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home : opinions : columns June 29, 2015


6/24/2014 1:30:00 PM
COLUMN: It's summertime!
Bob Weete, columnist
Bob Weete, columnist
Bob Weete
Columnist

Good grief, here we are at the time of year where the temperature begins to make us wonder why we ever decided to settle and make our homes here. It's the time where the temperature begins to edge up over 100 degrees, and we stay in as much as we can, and in the back of our minds we are aware that it ain't over yet. We have to look forward to July, and then August, and then we begin to realize that we actually will make it.

In the meantime, what do we do? We stay inside the house, the car, or an air-conditioned store as much as possible. At my age, I don't seem to adjust to the heat as well as I used to when I was a kid. I used to be outside more, going mountain climbing, looking for peridots, I remember, when I was living in San Carlos, Arizona. We hiked up on the mesa and looked for interesting rocks, and found scorpions under rocks, and maybe a centipede or two. We'd often see coyotes, horned toads, and various other kinds of lizards, and wildlife.

Sounds boring, I guess, to some, I suppose, but the few kids that lived there didn't seem to notice. We made up games, and I remember playing cowboys and Indians sometimes, since this was on the Apache Indian Reservation. We didn't get in trouble for raising our thumbs and pointing our index fingers and yelling, "Bang! You're dead!" That was before political correctness reared its ugly head.

And some in our group really were Indians, but none of them seemed "offended", and we often took turns being the cowboys or the Indians. It didn't matter. We were playing and it was fun. And there was always walking. If we wanted to go see a friend, we walked. It was during the war, and many of us couldn't get a bicycle. I finally got one, when I was about ten, I think.

We used to walk the railroad that went through the place, and we put pennies on the tracks and kept the flattened pennies that resulted. Simple, but entertaining. We also had a waving relationship with the engineers that were aboard.

We had Lincoln Logs to create houses or castles, or whatever came to mind. I had a huge can of Tinker Toys, and spent hours and hours creating stuff. Then, when erector sets came out, I created even more wonderful things. These were inside activities, of course, but we were active.

Then, when we moved to Parker Dam, it was much the same, although we had the heat, too. It didn't matter. We still were out mountain-climbing, searching for caves, checking out the various canyons and I still frequently found some interesting rocks. I remember one cave especially, as we kind of had to climb down over a cliff to get to it. The adventures we imagined, looking out from that view! I must confess that some of the kids brought some cigarettes they stole from their parents and they smoked in the cave, too. Tried it; didn't like it.

I wasn't so jittery about height in those days, and our parents would probably have had a hissy-fit if they had known we did this, but that was part of the whole adventure, you know. In Parker Dam, there were, oh, probably ten or twelve kids my age, and all within walking distance!

We did a lot of walking in those days. We went fishing down at the river, went on hikes through the "tullies" along the river, following trails that wound around there. Once, we ran across what looked like a camp, and we imagined the mysterious man - "Crazy Jack"- that must live there. We were interested in horror stories those days, too. We were nosing around, and suddenly there was a "noise", and we scattered, absolutely sure old Jack was after us. We never did see him, but he was real in our heads and it provided excitement.

There was a tennis court around the corner from my house, and a small park within walking distance. There was a baseball field, but we didn't have enough kids of the same age to really play ball, but we managed to figure out something to do. Oh, yes, the tennis court was on cement, and we used it for a skating rink.

We went swimming above the Parker Dam, and we walked home afterwards. We were outside most of the summer. In the evenings, we played kick the can, we played hide and seek, or just "hung out", talking. We played board games with more than one person, Monopoly, Chinese checkers, and nothing had batteries.

Yes, these were the "good old days" we oldsters remember so fondly. Sounds dull and boring, huh? "You mean you didn't watch television, or have cell phones, or video games?" you ask. Nope. We actually talked directly to one another, we made our fun, we created things, we were active and we laughed a whole lot. And we are so sorry that the kids today have missed those days.




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