One day I was holding Little Tess as she slept. She is now 4. Her little hands were flexing as babies do in their sleep. I felt her gentle breath on my neck and her warm body against my chest. She gently sighed and snuggled closer to me. I thought about my Salad Days and how life was so different. How did we escape the bony clutches of the "Grim Reaper" and elude the inevitable injuries and maiming that loomed on the horizon?
Audrey and Tess are only allowed to swim in Perrier water or Evian in a pinch. I never went swimming in a pristine swimming pool with chlorinated water, strainer and chemical dispenser until I was well into my high school years. We farm kids swam in Jack's Creek, Goose Creek, Dead Horse Creek and White River. In my teenage years when I began to "woo to win" members of the feminine gender, we would go to Shakamak State Park and Dietz Lake to swim. And then there was the pristine water at McCormick's Creek. It was dazzling for a country bumpkin who was accustomed to swimming with crawdads, tadpoles, turtles and frogs. It was also colder than a principal's stare.
How did we keep from dying of boredom? We did not have TV, the Internet, a DVD player in our car, a television screen in our car, PlayStations, a game board unless you count Piggly Wiggly (you are old if you remember that board game) the game Web site, instant messaging, cell phones, e-mail and phones that send pictures. How did we live five minutes without those communication intoxicants to bemuse us? We had to create our own amusements and we survived.
Audrey and Tess are only allowed to play on Martha Stewart approved playground equipment and lawns stamped with the Good Housekeeping seal of approval. We played on piles of gravel and dirt. We played baseball in fields that had rocks, sticks and ruts and young and old meadow muffins. We swung on grapevines over ravines in the woods and out over the creek to drop into the water. We slid down the hills in the winter on sleds made of metal roofing. We built forts out of rocks, old boards and tree limbs. We fought many battles for "Truth, Justice and the American Way." (I will wager than not many readers know what radio program that line comes from. I challenge you to remember.) in places that Oprah and Dr. Phil would vehemently disapprove.
If Audrey or Tess would perchance get a bee sting they would get an injection of "antibeeotics." If they get an abrasion or cut, mom or dad or both would rush her to the emergency room for treatment. They would x-ray, cat scan, symptoms would be sent via the Internet to medical schools before receiving treatment. When I was injured Mom whipped out the iodine or Mercurochrome and for bee stings it was fat meat and baking soda. How did we survive? I don't want to go back to those practices. One of these days Tess will say to her Granddaughter, "You think you had it tough, why back in my day."
Larry grew up north of Calvertville on a farm and graduated from Worthington High School. He lives in Plainfield and can be reached at Goosecrick@aol.com or (317) 839-7656. Write him at Larry Vandeventer 6860 Sunrise Drive, Plainfield, Ind., 46168. He has written five books.