“To every thing there is a season.” — The Bible, Ecclesiastes
As I write this, it isn’t light yet, but a cardinal is loudly whistling a proclamation of spring out in our backyard. “Wheat, wheat, wheat! Cheer, cheer, cheer, cheer, cheer!” Spring arrived early. Alas, extreme cold blasted the fat buds of our magnolia tree that is taller than our house so that we shall have no blossoms this year. The crocuses, daffodils and hyacinths started blooming several weeks ago.
The bloodroots are in bloom — way early! They are the essence of memories of my mother when we dug up the original plant in a woods nearly seventy years ago. She gave it to Bill to plant in our yard at 312 N. Ritter, and it grew to about a foot in diameter. A few years after we moved to our current home, Mrs. Bittlemeyer gave me a start from it.
I try not to dwell too often in the past. However, as I approach my eightieth year — ohmygod! — I can’t avoid the reality that most of my life consists of the past. Several of my readers say that they enjoy the nostalgia pieces. Judy, an acquaintance at Irvington Methodist where Bill is a member, told him that she hopes I write many more of the current set of columns that are entitled, “Now, in Our Day. . .”
Bonnie (Keesling) Manche of Knightstown, the sister of my high school chums, Clara and Darleen, wrote many years ago, “I like your columns because they help us remember.”
Pam Otto, the daughter-in-law of our beloved friend, Phyllis, said, “Tom and I hope you keep writing about your memories.” “Oh dear,” I said. “I’ve written so much about the past, that I’ve used it all up, and I try not to repeat myself.” “That doesn’t make any difference since we can’t remember what you wrote anyway!” Since even I can’t remember exactly what I wrote years ago, that makes sense.
I think that acquaintances are often more connected with each other by their past than they are by the present. They may no longer know the details of each other’s lives, but it gives them warm fuzzies to tread bygone paths and revisit the happy times of their collective memory. Even if they’ve never met each other, those who grew up in the same culture retain similar memories of their childhoods.
Judy, Pam, Tom and Bonnie hear different voices in their minds’ ears and see different faces in their minds’ eyes, but partake in the same nostalgia as they tread together the golden path of the springtime of their lives. Nephew John Jones, Sarah Ward and Wanda Frazier Smith are the go-to people of my early youth:
“Red rover, red rover. I send Sarah over.”
“Eleanor, you may take three dishpan steps.”
“Miss Newby, that wasn’t fair!” (Our beloved fifth-grade teacher, Lucinda Newby umpired the girls’ softball game out in the schoolyard.)
“Over the can with John!” We played kick-the-can out in Carey St. One day Mardella (Anderson) Spears and I collided, banged our heads together and fell down as we ran in to base. Crying, Mardella crawled to the back door to seek solace from my mother while I crawled to the front door.
Skipping rope to the refrain of “Down in the valley where the green grass grows — there sits Wanda, sweet as a rose. Along comes . . . and kisses her on the cheek. How many kisses will she get this week? One, two, three . . .”
Tappy-on-the-icebox with Rex Mattix, Billy Vanduyn and the Forbes kids: “I’ll draw the circle, now who’ll put the dot?” In my mind’s ear, I hear still the swoosh of the jump rope and the clank of the tin can as it rolls down the street, the thudding of running feet and so many voices. In my mind’s eye, my buddies are forever young. Sounds and people of our childhood: There was our Eden! firstname.lastname@example.org