My mom and I were on our way to take her to a picnic with her sisters and brothers the other day, and she started telling me about some of the family outings she went on as a child. It was a bad time in American history. The years following Black Tuesday, October 29, 1929…the Great Depression years. Most people didn’t have much money. With a large family, something most people did have in those days, finding a way to have an outing with your kids and make it fun on very little money was a real challenge. Families had to walk to many outings, making the rivers edge or just a field outside of town a good spot to go to. Taking lunch turned the whole thing into a fun way to have a change of pace from the every day. Games such as “Kick the Can” were the rage in those days. And of course, watching the birds and looking for deer and other animals is something that has spanned the generations. There is nothing like seeing a wild animal just walking through the fields without noticing that you are there…yet.
My grandfather always loved the outdoors and especially rocks. He would often gather up his kids and head somewhere outside of town, where they could all search for pretty rocks. He would turn those rocks into fun things for them. He turned hunting rock into a quest. The kids thrived on it. They would find one they thought he might be able to use and run to show him their treasure. After a while, they began to enjoy rock hunting as much as their dad did, and I know my mom still loves it to this day, though she can’t do much of it now. After years of gathering rocks of every type and color, Grandpa got a rock polishing machine and began making beautiful jewelry. I guess all those years of taking the kids out gathering rocks was going to finally pay off. I still have a necklace he made me from a beautiful pink rock. He made many a gift from those rocks, and that machine could really bring out the beauty in a rock that prior to that time, Grandpa was the only one who could see its true potential.
Mom says that her parents just knew how to make doing anything fun. They didn’t have to spend a lot of money or go very far. The park, or just a hillside could be turned into something that was very cool. It just took a little imagination, and that was a gift my grandparents were blessed with. And something my mom, aunts and uncles thrived on and will always have to look back on and reminisce about.