Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Just An Old Piece of Wood

 Sitting up on a shelf in front of my computer is an old piece of wood. It sits there for a reason. Whenever I’m in need of inspiration, that old piece of wood inspires me. That old piece of wood reminds me of a time long ago when I was a little girl reading my Louisa May Alcott books and Laura Ingalls Wilder books in an old chicken coop void of chickens, converted to a clubhouse where I’d play with my cousins. And next to the old chicken coop there sat a massive old barn. Like the chicken coop, it belonged to my grandparents. They were both a part of their family farm.
My cousins and I played in that barn. By then, the farm was no longer a working farm. Although the roosts were void of chickens and the stanchions void of cows and the pastures void of horses and the grain shed was almost void of grain, none of that mattered to us. The roosts and stanchions turned into props. We were there to play and pretend and go on great adventures.
There were two mighty hay lofts in the barn connected by an old plank bridge which we’d cross when storylines demanded we did. A few bales of hay still hanging around made great hiding places as swallows came swooping down from their muddy nests. We once hosted a circus in the barn. We invited all the adults to our greatest show on earth-or at least in a barn.
Due to my grandfather’s health, the farm was sold. It went through a few owners. One day a while back, the owner at that time burned the barn down in a controlled fire. Some of us in the family were so upset that we asked a family member to please go to the site to salvage anything left from the fire. That’s where my old piece of wood comes from—my grandfather’s barn, once host to little ones seeking great adventures. I can still go on those great adventures or make up new ones when I look up at that shelf above my computer and see that old piece of wood sitting there. To anyone else it’s just an old piece of wood. To me, it’s a part of my childhood. It’s my key to imagining.
I would think most of us have stuff of great meaning that only we understand. I’m not talking about anything expensive. I’m talking about stuff that is priceless only to us as individuals. It could be a button sitting back in a dresser drawer that once adorned a favorite coat. It could be a stone now kept in a jar that you picked up when out walking with someone special or when walking alone in deep thought. It could be a pine cone or a ribbon or a letter or a photo or a crayon scribble on a piece of paper or a little toy or baby rattle or an article clipped from a newspaper turning yellow with age. It is one of a kind. It reflects you at a point in time that has meaning to just you.
Whatever it is, it is priceless—so priceless, that not even a fire can destroy that meaning and the memories it holds.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Meet Junior Bob

 When my kids were growing up, this little rubbery toy was a favorite of all the toys they had. I have no clue who named it Junior Bob but that's the name the little puppy was given. And that's the name I'd hear when they were playing in the living room, often with a cousin after school. Junior Bob was the center of whatever they were doing and imagining. They never brought in other toys when playing with Junior Bob. The puppy alone held their attention.

Junior Bob is only two inches long yet the fun it created was immeasurable. I don't remember where it came from. I think it was included in a group of little rubbery toys, packaged together to make the purchasing more exciting. It might have been included in a Strawberry Shortcake collection of little friends to Strawberry Shortcake herself or friends Orange Blossom, Lemon Meringue, Blueberry Muffin or Raspberry Tart to name a few.

The product label on the underside of Junior Bob is worn away. I'm not surprised after all the hugs it received and adventures it went on around the couch or the chairs which those young imaginations could have turned into castles or ships or magic carpets to never never land. The tip of its tail is missing. That could have happened in most any scenario I heard taking place in the living room when laughter took over. 

It is amazing to me how such a little rubbery puppy with its big nose and sweet face created so much fun all by itself. With all the other toys around-some with batteries, some so much larger and louder, some with brightly colored accessories, it was that sweet little puppy who those little kids sought when running into the living room to play and pretend.  

Mr. Rogers often said that "play is the work of childhood." I think Junior Bob would agree.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Archie, Veronica, Betty & Jughead

With all the wonderful books to read way back when, including the Nancy Drew Mysteries, Laura Ingalls Wilder and Louisa May Alcott books as well as the Bobbsey Twins, a favorite source of reading was not a book. It was the monthly comic book titled Archie. 

I have no clue where my cousin and I bought our copies. Maybe we had a subscription. Maybe they were for sale in Woolworths or Newberry's located in the downtown where we lived. Quite possibly we bought them at what was called The Busy Corner in that downtown-a combination smoke shop, ice cream parlor complete with ceiling fans and small round tables with wrought iron chairs and a checkered linoleum floor. Besides tobacco products, the smoke shop carried numerous newspapers and magazines. I'm sure they must have carried comic books.

The backdrop to the Archie comic book series was a high school like most high schools of that era with students like most students of that era. Red-haired Archie was the main character. Jughead was his best friend. He always wore a funny-looking hat and always seemed to me to be lazy. Betty, the pretty blonde was like the girl next door. Very sweet with her eye on Archie. But the problem was Veronica who was Betty's best friend as well as rival for Archie's attention. Veronica was  attractive with her long, black hair. I remember there was a boy named Reggie but that's about all I remember about him. He wasn't a main character.

I can't remember any of the storylines. More often than not, it had to do with Betty and Veronica vying for Archie's affections. But none of that stuff caught my interest. I didn't care who ended up with Archie. I guess I realized that could change in the next issue. Rather, I was more interested in what Betty and Veronica were wearing and how their hair was styled. Their outfits reminded me of outfits a few of my pretty aunts would wear to work. Betty and Veronica didn't look like high school girls. At least not the girls where I went to school. They were quite curvy if you know what I mean and the outfits were beyond stylish. And the best part of that was the fact that, besides the comic books, we could buy paper dolls of all the Archie characters and along with those dolls came all of those wonderful outfits including bathing suits, skirts, pedal pushers, blouses, dresses, coats, pjs, and accessories. It was fun putting Veronica's outfits on Betty or vice versa and they never fought over who was wearing what. Not once. Maybe they were too busy fighting over Archie!