When my Uncle Wayne Byer was a little boy, it was unheard of for boys to wear shorts…or at least that was the opinion of Uncle Wayne, his brother, my Uncle Larry, and the boys they hung out with. They weren’t against going shirtless in the summer as a way of beating the heat though. Uncle Larry didn’t go shirtless as often as Uncle Wayne did though, because being a blond, he sunburned much easier than Uncle Wayne did. Uncle Wayne, on the other hand, tanned so deeply in the summertime that people often asked him if he was an Indian.
Summers were spent playing outside for most of the day, much of that time in the middle of the street. One woman in particular got very annoyed at the kids as they always seemed to be in the street when she wanted to drive down it. She proceeded to yell at them to “get out of the street and stay out of it.” Like most kids, that didn’t influence them much. They nonchalantly stepped slowly out of the way and let her pass, and then promptly went right back to playing in the street. I have to think they played out in the street at the exact time she had to leave for work, just so they could irritate her…typical of kids, and the mischievous brothers and their friends really enjoyed irritating her.
Uncle Wayne also loved playing Annie-Annie Over, which was a game where one team threw a ball over the house, calling out Annie-Annie Over. That was the only warning the other team got. If they caught the ball, they could sneak around the house and try to tag someone on the opposing team with the ball, before that team could run around to the other side of the house, thereby claiming that side as theirs now. If they tagged someone, that person was now on their team. If the ball didn’t go over, the throwing team called out Pigtail. That way, they got another chance to throw. When one whole team ends up on the opposing team’s side, the game is over, and the winning team is the one with team members. The summer days were filled with this and many other games, and made for great memories.
Uncle Wayne and the rest of the boys he hung out with always seemed to be in some mischief and before long the police were called. No they weren’t in serious trouble, but in those days, the police would bring them in and call their parents. For most kids, this straightened them out pretty quickly, because calling their parents usually meant a good whoopin’ and that solved the problem, but these boys ended up at the police station more than once. Back then, there was a truck that drove around delivering pop to people who wanted to buy it. It was similar to the ice cream truck of today, or maybe the Swann’s truck. One time, when the driver was delivering pop to a house, and the boys decided to relieve him of a couple of six packs each. The delivery driver gave chase, and since the boys were a little bit hampered by 2 six packs of pop each, they couldn’t get away. The next stop was the police station, and a call to my grandpa. They might have been scared, but their dad was a pretty softhearted man, so maybe not. Today is Uncle Wayne’s birthday. Happy birthday Uncle Wayne!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
You’ve seen them…hollyhocks. They are a flower that some might even consider to be a weed, and they sure grow like one. They seem to grow well in yards or alleys…with little water or with plenty of water. The fact that their flowers are abundant the length of their stalk, and that the buds are as abundant as the flowers, is I suppose what attracted us to them. Of course, we were taught never to pick the flowers in someone’s garden, so the fact that these flowers were often in alleys made them more readily available. Whatever it was, my sisters and friends and I used to pick these flowers and then because of their very short stem, found that they didn’t make very good bouquets.
It seemed such a waste to pick these pretty flowers, just to throw them away, so we tried to find something to do with them…finally inventing the Hollyhock Doll. It wasn’t one of the summertime things we did for very many years, nor was it one of the coolest summertime things we did as children, but while I was walking along the trail near my house, and saw some Hollyhocks behind a house along the trail, the memory of our summertime school holidays and the making of Hollyhock dolls came to mind again.
Of course, it wasn’t just a memory of making Hollyhock dolls, but the chance to look back in time a little bit to a time that was so much more simple, that really drew me to the pretty flowers. As we grow up, and responsibilities force their way into our lives, the simple days of childhood get pushed to the background of our memories. Gone are the days of laying around in the backyard, sun tanning, and the afternoons spent at the local swimming pool. Now we get up every morning and go to work, take care of the responsibilities life has handed us, whether they be our children or caring for elderly parents. Our time is no longer our own to do with as we please. That freedom we had as kids is such a fleeting time in our lives, and yet none of us could wait to be grown up. Now we just wish we could go back and be kids again…for a little bit anyway, because no one really wants to relive their childhood, but rather just go back for an occasional visit.
Thinking back, the next day as I once again noticed Hollyhocks at the edge of the parking lot at work, I couldn’t resist the urge to pick the necessary parts of the flowers for the purpose of making just one more Hollyhock doll. I picked a flower and a bud, and brought them home. It took seconds to put them together, but the memory of the summertime fun we had, has lingered for days. It never was the Hollyhock Dolls that defined summer for me as a kid, but they were a reminder of the summertime fun we had as kids. I guess that’s why the flowers have always held a place of honor in my memory files.
As summer begins, the thoughts of most kids turn to their favorite summertime activity…swimming. And swimming knows no age limit…young and old alike love to go swimming. When I was a little kid, we occasionally got to go to the park next to the grade school. There was a wading pool there, where all kids who couldn’t swim yet went to cool off in the summertime…and it was always packed. There was hardly any room to move sometimes, but it was cool and the day was hot, so you didn’t complain. That wading pool has long since been removed…partly because of some drain safety issues that we never had problems with, but I guess there were some in some other pools, and partly because of so many people buying the backyard wading pool. The backyard wading pool was just easier.
By the time my girls were born, there were no wading pools in town. We got them a wading pool as soon as they were old enough to walk, because it gave them something to do in the summer. We lived out in the country, and going to town for activities was a wasted day. They didn’t care about going to town, as long as they could play in their pool. The girls would spend hours out in that pool, and come in looking like prunes, but they always had such a good time. I think I loved the wading pool as much as they did, because is was a wonderful entertainer. All too soon though, the backyard wading pool became old news, and they wanted to go to the big pool in town…not that I can blame them, it was just that it meant that I had to make the trip to town to take them.
The backyard wading pool has never lost its charm, however. When my grandchildren were born, we found ourselves back in wading pool mode very quickly. It was great watching the grandkids play in their pool and having such a great time. The wading pools of today are much cooler that the ones we had when my girls were little. They have slides and other fancy things built into them. If we wanted a slide, we had to put the pool near our swing set. It worked, but today you don’t have to do that. I have often wondered how we ever managed without those pools, and how kids ever survived the hot summers. I guess we did have the sprinkler, but I don’t think it could really compare to the backyard wading pool.
There are some people who, for whatever reason, have a way with children. Bob is that way, and he doesn’t even have to try. Kids just take to him. And it’s not just babies…it’s kids in general. Our grandchildren loved being picked up in his strong arms or sitting on his lap while he showed them things about nature. Bob has always loved sitting out on the front porch in the summertime, just watching nature. And it’s something he enjoys sharing with anyone who wants to come along. The babies loved to come along.
Bob has a way of making kids laugh. Maybe it’s because he is such a big kid himself. He is always doing goofy things to see if he can make people laugh, but the funny thing is that he doesn’t have to. Just his presence in a room draws the kids to him. I don’t really know how he does it. He just seems to be a kid magnet.
This past weekend we went to Gillette for Men’s State Bowling Tournament. As we went into the bowling alley, there were two kids that came charging up to him. Now I’m used to that happening, but not at a bowling alley in a different town! Of course, these kids do know him…they are the children of one of Bob’s teammates. Nevertheless, you can tell by the reaction, that they consider Bob their buddy. I know exactly why they think that. It’s because that is truly what Bob is. He is a buddy to many…adults and children alike. He is a kid magnet, but also an adult magnet. I have a tendency to be somewhat shy…especially around people I just met, but not Bob. He seems to know everyone…and their kids.
The really funny thing is that he doesn’t even have to be the one to initiate a friendship with the children of his friends. Once those kids know that he is a friend of their parents, that is all they need, because Bob has already made them laugh in some way. And he has already been laughing and joking around with their parents.
That is simply what Bob is like. He is a people person, and a man of the highest character. People don’t worry about their kids being around him, because he is like a grandfather to them. He loves his own kids and grandkids so much and loves spending time with them. The boys always manage to get him rough housing, and of course, his granddaughter will always have him wrapped around her finger, just like his daughters did. Yes, he is a kid magnet, but maybe they are magnetic to him too, or maybe he just never really grew up. Now, that makes sense to me.