle with this thingy that tells time and a compass in the stock” is. Now, we used to take those BB guns, put on motorcycle helmets with face guards, and shoot at each other in what can only be described as pre-pubescent chaos. Now, getting shot at close range with a BB gun doesn’t feel very good, but it isn’t fatal either. As the largest target in the kill zone, I can attest to both statements. Yes, when I was around nine or ten and got my first BB gun, my buddies and I used to try to shoot each other. Our mothers thought us insane and our fathers thought it was hilarious. Just as the story goes, it really all was great fun until a new guy moved in and busted up the game with a real pump up air rifle that would shoot right through a face shield, as a friend of mine found out one summer day. We call him “One Eye” Johnny now. Looking back, maybe that wasn’t such a good idea. Now, though, between gun control and sue-happy people, it’s hard to even get BB guns in some places, much less shoot them at each other.
So there you have it, five memories from my childhood that can’t be relieved by today’s youth. Now, what can y’all add to the pot? To get things rolling I tag my buddy Cathy-Jo Nelson, my other buddy Doug Johnson, and finally, that Georgia Peach, the Unquiet Librarian.
Y’all give me some good ones, okay? Love y’all, and remember to wash your feet :)