It’s funny how aging works. There are you, reaching your 30s that quickly become your 40s and then all of a sudden, your 50s show up.
I’ve always described the 50s to friends on approach as the decade I’ve seen people really reach their stride. By that time, the kids have started migrating out of the house or are already gone, you’re putting the finishing touches on paying for their college (or contributing as much as you can) and now you’re on approach to retirement, but with a doable chunk of years to go.
I know that it was in my 50s where I had to make a crucial life choice–continue living the way I had been living or make a break towards something better. Looking back, it was one of the wisest yet most difficult decisions I ever had to make, but I thank God I had the guts to do it.
That being said, I’ve reached the next tier. In fact, I’m in the mid-60s now and with lots of friends and relatives already participating in future decades, I’m seeing their memories begin to fade. A totally understandable phenomenon, as if you think about our brains being giant file cabinets, you really only have so much room.
I know that in my brain, I’m still retaining so much information I really don’t need (like the instrumental opening of “Breakdown” by Tom Petty is 27 seconds and the song is only 2:29) but there was a time when that was really useful info, especially when talking over an intro on the radio.
All this to say, there are some fun nuggets from my childhood I’d like to hang on to and rather than relying on my busy brain that will eventually fail, I’d like to tuck away a few of them right here:
I grew during a time BEFORE area codes. Our phone number had a name: it was FRONTIER 5-1777 (not the real number. C’mon, give me a little credit). That meant FR5-1777 and when you reached to the rotary dial to dial a number, you’d do the F (3) then the R (7) and the rest of the number. But before you dialed, you had to pick up the receiver and listened to hear if there were people talking or if there was a dial tone. We were on a “party line” that meant others used the same dial tone and if someone was already on, you had to wait to make your call.
TV and I grew up together around the same time. By the time I was in elementary school, the networks began pushing limits to try and get more viewers. When I was in 3rd grade or so, I remember a note being sent home from the parochial school I attended, urging parents not to let us young, impressionable minds watch the TV show, “Combat.” (not sure why they also didn’t warn us about “My Mother The Car”) I don’t remember my parents’ reaction, but I know it remained my favorite Tuesday night TV show. C’mon, it was about wars and guns and battles. A common birthday present during those years were cap guns or air rifles that didn’t shoot anything, but made a popping sound. These days, kids get all that from their video games.
Not sure if it’s still true today, but as a boy growing up, I had plenty of lapses in good judgement. There was the time when I was five that I bit the cheeks of a fellow kindergartener because they looked liked “peaches.” (seriously) Her big brother met up with me on the way home from school the next day to make sure it didn’t happen again.
And then was my classic case of Kid Karma. Once, while playing Hide ‘n Seek with classmates on the playground at Immanuel Lutheran Church, a girl named Laurel Scherer was about to touch the flag pole and yell, “1-2-3 on Tim!” For some reason (and this is where that brain of poor judgement kicked in again), as we both approached the flag pole, I gave her a shove. She fell face first into the pole and broke a front tooth. Of course, I felt horrible and despite my actions, we remained friends for the rest of our elementary school days together, but WHAT WAS I THINKING?
Oh and, for the record, I was ‘safe’.
Back to the Kid Karma. Years later, I was hanging out with my fellow Cub Scouts in front of my parents house (mom was a Den Mother) when one of them threw a rock that perfectly hit one of my front teeth and broke it in half. I’ve had a cap on that tooth ever since.
I guess it’s time to whip out the old philosophy I dig out often–what we are today is simply a culmination of everything and I mean EVERYTHING that has happened in our lives to this moment, good and bad. That includes those really bad decisions or events that occurred over the years. They all combine to make up what they call “a life.” We’ve all had a wealth of experiences and I’m a firm believer in that it’s not what happens to us, but how we handle it.
I’ve already written a few movie scripts and have others in mind. But maybe one of these days, I’ll write one that will include a collection of these long-lost stories in a film about my life. However, before I take the time to write a complete screenplay, I’ll have to check and see if Brad Pitt would be willing to be the lead.
Allow me my delusions. I’ve got quite a collection.
PS–Second row, boy on the far right. (in the photo, not politically)