Eddie lived on a steep hill, named taggett street, a yellow house, with brown window shutters, and a red brick chimney, with steep steps going down to the sidewalk. When on the spare of the moment, Eddie ran down the hill. With his brand-new black and white jeepers sneakers, to the end of the street, there was a crossroad, named Centinela avenue. A very wide street. There was a marvelous park called Centinela, you crossed over Centinela Ave. That had a duck pond, and a forest of trees, which were beautiful. Pine, Oak, Cedar, and Birch trees. Beautiful flora shrubbery all around. Surrounded by acres of green grass w/ a large picnic area, where families would come and hold their family reunions. I saw Fun loving people and other children just the same age as Eddie, or older, or younger, they had a large hill, and at the top was an orange snack Shak with a large round red Coca-Cola sign that said, Stop at Pops, where you can get a hot dog, or a hamburger, or a soda pop, even a snow cone. Eddie was a wavy brown-haired boy, around the age of six that wore gray corduroy knee-length shorts w/ a yellow button-up shirt, and red suspenders & The year was 1954.
This was a bright day alongside a blue sky with puffy clouds all about. When Eddie started his adventure. I walked to and fro, in the park towards that duck pond, he saw some kids there, from a distance, as he was coming up. Three boys and a girl had their hands in the water, pulling out these small creepy things, I did not know what they were, they looked like crabs. I said whoa, what is that. The kid said it's called, a crawdad, we're catching them, and they, had socks on their hands, I said why do you have socks on your hands, So they don't bite my fingers, aye, oh- ok and then pressing on through the park I came upon a little rocky area, with tall grass, bushes and bigger rocks, I saw some bugs, ants and a lizard swirling through the rocks, I tried to catch him, I couldn't. The one thing that I saw that I had never seen before was red, with black dots, a bug. I did not know but it was called a ladybug. I picked him up and put him in my hand and he walked down my finger and took off flying. I said wow, how can it fly, I am only thinking birds, butterflies, house flies and mosquitoes can fly, I did not know. Then up in a distance I saw something moving in the bushes, I went crawling on my knees to look and it was a turtle, I had never seen a live turtle, this was the first time for me, it was just terrific, he was big. I did not pick him up because he was chewing on something and I stayed there, in the area for, I do not know, an hour or less, looking at all the different bugs and keeping an eye on the turtle while playing in the dirt.
I got tired a little bit and laid down on my back looking up at the great
blue sky. I saw those puffy clouds and looked at the different shapes.
One looked like a turtle, no looks like a giant bug, as I was laying there
when I started to hear some music in the distance. I heard a voice like a
microphone, it was getting louder. I got up to look, I walked down the
way past the duck pond, and came to the picnic area. Where there
must be, I do not know, a hundred, or more? There were a lot of little
kids, big kids, moms & dads, and older people like grandma's and
grandpa's, sitting at the picnic tables and they also were walking around,
talking, laughing, and taking pictures, they had balloons. I saw at the
tables - watermelon, pies, cakes, I saw they had sandwiches and potato
salad with all kinds of stuff. I thought to myself wow, what is this? I saw
a sign on a stick standing in the grass. It sad, gosh I cannot read. A boy
was standing by, he was thirteen, I asked him what that sign said, he
said. The Felsen family, from Tennessee. We are having a family reunion. I
said wow, which sounds like my last name. Nelsen, with an e!
So, I walked and sat on the grass, looking, thinking and as they were talking w/ kids running about. Then the microphone spoke telling the people to come to the picnic area, to sit and eat. There I sat watching them all, as a lady looked at me and said come on. I pointed at me. She said come on to the table sonny, I said ah, ok and I went, she said Well just go and sit over there, by those boys.
So, I said oh ok and I did, saying to myself like wow. I get to have this food. Hungry anyway. Probably lunchtime, I am just so excited, they're passing out food. I got a plate with potato salad, fried chicken leg, peanut butter jelly sandwich, it's got strawberry jam in it, a slice of watermelon, they give me a cup of fruit punch, so, I gobbled up my food like you would not believe, it was yummy, yummy, yummy, couldn't believe, I was part of their group.
I was talking to the kids at the table just if they were like friends. One of the kids asked, where are your parents? Ooh gee, well, over there, up on the hill, taking pictures, I said. They looked and there were four or five people taking pictures, he said yah, ho’ ok.
One of the kids at the table named bobby, was telling jokes and I was laughing so hard it was hurting my side. Why are frogs happy? Because they eat whatever bugs them! OH wait, wait, I got another one what do you call a dog that tells the time? A watchdog! Andy at the table said here is a funny one. What do you call a sheep with no legs? A cloud! Jeppy sitting right next to me said I have the funniest. Where do sheep get a haircut? At the bah-bah shop! Then a voice on the microphone said. "All the kids line up over here, we are going to have our racing games." "First the younger kids will start. Then the older boys and girls will race afterwards".
My partner in the race was Jeppy, he was one year older than me. We were doing a wheelbarrow race. As all the kids were lining up to see who could be the first at the finish line. To run as fast as we could. To win the prize. The “Red ribbon,” the “Blue ribbon,” or first prize a “Gold ribbon,” only three place winners could win. If you lost, you lost, and it made you do your best. At the next race to win, try to get a prize so me and Jeppy line up. Jeppy lays down on the ground, and I pick up his ankles, he stretches his arms and places his hands out so he can run. He is a skinny kid, boy does he go fast, and I am running with him like a wheelbarrow, and we are running and running as fast as we can go, but we come in 5th place. There were ten of us in the race. Now it was time for the girls to go. They had eight, but their race was different than ours. They had these potato sacks, that they climbed into and scrunched it up to hold it. They said get on your mark, get set. And go. Then lickety split, I saw the girls hopping down the way to the finish line. It was funny watching them pop up and down. The loudspeaker said. The winner is Abby! She was a tall, freckled girl with a ponytail. Abby wins the gold ribbon. Hi everybody, my name's Phillip. I would like to start with the next race, we will start with the 5-to 8-year-olds. Then the 9-to 12-year-olds. And last 13- to 18-year-olds. It is a new one, that we have not done in a long time. The egg and spoon race.
Let us have all the children line up here, at the rope line, at same time. I never did this before, this egg and spoon race. I was nervous but I watched the other kids to see what they were doing. They gave us an egg and a spoon; the eggs were blue. I looked to the side, us boys had blue eggs, then I looked to the left and the girls had pink eggs. They were like easter eggs. After everything was passed out. Phillip spoke, place your egg on the spoon, then place your other hand on top of your head, you will carry the egg on top of the spoon balancing it, then go running or walking as fast you can, from the starting line, to the red flag, then over to the white flag, around it twice. You can take your hand off your head at that point. But you cannot touch the egg with your hand, to the finish line without dropping the egg. The first player to cross the finish line wins. But something different we are going to do, listen carefully. If your egg drops leave it on the ground, go back to the finish line and weight. We will count the fallen eggs, to see who won, between the girls and boys. Winners who beat them back to the finish line, will receive the gold ribbon and second and third place ribbons, then who wins between the girls and the boys, we will have water balloons for either team, to throw at the losing team with their backs turned, as they throw the water balloon at you. Wow. All the kids were whooping and hollering and shouting yay yeah, oh boy we get to throw water balloons.
Phillip spoke and said kids get ready, get on your mark, get set, and go. Clickety click, on walking and running, wobbling my egg, it almost fell, oh no. I moved my hand off my head, oh then I put it back. I’m running close to the red flag, as this little girl comes around me, she must be four or five, she's going faster than I am. Oh no, I’m running faster, trying to catch up, she’s running around a big rope that was wrapped around the white flag and then she goes around again, I’m right behind her now, I’m getting closer to overtaking her. Other kids are behind and in front of me, almost at the finish line, I am getting closer to the finish, and I am trying catch up to this little girl, just as she goes flying across the finish line. "Wally - whoa." I just dropped my egg!......
Phillip said. The winner was Bobby, then Alice, and Doris. After a few minutes, Phillips spoke again and said let us count the eggs. Mrs. Thompson, will you go out with your husband, to count the eggs, thank you. They came back and told Phillip. Phillips said we have three eggs on the ground for the boys and two eggs on the ground for the girls. The girls win.
We had to wait till the end of all the games for the ribbons to be passed out. Then they lined us up in our groups for the winning teams to barrage us with water balloons. I got hit once in the leg, which is all. But Jeppy, two kids down from me, got soaked from head to toe. After a little bit of laughing, playing. I stopped and looked around and felt like it was late. I saw a man standing next to me, saw, he had a watch. I said Hey Mr. What time is it? He said it is 2:32. I said, golly I am late, I supposed to be home at 2:00 o'clock. Oh no one o'clock oh no one o'clock, I went racing home up the hill, up to the steep steps. I went climbing hurrying as fast as I could go up to the front door. I opened the door and said oh gee Mom, I am late. Sorry, sorry. She said, ....... “well you missed lunch!"
I grew up in a time when most everyone treated each other with respect. and never thought I was raised by lower-income parents during a time when most everyone was kind and generous. We did not eat a lot of fast food because it was considered a treat, we drank Kool-Aid made from water that came from our kitchen sink with real sugar. We ate bologna sandwiches, grilled cheese sandwiches, hot dogs & Campbell’s soup, but mostly homemade meals consisting of meat, fish, casseroles, potatoes, rice vegetables, bread, butter, and homemade dessert w/ milk from a glass bottle and if mom were feeling poorly, dad would make Corn Fritters.
We grew up during a time when we mowed lawns w/ a push mower, pulled weeds, washed cars, collected soda pop bottles for two cents each. Boys had paper routes & girls did baby-sitting jobs from neighbors to be able to earn our own money and then we gave it to mom because she needed it.
We went outside a lot to play kickball - dodgeball, football, baseball, swimming, ride bikes, flying kites, playing marbles, running with friends & played hide and seek, playing cowboys & Indians w/ cap guns, water balloons fights. We drank tap water from the water hose outside... Bottled water was unheard of. If we had a coke - it was in a glass bottle... And we did not break it when finished…
We watched tv shows like Life of Riley, Gunsmoke, Gilligan’s Island, The Three Stooges, The Little Rascals, The Flintstones, Twilight Zone, Father Knows Best, and I Love Lucy. After school, we came home and did homework and chores, before going outside or having friends over. We would ride our bikes, jammed down the street on skates, or a homemade scooter, for hours. We had to tell our parents where we were going, and with who! Home before the streetlights came on!
We learned from our parents, instead of dissing them and what they said was law, and you did not question it, and if you did, a spanking was waiting for you! None of us got spoiled.
in school we said the pledge of allegiance, we stood for the National Anthem, and listened to our teachers who spoke no agenda, only the three r's!
We watched what we said around our elders because we knew if we disrespected any grown-up, we would get our behinds whipped, it was not called abuse, it was called discipline!... We held doors open, carried groceries, and gave up our seat for an older person without being asked. You did not hear curse words on the radio in songs or tv, and if you cursed & got caught, you had a bar of soap stuck in your mouth.
"Please, thank you, yes please, no thank you, yes ma'am, no ma'am yes sir, and no sir were part of our daily staple!
We cooperated with our moms and dads! Mom works our idle hands, by doing chores. Dad had yard work for us, pulling weeds, raking leaves, and mowing gras. We did jobs, like a paper route, or mowing yards for neighbors. When we had real jobs, as teenagers, we would give the money to mom, to do as she needed, never thinking what I get out of it! Sometimes there is kissing and hugging. They did. daily mom would be in the sewing room, sewing clothes. Dad had a garden outside. so, we could have vegetables. Mom was cooking, cleaning, washing clothes & I never saw us running out of food. They pinched pennies and made it work. Love was by doing, showing, and teaching. They love us by doing I cannot say that enough it is by doing you will know love!