"The Wondering Jew"
Jul. 11, 2005 - 19:33 MDT
One nice thing about memories, at least for me, is that they stay the same year after year. They don't seem to get glossier or more brilliant, but like old friends oft visited, they wait there for me.
And of course some of my nicest memories are of times when King Summer ruled. I was able to get around wearing as few clothes as decency required, which pleased this free spirit. Short sleeves, open neck shirt, jockeys, socks and oxford shoes was my uniform during the summer. There were shirtless periods of play in places where it was not frowned upon.
I learned to skate fairly early, my skate wheels whirring on the sidewalk sang a lovely tune to me. One of my favorite routes was to the YMCA at 16th and Lincoln Street, downtown, the place I learned to swim, the elements of handball and a bit of pool table etiquette.
The route to town from the 1800 block of Pennsylvania for a boy on roller skates allowed for my travel through the cathedral of trees which had halls on many streets in town. Trees arching up, shaking hands with each other across the street, giving welcome shade to the hot brow of this little boy made attendance a pleasure. Much of the sidewalk along the way was flat slabs of Colorado red flagstones, and in front of some of the old places with huge trees a bit of excitement occurred as the tree roots often had slabs tilted in odd ways, sort of a sidewalk slalom one might think. A bit of variety was hopping the curb, going over the hump of a city street and hopping back up to the sidewalk in the next block.
So some summer days went, skating to the Y, swimming, playing a bit of handball maybe and skating back home.
Finally I became old enough that Mom gave in and allowed me to have a bicycle. Hard negotiations as she was a Western Union Branch Office manager in the years that each office had at least one messenger boy, sometimes more. It used to tear Mom up when one of her boys was in the hospital, hurt on the job, by perhaps some idiot opening his car door without looking behind causing the messenger to to a head over the door, bike remaining behind. The kids had a habit of getting broke for some strange reason and having to go to hospital. Dad would take Mom by the hospital to vist her messenger, consequently being a bit late getting home. So it was a selling job of diplomatic persuasion to get her permission for me to have a bike.
I was proficient in bike riding as I had been riding the bikes of friends all along. It was a huge adventure for me to go to the shop of Jake Hayutin's, near 14th on Larimer Street (Part of Larimer Square now) where Dad had bought his first bicycle when he went to work as a Western Union messenger boy. Old Jake still had the shop and remembered Dad, so they had a pleasant chat while dealing for a used Ivor Johnson bike for me, one with a coaster brake too. I felt as if a rite of passage had been accomplished even though I had no idea of what that was. But that day was truly a red letter day.
For a time I delivered papers until a back injury put me out of that sector of commerce. I enjoyed it while I had it though. It was about that time of life that,
"Pepsi Cola hits the spot,"
"Twelve full ounces,"
"That's a lot,"
"Twice as much for a nickle too,"
Pepsi Cola's the drink for you,"
"Nickle, nickle, nickle,"
and the bite and quantity made me a fan of that wonderful drink.
Summer time with a bicycle, a sack lunch and bottle of pop in one paper bag pocket on the handle bars and a light jacket in the other paper bag pocket as it was known to get a bit cool now and then even in the summer time. My jacket wasn't waterproof so I had to find shelter from the rain when it came 'round, but the jacket sure came in handy afterwards in the damp cool.
Back then the "country" was not far from where we kids lived and we would often spend the day roaming the countryside, playing in Bear Creek perhaps or just riding around looking at cattle and farmland. The Platte River, running near where I lived was another spot we used to play in the summer. Nearby was a spot or two we could actually swim a bit, but mud fights were ferociously pursued, sometimes driftwood was sought, it was fun to stand and feel my feet settling into the mud, squishing it up between my toes was pleasant too.
We never took our bikes downtown, we rode the street car, so our trips downtown depended on our treasury, carfare, ticket to a movie, a pack of chewing gum and a pack of cigarettes and if we were flush we'd stop by the Greeks and buy as much candy as we had money for. Up in the balcony we'd light up, madly chewing gum, our feet on the rail, smoking like chimneys (my favorite was Murad Egyptians, my gum ? Black Jack of course) feeling that we were living like kings. Certainly happiness like we had was something many kings probably wished they had.
Childhood, a state that I thought would last forever before I could be a "grown up" seemed to drag along in a permanent pothole. Yet looking back things did change as did I -- guess I was just impatient. Along in my childhood Repeal came along and beer joints began to show up and liquor stores too. Part of the wish to be classified as an adult was the desire to be able to walk in and have a beer or go in and buy a bottle.
With me it is never really the same path on the trip I take to the ago. Same history, memories from a different perspective perhaps, but all good. So, once again childhood is REVISITED . . . . . . . .0 comments so far